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Marinda (Minnie) Day Sype

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Sype (later Atteberry, then Crippen), Marinda "Minnie" (Day) (1869–1956)

By Ella Smith Simmons

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Ella Louise Smith Simmons, Ed.D. (University of Louisville); Honoris Causa Doctor of Pedagogy (Andrews University) is completing her third term as a general vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. She provides leadership education, administrative consultation, coaching and evaluation, with spiritual guidance to Church leaders worldwide and to several General Conference departments. She chairs the Seventh-day Adventist International Board of Education and chairs the University Council (Board) of the Adventist University of Africa and the Board of Trustees of the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies. She is married to Nord Simmons, a retired teacher and business owner.

First Published: November 28, 2021

Marinda (Minnie) Day Sype served the church as a pioneer evangelist, pastor, missionary, conference home missionary secretary, and publishing circulation manager, all of which at that time were extraordinary for a woman.

Early Years

Marinda (Minnie) Day was born April 18, 1869, on a farm near Thayer, Union County, Iowa. She was the first of 10 children born to Elias and Mary Jackson Day. Minnie, a delicate, timid farm girl, grew up on the land where her parents lived about 35 years. She rarely ventured far from home. Mary Day, Minnie’s first teacher, encouraged her children to seek further education.1

Minnie had positive experiences in school and admired her teachers. Mary Bolinger particularly impressed her by reading a Bible chapter and praying to begin school each morning, a practice Minnie would follow when she became a teacher herself. Minnie’s desires for spiritual growth steadily intensified and when she was about 12 years old, she gave her heart to God in an evangelistic meeting held at the schoolhouse by a Disciples of Christ minister. She was baptized at age 13 and dedicated her life to God.2

At age 15, Minnie attended a boarding school in Afton, Iowa. She earned a teaching certificate and her first teaching assignment began just before her 18th birthday in her local school.3

Marriage and Spiritual Growth

While teaching in Sand Creek Township, Union County, Iowa Minnie met Logan P. Sype whose abstinence from tobacco attracted her attention. After accompanying Logan on several engagements Minnie found that he was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Although this was strange to her, she admired his Christian principles and continued accepting his invitations. The couple wed on March 6, 1889. They agreed to respect each other’s religious beliefs, attend each other’s churches together, and avoid controversial subjects. They established their family altar around reading a chapter of the Bible and prayer each day.4

Minnie respected Seventh-day Adventists as serious Bible students. She began to question some of her own beliefs. Her father-in-law, J. L. Sype, a Bible student and Adventist church elder, studied with her the state of the dead, destiny of the wicked, the plan of salvation, the Sabbath, and the Ten Commandments. Soon she decided that the seventh day is the Sabbath. Then, with anguish over leaving close friends and relatives, including her distraught parents, Minnie joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church in July 1889.5

Soon Logan and Minnie moved to a farm across from her parent’s farm and began their family. Their first son, Ross Jackson, was born December 31, 1889. Then James Earl was born July 12, 1892, and H. H. Anna was born January 7, 1898.6 Minnie kept busy for several years with children, chickens, gardens, orchards, sewing, washing, and ironing. Yet, she consistently studied the Bible with her father-in-law.

When a medical crisis in 1898 took Minnie to the Nebraska Sanitarium located in Lincoln, she studied Bible at Union College, adjacent to the sanitarium.7 This aided greatly in her ability to give Bible studies on her own to interested neighbors. Following her return home, the family moved to Wyoming where Logan took employment at the Higby mining camp, six miles from Sheridan.

Ministry and Call to Evangelism

Ever since joining the Adventist church in 1889 Minnie had found numerous ways to witness to her family, friends, and neighbors. She gave individual and family Bible studies, sold or gave away Seventh-day Adventist literature such as Signs of the Times, wrote and mailed missionary letters including tracts and poems on Biblical topics, baked and shared fresh bread, canned and shared fruit from her orchards, and gave bedside care to the sick and shut-in. The move to Higby prepared the way toward a more formal ministry for Minnie, although she did not realize it at the time.

No Adventist church yet existed in the area, but on her own initiative Minnie organized and conducted Sabbath School and Sunday School classes and a week-night sing-along in their home with Logan leading out in the music.8 After a year in Higby, the Sypes returned to Iowa, but less than a year later moved on to Oklahoma territory to take advantage of a homesteading opportunity. By the winter of 1901-1902 they had started a church that was officially organized by the Oklahoma Conference as the Gyp Seventh-day Adventist Church, later Butler Church.9

Though Minnie was being called upon to preach more and more often, she still had not considered herself a preacher. In fact, she recoiled at being called a “woman preacher” for she had not admired women preachers. She was surprised when the Oklahoma Conference presented her a letter of appreciation and check for $25 for her ministry. In the spring the conference president, G. H. Haffner, offered Minnie employment as an evangelist. Minnie recognized that she could face “mountains of opposition” and “adverse public opinion,” but determined she would not refuse the call of God. Logan assured her of his support and she devoted her life to full-time preaching ministry at age 32.10

Minnie received her first ministerial license by vote of the Oklahoma Conference annual session held on August 21, 1902.11 During these early years of ministry Logan, in addition to providing music at evangelistic meetings, took care of many of the behind-the-scenes tasks along with caring for their children, leaving Minnie free to pray, study, preach, and visit. At the 1904 Oklahoma Conference annual meeting Haffner, in his presidential report, commended Minnie for preaching 244 sermons during the year, holding 89 Bible readings, making 484 visits, and taking 22 subscriptions for church papers, along with conducting two major series of evangelistic meetings that together brought 40 new members into the church. At the 1905 session, Haffner reported that another 31 new members had been added through Minnie’s evangelistic labors.12

In May 1906 the Sypes departed Oklahoma, responding to a call from the Iowa Conference to return to their home state once again. At its 43rd annual session in 1906 the Iowa Conference Committee on Credentials and Licenses issued seven credentials to individuals as ordained ministers and ministerial licenses to Minnie Sype and 18 others.13 She was sent to Fairfield in the southeastern part of the state where her evangelism brought new members into a declining church and she rallied the membership to pay off the church debt. Minnie also held meetings in nearby Darbyville that led to 12 new members uniting with the church. She was transferred to Hawarden in the northwestern part of the state in 1908 and then to Cedar Rapids in 1910 where her work as pastor-evangelist continued to thrive. Also, in Iowa, Minnie took a prominent role in the overall work of the conference. She was often the only woman in the conference writing for official publications and assisting in the development of other pastors and ministers.14

Life Changes

While living in Cedar Rapids, the Sypes experienced heartbreak and financial setbacks due to drought, flood, fire, sickness, and death—all within the span of about a year.15 After recommitting to the Lord, James, the Sypes’ second son, was victim of a random act of violence from which he died on December 10, 1911. Soon after, Logan became seriously ill for a second time leaving Minnie to minister alone temporarily. In addition, their home and all possessions burned leaving Minnie with only the clothes on her back and in her luggage. One joy, however, was Ross’ graduation in the first class to graduate from Oak Park Academy, June 12, 1912. In 1914 Ross joined his mother in ministry employed by the Iowa Conference. During this period of trials and accomplishments, Minnie wrote her autobiography, Life Sketches and Experiences in Missionary Work, first published in 1912, and again in 1916.

In 1916 the Iowa Conference elected Minnie to serve as Home Missionary Department secretary.16 She thrived in this role and after four years was called to the North Pacific Union for ministry in the same capacity, first in the Western Washington Conference, then the Upper Columbia Conference.17

After several years of illness Logan, her support and companion through trials and triumphs for 36 years, died in 1925. Minnie pressed on in active ministry. After conducting an evangelistic campaign in Pennsylvania, she served, 1926-1927, as circulation manager for the Watchman magazine, the evangelistic periodical issued by the Southern Publishing Association in Nashville, Tennessee. Her responsibilities in this capacity took her to every state of the United States.18 In 1927 she returned to the Upper Columbia Conference to engage in pastoral and evangelistic work until her retirement on December 13, 1930.

Her retirement was precipitated by her remarriage to rancher Benjamin Atteberry (1868-1944) on November 10, 1930, in Morrow, Oregon.19 Yet, Minnie, at age 61, was in good health and continued in ministry adding to her service record Florida and the Bahamas.20 The couple moved to Tampa, Florida, but after Ben Atteberry’s death on September 6, 1944, Minnie returned to the Northwest where she married Asa Crippen. They lived in Portland, Oregon.21 Throughout life transitions Minnie persisted in ministry.

Legacy

Minnie Day Sype served 54 years, including active service in retirement, as a licensed minister (1902-1956) after many years of personal ministry. Her contributions include the conversions of most of her birth family, nearly a dozen churches planted, numerous evangelistic efforts that added to the growth of existing congregations, and the authorship of many church publications. Her legacy of service is significant, particularly for a woman in her time. Minnie passed away in Portland, Oregon on June 23, 1956 at age 87.22 Her mission was, and thus her legacy is, as she put it, that she “improved the opportunities as they came along.”23

Sources

“Benjamin F. Atteberry obituary.” Southern Tidings, September 6, 1944

Benton, Josephine. Called by God: Stories of Seventh-day Adventist Women Ministers, Chapter 2. Smithburg, MD: Blackberry Hill Publishers, 1990. Accessed March 30, 2022, http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/books/called/benton-02.htm.

“Conference Proceedings.” Worker’s Bulletin, June 19, 1906.

Haffner, G. F. “President’s Address.” Southwestern Union Record, September 12, 1904.

Haffner, G. F. “Address of Conference President.” Southwestern Union Record, September 12, 1905.

“Minnie Day-Sype obituary.” North Pacific Union Gleaner, August 6, 1956.

“Oklahoma Conference Proceedings.” Southwestern Union Record, September 29, 1902.

Ruskjer, S. A. “Campmeetings and Home Missionary Work,” Northern Union Reaper, June 20, 1916.

Syp, L. P. and Minnie Syp. “Field Reports, Hawarden.” Workers’ Bulletin, July 14, 1908.

Sype, Minnie. Life Sketches and Experiences in Missionary Work. Hutchinson, MN: Seminary Press, 1916.

Notes

  1. Minnie Sype, Life Sketches and Experiences in Missionary Work (Hutchinson, MN: Seminary Press, 1916), 20.

  2. Ibid., 21-24.

  3. Ibid., 22-23, 27.

  4. Ibid., 31-32.

  5. Ibid., 34.

  6. Ibid., 40.

  7. Ibid., 43; Edward Allen and Yvionne Joseph, “Nebraska Sanitarium,” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, accessed March 30, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=79UT.

  8. Sype, Life Sketches and Experience, 53-61.

  9. Josephine Benton, Called by God: Stories of Seventh-day Adventist Women Ministers (Smithburg, MD: Blackberry Hill Publishers, 1990), Chapter 2, accessed March 30, 2022, http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/books/called/benton-02.htm.

  10. Sype, Life Sketches and Experience, 71-72.

  11. “Oklahoma Conference Proceedings,” Southwestern Union Record, September 29, 1902, 6. Here, and frequently elsewhere in denominational sources during the decade of the 1900s, Logan and Minnie’s surname is spelled “Syp.”

  12. G. F. Haffner, “President’s Address,” Southwestern Union Record, September 12, 1904, 5, and “Address of Conference President,” Southwestern Union Record, September 12, 1905, 7.

  13. “Conference Proceedings,” Worker’s Bulletin, June 19, 1906, 3.

  14. Benton, Called by God, Chapter 2.

  15. Sype, Life Sketches and Experience, 135.

  16. S. A. Ruskjer, “Campmeetings and Home Missionary Work,” Northern Union Reaper, June 20, 1916, 2.

  17. Benton, Called by God, Chapter 2.

  18. “Minnie Day-Sype obituary,” North Pacific Union Gleaner, August 6, 1956, 7.

  19. Oregon, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1851-1975, accessed March 30, 2022, Ancestry.com; “Benjamin F. Atteberry obituary,” Southern Tidings, September 6, 1944, 6.

  20. Benton, Called by God, Chapter 2.

  21. No documentation for the date of Minnie and Asa’s marriage has been located but Minnie is identified as Minnie Sype Crippen in an obituary for her sister, Edna Manfull, in the North Pacific Union Gleaner, December 11, 1950, 9. The North Pacific Union listed Minnie S. Crippen as an honorary licensed minister in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1952-1956.

  22. Minnie Sype Crippen Certificate of Death, Oregon, U.S., State Deaths, 1864-1968, accessed March 24, 2022, Ancestry.com; “Minnie Day-Sype obituary.”

  23. L. P. Syp and Minnie Syp, “Field Reports, Hawarden,” Workers’ Bulletin, July 14, 1908, 2.

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Simmons, Ella Smith. "Sype (later Atteberry, then Crippen), Marinda "Minnie" (Day) (1869–1956)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 28, 2021. Accessed February 29, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=EA98.

Simmons, Ella Smith. "Sype (later Atteberry, then Crippen), Marinda "Minnie" (Day) (1869–1956)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 28, 2021. Date of access February 29, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=EA98.

Simmons, Ella Smith (2021, November 28). Sype (later Atteberry, then Crippen), Marinda "Minnie" (Day) (1869–1956). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved February 29, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=EA98.