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MISCELLANEOUS MATTERS

A variety of matters have been before the Commission of which some will call for mention in future reports while others represent simply passing phases of the Commission's responsibility. Among these are such subjects as the system of district secretaries, the type of state organization which will best fit into a wisely constructed national missionary structure, the proper organization to care for our colored churches, the relation of women's organizations home and foreign to the National Boards, the financial aspects of our work, the conduct of the work of training ministers for churches composed of immigrants, etc.

THE RELATION OF THE BOARDS TO THE COUNCIL At the request of the Commission the different Boards have filed with its Secretary statements as to action taken to conform to the request of the Council regarding voting membership as contained in the Council Minutes of 1913. These may be summarized as follows: The American Board, the American Missionary Association, the Congregational Home Missionary Society and the Congregational Church Building Society have made the necessary changes in their constitutions. The Congregational Sunday School and Publishing Society at its meeting in 1914 gave the required notice of changes and will act upon the same at the annual meeting to be held in connection with this Council. At the annual meeting of the Congregational Education Society in June 1915, resolutions embodying the needful changes were introduced but action was not completed. The Woman's Home Missionary Federation has expressed its desire to co-operate in the Council's plans and each of the Woman's Foreign Boards has adopted the following resolution:

“This Board hereby expresses its approval of the new attitude of responsibility toward the foreign work of the churches on the part of the National Council, and places on record its desire to co-operate heartily with the American Board and the Council for greater effectiveness in the extension of Christ's Kingdom abroad.”

REPORT OF COMMISSION ON MISSIONS

SECTION 2 READJUSTMENT OF MISSIONARY AGENCIES In addition to the general duties assigned to the Commission on Missions by the National Council, at Kansas City, October, 1913, the specific problem which this report seeks to meet was committed to it for study and recommendation in the following item of instruction: "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."

At the first regular meeting of the Commission, at Buffalo, N. Y., held December 2–3, 1913, there was appointed a Committee on Organization consisting of President Donald J. Cowling, Chairman, President Henry Churchill King, Rev. Carl S. Patton, Judge Samuel 0. Prentice, Rev. William R. Campbell, Hon. David P. Jones, Mr. H. Clark Ford, and Miss Sarah Louise Day. This Committee was instructed to study the charters and constitutions of the several societies, and to make such inquiry concerning their organization, methods of administration, collection, and expenditure, as might be necessary to determine the practicability of further economies, simplifications, federations and possible consolidations. At the next regular meeting of the Commission, at Chicago, Ill., January 20–21, 1914, the Committee on Organization was enlarged by the appointment of the following additional members: Rev. William H. Day, Rev. F. M. Sheldon, Mr. George M. Vial, Rev. F. H. Page, and Rev. Watson L. Phillips. At the same meeting a special subcommittee was appointed consisting of President Donald J. Cowling, Chairman, Rev. Edward M. Noyes, and Dr. Lucien C. Warner. This sub-committee was charged with responsibility for gathering such specific detailed information concerning the present status of all the societies as might

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enable the Commission to carry out intelligently the task committed to it.

The work of the Commission was greatly furthered by the Conference of Congregational leaders held at Chicago, Ill., January 17-19, 1914, immediately preceding the meeting of the Commission. This Conference, convened under the auspices of the Commission on Missions, comprised the outstanding leaders in our state work from every section of the country, and also national and district representatives of all our national societies. Before this large and representative gathering of Congregational leaders there was presented a series of "regional surveys," carefully prepared in advance, setting forth in figures, comparisons, and general deductions the status and outlook for our denomination in every part of the country. The fruitful discussion following the presentation of this material took final form in a series of recommendations, all of which were carefully considered by the Commission. Such of these recommendations as bear upon the subject of this report and received the indorsement of the Commission are incorporated in the proposals hereinafter. submitted.

A further step taken by the Commission in its effort to gain a full understanding of its problem before attempting its solution, is represented by the first-hand study of the societies themselves made by the chairman of the sub-committee on Organization. He spent more than three weeks in March, 1914, in the offices of the several societies in Boston and New York, and in consultation with the various officers and friends of these denominational agencies. Conferences were held with the Boards of Directors of several of the societies and also with various individuals and groups at which representatives of many or all of the societies were present.

On the basis of the data thus obtained from the Chicago Conference and through the direct inquiries just indicated, and having in mind also the numerous previous proposals for the realignment of our societies, and the general trend of recent movements in other denominations, the first draft of the present report was sketched late in March, 1914, by the Secretary of the National Council and the chairman of the sub-committee on Organization.

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This preliminary draft of the report was brought before the Commission's Committee on Organization at a meeting in Boston, June 16, 1914. Every detail was studied carefully, and the report, as re-written after this meeting, represented the best judgment of those present. Copies were sent to all the members of the Commission on Missions.

The report in this form was then submitted to representatives of the national societies at a meeting in Boston, September 17, and at a similar gathering in New York, September 18, 1914. Careful note was made of the discussions at these meetings, and the results were brought before the Commission on Missions at a meeting in Detroit, October 12-14, 1914.

The report as determined upon at this meeting was mailed to the officers and directors of the various societies, and in amended form was read before a conference of state and district workers and representatives of the national societies held at Chicago, January 20–21, 1915. The suggestions and criticisms of this conference were considered by the Commission at its meeting immediately following, and the plan adopted was shortly after submitted to the denomination with a request for criticisms and suggestions.

A fifth meeting of the Commission was held in Boston, June 24-25, 1915. Eighteen members were present. Careful consideration was given to communications received from various sources relative to the plan proposed by the Commission. In the light of these suggestions and of its own further study of the problems involved, the Commission decided upon certain changes. The plan as revised was printed at once in the denominational press.

The final meetings of the Commission, preceding the formal presentation of its report to the National Council, were held at New Haven, beginning Oct. 19, 1915. The Commission was in session several times during the early days of the Council, and also conducted five public hearings, which were attended by large numbers of Council delegates. These hearings furnished ample opportunity for further questions, criticisms, and constructive suggestions, before the report was presented to the Council, on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 23. The report was amended by the Council in certain details, particularly in respect to limiting the period of service of the directors of the various boards, and it was finally adopted, practically without opposition, in the following form.

THE PLAN OF READJUSTMENT

General Statement

There has come to be a very widespread conviction throughout our churches that there should be some simplification of the organization of our home mission agencies.

The fundamental consideration justifying the attempt to bring these agencies into closer alignment is that there may be common policies and common control where there is closely related work to be done. This at once suggests bringing together under one administration the societies engaged in Home Mission, Church Building, and Sunday School Extension work. In like way it suggests the coördinating, under a single administration, of the various efforts of the denomination to educate its membership concerning fundamental Christian truths and duties, to enlist them in the special problems and responsibilities of its own work, and to train its young people for leadership in the service of the Kingdom of God.

The Commission believes that at the present time it is not wise to go further. The Congregational Board of Ministerial Relief has a separate and unique field. Neither in policy nor method is its work interrelated with that of the other societies. The work of the American Missionary Association is sharply specialized in nature, dealing with distinct and exceptional groups of our population. Because of this fact, it does not appear to the Commission, after prolonged study, to have such fundamental relationship to other phases of the denomination's educational work as to warrant its inclusion with them in a common administration.

The plan which follows, appears to all the members of the Commission to embody not only real progress toward a more effective coördination of our mission agencies, but also to leave the path clear for such further simplification as the denomination may desire in the future.

The following recommendations are therefore made:

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