At the 155th Annual meeting of the Massachusetts Congregational Christian Conference in May 1954, held in Bethany Congregational Church, Quincy, MA, Dr. John L. Lobingier was designated Emeritus Secretary of Christian Education. Dr. Lobingier had been Conference Minister of Education from 1942-1954. The resolution for this honor reads in part: "He has directed the work of our youth in this Commonwealth with great insight and vision."
I started looking into Dr. Lobingier when I was reviewing a shelf of plays in the library's stacks. The shelf list cards indicated that these short one act plays were gifts of Dr. Lobingier. The necrology in the United Church of Christ Year Book for 1974 listed the following: He was born in Chicago, IL on January 1, 1884. He studied at Union and Lexington Theological Seminary and was ordained a Disciple of Christ in Lexington, KY in June 1907. From 1906 to 1907 he was assistant pastor at Magnolia Avenue Christian Church then pastor of Christian Church of Ocean Park, CA from 1908-11. His next pastoral assignment was Christian Church of Santa Monica CA from 1911-14. In 1921, he became pastor of United Church of Christ, Oberlin, OH and was there until 1926. He then began his other religious work in this building at 14 Beacon Street with the Society of World Fellowships and the Congregational Education Society until 1926 before moving to the Massachusetts Congregational Conference. Dr. Lobingier died in Winchester, MA on August 4, 1974 at the age of 90.
Having learned about Dr. Lobingier's involvement with religious education, I began to understand the reasoning behind this gift of plays. The plays are Baker's Plays, currently owned by Samuel French Inc. The origin of Baker's Plays dates back to the 19th century. According to Katy DiSavino, "Baker's predecessor, the Herbert Sweet Company, published and sold plays in Boston from 1845-1872. When the great Boston Fire of 1872 destroyed many of the company's printing plates and other material, it moved into the newly rebuilt district and continued operation under the name of George M. Baker & Company." George's brother, Walter took over the company in 1892 and in 1921 the company became Baker's Plays. Baker's was known for its list of family friendly and religious plays. It offered an large selection of plays suitable for high school and middle school students.
Typical of these plays is one titled "The Friendly Kingdom" by Dorothy Clark Wilson. The play is described as the story of a boy king who follows the commandment "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Another play, "The Years Ahead" by Elliot Field, is the story of a young couple who declines a "tempting business offer in Boston" and decides despite family pressure to go as missionaries to Persia.