W2090 MADISON AVENUE REFORMED CHIRCH
Jan 19 1885
To: Calvin Brooks McQuesten, M.D.
From: Madison Avenue New York
New York, January 19, 1885.
To the Members of the Madison Avenue
Reformed Church and Congregation:
On the morning of the next Lord's Day--the 25th inst--we are to make our annual offering to the great cause of Foreign Missions. This work has been blessed of God, and the very success attending it calls for increased devotion and liberality on our part.
We inclose a concise statement of the conditions and pressing need of our missions, hoping that it will aid you to intelligent and conscientious giving. We beg you not to lay it aside, but to carefully read and consider the facts presented.
Should you be absent from any cause next Sabbath morning, we trust that you will send your offering to the Treasurer of the Church, Mr. George A. McMurtry, 254 West 24th Street, or to the Pastor, 120 East 64th Street.
Let us accept the privilege of denying ourselves, for Christ's sake, that we may save those for whom He died. Let us "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Said, it is more blessed to give than to receive."
In behalf of the Consistory,
E.A. Reed, Pastor.
John H. Hankinson,
[Calvin Brooks McQuesten's comments:] Sent Mr. McMurtry ten dollars 1/24/85
BOARD OF FOREIGN MISSIONS
REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA.
STATE AND FUTURE OF OUR WORK.
Presented to the General Conference at Kingston, N.Y., Nov. 11, 1884, and published by its direction.
THE PRESENT FORCE AND WORK.
The missionary force in the service of the church is larger, and the agencies employed abroad more abundant and more perfectly equipped for their work, than every before.
Additions have been made since the last conference, of Dr. and Mrs. Wm. W. Soudder to the Arcot Mission, and of Rev and Mrs. Howard Harris and Misses Brokaw and Richards to the Nagasaki Station of the Japan Mission. In addition, two teachers, not yet commissioned, are employed, one in the Union College at Tokiyo assisting Prof. Wyckoff, and one, a daughter of Rev. James H. Ballagh, in the Isaac Ferris Seminary.
One, Miss H.L. Winn has to our great regret retired from the work.
Our missionary workers therefore, number 47, bedside a band of native helpers, of whom 18 are pastors, numbering 167. Of foreigners and natives together there are 214.
GROWTH OF THE SCHOOLS.
The growth and interests of the work have necessitated an increase in the number and equipment of our schools. The proper and sufficient support of these schools is indispensable to the efficiency and usefulness of the Missions, and to the work of evangelizing the heathen in the wide fields committed to our labors and care.
Promising schools for boys and girls (the latter through the donations of the Woman's Board) have been gathered and furnished with appropriate quarters at Madanapalle, to supply the great need of the work among the Telugus in that portion of the Arcot district. The old Arcot Seminary now located at Chittoor has been developed, its standard of instruction advanced, and out of it have grown a normal class for training teachers, and a distinct and permanent Theological class. These branches must be maintained and further developed if the wants of the Tamil Field--in teachers and preachers equipped for their work--are to be supplied. The Female Seminary at Vellore, and the Caste girls' schools pursue their useful work.
The union of the Sandham Academy, or Preparatory School with their of the Presbyterian Mission at Tokiyo, lifts that institution to a higher level of usefulness and gives it enlarged facilities for the preparation of young men for Theological instruction, the gospel ministry and evangelistic work. The enlarged proportions of the Ferris Seminary increase three-fold its capacity for usefulness in its peculiar and important sphere.
In Nagasaki, after long years of doubt and discouragement, the force is on the ground prepared, or preparing to lay to foundations for similar beneficent institutions --indispensable if the work is to be further prosecuted by us at that point.
To the girls school and the Theological Class at Amoy, has been added, by the aid of the Woman's Board, a School and Home for Women, which promises great usefulness.
appropriations for the year 1884, were as follows:
For the Amoy Mission......$11,367
For the Arcot Mission..... $29,164
For the Japan Mission......$30,830
For Home Expenses.....$5,590
This sum was about $8,000 in advance of the appropriations for the proceeding year ($69,416.82) and about $11,000 more than the average receipts for the last ten years. It was not without serious apprehensions that so large an increase was made. But the voice of the Church, so distinctly pronouncing in favor of enlargement, and against the giving up of any point occupied by our Missionaries, with the full knowledge that certain points could only be maintained at greatly increased cost, left the board no alternative.
In addition to these, objects not included in the appropriations have compelled the expenditure, most of which could not have been foreseen, of about $ 6,000. These added to the appropriations make the full sum of $83,461. The deficiency with which the year began was $17,000 due at the bank, less cash in hand $1,000 nearly. The whole amount necessary for the year, to meet all obligations and expenditures is thus seen to be $99,461.
The receipts for the six months to November 1st, amounted to $22,411.53. To meet the expenditures of the year will require for the next six months $61,050, and to remove the debt $77,000.
The receipts for the remaining six months of the final year, supposing them to equal those of last year for the same time, would be about $45,000. There would still remain nearly $32,000 to be obtained, or dept to that amount would remain at the close of the year. Such a debt would make it impossible to go through the Summer or even a single month.
Only twice before has the treasury of the Board been placed in such a condition; in 1867, when a debt of $47,000 was paid by the munificent donation of Mr. Warren Ackerman, and in 1881, when by the special efforts of the Church, guided and stimulated by most efficient and laborious Committees, a similar burden of $40,000 was removed.
Encouraged by the past, and hoping in the Lord whose work is thus retarded and imperiled, the Board appeals with confidence to the Church for relief. In full view of the possibility of such result it has obeyed the voice of the Church in conference and Synod, and enlarged its work. The debt is not solely or chiefly a debt of the Board to the bank. It is rather and far more, a debt of the Church to the Board, and to the work placed in its hands. The situation cannot continue. Even with present and Speedy relief from debt, an increased rate of expenditure, without a corresponding increase in the gifts of the churches, will inevitably produce the same result. It tends to bankruptcy.
Permanent relief can only come in one of two ways. Either the work must be cut down to the former basis, or something like it or the means to sustain it must in some way be brought up to its enlarged demands. No other alternative is possible. In the former case it would be necessary to consider what portion of the work shall be cut off, or if possible, turned over to other hands. In the latter, new methods must be devised for securing funds, that shall be immediate and effective in their operation or new sources of revenue must be discovered and opened. In any event the necessity for increase is imperative. It is not only, nor chiefly, the mere debt that presses, weighty as it is. For by a "special effort" it could doubtless be removed as it has been before. The future of our entire work depends upon the solution of the problem which now confront us. The debt, not only, but the inadequate receipts of which it is the result, prevent and must prevent the proper discharge of the functions of the Board, and a due regard to the growing interests of the Church abroad. The situations, then, compels us to consider the future of the work. What shall it be?
THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE.
Deprived of the presence and labors of Mr. and Mrs. Rapalje, and also for a considerable portion of the time of the active services of Dr. Talmage, by reason of his impaired health, the Amoy Mission imperatively needs an immediate accession to this strength. The failure to supply it not only entails unreasonable burdens on those who remain, but renders possible, by the failure of one or the other, the reduction of the Mission to almost utter helplessness. The Board, notwithstanding, has not dared to add the cost of sending even a single family to the expenses of this year. But a sum sufficient for that purpose has been added to the estimates for the coming year.
The Nagasaki station, having at last the force required, asks for additional appropriations for the erection of buildings for schools they hope to establish, and of which, indeed the beginnings have been already made. Houses also, must be supplied for the two new Missionary Families.
From every Mission come estimates for the work now in hand, exceeding the appropriations for any previous year. This was and is to be expected, till the work ceases through utter failure or complete success. These estimates ask for a fraction less than $100,00 ($99,985). In many instances the increase proposed has been diminished, in others entirely denied. Yet in spite of the utmost efforts to bring them within the lowest limit that seemed justifiable, the appropriations recommended, but not yet adopted, for 1885, are as follows:
For the Amoy Mission...... $14,547
For the Arcot Mission...... 28,408
For the Japan Mission...... 33,923
For Home Expenses,
the same as in previous years,..... 5,500
Whether and how these appropriations, if made, are to be met is a serious question. The more so that other expenditures, which cannot be foreseen but must be met as they arise, may add as in this year, several thousand dollars to this amount. They seem to indicate the full sum of $100,000, now twice accepted by the General Synod, as the goal for this year not only but for years to come. The propositions is made in full consciousness of the difficulties that lie in the way of its realization-difficulties which the Board is obliged to face continually-but in the deep conviction that the Lord Himself desires and has a right to expect so much at our hands.
NOT A HOPELESS PROBLEM
These are some of the elements of the problem with which the Board has to deal, and which it brings to the Conference for its prayerful consideration. If it were deemed altogether hopeless it would not be brought. It may not be amiss to present a few considerations which seem to shed light, and show the way to its solution.
Let us turn for a moment to the past. In 1865, 20 years ago, our missionaries numbered 17, to-day they are only 21. But then 3 native pastors only were to be found. 1 in China and 2 in India; now they number 18. Other native helpers then numbered 38: now they are 149. But 18 stations and out-stations then were occupied; now in 143 the Gospel has it constant presentation. Nine Churches then embraced 576 communicants. Now in 39 churches there is enrolled a membership of 2,952, Such has been the growth of our work abroad in 20 years.
WHAT WE HAVE DONE
Within that time the Church at home has increased in membership from 54, 286 to 81,880, or 30 percent., and in families from 34,125 to 45,208 or 33 percent, almost exactly. How is it with the contributions of the church? In 1863, leaving out all legacies and donations from the Bible and Tract Societies, the whole amount was nearly $74,000 ($73,840.54), and the average per member $1.50. In 1884, the whole amount, with similar deductions, was $60,502.23, and the average 73 cents.
From 1863 to 1874, ten years, the annual average of receipts from all sources was $66,687.64; from 1875 to 1881 it was $66,186.93, or several hundred dollars less than in the pervious ten years. For the first ten the average per member was 98 cents, for the last a fraction less than 71. In other words, while the Lord has, in every way, been so blessing our work abroad, and increasing so largely, in numbers and in families, the Church at home our gifts in the aggregate to sustain this work have fallen off, and the average gift per member diminished more than 25 per cent.
WHAT WE DO NOW
To the question why this is so, and answer may be found, in part at least, when we come to consider the sources whence the present contributions come. A very careful and exhaustive examination of the tabulated receipts including those reported in the general statement embodied in the Minutes proper of the General Synod, yields the following results.
Of 489 churches, 108 contributed nothing whatever. Of these 22 do not report their membership. The 86 remaining report 6,652 members, and average of 77. Six churches with no membership reported gave $118.87. Of the remainder, 86, with 14,523 members contributed $1,118.88, while 58, with 15,419 members, contributed $32,124.42; or 91,--less than one-fifth of the whole number of churches,--with 22,845, a little more than one-fourth of the membership of the entire Church, contributed $38,449.82 almost exactly three-fourths of all that was given. To take another contrast, 110 churches with 19,845 reported members gave $7909.35 while 9 churches numbering 4,038, gave $9,803.74. Or still another, while 58 churches with 13,412 members contributed from $1 to $6 per member, 240 churches with 40,932 members gave at the rate of less than 50 cents. One church of 229 members gave $280 mmore than 86 churches with 14,523.
Not to multiply illustrations, it is not believed that these great differences in liberality are due in whole or in large part to different degrees of wealth, though doubtless this applies to some extent, but rather to different degrees of knowledge, of interest, of organization, and of ministerial fidelity. No poverty, for example, can account for or justify the fact that 14 churches numbering each from 47 to 603, or 3,639 in all, contributing less than 5 cents a member, gave only $108.39. A failure to contribute at all is easier to understand than an honest attempt with such pitfall results.
Nor, on the other hand, is it believed that if the many churches and large membership that now contribute so little comparatively, were brought up fo [sic] something like the same efficiency as the few, the few would relax in their zeal or do any less, but on the contrary, the whole Church, in all its borders, would feel the influence of new kindled missionary interest, and doubtless receive new inspiration from above.
BETTER METHODS NEEDED
These considerations and the figures that accompany them are given not because it is pleasant, but because they need to be know and pondered, and because, if pondered, they make plain the cause of our present difficulties and the path of wisdom and safety leading to relief. Because they show that the grave question with which we have to deal is not a question chiefly of ability but of high and honest purpose and of methods to attain it: that if we mean to do the work the Lord offers us to do in China and India and Japan, and are willing to take the measures needed to develop the resources of our churches, we can do it.
Upon the deliberations of this Conference. Therefore, much depends, and that not only for the immediate future but the further progress of our work. Even from the midst of our perplexities and the contemplation of the present need, we are compelled to take a broader outlook.
FURTHER PROGRESS A NECESSITY.
If our missions continue as they are, and are blessed of God as they have been, it is impossible to fix the limit of their necessities and just demands and the point already suggested. We cannot shut our eyes even in such a time to the numberless opportunities for evangelistic effort, nor close our ears to the countless and impressive voices that call us to embrace them in all our fields.
We cannot forget, yet are we not in danger of forgetting? That confronted by 3,000,000 at least of heathen within their easy reach, the Amoy Mission 18 years ago began to ask for men enough to plant a new station in the midst of that broad field and those teeming missions of perishing souls, but as yet the have asked in vain.
We cannot forget that at Madanapalle we occupy "the centre of a district more than 70 miles square, untouched by any other missionary society--a field that covers an area equal to that of the State of Connecticut, with more that double the population, and literally swarms with villages and hamlets"--a field in which Dr. Chamberlain and four native assistants, touring within a radius of 4 or 5 miles, and covering only about one third of the ground, yet reached and preached in 1,661 of those villages and hamlets within one year. These thousand villages look to us and to us only for the Gospel of salvation. Have we done all for them that their case demands?
Nor can we, any more, neglect the signs and voices of the time--the tokens with which almost every mail comes freighted, which indicate the sure approach of a rapid and wide-reaching effort for the evangelization of Japan--a work in which we, as among the first and foremost workers in that Empire, will be called upon and should be prepared to take a worthy part.
Nor could we, if we would, ignore the fact or fail to present it to the church as one grave consideration affecting our view of duty and responsibility, that the lord is evidently preparing by His spirit the workers for these fields--men to fill these posts of privilege and service. What does it mean, has it no meaning for us? That there are registered in the office of the Board the informal application of no less than 8 young men and one young woman, students in own theological seminary and three other institutions, three of whom, and perhaps four, will be ready to go out next spring if only they can be sent.
THE LORD LEADS
"It seldom happens" says one, "that the Church is wise to know the day of her visitation. When God would have her move forward and take up some new enterprise, it usually happens that He has to beckon often and long before He is obeyed."
Can there be any doubt about His will? By all His blessings our work in the past, by all these multiplying opportunities in the present, by all the stir of preparation among the nations, by all the look and attitude of expectations among. His people, by all the generous impulses and holy ambitions kindled in the hearts of His young servants, children and future servants of the Church, for labor in far-off lands; by all the onward march of events, the enlarging gifts and efforts of all our sister churches, and the growing triumphs of His Kingdom in every land, does He not summon us to put forth our largest efforts--to manifest a nobler liberality, and here and now, does He not give us the occasion to take, prayerfully and painfully it may be, but with confidence and hope and in loyalty to Him, these steps which will secure so blessed a result?
Of old it was written, "They that he wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that torn many to righteousness as the stars forever." Of old, also, it was said. "Per aspera ad astra." May He who has put us in trust with the Gospel of salvation for these millions of our fellow men, by His own spirit shed abroad in every heart, make us wise, even by rough ways and difficult to seek the stars.
HENRY N. COBB,