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now at liberty to respond to calls from any part of the country where he may be needed. As the last Year Book reports that the debts of our churches amount to nearly $4,000,000, he is likely to find his time fully occupied for a good while. He will also be glad to advise with churches suffering from a slipshod and haphazard financial system, and show them how by a better financial method they can raise more money, do more good, and increase the spiritual effectiveness of the church.
This Society during these two years has continued its efforts to persuade the churches seeking its aid to give more careful attention to the architecture of their buildings. There are many places of worship of which we cannot be proud. Some are grotesque and repellent to the taste. We cannot control the churches in this matter since plans are usually selected before application is made for our aid. Different sections have their preferred styles of building, and sometimes disapproval is resented. Many places are too remote for visits by our representatives till the work has progressed too far for change to be made.
Yet we are able to influence the churches somewhat by suggestion. We urge that a church building should be churchly, on the sound architectural principle that a building should in its structure bear witness to the object for which it is erected. A house of God should be easily recognized as a temple of worship; it should not look like a bank, or a warehouse, or a social club house. It should have a stately dignity and beauty of its own, befitting the place where men have audience with the King. Its proportions and lines should be carefully adapted to the purpose for which the building is intended. Its decorations should be chaste and refined, yet as artistic and attractive as possible. Its rooms for the varied service which the church is to render should be wisely arranged. It is better to have the assistance of an experienced architect when possible, yet even the simplest and least expensive house of worship may be excellent if these principles are observed and the best models are studied.
We try, therefore, to give the churches from time to time suggestive illustrations of good churches for their study. These vary much, from the Colonial beauty of a New England meetinghouse, with its white steeple (which owes much to the genius of Sir Christopher Wren), to the modified Gothic of some city churches; from the “Spanish mission” style preferred by some on the Pacific Coast, to the Greek temple style favored by others, and the varied Romanesque forms; from the auditorium on the plan of an ancient basilica with its long parallelogram, to one shaped like a Greek cross with four equal arms. Tastes differ, and therefore plans differ. But whatever the style adopted, or whether the building be costly and ornate, or simple and inexpensive, the house of worship may have a nobility and attractiveness of its own if the builders observe the elemental principles of good taste and are guided by the best models. We hope to do still more to assist the churches in this important matter.
INCREASING OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR SERVICE
Notwithstanding our steadily increasing receipts which have enabled us to do a larger amount of church and parsonage building than ever, we do not begin to have money enough to meet the rapidly growing needs. The applications pour in upon us much faster than we can take care of them. They indicate a vigor and vitality in our church life which many do not appreciate. We are growing, and like many a sturdy youth we are outgrowing our clothes. The garments that fitted us fairly well at an earlier period are no longer large enough to fit our expanding life. New churches are constantly being organized. Those which were new twenty-five or forty years ago have so developed in numbers and strength that they are bursting out of the old equipment which we helped them to obtain in their infancy. They must have something larger and better today, something that will meet the new conditions and opportunities of this later time. .
All this spells opportunity for us. The broadening Kingdom gives us a chance to render larger service than ever before. The multiplying needs are so many open doors into which we may press to help humanity and to advance the cause of Christ. The population of our country has passed the hundred million mark. It is hard work for the great denominations to keep pace with this national growth in the effort to make religion a vital factor in molding the Nation. We must do our part in it by organizing, sheltering and equipping more churches. ganizing influences that imperil the Republic must be counteracted by more church life and power.
The tremendous opportunity is emphasized by the result of recent inquiry as to unchurched localities in our country. Investigations by the Home Missions Council show that there are many hundreds of communities west of the Mississippi large enough for a post-office which have no services of religion at all. There are unoccupied fields in the East also. A recent study of one of our New England states revealed the fact that it contained 31,051 inhabitants in 136 towns without any present church service; and 8,562 more in 19 towns, served only by “supplies."
There is a vast and growing spiritual need in our country today. The steadily increasing call for larger funds to aid in erecting churches is not born of sectarian zeal, but of the urgent need throughout the Nation of a better equipment for that absolutely necessary work which our churches are called upon to do. Some superfluous churches ought to be federated. Some, whose work is done and whose usefulness is ended, ought to die, and the proceeds of sale be put into other churches. But hundreds of new churches ought to be organized each year to minister to our increasing millions, and these churches must be sheltered. And hundreds of others must be enlarged and adapted to the new conditions of our modern life.
UNUSUAL APPEALS FOR AID
The general need of increasing this form of service is accentuated by many very unusual opportunities for our service recently urged upon us. Here are some of them. In Canton, Ohio, McKinley's home-city, a new Congregational church has recently been organized with a large membership, a large Sunday School, and with several hundred in its congregation. It has built a temporary tabernacle for worship, but it needs a good, commodious, attractive church building for a permanent working plant. It cannot get it unless the Church Building Society renders large and generous help.
In Chattanooga, Tenn., a new Congregational church has recently been organized with a large membership and its congregation of four hundred to five hundred have filled the court house, their temporary meeting place. Leading citizens of the city are in the enterprise, and they have in a marked degree the favor of the community. They need at once a large and well appointed sanctuary, and must have a generous expression of our fellowship in substantial aid.
At Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, the seat of the State University with its thousands of students, a good lot has been secured on the very border of the campus, and a great effort is being made to build upon it a $50,000 house of worship to be the home of our University church. They are asking this Society to lend a hand to this important enterprise.
At Houston, Texas, our Congregational church some years ago acquired a property formerly occupied by another denomination. The building is small and poor, a bare shelter for the little flock. If the church is to grow and do its proper work in this important city it must have a good church building well adapted for all kinds of Christian service. It is making a most urgent appeal for our co-operation, which is absolutely essential for its success.
San Antonio, Texas, a city of historic interest, is a great health-resort. Hundreds of northern people flock thither because of its favoring climate. We have a promising young church worshipping in a hall. But it can have no permanence and prosperity unless it can have a suitable sanctuary. It can purchase a good building, well located, from a church which is moving from that site, provided the Church Building Society can take hold of the enterprise with them in a strong way.
We need additional funds of not less than $50,000 to properly care for these five cases alone, and they are only samples of the new appeals constantly coming. Our work in Texas is likely to increase. That great state, six times as large as New York and four times as large as New England, with a population of about four millions, has. sixty cities with a population of from five thousand to a hundred thousand each. Many from the North and the Middle West have gone to make their homes there. Our thirty-one churches of the Pilgrim faith and polity are likely to be multiplied. We ought to be ready to aid the new young churches when called upon.
The remarkable growth of cities in this country has imposed a heavy burden on this Society. Fortunately our Loan Funds have enabled us to meet the tremendous and growing needs of churches in the great, teeming centers of population, though not as adequately as we could wish. City work is difficult. Land values are so high that the cost of a lot is often a very heavy initial tax on a young church. Building regulations in cities are strict, and the cost of construction is higher than elsewhere, so that the resources of the members are often exhausted long before the completion of the house of worship is in sight. City missionary societies can often assist in the purchase of the lot, and in financing of the earlier stages of construction, but their funds are limited. Out of thirty city missionary societies only a few can help much toward the church building. In a recent year out 'of $100,000 raised by city societies, only $8,000 could be applied to buildings. Their funds are usually needed in large measure for the support of the pastors. In every part of the country the city churches turn to their national, helper for aid in paying last bills, and modern needs compel them to ask us for larger sums than ever before.
The Church Building Society feels that this city work