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801.90 2,000.00 4,165.00
2.70 50.00 166.97 151.66
RECEIPTS Subscriptions from churches to Federal Council. Special contributions for Social Service Commission..
THE Commission has held five meetings during the biennium, each occupying the greater part of two days. The resignations of three members have been accepted: that of Mr. George M. Vial, offered by reason of a serious illness which resulted in his death; that of Rev. Frank M. Sheldon, made necessary by his election to the secretaryship of the Congregational Education Society; and that of Mr. James Logan, as a result of impaired health. Their places have not been filled. By the lamented death of Dr. Samuel B. Capen the American Board was deprived of representation on the Commission. Rev. E. M. Noyes was on nomination of the Board elected to take his place. A few weeks since Mr. H. Clark Ford, another member of the Commission, of long and faithful service in denominational affairs, passed away. Just prior to the Council Meeting the Commission's strength was still further reduced by the resignation of Mr. A. W. Benedict.
The duties of the Commission as presented in the ByLaws of the Council are as follows:
“While the Commission on Missions shall not be charged with the details of the administration of the several missionary societies, it shall be its duty to consider the work of the home and foreign societies above named, to prevent duplication of missionary activities, to effect all possible economies in administration, and to seek to correlate the work of the several societies so as to secure the maximum of efficiency with the minimum of expense. It shall have the right to examine the annual budgets of the several societies and have access to their books and records. It may freely give its advice to the said societies regarding problems involved in their work, and it shall make recommendations to the several societies when, in its judgment, their work can be made more efficient or economical. It shall make report of its action to the National Council at each stated meeting of that body and present to said Council such recommendations as it may deem wise for the furtherance of the efficiency and economical administration of the several societies. In view of the evident conviction of a large portion of the churches that the multiplicity of the Congregational Home Societies is not consistent with the greatest economy and efficiency, the Commission on Missions shall examine present conditions and shall recommend to the National Council such simplification or consolidation as shall seem expedient.'
In the endeavor to discharge the obligations thus imposed your Commission has considered more or less fully many aspects of our missionary organization and task. Concerning most of these it has not felt that the time is ripe for specific advice. In some cases it cannot express a confident judgment without further study. In others the course to be followed will depend in some degree on the plans adopted looking to the realignment of the home land agencies. A recommendation concerning such realignment is contained in a special section of the Commission's report. Among other matters alluded to the following call for mention:
It is absolutely essential that missionary agencies spend large sums for educational and promotional ends. A great variety of factors have come into use in this field, such as leaflets, charts, pictures, maps, stereopticon slides, exhibits, magazines, and text books, as well as institutes, conferences and platform addresses. The field of publicity, therefore, becomes highly complicated and constitutes a specialized branch of missionary responsibility. All mission executives are agreed that existing methods are far from perfect and are diligently seeking ways to improve them. The matter is one of great difficulty. Any who are disposed to criticise would find their criticism disarmed by the chastening experience of personal wrestling with the problem. The Commission has no confident wisdom to contribute to the question. It is studying the matter along with our missionary administrators in the hope that out of thought and conference results of value may be obtained. During the biennium special attention has been given to the subject of our missionary magazines. Two magazines are published by the national societies and two by the Women's Boards. In some degree each competes with the other. The circulation of each is in round numbers as follows:
The Missionary Herald..
To what extent these lists overlap cannot be said. Presumably, however, not more than thirty-five thousand families out of the hundreds of thousands affiliated with our churches are receiving one or more of these magazines. But aside from this regrettably small percentage we cannot ignore the question whether the present plan is calculated to produce the spirit of interested anticipation which leads to a thoughtful reading of the matter published.
Only a little over half the total number of copies circulated go to paid subscribers. Gratuitous distribution is of necessity made to a large number of life members and others. Partly because of this and partly because in some if not all cases the subscription price is less than the cost of production there is an annual deficit on these magazines of about $25,000. This figure is based on the figures given by the Boards as to cost of manufacturing, mailing, etc., plus a conservative estimate of the cost of editorial service, rent and clerical help.
The Commission is clearly convinced that the expenditure of this amount is justifiable, since these magazines render an indispensable service. But it is justifiable only if no way can be found to reduce it without impairment of efficiency. The Commission has been of necessity so preoccupied with questions of organization that it has not yet been able to give this subject the prolonged and careful study needed. It expects to follow the matter up and hopes to present to the next Council a plan which shall represent progress.
JOINT EDUCATIONAL SECRETARY
For several years the Missionary Boards have been practically agreed in the judgment that there should be a joint secretary giving his whole time to definite and systematic promotion of the whole range of missionary knowledge and interest, particularly among the young. The Commission shares this belief and has advised the Boards to go forward. Thus far, however, one obstacle and another has prevented action. It is hoped that before long the plan may become an actuality. The reasons for the existence of such an official are various and cogent. Negatively, it is clean that the present method by which seven national organizations and various women's agencies seek to reach the young people with missionary knowledge along largely unrelated lines is not ideal. Sunday School superintendents and Christian Endeavor workers as well as pastors are bewildered and repelled by the manifold and unorganized appeal. Positively, the joint educational secretary could reach the young life of the churches more completely and effectively than they are now reached because he would have a free field in which to work out a comprehensive plan and because of the specialized skill which presumably he would develop. The official relationship of such a Secretary has been the subject of much discussion in the Commission. At the outset it was planned that he should work under the guidance of a joint committee of the seven Boards and the women's Boards. It is still believed by many, if not most of the missionary secretaries, that such plan is wisest. The Commission is reluctant to propose a plan which runs counter to their judgment and experience. But after repeated consideration of the matter it finds itself compelled to the belief that the work of such a secretary should be affiliated with that of other branches of religious education and should, therefore, be one of the departments of