« PreviousContinue »
The Measure of Missionary Spirit'
By F. W. Hewes HILE it is not true that" money In their earlier history, especially before is the measure of all things,” it 1845, some denominations had but a
is undoubtedly true that peo- single board, carrying both foreign and ple contribute money to aid any under- home missions under one organizataking just as they sympathize with the tion. In later years, and especially since object of the undertaking. In this sense, the Civil War, auxiliary boards have then, money contributed for the support greatly multiplied. One after another of missions is a measure of the missionary the larger home mission boards have spirit of the population or of any particu- separately organized their Sunday-school lar denomination.
work, church erection, educational work, Some months ago The Outlook asked and relief for worn-out and disabled minthe writer to ascertain, if practicable, isters; and instituted various women's whether the present generation is con- missionary societies. Work among the tributing as liberally to missionary work freedmen has also in most of the larger as past generations. The initial proposi- denominations a separate organization. tion of the inquiry embraced only the five The foreign mission societies, except for larger denominations, but it soon ap women's auxiliaries, even in the largest peared that some of the smaller bodies denominations, still report receipts (conwere quite as important to the investiga- tributions) in a single sum, embracing all tion as the larger ones, and therefore divisions of the work, literary, educational, these were included, embracing in a!1 church erection, medical, and all other, fourteen active missionary denominations Annual Record. Enough has been said and the American Tract Society.? to show the nature and scope of the in
The procuring and completion of these quiry, and attention is therefore directed reports has required patient and persist- to the results. The aggregate annual ent correspondence and much tedious contribution is graphically shown, year by personal search. In many cases the only year, from 1844, in “Study No. 1.” The way to obtain the records has been to previous history shows only slight variapick them out year by year from treas tions in the annual aggregate, very simiurers' reports as published in the minutes lar in general characteristics to that of of the annual conventions of the various the first ten-year period (the 1850 period) bodies. Besides this, some denomina at the lower left-hand corner of the diations divide their work among so many gram. The 1860 period introduces marked auxiliaries as greatly to increase the labor irregularities of annual contribution. The of securing the records, and the care to "panic” of 1857 produced a decided deavoid duplications.
crease in 1858, which was only fairly I The writer wishes hereby publicly and heartily to
recovered in 1860. The Civil War wrought thank the many Secretaries of Mission Boards and their sad havoc with progress. assistants for their cheerful and efficient aid, by means of which he was enabled to accomplish this investigation,
The most notable check of progress and for their expressed personal interest in the results of the inquiry.
was made by the “long panic,” 1872-1879. - Efforts to secure satisfactory annual records of the From that date until 1892 the increase Lutheran bodies, German Evangelical Synod, Colored Baptists, Christians, Evangelical Association, Friends, was uninterrupted and rapid. The apand others of the smaller denominations, had, with
parent checks at 1885 and 1889 are a pleasure also to have included the American Bible evidently due to extraordinary legacies in Society, but its missionary record is available only in twenty-five-year periods up to 1892; and that of the 1884 and 1888. The depression beginAmerican Sunday School Union, had its record been ning at 1893 is seen to be more disastrous however, have much increased the grand aggregate or in any way changed the general conclusions ; for the 1 It is necessary to remember that specie payment records collated show so general uniformity of increase was suspended in 1862 and not resumed until 1879. Also and decrease at the same periods as clearly to indicate that from 1862 to 1865 the Southern bodies reported their that their variations are typical of all missionary con contributions in Confederate money.
Therefore all tributions. These records cover a period of eighty-six records of contributions for the seventeen suspension years, beginning with the first annual report of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mis.
years are reduced to a specie basis, and each of the
* studies" portrays the history on the uniform basis of sions (1811) and including the several reports of 1896. specie payment for the whole time.
than any other except that occasioned by Per Capita. The census enumeration the Civil War.
of population at each decennial year may Ten-Year Records. While the annual properly be taken to represent the annual record portrays the bistory of the chief average population for the ten years befinancial struggles and triumphs, the gen- ginning five years before the opening of eral history of progress is better learned the census year and ending five years by the study of averages. “Study No. 2" later. The periods adopted for this inbegins thirty years earlier than No. 1, vestigation are the periods just described. with the 1820 period (1815-1824), in It therefore becomes a simple matter to which the aggregate contribution aver compute the average annual per capita aged $40,600 per year, as noted with the contribution for each such period. “Study 1820 dot at the lower left-hand corner of No. 3" portrays the result of that computhe diagram. That was in the infancy of tation. By this it appears that for the the existing Protestant missionary organ- first full period of the record, dated 1820 izations. The increase, period by period, on the diagram, the contribution averaged is best read from the diagram itself. four-tenths of a cent per year for each
The chief lesson is that, in spite of the man, woman, and child in the United marked irregularities shown by the annual States. The record of subsequent perirecord, the ten-year averages show a ods is so clearly shown on the diagram steady and remarkable progress, culmi as to need no other tracing. The innating in the 1890 period with an annual creased contribution for each person, average increase over the 1880 period of starting at the Civil War period (1860) is more than six million dollars, in spite of of course not as great as that of absolute its two panic years, 1893 and 1894; or, contribution, but makes a record of over starting with the Civil War period (1860), 180 per cent., and emphatically proves a total increase in thirty years of almost an astonishing increase of liberality as 460 per cent. This is marvelous progress, measured by population. and one wonders whether it can be con To better understand what this means, tinued in future years."
it must be recalled that this “ each man, Touching the question of generations, woman, and child” includes over fifteen it will aid the inquiry to consider that million children under ten years of age, average business activity covers a period and more than six million persöns over of about twenty years, and that average ten years of age unable to write.
It also active contributions to missions covers includes all the helpless, the idle, the about the same period. On that basis criminals, the insane, and the inmates of the history under review embraces four hospitals, asylums, and poorhouses; all generations, and it is very evident that the foreign population and Indians; all the fourth generation, including the 1880 the Roman Catholics, and all who attend and 1890 periods, very greatly outstripped no church. Very few of this vast multiits predecessors in its absolute contribu- tude ever contribute at all. Were all tion.
these non-contributors excluded, and only The next step is to analyze this remarks the probable contributors included, how able history by comparing the contribu- the contribution per capita would be mul. tion with the population. An increased tiplied, and what a record it would be 1 total, however large, does not prove in For it must be remembered that the concreased liberality, for the population mak- tribution to missions, as such, is only a ing the contribution may have increased small part of the contribution to the supjust as rapidly.
port of the Gospel in its many manifesta
tions. 1 Before leaving this study it is due the reader to explain that these ten-year records include important It may be answered, however, that all averages which, owing to peculiarities of the reports of some denominations, could not be ascertained for in this does not satisfy the inquiry; that dividual years, but could be satisfactorily embraced in the Nation has become very wealthy; and the ten-year groupings. As examples of the principal additions: Episcopalians reported several branches of that each person represents many more their work triennially, and the United Brethren in Christ report all of their contributions quadrennially
dollars than four generations ago. It instead of annually; while Congregationalists reported therefore becomes necessary to proceed their unclassified contributions annually for only ten years past. These additions swellthe ten-year averages to the next step of the investigation. materially as far back as to the 1850 period, but are less important in the earlier periods.
Per Wealth. This fourth inquiry pre
sents a difficulty which, while easily sur to a very diversified range of home mis-
What a magnificent total it would mean!
butions as compared with their memberNor is this all. The contribution for ship and church property ? each $1,000 of total wealth, as shown in The answers to these questions, so far this exhibit, is only a fractional part of as the records provide it, is therefore the whole. In the first place, the limited appended. It should be kept in mind number of denominations embraced in that this exhibit covers the whole of the the exhibits do not include all of the 1890 period of ten years (1885–1894), so organized missionary contribution of the that it may not be thought to be too limUnited States. In the second place, since ited in scope to give a satisfactory comthe close of the Civil War, and especially parison, as would be the case if it covered during the past twenty years, there has only a single year. developed within some of the larger de Total Denominational Contribution. It nominations a practice of sending a considerable proportion of the total contribu ? In presenting the denominational contributions, it
is due all denominations to say that in collecting the tion to foreign mission fields direct, and records the effort was made to exclude the valuation of none of these moneys are represented
boxes of clothing and other supplies contributed and
sent into needy helds. To illustrate : One of the pub in the exhibits, for they do not appear lished reports of the Presbyterian Church (North) in
cludes the valuation of boxes in its record of contribuin the official reports of the missionary tion to home missions, and another excludes that valusocieties.
terian might have claimed that their thermometer in the Besides this, there is an increasingly upper exhibit did not fully represent their work. It is large fund contributed annually by Sun their Freedman's work could be obtained, and that some day-schools and young peoples' societies
of their other quxiliary records were too fragmentary