Pa.) Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in Ameri.

Report of the first meeting of the Federal Council, Philadelphia, 1908 online

. (page 24 of 53)
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ing; and it sometimes seems so. This, however, may be only
the pause for the reforming of the lines into an army so com-
pact and disciplined and resistless that to-morrow it shall
sweep to a speedier and more complete triumph than we coald
have anticipated. The thought of seventeen million followers
of Christ brought together under a single banner is a thing to
inspire the most sluggish imagination. Seventeen millions
after so long a sepp-ration at last together, to plan and pray
and work in the name of their common Lord and Saviour for
the extension of God's Kingdom! Seventeen million soldiers
after years of bushwhacking, at least wheeling into line for the
greatest battle the world has known ! This is thrilling, mag-
nificent, awe-inspiring! But, my brothers, it is one thing for
the men in the watch-towers to catch sight of a glow in the
east. It is another for the multitudes to see it. It is one
thing for a few hundred representatives of the various fed-
erated bodies to meet and plan and rejoice. It is something
different for the men and women in cities and towns all over
the land, who worship on opposite corners of the street, to
treat one another like brothers and sisters and to plan like
members of the same family for the extension of their com-
mon interests. It is stating bluntly a fact recognized by all
who have studied the matter in its practical bearings rather
than on its theoretical side, that any sort of federation is
only a rainbow dream that does not eventuate in some plan
whereby the extension work of the various churches may be
carried on with no less aggressiveness than now, but with far
more economy and co-operative wisdom. No more urgent
problem confronts ,the Church of America than the capture
of the cities for Christ. At no .point will the sanity and sin-
cerity of the movement represented by this Council be
more searchingly tested than on the Home Mission fields. Here
is a call for the best brains and choicest spirits that can be

No sooner does one approach the subject than the diffi-
culties begin to loom big and threateningly. Workers on the
field as conscientious as may be found, are often bewildered.
When planning to enter a new territdry who can tell when


the new town is over-churched? Shortly it may be a city.
"Who is to decide as to when a community is being evangelized ?
Three churches may not be doing the work that one might.
If the denominations are to be maintained at all, exactly where
is the line that separates aggressiveness from encroachment?
Some of our most earnest mission workers are insisting that
comity always means their withdrawal. Others accused of
urging comity where their interests are endangered, and ig-
noring it when it is to their advantage, reply that to maintain
denominational prestige it is necessary to play a game as poli-
itcians do. Lack of authority is blamed for many failures
to co-operate efEectively. Those who want to co-operate have
not the necessary backing to carry through their plans. Often
lack of initiative is the explanation. All feel deeply the de-
plorable condition of affairs. No one knows quite how to
remedy it or is fearful of attempting anything. And then
there are great barren tracts of unregenerate humanity with
which to deal. The beautiful dreams of the social reformers
who have withdrawn from society to establish ideal common-
wealths have failed to materialize because of the cantankerous
human units with which they attempted to build. If mem-
bers of the same denomination holding the same traditions
find it impossible to dwell together in peace, but insist on
having two buildings and two congregations and two preach-
ers, how much can be expected in the way of co-operation
from those of different communions? In the presence of men
of fine Christian spirit and far-reaching vision such difSculties
may seem trivial and unworthy of rehearsal. But to the men
who are actually grappling with the problem, they are most
serious and intrusive.

In spite of the difficulties miich has already been done in the
way of co-operation on the Home Mission field — enough to
give an idea of the more that may be accomplished. The
plan adopted in Maine is well known. For more than a dozen
years it has been in operation. Those on the field testify that
it has allayed friction, encouraged a delightful fellowship
among the co-operating bodies and promoted the interests of
the Kingdom. The statement of principles as applying to mis-


sion work should be mentioned. The second article reads as
follows :

"That church extension into destitute communities
should be conducted as far as practicable according to
the following considerations:

"1. No community in which any denomination has any
legitimate claim should be entered by any other denom-
ination through its official agencies without conference
with the denomination or denominations having said

" 2. A feeble church should be revived if possible rather
than a new one established to become a rival.

"3. The preference of a community should always be
regarded by denominational committees, missionary
agents and individual workers.

"4. These denominations having churches nearest at
hand should, other things being equal, be recognized as
in the most advantageous position to encourage and aid
a new enterprise in their vicinity.

"5. In ease one denomination begins gospel work in a
destitute community it should be left to develop that
work without other denominational interference.

"6. Temporary suspension of church work by any de-
nomination occupying a field should not be deemed suffi-
cient warrant in itself for entrance into that field by an-
other denomination. Temporary suspension should be
deemed temporary abandonment when a church has held
no preaching and held no meetings for an entire year or

"7. All questions of interpretation of the foregoing
statements and all cases of friction between denomina-
tions or churches of different denominations should be
referred to the Commission through its Executive Com-
mittee. ' '
In Wisconsin an aggressive work is being pushed much
along the same lines. So far as Home Mission work there is
concerned, the statement of principles is in the exact wording
of the Maine federation.

The spirit of this announcement is admirable. That it can


be worked in such States as Maine and Wisconsin is proved
by the fact that it has worked. But that it has its limitations
must be evident to any one who has lived in the newer west
where the denominational agents must be conspicuously ag-
gressive; where, if one were compelled to wait until the au-
thorities had been consulted, a little town might become a
city and a gofden opportunity lost. The plan has been tried
in the west and the testimonies of its usefulness are not en-
thusiastic. As to the great problems of the city, such a scheme
would be utterly inadequate. At the best it is only negative.
It announces one of the most important steps the churches
have taken toward the federation idea in Home Mission work.

We are facing conditions that demand a more inspiring call
to co-operative effort in pushing ahead the blessed enterprise
which should be the high aspiration of us all. To-day we hail
with high hopes action already taken that promises leadership
and guidance that betokens the opening of a new era in the
history and work of Home Missions. The recent organization
of the Home Mission Council, of which special mention is
made in the resolutions appended to this report, has brought
the secretaries of the national Home Missionary societies
into close and vital fellowship.

As the servants in this great work of the churches, repre-
sented in the fellowship of the Federal Council, they under-
stand better than any other body of men the difficulties, re-
sponsibilities and needs of the hour. They ask your support
in plans of co-operative service, the most significant and en-
couraging that have ever been presented as a practical sug-
gestion in the interest of united activity and counsel.

This leads to the statement that because of the vast influx
of foreign populations, the cities have become the great Home
Mission ground of the Nation. Yesterday we were urging the
importance of evangelizing that vast territory called Alaska.
To-day we know that in Chicago alone there are more Bohe-
mians than there are people in the entire territory of Alaska.
Yesterday we were urging the evangelization of the great
State of Nevada. To-day it is beginning to dawn on us that
there are more Italians in Chicago alone than there are men,
women and children in the entire State of Nevada. We have


been pouring men and money into "Wyoming and Montana and
Idaho to win them for Christ. In this work we rejoice that the
churches have been alive to their responsibility, for it is here
that the foundations of great commonwealths are being laid.
This foundation work is still important and must be pressed,
but the hour calls for special attention to the urgent need of
united action in dealing with the problem of evangelizing the
millions of aliens who are now within our borders. The most
needy Home Mission fields in America are the large cities of
the east. We have hardly begun the serious consideration of
the task. Our pr(jsent agencies are utterly inadequate. Head-
way in the work is impossible until the denominations do far
more than stand off and wait for some one to begin. But
what can be done?

A respectable beginning was made in Chicago a few months
ago when representatives of five separate missionary societies
met to consider plans for co-operative work. In one hour
the men present learned more concerning the work that was
being done, the difficulties being encountered and the mag-
nitude of the task than they had discovered in all the twelve
months preceding. In sixty minutes they were made to realize
as never before, the inadequacy of their equipment, the dis-
couragement involved in each attempting the work alone, and
the impossibility of making an impression on the unevangel-
ized multitudes except by united, aggressive, enthusiastic ac-

As a result of the conference a permanent council was form-
ed, composed of representatives appointed by the societies of
the co-operating bodies. After careful consideration this
coimcil decided to recognize three lines of work as coming le-
gitimately within their purview : Work among the foreigners ;
work in the congested districts; the organization of new
churches. It was realized that the current methods of appeal
to those of foreign speech were provocative of ridicule. For
four or five denominations to be holding their little services
in rented storerooms almost side by side just across the street
from a towering cathedral is not calculated to arrest our
serious attention. To allow the rescue work of a great city to
be monopolized by the Salvation Army or irresponsible street


preachers, is not to the credit of organized Christianity. To
push new work in growing suburbs without regard to the de-
sire of the people or other agencies on the ground, must result
as always heretofore in financial waste, un-Christian rivalry,
inefficiency and the contempt of the world. The progress of
the Mission Council of Chicago will be watched with eager in-
terest. But a plan that will work in Chicago may not work
on the Pacific coast. A plan that will succeed in rural dis-
tricts may not meet the situation in the city. Even where
the conditions seem exactly alike in most particulars, a plan
that works well in one place will fail in another because of a
lack of leaders having the necessary vision and perseverance
and forbearance.

Thus it is becoming increasingly evident that the essential
thing in this matter of co-operative action in religious work is
not a method but a spirit.

Splendid work can be done with almost any method if the
right spirit is present. "When the wrong spirit prevails, the
most perfect method will fail utterly. Obviously then our
first step must be the cultivation of the spirit of unity be-
tween the denominations in the Home Mission enterprise. "We
must explain to the people how extravagant and ineffective
and un-Christian some of our present methods are. We must
make plain to them that our interests are common and that to
prevail, the common interests of the Kingdom must be exalted
above peculiar interests. "We must bring before them with all
the impressiveness their importance demands, the tremendous
perils now confronting the Church of Christ, perils too great
for our divided strength, but which an tmbroken front might
put to speedy rout.

Here are ten imperative reasons that come easily to mind
why immediate and earnest co-operation in Home Mission
work is necessary :

1. Present methods are inadequate to cope with the sit-
uation and avoid waste through the duplication of equip-

2. "Undue denominational zeal in efforts to secure re-
sults without regard to general conditions and need,


causes irritation, suspicion and estrangement between fol-
lowers of the same Master.

3. Divisions and unholy rivalries give unbelieving mul-
titudes occasions to scoff at Christianity as thus misrep-

4. Such evils as intemperance, Sabbath desecration and ,
Mammohism which are imperiling spiritual life every-
where, compel our combined strength if their swift ad-
vance is to be stayed.

5. The congested districts of our large cities oifer a
task as difficjilt as it is fascinating. Only a union of the
forces of evangelical Christianity can begin to command
the situation.

6. The foreign populations have swarmed to the great
centers until the very existence of Protestantism in some
of the cities is being endangered. Our workers are en-
gaged in a heroic fight but are slowly backing away.
Co-operative action is the only hope.

7. The Koman Catholic Church is rushing ahead by
leaps and bounds. One-fourth of the school population
of Chicago is now in parochial schools.

8. The growing spirit of comity in the ranks of the
laity demands that ecclesiastical strife shall cease, and co-
operative evangelism be pushed. The laymen have ob-
served that when our combined forces get into action, the
saloon begins to move, the cause of Foreign Missions as-
sumes new importance and even the politicians take no-

9. It is reasonable to suppose that yoimg men contem-
plating entering the ministry will turn away, not so much

because of the heroic work demanded as of senseless com-
petition between the religious bodies which stamp the
calling as trivial.

10. Only by means of unity of action will it be pos-
sible to offer an apologetic for Christ that the world shall
not be able to resist. Let the solemn words be repeated
again and again : ' ' That they all may be one *****
that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me."
The spectacle of the denominations here represented


working side by side in sincere, ardent fellowship, to ex-
tend the cause of our crucified and risen Lord, would
thrill the indifferent multitudes and compel sympathetic
attention to the message we preach.
These are some of the considerations that should be urged
upon the attention of the seventeen million Christian disciples
belonging to this Federal Council as reasons for' co-operation
in the extension of the Kingdom. "When the need is realized,
the desire will quickly follow, and the desire will embody it-
self in appropriate plans, as the conditions of the various
fields may require.

Long ago when all the disciples were gathered with one
mind in the place of prayer, God came upon the waiting com-
pany with mighty power. Pentecost with its fearless, pre-
vailing testimonies and its thousands seeking salvation, was
but the beginning of those marvelous ministries that have
been the study and inspiration of Christian disciples down to
this hour. Again, let the Lord's people be gathered together
with one accord in conference and prayer looking to the con-
quest of our land for our exalted Christ, and we shall be far
along towards the day when the knowledge of the glory of
the Lord shall cover the whole earth as the water drops cover
the channels of the great deep.

Tour Committee on Home Missions would offer the follow-
ing resolutions for action:

In view of the perils that confront our common cause, of the
necessity of co-operative action in extending the Lord's King-
dom and of our desire to cultivate that unity of the spirit for
which our Master prayed, be it resolved:

1. That this Federal Council expresses its profound con-
viction that the time has come for the various denominations
here represented to come together in frank, fraternal confer-
ence to consider their common interests in the extension of the
Lord's Kingdom, especially as they pertain to the cause of
Home Missions in urban and rural districts in order that
financial wastefulness may be stopped, unseemly rivalry elim-
inated and earnest co-operation secured in carrying on the
work of evangelization.

2. That in general Home Mission work throughout the land,


interdenominational commissions or State Federations be
formed, for the purpose of investigation, advice and the
formulation of plans for co-operating in the extension of God's
Kingdom in order that over-churched communities may be
relieved, unchurched communities supplied, and the cause
of Christ find a new place of honor in the hearts of men.

3. That we hail with gratitude the organization of a Home
Missions Council representing the principal Home Mission
organizations of the United States for the purpose of more
effective service.

4. That in the various cities where mission work is being
carried on, conferences between the different evangelizing
agencies be called, such as that held in Chicago during the past
year, and that special consideration be given to the matter of
federative action as regards work in congested districts, among
foreigners and in sections where new church organizations
may be contemplated.

5. That a committee consisting of representatives of the
liome Mission Council be requested to join the Executive
Committee of this Federal Council in issuing an appeal to the
seventeen million constituents in the fellowship of the two
councils, setting forth in succinct form the reasons for co-oper-
ation in Home Mission work. That this joint committee be re-
quested to aid in arrangements for the holding of mass meet-
ings in the strategic centers and to take such other action as
they may deem expedient in the interests of federated Home
Mission work.

The Church and Modern Industry

The Eev. Feank Mason North, D.D.*

The Churches of Christ as represented in this Federal
Council accept without reserve and assert without apology the
supreme authority of Jesus Christ.

We are one in Him
not only because we to-
gether share His spirit,
but because we ac-
knowledge His head-
ship. "Wherever the
path in which He leads
crosses other highways,
whether marked out by
the creeds of commerce,
the schools of philosio-
phy, the teachers of so-
cial theory, the masters
of theology, the agita-
tors for reform, the
critics of the Church, or
the feet of the multi-
tude, His disciples must
take all risks and fol-
low Him. 'Our inter-

THE KEV. FEANK MASON NORTH, D.D. ^ j^. » tt- i i

pretations of His teach-
ing and purpose are, doubtless, with growing light and new
conditions, subject to review and restatement, but no such
modification can force or allure the Church to surrender the
principle of His absolute authority in the individual heart

*Chairmaii of the Committee on The Church and Modern Industry;
other members: Miner Lee Bates, George Colby Chase, G. W. Clinton,
Wm. J. Darby, G. P. Eokman, G. Elliott, John G. Fagg, P. S. Grosscup,
John Hammond, H. P. Judson, J. B. Kanaga, George W. Kunkle, A. J.
McKelway, J. S. Mills, S. J. NiccoUs, A. L. Reynolds, S. D. Samuel,
J. XT. Schneider, L. H. Severance, Cortlandt Whitehead, Edward S. WoUe.

For the discussion of this paper see page 68.



and in the associated life of men. He charts our way. He
commands us.

Christ's mission is not merely to reform society but to save
it. He is more Ihan the world's Ee-adjuster. He is its Ee-
deemer. The changed emphasis put upon the Lord's prayer —
"Thy will be done on earth," must not deceive us. The
prayer for the coming of the Kingdom, for the doing of the
will of God on earth, gets its point from the fact that there
is a Heaven in which that will is done, — where the beatitudes
are always operative, and justice never falters, and truth
excludes all lies, where people hunger no more, neither thirst
any more, nor say they are sick, — a city that lieth four-
square. It will, we trust, not confuse the urgent cries for
the larger activity of the Church when we remind ourselves
that the Church becomes worthless for its higher purpose when
it deals with conditions and forgets character, relieves misery
and ignores sin, pleads for justice and imdervalues forgive-

Whatever comparisons may be made between the Church
as an organization for human betterment, and associations for
charity, societies for reform, fraternal orders, labor unions,
"movements" for social advantage, saloons as social clubs,
there is one contrast which never may be forgotten — ^the
Church stands forever for the two-world theory of life. Its
Kingdom passes beyond the horizon. In dealing with human
conditions the Church is bound to take the viewpoint of
Christ, and from that viewpoint are ever discernible the world
that now is and that which is to come. The Church's doors
open upon the common levels of life. They should never be
closed. Its windows open toward the skies. Let their light
not be darkened.

"With Christ's example before us, it is impossible to accept a
class Gospel or to deal with society on a class basis except
as the class affords the opportunity to reach men.

As the authority of Christ is binding upon men, not as la-
borers or capitalists, as wise or unlearned, as rich or poor,
so comes the message of the Gospel to men as men, not as
classified by the exigencies of external conditions or the
operation of social tendencies. The authority is final alike


at the council table and at the forge; the message carries
equal appeal to the man who gives to a common enterprise his
muscle and to him who gives to it his mind. To present a frag-
mentary Gospel is to ignore spiritual values. Every situation
in life produces and requires peculiar obligations, but the in-
dwelling Spirit who controls does not vary. The appeal of
the Gospel is based upon the inherent worth of every man in
God's sight.

Rich and poor, capitalist and laboring man, are not classifi-
cations and distinctions made by the Church of Christ; they
are natural or artificial groups existing in society. "Where
such terms are Used as "laboring classes," "industrial work-
ers," "employers," "capitalists," they should be regarded as
descriptive, not as class terms. To the Church there are but
two kinds of men — those who follow Christ and those who do

"The whole idea of 'laboring' classes seems fundamentally
abhorrent to the Christian conception of life. Jesus came to
make a fellowship of all classes by annihilating classes except
for certain superficial workaday ways of getting on together."
' ' The Church is a benefactor of all classes and must aim to es-
tablish a brotherhood as broad as human life and extending to
the lowest depths of human want."

The Church is not an end in itself. It is conserva-
tor of the truth, but it is the truth that counts. It
is custodian of history, but it is the facts preserved by it
that become current in the world 's work. It is the representa-
tive of Christ, but it is ambassador and neither King nor
province. In it the Spirit abides, that into all humanity He
may find His way. Upon it rests the Cross of Christ that the
world may learn His law of love. Through it is revealed the
meaning of righteousness, of justice, of salvation, not for its
own sake, but that sinners may be redeemed and that these
ideals may be worked into the lives of men and become the

Online LibraryPa.) Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in AmeriReport of the first meeting of the Federal Council, Philadelphia, 1908 → online text (page 24 of 53)