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half. How wisely and generously he brought his great powers and ample scholarship to the service we must not linger to repeat, the fuller statement will devolve on others. But we must be permitted to say how near, and how tender is our share in the great loss which his death brought, not to our American Congregationalism and Christianity only, but to that which is world-wide.
Nor can we fail to remind you of what this committee said in its last report, in words from his own pen, of the importance of a revived Congregational Quarterly. We are “ still profoundly convinced that such a quarterly journal is indispensable to our best welfare as a denomination,” and we trust the time is not distant when the question of such a publication will take practical and concrete form in the hands of some earnest and expert editors and publishers who shall be ready to undertake this most useful service to Christ and the churches and carry it to success.
We have to report the issue of the Minutes of the Council in 1889 and of the Year-Books for 1890–2, with as much promptness as has been possible consistent with the maintenance - which we hold indispensable — of the high character it has reached in the past. We have endeavored to make each issue better than its predecessors. Of our success it is for the Council and the churches to judge. If by any means the Council can impress upon the churches the importance of more prompt and full returns, they can help those who have charge of future Year-Books to publish them in April instead of June.
We ought to call your attention to one feature of the Year-Book for 1890, the quinquennial statistics found in it. The gathering of these special statistics once in five years was approved by the Council of 1877, and the summaries obtained were given in the Year-Book of 1886. The condition of the treasury did nốt then warrant their publication in detail. In 1890 this reason for their omission was happily removed, and the committee judged that if they were worth collecting they were worth publishing.
Under the Council's previous action, their collection and publication will be again due in 1895. To this fact we call your attention not recommending any action, but raising simply the question whether it is the pleasure of the Council to modify the schedule or leave your past orders to their due working.
As in previous years, we have given careful attention to the question whether any reduction was practicable in our neces
sarily large printing bills. Cheaper work could be had. But this we assume that the churches do not want. For the quality of work done, it is clear to your committee that the house which has done our printing so long and so well, and we may add, with constant improvement, does not charge more than a fair price ; less than that the churches would rebuke us if we sought.
REPORT OF THE SECRETARY.1
In submitting this report I beg leave at the outset to call the attention of the Council to a question of interpretation of the Constitution too important to be decided by any authority less than your own.
ARTICLE II, paragraph 2, reads 6. The churches united in State organizations, appoint by such body one delegate,” etc. body which is not a State body a right to representation under this article? In the last National Council, the association of Southern California sent a delegate who was received apparently without notice of this question; and a brother honored and beloved comes to this Council on the same appointment. Shall he be so received? The Secretary has not felt that he could properly interpret the action of the Council at Worcester taken without discussion, as establishing a precedent in the face of the letter of our fundamental law. Principles are involved which reach beyond the very simple matter, to which all would be inclined, of welcoming Southern California. Shall we divide a State? Shall we consent to a geographical line? That might be harmless ; but how if the precedent should raise a similar question on lines wbich were not geographical? It is understood clearly to be the judgment of the Council and the churches that there shall be no division of States in the tables of the Year-Book. Can the Council consistently recognize division for representative purposes?
In reviewing the triennium since the last session of the Council, we may congratulate ourselves on the successful working of the arrangement, made in 1886, to conform our statistics to the civil year. The transition involved some inconvenience if not friction, in reducing the various dates in use to one. But the friction has been less in fact than in anticipation, and has substantially disappeared. The improvement in the value and convenience of our statistics has been too manifest for question. This period. 1889–92, is the first in which the results of this change have been secured throughout, and the figures form a more valuable study on this account.
1 Page 16.
I am directed by the By-Laws to “present comprehensive and comparative summaries for the three years.”
To this end I have prepared tables, which may be included in print, but need not be read in full. From them I glean a few special items.
The number of our churches has now fully reached 5,000 ; standing in January at 4,986. In the tables I have again arranged the churches in three groups, the Eastern, numbering eighteen States if we count the District of Columbia and Delaware, in which State only is no Congregational church; the Interior, numbering fourteen States between the east line of Ohio and the west line of Missouri ; and the Western also with eighteen States and Territories. In these divisions 2,120 of our churches are in the East, 1,842 in the Interior, and 1,024 in the West. During the period in review 138 churches were added in the East, 300 in the Interior, 270 in the West, a total of 708 ; but 291 disappeared, leaving a net gain of 417. The loss of almost one hundred churches each year from our rolls, suggests many questions needing careful consideration.
For memberships the three groups of States count in round numbers 302,000, 169,000, and 54,000, reaching a total of 525,000. The gain in the East was 15,090, or .053 per cent; in the Interior, 22,739, or .155 per cent; in the West, 11,660, or .275 per cent. The total gain has been 49,489, or 104 per cert; 16,500 per annum. In the gain of members Illinois heads the list with 4,892, followed closely by Massachusetts, then by Ohio and New York. Iowa and Minnesota, California and Michigan come next, only these eight having gained more than 2,000. The most notable percentages of gain are shown by Colorado 50 per cent, Oregon 73, and Washington.95. On a smaller basis Montana gained .87 and Idaho 3.95, all of which suggests the larger hope for the great Northwest in the coming years.
Of Infant baptisms the East counts 13,411, or 44 to 1,000 members; the Interior 10,374, or 61 to 1,000 members; and the West 4,764, or 90 to 1,000; a total of 28,549 or 54 to 1,000.
This is an apparent gain over the previous three years, of 891. In fact, it is probably two or three thousand larger, and shows a very encouraging increase. The reason for this remark is one of so much consequence to all who are accustomed to study the Year-Book's summaries, that it seems worth while to. call
your attention to it. All comparisons, wbich include the figures for 1887, call for allowances, because in that report the period covered is more than a year, varying from a few months in some States to a full year in others. The transition to a uniform date made this a necessity for once.
The progress of our Sunday Schools is encouraging. They have gained annually 15,100, and reach a total enrolment of 625,975. The gains are distributed; in the East, 9,955; the Interior, 21,635, and the West, 13,713.
The Young People's Societies have been first reported during this period; and in two years show a gain of 792 societies and in members, of 38,944, reaching a present total of 2,994 societies and 145,100 members.
In benevolent contributions, the total for three years is 87,117,073, an average per church member of $13.55, or $4.52 per annum. The increase, above the previous triennium is $1,138,806. The
East gave $4,710,725, an average of $15.58 per member; the • Interior, $2,006,649, an average of $11.87, and the West, $399,699, averaging $7.22.
The home expenditures increase $4,962,996 and reach a total of $18,929,790, and divide, to the East $10,852,111; the Interior, $5,633,207; and the West, $2,444,472.
The approach of the end of the century suggests some broader questions of progress, which may be timely. What gain has our Congregationalism to show for the hundred years? I have gone over this subject with some care and give approximate results in a table.
For Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine, the figures can be relied upon as reasonably exact, and for the rest of New England the error must be very small. In New York and Ohio, it is not easy to give definite totals. For the period before 1840, I have taken the reported dates of church organizations as they now stand in the tables. This, of course, takes no account of churches which have ceased to be, and the complications of the plan of union, with the Presbyterians, would increase the difficulty of reaching any satis
factory results. The problem of working out more definite conclusions deserves the careful attention of historic students among those churches.
Without repeating all the items of the table, the comprehensive statement is that we have increased from 850 churches in 1800 to 5,000 in 1892, and that in the last decade we added 1,072 churches to the roll. In 1800 there were not 50 churches out of New Eng. land, 30 or 40 in New York, one in Ohio, one in South Carolina, one in Georgia, and one or two in New Jersey. In 1830, Michigan had added two to the roll, and in 1840 Illinois had 40 churches, Indiana three, Wisconsin 15, and we had crossed the Mississippi with six churches in Iowa. In 1850, we had reached the Pacific with four churches in Oregon and two in California.
In 1860, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska are found on the roll; and in 1870, Alabama, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming appear, the largest accession of State names which any decade has brought, or is likely to bring, to our fellowship. In 1880 we find Arizona, Indian Territory, Nevada, West Virginia, and the last decade has brought us Arkansas, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oklahoma. Delaware and Alaska remain to be possessed.
In 1886, I presented a table, comparing the membership of our churches with the total population of the country. This I repeat with the addition of the figures from the census of 1890. This develops a fact from which we may take some courage. The downward tendency in the ratio between the population of the country and the membership of our churches was arrested during this decade, and from 1.130 it rose to 1.126.
In our theological seminaries it is cheering to record a gain in the number of graduates. In the three years, 1883-6, 256 students were graduated ; 1886–9, 284, and 1889–92, 346. If to these are added the increasing number of special students, found mostly at Chicago and Oberlin, and largely in training for labor among our foreign populations, there is ground for greater encouragement, and the average number in our seven seminaries for the three years has reached 556.