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They are made ready far faster than we enter in. Especially is this true in China and India. Mass movements deliver castes or communities into the missionary's hand with the suddenness of a landslide. The need of workers and of funds to meet these exigencies is appalling. It is no exaggeration but the simple truth to say that on more than one half the Board's fields today the problem is not how to find an approach to those one would reach but how to put off and yet hold on to those who are clamoring for help and for whom the resources are unsupplied. The heaviest strain on the missionaries, on board officials and on those who as corporate members direct the operations of this Board, must be the unmet cry of the fields that are ready for the reaper. How shall the American Board be enabled to do its part in the stupendous but assured undertaking of evangelizing the world? That is the large and abiding question. How shall it meet the calls now pressing and the new needs that the war will evoke? That is the question of the hour for those who are to counsel at New Haven.
REPORT OF THE CONGREGATIONAL HOME
GENERAL SECRETARY CHARLES E. BURTON
A BRIEF outline of the history of Home Missions may be in place in view of the changes proposed by the Commission on Missions. Organized Home Missions in the United States began with the formation of the Connecticut Home Missionary Society, in 1798, followed by that of Massachusetts in 1799, after which the other New England States interested themselves in the sending of the Gospel to the new communities to the westward and formed similar organizations. In 1826 the American Home Missionary Society was organized in New York originating in the contemporaneous initiative of the Massachusetts Society and an interdenominational organization in New York State and associating with it in affiliated relationship the other state bodies.
This corporation is now the Congregational Home Missionary Society. At the first Congregationalists were associated in it with the Presbyterian, the Reformed and the Associate Reformed churches. The latter two soon withdrew and at the dissolution of the Plan of Union such participation of the Presbyterians as had not already been diverted was withdrawn and since that time this organization has been the agency of the Congregationalists, although independent of national organic relationship until the Kansas City meeting of the National Council.
Beginning in New York and Vermont, the missionaries of this society have gone with the advancing front of settlement to every part of this nation. It has been the agency through which the Congregational church was saved from being a sectional communion or from being obliterated entirely.
For a time all the work of promoting religion and Christian education fell to the Home Missionary Societies. Churches and Sunday Schools were planted, sanctuaries were provided, literature was supplied, schools and colleges were started, young men were prepared for the ministry. But in 1816 the need for ministers both in self-supporting churches and missionary fields occasioned the organization of the American Society for thė Education of Pious Youth for the Gospel Ministry. This organization has absorbed two other societies whose work was to promote education, and is now the Congregational Education Society. In 1829 the Doctrinal Tract and Book Society, later called the Congregational Board of Publication, and in 1832 the Massachusetts Sabbath School Society were organized. Later these two merged to form the Congregational Publishing Society which became the Congregational Sunday School and Publishing Society in 1882. In 1852 the Albany Convention was impressed with the need of aggressive work in building churches and its committee, which at first worked largely through Home Missions, grew through the Congregational Union to the Church Building Society. In 1882 the Publishing Society began to function in planting Sunday Schools, and, finally in 1892 the National Council appointed a Committee on Ministerial Relief for aiding needy ministers and their families. This has developed into the Board of Ministerial Relief. Thus the forces which went single handed to the task of Christianizing America in 1798, have gradually shared functions with associates until the call has arisen for coordination.
Since the organization of the National Society in 1826 the receipts of the Society have amounted to $27,970,123.52 and 76,374 years of labor have been performed by its missionaries. No man can measure the spiritual forces which have issued from these years of devotion.
The two years since the Council last met have been good years. Reporting for the 24 months ending with the fiscal year of the Society on March 31, 1915, the receipts of the society with its affiliated state and city societies have been $1,308,007.89 or an average of $654,003.94 as compared with $582,539.00 per year for the three years reported at the last meeting of the National Council. The average number of missionaries per year has been 1,734 as compared with 1,743 in the last report to this body. These have worked in 2,220 stations, 424 of them preaching in 25 languages other than English, 194 new churches have been organized, 150 buildings for misssion churches have been built, and 54 parsonages erected. Fifty-seven churches have come to self-support. There are 2,265 Sunday Schools connected with the mission churches with an enrollment of 155,890. During the biennium 27,715 members have been added to the missionary churches, 17,185 on confession of faith.
The significance of these figures is realized only when we remember that here the church is perpetuating herself and increasing her strength. A constant stream of churches coming to self-support go on with their work after ceasing to appear in the statistics of home missions. These make possible all the good functions of the church. Were it not for thus replenishing the list of churches, in this or some other way, the church would soon cease to exist. For the biennium the Year Book reports the death of 191 churches and the birth of 220. Of these latter 194 were home missionary churches. Moreover, this is the day when city churches are mission churches and when dying churches are found in the same cities. This means that the strong churches of the future are mission churches today; and if these, are not established, now, there will be none to take the place of power and strength tomorrow.
It is a source of courage also to know that the power of the missionary has not languished. No biennium in the 89 years of the work of the society has seen so many new members added to the missions as has the past two years. There have been others when there was more money and others when there were more missionaries, but none when the effects were so large so far as we can measure them. Practically all the growth of the denomination in numbers as well as in churches is to be found here, as might be expected in these days of transition. Last year showed an increase in members in the home mission churches of 11.7% and that after dismissing 51 churches to the selfsupporting list. Deducting these gains from those reported in the last Year Book, leaves less than one-third of one per cent as the gain of the rest of the denomination, including the 51 churches dismissed to the self-supporting list and those mission churches not under the care of the Society. The church is wise when it sees that the perpetuation of its species with all its ministries is wrapped up in home missions.
The idea is a natural one, perhaps, that the call for home mission work is not so large as it once was.
New settlements have found their way to the Pacific and aside from Alaska the untouched territory is gone.
But the error of this is dissipated when it is remembered that new settlements are more numerous and more rapid than ever before.
(a) The New Frontier. Modern science has made the desert to blossom as the rose. Dry-farming methods and irrigation have made inhabitable countries that hitherto were non-productive. The ten states embraced in the Rocky Mountain region on the Pacific Coast and adjacent thereto are capable of maintaining a population close on to two hundred millions of souls — a region where there are now but six and a half millions or about the number there were in the entire country a century ago. It ought not to be a surprise if the growth of that region proves to be as rapid as has been the growth of the United States in the last century. In other words, we may look forward to a population of more than one hundred million in the ten western states where now there are less than seven millions. And this is only a part of the territory which is but sparsely settled in our great domain.
(b) The New Country. - But the older regions also are frontier in the sense that new conditions arise, new communities build up quickly, and new demands make old