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(g) College Aid. This refers to the leadership and emer
gency aid given by the Education Society to colleges in the newer parts of the country.
(4) This group of societies shall have in common the following officers: President, Vice-Presidents, and Treasurer. The societies shall be managed by a common Board of Directors of not more than twenty-four members. These directors shall be nominated by the nominating committee of the National Council, acting as the nominating commitee of each of the societies concerned, except that, at the meeting of the societies in 1917 and thereafter, the American Board, the American Missionary Association, and the Church Extension Boards, respectively, shall each have the right to nominate one director. The directors shall be elected by the societies at the biennial meetings held in connection with the meetings of the National Council. The directors elected to serve for 1915–17 will assume responsibility when the resignations of their predecessors shall have been received. 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. In the selection of the directors due regard shall be had for geographical distribution, as well as for convenience of meetings. The Board of Directors shall have power to fill vacancies in its own number until the next regular meeting of the National Council.
(5) The Board of Directors shall hold regular monthly meetings. After due notice of a meeting has been sent in writing to each director, nine shall constitute a quorum, except that at one designated meeting of the year, to be known as the annual meeting, fifteen shall be necessary. All major questions, including all questions of general administrative policy, shall be reserved for decision at the annual meeting, or at a special meeting called for a specific purpose at which a quorum of at least fifteen shall be present.
Before final adjournment the actions of each meeting shall be confirmed and ratified by the directors present sitting in successive sessions as the directors of each corporation which they represent.
(6) 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.
(7) It should be added that it is a part of the thought of the Commission that the denominational publishing house should attract to itself the bulk of the printing of the denominational agencies. The National Council will recommend what disposition shall be made of profits not required for additions to capital or for equipment.
(8) The Congregational Education Society will retain its present place in the denominational benevolence calendar.
(9) The main offices of the Religious Education Boards shall be in Boston. If deemed expedient there may also be offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
Relation to State Conferences The Commission believes that there are no recommendations contained in this report that are not capable of such satisfactory adjustment to state interests as will insure cordial co-operation between the State Conferences and the National Societies. It may be added that no change is contemplated in the arrangement as to division of receipts now in force between the national and state home mission organizations.
In presenting its report for the two years, 1913 to 1915, your Commission on Evangelism would recognize at the very outset its great obligation to the Moderator, Secretary and Executive Committee of the National Council. Without their constant co-operation our report would have been a meager one. Very soon after the Kansas City Council a joint meeting was held in New York of the Commission on Evangelism, the Executive Committee of the National Council and a number of local pastors. Out of this conference the activities of the Commission grew.
Those activities centered about three definite efforts:
First. For the months preceding Easter, 1914, a plan was projected for group conferences of pastors. The country was districted, leaders were selected, literature was sent out, and as a result about one hundred conferences over the entire country were held. The general theme was "Personal and Pastoral Evangelism." Such subjects were discussed as “Spiritual Fitness for Bringing Men to Christ,” “The Simplicity of the Message and the Task," "Winning our Young People, - through the Sunday School; through Personal and Pastoral Effort; through the Pastor's Class"; "The Organizing of the Men for Personal Work."
The reports from these conferences were most heartening. The sessions were characterized by a simple, frank interchange of experience and suggestion. The men went home with a new vision and a new incentive, and we feel justified in believing that, in part at least, the conferences were responsible for the fact that in 1914 the additions to our churches on confession of faith exceeded, by over 6,000, the average of the previous years.
This is surely a genuine gain, but there is still room for advancement when it takes eighteen Congregationalists an entire year to account for one new member on confession of faith.
In connection with these conferences the leaflet by Dr. A. Z. Conrad describing the workings of the "Win One Fellowship,” was sent to every pastor with notably good results. The double appeal of the “Win One" idea lies partly in the fact that it was so largely the method of the Master in His work, and also in this, that it has equal meaning for the small church and the large.
Second. In the early part of 1915 interest centered in the Sunday School. A message was sent from the Commission to each church, enclosing the printed address by Rev. F. B. Richards on “Evangelism through the Sunday School.” Here is one of the strategic points in our campaign for Christ. Is there any church, with a Sunday School, to which it is an impossible task so to present Christ as to result in decisions on the part of the youth for Christian discipleship?
Third. It is evident that to many of the churches such a task has been a difficult one. Over 1,600 churches reported no additions on confession of faith during 1914. In June of the present year a letter went from the Commission to each of these churches thus reporting. It was not a message of criticism, or even of suggestion, but of friendly inquiry. The Commission sought a frank statement from pastor or clerk as to conditions which made the result indicated necessary. Over 400 replies have been received.
It is true, the fairer basis for study would be that of additions to each church as compared with its entire membership. Such a study has not been possible, and the present inquiry has meaning largely for its bearing on the problem of the smaller church. We can only summarize here the conclusions from these letters. They will richly repay a more careful and detailed analysis.
As to the causes for the failure to add new members; the most frequent one given was, “We had no regular pastor.”
Some situations might be grouped under the phrase which the insurance companies use, “Acts of God.” The most frequent one was the diminishing constituency, as illustrated in the depopulated hill-towns and the towns where the factory had closed, with the universal trend toward the city. As one pastor expressed it, “We had not the problem of making bricks without straw, but of making bricks without clay.”
Too frequently the causes must be classed in all honesty under "Acts of Satan," -- worldliness in the community or in the church, ministerial unworthiness, the hypocrisy of many in the churches, unchristian division, - and all of these things so much better known and, therefore, more harmful in the small communities.
Often the attention of the churches has been directed to other objects, worthy in themselves, but not useful in leading men and women to Christian discipleship. In many cases there was evident discouragement, a despair that in the East might be called lethargic, as contrasted with an aggressive despair in the West.
But the abiding impression from these letters is one of hopefulness. Report after report told of additions in the year previous, and of additions since the first of January in the present year.
In very many letters there was a note of courage and hope and faith which was heartening in the extreme.
A few suggestions grew out of this study.
First. The final word, in our denomination, must be spoken by the individual church, whether the church be large or small.
Second. Much may be done to improve the situation by better organization of the states for evangelistic effort. One-third of the states report no committees on Evangelism. If all the states were planning for work among the smaller churches, as a few states are, the problem would be in a fair way to solution. It is hoped that in connection with the present Council a conference of representatives of the states may be held looking to an advance movement in Evangelism.
We suggest the consideration of more emphasis upon State Evangelists, working under a salary and thus avoiding the recurring problem of special local expense, and with