JOHN WESLEY, JR.
The Story of an Experiment
DAN B. BRUMMITT
THOMAS KANE, "LAYMAN,"
WHOSE LONG LIFE OF NOBLE SERVICE
IS BEARING FRUIT IN A NEW CHRISTIAN
CONSCIENCE TOWARDS THE SUPPORT OF
THE WORK OF CHRIST'S KINGDOM IN
ALL THE WORLD
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE
WORK OF THE CHURCH
THE GENESIS OF THE EXPERIMENT
AN INSTITUTE PANORAMA
II. JOHN WESLEY, JR.'S BRINGING UP
III. CAMPUS DAYS
IV. EXPLORING MAIN STREET
V. HERE THE ALIEN; THERE THE LITTLE BROWN CHURCH
VI. "IS HE NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER?"
VII. THE FIRST AMERICAN CIVILIZATION
VIII. CHRIST AND THE EAST
THIS EXPERIMENT TEACHETH - ?
THE CARTWRIGHT INSTITUTE
THE WESLEY FOUNDATION SOCIAL CENTER
(This one is at Illinois University)
THE TENEMENTS OF MANY DELAFIELDS
ONE OF THE HIGH LIGHTS OF MAIN STREET
ONE OF THE CANNERY COLONY
THERE'S HOPE FOR THE NEGRO IN A SCHOOL LIKE THIS
THE MEXICAN'S HOME IN THE SOUTHWEST
THE MEXICAN'S CHURCH IN THE SOUTHWEST
DR. JOE CARBROOK DOES SUCH WORK AS THIS IN CHINA
THE GENESIS OF THE EXPERIMENT
After years of waiting for time and place and person,
the Rev. Walter Drury, an average Methodist
preacher, was ready to begin his Experiment.
The process of getting adjusted to its conditions was ended. He believed
that, if he had health and nothing happened to his mind, he might count
on at least eight years more at First Church, Delafield - a ten-year
pastorate is nothing wonderful in to-day's Methodism. The right preacher
makes his own time limit.
He would not think himself too good for Delafield, but neither did he
rate himself too low. He just felt that he was reasonably secure against
promotion, and that he need not be afraid of "demotion." There are such
men. They are a boon to bishops.
The unforeseen was to be reckoned with, of course, the possible
shattering of all his plans by some unimagined misfortune. But the man
who waits until he is secure against the unknown never discovers
anything, not even himself.
Walter Drury had at last found his man, or, rather, his boy, here in
Delafield. It was necessary to the Experiment that its subject should be
a decent young fellow, not particularly keen on formal religion, but
well set-up in body and mind; clean, straight, and able to use the
brains he had when need arose.
John Wesley, Jr., was such a boy.
Would the result be worth what he was putting into the venture? That
would depend on one's standards. The church doesn't doubt that the more
than twice ten years' experiment of Helms in the south end of Boston has
been worth the price. And Helms has for company a few pioneers in other
fields who will tell you they have drawn good pay, in the outcomes of
Still, Walter Drury was a new sort of specialist. The thing he had in
mind to do had been almost tried a thousand times; a thousand times it
had been begun. But so far as he knew no one preacher had thought to
focus every possible influence on a single life through a full cycle of
change. He meant his work to be intensive: not in degree only, but in
At the end of ten years! If, then, he had not shown, in results beyond
question, the direction of the church's next great advance, at least he
would have had the measureless joy of the effort. No seeming failure
could rob him of his reward.
Now, do not image this preacher as a dreaming scattergood; he would do
as much as any man should, that is to say, his utmost, in his pulpit and
his parish. The Experiment should be no robbing of collective Peter to
pay individual Paul.
But every man has his avocation, his recreation, you know - golf, roses,
coins, first editions, travel. Walter Drury, being a confirmed bachelor,
missed both the joys and the demands of home life. No recluse, but,
rather, a companionable man, he cared little for what most people call
amusement, but he cared tremendously for the human scene in which he
lived and worked. He would be happy in the Experiment for its sheer
human fascinations. That it held a deeper interest, that if it succeeded
it would reveal an untapped reservoir of resources available for the
church and the kingdom of God, did but make him the more eager to be at
it in hard earnest.
The church to whose work he had joyfully given himself from his youth
had grown to be a mighty and a highly complex machine. Some thought it
was more machinery than life, more organization than organism. But
Walter Drury knew better. It _was_ a wonderful machine, wheels within
wheels, but there was within the wheels the living spirit of the
Partly because the church was so vast and its work of such infinite
variety, very few of its members knew what it did, or how, or why. It
was all over the land, and in the ends of the earth, for people joined
it; and they lived their lives in the cheerful and congenial circle of
its fellowship. But the planetary sweep of its program and its
enterprises was to most of them not even as a tale that is told. They
were content to be busy with their own affairs, and had small curiosity
to know what meanings and mysteries might be discovered out in places
they had never explored, even though just 'round the corner from the
week-by-week activities of the familiar home congregation.
Walter Drury, at the end of one reasonably successful pastorate, had
stood bewildered and baffled as he looked back over his five years of
effort against this persistent and amiable passivity. It was not a
deliberate sin, or he might have denounced it; nor a temporary numbness,
or he might have waited for it to disappear. All the more it dismayed
At the beginning of his ministry he had set this goal before him, that
every soul under his care might see as he saw, and see with him more
clearly year by year, the church's great work; its true and total
business. He had not failed, as the Annual Conference reckons failure.
But he knew he had been less than successful. The people of his
successive appointments were receptive people as church folk go. Then
who was to blame, that sermons and books and Advocates and pictures and
high officials and frequent great assemblies, always accomplishing
something, always left behind them the untouched, unmoved majority of
the people called Methodists?
It was all this and more of the same sort, which at last took shape in
Drury's thought and fixed the manner and matter of the Experiment. This
boy he had found, with a name that might be either prophecy or mockery,
he would study like a book. He would brood over his life. Mind you, he
would take no advantage, use no influence unfairly. He would neither
dictate nor drive. He would not trespass even so far as to the outer
edges of the boy's free personality. For the most part he would stay in
the background. But he would watch the boy, as for lesser outcomes
Darwin watched the creatures of wood and field. Without revealing all
his purpose he would set before this boy good and evil; the lesser good
and the greater. He would use for high and holy ends the method which
the tempter never tires of using for confusion. He would show this boy
the kingdoms of the children of God, and the glories of them, and would
promise them to him, not for a moment's shame but for a life's devotion.
As to the particular form in which the result of the Experiment might
appear he cared little. He had a certain curiosity on the subject
naturally, but he knew well enough that the Experiment would be useless
if he laid interfering hands on its inner processes. That would be like
trimming a whitethorn tree in a formal garden, to make it resemble a
pyramid. He was not making a thorn pyramid in an Italian garden; he
wanted an oak, to grow by the common road of all men's life. And oaks
must grow oak-fashion, or not at all.
* * * * *
Four years of the ten had passed. That part of the history of John
Wesley, Jr., which is told in the following pages, is the story of the
other six years.
AN INSTITUTE PANORAMA
"If anybody expects me to stay away from Institute this year, he has got
a surprise coming, that's all."
The meeting was just breaking up, after a speech whose closing words had
been a shade less tactful than the occasion called for. But the last two
sentences of that speech made all the difference in the world to John
The Epworth League of First Church, Delafield, was giving one of its
fairly frequent socials. The program had gone at top speed for more than
an hour. All that noise could do, re-enforced by that peculiar emanation
by youth termed "pep," had been drawn upon to glorify a certain
forthcoming event with whose name everybody seemed to be familiar, for
all called it simply "the Institute."
Pennants, posters, and photographs supplied a sort of pictorial noise,
the better to advertise this evidently remarkable event, which, one
might gather, was a yearly affair held during the summer vacation at the
seat of Cartwright College.
The yells and songs, the cheers and games and reminiscences, re-enforced
the noisy decorations. At the last, in one of those intense moments of
quiet which young people can produce as by magic, came a neat little
speech whose purpose was highly praiseworthy. But, to John Wesley, Jr.,
it ended on the wrong note. Another listener took mental exception to
it, though his anxiety proved to be groundless.
It was a recruiting speech, directed at anybody and everybody who had
not yet decided to attend the Institute.
The speaker was, if anything, a trifle more cautious than canny when he
came to his "in conclusion," and his zeal touched the words with
"Of course," he said, "since ten, or at most twelve, is our quota, we
are not quite free to encourage the attendance of everybody,
particularly of our younger members. They have hardly reached the age
where the Institute could be a benefit to them, and their natural
inclination to make the week a period of good times and mere pleasure
would seriously interfere with the interests of others more mature and
Now, the pastor of the church, the Rev. Walter Drury, would have put
that differently, he said to himself. If it produced any bad effects it
would need to be corrected, certainly.
Just then, amid the inevitable applause, and the dismissal of the brief
formal assembly for the social half-hour, something snapped inside of
John Wesley, Jr., and it was the feeling of it which prompted him to
say, "If anybody expects me to stay away from Institute this year, he
has got a surprise coming, that's all."
You see, John Wesley, Jr., had just been graduated from high school,
and his family expected him to go to college in the fall, though he
faced that expectation without much enthusiasm. He felt his new freedom.
He addressed his rebellious remark to the League president, Marcia
Dayne, a sensible girl whom he had known as long as he had known anybody
in the church.
"Last year everybody said I was too young. They all talked the way he
did just now. But they can't say I am too young now," and with that easy
skill which is one of the secrets of youth, he managed to contemplate
himself, serenely conscious that he was personable and "right."
The girl turned to him with a gesture of surprise.
"But I thought your father had agreed to let you take that trip to
Chicago you have been saving up for. Will he let you go to the Institute
"Chicago can wait," said John Wesley, Jr., grandly. "Dad did say I could
go to Chicago to see my cousins, or I could go anywhere else that I
wanted. Well, I am going to the Institute. It's my money, and, besides,
I am tired of being told I am too young. A fellow's got to grow up some
"That's all right," said Marcia, "but what's your special interest in
the Institute? Do you truly want to go? How do you know what an
Institute is like?"
Her voice carried further than Marcia thought, and a man who seemed a
little too mature to be one of the young people, turned toward her. He
was smiling, and any time these four years the town would have told you
there wasn't a friendlier smile inside the city limits. He was in
business dress, and suggested anything but the parson in his bearing,
but through and through he looked the good minister that he was.
Marcia moved toward him with an unspoken appeal. She wanted help. He was
waiting for that signal, for he depended a good deal on Marcia. And he
was still worried about that unlucky speech.
"Well, Marcia, are you telling J.W. what the Institute really is?" he
"No, Mr. Drury, I'm not. I'm too much surprised at finding that he's
about decided to go. You're just in time to tell him for me. I want him
to get it right, and straight."
"Well," the pastor responded, "I'm glad of that. If he's really going,
he'll find out that definitions are not descriptions. Now, our Saint
Sheridan used to say that an Institute was a combination of college,
circus, and camp meeting. I would venture a different putting of it. An
Institute is a bit of young democracy in action. Its people play
together, for play's sake and for finding their honest human level. They
study together, to become decently intelligent about some of the real
business of the kingdom of God, and how the church proposes to transact
that business. They wait for new vision together, the Institute being a
good time and a good place for seeing life clear and seeing it whole."
"Yes," said Marcia, "that's exactly it, only I never could have found
quite the right words. Do you think J.W. will find it too poky and
"Tell him to try it and see, as you did last year," said Pastor Drury.
"I'll risk that," said John Wesley, Jr., in his newly resolute mood.
He knew when to stop, this preacher. Particularly concerned as he was
about John Wesley, Jr., he saw that this was one of the many times when
that young man would need to work things out for himself. Marcia would
give what help might be called for at the moment. The boy was turning
toward the Institute; so far so good.
To-night was nearly four years from the beginning of his interest in
this young fellow with the Methodist name. He was a special friend of
the family, though no more so than of every family in the town which
gave him the slightest encouragement. To a degree which no one suspected
he shared this family's secret hopes for its son and heir; and he
cherished hopes which even the Farwells could not suspect. Unless he was
much mistaken he had found the subject for his Experiment.
That mention of the Farwells needs to be explained. Of course "John
Wesley, Jr.," was only part of the boy's name. In full he was John
Wesley Farwell, Jr., son of John Wesley Farwell, Sr., of the J.W.
Farwell Hardware Co. As a little fellow he had no chance to escape
"Junior," since he was named for his father. There were many Jacks and
Johns and Johnnies about. His mother, good Methodist that she was,
secretly enjoyed calling him "John Wesley, Jr.," and before long the
neighbors and the neighborhood children followed her example.
A little later he might have been teased out of it, but at the
impossible age when boys discover that queer names and red hair and
cross-eyes make convenient excuses for mutual torture, it happened that
he had attained to the leadership of his gang. For some reason he took
pride in his two Methodist names, and made short work of those who
ventured to take liberties with them. In all other respects he played
without reserve boyhood's immemorial game of give and take; but as to
his name or any part thereof he would tolerate no foolishness and no
back talk. When he reached the high school period, however, most of his
intimates rarely called him by his full name, having, like all high
school people, no time for long names, though possessed of infinite
leisure for long dreams. Straightway they shortened his name to "J.W.,"
which to this day is all that his friends find necessary.
Very well, then; this is J.W. at eighteen; a young fellow worth
knowing. Take a look at him; impulsive, generous, not what you would
call handsome, but possessed of a genial eye and a ready tongue, a
stubby nose and a few scattered freckles. A fair student, he is yet far
from bookishness, and he makes friends easily.
Of late he has been paying furtive but detailed attention to his hair
and his neckties and the hang of his clothes, though still in small
danger of being mistaken for a tailor's model.
With such a name you will understand that he's a Methodist by first
intention; born so. He is a pretty sturdy young Christian, showing it in
a boy's modest but direct fashion, which even his teammates of the
high-school football squad found it no trouble to tolerate, because they
knew him for a human, healthy boy, and not a morbid, self-inspecting
religious prig. Pastor Drury, you may be sure, had taken note of all
that, for he and J.W. had been fast friends since the day he had
received the boy into the church.
The morning after the Institute social J.W. announced at breakfast his
sudden change of plan.
"If you don't mind, Dad, I've about decided to go to the Institute
instead of Chicago. There is a bunch of us going, and Mr. Drury will be
there. Uncle Henry's folks might not want to be bothered with me now,
and anyway I don't know them very well. But I can go to the Institute
with the church crowd; and there will be tennis and swimming and plenty
of other fun besides the big program." Which was quite a speech for J.
John Wesley, Sr., didn't know much about the Institute, but he had an
endless regard for his pastor, and the mother was characteristically
willing to postpone her boy's introduction to the unknown and, in her
thought, therefore, the menacing city.
So, after the brief but unhurried devotions at the breakfast table,
which had come to serve in place of the old-time family prayers,
parental approval was forthcoming. And thus it befell that J.W.
selected for himself a future whose every experience was to be affected
by so slight a matter as his impulsive choice of a week's holiday. That
choice expressed to him the new freedom of his years, for he had not
even been conscious of the quiet influence which had made it easier than
he knew to decide as he had done.
* * * * *
It was a mixed and lively company that found itself crowded around the
registrar's table at the Institute one Monday evening in July, with J.
W. and his own particular chum, Martin Luther Shenk, better known as
"Marty," right in the middle of it.
J.W. wondered where so many Epworthians could have come from. Did they
really hanker after the Institute, or had they come for reasons as
trivial as his own? He put the question to Martin Luther Shenk.
"Marty, do you reckon these are all here for real Epworth League work,
or does the Institute want anybody and everybody?"
Marty had been scouting a little, and he answered: "No, to both
questions, I should say. Some have come just to be coming, and others
seem to be here for business. But I saw Joe Carbrook just now, and if he
is an Epworth Leaguer I am the Prince of Puget Sound. You know how he
stands at home. Wonder what he came for."
Just then Joe Carbrook himself came up. He was from Delafield too,
member of the same League chapter as the two chums, but he had rarely
condescended to league affairs. Having had two rather variegated years
at college, he felt he must show his sophistication by holding himself
above some of those simple old observances.
"S'pose you are here for solemn and serious work, you two," he remarked
mockingly, as he saw the boys. "I just met Marcia Dayne, and she told me
you were registering. Well, I'm here too - drove up in my car - but you
don't catch me tying myself down to all that study stuff. I'm looking
for fun, not work."
"Nothing new for you in that, Joe," said Marty. "But I should think you
might try the study stuff, if only for a change, after you have spent
good money on gas and tires. And you have to pay for your meals, you
"Well, I studied hard enough last month in college cramming for the
final exams, so I could get within gunshot of enough sophomore credits,
and I'm through; with study for a while. If I find a few live ones in
this crowd, I guess we can enjoy ourselves without interfering with any
of you grinds, if you must study," and Joe Carbrook went off in search
of his live ones.
J.W. and Marty were in no hurry to register. The crowd milling around
in the office was interesting, and J.W. was still wondering how many of
them, himself included, would get enough Institute long before the week
was over. Besides, it was yet an hour before supper.
"Think of it, Marty. All these people come from Epworth Leagues just
like ours, from Springfield, and Wolf Prairie and Madison and all over
this part of the State. What for, I'd like to know? Will you look at
those pennants? Wish we had brought one or two of ours; we could add to
the display, anyway."
"I have two in my suitcase," said Marty. "We'll have them out this
evening at the introduction meeting. And maybe you'll find out 'what
for' by that time."
The introduction meeting in the chapel after supper was for the most
part informal. Yells and songs and the waving of pennants punctuated the
proceedings, as is quite the proper thing in an Epworth League
gathering. Some people, who see only what is on the surface, cannot
wholly understand the exuberance of an Epworth League crowd. But it has
roots in something very real.
The dean of the Institute managed, amid the roystering and the intervals
of attention, to set things up for the week. A few regulations would
need to be laid down; and these would be fixed, not by the faculty or by
the dean, but by the Student Council. Would each district group please
get together at once, and select some one to represent the group on this
This request being obeyed amid considerable confusion, with Marcia Dayne
appointed from the Fort Adams District, and the council excused to draft
the basic laws for the week, the faculty was introduced, one by one.
Each teacher was given the opportunity to describe his or her course, so
that out of the eight or nine courses offered every delegate might
select two besides the two which were required of all students, and so
qualify for an Institute diploma.
J.W. found himself enjoying all this hugely. It appealed to his growing
sense of freedom from schoolboy restraint. If he did go to any of the
classes, it appeared that he could pick the ones he liked. Up to now he
had entertained no thought of any serious work, but the faculty talks
about these courses made him think there might be worse ways of spending
the week than qualifying for an Institute diploma. The whole thing
seemed to be so easy and so friendly. Of course he could see that the
study would not be much, even if he signed up for it, being just for a
week, but it might not be bad fun.
Morning Watch was an experience to J.W. He was surprised to find
himself staying awake in a before-breakfast religious meeting, and was
even more surprised to be enjoying it. Something about this big crowd of
young people stirred all his pulses, and the religion they heard about
and talked about seemed to J.W. something very real and desirable. He
thought of himself as a Christian, but he wondered if his Christian life
might not become more confident and productive. In this atmosphere one
almost felt that anything was possible.
Meal times turned out to be times of orderly disorder. J.W. and his
friends were at a table with other groups from the Fort Adams District,
and he quickly mastered the raucous roar which served the District for a
yell. Before the end of the second day his alert good nature made him
cheer leader, and thereafter he rarely had time to eat all that was set
before him, though possessed of a boy's healthy appetite. It was simply
that the other possibilities of the hour seemed more alluring than mere
From the first day of the class work J.W. found himself keen for all
that was going on. There was variety enough so that he felt no
weariness, and the range of new interests opened up each day kept him at
constant and pleasurable attention. Without knowing just how, he was
catching the Institute spirit.
He walked away from the dining hall one noon with his pastor-friend, and
he talked. He had to talk to somebody, and Walter Drury contrived to
know of his need.