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It is recommended that the present status of the Congregational Board of Ministerial Relief remain unchanged. This corporation consists of a Board of fifteen members elected by the National Council.
A director of the corporation, having served for a period of six consecutive years, shall be ineligible for reëlection until after the lapse of two years. The Annuity Fund for Congregational Ministers is administered in connection with the Board of Ministerial Relief.
American Missionary Association The American Missionary Association is administered by an executive committee of fifteen members, elected in five classes for a term of three years. It is recommended that the present status of the Association remain unchanged, except that the term of service for members of the executive committee shall be six years instead of three, and that no member having served for a period of six consecutive years, shall be eligible for reëlection until after the lapse of two years. The nominating committee of the National Council shall serve as the nominating committee of this Association.
It is further recommended that the missionary church work of the Association, among white people, be transferred to the Congregational Home Missionary Society.
This transfer and other changes recommended later in this report will affect unequally the budgets of the various societies concerned and will involve readjustments of income, both from invested funds and from the apportionment plan. These adjustments shall be made by the responsible Boards of Directors in conference with the Commission on Missions. It is, of course, understood that the income from designated funds will be applied strictly to the purposes specified.
The Church Ertension Boards
It is recommended that this group shall consist of the Congregational Home Missionary Society, the Congregational Church Building Society, and the work of establishing and maintaining mission Sunday Schools now carried on by the Congregational Sunday School and Publishing Society. This Sunday School Extension work shall be conducted under the name Congregational Sunday School Society, and, if deemed expedient, may be incorporated for the purpose of holding property and receiving legacies and other gifts. The income of funds and other assets of the Congregational Sunday School and Publishing Society, which may have been given for the establishment and maintenance of mission Sunday Schools, shall be made available for the work as carried on under the new administration.
It is understood that the question of the transfer of the Sunday School Extension work of the S. S. & P. S., from that society to the group thus constituted, is to be referred to the Directors of the Religious Education Boards in conference with the Directors of the Church Extension Boards and the Commission on Missions, these Directors being under instructions to arrange the transfer if the way be open. In any case the Commission is instructed to make report on the whole matter to the next Council.
(1) These three Societies, viz.: The Congregational Home Missionary Society, the Congregational Church Building Society, and the Congregational Sunday School Society, shall have in common the following officers: President, VicePresidents, and Treasurer. The three societies shall be managed by a common Board of Directors of not more than thirty-six members. The Directors elected to serve for the years 1915–17 shall be named by the nominating committee of the National Council and elected by the members of the respective societies. They will assume responsibility when the resignations of their predecessors shall have been received. Prior to the next biennial meeting of the Council, each state Conference in which Congregational work is sufficiently advanced to justify its recognition by the National Council as an administrative unit, shall have the right to submit to the nominating committee of the National Council, which shall . serve as the nominating committee for each of the societies in question, the names of two candidates, a minister and a layman, from which nominations an election of one director shall be made. At the expiration of the term a successor shall be chosen in the same manner. All directors shall be
elected by the societies at the biennial meetings held in connection with the meetings of the National Council. At the meeting of the societies in 1917, the directors shall be divided as nearly as possible into three equal sections in such manner that the term of each section shall ultimately be six years, and the term of one section shall expire, at each biennial meeting of the Council. A director, having served for a · period of six years as just indicated, shall be ineligible for reëlection until after the lapse of two years. The Board of Directors shall have power to fill vacancies in its own number until the next regular meeting of the National Council.
(2) The Board of Directors shall hold an annual meeting and, in addition, such specially called meetings as may be deemed necessary. All important questions of policy and all major questions of administration shall be reserved for decision at the annual meeting. After due notice of a meeting has been sent in writing to each director, fifteen shall constitute a quorum. Before final adjournment, the actions of each meeting shall be confirmed and ratified by the directors sitting in successive sessions as the directors of each corporation which they represent.
(3) Between the meetings of the Board of Directors, the work of this group of societies shall be under the immediaté supervision of an executive committee, appointed by the Board of Directors, of not more than fifteen persons, a majority of whom shall be members of the Board. This committee shall hold regular monthly meetings and as many special meetings as may be deemed necessary. The actions of each meeting of the Executive Committee shall be submitted for approval to the Board of Directors.
(4) There shall be a common general secretary. The first election shall be made by the Board of Directors, on nomination by the nominating committee of the National Council. In 1917 and thereafter, the general secretary shall be elected by the Council at its biennial meeting, on nomination of the Board of Directors. He shall have responsible executive leadership of the entire work of the societies thus grouped. There shall be as many additional secretaries and other officers as may be found necessary.
(5) The activities of the societies thus grouped shall cover
the field, as indicated by their names, of church planting and maintenance, of aiding in building churches and parsonages, and organizing and fostering mission Sunday Schools. The Board will organize this work as may be found expedient.
(6) The main offices of the Church Extension Boards shall be in New York. If deemed advisable, there may also be offices in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco.
It is recommended that the officers associated with the district offices represent the total work of this group of societies, and that they shall present to their respective constituencies a unified appeal on behalf of the three great interests which they represent.
(7) All three societies shall appear in the denominational benevolence calendar, and there shall continue to be a separate apportionment for each. It is expected that this arrangement will be modified as experience may suggest.
The Religious Education Boards There is perhaps no problem confronting the Christian church in America at once so exacting and so promising as the problem of informing and convincing its own people regarding the truths and obligations which underlie its own work. The gradual elimination of the Bible from our public schools, the legal obstacles in the way of religious instruction in state universities, where increasing numbers of our young people are receiving their higher education, the steady readjustment of religious thought to meet the widening knowledge of our time, the changing economic conditions and the shifting social emphasis in so many directions, - all these factors have created a new need for a definite and aggressive program of religious education on the part of the church in order that its people may understand the religious aspects of the problems and duties confronting them, and that they may deepen their convictions regarding the fundamentals of historic Christianity.
There is no denomination which inherits so great a responsibility for leadership in this wide field as our own. It is the conviction of the Commission on Missions that this leadership can be adequately exercised only as we coördinate and unify our denominational agencies for religious education, and put behind them new interest and power in behalf of the principles we represent.
With these considerations in mind, the Commission recommends:
(1) That upon the transfer of the Sunday School work, as herein provided, the name of the Congregational Sunday School and Publishing Society be changed to the Congregational Publishing Society, and that the features of its work hitherto known as educational be assigned to the Congregational Education Society. The functions of the Congregational Publishing Society will thus be exclusively those of a denominational publishing house, viz., editing, manufacturing, and marketing Sunday School helps, books, periodicals, etc., of such nature and variety as may be deemed expedient.
(2) That the two societies just named be placed under a common management as outlined below, the activities of each organization being kept distinct but so coördinated under a unified policy as that they shall move together to the attainment of the common ends for which both exist.
(3) The total field of religious education, as covered by these two organizations through the printed page and otherwise, will include comprehensively the following functions: (a) Sunday School education through use of printed helps
and field specialists. (b) General religious education including any type of aid
needed by pastors and churches for training in Christian history, doctrine, worship, denominational polity,
plans, etc. (c) Social Service. It is contemplated that this specialized
feature of religious education shall receive due emphasis. (d) Education in Missions. This will have primary refer
ence to the training of the young in knowledge of the
world-wide operations of the Church. (e) Editing, manufacturing, and marketing such printed
matter as will be required under the above heads, together with such books and newspapers as the denomi
nation may desire to publish. (f) Student Welfare. This will be a continuation of work
now conducted by the Education Society for students in colleges, seminaries and universities.