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is of imperative importance. Although it began as a helper of rural and frontier churches, and much of its work is still for such churches, the changed conditions have broadened its field of service. The nearly seven hundred and fifty churches in large cities which have been aided from its funds, into which we have put more than two million four hundred thousand dollars, give impressive testimony to this branch of our work.
During the two years now reported we have rendered assistance in thirty-three of our largest cities, putting into our churches located in them more than $166,000. These include the greatest cities in the country, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Boston, Cleveland and Buffalo. They include also such cities as Scranton and Wilkesbarre, Pa.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Oshkosh and Racine, Wis.; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.; Denver, Colo.; Wichita, Kan.; New Orleans, La.; Dallas and Houston, Tex.; Helena, Mont.; Boise, Idaho; Spokane, Seattle and Tacoma, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Cal.; Providence, R. I.; and Oklahoma City, Okla. We have also given aid to churches in many smaller cities, making a total of one hundred and twenty-three city churches aided in these
A FIRST-PAYMENT FUND FOR CITIES
This Society from the beginning has followed the rule of paying only last bills, thus leaving the churches it helped out of debt except for the loans it received from this Society. The extraordinary needs of city work, however, have made it seem wise to secure, if possible, a FirstPayment Fund to assist in securing suitable lots and taking initial steps in building. This would greatly accelerate the work of the Home Missionary Society or of the City Missionary Society having the care of such young enterprises. The last National Council referred this matter to the Commission on Missions, but with instructions to approve no plan likely to interfere with the successful prosecution of the Apportionment Plan. A Fund of $1,000,000 has been spoken of for this particular line of work, and it is not too large an amount to meet the urgent need. It would be quickly absorbed and exhausted unless a considerable part of it were made a Loan Fund; but whether used as grants or loans it would be of inestimable service in helping our churches to do their proper share of the great task of saving the city. No plan has been matured for securing such a Fund as yet, but it looms large as one of our needs.
Taking these unusual needs and appeals together, adding to them the constantly increasing demands for rural and frontier work, and keeping in mind the fact that the requests for our aid have so multiplied in the last few years that a new application may have to wait a year or more before it can be reached for consideration and appropriation, it seems clear that this branch of service, so vital to the prosperity of our churches and the progress of the denomination, ought to have a great increase in its Loan Funds till they shall total $2,000,000 and an income of not less than $500,000 a year with which to assist churches in their building enterprises. We are looking hopefully for another Joseph H. Stickney or Daniel Hand or John L. Kennedy or George Peabody to dedicate a fortune to this particular kind of service.
REMARKABLE GROWTH OF CHURCH BUILDING IN
That we may well entertain the hope for a large increase in our funds is plain from the experience of other denominations as well as our own. Those which have addressed themselves to this specific task with energy and wisdom have had great success, and their people have been so convinced of the immense value and importance of this branch of work that they have given surprisingly large amounts to sustain it. Not until the middle of the last century did systematic effort for this particular form of service begin. The results to date are remarkable.
Seventeen leading denominations in the Home Missions Council report that since they began the work of giving aid toward Church Erection they have helped to complete more than 54,000 houses of worship and parsonages. They have raised for this special kind of service more than $44,000,000. Their receipts last year were nearly $2,500,000. They put more than $2,000,000 into the completion of 1,558 churches last year. And they have acquired permanent Funds amounting to more than $11,000,000. A part of these Funds are invested, the income only being used to aid churches; a part goes out directly to the churches, to be returned that it may be used again and again.
Of these churches thus reporting, some combine their church building work with their home missionary work: a majority of them make this a separate and specific form of work through a society or board for this particular purpose. Those having a separate organization for this work appear to be much the most successful. Five denominations having such a separate Society or Board for this work — Presbyterian (North), Methodist (South), Congregational, Christian (Disciples) and United Presbyterian — have helped to erect three-fifths of the churches and parsonages, and raised more than half of the $44,294,780 which the seventeen raised. They helped to build last year 887 churches and manses (considerably more than half) putting into them $1,378,389 (much more than half).
The most successful organization in many respects, is the Presbyterian Board of Church Erection, which has helped to build more than 10,600 churches and manses. It has more than three and a half million dollars invested funds, the interest from which yielded last year more than $158,000, which with the money received from other sources enabled it to put more than $438,000 into the 269 buildings completed. Its large permanent funds are due in large measure to the sagacity and generosity of the late John L. Kennedy who, as though esteeming Foreign Missions, Home Missions, and Church Erection as of equal importance, left to each Board an identical bequest amounting in each case to more than two and a half million dollars. That denomination is well equipped to meet the increasing opportunity for developing its church life, and is using it nobly.
A close second among the separate organizations is the Methodist (South) Board of Church Extension which has helped to build more than 11,000 churches and parsonages. Last year it put $367,826 into 329 buildings for church use.
Its receipts last year were nearly four hundred thousand dollars, and its total receipts in the thirtythree years since it began amount to more than five and a quarter million dollars.
The Congregational Church Building Society holds a high place in this work, and though the eleventh denomination in the number of churches and members, it stands third in the amount of its receipts from the beginning ($7,676,650) and in the amount of its permanent funds ($1,192,912) and fourth in the number of buildings erected (5,815), receipts last year ($309,097), and buildings completed last year (167). During the last ten years 1,328 new Congregational churches were organized, an average of a hundred and thirty-two a year, and this Society has helped to equip them on the material side, so that their life and growth have offset in some measure the lamentable death and disappearance of 1,142 other churches. Had our Society not come to the rescue of the newborn churches doubtless many of them would have perished also. This Society is also in advance of most of the seventeen Societies or Boards now reporting in the variety of its work, and in the use of its Loan Funds in aid of churches having no present relation to the Home Missionary Society, more than half the churches it aided last year being self-supporting churches.
A very notable work is being done by the Board of Church Extension of the Christians (or Disciples), which since organizing as a separate branch of service in 1888 has in twenty-seven years developed a Loan Fund of $1,145,000, all of which is kept at work in ceaseless rotation, going out in loans and returning for immediate use again. They give no "grants,” but have helped to complete 1,767 houses of worship in that rapidly growing denomination.
Six other smaller denominations are doing good work through their separate Boards, though not nearly as much as those named. They have helped to erect about 2,500 churches altogether and have raised for the purpose more than three million dollars.
Of the denominations which have united their churchbuilding work with their home missionary work, only one is doing an amount at all commensurate with that of the churches and societies named above. The shining exception is the Methodist church (North) which is able to build more churches and parsonages, and put more money into them than any other denomination. This is possible for them because for a half-century they built up under the energetic leadership of the late Dr. A. J. Kynett a great permanent fund now amounting to nearly two million dollars ($1,906,402). The interest from this fund enables them to do a large work, and having recently entered into union with the Home Missionary Society they are permitted to use for building purposes twenty per cent of the common receipts. This enabled them last year to help complete 448 churches and parsonages into which they put nearly $400,000. The total fruitage of the great Church Extension work in which Dr. Kynett was so conspicuous a figure is 16,500 churches and parsonages, and the devoted and loyal people in that great division of the Christian host had such enthusiasm for this branch of service that they gave to it all told more than thirteen and a half million dollars ($13,556,744). This has been a large factor in promoting the wonderful growth of that great denomination. It is a splendid record, but would not have been possible had not the work been built up into strength as a separate organization. Whether the receipts and the number of churches built can be maintained under the new combination is still a question. They complain, like ourselves, that only sixty per cent of their apportionment is collected. Yet they have a system of church control far superior to ours for effective persuasion of the churches to give the full apportionment - a system, however, which we could not adopt without surrendering that freedom which we so highly prize.
The Baptists (North) are more nearly like ourselves in polity and ideals. For thirty-two years their Church