Charles S Macfarland.

The progress of church federation to 1922 online

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The Progress


Church Federation

to 1922



General Secretary of the Federal Council of the
Churches of Christ in America

New York Chicago Toronto

Fleming H. Revell Company

London and Edinburgh

j' t:^s nev/ yo^k !

i'UBLlC LiJ^KAPvI Copyright, 1921, by




K 1©27 I- I


The Spirit Christlike

The Infinite Allection

Jesus and the Prophets

Spiritual Culture and Social Service

Christian Service and the Modem World

The Great Physician

The Progress of Church Federation


The Christian Ministry and the Social Order

The Churches of the Federal Council

Christian Unity at Work

The Churches of Christ in Council

The Church and International Relations — 2 vols.

The Church and International Relations — Japan

Christian Cooperation and World Redemption

The Churches of Christ in Time of War

New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
Chicago: 17 North Wabash Ave.
Toronto: 25 Richmond Street, W.
London: 21 Paternoster Square
Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street



THIS volume has been prepared in response to
a considerable demand for a brief story of
the proceedings and activities of the Federal
Council of the Churches of Christ in America, for
readers who are unable to go through the rather
voluminous books constituting the record, but who
do wish to acquaint themselves with the nature and
scope of the work of the Council.

The first six chapters cover the formative period
from 1908 to 1912, but consist in the main of the
record of the Quadrennium from 1912 to 1916.

The closing chapters cover the distinctively war
era and the period of reconstruction.

The reader who desires a completer study of the
history and constitution of the Council will find it
in Dr. Sanford's interesting volume, "The Origin
and History of the Federal Council,*' and a descrip-
tion of the 30 Constituent Denominations constitutes
the volume by the author, entitled "The Churches of
the Federal Council."

This volume is a review of the annual and quad-
rennial records. Chapter VH is a resume from
"War-Time Agencies of the Churches," compiled
by Margaret Renton and Chapter VIII a review of



4 Preface

"The Churches Allied for Common Tasks," which
was edited by Samuel McCrea Cavert.

Statistical information will be found in the Year
Book of the Churches. The work in the local fed-
erations is set forth in "Community Programs for
Cooperating Churches," by Roy B. Guild.

New York, C. S. M.



I. Christian Cooperation, the Call of the Age . 9

II. The Origin of the Federative Movement and
THE History and Constitution of the

Federal Council 26

III. The Federal Council as a Clearing House and

AS a Representativ-e Body of the Evan-
gelical Churches 43

The Churches of Christ in Council 43

Taking Counsel Year by Year 56

The National Offices Day by Day 64

The Federal Office of the Churches at the National

Capital 76

IV. Christian Co-operation in Unified Activities . 80

Evangelism 81

Social Service 83

Temperance 89

Christian Education 94

Family Life and Religious Rest Day 98

Special Opportunities for United Action 102

Religious Work at the Panama Pacific Exposition. 103

American Peace Centenary 104

Celebration of the Protestant Reformation 104

The War Relief Movement 106

French and Belgian Churches and Missions 106

Campaign for the Conservation of Human Life. . 106

Other Special Movements 107

Co-operative Movements with Other Bodies. ... 107

6 Contents


V. The Development of Federation in Nation,

State, City and Town no

Home Missions no

Negro Churches 117

The Country Church 120

Interchurch Federation 124

VI. Christian Co-operation in Foreign Missions

and International Relations 135

Foreign Missions 135

International Justice and Goodwill 145

Relations with the Orient 160

VII. The Federal Council in Time of National

Emergency 169

General War- Time Commission of the Churches. 176
Service of the Standing Commissions During the

War 187

Joint Activities with Afiiliatcd Bodies 198

Cooperation with Interdenominational Agencies. 211
Conclusion 215

VIII. Reconstruction after the War 218

Post- War Meeting at Cleveland 218

The New Era of Cooperative Christianity 225

The Council as Now Organized 240

The Tasks of the Moment 256

Bibliography 263



Churchmen from Switzerland, Italy,
France, Japan, China and America Confer
ON Disarmament Title

American Religious Bodies in Conference
AT Washington 52

Administrative Center of National Feder-
ated Protestant Movements ... 66

And These Workers — A Few of the Scores
Employed — Help Push the Federal Coun-
cil's Propaganda 68

One of the "Work-shops" of the Federal
Council's Publication Department . . 72

Keeping Touch on Religious Movements
AT THE National Capital .... 78

Working Out Temperance Publications and
General Literature for Nation-wide
Use 90

Workers for State and City Federations
(Conference of Secretaries, New York,
1921) 124

Seeking International Justice and Good-
will (World Alliance, Switzerland, 1920) 152

Religious Service to the Army (Chaplains
ON Alsatian Front, 1918) .... 197

Don't Let Her Sign 204

An Opportunity for American Churches
(Protestant Church, Verdun) . . . 228

Universal Conference on Life and Work (Ge-
neva, 1920, Committee of Arrangements) 248


FEDERAL unity is simply denominationalism
in co-operation. It is the effort to adjust
autonomy and corporate action, individu-
ality and social solidarity, liberty and social adapta-
tion. According to the classic definition of Herbert
Spencer, evolution is the process of passing from
an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a definite,
coherent heterogeneity during which the retained
motion undergoes a parallel transformation. Thus
the rise and existence of denominations, following
the Protestant Reformation, was an indication of
progress and not of deterioration.

A study of history, however, reveals another
element in evolution — namely, that it is cyclical.
Progress is not directly in one direction, it comes
through both forward and backward movements.
We go a long distance in one direction, we then
pause, and to a certain point make a return. We
then gather up our renewed forces and move on

In theology, we know of thesis and antithesis.
First we move in the line of one proposition;
then comes a proposition the antithesis of this, and
out of the ultimate blending of the two we find
harmony and progress.


10 The Progress of Church Federation

These various theories of evolution seem appli-
cable to our denominationalism. We have gone
pretty far in carrying out the proposition which has
resulted in the diversity of denominationalism.
Those who hold to Rome have gone equally far,
in their antithesis, in the direction of unity. Per-
haps we are getting, among our Protestant denom-
inations, to recognize in equal proportion the two
principles of evolution and progress which we find
ever)^vhere in the natural order — diversity and

Our various denominations and sects arose largely
from the demand for freedom, and through much
suffering we found our freedom. We are now
recognizing as denominations, however, that the
highest freedom we possess may be the freedom to
give up some of our freedom for the sake of the
common good. This was the kind of freedom to
which Paul referred in his discussion of those de-
nominational differences which had already begun
in the Apostolic Church. We are ready to acknowl-
edge, without forgetting perhaps that in our intel-
lectual expression of truth we have been of Apollos
or Cephas, that we are all of Christ, and that in
allegiance to Him we must maintain or regain unity
even in the midst of our diversity. We are follow-
ing still farther our denominational search for
freedom, and are seeking this highest freedom in
our modern movements towards Christian unity.

For the past century or two we have been largely
building up denominationalism, and now we have
discovered the severe truth of the word of Jesus:
"He that saveth his life shall lose it, and he that

Christian Co-operation 11

loseth his life for IMy sake and the Gospel's shall

find it."

Meanwhile one of the most startling of modern
discoveries is that we have been so sadly and
thoughtlessly wasteful. We have wasted our
mineral wealth, squandered our forests, and allowed
the mighty forces of our streams to run out into an
unneeding sea.

Worse still, in the development of industry, and
by social neglect, we have wretchedly wasted our
human power and, as our new legislation witnesses,
we have been criminally prodigal with human life
itself. We have poisoned, neglected, maimed, and
mangled by our inefficient speeding up, by our
twelve-hour days and seven-day weeks. While we
have wasted the forests that make the mines, we
have also wasted by thousands our human brothers
in the mines, have slaughtered and despoiled our
women, and have consumed our babies beyond the
count of Herod in our suffocated cities, while we
had half a continent of fresh air. In our commer-
cial development we have sacrificed innocent human
life upon its altar and have given over our httle
children to an industrial jMoloch saying, with out-
stretched iron arms, "Let little children come unto
me, and forbid them not, for of such is the King-
dom of Mammon." And if we followers of Christ
are content to disavow the blame, let us remember
that in the same breath in which the Master said
that to neglect these little ones was to forget Him-
self. He also condemned men, in His most severe
and solemn utterance, for the things they didn't do.
But these are not an intimation of the worst of

12 The Progress of Church Federation

our dissipations, and indeed these wastes have been
largely because of a deeper and more serious pro-
digality. We have let the very light within us be-
come darkness, and the saddest of all has been the
waste of our moral powers, our finer emotions, and
our religious enthusiasms, through sectarian divi-
sions, denominational rivalries, and unrestrained
caprice often deluding itself as a religious loyalty.

If our effort for redemption had been given more
fully to prevention, we should not now stand trem-
bling, shamefaced, and bewildered before the re-
sults of our own social havoc. Our most serious
profligacy has been the neglect to cultivate our ulti-
mate power, the power of our religious enthusiasm
and our spiritual impulse, because they were neither
socially concentrated nor socially interpreted and

Let us consider a few examples. One of our
most important Christian endeavors is that of our
home missions, which is nothing less than the under-
taking of the conquest and the moral development
of a new nation. It was the earliest and one of the
most potent forms of social service on the part of
the Church and it was the beginning of a multitude
of new social movements. Its leaders, like Oberlin,
built roads and highways for religion, and, like Mar-
cus Whitman, blazed the trails of civilization across
a continent. This work, however, the Qiurch has
more or less recklessly attempted without serious
forethought or prearranged plan. Sometimes it has
been carried on in conflict between the very forces
attempting it, and even when sympathetic it has not
been co-operative. And the result, time upon time,

Christian Co-operation 13

has been that, hke the intrepid discoverers in the
antarctic seas, religious enterprise has perished
within the reach of plenty, just because it was not
social. A few years ago the Committee on Home
Missions of the Federal Council of the Churches of
Christ in America investigated the state of Colo-
rado. One hundred and thirty-three communities
were found ranging in population from one hun-
dred and fifty to one hundred thousand souls, with-
out Protestant churches of any kind, one hundred
of them being also without a Roman Catholic
church. And they were places of deep need in
rural and mining sections. In addition to these
there were four hundred and twenty-eight towns
large enough to have postofifices, but without any
churches, and whole counties were discovered with-
out any adequate religious service.

The seriousness of the other problem of over-
lapping is indicated by a town of four hundred
people in the same state with four churches, all
supported by home-mission aid, and this but one of
many like it.

Let it be remembered that there is a relationship
of cause and effect between the revelations of this
investigation in Colorado and the recent social dis-
aster which has befallen that state. The result
shows that the report of the Commission on Home
Missions was in the nature of a prophecy. The
churches and the religious forces of Colorado, as
of other states and localities, were unprepared to
meet the social situation. Neglected religious con-
ditions cannot help breeding social injustice and
wrong-doing, and in order to meet such injustice

14 The Progress of Church Federation

and wrong-doing the churches need clear spiritual
vision, and a thorough knowledge of plain human
facts. Such situations utter the clear call for co-
operation and unity of action by the churches.

This investigation was followed by the Home
Missions Council in fifteen western states, in what
was called the Neglected Fields Survey. In one
state seventy-five thousand people resided five miles
or more from a church. A rich valley with a popu-
lation of five thousand, capable of supporting fifty
thousand people, had but one church. In another
state fourteen counties had but three permanent
places in each for worship. One county in another
state had a rural population of nine thousand with
no religious ministry except that supplied by the
Mormon hierarchy. Another county with a rural
population of eighteen thousand had regular services
in only three of its school districts.

And these are but hasty suggestions from this re-
port. The social problems raised by home missions
have been a determining factor in the development
of Christian unity.

Meanwhile the development of a new and com-
plex social order about us was getting ready for the
call of a persuasive and effective gospel. New
foes were arising on every hand. They were all
united, and we found ourselves facing federated
vice, the federated saloon, federated corruption in
political life, federated human exploitation, and then
all these together multiplied in one strong federa-
tion, the federation of commercialized iniquity. All
of these were bound together in a solemn league and
covenant, and the reason they so confidently faced

Christian Co-operation 15

a derided Church was because they faced a divided

On the one hand were the federations of labor
and on the other hand federations of capital, gird-
ing themselves for their conflict, waiting the voice
which should speak with power and influence, that
should quell their human hatreds.

Problems of social justice were looking to us with
beseeching voice, and we found ourselves obliged
to face them, or, worse still, to shun them, with
shame upon our faces and with a bewildered con-
sciousness, because we had no common articulation
of a code of spiritual principles or moral laws. Our
spiritual authority was not equal to our human
sympathy, because it was divided.

On all these things we had a multitude of voices
trying to express the same consciousness, but the
great world of men did not know it. Why should
they know it when we had not found it out our-
selves ? We spoke with voices, but not with a voice.

Very nearly up to our own day the Church has
faced united iniquity while there has been scarcely
a city in which it could be said, in any real or serious
sense, that its churches moved as one great force.
And in many a town and rural village we yet have
churches wearying themselves to death in a vain
struggle for competitive existence, or suflfering from
that worst of diseases, to be "sick with their
brothers' health."

What wonder that we have lost our civic virtue !
Why should we not lose, not only our Sabbath as
a day of worship, but also our Sunday as a day of
rest? Why are we surprised that we have lost not

16 The Progress of Church Federation

only temperance laws but also our temperate ways ?
Why should we be astonished that with the loss of
these we have also lost our sons and filled our houses
of refuge with our daughters? Why should we
wonder that the rich have left us for their unre-
strained, unholy pleasure and the poor because we
had no united sense of power of social justice to re-
strain an industry that devoured widows* houses
and that bound heavy burdens grievous to be borne,
especially when this was sometimes done by those
who for a pretense made long prayers? What
wonder that, with disintegrated religions which gave
no adequate sense of religion, the home should lose
its sacredness and tlie family become the easy prey
of easy divorce and of unlioly marriage? Still we
went on singing: "Like a mighty army moves the
Church of God." And when wc came to resolve it
to its final analysis the only trouble was that we did
not sing together.

Leave for a moment the larger review and con-
sider the work of our individual churches and the
loss of their constituency. I say the loss of their
constituency, because the Church cannot be said
to gain or even hold its own if it simply fills its
vacancies. Many churches have marked time, year
upon year, and thought that they were moving be-
cause they kept their feet in motion. The age be-
came a migratory one. Here was a root difiiculty
in our social disorder. The family left one city for
another. It drifted, by the necessities of industry,
from place to place. And because we had no pro-
vision for shepherding the sheep that left one fold
for another, they wandered about just outside some

Christian Co-operation 17

other fold. If the family, say, from one Baptist
church moved near another Baptist church, there
was some hope. But in at least half tlie cases they
did not.

For a study in efficiency visit the average city on
a Sunday night and measure tlie power of, say, one
thousand people, scattered among twenty-five or
thirty churches, when they might, with the contagion
of human impact, be gathered into one, with a man-
ifold and constantly increasing power which, with
wise direction, would send them back to fill the
empty churches whence they came and to become
and to exert a social conscience.

As in the home-mission fields so in our cities.
We have whole sections religiously dying and
socially decaying because tliey are without any
churches, while other sections right beside them d'lM
because they have too many churches to be sup-
])orted. Effective distribution is as yet, in ever)'
city, either an undiscovered art or at best a feeble
effort. Our rural communities are in a like situa-
tion because there has been no concert of action.
The so-called rural problem as a social perplexity
has arisen almost entirely from the disunity of our
religious forces, and we might as well admit it.

Then, for many, many years we had fervently
prayed that God would open the doors of the
heathen world and let us in to take care of the
heathen as our inheritance. God always gives us
more tlian we ask ; and so He not only did that, but
He opened our doors and poured the heathen in
upon us. When the immigrant came he became,
as often as not. an American patriot before there

18 The Progress of Church Federation

was time for him to become an American citizen.
He assimilated everything except our rehgious im-
pulse. He learned the language of our daily
speech because we have only one language to be
mastered. But our religion presented to him too
many tongues. And why should we wonder that he
could not distinguish between them?

He met centrifugal forces which repelled and
not a centripetal force which might have been an
irresistible attraction. He found a united democ-
racy and he became a part of it the day he landed.
He saw the unity of ideal in our public schools,
and he made it his own. And if we had met him
with a united brotherhood of the Church, he would
have felt the mass impact of religion as he felt
everything else and he would have yielded to it.

iLvery once in a while, generally not oftener than
once in four or five years, the wave of evangelistic
power would strike the community. The evangelist
came, rallied the united forces of the churches for
a week, then went away, and we strangely supposed
that what it was perfectly clear could be begun only
by united action could be kept up and developed
without it, and the churches fell apart sometimes
a litile farther than they were before.

Meanwhile every force, every movement, every
single group gathered to oppose the Church was
making its common compact with its common stock
and its evenly divided dividends.

It was not because we were not thinking right.
It was not because we were not thinking alike. It
was not because we were worshipping differently
or because our polities were different. It was sim-

Christian Co-operation 19

ply that we did not work and act together upon the
tasks in which we were in absolute agreement. We
were confused in our self-consciousness. We con-
ceived our churches and our sects as ends in them-
selves rather than as the means to the one end that
we have always had in common. We remembered
that we were of Paul, or of ApoUos, while we for-
got that we were all of Christ, and that all things
were ours. We were losing our lives because we
were trying to save them.

So much for the facts of history. Let us now
seek the vision of prophecy. This prodigality of
moral power and spiritual impulse was not because
the Church was becoming an apostate Church. It
was not because she was leaving an old theology
or because she was rejecting a new one. Taken as
a whole, her views were bcoming larger and her
vision finer. In certain ways she was creating
greater forces. But her forces were spent because
her attack on sin was not concerted, and because
she was not conscious of her own inherent unity.
The Church and ministry went on doing their un-
related work, gaining a keener moral sense and
stronger ethical Gospel. The Church and her Gos-
pel were creating the very unrest that was crying
out for social justice. And even while the Church
was losing the toilers she was preparing for their
social emancipation. She was continually creating
larger opportunities which, however, she was failing
to meet because of her divided moral forces.

We now feel that something very different is to
be done.

It is interesting that the first serious movement

20 The Progress of Church Federation

towards federation was in the foreign field. The
missionaries began to send back word that they
could not make their way by using such confus-
ing tongues. They sent imperative messages to us
that they must get together, not only in order to
impress the Gospel upon the heathen, but for their
own self-preservation. Both Christian unity and
social service are largely reflex actions from the
field of foreign missions.

The main point, however, upon which we are
finding our most common approach is in the new
emphasis which we are giving, because we are
forced to give it, to the nearer social problems of
our day. Here, at least, we find no true reason
for differentiation. No one will argue that there
are Methodist Episcopal saloons; or such a thing
as Baptist child labor, or Congregationalist vice,
or Presbyterian sweat-shops, or Episcopal Tam-
many Halls, or Seventh-Day Baptist gambling-

Not only do we thus find no sensible reason for
division, but we have very quickly discovered that
we shall meet this opportunity in unity or else we
shall not meet it at all. Social regeneration must
have a social approach. The social tasks and prob-
lems of a city cannot be met by any Church ex-
cept in common conference with every other

This application of the Gospel to the needs of
the world is what is giving us our unity. When
we get together upon our common task, we cannot
help forgetting, for the time being at least, the
things which have divided us because we find our-

Christian Co-operation 21

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Online LibraryCharles S MacfarlandThe progress of church federation to 1922 → online text (page 1 of 18)