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CHURCH ERECTION.

THE OUTLOOK.

In the October number of this magazine the Board of Church Erection made a "special appeal" for an increase of contributions. It was then said that the applications to the Board had been more numerous than ever before, and indicated a marked advance of our beloved Church in almost every part of the country, and it was shown that unless the funds of the Board could be immediately and rapidly augmented, the Board would soon have to face the alternative of declining to make further grants or of ending the year embarrassed by heavy debt.

In response to the appeal there has been a slight advance in the contributions; but not sufficient to meet the emergency.

The treasury of the Board is now empty, and appropriations have been made that will absorb all of the regular contributions usually received up to the first of next March. In view of such facts, a cessation of grants or a heavy debt is inevitable. The latter alternative cannot be for a moment entertained. Unless debt were caused by a sudden and unexpected falling off in receipts, the Board would be culpable in a high degree for incurring it. The Board is in this regard in a very different position from some of the others whose work necessitates obligations running far into the future. Moreover, there is no reasonable ground for expectation that its income will be from any source suddenly and largely increased. Thus to close the year with a debt means to begin the next year with a debt, and then to continue to be in debt: in other words, a constantly-increasing load that would soon paralyze its usefulness.

The other alternative, sad and disappointing as it is, is therefore inevitable. Unless then the churches that have not yet contributed come to the rescue, this Board will be obliged by the first of the new year to postpone the making of further grants until

the opening of the next fiscal year upon the first of April.

The fact that in the nine months from April 1 to January 1 it will have made as many grants and have promised as much money as in the twelve months of any previous year, while in itself gratifying, will not mitigate the disappointment or save from embarrassment and perhaps disaster scores of young and hopeful churches that have moved confidently forward in full expectation of the help that the Board of Church Erection is wont to give.

The Board now, while there is yet time to prevent so untoward a result, appeals to the churches that have not yet contributed and to all whom God has blessed with means that they desire to sanctify to come to the aid of our homeless churches-churches now struggling and in danger, but upon whose continued existence, under God, the destiny of our country largely depends.

A WARNING.

In view of the facts above set forth, it is obvious that the congregations now preparing to build must arrange their plans with prudence and foresight.

It will not do for them to go forward without consulting the Board under the assumption that after their edifice is all finished, or at least contracted for, they will certainly receive a grant of the full amount for which they ask. This is perilous business at any time, but doubly so when it is sadly uncertain whether any grants at all can be made.

When things are at their best the Board is often embarrassed by the petitions of churches that have placed themselvessometimes carelessly, sometimes deliberately

in a position which forces the Board into the dilemma of making a grant which it believes to be improper, or of seeing the church sold out under the sheriff's hammer. Here are two or three illustrations.

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The church at A-, with a subscription of $6000, has deliberately contracted for the erection of a $10,000 building, and after every obligation is incurred and its edifice is nearly finished, applies to the Board for a grant of $2000 or $2500. To the reply that it is not the province of the Board to aid churches in building so expensively, and that the rules do not permit so large a grant, there comes the agitated response, that every source of supply is exhausted, that the expected aid is a matter of life and death.

The church at B-completes its building without a doubt that the final $1000 needed will be forthcoming from the Board, and then at the last moment is confronted with the fact fatal to its expectations that it does not own its land by a title in fee simple. "In our case," it cries, "the Board may with great propriety relax its rules." But unfortunately the rules are not the Board's, but those of the General Assembly, and there is no possible way of setting them aside.

The church at C, with commendable courage, at first determines not to apply to the Board, and then with a courage not so commendable goes forward and builds far beyond its resources. It struggles under its heavy debt three, four and five years, and then turns to the Board. But one of the fundamental principles adopted by the General Assembly in forming this Board was that no part of its funds should ever be used in paying old debts.

And so we could enumerate case after case where disaster results because, without conferring with the Board, it is assumed that just the help needed will be accorded in just the

way desired and just at the critical moment-three very dangerous assumptions.

All uncertainty could be obviated and all danger of disappointment removed if in every case the Board were consulted at the very inception of the movement. The natural and safe sequence of steps in church building is: first, a lot with title in fee simple; second, as large a subscription as possible; third, an estimate of the cost of building; fourth, an assurance of a grant from the Board; and fifth, the letting of the contract

[December,

at a price within the assured resources of the congregation.

Too often all this is reversed and the contract is made and the building commenced even before the title to the lot is secured, much less the subscription completed or the Board consulted. Hence anxiety, embarrassment, debt and not infrequently sad disaster.

SYNODS.

The secretary of the Board had the pleasure of meeting this year with the synods of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota. In all these synods it was evident that the greatest interest was manifested in the work of church extension and church erection within their bounds. All reported new churches organized and new edifices built, and in Iowa and Minnesota the advance seemed to be more marked than in any previous year. Particularly do the brethren in St. Paul and Minneapolis seem fully awake to the necessity of providing for the need of those marvellous cities. How can it be otherwise than that new and enlarged demands should be made upon this Board, and through it upon the Church in all its length and breadth, where cities like those named are doubling their population in five years, and territories like Dakota and Washington, which ten years ago were almost uninhabited, springing into statehood with hundreds. of thousands of inhabitants?

Everything that we saw in our delightful journey through the states named, and everything that we heard at the imposing missionary meetings we attended, confirmed us in the belief that last year was one of gracious revival, and that fruits are ready now to be gathered in, in abundance never known before, if only the Church will recognize its opportunity and be true to its high calling.

The Congregational Review (London), urging "all seats free and unappropriated” in all the churches of the Congregational order, says: "The 'Tourists' Church Guide,' 1888-9, issued under the authority of the English Church Union, informs me that in no less than 1744 churches all the seats in the body of the church

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are free and unappropriated. And any visitor may satisfy himself that these free churches are, as a rule, the most flourishing and the bestfilled places of worship in their respective neighborhoods. They are often churches with small endowments and with large offertories. Generally they belong to the High Church party, but that is no reason why Nonconformists should be blind to the lesson that they teach. Fus est doceri, I will not say, ab hoste, because all Christians are friends in face of materialism, their common foe. But it is sheer folly for us to ignore one secret of the immense success of what is becoming every day more plainly the dominant school in the Established Church. Besides all the varied attractions, spiritual and sensuous, of their services, they are doing one thing which we Nonconformists are afraid or unwilling to do-they are making the rich and the poor, the merchant and the artisan, the earnest communicant and the casual stranger, equally welcome at their gates. And they are visibly moving forward, while we-well, we hope we are not moving back.

"The plan does work. Question any friend who belongs to a free and open church, and he will tell you that he can always get the seat he prefers by going there in decent time, and that if by chance his pet place is preoccupied, he has exactly the same right to the seat next before or the seat next behind. In an appropriated church the man who hires pew No. 45 feels awkward enough when he comes in and finds it full of strangers, because he knows that he and his children must go trespassing into No. 44 or No. 46. But in a free church he feels that every pew is equally his own, and so he is at home in this seat or in that, without regard to its exact number. Ask any Quaker acquaintance whether family ties are broken and parents and children ruthlessly set asunder in a Friends' meeting-house; yet in every meeting-house all the seats are free and unappropriated. Ask both men whether the average worshipper at a church or at a meeting where such liberty prevails be so alarmingly inferior in social status to the average deacon's wife, who shudders at the thought of 'having to sit next anybody and everybody.' Even if 'anybody and everybody' should take heart to enter our church door when we throw it wide open and should presume to occupy one of these newly-freed seats betwixt the wind and our nobility, ought that unpleasantness to seem quite intolerable to a Christian? The ground plan of a Gothic minster was always the cross, and every Christian church and every

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Your communication, informing me of the grant by the Board of $750 to our church here, was received the last of July, just as I with my family was about leaving home for our vacation. I intended to write at once and express our thanks for the grant, but there was so much to do before going that the letter was postponed and did not get written at all. On my return I should have written, but the trustees were endeavoring to arrange matters so as to send for the grant and wished me to wait a little. This business took longer than was anticipated, and so I have waited till now. I am sorry for this long delay, as it looks as though we did not appreciate the generosity of the Board, whereas we are deeply grateful for it. I am personally very thankful for this assistance to our little band of earnest workers. It is a very great help to my work. I can assure you that my people are exceedingly thankful to the Board of Church Erection. And I wish the Board could know how valuable this aid is to us just at this juncture. It enables us to complete our house of worship free of all indebtedness, and that is worth very much, especially in these "hard times."

To show how much the grant has helped in stimulating the people to help themselves: on coming together again for church services after our summer vacations were over, September 1, we

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found that $250 were still needed to secure the grant from the Board of Church Erection. At first there was a little hesitation about undertaking to raise that amount then, for our people generally felt they had given about all they could, some having already subscribed twice to the building; but it was soon decided that much the best way was to undertake the raising of the money at once. Sabbath morning, Sept. 22, the people were told the situation, that $250 were needed to secure the grant of $750. It was also suggested that the raising of the $250 would in reality be the removal of $1000 indebtedness, thus saving the interest on that amount, besides securing all the other benefits of having our house of worship free of debt. The people responded heartily to the appeal, and in about ten minutes the sum needed was pledged in reliable subscriptions. You can doubtless imagine how happy they were over this result. Some had doubted whether the amount could be raised, and when it was secured they were very joyful. The cheerfulness with which this last amount toward the church building was given added much to its value. I look for rich spiritual results to flow from this kind of giving to the Lord. Some of the amounts contributed have a special interest and value. One came from a man who had not attended a church service for a long time, but being present made his contribution very heartily. Others were from working people who had not attended our services very much, but having "made an investment" in our church we expect they will be likely to come and see what becomes of their money. Two of these, blacksmiths, in handing the money to us said, "If this is not enough, come and we will give more." Gifts made with such a spirit have a double value.

I have already gone into details to quite an extent, but am constrained to give one more incident, for I judge that you and the members of the Board are interested, just as I am, in these "little" things which belong to the life and work of our churches. There is a ruling elder in this church, the only one we have as yet, a man beyond the "threescore and ten," devotedly attached to the church, an Apostle John in spirit, who has lived in this county nineteen years. For all this time, except the last two years, there has been no Presbyterian service nearer than eight or ten miles, which he with his wife attended as often as they were able. Their joy at having services of their own, and now at

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last a house of worship of their own, and best of all paid for, is great. He took the lead in raising the $250 I have mentioned, and when the work was accomplished he was deeply affected, even to tears. I have given this incident partly that you and the Board may know what joy this grant has brought to some of God's children, and partly to show that the grant was judiciously made. My people, as well as myself, felt that it was a generous grant. The result has shown that it was none too large. It was just large enough to encourage us to raise the balance now and so have the house free of debt at once. It is altogether one of the happiest illustrations of the value of the work of the Board of Church Erection I have ever known. It will be of interest for you to know that the building is exceedingly neat, comfortable and convenient. It is well built, strong and substantial, and is finished off inside with much taste. The interior is even handsome. The entire cost of the building is a little over $2700; with the furniture the cost will be about $3000. The main room will seat about two hundred and the parlor fifty.

Please accept our thanks for your own part in procuring this aid for us, and convey to the members of the Board our sense of indebtedness to them for their generous help.

EUGENE R. MILLS.

AZTEC, SAN JUAN CO., N. M. Enclosed please find our receipt for $750, the generous gift of the Board of the Church Erection Fund toward our church and manse. We as a church, and I individually, thank you for this, and for the promptness of its remittance. The building is giving an impetus to good works in all the county, and getting credit to Presbyterianism as the pioneer in such pious deeds. The people seem astonished that in so new a field, with so little to justify the beginning of a house of such substantial material and proportions, it should be completed, and its airy little belfry sending out the rich tones of a church bell (the gift of the Immanuel Presbyterian Church Sabbath-school, of Milwaukee, Wis.). We could not have done this without the prompt aid of your Board. Let all who aid the Board of Church Erection know that it is the mightiest handmaid of our noble Board of Home Missions.

We hope to build two or three more churches in this beautiful county of San Juan.

S. D. FULTON.

COLLEGES AND ACADEMIES.

A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW. The eye of a flying bird has two advantages over other eyes: it sees more at a time, and by the swiftness of the bird's flight it brings separated scenes into closer contrast. During the month of October, lately passed, the secretary of the Board of College Aid has been taking, in both senses, a bird's-eye view of a good part of our Church's broad territory. Since he had special reason for visiting synods that are so far apart, it happened that one continuous ride, broken only by the rest of the Sabbath, carried him from the Rocky Mountains, where the Synod of Colorado was sitting at Colorado Springs, to the Atlantic, where the Synod of New Jersey was sitting at Asbury Park. To see within so brief a time so much of characteristic American territory-the Colorado snow-peaks, the Plains, which in wide spaces are scarcely touched by the plow, the gradual and then the rapid multiplication of farms and homes till, having crossed the Missouri, one finds himself among all the signs of a settled community; and thenceforth to watch the steady growth of wealth and population as he sweeps on to the Mississippi, to the Ohio, to the Alleghenies, to the Delaware, to the sea,-is enough to start a whirl of thought and hope in the breast of any American. But is it unsafe to say that, other things being equal, the training which a man gets in studying the office and outlook of Christian Education in this spreading nation is as well adapted to make his rapid survey lofty and grand as any drill that mortal mind can get? After witnessing and encouraging the zeal of the sparse frontier synods for their young colleges and for the results which they promise, let the same man, rushing through that long diorama of things new and old, suddenly find himself face to face, in the Synod of New Jersey, with what is most venerable and effectual in our Church's provision for

the nation and the world, and he is compelled to prophesy. The older synod, with its narrow territory but with its crowd of presbyters, stands in vivid contrast with the new synods which as yet marshal from their immense fields only the advance guards of their armies of possession. Why should not time effect as great results in Nebraska or Colorado as we now find in New Jersey? There is every reason why it should effect far larger ones. The new synods start farther on. They are, in effect, committees of the older synods, possessed of the knowledge, the aims, the spirit of the parent bodies, and with some additional knowledge and spirit developed by their own new emergencies. Besides, whatever our characteristic age of invention and enterprise can do for any communities it can do for the new ones. If the Presbyterian people of New Jersey, when their synod was as young as is that of Nebraska, could have gone to school for a week among the mercantile, manufacturing, electrical and architectural plants of such a town as Omaha, they would have come back to their own grade of knowledge and movement as to a slower planet. if we remember especially the relation which these days bear to the great work of the Christian nations in evangelizing the world, how plain is it that Christian completeness of every sort is to be reached by the new synods more rapidly than it was by the old. A traveller who finds such thoughts inseparable from what he sees, is prompted to wish "that all the Lord's people were" travellers. To compare the Church at the West with the Church at the East, leaves no more doubt of the prevalent necessity of this Board's educational work than it does of the prevalent office of gravitation and the air. But since many eastern readers cannot make that comparison with their own eyes, perhaps they will welcome a couple of

Then

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