Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Church Cooperation in Community Life
Author: Vogt, Paul L. (Paul Leroy), 1878-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Church Cooperation in Community Life" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Literature in Agriculture (CHLA), Cornell University.)



Church Cooperation in Community Life

  By
  PAUL L. VOGT


  THE ABINGDON PRESS
  NEW YORK   CINCINNATI


  Copyright, 1921, by
  PAUL L. VOGT

  Printed in the
  United States of America


  TO

  MY FATHER AND MOTHER

  WHOSE PUBLIC-SPIRITED AND LIFELONG LOYALTY TO
  RELIGIOUS WORK IN A COUNTRY COMMUNITY
  HAS BEEN A CONSTANT INSPIRATION
  TO CHRISTIAN SERVICE



CONTENTS

  CHAPTER                                                      PAGE

        PREFACE                                                   7

     I. SOME PRELIMINARY DEFINITIONS                              9

    II. THE BASIS FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE                          26

   III. THE ECONOMIC CHALLENGE TO THE CHURCH                     44

    IV. THE SOCIAL CHALLENGE TO THE CHURCH                       69

     V. BUILDING FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE                           84

    VI. THE CHURCH AND RURAL PUBLIC THOUGHT                      94

   VII. ADJUSTING THE LOCAL CHURCH TO THE COMMUNITY             104

  VIII. INTERDENOMINATIONAL READJUSTMENT                        124

    IX. THE CHURCH AND OTHER RURAL AGENCIES                     142

     X. MISSIONARY PROGRAMS AND RURAL COMMUNITY SERVICE         152

    XI. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION                                  169



PREFACE


Many books have been written during the past few years on the rural
church. Some of these have given excellent concrete illustrations of
methods that are proving successful in solving local problems. Others
have discussed the general rural church situation. The rural life
movement, however, has been so rapid that it is believed that a brief
restatement of the place of the church in the rural life movement is
desirable at the present time.

It has been the task and privilege of the writer for the past four
years to be almost constantly in the field traveling from the Atlantic
to the Pacific and from Canadian border to the limits of Florida and
getting so far as possible first-hand impressions of rural church and
community conditions. It is the purpose of the present essay to
discuss some of the general problems in rural life presenting
themselves to the religious forces of America, and to note some
conclusions as to the next steps to be taken if these forces are to
render the service in rural advance that it is believed is theirs to
render. Suggestions as to local programs will be made only as evidence
that when the church undertakes in an adequate manner the solution of
problems whose solution is demanded of it, it receives both the moral
and the financial support of the people served. The chapters on phases
of the local program are intended only to help in preparing the way
for the larger service contemplated.

As with individuals, so it is with institutions. It is difficult to
discuss the place of different organizations in the rural life
movement without arousing the antagonism of leaders in the respective
organizations. It is hoped that the point of view held will be
accepted as one of sympathy for the efforts of all organizations
concerned and that the purpose of the discussion is to point the way
toward a larger cooperation resulting from a better understanding of
the work that may be expected of each.

     PAUL L. VOGT.



CHAPTER I

SOME PRELIMINARY DEFINITIONS


When one begins to discuss a subject it helps very much if his readers
know what he has in mind in the terms used. In the title selected for
this text there are at least three words that need definition.
Probably no reader will agree fully with any of the definitions given,
but an attempt to define should at least help the reader to understand
better in what sense the terms are used by the writer.

The term "community" has come into such common use that it might be
assumed that definition is unnecessary. And yet when learned bodies
get together to discuss community problems a large part of the time is
usually taken up in attempting to define what the different speakers
are talking about.

When the writer lived in the open country several years ago he went to
Mifflin Center school and attended Wesley Chapel church. The
schoolhouse and the church were located at the same crossroads, and
these two institutions drew for their constituency from an area of
about four square miles for the school and a somewhat larger area for
the church. Brownstown school, to the south, Hendrickson's to the
east, and Whetstone to the west made up other school communities.
Pleasant Grove church, Salem, and Brownstown, with a different
territory covered by each, made up church areas that did not coincide
with the school areas bounding Mifflin Center school territory. In
like manner, when trading was to be done, Upper Sandusky and Kirby,
five and six miles away, were the centers to which everybody went,
generally on Saturday afternoon, when friends from other sections of
the county might be found on the streets. The boundaries of the trade
center were thus much larger than those of either the school or the
church. In politics, the center of interest of the particular township
with which the writer was concerned was the old schoolhouse turned
into a township house at Mifflin Center, the location of the church
and school. The local political interests of the other communities
mentioned were at the appointed places in the respective townships.
The seat of justice was for some time in the parlor of the writer's
father's residence, or in the front yard, to which court was
occasionally adjourned when weather conditions permitted. In a larger
way county courts were held at the county seat, as were other of the
larger political activities.

One could go on indefinitely illustrating the boundaries of interests
of various kinds. Some of them centered in the State House; others in
the national Capitol; and many a wordy political battle was fought in
the little country section over the question as to whether the
protective tariff or the Democratic party was responsible for the hard
times the farmers and others were suffering. There were even world
interests involved, as during the Spanish-American War or the
Venezuelan difficulty during Cleveland's administration.

This concrete illustration both raises the question, Which of these is
the "community?" and also points the way to the answer. None of the
groupings mentioned can be considered "_the_ community." Yet each is
"_a_ community." A "community" is a psychical and not a physical
thing. It can only approximately be bounded by physical lines. In the
last analysis the true "community" is nothing more nor less than that
group of two or more individuals who are bound together by a single
interest. Thus two people living within sight of one another may be
members of the same religious community and at the same time be
absolutely separated from one another in their political affiliations.
Also one person can at the same time belong to many "communities."

But this definition, if adhered to strictly, would lead to confusion
of thought perhaps more serious than a less accurate use of the term.
Careful investigation of the relation of the different psychic
communities to one another reveals the fact that geographically the
areas of individual community interest overlap one another; and that
in the better organized regions the centers of interests coincide and
it is only the boundaries of the several interests that are not
coterminous. The Mifflin Center illustration given above is good in
that it had the religious, educational and political interests
centered at one physical spot. The social and recreational life of a
large part of this local area also was centered here. In the other
local groups mentioned there was a division of interest much more
marked. A more practical definition, then, of a "community" would be
"That aggregation of population which is bound together by a
predominating proportion of its local interests."

If this definition is accepted, then an inspection of almost any local
aggregation, in the open country at least, will lead to the conclusion
that there are few groups of people who have any large number of local
interests in common. Perhaps the most powerful force to be considered
in determining what is an open country community is that of the social
life. People in a given section habitually seek those with whom they
are best acquainted when they get together for social affairs of
interest outside the family circle; and it is only occasionally that
the mass will go out of these habitual associations in seeking social
relaxation. This social life may be sought at one time in the school,
at another in the church, again at a picnic, or in the home of some
one in the "neighborhood." But the dominating factor is
acquaintanceship rather than religion or education or business.

Villages are more easily defined as to the number of interests holding
the group together.

One principal objective in the modern local community organization
movement seems to be to bring together at some central point the focal
points of as many local interests as possible, thus strengthening the
community bonds and increasing the community consciousness. As this
end is achieved the necessity for the strict definition given above
disappears and the "community" becomes _that aggregation of people the
majority of whose local interests have a common center_. This is the
sense in which the term will be used in this discussion.

The term "rural" likewise conveys a different thought to different
people. Indeed, so likely has the term been to mislead that in a
recent national survey of religious conditions, the term was abandoned
and "town and country" substituted. The simpler plan is to arrive at a
definition of the word "rural" which will include what the latter
term connotes. To confuse "rural" with "agricultural" is to ignore
both the past and the present in movements of population and in
organization of interests. To an increasing degree the interests of
the open country are centering in the village, or even larger centers.
So that in discussing the problems of the agricultural population it
is often necessary to make the center of discussion the organization
of the village with an agricultural environment. The better plan is to
definitely discuss the problems of the open country under the term
"agricultural" and retain the other term for all interests of groups
of population in smaller communities, whether in the open country or
in the villages. In general, the division of the United States Census
will be observed and the term "rural" regularly applied to all groups
of under two thousand five hundred population.

At a recent meeting of country ministers an attempt was made to define
what is the problem of the rural church. The definition as framed is
herewith presented: "The rural task of the church is the nurture and
development of all phases of human welfare in those communities where
the general life and thinking of the people are related to matters
which pertain to material natural resources."

This definition is inadequate from the administrative point of view in
that it would exclude the small manufacturing community, the
educational center, the summer and winter resort communities, and
similar specialized groups where population is small. The problems of
these small communities not directly related to material natural
resources have many characteristics in common with those included in
the above definition. Size of community has much to do with the type
of problem presented; and the one who understands the problems of the
agricultural village is probably better able to deal with the problems
of the villages of the type mentioned than is the one trained for
service in a metropolitan center.

The term "church" is here used in the sense of including all religious
forces in rural life. The Sunday School Association, the Christian
Associations, Church Federations, and other groups allied to the
church are included in the general term.


THE MANIFOLD FUNCTIONS OF THE CHURCH

The church is the only agency in existence that is concerned with man
in all his relationships. It is concerned with keeping alive in human
consciousness the existence of a Divine Being and of man's
relationship to that Being. It is the only agency that proceeds on the
theory of the immortality of the human soul and that has a program of
preparing the soul for a life after death. In common with other
agencies the church is concerned with the individual life of man on
this earth and endeavors to lead human beings to that course of life
which will result in the maximum of personal spiritual welfare. And in
common with other agencies it is concerned with man in his relations
to others and to his material environment because these relationships
have a vital effect on his spiritual life.

A full analysis of the functions of the church would include a
discussion of those features of church work which have to do with
man's relation to God and to an immortal existence. But in a
discussion of the church in relation to the community it is not
necessary to consider man's relation to God nor to a future life
except in so far as beliefs in such relationships influence his
personal welfare on this earth or his relationships to his fellow man.
Thus this discussion falls in the field of sociology rather than in
the field of theology or psychology. A casual observation of the
forces at work in human relationships, especially in the smaller
communities, leads quickly to the conclusion that beliefs both with
reference to God and to a future life have a vital effect on social
conduct. But it is the effect instead of the truth of beliefs that is
the subject matter to be considered.

Having thus defined the field of our discussion both as to subject
matter and as to the phase of the interests of the church to be
considered, it is next in order to note the size of the task.

According to the census of 1920, 50,866,899 people in the United
States lived in rural territory, that is, in communities of less than
2,500 population. This was 48.1 per cent of the total. For the first
time in the history of the country the records showed a larger
proportion of the total population living in urban centers than in
villages or in the open country. The population in incorporated
villages of less than 2,500 population was 9,864,196, or 9.3 per cent
of the total, while that in unincorporated or open country communities
was 41,002,703 or 38.8 per cent, as compared with 8.8 per cent and
44.8 per cent respectively in 1910.

The total rural population increase was but 1,518,986, or 3.1 per
cent. Incorporated village increase was 1,745,371, or 21.5 per cent,
while the unincorporated community population actually decreased
227,355, or .6 per cent.

These figures indicate two conclusions of importance to our
discussion. The first is that the villages of less than 2,500
inhabitants are sharing with the large centers in the general increase
in population. Their increase proportionately is not so marked as is
that of the extremely large centers, but it is sufficiently marked to
indicate that they offer opportunities that attract more than does the
open country. This village growth must be reckoned with in determining
policies of location of church buildings and the type of local church
program for community service.

The second conclusion is that the open country is still at a
disadvantage so far as its possibilities of supporting a large
population are concerned. Actual depopulation of the open country, the
enlargement of the size of farms, the abandonment of acreage once
under cultivation, which preliminary figures issued by the Census
Bureau indicate, show that not yet is the demand for agricultural
products such as to make a much larger open country population
possible. This fact also points the direction for readjustment of
rural community life.

The data from the religious census of the United States, taken in
1916, while not classified as rural and urban, give hopeful figures as
to the progress of religious institutions in this country. While the
total population of the United States increased during the decade
1910-20, 14.9 per cent, the church membership from 1906-1916 increased
19.6 per cent. The total church membership increase, 6,858,796, was
50.2 per cent of 13,710,842, the increase in total population. These
figures of church membership increase, covering a period before the
European war began to affect this country seriously, indicate that the
general rising ethical standards of American life have had their
reflection in the larger personal as well as financial support of the
religious forces.

While data are not available as to the proportion of rural and urban
population belonging to church, the census gives figures as to the
church membership in communities of over 25,000 population. According
to census estimates, 32.7 per cent of the population lived in cities
of over that population in 1916. The religious census shows that 36.5
per cent of the church membership lived in communities of that size.
Contrary to popular impression, the larger centers actually have a
larger proportionate church membership than do the smaller
communities. The facts show that the problem of advance of the
Christian Church is more of a small-community problem than it is of
the larger centers.

While the proportion of the total population belonging to church
increased from 38.1 per cent in 1906 as compared with the 1910
population to 39.6 per cent in 1916 as compared with the 1920
population, the magnitude of the unfinished task is still almost
staggering. If the proportion for rural America were the same as for
the country as a whole, there would be 20,143,292 people not belonging
to church. Church membership, of course, is not the only criterion of
the influence of the church; nor would all denominations admit that
all the people should belong to church, since some would not accept
children not yet having reached the age of accountability. But in any
case Christian America is not Christian even in church membership.
This does not take into account matters of social and economic
relationships which the spirit of Christianity has not yet penetrated
and by which church members as well as nonmembers are bound.

More than 50,000,000 rural folk rising to a consciousness of their
inherent solidarity and community of interest, and more than
20,000,000 of these not affiliated with any religious organization,
present a challenge for trained leadership unequaled in the history of
the world. Urban interests have grown powerful. Urban life has rapidly
advanced for at least the more favored groups until it has far
outstripped conditions in rural communities that go to make up the
best in modern civilization and culture. Germs have been found in the
"Old Oaken Bucket" in the country, while the scourge of typhoid has
been banished from the city, and the "Church in the Dell" has crumbled
in decay, while the metropolitan pulpit has taken the best leadership
for its own. The country has been unable to compete with the urban
centers for educational, religious, or social leadership because
wealth has accumulated in the cities. Rural population has declined
because the prizes in wealth accumulation were in the cities and
because it was easier to secure those things there that people have
learned to value as most worth while, in good housing, medical
attendance, education, and recreation. While city poets have sung the
praises of country life, many people who have lived in the country and
endured the long hours and little pay from husbandry have, like the
Arab, folded their tents and slipped away; and when once they have
tasted the advantages of urban life, have not returned.

No civilization can be wholesome or permanent so long as any one great
group is permanently handicapped in its struggle for economic or
social welfare. So long as any group is evidently at a disadvantage
the shift of population from the less-favored to the better-favored
groups will continue; that is, unless castes are formed which compel
people to remain permanently in one group or the other. And this does
not happen in modern democratic society. And so long as there is a
continuous shift of population in one direction or another we have
evidence that conditions are such as to induce the shift.

It is the existence of conditions such as these that makes the
challenge for a trained loyal service on the part of those selected to
attend to matters concerned with rural public welfare.

It is the purpose of the following pages to outline briefly some of
the conditions to which the church must give attention if it is to
meet the demand now made upon it by modern rural life. It is not
intended to be a treatise on practical theology in the sense
ordinarily accepted in courses on that subject. Very little attention
will be given to matters of organization or administration of the
local church. It is believed that if only ministers of the gospel can
once attain an adequate grasp of the purposes of religious service,
the matter of method of accomplishing results may be left largely to
the pastors themselves. On the other hand, emphasis upon method, which
seems to be demanded by many ministers instead of knowledge of ends to
be attained, is more than likely to lead to overorganization, or
organization not adapted to objectives. One of the essentials in all
leadership is that of having definite objectives toward which to work,
and it is the purpose of this text to call the attention to objectives
and to organization, both local and general, adapted to the attainment
of objectives rather than the methods of attaining them.



CHAPTER II

THE BASIS FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE


The past few years have witnessed a marked widening of the concept of
the functioning of the church. But there is still considerable
question concerning the basis for the program of church work that now
bids fair to become conventional. Not long ago the writer attended a
convention of a state social welfare association. Over three hundred
and fifty persons were in attendance representing the leading agencies
for the advance of social welfare in the entire commonwealth, both
urban and rural. Careful inquiry revealed the fact that but one
minister had registered, and he was on the program. On the other hand,
it is the rare occurrence for those professionally interested in
social service to be present at a convention of representatives of
religious orders. In practice there is still a clean-cut dividing line
between those interested in social progress and those engaged in
so-called religious work. The social workers are not irreligious; many
of them believe their service to be of the highest type of religious
expression. The representatives of the church are welcomed by social
workers into their councils, but it is feared that often these
representatives are not taken seriously because for so long they have
had a program that affected social welfare in but an indirect way. The
time has come when representatives of the church should accept their
rightful position as leaders in all movements that tend to make human
existence more Christ-like and to make the kingdom of heaven on earth
more of a reality.

The reason for the attitude of both ministers and people toward the
church has been the emphasis placed upon individual regeneration as
the sole and all-important method of advancing the Kingdom. The
"conversion" of the individual would lead him into right conduct. When
all individuals were converted then the kingdom of heaven would indeed
be at hand.

But the advance of social science has made clear the fact that the
individual is very largely the expression of the group in which he
lives. Custom, convention, fashion, public opinion, and other group
influences go far to determine what individual thought and action will
be in any given group. The Tennessee mountaineer has a different
standard of what constitutes true religion from that of the New
England Unitarian. The code of race relationships in Mississippi is
not the same as that in Wisconsin. The standards of the boy's "gang"
determine largely the dress, the ideals, and habits not only of youth
but of the coming man. Even in the life of the individual different
standards exist suitable to the several groups in which he carries on
his habitual activities. The capitalist who corrupts Legislatures with
impunity in business or who prevents child-labor legislation may be a
model Christian gentleman in his home and church life.

It is admitted that in the last analysis the group mind can have its
existence only in the individual minds that compose it. But it is also
true that when we consider the minds of individuals working in groups
with the consciousness of what the reactions of others are, the
results are different from what they are when the individual acts
alone. Moreover, individuals as a class react in much the same way to
stimuli that affect all of the members of the group at a given time.
If the price of milk is raised so that there is suspicion of
profiteering, common resentment appears. If the leadership of a
political party is threatened, the politician, even though he loses
leadership, rarely bolts his group. Instead he finds some excuse for
standing by the party organization. It is not necessary to alter the
minds of all individuals by "conversion" in the conventional manner
either to change public opinion, alter physical conditions, or change
the form of social organization. When these changes are effected in
the minds of the controlling elements of the group, then the entire
public mind and social organization are altered and the social process
goes on stimulated in newer and, it is hoped, better directions.

One or two illustrations should make this point clearer. Several years
ago it was the custom to use common drinking cups on railways. When
first legislation was passed to prevent such use, considerable public
opinion opposed it as foolish. Now, it is difficult to get any one to
touch a common drinking cup even in the home. Before the elimination
of the saloon powerful and sometimes very respectable forces were
lined up in favor of its continuance. But as soon as the fight against
the saloon had been carried to the point of its legal elimination many
of those who once supported the barroom because of the profit to them
became its opponents. Formerly the saloon was a center for the
corruption of many if not most of the youth in the community. Now,
most communities are bringing up a far higher grade of young people
morally than they once were because it is no longer necessary to fight
against this center of immoral infection.

The lesson these illustrations should teach is this: that the
conventional method used by the churches during the past half century
of depending almost entirely upon individual regeneration through
personal appeal as a means of salvation of the race has handicapped
the church and limited its effectiveness. When it is once understood
that the mind and the character of the individual can be influenced in
as many ways as there are social contacts, and when the means of
approach through all these contacts is understood, then the
effectiveness of the church will be immeasurably increased. Social
life must be saved not only through individual regeneration but also
through the establishment of a right attitude on the part of the
individual and as many individuals as possible. On the other hand,
individual attitudes can be established in large part by bringing
about, through means now fairly well understood, good economic
conditions and social organization.

The sad part about the traditional limited method of approach to
improvement of group life has been that in probably the majority of
cases impulses were aroused by personal appeal to do good and then
through ignorance of objectives in group advance those impulses were
allowed to die. The "backslider" is an excellent illustration of the
results of periodic renewal of impulse to right living. In most other
cases the impulses thus aroused have found their expression in a
hypersensitiveness in regard to certain phases of personal conduct.
Emphasis upon personal moral conduct to the exclusion of effective
interest in social progress characterized much of the product of the
personal evangelistic campaigns carried on periodically during the
past two or three generations, while the real work of making the world
better has been directed by men and women not particularly subject to
these periodical waves of religious impulses but imbued with a steady
abiding faith in the worth of social action. They have had the good
impulses, but these impulses have been steadied and rendered
permanently valuable because faith based on knowledge of objectives
was available.

If the serious errors of the past are to be avoided it will be
necessary for those intrusted with responsibilities of church
leadership to vastly increase their knowledge of problems of group
life and of methods of control of group life. The following pages are
designed to aid the prospective religious leader, either professional
or lay, as far as possible in understanding some of the problems that
must be dealt with in making human life what Christianity hopes for.
Results already have been achieved sufficient to place beyond question
the principle that the church must approach life from every possible
angle. The effort to produce right attitudes in the individual must be
continued, but the methods used must be varied and multiplied.

Furthermore, before the sound point of view with reference to the
method of approach to the problems of the church can be obtained it
will be necessary to have a clear understanding as to the place of the
child in the moral order. Those who derive their theology by reading
and interpreting isolated passages of the Scriptures sometimes arrive
at unexpected, and, from the point of view of rational living,
eccentric and positively harmful conclusions. Some devoted readers
find in the writings of Paul something about "Whereas in Adam all die,
in Christ all are made alive"; and in Christ's words the utterance to
Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again he shall not enter the kingdom
of heaven." They have drawn from these doctrines that all men are born
with sin inherent in their natures and that there is no good in the
soul until "conversion" has taken place. So long as these doctrines
find a place in the preaching and practice of churches the method of
world salvation will be radically different from that for which the
writer is contending.

In brief, if the words of Christ are taken at their face value when he
said "Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the
kingdom of heaven," we have an entirely different basis of approach to
our problem than if we assume that all are lost except those upon whom
the mystical influence of "conversion" in the traditional sense has
operated. If the assumption that children are born good is accepted,
then we are brought to the question, "How may these innocents be kept
so?" The answer is, By training them to control their natural
impulses, good in themselves but likely to lead into wrong if not
properly directed; and by cultivating the natural tendencies to good
that find expression in every normal child. They must also be brought
to an understanding of what Christ means to them as their Saviour and
Guide. Then this must be supplemented as rapidly as possible by the
organization of group life, in such a way that evil influences will be
eliminated.

The saloon was not many years ago the center of corruption of
thousands--yes, millions--of the growing youth of this country. The
elimination of the saloon has made possible the development of
millions of young people free from the particular type of sinfulness
for which the saloon was responsible. In like manner, the elimination
of commercialized vice has rendered our cities incomparably safer for
our young men and women than they once were. The substitution of
wholesome amusement for young folks in good environment for the
unregulated commercialized amusements once the sole source of
recreation has exerted a moral influence too far-reaching to be
estimated. The introduction of cooperation in industry has eliminated
the sin accompanying the fights between capital and labor in those
industries where it has been introduced. These illustrations show how
it is possible, by continuing the improvement of social and economic
conditions to create such an environment as will destroy the sources
of individual corruption and degeneration and will make the growth of
the child a continuous succession of stages of spiritual improvement
and growth. "Conversion" can thus conceivably become a conscious
personal acceptance of Christ and of the principles of Christianity as
the normal basis for right living without a noticeable break in the
course or direction of life rather than the intense emotional
cataclysm that so often characterized the change in hardened sinners.

When children good by nature are brought up in an environment physical
and spiritual that has been brought into harmony with the laws of God,
then the problems of evil will be reduced to those arising out of
natural causes over which man has not achieved control; and children
will be looked upon as the natural and rightful members of the church
instead of being kept out of the church until they reach the age of
accountability. The burden of getting out of the church should be put
on the child instead of the usual responsibility of deciding to come
into it.

It is customary for leaders of the church to assume credit for
practically all the good things going on in the direction of human
improvement by assuming that, though the church does not have a large
membership, comparatively speaking, its influence has inspired the
good work being done in social progress. It is well to face frankly
the fact that, whatever may have been the situation in the past, at
the present it is questionable whether the church has been the source
of even the larger portion of this inspiration. The public schools,
including the higher institutions of learning, have been socializing
the future leaders in social progress so that their inspiration has
been drawn from a concrete knowledge of social problems and from the
belief that humanity can, by proper effort, control conditions of
living. Then pragmatic results have furthered this belief until
inspiration has come from the achievement of results themselves rather
than from any recognition of Christian influence in social life. The
Christian religion is doubtless responsible for those things most
worth while in modern life, but other sources of inspiration have
developed for which Christianity does not get the credit.

The conclusion of the whole matter is that in the past two or three
generations two marked divisions have grown up, the one a section or
wing inside the church which has placed sole emphasis upon individual
regeneration as the method of social progress; the other largely
outside the church, with emphasis upon social reform as the method of
advance. What is needed is a widening of the field so that the methods
of social improvement proved to be of value by social workers will be
adopted as valid methods of bringing about the kingdom of God. On the
other hand, social workers must give more attention to the
regeneration of the individual. When each of these groups recognizes
the value of the program of the other, then it will be difficult to
distinguish longer between churchmen and social workers. The two
groups will, in fact, join hands, and by unifying and coordinating
efforts will work more effectively in attaining a common aim. The
basis, then, for the program for the church which will touch all
phases of human interest in a vital way is that every human interest
has its effect on the welfare of the soul. And a program that fails to
take into account every approach to the individual can at least be but
partial.

Again, it will be necessary to revise popular impression as to just
what is spiritual. The farmer who after having a most unusual
"spiritual experience" at a revival service angrily opposed a local
movement for consolidation of schools because such a move would
increase taxes had an idea of religion that was strictly personal--and
anti-social. The church leader who feared that the encouragement of
social-center activities by the church would ultimately result in a
condition in which the social activities of the church would
overshadow the "spiritual," had in mind a distinction that must be met
and understood if the church is to broaden its program without losing
its identity as a religious institution. The minister who, while
praising a community-club movement which had brought to the community
many improvements and a better moral condition, stated that it was
injuring the "church," either saw a real conflict between "spiritual"
and "social" welfare or had a misconception as to what is spiritual.

The problem seems to arise out of a tendency which has crept into
theological thought to limit "spiritual" things to mystical personal
experiences. With this definition of spiritual things there seems to
have come a tendency to look upon any type of activity that was of a
practical nature, such as providing for the recreational needs of the
community, organizing a campaign for better reading facilities for
country people, or for better farming, as not spiritual, and
consequently be sedulously avoided by the church. Perhaps there is no
thought in American rural life to-day that causes more trouble to the
aggressive rural minister of the modern type than this. His young men
and women want to broaden the scope of the church, but the trustees,
and those whose word counts toward the selection of pastors and their
removal, often oppose anything being done by the church which is not
customary and accordingly, as they think, not spiritual.

Christ said "I am come that ye might have life, and have it more
abundantly." If this statement is accepted at its face value, then we
have the foundation for judging every activity in which the church may
partake. Does the activity tend to increase the material and spiritual
welfare of the community, so that the influences that tend to the
extermination of the group are less? If so, then it conforms to the
purposes of the coming of the Christ. On the other hand, if the
activity does positively lessen the resistance of the community,
reducing it ultimately to a lower scale of living characterized by
those things that are recognized as harmful, then it is not a
legitimate part of church work. It also follows that if such harmful
conditions exist in the community without a protest on the part of the
church or without some definite effort to eliminate them, then the
church is not living up to the high calling expected of it by the
Master. The term "spiritual" is, accordingly, much more inclusive than
has been popularly supposed, and one of the great contributions of
social science during the past few decades has been to bring to the
public mind the knowledge that man and his spirituality cannot be
dealt with individually but must be included in all those
relationships that affect the soul of the individual.

While the succeeding pages have to do with the social aspects of the
spiritual life of man, it must never be forgotten that the
regeneration or the quickening of the individual is at least half of
the task in community progress. The life of the honest, upright man,
whose soul has been set on fire by contact with the flame of divine
love, whose heart has been brought into harmony with the divine will
of God, becomes in itself a point for the radiation of impulses for
right living. And when these impulses are directed into useful
channels through a broadened understanding of sound objectives in
social progress, then real advance is possible.

There are many other phases of thought that act as a hindrance to the
advance of the spiritual kingdom in rural America, but these
illustrations will be sufficient to show what must be cleared away
before the broad program of the modern rural church can be
whole-heartedly accepted. In fairness to the writer it should be kept
in mind, as stated in the definitions given at the opening, that this
text has nothing to do with those vital elements of religious
organization and service which are intended to keep alive man's belief
in a divinity and in immortality except in so far as these beliefs
affect community relationships. The discussion of these subjects
falls, rather, into the realm of theology. It is hoped that at least
the principles underlying the movement toward broadening the program
of the rural church have been clearly, if briefly, stated, and that
the movement toward a larger concept of the religious forces as a
factor in rural progress will continue to spread at an accelerating
speed.



CHAPTER III

THE ECONOMIC CHALLENGE TO THE CHURCH


As one travels through the rural districts of America and observes
differences in the standards of living he is convinced that human
welfare depends very largely on economic conditions. The broad,
well-tilled fields of Iowa, surrounding large, well-built houses, big
red barns and other outbuildings, form a marked contrast with the
patches of corn in irregular fields cleared from the brush and scrub
trees on hillsides in Tennessee or Kentucky, and the hovels and
rundown farm buildings which go under the name of homes for the hill
people. Healthy, well-dressed, happy children attending good schools
of the most modern type in the corn belt undoubtedly have the
advantage of the boys and girls in the hills who often do not learn to
read and write before they are ten years old, if at all, and when they
do go to school must be taught by poorly trained teachers for short
terms, ending before the holidays, and in one-room schools often
attended by nearly a hundred children. Religious service and
leadership in the one section under the direction of college and
theological seminary men can hardly be put in the same class with the
highly emotional expression of religious impulses of the mountain
section led by once-a-month absentee pastors with no education, or,
worse still, by wandering so-called evangelists of doubtful morality.
One could go through the whole list of contrasts between the
economically well-favored sections of the country and the less favored
agricultural sections and in no way would the advantage be on the side
of the latter.

Efficient social and religious institutions cannot be built on poor
economic foundations. So long as a section of the country cannot
afford to pay more than five hundred dollars per year for teachers or
preachers, it cannot hope to have the leadership possible to another
section where ministers to rural people can easily secure eighteen
hundred to three thousand dollars per year. Good buildings cannot be
erected, nor can any of the material comforts which go to make up the
foundation of civilized life be enjoyed.

For the sake of the church, as well as the people, the church must
attend to the economic foundations of rural life. It is unfortunate
for many parts of the United States that the ministry has become so
separated from real life by the mystical trend in religion that it has
rendered practically no service in laying the foundations for the
continuance of the communities themselves.

The shift of population from rural to urban centers which the census
records show has continued, if anything, at an accelerated speed,
indicates the seriousness of the problem. A part of the shift is
doubtless due to improvements made in methods of production. So far as
this is the cause there is no reason to be disturbed over the
tendency, as it is useless to try to keep young men and women in an
occupation that does not offer opportunity for earning a living. Part
of the shift may be due to the living conditions in the country. This
is but an indication of the task of the church on the social side and
can be changed as economic welfare permits. But the fact that rural
population has been leaving the farms and that agricultural lands
have been abandoned by thousands of acres, indicates that urban
opportunities have far outbid the rural in financial returns, variety
of openings, and in working conditions. The farmer's income must be
increased as compared with other groups before there can be a
well-balanced relatively stable American life. Until this is achieved
those who are trying to build up rural institutions as strong as those
in urban centers will be engaged in a hopeless task.

Eminent, conscientious Christian gentlemen, leaders in religious
thought, and occasionally country ministers, have accused those who
maintain that the church should have a vital active interest in
improving economic welfare of trying to make hog-cholera experts out
of preachers, thus taking them away from their real tasks. It is
believed that knowledge of hog cholera and of the agencies that can
help the farmer to prevent it will not injure the standing of any
rural minister. It is maintained with reference to care for economic
welfare that it is the business of the church to encourage economic
improvement so far as possible (1) by giving advice and assisting in
demonstration work when no other organized agency is in a position to
render this service, and (2) by opening the way to other organized
agencies to perform this service. This is the prime business of the
agricultural colleges through their extension service. But it has been
the experience of agricultural colleges that they have the greatest
difficulty in establishing relationships in those agricultural
sections where their service is needed the most. The minister of the
gospel, being one of the two or three paid leaders in a local
community, enjoying a measure of the confidence of the people, and
having a large part of his time available for pastoral duties, has the
opportunity and the obligation to tactfully bring to the community the
assistance of these other agencies now provided by the State. When he
has done this he can rest assured that he has accomplished something
that will become the foundation for a far higher, more satisfying
rural life.

Although ultimately the problem of production in agriculture will
probably be a most serious one, because of influences such as
soil-mining, deforestation, and depletion of soil through erosion,
the immediate problems are, rather, the adjustment of production to
demand so that the farmer will be on a more equitable income basis
with other elements in the population. When there is newspaper talk of
again burning corn for fuel, when wool is a drug on the market, and
when farmers' organizations are urging the decrease in the acreage of
cotton, it is idle to talk of agricultural welfare being synonymous
with ability to increase crop acreage or production per acre.
Agricultural colleges and other State agencies have devoted the large
part of their efforts to study of problems of production. The results
of their services to date have been to so improve production as to
hasten the population movement from the farms to the cities. This
tendency to aid production to the point of exceeding equitable demand
has been of economic value to the great centers but it has not
encouraged the continuance on the farm of a large population, nor has
it enabled the farmer to compete with the townsman in maintaining a
satisfactory standard of living. It would seem that the producing
ability of the farmer has been his misfortune, and that his friends
who have taught him to produce more have been his worst enemies.

When a manufacturing plant closes down because it cannot sell its
goods at a given price, or when a retailer refuses to handle goods
below a price believed by many to be excessive, little is said. But
when the farmer tries to adjust his production to demand by limiting
production there is widespread criticism of his conduct. There should
be continuance of efforts to retain the fertility of the soil, to
improve methods of cultivation, and to prevent destruction of wide
areas through erosion. The patrimony of the nation must be preserved
through wise policies of reforestation and reclamation of waste lands.
But the great immediate task is that of adjusting production to demand
so that the rural population may advance in material welfare along
with other groups. In a competitive organization of industry the
farmers success is gauged by his net income rather than by the number
of bushels of corn or bales of cotton he produces.

A sinister tendency in the higher-priced general agricultural sections
is that of increase in the number of farms operated by farm tenants.
Certain writers have attempted to prove that this tendency is taken
too seriously. But the evidence of the United States Census from
decade to decade indicates that the danger is real; and that the
sooner a policy of control is adopted the better.

The handicaps to agriculture through this increase are manifold. In a
large proportion of cases, as shown by studies in typical areas, the
landowner does not live on a neighboring farm, nor is he a retired
parent or other relative of the tenant farmer. He lives in the
neighboring city. Consequently, the rental from the farm goes to help
build up the material welfare of the urban center. The contributions
of the absentee landlord to church work go to supplement the salary of
a city pastor on a scale far beyond the competing ability of the rural
church where his land is located. His contributions to benevolences
are paid for out of the income from his four-hundred-acre farm but are
credited to the city church of which he is a member instead of to the
rural church in the community where his land is located. Because of
the transient nature of his residence the tenant, who remains on the
farm on the average less than two years, has but little permanent
interest in the life of the community and lacks the stability to
become a valuable factor in building up strong rural institutions. The
landlord, as previously suggested, has been known to oppose measures
for consolidation of rural schools because such consolidation might
increase taxes, and has been known to threaten tenants with
dispossession if they should vote for consolidation. The constant
moving of the tenant has handicapped the children in getting a good
common-school education because of the breaks in their training
resulting from this constant changing of residence.

The tenant house, with all its implications of class-distinction, has
come to the country side in increasing numbers. And slowly but
gradually a landed aristocracy is growing up in rural America as
marked as the landed aristocracy based on the purchase of a few acres
of Manhattan Island several generations ago. And with the tenant has
come the farm laborer, alien to the community, transient, and as much
a member of the proletariat as if he were working in a great factory
in the city. The I. W. W. movement in the wheat fields and lumber
camps of the Northwest is but the beginning of the wage-earning
consciousness as it spreads out from urban centers.

The short term of tenant operation is lowering the standards of
agriculture. Instead of farming on a long-time schedule, expecting
returns on a system of husbandry reaching through the years, the
tenant is inclined to produce such crops as can be disposed of at the
close of the year, regardless of the effect of such a form of
agriculture upon the fertility of the soil. Tenant contracts as yet
offer little inducement for the tenant to remain permanently on a
given farm or to keep up needed improvements.

The tenant for the time being may even make larger profits as a tenant
than as an owner. But the tendency everywhere for rents to rise, and
the consequent increase in the value of the land, will ultimately
bring the tenant to the position of securing from his labor on the
farm an income not much in excess of what he would receive from
working as a day laborer. The result in the long run will be that the
best agricultural sections of the country will be occupied by a
population lower in ability than in a landowning section and
constantly kept down by poverty. This prediction may be deemed
fanciful by some, but the writer believes that it is worthy of the
most careful consideration and study.

Since the organization of the great combinations in the oil and sugar
industries during the 70's and 80's of the past century the movement
toward close industrial organization has proceeded with little
interruption. Legislation has been passed designed to break up
industrial combinations and from time to time various industries have
been disintegrated. But the layman has not been able to discover that
such disintegrations by court order have had any marked influence on
the progress of the fundamental tendencies toward industrial
consolidation. The farmers have been the last to get into the
organization field on any extensive scale. The Grange and the Farmers'
Alliance, and later the Farmers' Union, have made attempts and,
although many failures are recorded, their work paved the way for a
far larger movement toward farm organization now under way. The
tendency toward close organization of industrial groups may also be
seen in the labor movement, the American Federation of Labor and the
Industrial Workers of the World in this country, and the syndicalist
movement in Europe; and in the organization of employers' associations
and the National Chamber of Commerce on the part of business men.
Whatever may be thought of the unfortunate phases of this movement
toward closely organized group consciousness, however Bolshevistic it
may be said to be, it must be recognized that class consciousness has
come to stay. The old-type citizen who voted as a Republican or a
Democrat and as an individual regardless of his industrial
affiliations is passing away, and to-day the business men as a class,
the wage-earners as a class, the farmers as a class, approach the
leaders of both traditional parties with their ultimatums as to what
they will do if certain policies are not recorded in their respective
platforms. And the best-organized groups, those that can swing the
most votes or can produce the largest financial inducements, are the
ones that get most consideration. This may be Bolshevism, but if it
is, it is a fact in American life, and we may as well adjust ourselves
to handling the situation wisely instead of lamenting the passing of
the system of individual representation which was the basis on which
American government was founded.

The farmer cannot be accused of leadership in this change in the
American State. Business men and wage-earners began it, and the farmer
has been forced to follow their example. The old type individualism of
the landowning-operating farmer has long handicapped the farmer in his
relations with other industrial groups. And it is with many mistakes
and setbacks that he is now endeavoring to follow the example so ably
set by the multimillionaires of the other groups. Better organization,
not for exploitation but for protection and maintenance of a safe
balance of influence in economic affairs, is fully justified, and the
minister of the gospel is serving the farmer best when he encourages
right and efficient organization.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, begun a few years ago through the
encouragement of county agricultural agents in order to give them a
point of contact with groups of farmers and to give local support of
the county agent's work, has now taken into its own hands the task of
farmer organization. And now, with resources far beyond what could
have been dreamed of a few years ago, this organization is embarking
on programs of farmers' business organization almost too staggering in
their size to be comprehended. If rightly managed, and if farmers can
prove loyal to their own organization, this movement is destined to
solve many of the problems of intergroup relationships confronting the
farmers during the past few decades.

As a part of the modern farmer organization movement, and holding
within itself the largest promise of social values, is the
encouragement of cooperation. Since the days in 1844, when a little
group of wage-earners in England, out of work and gathered round a
fire in a tavern, decided to go into business for themselves on a
basis of one-man one vote, and distribution of profits on business
done with the concern instead of stock held, the movement has
continued to spread all over the world until to-day it holds a very
important place in many lines of industry in leading countries.

In this country cooperation has been an agricultural rather than an
urban development, primarily because economic conditions have made it
more necessary in agriculture than elsewhere. Farmers' elevators,
live-stock shipping associations, insurance companies, fruit-and
produce-marketing organizations have all gained a sound footing and
each year shows an increase in their numbers. The movement has been
consistently fought by competitive profit-seeking interests but
without avail further than to delay the movement. In the early days
discrimination in furnishing cars, underbidding, misrepresentation,
adverse legislation all had to be overcome, in addition to the fact
that ignorance of business principles often led to failure. Even now,
within the past five years, agricultural colleges have been prevented
from adding advisers on cooperative organization to their extension
staffs, retail merchants' associations have prevented cooperative
organization legislation, and insidious attempts have been made to
prevent popular education with reference to the movement.

The cooperative movement offers the greatest opportunity for the
country minister for definite service in the farmers' economic
progress. The principle underlying the movement is "Each for all, and
all for each." Instead of the capitalist and laborer being in opposite
camps under the necessity for bargaining, and each doing as little as
possible and getting as much as possible for their respective shares
of the product of the industry, the cooperative movement brings them
into harmony for production of goods, in the belief that all are to
share fairly in what is produced. The storekeeper and the buyer no
longer haggle over the price because both will share in the returns of
the business done. The cooperative movement bids fair to solve many of
the problems of open and closed shop, collective bargaining, labor
organization, and of relations between producer and consumer. Its
steady growth is bringing about industrial peace and since it
represents the true spirit of Christianity the minister is justified
in encouraging its development wherever he may be.

What is the challenge to the church of the economic conditions and
tendencies outlined above? First and foremost, the minister must in
season and out of season preach honesty in business relations. One of
the most important discoveries in the study of problems of the
farmer's business relations is that his success or failure depends
largely upon the moral principles of the farmer as a group. The farmer
who puts poor apples or potatoes in the middle of the barrel, who uses
false weights and measures, who fails to produce the best of which he
is capable, lowers the price of all farm products. The dealer who must
throw out a certain proportion of bad eggs in his miscellaneous
purchases makes the buying price low enough to protect himself. The
consumer's demand is gauged very largely by the quality or reliability
of the goods he purchases. So dishonesty in farm business hurts the
farmer more than it does anyone else. The minister can render a
service when he imbues his people with the highest ideals of business
morality.

Moreover, he can help in eliminating the loss to the farmer through
attempted sale of ungraded, miscellaneous products by encouraging
standardization and guarantee of quality. This requires organization;
and while it should be the pastor's aim to encourage the formation of
agencies independent of the church to attend to this and to establish
contacts between his community and State and independent organizations
that will assist in this work he should not hesitate so far as his
time will permit to organize such standardization work and
organization for guaranteeing products until other agencies can take
the work over. His obligation as community leader extends to the
encouragement of every phase of life that makes the country more
livable in the way demanded at the particular stage of development in
which he finds the community.

As stated before, his primary task in encouraging production is now
that of establishing contacts with State agencies and encouraging the
support of their work. In some sections of the country, as among the
colored people, for example, a country preacher might well be a
trained farmer capable of doing in a local community what a county
agent tries to do on a larger scale. But the State has now progressed
in most sections to the point where, if opportunity is offered, it can
assist in this work and relieve the pastor for other duties.

The rural pastor should be a leader in community economic
organization. It is accepted now that economic organizations along
cooperative lines should be independent of either educational,
religious, or social groups. After such organizations are well
established the pastor has met in this respect the challenge to the
church and to the pastor as community leader.

The church as a whole should have some form of organization whereby it
can register its influence in favor of State legislation making safe
the development of the cooperative movement, the better organization
of marketing, the proper control of land ownership, taxation, and
other business relations affecting the farmer. Many of these problems
cannot be solved by a minister working alone in a local community. He
can preach honesty, stability, loyalty to community organization with
all the fervor and liberty of a prophet, but so long as the tenant
contract remains an inducement to transient tenant population; so
long as class distinctions continue to become more marked; so long as
discontent over high rents, high prices of land, and other conditions
continues, he will not get far toward the establishing of the kingdom
of heaven in agricultural life. These problems must be attacked by the
church as a whole as the obligation of the general church to the
minister who is on the firing line of the great world-wide struggle
for the establishment of industrial peace.

One or two concrete illustrations will show the necessity of general
church action on these matters if the rural church is to be saved from
conditions now acute in the large centers. Wage-earners in the large
centers who have no assurance of permanence of jobs are not inclined
to give liberally toward providing adequate building and equipment for
religious services. No wage-earner can be expected to give hundreds of
dollars out of his income toward building a church when the next month
may find him compelled to move to some distant city. In like manner it
is difficult in large centers to get wage-earners even to maintain a
church adequately. Consequently the church is to-day spending
millions of dollars to provide church buildings for wage-earners in
large cities. Yet it does not have any program for bringing about wage
returns, permanency of employment, or interest in business that would
make it possible or desirable for the wage-earner to finance his own
church building. Neither does the church have a plan whereby the
industries of a city make any adequate contribution to the housing of
religious institutions for those connected with the industry. Although
the wealth of America is centered in the great cities, the provision
for religious service to city people is being made by people living in
small towns and in the open country.

As in the city, so in the open country. It has become necessary for
the general church to provide even pastoral maintenance in certain
sections where land is worth three hundred dollars per acre. The
transient tenant has no abiding interest in the community because he
expects to move at the end of the year. This condition is gradually
becoming worse; and unless the general church undertakes the solution
of problems affecting the local church but over which the local
church has no control, the future will bring either a decline in
religious influence in rural sections or a continuous burden on
national boards that should and would under proper conditions be cared
for by local communities.

That the church can help in improving economic conditions to the
advantage of all rural life has already been abundantly demonstrated.
On the Brookhaven District, Mississippi Conference, Methodist
Episcopal Church, the missionary board of that denomination made a
contribution of three hundred dollars toward the support for the
summer of a man and woman engaged in organizing community clubs.
Twenty-one clubs were organized, and as a result of their efforts over
fifty thousand pounds of fruit and truck were saved during the period
of the war when food conservation was a necessity. As a result of this
contribution, at last reports there were three colored county
agricultural agents employed in counties of that district, all
supported by the State, and no further contribution of missionary
funds to continue the work was necessary. For years Bishop Thirkield,
of the New Orleans area of the Methodist Episcopal Church, had been
encouraging keeping of gardens by the pastors and land ownership among
colored people. It is impossible to estimate accurately the results of
his broad program, but one district superintendent reported for his
own official boards that while at the opening of the year 25 per cent
of his official board members on the district were in debt, at the
close of the year not one of them was in debt. They had been taught
how to save money and to pay their debts, and the members of the
churches were encouraged to follow their example.

On a little charge in southeastern Ohio the pastor began to preach
good roads. Before the end of the first year a township organization
had been formed and a vote taken providing for the macadamizing of
every road in the township.

Four years ago the missionary board of the Methodist Episcopal Church
made a contribution of four hundred dollars toward the support of a
pastor in a village in New York. He organized a community club, led in
securing a community house, installed moving pictures, and provided
for the recreational life of the community. To-day no contribution is
being made by the Board for this work. Yet the membership of the club
has increased from fifty-nine to two hundred and twenty-five. It has
been responsible for the establishment of a national bank which had
one hundred and seventy thousand dollars deposits in the first six
months; it paved over five hundred feet of street; it provided for the
consolidation of four rural schools with the village school. And plans
were under way for opening a ferry across the Hudson that had not been
run for thirty years and for the establishment of an important
manufacturing plant. Thus a little stimulation has resulted in
economic development that must result in better financial support of
all community activities.

In conclusion it may be said that it is the business of the pastor to
concern himself with all economic problems that affect the welfare of
his people. The type of problem will vary with the community and its
stage of development. As rapidly as possible the church should turn
over to private or State agencies the task of economic development.
But the church should encourage in every way every movement that is
destined to bring about a higher stage of economic welfare; and the
pastor cannot relinquish his obligations in this respect until he has
succeeded in establishing other agencies that can effectively perform
this task. His duty, then, is to encourage this form of development by
educating the people as to its value and by giving it his moral
support.



CHAPTER IV

THE SOCIAL CHALLENGE TO THE CHURCH


The task of the minister is primarily to deal with man, either in his
own personal life, his relations to his Maker, or to his fellow-man.
Unlike the farmer, whose interest lies in the control of animal or
plant growth, or the mechanic, who controls and molds the forces and
conditions of inanimate nature, the minister has to do with that most
delicate and elusive subject of all--the human soul. His business is
to tune the individual soul instrument so that it will harmonize with
the musical vibrations of the Infinite Will; and to bring about such a
relationship between the different instruments in his little group
that all together will produce a heavenly harmony.

The Christian religion, except when it has degenerated into formal
Pharisaism, has been an ethical religion; and the ethical conduct of
the individual has been a criterion of the depth of his religious
experience. Ethics have primarily to do with the relation of man to
man, so that the conclusion is logical that the church is vitally
interested in the ethical problems of humanity and in anything that
tends to lower or raise the moral standards of the individual or the
community.

There is no other agency more vitally interested in moral problems
than is the church. Business organizations may be interested, but
their efforts have apparently not been to conserve moral standards,
even in business. The school is interested, but its emphasis has been
placed more on mental development without regard to moral
implications, or on utilitarian objectives. The church has been
preaching right living, and other objectives have been incidental.
Since this is true the thesis is advanced as the basis for this
chapter that it is the business of the church to provide building,
equipment, and leadership for conserving the moral life of the
community. Since the moral welfare of any community finds its
expression largely in its social and recreational activities, such
provision involves providing for the social and recreational
interests. This is a function which is not to be encouraged and then
turned over to other agencies, but is to be retained by the church
itself as its legitimate service.

In view of the fact that the efforts of various agencies have not been
in entire harmony with this point of view it deserves further
consideration. For many years it has been argued that the schoolhouse
should be so built that it could be made the community center for all
types of activities. Without intending to limit the public schools in
any laudable endeavor to enrich rural life it should be noted:

1. That so far as villages and open country schools are concerned it
is not believed that the agitation for the wider use of the school
plant has yet resulted in any marked nation-wide response to such
agitation further than to provide room for physical training of
upper-class students.

2. In general, the schoolhouse is so located that it is not suited for
community service. It is usually located on the outskirts of the
village, where plenty of ground may be had for outdoor school games.
When people gather for social life and leisure they do not go away
from the lights of the village street but move toward them. The
well-lighted poolroom near the village store will attract more boys
than the building on the village edge that must be reached through the
dark. Villagers have their downtown as well as do the great urban
centers.

3. The school teachers and principal are busy five days in the week in
the classroom. The schools cannot assume charge of community center
activities without danger either of overworking the teachers or of
having to hire special assistance for this service. Many villages
cannot afford to hire special workers for this purpose alone.

4. It has been argued that the school is the democratic institution
since it is tax-supported, and thus every one may go there as a right.
To this it may be replied that, as with the church, only those
contribute who have resources from which to contribute. The only
difference is that in the public school the majority decide that all
those who are able must contribute to the support of public
institutions, thus it falls short of complete democracy, which must,
in the last analysis, be a purely voluntary association. In the
church the only force compelling contribution is personal desire and
public opinion. Thus it is as democratic, if not more so, than the
school.

5. On the other hand, a large part of the time of the country minister
is available for pastoral service. The establishment of community
service activities under the auspices of the church bids fair to
rescue pastoral calling and service from a routine of personal
visitation by giving it a definite community service objective. Again,
in the beginnings in the medium-sized and larger villages and probably
continuously in the smaller places the pastor is the only salaried
servant of the community with free time during the week for the
organization and direction of community service.

6. The church building and parish house can be located conveniently at
the center of the village, thus obviating the objection to the school
building for this purpose.

7. True religion is a loyal supporter of everything that is safe in
social and recreational life. It is subject to the control of the
community in the same way as the school; excessive puritanism need not
be feared under its auspices more than under the auspices of other
agencies.

The usual argument against serious consideration of the church as the
center of community life is that religious agencies are so divided up
by dogmatism that it is impossible for any one religious organization
to assume leadership in this respect without incurring the opposition
of other agencies. While this is true in many cases, it should be
remembered that dogmatism does not have the influence in more highly
developed communities that it once had. Moreover, considerable
progress has already been made toward intergroup agreements, including
the two great divisions of the Christian Church giving responsibility
for community leadership to one denomination or another. In cases
where local adjustments have not been made it may be necessary to
depend on other agencies to conserve the social and recreational life.
In these cases the church loses its rightful heritage.

8. The popular response to projects of building community churches and
parish houses in small communities leads to the belief that the
general public accepts as the correct one the principle that the
church should provide these facilities. The Methodist Episcopal
denomination alone, through the aid of its Church Extension Board,
aided in 1920 in building or remodeling over four hundred church and
parish houses equipped to provide for all or a part of a community
service program; it is not known how many more made such advances
without outside aid. The question of whether the church or some other
agency than either the church or the school should provide community
service facilities may be answered in much the same way. In some
States local communities may levy a tax for the building and
maintenance of community buildings. Where this is possible there seems
to be no serious objection to such a course. But a community building
without adequate supervision is likely to become a center of moral
deterioration. On the other hand, such a public building can be
located more strategically than can a schoolhouse. The objection to
stock-company-owned community houses is much more serious. These are
likely to become mere pleasure resorts, often of a very questionable
nature.

The judgment of the American people seems to be rapidly determining
that the safest plan is to look to the religious agencies for
conserving the social and recreational life; and this judgment is in
harmony with the thesis advanced at the opening of this chapter.

If the principle is accepted that it is the business of the church to
conserve the social life of the community, then it is next in order to
consider some of the problems of social life that are a challenge to
the church at the present time.

The social organization of this country in its smaller communities as
in the larger centers, such as it is, is the product of undirected
uncoordinated efforts of special interest groups. A general
classification of the types of rural organizations may be made, first,
into political, including the incorporated village, towns, townships,
counties, and political parties; economic, including special
associations around specific interests such as farm bureaus, stock
breeders' associations, potato-growers' associations, etc., and the
increasing number of cooperative organizations, such as farmers'
elevators, fruit-marketing organizations, live-stock, shipping
associations; social, including the Grange, the various types of
farmers' clubs for men and women that perform much the same function
as the Grange, and the more or less permanent groupings for purely
recreational purposes, such as dancing parties, card parties, etc.;
and the conventional religious organizations as represented by the
denominations and their many subsidiary groups for special purposes.

As was pointed out in the chapter on definitions, each of these
various groups has a customary center for coming together. But owing
to the fact that each interest has grown largely without reference to
the others, their centers of activity have been determined largely by
conditions of local convenience. Now, these centers may have been well
adapted to the times when they were established, but as time has
passed shifts of population have come, road improvements have been
made, and new interests developed so that the traditional centers not
only tend to lessen community solidarity but also tend to prevent its
accomplishment. One of the first tasks of the community leader is to
make a study of his proposed field of activity for the purpose of
determining what are the present centers of group interests, what
changes have taken place in rural life conditions which make
reorganization and readjustment of centers desirable, and then, in
consultation with representatives of the community, to organize a
community plan toward ward which the entire community may work. City
planning has long been an accepted principle for service in the more
progressive larger centers. The time has come when plans for the most
efficient organization of village and open country communities should
be made. It is interesting to note that already in many sections of
the United States the movement toward community planning has made
considerable progress. It is now generally recognized that with rare
exceptions the village rather than an open country point is the normal
basis for such a plan. In accordance with this, movements are now
under way to displace the traditional township boundaries created as
political limits for government and to replace them by boundaries
conforming as closely as possible with those limits that careful
investigation indicates are now and probably will continue to be the
most representative of what the future limits of rural communities
will be. In like manner educational work is being reorganized to
include the community territory instead of the political areas
inherited from the methods of survey adopted under the ordinance of
1787. As this movement continues, doubtless farm bureaus, and even
religious agencies, will try to adapt themselves as far as possible to
the program of other agencies.

The breakdown of social life in the open country and the very
questionable forms it often takes in the villages has long been the
nightmare of the minister of the gospel who stands for a high ethical
plane of social life. The church, with its Ladies' Aid, its young
people's societies, its occasional men's clubs, fails to reach more
than a very limited number of those living in the open country or in
the village. The lack of a definite, well-organized social program
results in all kinds of association often anti-social and lowering of
the moral fiber of the entire group. It is unnecessary to go into the
sordid details of moral conditions existing among both young and old
in many village communities. The pastor with a program of absentee
service consisting of an occasional sermon and holding a Sunday school
finds his efforts continually nullified by more powerful social and
recreational impulses expressing themselves in ways recognized as
morally deteriorating. When a plan for ultimate centralization of
wholesome and legitimate community interest has been made it is the
minister's task to organize a plan for bringing to the community an
abundance of wholesome recreational life. The traditional plan has
been to preach against dancing and card playing. Such preaching has
more often alienated the young people from the church than it has
attracted them to religious life. The modern plan is to overcome evil
with good; that is, to provide such a program of unquestioned
recreation that the evil will die of itself.

That this actually happens has been demonstrated over and over again.
The Rev. Matthew B. McNutt, on arriving at Du Page, Illinois, found a
large building near the church turned into a dancing center. Without
saying a word against dancing he began to organize his young people
for singing. In a short time the dancing mania had ceased and did not
return in the twelve years of his service on that charge. The Rev. L.
P. Fagan found dancing all the rage when he went to a little town in
Colorado. He began to develop a wholesome program of recreational
life, and before long dancing had ceased and had not returned two
years after he had left the charge. At a little town in New York
State, the young men of the town were accustomed to gather at the fire
house and indulge in cards with more than occasional playing for
money. A recreation hall opened in the village broke up the
card-playing and brought the young men into something more wholesome
and which they preferred. A village in Southwestern Ohio had a gang of
"Roughnecks," as they were called, who were accustomed to loaf in the
poolrooms and find their amusement in neighboring cities. A room in
the upstairs of the town hall was opened up and fitted for basketball.
Leadership for clubs was provided by college students training for
community service. The result was that this group of young men, of
exceptionally good native qualities but spoiling morally for want of
adequate provision for recreational life, came to the community center
and for the time being avoided the lower forms of social and
recreational activity.

These illustrations prove three things: first, the need of such
equipment; second, the fact that young people prefer and choose the
better when it is provided for them; and, third, that the church can
solve many of its most serious problems most readily by attacking the
source of corruption of the morals of young people through caring for
recreational interests. The minister who neglects this powerful force
in attempting to build a Christian civilization is failing to take
advantage of one of the greatest instruments God has placed in his
hands. Yet it is the sad fact that in too many instances ministers are
failing to take advantage of the forces at hand, and that even those
who have caught the vision of the possibilities of these other forces
are not trained to use them safely.

The number of village communities that have organized social and
recreational life is still so small that when such movements are
discovered they receive widespread comment in the public press. One
can drop into almost any village in America and make inquiries as to
what is being done for conserving the recreational life by the church
or any other community agency, and the answer will be that nothing is
done either in providing leadership or buildings and equipment. Much
good work has been done for specific groups by the Christian
Associations, and now the American Playground Association, the Red
Cross, and other organizations are applying themselves to the task of
bringing about a better condition in smaller communities. But the work
accomplished by all of them is still, as compared with the task in
hand, scarcely more than a beginning. The church with a paid community
leader in each community offers the solution for most rapid and
permanent progress; and the outlook for rapid development under
religious auspices is most hopeful.



CHAPTER V

BUILDING FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE


The thesis that the church should provide building and equipment for
conservation of the social and recreational life of the church
introduces standards and objectives that do not find expression in the
great majority of church buildings now erected, nor even in the
majority of plans sent out by religious agencies or architectural
concerns bidding for contracts for church planning and building.

The traditional village and open country church was a one-room
structure erected for the sole purpose of providing a place for
worship. This amply met the needs of a pioneer time when social
activities were largely carried on in the homes. In a very large
number of communities this is still the only type of church building
to be found. As the idea of providing for Sunday school began to
prevail gradually side rooms were added to provide for extra Sunday
school classes. In the course of time the needs of a wider program for
the church began to be recognized, and then basements were added with
an occasional kitchen. Thus the entertainments for adults and of the
young people old enough to enjoy banquets and like amusement were
provided for. But the needs of the young people under sixteen years of
age and many other community needs were still uncared for.

The new program demands a building or buildings that will provide for
the threefold program of worship, religious education, and community
service. In view of the lack of standards for rural church building,
the present discussion is offered in the hope that it may contain some
practical suggestions in terms of the program demanded of the modern
open country and village church.

It is believed that the type of building suitable for an open country
community will be somewhat different from that needed in a village
center. The number of rooms will be less. Usually, two main rooms, one
for worship and the other for recreational purposes, with such side
rooms for kitchen and special clubs and classes as the community can
afford, will be sufficient. The recreation room should have stage,
lantern slide, and moving picture equipment, and a very simple
provision for games. Problems of plumbing and heating must be worked
out in accordance with local conditions.

In the larger centers, in addition to the facilities mentioned above,
other rooms may be added as a careful study of village equipment and
needs, present and probable future, indicate. Rooms for library,
committees, clubs, offices, shower baths, lockers, art center, and
similar interests should be provided for if other agencies have not
done so.

In building for community service the community should not make the
mistake of economizing because it imagines it cannot afford the best.
No community should build less than the best. If it does so, it
handicaps the community for a generation or more; and this is too
serious a matter to be lightly permitted. At the present time
religious organizations have national agencies which are serving to an
ever larger degree as a reserve resource for the purpose of aiding
local groups to build adequately. Thus the general organization aids
each year the limited number of local groups that find it necessary to
rebuild and renders unnecessary the maintenance of a replacement fund
by the local church for an indefinite period.

If it is impossible to build an entire building at one time it is
better to build by units, so that in the course of time a structure of
which the community may be proud will be completed. It should be
remembered that a community's solidarity and spirit are gauged largely
by the type of buildings it erects, and the church and community
building, representing as it does the deepest interests of man, should
be a living monument to community loyalty. Such a building becomes a
lasting inspiration to both old and young, pointing the way to the
highest and best in human life.

The building should be strategically located. As has been suggested,
people like to come to the center of the village for their social and
recreational life. The owner of a poolroom or a picture show that
would place his building a half mile in the country would not have a
large and enthusiastic patronage. The main street, near the center of
the village, is the place to be selected for the principal building of
the city, the community center.

Sometimes a well-meaning citizen will offer to a church a plot of land
far out on the edge of a village free of charge, provided the church
will accept it for the erection of the new structure. Sometimes the
Board of Trustees, thinking they will save a few hundred dollars,
gratefully accept the gift, thus violating the principle expressed in
the preceding paragraph. When a business man plans to put up an
expensive building he does not seek the cheapest land but the best
location regardless of the cost of the land. For illustration, a lot
on the edge of a village may cost but five hundred dollars, while a
lot in the center of the village may cost five thousand dollars. If
the proposed building to be erected is to cost fifty thousand dollars,
even the larger land cost is but ten per cent of the total; and the
value of the building to the community after erection on the more
valuable lot far more than justifies the extra expenditure.

Sometimes architects are inclined to sacrifice utility to beauty. They
are inclined to make the recreation room too short because a proper
length would not harmonize with other lines in the building. The good
architect accepts the beautification of a useful building as a
challenge and does not sacrifice utility because a useful structure
does not embody some feature of Gothic or Old English parish church
architecture. This tendency should be carefully guarded against.

Details as to the slope of ground best adapted to church building,
heating, plumbing, and other features can best be learned by
consultation with a trained architect. Care should be taken to see
that the recreation room is sufficiently large to carry on the simpler
games, such as basketball, when the community so desires. The limits
recommended are fourteen feet high by forty feet wide by sixty feet
long. Many communities, however, are getting along with rooms
considerably shorter and narrower than this. The ceiling should be
supported by steel beams instead of posts. In most sections of the
country it is recommended that recreation rooms be erected on the same
level as the church instead of in the basement, as has been the
practice.

In many sections of the country there is a distinct objection to
having the community service features and the house of worship under
the same roof. It is thought that the light-heartedness of play time
tends to lessen the sacredness of the house of worship and to lessen
respect for religious service. While this attitude is largely a matter
of custom, and while people who have caught the vision of God can
worship him any place, it is believed that wherever possible
consideration should be given to this sentiment and the community
service features of the church should be housed in a separate building
located adjacent to the church or attached to it by some smaller club
room. The two should not be located in widely separate parts of the
village, as the connection between the two may be lost and the service
of the church to the community in this way not recognized. Both house
of worship and community or parish house should be located near the
center of the village.

In villages where there is room for several houses of worship the
question of community service is much more difficult. The Young
Men's Christian Associations and the Young Women's Christian Associations
have made partial provision in some communities on an interdenominational
basis. But in the ordinary small town there is not room for a building
for each of these organizations. The rural Christian Associations have
been proceeding on the policy of using such buildings as are now
available, but it is evident that in the vast majority of small
communities, present buildings can at best be but a makeshift for
complete community service. It is hoped that the time will come when
the several denominations will find some way of pooling their financial
resources so that as religious organizations they can provide a common
building for community service. The writer knows of no village in America
where this has yet been done. One village in New York State,
Milton-on-the-Hudson, has a community club under the direction of a
Board of Trustees of ten members, two from each of the five denominations
represented in the village, the Catholic church included. This club has
been very successful in operating a community house and developing a
community program. It has been suggested that where property rights are
involved one denomination might make its contribution by providing
and maintaining the building, while the other denominations might
contribute the equivalent of interest on building investment, depreciation
and maintenance of building to cost of operation of the plant. It is
feared, however, that in the course of time, the original cost of
building to one denomination would be forgotten and the community
would demand that all groups contribute to operating expenses
according to their membership or some other agreed upon distribution
of maintenance expense. This should be the ultimate method of
maintenance.

In a number of communities one denomination has provided the building
and the operating force, while other denominations have cooperated by
acting on the Board of Control and contributing what they could to the
maintenance cost. Such denominational leadership almost invariably
leads in the beginning to interdenominational jealousy and antagonism,
but in some cases the community has accepted the situation and all
have cooperated, it being understood that such provision for community
purposes is not for the purpose of proselyting. Sunday school and
church membership is encouraged in the denominations from which the
young people come, and thus a contribution by one denomination has
strengthened the work of all the churches. Some form of cooperation
agreed upon for a common development is preferable and independent
action by one denomination should be undertaken only when the
different groups concerned are not in a position either by tradition
or financial ability to cooperate in a common enterprise.

The movement now is very strong in the direction of provision of
building and equipment for community service by the church. May the
church not fail in doing justice to its high obligation in the type of
structure it may erect!



CHAPTER VI

THE CHURCH AND RURAL PUBLIC THOUGHT


Many city pastors, and some rural ones too, lament the fact that
people do not come to listen to them preach. This condition is in
marked contrast to the good old New England days, when the whole
neighborhood would turn out and listen to sermons four hours long. It
is a question whether such intellectual giants as Jonathan Edwards
built up such congregations or whether such congregations brought out
the best in Jonathan Edwards.

People to-day go to church for a variety of reasons. But the dominant
motives that should prevail are those of worship and for instruction.
All Christians should attend religious services for worship regardless
of the quality of the sermon or the personal attitude of the people
toward the minister. The message from the pulpit should be such that
it too would attract for its own sake. It is the exceptional city
minister that can fill the pews from week to week and from year to
year because of the type of message given. The daily papers and the
many other agencies for discussion of live topics have become so
numerous that the pulpit has lost much of its original importance as
an agency for instruction. But in the village and the open country the
pulpit still has a large field for service in this respect and thus
becomes an especial challenge to the one who wants to develop as a
leader of thought. The village minister has an opportunity unique in
American life in this respect. Some of the greatest leaders of thought
ever produced were the product of the village churches of England and
Scotland. There is no reason why the village church of America should
not become the seedbed for the best contributions to religious,
philosophical, and literary thought of the present day.

It will be impossible to give more than a few illustrations of present
needs and opportunities for service in this respect in the smaller
communities. One of the first tasks of the church is the introduction
of correct thought in regard to religious beliefs. It is almost
unbelievable the amount of actual superstition and positively harmful
beliefs that prevail under the guise of religion not only in rural but
in urban communities. An example of this is the widespread belief in
the second coming of Christ at an early date. Educational institutions
of national note are continuously laboring to extend this form of
belief. The question as to whether Christ will ever come again is one
that does not appear to have any immediate social significance other
than it may have some influence on conduct as to the method of
preparation for his coming. Those who believe in such coming may
either believe that all efforts at social improvement now are
fruitless, because the ultimate inauguration of the Kingdom will
result from the sweeping away of everything that now exists and in the
inauguration of a new social order out of the ruins of the old. Or
they may believe that the efforts of the churches and other agencies
now are preparing the way for such coming, and the inauguration of the
Kingdom will be but the next step in an orderly process of social
progress. There is reason to believe that many of those who are
teaching the second coming are inclined to the former point of view;
and wherever they gain a hearing their influence practically nullifies
all efforts to enlist their followers in any program of social
improvement.

The effect of a belief in an immediate coming of Christ as indicated
by present world conditions interpreted in the light of Old and New
Testament prophecy is to paralyze all motive for social action. Such
action, if this belief is correct, is useless. The devotee is driven
to the position of finding his sole religious duty that of getting
himself and those in whom he is interested ready to enter the new
kingdom through the observance of the personal elements in religious
life.

Another belief that in some sections has a limited influence is that
of observance of Saturday instead of Sunday as the day set apart by
biblical authority as the Sabbath. Without commenting on the rightness
or the wrong of the contention, it should be remembered that this
belief has resulted in some sections in practically the breakdown of
observance of the Sabbath by rural communities, without a
corresponding gain in Saturday observance. Community solidarity for
either social or religious purposes is thus broken up. From the social
point of view this is distinctly unfortunate.

Again, in some sections religion has taken an extreme form of
antagonism to anything of a practical type. The extremes to which the
emotional expression of religion has gone have been such that these
groups have become popularly known as "Holy Rollers." Wherever this
type of religious expression breaks out in a rural community it
severely handicaps all efforts at making the church function as an
agency for rural progress. The energies of such devotees are so
exhausted in their services that they lack the energy, even if they
had the inspiration, to link their efforts to any program of community
betterment. This group is usually found not only opposing progressive
measures in the church but also opposing other progressive activities
in the community, such as better schools, road improvement, etc.

In isolated sections of rural America all over the country may be
found groups of Latter Day Saints. These groups are not yet of
sufficient strength to be of great importance outside of Utah and a
few other Western States. But the existence of an organized group
anywhere, particularly if it is of a missionary character, is likely
to spread and ultimately become a factor of considerable importance.
Anyone visiting the Mormon Temple at Salt Lake and reading on the
monuments to Joseph and Hiram Smith the testimony in letters of stone
to the effect that Joseph discovered the message of the Book of Mormon
on gold plates, and that Hiram was the witness thereof, will realize
how easy it is to spread almost any belief under the guise of religion
if the children are taught such doctrines during their youth.

It will be unnecessary to go through the whole catalogue of beliefs
finding expression in the dogma of practically all religious
organizations, and in times past dividing the followers of
Christianity into denominational groups. The most serious problems of
adjustment of religious institutions for community service grow out of
these differences in belief on points of dogma.

The solution of the problem of clearing the field of unwholesome and
injurious belief lies not in writing polemics against them but in
filling the minds of the people with unquestioned truth. As the rural
mind is directed to the consideration of topics of vital importance
these things that have crept in and disturbed social order and
dissipated precious energies in fruitless discussion will disappear
through lack of attention. On the other hand, persecution will attract
attention to and arouse the fanatical support of them and distract the
attention of the group from matters of more vital importance.

In addition to preaching those sermons which keep alive in community
consciousness the sense of man's obligations to his Maker, the
significance and solemnity of death and those other epochal events in
the course of human existence, and the hope given to man of a fuller
life through the coming of Christ, the minister has certain great
moral ideals that he should instill into the minds of his people.

The matter of honesty in dealing with both the farmer and his
neighbors both near and distant has already been mentioned.

The right attitude toward wealth accumulation must also be preached
not only for the safety of the rural community but also for the
entire nation. By the very nature of the business the vast majority of
people living in small communities and on the farms must remain
indefinitely people of modest means. The possibilities of large wealth
accumulation are limited because the farm must continue to be a small
scale industry. It can be improved so as to afford adequate leisure.
But farm life does not promise large enjoyment to those of an
epicurean turn of mind. The ideal of the farm must be that of
producing wealth so that the modest comforts of life may be insured.
But the minister must exalt the appreciation of those things that may
be obtained without lavish expenditure of money, such as local
entertainment produced by the community itself, literature, music, and
art; and the simple pleasures that come from democratic association
with intimate acquaintances.

It is believed that with all the material progress of this country, it
has had to sacrifice many things that are worth far more than the
types of enjoyment obtained by slavish imitation of the extremely
wealthy leisure class in the cities. The exhortation to preach the
values of the simple pleasures possible in smaller communities is not
for the purpose of keeping people contented with a lot that cannot be
improved, but because it is believed that the smaller communities
to-day contain within themselves and their ideals the seed of
rejuvenation of all life, and that a greater contribution can be made
by rural communities to civilization by adhering to their ideals than
by being diverted from them by the money-seeking, materialistic ideals
of the urban centers. The best in rural ideals must ultimately become
the ideals of the city if we are to avoid the degeneration that will
inevitably follow a too materialistic urban civilization.

The pastor should be able to bring to his people from time to time the
interpretation of national and world events in terms of their relation
to the advance of religious progress. This obligation will require
constant and wide reading about the social movements of the time. In
the more progressive communities many of the farmers and their
families will have access to literature that will enable them to form
their own conclusions to a large degree. But not many of them, even
though they be college graduates, will have the time to read as
widely as they would like on any of the great changes taking place;
and they will welcome an intelligent interpretation of these by the
one who has the larger opportunities for such service.

Finally, the preacher must be a prophet. He must have caught the
vision of tendencies in human life and be able to bring to his people
the evidences of the hand of God working out the course of the human
race in the infinite stream of human history. He must believe, with
Tennyson, in a "far off divine event, toward which the whole creation
moves," or with Shakespeare when he said "There's a divinity that
shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will." If he can bring his
people to see that, even though they may be living in some obscure
corner of the earth, they have a part in the great movements going on,
and that they can render a service by doing what they are able in
supporting the programs for which the church stands, he will be
contributing his share to the wholesome attitude needed in our rural
communities.



CHAPTER VII

ADJUSTING THE LOCAL CHURCH TO THE COMMUNITY


In his book on Social Control Professor Ross has pointed out that
certain institutions are essentially conservative in their nature.
They are solid, permanent organizations but are not inclined to assume
leadership in social progress. He includes in this list the church.
The fact that the church is a conservative institution is not
necessarily a criticism of it. Other agencies develop new phases of
social expression, sometimes in actual opposition to conservative
agencies. The good innovations live and after they have demonstrated
their utility the conservative institutions such as the church and the
state take them over and insure their permanence.

The rapid advance of the social spirit in modern life has outstripped
existing agencies in their preparation to meet the new approach to
the solution of problems of living. Many forms of existing
institutions were created under entirely different conditions and to
meet different needs. To-day these old forms do not adapt themselves
to new demands, and in many cases prevent effective action on the part
of religious organizations that are ready in spirit to broaden their
programs to include the new demands upon the conservative
organization.

The minister, trained for the modern service of the church to the
community, cannot solve alone all the problems of maladjustment he
finds in his local community. He finds that the contacts and interests
of his local church organization are far broader than the interests of
the local group he is called to serve; and that in many cases his
local efforts are nullified by these larger contacts. It is the
purpose of this and succeeding chapters to outline some of the
conditions existing within the church itself that must be adjusted
before it can act most effectively in meeting the challenge discussed
in preceding chapters.

The first and probably most important problem is that of enlarging the
vision of church officials, ministers, and people as to the need for
broadening the program of the church and as to the need of a
statesman-like reorganization of adjustment of the church to the
community.

It is believed that quite generally the membership of the larger
religious organizations in this country are now in sympathy with the
principle that the church should have a social-service program. There
is still wide diversity of opinion as to the form that service should
take. In too many cases there is no opinion at all; and while
admitting the principle, active opposition develops to any attempt to
put the principle into practice in a specific project. This condition
is to be found most marked in those sections of the country that are
not in the direct line of thought movements, or where living
conditions are such as to make rural life monotonous. The monotony of
the plains is as deadening as is the lack of contact of the mountain
valley; and both fields offer fruitful ground for the spread of
unsocial types of religious expression.

The solution of this phase of adjustment of the church to community
needs lies in a patient educational program carried on by the
minister of the gospel. He must be a man of broad vision and must have
the fullest appreciation of the slowness with which the rural public
mind works. He must be everlastingly tactful and not attempt more than
the simplest advances at the beginning and not more than one at a
time. He should have at hand an abundance of educational material in
the way of literature, lantern slides, and periodicals which can be
used in showing what actually happens when the church embarks on a
broader program of rural service. A national educational program of
this type will in a few years create a demand that must be met and
that rural churches will pay well for as the value of such work will
be recognized.

The more serious phase of this problem is the lack of adequate
preparation for this service on the part of the ministry. In one of
the leading denominations (Methodist Episcopal) over twenty-nine per
cent of the charges are cared for by supplies, men who by reason of
educational preparation, age, or for some other cause are not now and,
in a large proportion of cases, never will be eligible to membership
in the Conferences. Of the remainder, only a small proportion are
graduates of schools of higher learning, such as colleges and
theological seminaries. At a time when a large number of those living
in rural communities are either agricultural college graduates or have
attended short courses in agriculture, it becomes apparent that an
uneducated ministry is becoming a menace to the future of the rural
church.

But of those who have had the advantages of a college or theological
seminary training, the type of training has not fitted them for
effective rural service. The training of ministers has gone through
the same process as other types of training. It was once thought that
since the sole business of the minister was the personal appeal to
accept Christ, with the emphasis on the personal atonement features of
Christianity rather than on the principles of Christian living, the
same type of training would fit one to deliver the message whether he
was in the slums of the city, on the shores of Africa, or in the
mountains of Colorado. Moreover, for some reason, it appears to have
been accepted that the rural ministry was the simplest of all and
that any one could be a rural minister. It would be amusing if it were
not so tragic to accept the testimony of some of those who have not
yet seen that the rural ministry is a type demanding such a
cosmopolitan understanding of human nature and of conditions of human
existence that it demands the best intellects and the highest type of
missionary spirit to carry on successfully. We have heard of college
presidents recommending young men for important rural positions
because the young man was "not ambitious for any important work in the
church." It has been known that officials in the church would bid for
theological seminary graduates with the assurance that while they
would have to accept an "undesirable" rural charge for a year or so,
they would soon be "promoted." The writer knows of at least one young
Negro minister, a holder of a Master's degree from a large educational
institution, whose major work for his higher degree was in the dead
languages. The attitude of our educational institutions, and the
attitude in public thought has been that progress for the individual
has been in the direction of getting away from the country instead of
remaining with rural folk and giving one's life to the advancement of
the group as a whole; and the courses of study have had primarily in
mind the personal appeal rather than that of dealing with man in his
particular environment.

It is now recognized that modern life demands a specialized ministry.
The one who can handle successfully a rural industrial or a downtown
urban situation may not be at all fitted to deal with the problems of
the village or the open country. On the other hand, the one who can
serve farmers successfully might not be at all fitted to fill a
metropolitan pulpit. Beginnings only have been made in attempting to
adjust educational work to meet this modern demand. In the meantime
the problem remains of the ministers trained under former conditions,
if trained at all. Many of them have not yet caught the vision of the
larger program of the church; and of those who have caught this vision
the handling of the tools of the new program is such a delicate task
that many failures are sure to be recorded. It will take years to
bring the church to the place where it can meet successfully the
modern demands upon it.

The second great problem is that of maladjustment in thought.
Protestantism is still suffering from the effects of extreme
individualism in religious belief. Strong leaders, obsessed with some
one variation in interpretation of the Scriptures, have pulled off
from the main body of the church and have started independent
organizations committed to the development of the particular
interpretation they have made. When once these organizations have been
formed and have secured a financial backing, they have continued to
spread, until to-day rural America presents the spectacle of religious
forces agreeing on the broad general program of the relation of the
church to community needs but paralyzed because of dissensions over
less essential principles of theological dogma. The reasons for
separate organizations have often been forgotten and loyalty to a
particular organization as such has taken its place.

The solution of this problem is not that of attempting to eliminate
differences in dogmatic belief by argument, but of emphasizing the
points of agreement of the various religious groups. Error and
nonessential dividing lines will disappear if neglected. But if they
are agitated, they will thrive under persecution and conditions will
be worse than ever.

The third problem is that of maladjustment of buildings to community
needs. This problem presents itself in two aspects: first, that of
location of church buildings, and, second, that of location of
pastors' residences. In the original settlement of this country,
people located their new homes in neighborhoods partly for social and
economic purposes and partly for protection. Where these new groups
were founded the church building soon found a place. As the
communities grew, and aided in the course of time by ambitious
national agencies, the sectarian interests mentioned above established
new churches to care for those of each particular belief until many
communities soon became overchurched. The rapid decrease in
open-country, and even village, population which began during the 70's
of the past century and which has continued to the present made the
problem still worse, until to-day probably the least efficient
institution in all rural life is the rural church.

Moreover, the first settlements did not always mark the spot of
permanent development of population and interest centers. As time has
passed, many of the places which it was once thought would be
permanent centers have lost their preeminence and others have taken
their place, until now many very small communities have too many
churches, and others are lacking in adequate facilities for religious
service.

The time has now come when it is believed that rural population and
agricultural tendencies are sufficiently well known to enable those
interested in rural life development to determine what are the most
suitable centers for community development. The Interchurch World
Movement, had it been carried to a successful conclusion, would have
gone far toward determining those centers for the entire United
States. As it is, the Movement made possible such determination for
about one fifth of the United States and the task of completing the
survey may be accomplished in the course of time.

When this task is completed, then the challenge to the churches of
America will be to so readjust the location of their church buildings
and to remodel them in such a way as to be adapted to the present and
probable future growth of communities so determined. This work is
scarcely begun, but it is believed that it has gone far enough to
insure its ultimate achievement. When this is done, then the local
church will be in a position to deal most effectively with the
community problems mentioned in preceding chapters.

The situation as to location of pastors' residences is even more
serious than that of location of church buildings. During the pioneer
period of church organization ministers were under the necessity of
dividing their efforts among a considerable number of small groups.
These were organized into circuits and the pastor's residence was
provided at the point either where the original church was established
or where it was most convenient for him to serve the preaching points
under his care. Each denomination developed its own work regardless of
other groups and in many cases from the same common center, so that we
now have in rural and village organization pastors' residences
centralized in the minority of rural communities and the great
majority of such communities without resident pastoral care.

In the State of Ohio, for example, in one county of twenty-four
communities but twelve have resident pastors and in these twelve
communities thirty-nine pastors reside. In another of sixteen
communities but eight have resident pastors. Yet in each county there
are enough ministers to supply each community with a resident pastor,
if readjustment were to be made. In the northeastern part of the State
on a single Methodist district are to be found two instances of
Methodist and Presbyterian pastors living in the same village and
going on alternate Sundays to another village, in one instance larger
than that wherein the ministers live. The facts as to the growth and
decline of churches with resident or non-resident ministers elsewhere
present (see Church Growth and Decline in Ohio) are a sufficient
indication of the effects of maladjustment of pastoral residences to
rural community needs. Since the modern demand of rural life upon the
church is for community leadership as well as for holding Sunday
worship, it is clear that no adequate program of church leadership in
rural life can be worked out until this vital need of readjustment of
pastoral residences to community service is met.

A third serious problem is that of lack of coordination of
denominational effort in community service. Where two or more
religious organizations find a place in the same small community, no
plan has yet been successfully tried whereby these organizations as
such have been brought into harmonious and continuous action for
community service. The presence of two or three ministers of social
vision in the same small community is not always an asset, since small
communities do not have a place for more than one leader and sectarian
interests forbid cooperation under the leadership of either of the
church pastors. This situation has given rise to such organizations as
the Christian Associations, the Sunday School Associations, and a
large number of nonreligious agencies now trying to provide for
community leadership independent of the church. It is intended here to
call attention to the problem. A suggestion as to methods of solution
will be taken up more at length in a succeeding chapter.

A fourth serious problem resulting from the above is lack of adequate
support for rural religious institutions. Owing to the general lack of
financial resources of rural communities as compared with the urban
centers, they have not been able to compete financially with city
churches in bidding for men who have high standards of living and who
demand large financial returns for services rendered. This condition
will probably continue indefinitely because of the tendency of
large-scale industrial production to centralize wealth control in
urban centers; that is, unless the economic motive is taken from
Christian service through the equalization of salaries. This is a
solution much to be desired, but it is feared that pastors will not
take kindly to such a movement; and members of city churches will
continue to contribute to the support of their own particular pastor
instead of to general pastoral support. But the weakness in support
has been seriously increased because of dividing of such resources as
rural communities have among so many different agencies. Many
communities that could support a pastor at two thousand dollars or
more a year now have men serving denominations at one thousand dollars
per year or less.

The same is true of church building. When five church buildings must
be erected and maintained for sectarian purposes in a town where there
is room for but one school building there is little wonder that the
contrast between church buildings and other rural institutional
buildings is so marked. And it is little wonder that when people begin
to think in community terms they are inclined to pass by the church as
an institution offering hope of community service conservation and
turn either to the school or to some other agency that they hope will
serve the purpose.

Closely akin to the problem of inadequate support for the country
minister and the country church is that contention often made that the
job of a country preacher does not offer as great a challenge as does
that of service in other branches of church work. It is believed that
this contention is erroneous because the rural work, while not
demanding the same qualities of service as other types, does demand
qualities of its own that equal, if they do not exceed, those of the
city pulpit. The ability to serve people long and continuously in
close personal relation to them; to deal patiently with conservatism;
to endure the hardships of living under conditions far below what are
to be found in city environments; to get the support of the people for
progressive measures, and to keep alive mentally in an environment
that is not the most conducive to study because of lack of reading
facilities and because of the ease with which one may shirk the means
of personal growth--all these make the task one for the specially
capable and devoted.

But if there is truth in the statement that the country ministry does
not offer the opportunity for the exercise of personal abilities
required by the city pulpit, then, unless we frankly recognize that
the limit of possibility of building up the rural work is to alleviate
an unavoidable discrepancy in personal challenge, it becomes necessary
to so reorganize the local parish that it will be a challenge fit to
attract the best minds in the church.

The first step already has been mentioned: that is, to adjust
relationships between denominations so that a minister will have sole
responsibility for community leadership.

The second is to enlarge the parishes under the control of one pastor
that he will have ample field for the exercise of his abilities. In
some sections of the country two or more communities may still have to
be assigned to one minister, with the expectation that he will develop
local volunteer leadership in the respective communities, or have
adequate assistance in the way of special workers among the children
and in the homes and have directors of religious education for full or
part time in each community. In most sections of the country the
communities are now of such a size as to demand the full time of a
paid minister and to pay a satisfactory salary for services rendered.

The third is to increase the functions of the pastorate so that people
will be willing to pay more for the service rendered. This results
directly from the adoption of the larger program for the church herein
recommended.

The practice--still all too rare--of supplying the pastor with an
automobile for pastoral work, should be encouraged everywhere,
particularly when the charge has a pastor who has the vision of the
broader program of the church and is specially trained for his work.
There are complications in the connectional system of making
appointments that tend to prevent liberality in this respect. When a
charge is brought up to adequate self-support the tendency is too
often to make the charge a place to "take care" of a Conference member
of that grade regardless of his fitness to follow up the type of
program introduced by his predecessor. The taking of the automobile by
the departing pastor deprives the community of its use. Leaving it for
the use of an inefficient pastor is too great a burden on the
community. Experience will determine the best means of handling this
problem and should ultimately put ministers on the same basis as to
having means of transportation furnished as County Agricultural
Agents, County Superintendents of Schools, Christian Association
Secretaries, etc.

The soldier in the ranks will probably never be looked upon as in the
same grade of responsible position as the captain of the company. So
the country minister has a right to look forward in due time to
"promotion" in natural channels; that is, to the district
superintendency. It is to be feared that too often at the present
time, the rural minister is discouraged from remaining in the rural
work because he sees that a very large proportion of the positions in
the church that are recognized as personal promotions are filled from
the city pulpits. His course of advance is now from the country pulpit
to the city pulpit, thence to the district superintendency or detached
service, thence to the bishopric, a position very few ministers refuse
if offered. The rural work would be strengthened if rural district
superintendencies were filled by rural men who have demonstrated their
ability to build up a rural charge successfully, and then if these
same rural district superintendents were to have an opportunity to
fill the highest possible positions in the church, thus bringing to
the highest administrative offices of the church the tried experience
that comes from building up a district in Methodism. When the
necessity of leaving the rural work in order to get "promotion" is
eliminated there will be a marked strengthening of loyalty to the
rural work.

The illustrations given have been taken from Methodist Episcopal
experience. Other denominations have similar problems, but probably to
a less degree because of the more marked form of localized democracy
in church polity.

If the churches of America permit this crisis of lack of adjustment of
church to community needs to pass unchallenged, and if they delay in
making the adjustments needed, the time will soon come when other
agencies, supported by rural communities, will make provision for
these needs and the opportunity of the church will be gone
indefinitely. Other agencies will be performing a real Christian
service, and the church, by reason of its failure to live up to the
demands upon it, will have an increasingly difficult task of
justifying its existence so far as relationship to this world is
concerned.



CHAPTER VIII

INTERDENOMINATIONAL READJUSTMENT


Rural progress under church leadership has been much like the first
drops of water on a placid lake at the beginning of a rain. Little
rises of water appear and some waves circle out, but the ultimate
level is not much raised. So with the church. Here and there a
minister stirs up some local community, some definite progress is
made, attention is attracted from other communities and they may have
a few symptoms of a rise, but too often the minister moves, another
comes, and the general level of community life falls back to what it
was before.

The difficulty is that with the overlapping of interdenominational
jurisdictions it is impossible for any group to lead in progress
outside of the local community. Methodists cannot lead in a county
program because Baptists and Presbyterians will not follow them.
Neither can the other groups lead because Methodists are not gifted
in following the leadership of other denominations. It is perfectly
natural and justifiable that this should be so. Before the churches of
America, Protestant or Catholic, can render the entire service
demanded of them there must be a thoroughgoing system of
interdenominational cooperation worked out which will insure joint
responsibility of all denominations concerned in providing for
community leadership on a large scale. If this is impossible, then the
inevitable alternative must be accepted of passing by the churches of
America in carrying out comprehensive plans of progress and of turning
to other agencies for this service.

During the past, largely owing to the apparently hopeless situation so
far as interdenominational cooperation is concerned, Christian
organizations, such as Christian Associations and Sunday School
Associations, have sprung up to do for the denominations and for the
ministers what they could not do under present conditions. These
agencies have done notable work. They have accomplished much in
preparing the way for a nation-wide recognition of what the broad
function of the church is; they have brought representatives of all
denominations together and have gradually increased the social spirit
while at the same time lessening the emphasis upon those things which
have divided the Christian Church into so many isolated camps. They
have pioneered and experimented. They have had failures as well as
successes, but their failures have been a real contribution to the sum
total of human experience and have taught us many things that should
be avoided. The service rendered by these agencies must ever be
remembered as of the most vital and important character.

But it will be admitted by representatives of all organizations that a
large part of what is now found in the programs of those other
religious organizations, "arms" of the church, is a legitimate part of
the work that should be supervised by the minister of a community
program and included in his program, and that in those communities
where such trained pastoral leadership exists the functions of these
other agencies can be materially modified and their activities
directed into still further new and untried fields of endeavor. The
church needs organizations supported from funds not coming through the
regular channels founded on the budgets of individual churches. These
subsidiary organizations can go ahead with experimentation, and their
failures do not bring the discredit to the parent organization that
they would if done by the church directly. On the other hand, their
successes can be adopted into the regular program of the church and
thus conserved. Complete control of experimentation or demonstration
work is likely to destroy or prevent initiative, which is the soul of
progress.

In adjusting problems between denominations in local communities a
number of plans have been tried with greater or less success. One of
the oldest is that of the "union" church. This is a type of
organization in which the people of the local community, tiring of the
uneconomic system of interdenominational competition, and without hope
of uniting on any one of the local organizations represented, decide
to separate from all and form themselves into an independent local
organization.

No large denomination to-day is favorable to the so-called "union"
church; and all are opposed to the plan sometimes followed by rural
industrial concerns of erecting a church building open to anyone who
pretends to speak with authority about religious matters. The "union"
church usually begins with enthusiasm, but because of lack of outside
contacts, because of lack of continuity of program, because of lack of
a broad missionary spirit, it is generally shortlived and gives way to
some church with denominational affiliations. The "union" church
without denominational affiliations should not be confused with the
"community" church with denominational connection. It is the latter
type that most religious organizations are now agreed is most
desirable as the solution of the inexcusable overchurching now
existing in many communities.

In these days of get-together movements denominational leaders should
think clearly with reference to "federated" churches. A few of these
have had a fairly long life. But their growth in the past fifteen
years has not been such as to inspire confidence that they offer a
satisfactory solution to the overchurched situation. The "federated"
church idea is not in harmony with a connectional polity nor with the
principle of world democracy with centralization of administrative
responsibility for carrying out democratically adopted plans implied
in that polity. Local federation involves giving of full power of
selection of pastors and of determination of policies to the local
congregation. Whatever may be said about the occasional failures of
the connectional system in finding suitable pastors, or in other ways,
it is nevertheless true that this system has a vitality and efficiency
that are now being recognized by many of the leading religious
organizations. The polity of the "federated" church is congregational;
and extreme congregationalism and connectionalism do not mix readily
so far as polity is concerned. The growth of the one form involves the
decline of the other. This is why the Methodist Episcopal Church, for
example, has developed so little sympathy for the "federated" church
idea.

Far different from this is allocation of responsibility for community
leadership. This insures leadership to one denomination or the other.
Then the local congregations can work out their problems of adjustment
as local conditions indicate is best. Usually some form of affiliation
in worship and in sharing local expenses with continued separation of
support of missionary and other benevolent enterprises has proven the
most satisfactory method of local adjustment. By this method
connectional interests are preserved and fixing of responsibility in
each community assured.

With the vastly increased missionary resources made available by the
missionary "drives" of the leading denominations there is positive
danger of the problem of interdenominational adjustment being made
still more serious. If the Home Mission Boards, through unwise use of
mission funds for the purpose of assisting in competitive struggles,
should precipitate retaliation by other denominations, a misuse of
missionary funds would result that would not only dry up the sources
of missionary support but bring Protestantism into lasting disgrace.

In working out a program of interdenominational adjustment the
following plan has been tried with success on at least three
Methodist Episcopal Annual Conference districts:

1. A survey of the district and the preparation of a map showing the
location of all churches, residences of all pastors, circuit systems,
and whether churches are located in villages or the open country.

2. Separate lists are then made of cases of apparent competitive
relations with each denomination.

3. Conferences are then called with the representatives of each
denomination to consider the problems of competition between the
Methodist Episcopal Church and the particular denomination with which
the conference is called.

4. After tentative plans have been adopted representatives of both
denominations visit the local field together, confer with the churches
concerned, and arrive at some agreement as to adjustments to be made.

5. This method is followed with each denomination, separately, with
which Methodism has competitive relations.

This plan has been tried with success in the State of Vermont, where
Methodists, Baptists, and Congregationalists had to cooperate or
abandon the field; in the Portsmouth district, Ohio Conference, where
the principal problems were with the Presbyterians, United Brethren,
and Baptists; in Montana, where a conference was held to consider
adjustments affecting an entire State; and in the Wooster District,
North-East Ohio Conference, where adjustment of relationships is
proceeding satisfactorily.

The results of this program already noticeable are:

1. The increase in salary of rural ministers made possible by uniting
the financial resources of all religious forces in the community.

2. Saving of missionary money by eliminating duplication of missionary
grants by competing denominations.

3. A marked increase in membership and church attendance.

4. A more vital relationship of the church to community welfare
through unified action of all religious forces under the trained
leadership of one pastor.

5. Resident pastorates to more communities through better distribution
of pastoral residences of the denominations concerned in adjustments
made.

6. A more vital appeal to life service in rural work can now be made
to young people who have objected to service in rural charges where
efforts at community service have been handicapped and even nullified
by the presence of competing religious organizations and pastors.

It is believed that the results obtained far outweigh the possible
losses that may come through Methodists intrusting leadership in
service to Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, or the
reverse. The good work made possible by fixing responsibility for
leadership to a given denomination in one community is destined by the
force of example and imitation to compel similar progress in
communities to which leadership responsibility has been assigned to
other denominations.

A word of caution to ministers in charge of local fields is desirable
in regard to settlement of interdenominational difficulties. The
interests involved are so much larger than the local church that the
initiative must be taken by the district superintendent, always in
the fullest consultation with the resident bishop, or the proper
State, synodical, or other representative of the other denominations
concerned. In a number of cases local initiative in this matter has
resulted not only in defeating the end sought but has created
embarrassing situations between the supervisory representatives of the
denominations. If a local situation needs adjustment, the matter
should be gone over fully with those responsible for church
administration, and it is believed that in most cases such adjustment
can be made satisfactorily. The experience of those in the Methodist
Episcopal Church who have tried to bring about adjustments by the
method suggested has been that in most cases other groups are ready to
come to an agreement.

If other groups refuse to make adjustments, then the denomination
making the advances has no other alternative than that of caring for
its own obligations as adequately as possible and with every resource
that can be made available. But no blame can attach to this policy
after effort has been made to cooperate with other groups and these
efforts have failed.

After communities have been allocated for leadership to one or another
of the denominations, then the problem of a united program by all
denominations remains to be solved. Unless this end is attained, then
rural churches must continue to work largely alone, each in its own
community without relation to the program of neighboring churches or
communities. Unless there is coordination between the churches, then
we shall continue to witness the spectacle of the three
interdenominational branches of the church, the Sunday School
Association, and the Christian Associations, each moving in its own
self-chosen direction, each raising an independent budget, and each
establishing county organizations without reference to the interests
of the other; and none of the three doing anything to encourage the
organization of county groups of the churches as such. The time has
arrived when the church as such should take the lead in bringing about
interdenominational cooperation for community service under its own
auspices and in the most inclusive way.

For many reasons the county offers the best basis for this type of
organization. It is the most permanent political unit, next to the
State or the incorporated town or city. Social progress finds the
closest opportunity for cooperation with economic and political
agencies in the county. The following proposal for a County Christian
Association, supported out of the budgets of local cooperating
churches, has been worked out:


SUGGESTED PROGRAM FOR COUNTY RURAL CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OR FEDERATION
OF CHURCHES[1]

  1a. Proposal for County Christian Association or Church Federation.

    1b. Board of Directors.

      1c. County Council chosen by each cooperating denomination on
          basis of membership.

      2c. Election or appointment of denominational representatives
          to be left to each denomination.

      3c. Selection of county secretary.

    2b. Duties of county secretary.

      1c. Survey--Follow up what interchurch county office has done.

        1d. Location of all churches.

        2d. Residence of pastors.

        3d. Community boundaries.

      2c. Organize county religious movements as:

        1d. Evangelistic drive.

        2d. Membership rally.

        3d. Go-to-church campaigns.

        4d. Religious worship in the home.

        5d. Common programs with reference to moral and spiritual
            problems.

        6d. Other religious movements.

      3c. Interchurch adjustments.

        1d. Act as secretary of Committee on Adjustments--provide office
            for interchurch activities.

        2d. Depository for interchurch religious information.

        3d. Follow-up plans made as result of interchurch survey,
            including:

          1e. Encouragement of building parsonage and getting resident
              pastor in every community.

          2e. Getting a community church building in every community
              adequate to its needs.

          3e. Getting a community building under joint religious auspices
              where need exists for several houses of worship.

          4e. Clearing house for membership conservation.

          5e. Determination of parish boundaries.

          6e. Establishment of new work in communities where there is none.

      4c. Social and recreational.

        1d. County field days.

        2d. Cooperation in organizing boys' and girls' clubs in Sunday
            school or otherwise.

        4d. Direct social and recreational activities.

        5d. Assisting in selection and training leaders for church and
            community service.

      5c. Religious education.

        1d. Recruiting membership campaigns.

        2d. Perform all functions now expected of volunteer county Sunday
            school secretary.

        3d. Assist in analysis of Sunday school methods and organization
            in local churches in organizing for larger service.

        4d. Week-day religious instruction plans.

      6c. Social service activities to be encouraged:

        1d. County free library.

        2d. County hospital and nursing program.

        3d. Adequate provision for dependents, defectives, delinquents.

        4d. Securing desired State public service.

        5d. Health and sanitation campaign.

        6d. County Farm bureaus.

      7c. Cooperation with other agencies. In general, give moral support
          to agencies doing effective work in the fields mentioned in (6c).

      8c. Act as bureau of advice with reference to appeals for charitable
          purposes.

      9c. Religious publicity.

    3b. Budget.

      1c. Estimated Salary of Secretary   $3,000
          Travel                             400
          Office rent                        300
          Equipment                          200
          Stenographer                       750
          Publicity                          400
                                          ------
                                          $5,050

      2c. How to raise.

        1d. Estimate amount that should come from each cooperating church.
            Ask each church to assume its share on a three-year guarantee.

        2d. Make list of special givers who may become a private source.

        3d. Communicate with respective missionary boards for aid in
            carrying balance of budget until such time as it can be brought
            to self-support.

FOOTNOTE:

[Footnote 1: Prepared in Collaboration with C. J. Hewett, Garrett
Biblical Institute, Evanston, Ill.]


This form of organization has many advantages, among which are:

1. It coordinates all the religious forces of Protestantism, for a
common community service.

2. It insures ultimate permanent support by being financed out of the
budgets of the cooperating churches instead of by a limited number of
private givers of large funds.

3. The county organization develops its work through the churches,
strengthening the program of the minister instead of developing
independent organizations locally with volunteer leadership related to
an "arm" of the church instead of directly to the church.

4. By organizing to do their own work in this way the churches obviate
the necessity of private Christian agencies organizing with outside
support to carry on interdenominational work.

If the churches of America do not rapidly work out plans of
interdenominational cooperation in the development of their work,
other agencies will enter the field and will receive popular financial
support for doing those things in rural progress that are the
legitimate task of the church and for which the church should receive
support. Church people will supply the large part of the funds for
carrying on these activities through nonreligious agencies; and
because of the narrowness of program the church will have chosen for
itself many of the brightest and best minds, and consecrated hearts
now found in our student groups in educational institutions will find
their life's activities outside the church instead of within its ranks
where they would prefer to be. This will be the misfortune of the
church and she cannot clear herself of the wrong of depriving her
young people of the opportunity of rendering a service to humanity
within her own ranks and of forcing them to render that service
through independent social agencies.



CHAPTER IX

THE CHURCH AND OTHER RURAL AGENCIES


Since the arousal of interest in rural welfare by the studies made by
the Country Life Commission in 1908, probably no movement has made
more rapid progress than that concerned with rural life. Studies of
rural church conditions made by the Presbyterian Board of Home
Missions and other agencies, of rural health by the National Public
Health Service and by a number of the large philanthropic foundations,
of educational conditions by the United States Bureau of Education,
and of other problems by various agencies concerned, have revealed the
more important conditions and have made possible the organization of
programs for their amelioration. The conditions still further revealed
by the problems incident to preparation for the World War and the
facilities made possible by that preparation for mobilization of the
forces for improvement still further advanced the rural-life movement
until now no other interest is occupying more public attention than
this.

The list of agencies with programs of rural service on a national
scale that have found representation in the National Council of Rural
Social Service affiliated with the American Country Life Association
will indicate the large number of groups now contributing to the
advance of rural welfare. This list is as follows: National Grange,
American Farm Bureau Federation, National Board of Farm Organizations,
Farmers' Educational and Cooperative Union, American Home Economics
Society, American Red Cross, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of
America, Federal Council of Churches, National Catholic Welfare
Council, Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the
United States of America, American Baptist Home Missionary Society,
Board of Home Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Young Men's
Christian Association, Young Women's Christian Association, United
States Department of Agriculture, States Relations Service; United
States Department of Agriculture, Office of Farm Management; United
States Public Health Service, United States Bureau of Education,
United States Department of Labor, Children's Bureau; National
Organization for Public Health Nursing, National Child Labor
Committee, Child Health Organization of America, Russell Sage
Foundation, National Tuberculosis Association, National Educational
Association, Rural Department; American Library Association, National
University Extension Association, National Child Health Council,
Playground and Recreation Association of America, Community Service,
Inc.

The above is a list of thirty-one different agencies that have a
national definitely organized rural-service program. This list
doubtless is incomplete and will be increased in the course of time.

The problem before us is to determine just what place the church
should have in this formidable galaxy of agencies, and to consider
what advantages and difficulties present themselves to the churches of
America in functioning unitedly and successfully in doing their part
in the entire movement.

It must be recognized that it is impossible for the church to assume
leadership in all the interests represented now by various specialized
agencies. It has been contended that the task of the church has been
completed with reference to a number of these interests when it has
encouraged their organization in a local way and has continued to give
them its moral support so long as they render effectively the service
for which they were intended. Rural interests are so complex that
specialized groups are necessary to insure adequate attention to all
the interests concerned.

It must also be recognized that until the two great branches of the
Christian Church--Catholicism and Protestantism--learn to cooperate in
their service to the community, the religious forces of America cannot
present a united front in rendering the service that belongs
peculiarly to them. It is assumed that the effort will be made by
those responsible for community service in both branches of the church
to work out this problem so that the church can do its part in the
general movement.

The physical basis for organization of all forces for service on a
comprehensive plan is recognized to be the political units, county,
State, and nation. The township is giving way gradually to the
community as the more local unit of organization. In cases where
community boundary lines do not coincide with county lines local
adjustments will be made whereby the integrity of communities may be
maintained within the organization of one or the other of the counties
concerned.

The present movement is toward the appointment of county work
secretaries on a salaried basis to administer the work of the
respective interests concerned. Thus we have now developed wherever
the spirit of the people has made it possible salaried County Y. M. C.
A. officers, Y. W. C. A. officers, International Sunday School
officers, Red Cross Chapters, Boy Scouts, Community Service, Inc., and
so forth. There is no regularity or uniformity in the selection of the
counties by the different agencies with reference to each other, but
it appears that when one of the groups succeeds in getting a county
office established, it is increasingly difficult for other agencies
concerned in rural social service to gain a foothold on a salaried
basis. The agency that succeeds in gaining a foothold originally tends
to incorporate into its activities the full program of social service.
Theoretically all admit their readiness to turn over to other agencies
the functions belonging to other groups as soon as they are ready to
assume their proper duties, but practically the organization of an
interest group county office delays indefinitely the organization of
rural service on a proper basis.

The normal course of development is for the agency that is prepared to
organize and finance a comprehensive rural program for a county should
render this service; but it should at the same time use its influence
to bring about at the earliest possible moment a county council of
social agencies that will give unified control of the rural service
program to all agencies that should have a voice in rural progress. If
this policy is adhered to, there will be the heartiest support of the
work of any agency that wishes to begin its work on a county basis in
any section of the country.

The first impression that may come to one not familiar with the
vastness of the organized movement for rural welfare may be that a
large number of agencies have undertaken rural service for their own
sakes rather than for the sake of the community. This is not the case.
It is recognized that rural organization for definite objectives
should take the place of previous uncoordinated, haphazard opportunism
in rural progress, and the present sporadic and unrelated movements
toward organization are but the result of a very rapid development
which has not yet found time to make the desired adjustment desired by
all concerned. The National Council of Rural Social Agencies, the
State Councils coming into existence, the County Councils and the
community councils that have appeared here and there are but the
beginnings of a well-ordered, economical and necessary coordination of
rural social forces.

How is the church related to this movement? Repeated investigations
have shown that the churches of America have within their membership
by far the larger proportion of those whose public spirit registers
itself in voluntary financial support of public enterprises. The
"friendly citizen" is largely a myth. Those who build churches at
large personal sacrifice, and pay the bills in maintaining religious
services are those whose names appear at the top of most subscriptions
to benevolent enterprises. It was the Christian ministry and the
church membership that made possible the Red Cross drives during the
war, and the other financial campaigns for relief and other calls
incident to the war. Thus history has continued to show the same
condition so far as financial resources for public welfare support are
concerned.

Since this is the case, it appears that the most natural method of
initiating social service work on a voluntary basis is to expect the
churches to take the lead. As has been pointed out, the church and the
school are the two local institutions that have salaried officials to
care for their public service. Other agencies, with the possible
exception of public health nursing service, will probably not in the
near future be able to secure financial support for full-time salaried
local officials. The nearest they can approach to such salaried
service is the county official who must depend for local service upon
trained volunteer help. This condition puts upon the church an
additional responsibility because through the organization of a county
religious organization outlined in the preceding chapter it can not
only mobilize local support for such work on a permanent basis most
effectively, but it can also provide the salaried local leadership for
carrying out a well-organized community service program. Moreover, in
harmony with principles presented in an earlier chapter, the church as
a conservative institution is one of the permanent organizations that
in the last analysis must be expected to take over and insure
permanence to well-tried advances in community organization and
service. If this thesis is admitted, then it logically follows that
all who are interested in rural progress should encourage the
organization of the religious forces on a comprehensive basis to
insure the perpetuation of the work now being inaugurated by a large
number of private agencies.

When it is found that the interests of other organizations conflict
with the program of the church, the interests of the American public
will give the preference in support to the church, or to the
tax-supported institution. In the long run much of the work now being
done by private organizations of various sorts will be inherited
either by the church or by the state; and it is not only the
opportunity but the obligation of the church to prepare itself as
rapidly as possible for conserving these newer activities by financing
county and State and national organizations for coordination of
religious forces for community service. If county offices for
coordination of religious forces were now in existence, the churches
could provide facilities through which much of the work now being
developed by other agencies could be carried on. And thus the church
could render a much-needed service to the entire rural-life movement.



CHAPTER X

MISSIONARY PROGRAMS AND RURAL COMMUNITY SERVICE


Long years of experience in foreign missionary service has vitally
affected the methods of carrying the gospel of Christian living to
those who have not yet come under the influence of the Christ. Here
the demonstration method of what Christianity means in terms of
increased human welfare has done far more to spread the gospel than
simply preaching to people. The freeing of the millions now living
under the control of other forms of religious belief by introduction
of schools, together with the message of health and better moral
ideals through the practice of Christian living, has done more to
spread Christianity than all the efforts of attempting to build a
Christian spirit into a civilization not suited to it nor prepared for
it.

The missionary agencies in the home fields have learned from the
experience in the foreign fields, and now the programs of home
missionary boards are characterized by their large emphasis upon the
social gospel. The revival of interest in religious life in this
country coincident with the recognition of its vital significance in
sound social organization has come so rapidly and popular support has
been so liberal that grave danger exists lest the funds made available
should be used unintentionally in ways that tend to defeat the purpose
of the gift. The church, in its benevolent program, should take
advantage of the lessons learned by private philanthropic agencies in
dealing with problems of reclamation of the unfortunate or of
stimulating to a larger life.

Many of the efforts at social progress fail because of lack of clear
statement of objectives. So far as the rural work is concerned, the
following are presented as necessary objectives, if the rural church
is to succeed in measuring up to its task. It is believed that funds
of the church can be used safely and wisely in their attainment.

1. Strengthen the weak places in rural church work in harmony with
principles of interdenominational ethics and well-established
principles of benevolent assistance.

2. Increase effectiveness of rural ministry by training ministry now
in service in modern methods of church work and by recruiting and
training a new ministry in sympathy with rural life and devoted to its
improvement.

3. Organize rural church work so that every rural family will have
definitely assigned pastoral care.

4. Adjust interdenominational relationships so that the ideal of but
one resident pastor and one church to each community may be realized.

5. Provide means of interdenominational cooperation so that rural
religious forces may work together in dealing with common problems of
rural social and religious progress.

6. Organize rural work so that it may have due consideration in the
general policies of religious organizations.

7. All the above are preliminary to the one great object, from the
social point of view, namely, that of making it possible for the rural
church and the rural minister to function most effectively in
bringing more abundant life in the best sense to rural people.

After religious forces are organized so that they can present a united
front in the attack on the great social problems of rural life, then
the individual churches and all churches together can undertake to
meet the challenge outlined in earlier chapters of this text and also
well presented in much of the recent literature on the subject. But
effective organization must precede most effective and permanent
service.

Certain principles have been the guiding influence in the program on
which the rural department of at least one of the leading
denominations has been working. For those who come to positions of
administrative responsibility from time to time without having been
under the necessity of acquainting themselves with the principles that
should guide in the safe expenditure of funds for maintenance of
pastors, these are given here:

1. Principles of interdenominational ethics should be observed in
making grants of missionary funds to local pastors. It is to be feared
that too often funds have been used to sustain a local work in the
presence of another denomination when efforts at interdenominational
adjustment would have relieved the situation by removing the necessity,
namely, that of division of local resources by competing religious forces.

2. Owing to the unusual problems presented on charges asking for
missionary aid only the ablest ministers should be assigned to such
points. They should be supported according to their needs through
missionary aid, and their acceptance of difficult work should enhance
rather than lessen their standing in the church.

3. Rigid avoidance of use of missionary funds for purposes of charity,
or for making appointments easier. The charge, not the minister, is
the objective.

4. Centralization of effort on a few places instead of dissipation of
funds in providing inefficient service in many places.

5. Gradual but certain withdrawal of support from national or State
boards in order to avoid pauperizing communities by relieving them of
their local financial responsibilities.

As one of the most serious problems connected with rural missionary
service is that of interdenominational complications, an effort has
been made to work out certain principles that may be observed by all
religious organizations carrying out a rural program. At the annual
meeting of the Home Missions Council in 1914 a statement of principles
was adopted. In 1919 the rural fields committee of the Home Missions
Council undertook the revision of these principles in the light of
later experience and adopted the revision as a committee report.
Because this document represents the best judgment of those in the
various denominations concerned with rural work it is presented
herewith as a desirable basis on which grants of funds may be safely
made. The statement is presented in full:

     Persuaded of the urgent need of some comprehensive and united
     plan for the evangelization of our country and for closer
     cooperation to make such plans effective, the Home Missions
     Council proposes for the consideration of its constituent
     societies the following principles of comity. It is to be
     distinctly understood, however, that no ecclesiastical
     authority of any kind is implied except as ecclesiastical
     bodies shall adopt these policies as their own. They have only
     the moral force of the consent of the parties desiring to see
     them become effective.

     FIRST. As to the occupancy of new fields. The frequently
     suggested plan for the entering of new territory is to divide
     it among the various denominations, holding each body
     responsible for the proper working of its field.

         a. In the judgment of this Council this course of procedure
         would seem to be impracticable. But a sensitive regard not only
         for the rights but for the sentiments of sister bodies of
         Christian people is demanded by every consideration of
         righteousness as well as fraternity.

         b. In districts or in places already occupied by any
         denomination new work should be undertaken by any other body
         only after fraternal conference between the official
         representatives of the missionary organizations embracing those
         localities.

         c. Occupancy of the field shall be determined by at least the
         following characteristics:

             1. The establishment of a regularly organized church.

             The establishing of a Sunday school shall not be deemed
             sufficient to meet the terms of this definition.

             2. The appointment of a pastor who shall be expected to hold
             services in the community at least once every two weeks.

             3. The provision of church building and equipment within a
             reasonable time adequate to the needs of the community at its
             present stage of development.

     The occupation of a field by any denomination after conference
     and agreement shall give to that denomination the right to the
     field and the responsibility for its Christian culture until
     such changes in population shall make it desirable that it be
     shared with one or more other denominations.

     If the above conference shall fail to reach agreement, it shall
     be the privilege of the aggrieved party to make appeal to its
     respective board or society, which board or society shall
     confer with the sister board or society concerned, and these
     boards may then request the superintendents of the
     denominations concerned for the field in question to make
     personal investigation and to report their findings to their
     respective boards. If they agree, the boards shall take action
     in accordance therewith. If they disagree, the matter shall be
     referred to the boards for such action as their wisdom may
     determine, which action shall be communicated to the churches
     concerned with whatever ecclesiastical or moral force their
     decision may command.

     SECOND. In communities already occupied by two or more
     denominations, in case any church or mission station shall
     consider itself aggrieved in its relations to sister churches,
     the course of procedure outlined in Section I shall likewise be
     followed.

     There shall be friendly conference in the spirit of the Great
     Head of the church and recourse be had, when necessary, to the
     local or national missionary authorities, whose findings
     properly communicated shall have behind them the moral force of
     this Council.

     Where any denomination occupies a district by groupings of
     mission stations under one missionary the same principles shall
     apply and the same method of adjusting differences shall be
     followed.

     THIRD. "Overchurched Communities." Not infrequently the promise
     of new towns fails of fulfillment, with the result that there
     are more church organizations than in any economic view should
     be maintained--at least out of missionary funds. In many
     sections of the country also, because of the marked shift of
     population from agricultural communities to urban centers,
     overchurching has weakened all denominations to the point where
     missionary effort is necessary to restore again a wholesome
     religious life. Regardless of the cause of overchurching,
     whether from the undue optimism of the newer sections of the
     country or changed conditions in the older, or other
     conditions, the problem of overchurching must be dealt with in
     the true spirit of comity and cooperation for the sake of the
     common good.

         a. The principle should be established that one Protestant
         church is adequate for each community of less than 1,500
         inhabitants; and that efforts should be made to bring about
         interdenominational readjustment to this end in all sections of
         the country where economic and social conditions have become
         sufficiently established to make improbable any marked or rapid
         increase in population within a short time.

         b. In communities of over 1,500 inhabitants there should not be
         more than one Protestant church to every 1,000 population.

         c. In communities of over 1,500 inhabitants and of less than
         5,000, plans should be worked out whereby the different
         denominations concerned shall cooperate in providing adequate
         building and equipment for community service. Such building
         should be strategically located and should be controlled by a
         governing board made up of representatives, the number of whom
         from each denomination shall be determined by the
         _constituency_ of that denomination in its proportion to the
         total Protestant or cooperating population. The rules for the
         control of the activities of such cooperative community service
         should respect the standards of the respective denominations.
         The support of such community service should be apportioned to
         the respective denominations concerned to be raised in their
         respective budgets in proportion to their respective
         representation on the governing board.

         d. It shall be the duty of the denomination to which
         responsibility shall have been allocated to provide the
         best-trained leadership and the best service of which it is
         capable out of consideration to the other denominations that
         have intrusted the spiritual welfare of their membership to
         this group.

         e. In determining what denomination has prime responsibility in
         a given community of under 1,500 inhabitants the following
         shall be considered.

             1. Present resident membership and constituency. The
             organization having the largest bona fide membership and
             constituency should be considered as having prime
             responsibility, from this point of view.

             2. The residence of the pastor. In general, the pastor's
             residence should be given larger weight than membership unless
             the denomination having prime responsibility according to (1)
             stands ready to provide a pastor's residence in the community
             where this denomination has prime responsibility from the
             point of view of membership.

             3. The location of the church building. The denomination that
             has a building located in a village center should be given
             precedence over the denomination that has its headquarters in
             the open country near a village. The building of the village
             church should be suitably located for adequate community
             service; that is, near the center of the village.

             4. As between the village and the open country church, the
             village church should be given prime consideration in putting
             on an aggressive community program.

             5. No missionary or "sustentation" support should be given by
             any cooperating denomination to a pastor in an overchurched
             community nor to a "circuit" involving interdenominational
             competition until after an adjustment is made either by
             reorganization of the circuit or an agreement has been reached
             by the missionary and administrative bodies of the respective
             denominations concerned as to an allocation of such missionary
             responsibility.

             6. Church extension aid should not be given toward the
             rebuilding of churches in these communities until after
             allocation of responsibility has been effected.

             7. If after due effort to secure satisfactory adjustment of
             relationships according to the plans suggested in First above,
             and by such further arbitration or other means as may be
             adopted by the Home Missions Council or its constituent
             bodies, then the denomination seeking such adjustment shall
             be at liberty to develop its own work as it may see fit,
             standing ready, however, to make agreement with competing
             bodies whenever they wish to renew negotiations.

             8. In the interests of the Kingdom, after missionary
             responsibility has been allocated, efforts at unifying local
             religious organizations may take the form of federation,
             assimilation, affiliation, or such other mode as may be
             determined on by the local churches concerned.

             9. Plans should also be worked out whereby the religious forms
             of the different groups may be respected; that is, that
             membership in the remaining religious organization may be
             obtained by fulfilling the obligations of the cooperating body
             with which the persons belonging to the withdrawing
             organization would naturally affiliate.

             10. It is understood that nothing in this proposed set of
             principles implies that withdrawal from given fields shall be
             forced. It is only intended to provide a plan whereby all
             forces both local and general shall be united as rapidly as
             possible in the attainment of the desired end, namely, that of
             unifying Christian service in given communities.

             11. In determining the limits of communities to which this
             plan shall apply the Federal Census Bureau designation of
             communities of 2,500 and under as rural shall be adopted
             except as noted in paragraph 5c.

     FOURTH. Inasmuch as many of the constituent bodies of this
     Council are already by official action committed to the
     principles of comity which we advocate, it would seem
     reasonable to hope that at least gradually these principles
     would find realization along some such lines as here proposed.

     It is manifest, of course, that no plan of procedure can be
     expected to cover all cases or to be of universal
     applicability. We are glad to record that in some States there
     are Interchurch Federations to which local comity matters would
     naturally be referred. For other cases this Council proposes
     the erection of an Interdenominational Commission, to which any
     matter of comity not otherwise provided for may be referred by
     mutual agreement of the parties at interest. One representative
     of each of the bodies having membership in the Home Missions
     Council shall constitute this commission. When any case calling
     for adjudication shall rise, which case shall previously have
     had the consideration of any one or more of the constituent
     bodies of the Home Missions Council, it shall be referred to a
     Committee of Three chosen from this committee and acceptable to
     both parties. The decision of this committee shall have no
     ecclesiastical force, but its utterance shall be regarded as
     voicing the united judgment of the Home Missions Council and so
     far forth shall be binding on its constituent bodies.

It is recognized that these principles do not receive the most
enthusiastic support of church leaders who are thinking in terms of
denominational progress instead of community welfare. But this lack of
support is an evidence of their value instead of a criticism.
Denominational interests must be sacrificed for the sake of the
advancement of the entire cause when the two come into conflict. There
is reason to hope that not only Protestants but also Catholics and
Protestants can come to cooperate on programs of community service,
thus overcoming forever the vital objection to religious leadership
now made that because of fundamental differences in belief the two
great branches of the church cannot render an organized community
service.

The relations of the benevolent boards of the several denominations to
other church organizations are such that but little can be said
concerning methods of relating missionary work to the larger program
of community service. In each case where projects for missionary aid
are presented effort should be made to see that local conditions are
made such that the pastor can render the best service. It must be
recognized that the application for outside aid is in itself an
admission of local weakness. The people are poor, or indifferent to
the type of service to which they have been accustomed. There has been
unforeseen disaster, as the destruction of church property by fire or
in some other way. Sudden movements of population have temporarily
weakened the support of the church and new resources have not yet been
developed. Circuit systems must be broken up so that people will be
willing to support full-time resident pastors with efficient programs
for service. Customs of expecting the pastor to make his living in
outside work and attending to religious service as a side issue must
be overcome. The pastor's residence may be in such condition that
families cannot be sacrificed for the sake of missionary communities
and residences must be supplied by liberal outside aid as the
preliminary to effective service. Church buildings are inadequate, and
the trained minister must be given every assurance that aid will be
rendered in bringing physical equipment up to par. In each case the
problems that present themselves must be met. The demands of any one
charge do not compare with the demands of any other. And methods must
be adapted to meet the specific needs of each charge. These are
matters that must be left to those responsible for administration of
missionary funds.

When the religious forces of America learn their problems so that a
long-time organized program of religious advance can be worked out,
when they learn to cooperate in carrying out this program, then the
haphazard, wasteful, competitive missionary program that has
characterized rural religious work in the past will disappear and we
shall see one of the most marked advances in religious welfare the
world has ever known.



CHAPTER XI

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION


In the preceding chapters the effort has been made to outline some of
the conditions and principles involved in organizing the rural church
for community service. The field has been limited by distinguishing
between that type of service which has to do with man's relation to
his Maker and that which has to do with his relations to his fellow
man. The latter service has been chosen as the field for the present
discussion, and the effort has been made to keep within the field,
regardless of the desirability of discussion of the other phases of
the work of the rural church. The field itself both as to size of
community and the scope of the entire field has received attention. An
attempt has been made to present the philosophic basis justifying the
church in giving large attention to community service. Some of the
more general aspects of rural life demanding attention on the part of
the church have been discussed and the reasons for assuming that
certain phases of rural social activity properly belong to the church
rather than to other agencies have been presented to the reader.

The problems of adjustment between religious denominations as such and
between the parent religious organizations and so-called "arms" of the
church have been outlined and methods of adjustment suggested. The
relation of all religious forces to other rural life agencies has
received some attention; and, finally, the missionary program of the
church as the agency for strengthening the weak and of advancing the
general cause of conquest of all life with principles of Christian
living was discussed. It is hoped that the principles presented will
at least be given careful consideration, and if they are not accepted
in full, that they will at least provoke discussion that will
eventually lead to some form of organization that will more nearly
meet the demands of the time than the present unorganized, unrelated
sectarian and other efforts that paralyze and discourage those
responsible for service in the local as well as in more general fields
of Christian work. If this object can be accomplished, the effort to
point the direction organization should take will not have been in
vain.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Church Cooperation in Community Life" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home