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There has been brought to the attention of the Committee the feeling of some in our fellowship that the time has come to abandon the custom of asking the local churches at the place of meeting to entertain delegates, thus confining their hospitality simply to arranging for the Council meetings and acting as agents for delegates in securing suitable and inexpensive quarters. No recommendation on this point is offered. If the Council wishes to consider the matter it may be of interest to state that there are eighteen cities having Congregational churches aggregating in membership three thousand or more. Only eight of these have entertained the National Council since its organization in 1871. The present session is the first case of a return to a city where a former meeting has been held. Eight cities of less than the Congregational strength named have entertained the Council. To this total of twenty-six cities in which the Council has been held, or in which there is a large Congregational constituency should perhaps be added the names of two cities not falling in either list but which would seem suitable and practicable meeting places, viz., Milwaukee and Omaha. To cover the circuit of these twenty-eight cities in biennial session would require fifty-six years.
In this connection it is natural to mention the long mooted question of providing for the payment of the expenses of delegates. Your Committee has no wisdom upon the subject but is prepared to give it further study. It may be doubted whether the results of paying the entire cost of attendance as seen in certain denominations are sufficiently desirable to suggest the adoption of such plan even if funds were available. On the other hand it appears impossible to doubt that an arrangement by which those coming from a distance should be relieved of the expense of the trip down to a certain average or maximum rate would be full of benefit. An expenditure of $10,000 for each Council meeting would go far under a wisely conceived plan to diminish the infelicities of the existing situation.
Certain matters connected with the membership of the Council call for consideration. The maximum number of delegates possible under the basis of representation provided by the constitution is a little over seven hundred. The Secretary has been diligent to notify all local and state organizations of the privilege and duty of choosing delegates, but as the result of some cases where no election was had, and of others where delegates were unable to attend, there are only about five hundred present at this meeting. While the great area of our nation and the scattered constituency of our denomination will continue to prevent the gathering of a Council of maximum size, it would appear worth while for this Council by resolution to urge that no Association or Conference fail to send its full quota, save after persistent effort to secure the assigned number of delegates. The grave responsibilities which the Council faces under its new plan of organization call for the fullest possible attendance. Of the delegates chosen
are for terms definitely assigned by the bodies choosing them. The remainder must be classified by action of the Council. It is recommended that each delegation be divided alphabetically, those whose names begin with the earlier letters being in the two-year class and those with the later letters in the four-year class. It is further recommended that in the case of delegations composed of an odd number of persons the proportion be adjusted in such manner as to divide the total membership of the Council into substantially equal parts.
NAMES OF STATE BODIES
By mutual agreement among representatives of the white and colored churches of Louisiana the 1914 Year Book shows two organizations for that state. This makes four states in which there are separate bodies representing the two groups of churches. This situation appears to have been accepted as the one under all the circumstances necessary and desirable. In two of the four states the organization of white churches is known as a Conference, in one an Association and in one a Convention. In two of them the organization of colored churches is called a Conference, in one an Association and in one a Convention. We shall offer a recommendation looking toward the securing of a uniform nomenclature.
Early in the biennium your Committee sought conference with the Congregational Board of Pastoral Supply relative to a possible expansion of its work. The suggestion was welcomed and as the outcome of effort along this line the Board has taken steps to broaden its field of service. Ever since its organization the Board has been the representative and servant of the churches of Massachusetts dealing directly with them and with ministers seeking settlement in them. It has also rendered similar service on request in other states, making a suitable charge therefor. By recent action of various New England Conferences the Board now represents them as well as Massachusetts, dealing with their churches in the same way. Such an arrangement. is manifestly impossible over the whole of the nation. On the one hand the nature of the state organizations in the states of the central west does not permit it. On the other hand no Board can have sufficiently intimate knowledge of local conditions over a wide area to be of material service. But it would seem entirely possible for the Board to act as a bureau of information for state offices throughout the nation. A beginning has been made in working out a plan for rendering such service. The problem is a somewhat complex one and it is not possible to say just what shape it should take. But the great importance of instituting an effective method by which ministers and churches may be brought together makes it imperative that we continue the effort to discover such method.
THE FEDERAL COUNCIL
It has been the custom ever since the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America was organized to raise our denominational share of its support wholly or partly by solicitation from local churches. For the year 1914 your Committee continued this plan, availing itself of the aid of the Commission on Comity, Federation and Unity. The total amount needed ($749) was secured with a small surplus, which was also forwarded to the Federal Council. We feel that this plan should be discontinued. On the one hand it is absolutely essential that the Federal Council shall secure from Congregational sources more than the amount assigned us under the formal plan of allotment if it is to do the great and growing work which it has undertaken. It is obliged, therefore, to solicit funds from Congregational individuals and churches. This duplicates to some extent the solicitation carried on by our own Council and is confusing to the churches. On the other hand it appears more equitable to pay our denominational allotment from the general treasury, thus enabling all the churches to have their due share in a work to which they are all related. Accordingly your Committee is this year sending quarterly from the Council treasury the sum due under the plan in force. Full details regarding the increasingly significant service of the Federal Council will doubtless be given you by the Commission on Federation, Comity and Unity.
THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION
October 31, 1917, will be the four hundredth anniversary of the nailing of the theses by Martin Luther to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. The Federal Council has recommended to its constituent bodies that they regard this event as central and symbolic in the Protestant Reformation, and that they arrange for its suitable celebration. We bring the matter to the attention of the Council and shall offer a formal recommendation.
WOMEN PARISH WORKERS
The Secretary has submitted to your Committee the results of an inquiry concerning the work of women parish assistants in our denomination. At the National Council meeting of 1889 and again in 1904 Committees previously appointed presented a carefully digested report as to the nature and value of the work done by deaconesses, or their equivalent under other title, in various denominations. The recommendation of these committees that our denomination take steps to develop this arm of our service was approved. As has not infrequently happened in such matters, nothing further was done. No steps were taken to enlist such workers, to locate them where needed or to give them a recognized status in the denomination. At only one point have we exhibited a corporate interest in the matter and this has been on the part of a very small group. This interest has shown itself in providing training schools where lay-women workers might prepare themselves. The Hartford School of Religious Pedagogy has many women thus engaged, with the emphasis, of course, on the educational feature of their contemplated work. The Schauffler Training School at Cleveland has given training to a large number of women mainly for work among immigrants, and the Chicago Training School has been established to train women with specific reference to parish service. But the encouragement to enter these schools, or to seek work in the denomination, having passed through them, has not been large because of the conditions mentioned above. Nevertheless there are now in the service of our Congregational churches about one hundred and twenty-five women parish workers. Their work is of wide variety and with many different combinations of function. A few are pastor's secretaries; more are parish visitors; a still larger number are both. Some work solely in the interest of the Sunday School. A small number are chiefly occupied with the financial affairs of the church.
There would appear to be no room to doubt the value of this type of service. While it has been more abun