Personal Research

Rev. Arthur Vespa, Mary Chiappelli Vespa retirement notice, 1973

I’m currently waiting for a (very late) train up to Burbank for the Genealogy Jamboree this weekend, and to kill some time I thought I’d do some transcriptions. I really enjoy transcribing documents, and it’s good practice for learning different types of handwriting/fonts/etc. [Update: the train came 1.5 hours late, but I made it to Burbank!]

Many of my relatives on the Briner/Vespa side were deeply involved in the (Christian) church, including my great-grandparents Arthur Vespa and Mary Chiappelli Vespa. They were ministers for the Assemblies of God for many years, and when they retired there was a notice in the local paper which talked about some of the things they accomplished. It focused more on Arthur’s ministry history than anything else, but it has good info on what their kids (my grandmother/great-uncles) were doing at that time as well, which I found helpful.

Clipping of newspaper article:
Local Minister, Wife to Retire on Sunday - Cumberland News - 23 May 1973 p26Local Minister, Wife to Retire on Sunday – Cumberland News – 23 May 1973 p26 Fri, May 25, 1973 – Page 26 · The Cumberland News (Cumberland, Maryland) ·

“Local minister, wife to retire on Sunday,” The Cumberland News (Cumberland, Maryland), electronic newspaper, archived, ( accessed December 25, 2017), Friday, May 25, 1973, p. 26.

***May need to tweak this citation. The example I based it off of didn’t have a place for the date, but I’m pretty sure that’s an important aspect of a newspaper citation…


Rev. and Mrs. Arthur Vespa, who have been pastoring First Assembly of God Church, 21 Elder Street, nearly 21 years, have announced their retirement and will have a farewell service Sunday.

Although retiring from full-time church ministry here, they will remain active in other fields of Christian service.

Thursday, May 31, they will fly to Ghana, West Africa, via Pan American Airways, to fill a temporary teaching position in the Northern Ghana Bible School where their son, David, is principal.

The Vespas who have four children: a daughter, Mrs. John Briner, who with her husband owns the Christian Music and Book Store and pastors the LaVale Chapel; a son, Joseph Vespa, owner of Frederick Street Exxon; a son, Reynold, Easton, Pa., and a son, David, a graduate of Fort Hill High School who is serving as a missionary in Ghana.

Rev. Vespa began his ministry in Windber, Pa., in the summer of 1925. He pastored and pioneered the opening of many churches in Pennsylvania and pastored in Central City, Pa., for 21 years before coming to Cumberland in August 1952. Since residing here, he has, along with his regular pastoral duties at the church, pioneered the opening of Springfield, W. Va., Assembly of God church.

Throughout the years of his ministry, Rev. Mr. Vespa has played an outstanding role in directing at least 12 young men into the ministry and has at his own time and expense, given practical training and experience in the organizing and ministry of the church to these men. They are serving in all parts of the world as ministers, missionaries, and executives of church and mission boards.

Mrs. Vespa has taught the Home Makers class in First Assembly for 14 years and made it the largest class in the Sunday School.

After returning from Ghana later this year, they plan to reside in this area in the vicinity of Short Gap, W. Va. Rev. Mr. Vespa will then give time to the assisting of mission churches in the Maryland and West Virginia area of the Potomac District of the Assemblies of God.

Friends of the Vespas may attend the farewell services Sunday at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the First Assembly of God.


  • My great-uncle Reynold Vespa was running (or about to start) for the senate around this time period. (He didn’t win.)
  • The Northern Ghana Bible School still exists, but as the Northern Ghana Bible Institute; there is also a Southern Ghana Bible Institute and a Mid Ghana Bible Institute. According to this history by the Assemblies of God, Ghana, my great-uncle David was also principal of the Southern Ghana Bible School in Saltpond.
  • “Mrs. John Briner” = Nancy Esther (Vespa) Briner, my grandmother.
  • My grandfather John Briner used to work for a gas station when he was younger, in Lewistown, PA. Kind of a funny coincidence!

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