HOME MISSIONS IN ACTION
EDITH H. ALLEN
MY FATHER A
FROM THE PUBLICATION COMMITTEE
The general topic for the text books for 1915-16, as first chosen by the "Committee of Twenty-eight," was "The Church at Its Task." This committee is composed of representatives from the four missionary organizations: the Home Missions Council; the Council of Women for Home Missions; the Conference of Foreign Mission Boards and the Federation of Women's Boards of Foreign Missions.
The outbreak of the great war of the nations brought new duties and questions of adjustment to the Christian church; the Committee has recognized this in changing the original topic to "The Church and the Nations."
This book is written from the standpoint of the words chosen as the key note for the year, "Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth." It recognizes the fact that the Kingdom cannot come to our land, or to the world unless all social conditions are drawn within its scope; it emphasizes the desire of Home Missions and the church to work toward this great end, and the recognition of their responsibility for its accomplishment. But unless the nations of the world are trending toward the day when peace shall reign and hatred and strife cease among men, these desires cannot be realized. With this in view the portions dealing with social conditions and peace possibilities have been written.
That this book may reveal the far-reaching potentialities of Home Missions as a dynamic force for reclaiming, educating, healing, and integrating our nation into a land over which the Christ shall reign and that from Him it shall also draw its ideals and its power, is the hope and the prayer of the author and the Council of Women for Home Missions.
I. A NATIONAL FORCE
II. A RECLAIMING FORCE
III. AN EDUCATIVE FORCE
IV. A HEALING FORCE
V. AN INTEGRATING FORCE
VI. SOURCES OF POWER
A NATIONAL FORCE PRAYER FOR THE CHURCH
O God, we pray for thy Church, which is set to-day amid the perplexities of a changing order, and face to face with a great new task. We remember with love the nurture she gave to our spiritual life in its infancy, the tasks she set for our growing strength, the influence of the devoted hearts she gathers, the steadfast power for good she has exerted. When we compare her with all other human institutions, we rejoice, for there is none like her. But when we judge her by the mind of her Master, we bow in pity and contrition. Oh, baptize her afresh in the life-giving spirit of Jesus! Grant her a new birth, though it be with the travail of repentance and humiliation. Bestow upon her a more imperious responsiveness to duty, a swifter compassion with suffering, and an utter loyalty to the will of God. Put upon her lips the ancient gospel of her Lord. Help her to proclaim boldly the coming of the Kingdom of God and the doom of all that resist it. Fill her with the prophets' scorn of tyranny, and with a Christ-like tenderness for the heavy-laden and down-trodden. Give her faith to espouse the cause of the people, and in their hands that grope after freedom and light to recognize the bleeding hands of the Christ. Bid her cease from seeking her own life, lest she lose it. Make her valiant to give up her life to humanity, that like her crucified Lord she may mount by the path of the cross to a higher glory.
* * * * *
Home Missions may be defined as the out-reaching of the Christian church in America to those peoples and places in our land beyond the immediate environs of the local church.
From the time the Pilgrim, the Dutch, the Cavalier stepped on these shores the church (and included in it Home Missions) has exerted a most powerful influence upon the ideals and standards of life on this continent.
While shaping and moulding the thought and life of the people, it has itself developed a content and vision infinitely greater, more inclusive, more of the spirit of the Christ's "I am come that ye might have life and have it more abundantly," than was dreamed of in the days of its beginning.
"The hidden forces of national life are instinctive and unconscious. One cannot differentiate natural influences so as to ascribe to each its value. The ideals of nations, like those of individuals, are derived from all the concrete qualities of character." [Footnote: F. H. Giddings in "Democracy and Empire."] The ideals which are a compelling force in our nation to-day cannot be ascribed to any one force, but are the result of all those formative reactions which are the product of racial, economic, social, ethical and religious forces, the latter being pre-eminently the most marked.
It will be remembered that into the new and harder life of the successive frontiers, Home Missions entered, bringing a saving power, as well as one that softened and glorified the renunciations and sacrifices attendant always upon frontier life.
Indeed, the most marked characteristics of our national life until recent years have been those born of contact with frontier conditions—courage, discipline, an austere sense of duty, a passion for work, marvelous practicality joined to a fundamental idealism and love of sentiment, an unconquerable hopefulness and an innate kindness and personal helpfulness.
Of necessity the conditions and environs of the country have reacted upon the religious ideals and life of our people. We can not enter into the fullest understanding of the present place and influence of Home Missions as a National Force, or a study of its immediate future, without pausing to review the background of the past. For we recognize that growth, organization and development are all functions of time.
The early fathers had no thought of founding a nation when they sought refuge and a new start on this continent. Jamestown, New York, Plymouth and their outgrowing settlements were intensely individualistic. They were the individual Cavalier, Hollander or Pilgrim, only in larger proportions, bearing all their characteristics.
To appreciate the characteristics and spirit of these colonists, we must consider the special significance of the age that gave them birth. They "were the children of a century in which the human spirit had a new birth in energy of imagination, in faith in its powers to dare greatly and achieve greatly." [Footnote: Hamilton Wright Mabie—American Ideals, Character and Life.]
They were inspired most strongly by religious aspirations, although combining with these impelling political convictions. In the Puritan colony, "membership in the church for some time remained a qualification for voting."
"In nearly every document which conveyed authority to discoverers, explorers, and settlers in the New World, the Christian religion was recognized." [Footnote: Hamilton Wright Mabie—American Ideals, Character and Life.]
Their faith was of heroic quality, of rock firmness; their obedience to duty as they saw it, almost absolute.
The Bible exerted a tremendous influence. It was not only their religious guide and teacher, but was also their library, daily companion and for some time their only literature. It became wrought into the very fibre of their thought.
This dominating religious attitude, while modified in the different types—the Friends, Huguenots, Moravians—gave the impulses which have had so strong a formative influence upon the life of the nation.
Recognizing fully the incalculable value of this early religious contribution, we cannot fail also to realize the limitations of the religious outlook of that period, and the effect of these limitations upon the social life of the country. Seventeenth century religion laid its emphasis upon the subjective—upon definitions of religious belief—and found expression in theological discussion and opinion. It concerned itself intensely with the individual as regards his spiritual life, but took little or no account of the outward conditions that bear so powerfully upon the inner life. Thus in its growth the church failed to exercise that commanding influence in the redemption of society and the forming of social conditions which should have accompanied the preaching of individual salvation.
It entered deeply, reverently, passionately into the spirit of the first commandment: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might," but failed in holding with equal grasp the second, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
Had the church, had Home Missions, entered fully into the spirit of this second commandment, its enormous restraining, organizing, saving power would have contributed more fully to the forming of the community life before it so desperately needed reforming—to dealing with those great fundamental conditions which have led to the "submerged" of our civilization.
To-day we are coming to recognize the vital connection between spiritual regeneration and the bringing of the Kingdom of God on Earth. Home Missions is essentially and radically concerned with both. Rev. David Watson in his "Social Advance" says:
"Theology and sociology are closely kin and in a sense complementary. Theology deals with man's relation to God, Sociology with man's relation to his fellows. The one is the science of God, the other is the science of society.
"The goal of all real social advance, as of all Home Mission effort, should be the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth in all its gracious fullness; and the method fourfold, by spiritual dynamics (the church and its Home Missions), moral culture, economic change and wise legislation."
First, the Gospel, with its message of individual salvation, and the Kingdom of God, this opening the way for and bringing with it education and moral culture, and the control of economic forces by legislation.
"Only through the unified action of all these forces is continued progress assured."
The church has eagerly sought to comply with the first three requisites, but its failure to recognize the specific influence it might exert along the lines of the economic and legislative have retarded mightily the better day in this land and hindered the best and highest attainment of our democracy.
The concept of the Christian ideal to-day is that it shall save the individual, but also remove that which produces crime and makes sin almost inevitable—in short, that it shall seek to redeem the environment as well as the sinner, and give more wholesomeness, more fullness, more joy to life through redeeming its conditions, as well as saving its soul.
On the church and its outreaching Home Missions as the instrument for the Kingdom-progress, rests a heavy responsibility in supplying that spiritual dynamic and inspiration which is back of all social upbuilding. It must produce the men and women whose characters are such that in their attitude toward industry, labor, legislation, in all their social capacities, they will seek to live Christ's social principle, "What ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them," and to bring the Master's Beatitudes as a working principle into life.
Before considering what we have left undone, let us review in outline the splendid record of Home Missions.
Since the early days when Roger Williams pressed into the wilderness of Rhode Island, the Christian preacher and teacher have followed the advancing line of the successive frontiers—no hardship, no denial, no scarcity of food, no privation, no want or cold so great that Home Missions hesitated to go, with its spiritual healing, its community service, bringing the very heart of Christ's love and service into these new centers. When adventurous home-seekers reached the Alleghanies, the Iowa Band soon followed. When the fate of the great Northwest hung in the balance, a missionary statesman came to its saving.
When the frozen North called men with its lure of gold, an indomitable missionary led in all that made for the better life. When a devastating war had spent its fury and a helpless Africa, bound by heaviest chains of ignorance and superstition, waited, Home Missions responded.
When the deposed Red brother suffered every form of grievous wrong, Home Missions brought him brotherly love and helped him find the Jesus Road. When the alien stood bewildered in our midst, Home Missions gave him guidance. When the dumb appeal of the isolated mountaineers was realized, Home Missions followed the lonely mountain trail. To the mines and the lumber camps, to the ancient Spanish folk of our continent, to those deluded by the false Prophet—to all of these Home Missions has carried its threefold ministry of saving, teaching and training.
Home Missions counts its lives laid down for the Christ on a hundred fields. No pen can tell of the magnitude of its influence on our national life. Its little enterprises are now the great, strong city churches of Nebraska, Kansas, California, Oregon, in fact of all the States.
It was a Congregational pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Porter, who preached the first sermon on Lake Michigan, as he held a service in the carpenter shop of Fort Dearborn in 1833. The population of what afterward became the city of Chicago then numbered three hundred. As a result of the efforts of Rev. Mr. Porter, who organized the first Presbyterian church in the city of Chicago while working also for the Congregational church, many of the present centers of Christian influence were instituted in that city.
It is instructive to note the returns from one Home Mission enterprise. On the Pacific coast the Congregational Home Missionary Society in sixty-two years spent $1,646,000. In thirty-two years the churches thus founded sent $864,000 to carry Christ's message to foreign countries, and $302,000 through other Congregational agencies for uplift in this country. This was given in addition to all the local philanthropies and social service rendered in their own communities by these organizations.
The history of the first Presbyterian Church of Portland, Oregon, is one of the outstanding illustrations of the fruitfulness of Home Mission work. "This church was organized on January first, 1854, with ten members. It was a strictly Home Mission work, dependent upon the Home Board for its existence. When it was reorganized in 1860 it had but seventeen members, and they were unable to pay the salary.
"During the next four years it received aid from the Board of Home Missions to the amount of eleven hundred dollars. Then it undertook self-support. It has been blessed in having a line of far-seeing pastors who have led it on from strength to strength.
"As its members increased in wealth they grew in their interest in the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Every enterprise which helped on that Kingdom was either begun or promoted by the First Church. The first missionary to Alaska went out from it, and her expenses were paid for six months from the treasury of the First Church.
"The steady development of the Oregon Territory engaged the eager interest of this church from the first. It is said that in all that district, including Oregon, Washington and part of Idaho, no Presbyterian church was ever erected which did not receive some aid from the members of the First Church of Portland.
"In a single year of its history it has contributed twenty thousand dollars to Home Missions, and it is because of the large share in the Home Mission work of the Presbytery of Portland taken by the First Church that that Presbytery was able to assume self-support, and so become the first self-supporting Presbytery in the great Northwest.
"This church also fostered the educational interests of the Northwest. Albany College in Oregon owes its existence in large measure to its generosity. Portland Academy was early taken over by its members, and to-day is equal to any secondary school in the country. The San Francisco Theological Seminary came into a full share of aid and care. The Ladd professorship is a lasting proof of the spirit of that church.
"The increasing numbers of Chinese attracted the attention of the church, and the first mission to the Chinese by the Presbyterian Church was established in 1885 on petition of the pastor of the First Church.
"Its foreign mission work has been extensive. Not only has it sent out its own members to the foreign mission field, but it has been from the very beginning a liberal supporter of Foreign Missions. The first Foreign Mission Society of Oregon was organized in this church, and the splendid North Pacific Board of Missions, broad enough minded to see the whole task of the church, was organized here, and is to-day an eager supporter of Home, Foreign and Freedmen's missions.
"Nor has the church been unmindful of its debt to this ever-growing city of Portland." [Footnote: Rev. Charles L. Thompson, D.D.]
Illustrations of similar service might be multiplied many times from the history of other denominations.
With all this glorious, Christ-filled service, Home Missions has ministered to only a small part. Over sixty millions of the nearly one hundred of our population are non-Christian and allied with no religious organizations whatever—Catholic, Hebrew, or Protestant.
Still more than forty thousand Indians in this country are without Christian ministry. Still great districts in our Southern mountains wait the coming of opportunity and uplift. Still large numbers of Mexicans in the Southwest, ignorant and superstitious, are a retarding element in their communities. Still vast immigrant settlements remain untouched by regenerating influences and absorb, as well as contribute, much that is deteriorating.
Still the traitorous hierarchy, Mormonism, makes enormous strides almost unchecked by Christian effort. The Mormon Church officially makes the following report of its mission work in this country and abroad in one year: Tracts distributed, 10,892,122; gospel conversations, 1,744,641; families visited, 3,532,273; books distributed and standard church works, 500,614; meetings held, 92,072.
Still from our cities comes the bitter cry of the submerged and of the women and girls whom unspeakable sin is claiming. "The United States has the largest proportion of women workers to the population in the world (one in five). [Footnote: Henry C. Vedder—The Gospel of Jesus and the Problem of Democracy.] It has done less toward the regulation of this form of labor—less for the protection of its women laborers—than any other country."
The recent investigations in Chicago and other large cities show the close relation between insufficient wages and vice.
One of the greatest obstacles to the relief of these conditions is the indifference of well-to-do people who do not come into personal contact with the wrongs and sufferings of the working people.
Still we are confronted by the sad spectacle of more than a million of the nation's children at work in factories and cotton mills for their living, and helping to support their families.
"The child is the embodied future. We can never have good citizenship without protected childhood. Child labor is a process of squandering future wealth to satisfy present need." [Footnote: See report of Eleventh Conference of Child Labor held at Washington, January, 1915.]
Defrauded childhood! Children, loaded with heavy tasks beyond their strength, robbed of the light and joy of life, plead for childhood's rights and that spiritual development that should make known to them the companionship of the Saviour and the love of the Heavenly Father.
The testimony printed in the fall of 1912, concerning child labor in the canning factories of the Empire State, shows that more than a thousand children were employed in the canning industry that summer; one hundred and forty-one were less than ten years old.
An experienced manufacturer has said, "You can protect a machine, you can guide the buzz-saw, but no law that you can enact can, in a large industry, protect the heart and soul of the child."
A marked improvement has been made in the last five years in combating the evils of child labor. Many states forbid the employment of children under fourteen years of age in factories and mills—but in North and South Carolina, in Georgia and Alabama, children under fourteen are still permitted to labor in factories ten or twelve hours a day.
To reach this evil from the Federal standpoint, the powers of the Inter-State Commerce Commission should be invoked.
A bill is now pending (February, 1915) before Congress to bar from interstate commerce the products of mills, mines, quarries, factories and workshops employing child labor.
Home Missions must also face to-day the infinitely complex and rapidly increasing problem involved in the adjustment of our population to cities and away from rural districts. Thus cities are becoming dominant factors to be reckoned with in all the elements that enter into the question of religious and moral uplift, as well as the ideals and the welfare of our nation.
Here the aggregation of immigrants focuses acutely the complex problems peculiar to them.
Here is the child laborer in factories and on the streets.
Here women and girls struggle under fearful economic pressure.
Here is the political boss—and what ex-President Roosevelt terms "organized alliance between the criminal rich and the criminal poor."
Here is the class consciousness and hatred—the cry of anarchy and socialism.
"To-day seventy-six per cent of the population of Massachusetts live in cities; of New York, eighty-five and one-half per cent; New Jersey, sixty-one and two-tenths; Connecticut, fifty-three and two-tenths; Illinois is one-half urban, and forty per cent of California's people live under city conditions." [Footnote: Frederic C. Howe—The City, the Hope of Democracy.]
Contrasted with this peculiar burden of the city, there is the country church and the adaptation needed to maintain it in any degree of effectiveness, when its very life blood has been drained for the city. It has made untold contributions of ministers, missionaries, church officers and members to the cities and distant fields, leaving the mother church childless and weak in its advancing years.
Changes that leave almost none of its former constituency confront the country church.
Old farms and village stores pass into the hands of aliens—in many instances Hebrews—summer boarders claim the attention of the faithful women of the congregation for the most favorable months of the year. Sunday sports engage the interests of the indifferent, and there are many other disintegrating elements.
In a land where progress calls to progress, where the results of hasty development create a large share of its problem—a land where the need of Christian effort is paramount, and where such effort is so vital to the world, the decadence of the country church is of far-reaching significance. Home Missions is called to direct its energizing, constructive ability to the solution of this baffling and discouraging feature of its problem to a greater degree than ever before.
Home Missions at this time also confronts a new opportunity and obligation—to make its voice heard, its influence felt, for international peace.
These winter days of 1914, in which the world has apparently lost its soul in the fury of slaughter, speak very loudly to the heart of Christianity.
No force for the upbuilding of the Christ power on earth can ignore the significance and solemnity of this time.
Has Christianity failed in these warring lands, or have they who are controlled by Christian standards and ethics in other relations, failed to apprehend that the Christ test—His principles—must be brought to bear upon all of life—upon personal, individual, national and international relations?
The fruition of Christianity must at last bring in the day when the conscience of Christian nations will hold true to the Master's teaching. "What ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them," must be wrought into national consciousness and practiced as an international principle. With the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man is the very heart of the Gospel message.
Home Missions must take account of the moral reactions of such carnage as is now taking place.
"Death meets those myriads whilst indulging the most appalling passions—their hands filled with weapons of carnage, their hearts with fratricidal hate. It is the sense of the moral death involved, searing of conscience, deadening of heart, blunting of moral faculty, fruits of death brought forth in the soul of the survivor, which are more horrifying to the enlightened consciousness than the dying groans of the stricken can be to the more bodily nerve. The thing to fear is not pain, but trespass; not suffering, but sin—the peculiar sin of war is that it corrupts while it consumes, that it demoralizes whilst it destroys. It is not because war kills that it is the devil, but because it depraves; and it is because it depraves that it is condemned by the religious consciousness. The damage that it inflicts upon the persons and property of men is trifling beside the damage it inflicts upon morals; and it is this that is exciting in thoughtful minds a fresh interest in the whole military conception. The ominous thing is not the body prostrate on the battlefield, but the brute rampant in the mother-land; the general lowering of ideal, the blatant materialism and defiant selfishness." [Footnote: Walter Walsh—The Moral Damage of War.]
Home Missions must consider the responsibility of our Christian nation toward the attitude of world thought that made possible this war. It was John Hay in his instructions to our American delegates to the First Hague Conference who said: "Next to the great fact of a nation's independence is the great fact of its interdependence." [Footnote: William I. Hull—The New Peace Movement.]
Through travel, cultural influences, commerce, the rapid circulation of news, the cultivation of sympathy, there is a recognized oneness of the world to-day; a solidarity which, notwithstanding all the differences arising from remoteness, race, legislation, and religion, binds together the world as never before.
The world is realizing to-day, as one of the results of this conflict, that in the largest sense its interests are one, and that all nations are interdependent.
"America must remember that the military idea and the ideal of democracy are absolutely opposed."
Dr. Josiah Strong, in a powerful presentation of the effects of the war says: "Evidently the increasing interdependence of the nations is creating new international rights and duties, but there is no world legislature to recognize and legalize them, there is no world judiciary to interpret and apply them, and there is no world executive to enforce and vitalize them.
"The economic and industrial organization of the world has far outgrown the political organization of the world." [Footnote: The Gospel of the Kingdom, January, 1915.]
Some new world organization is needed and must come to supply this deficiency.
Home Missions must use its influence to build up a Christian sentiment for the adjustment of international disagreements other than by bloodshed and slaughter.
"The following facts are significant. The European war is said to cost over one hundred million dollars a day in money, stoppage of industry, and destruction of property.
"The United States has spent in preparedness for war during the past ten years a sum six times the cost of the Panama Canal." [Footnote: New York Peace Society Leaflet.]
The European war says:
"That a world that prepares for war will get it sooner or later.
That militarism has revealed itself as an enemy to civilization and must be destroyed.
That autocrat rulers with power to make war have no rightful place in the modern world. That no more attempts at world domination are wanted, no matter by what nation or race.
That nationality and national boundaries must be respected, territories being enlarged only by the free consent of the population to be annexed, and colonization taking place only by peaceable commercial and industrial methods.
That, while military preparedness cannot preserve peace, preparedness against attack is essential.
That a league or federation of the peaceably inclined nations for mutual protection and for the preservation of international law and order has become a necessity of the immediate future.
That lasting peace may be secured through the development of international law, the extension of democracy, and the cultivation of the spirit of international justice and good will."
Home Missionary women must assume their full share in all efforts to spread illuminating information on this subject, and through their personal attitude, thinking, and praying, strive for the establishment of world relations that will make for peace.
The destruction of homes, hunger, sickness, poverty, degradation, all fall heavily upon women and their helpless little ones.
When the guns have ceased their work of death and the ruined land turns to rebuild its broken commerce and industry, it is the children who must grow up under the privations and the stunting burdens of fearful taxation. From the cradle to the grave, they must pay the billions of treasure eaten up by devastating, destroying war.
Let every Home Missionary woman, to whom this land is dear, who cherishes father, husband, son or brother, who clings to loved home and precious children, use all her influence to bring in the day when the Christ standard shall be the standard for all our national and international relations.
O bells, to-day let warfare cease! Christ came to be a Prince of Peace. No longer let the sound of drum Or trumpet, campward calling, come To vex the earth with dread, and make The hearts of wives and mothers ache. Leave battle flags to moths and dust— Let sword and gun grow red with rust! Earth groaned with carnage—let it cease— Ring in the thousand years of Peace!
Ring out the littleness of things, Ring in the broader thought that brings Swift end to all ignoble creeds. Ring in an age of noble deeds For all things pure, and high, and good— The era of true brotherhood. Ring out the lust for gold and gain— The greed that cripples soul and brain, And open eyes, long blind, to see What grander, better things there be! [Footnote: Eben Rexford.]
Home Missions is one of the greatest contributors to national righteousness. Through it the higher life of the community is developed in the formative period; through it belated peoples receive the spiritual transforming dynamic that makes them reach up to the higher and better in their surroundings and gives them a developing effectiveness and efficiency.
It brings the same force with greater power into the lives of the children, giving them also a training of minds and hands that equips them for an enlarging sphere of usefulness.
It brings the most telling force possible to the upward struggle of our primitive and dependent people, patiently leading them by the road of sympathetic understanding into some strength to stand amidst the overpowering complexity of the civilization that surrounds them, in which they as yet are not advanced enough to become more than a problem.
The Negro and Indian testify to the marvelous transforming power of the Gospel of Christ brought by Home Missions—a power that gives moral fiber, a wholesome attitude of life in which work and ambition have place.
To all that is noblest, highest and best in our national life, Home Missions has given in large measure.
Home Missions faces forward, realizing that infinitely greater responsibility and service must now enter into the mission of the church at home, if this country is to remain Christian itself and be a force for Christianity in the world.
A RECLAIMING FORCE
"Go ye and teach the next one whom you meet— Man, woman, child, at home or on the street— That 'God so loved them' each in thought so sweet He could not have them lost through sin's defeat, But sent you with His message to repeat That pardon through His Son might be complete. So shall our land be saved from sore defeat And gather with the nations at His feet."
* * * * *
Referring to the incident when the disciples, James and John, confronted by the lame man at the gate Beautiful of the Temple, gave him restored health through the power of the Christ, instead of the alms which he solicited, Dr. John Henry Jowett said: "He, the Master, gave fundamentally to those in need. He did not attend to the symptoms, but cured the disease. He gave capacity for incapacity, ability for inability, life for feebleness. He strengthened the wills of those born impotent and gave them the power of self-control. "As Christ gave fundamentally in His earthly ministry, so He has given since. It is still the greatest mission of the church to reach and restore—to give "capacity."
Christ said, "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you." It can never come in society, it can never prevail in a nation, until it has first come into individual lives and found expression through them.
"All true progress," says the Hon. James Bryce, "has always been from the soul working outward through men's acts, and it is so to-day."
Home Missions has pre-eminently been the agent of the church in this fundamental work of reclamation. Let us go to the laboratory of the Mission fields where we may see Home Missions in action, and witness the Christ power to restore, uplift, transform, to give capacity.
* * * * *
It was a crisp day in early autumn when the visitor from the Women's Board stepped from the train at a small station in Northern Minnesota and was met by the Home Missionary pastor.
A pair of strong horses and a light buggy made quick work of the ten-mile drive, to the new mission church at M—— L——.
It was through what might be termed new country—so new that the stumps of the recently demolished forest were still standing, seared and slashed remnants of the splendid trees.
The first crop raised by ploughing the rich earth between the stumps stood tall and full of the promise of marvelous productiveness when suitable cultivation was possible. It was one of the crude frontier towns of the Northwest.
Several Old World kingdoms had contributed to the population. There were Norwegians, Swedes, Hollanders, a few Poles, and some Americans of the sort who perennially move on, hoping for better conditions.
The lives of the people were filled with heaviest toil, for they were conquering a new country. They were renters of the land, or had bought with heavy mortgages, and so their ceaseless struggle was to gain a foothold. Little time or thought had they for the claims of the higher life.
There was no reminder of the things of God in the town save a Catholic chapel. To many of the people this faith was most repugnant. There was no Sabbath, though for some the day's toil was not quite so arduous. The saloon, with its warmth and brightness, lured the tired men with the promise of sociability at all times.
Among them, however, was a man who had been an elder in a Protestant church across the seas, and he realized what the godlessness of the little place would mean to them all, and especially its effect upon the lives of their little children.
He sought the help of a Home Missionary whose duties covered a district of hundreds of miles, and to whom was entrusted the establishing of new fields.
When his work called him to that part of Minnesota, he visited M—— L——, holding services in the little district school building, visiting in the homes and doing what he could in a brief stay to rouse and help them spiritually.
As he was able, he returned to them several times during the year. How gladly did those welcome him who in the old homes had followed after the things of God!
In the summer he arranged to have a student missionary commissioned to the field. In due time the student arrived, spending the four months of his seminary vacation among them.
He was an indefatigable worker. Soon the little schoolhouse was most uncomfortably crowded with those who were drawn by the singing and the bright go of the meetings.
Services were then held out of doors, the congregation seated on improvised benches of boards laid across tree trunks.
The student organized and superintended a Sunday-school—gathered the young people into an Endeavor Society. He formed a singing class—a portable baby organ which he played was their only musical instrument.
He arranged games, socials, and picnics; one of the latter, a berry-picking picnic, the proceeds of which, twelve dollars, was given to missions.
So close did he bring religion to these people, so desirable he made it, that they became eager for a permanent church. A very little help was given by the Board toward the purchase of the land, and the people attended to the building.
The men quarried and hauled the foundation stone; they secured and dressed the timber, and with the labor of their own hands the little church was built before the student returned, and later, beside it, the Women's Board helping, a tiny parsonage was placed.
Then came an energetic, devoted Home Missionary to live the Gospel, day by day, as well as preach it; to incorporate Christian ideals into the daily thinking of these people, and Christian purposes into their controlling motives; to make them understand that the Gospel means honesty in business, cleanness of heart and body, health and enlightenment, and whatever makes life worthy here and now and fits it for the future beyond.
Thousands of such homely frontier missions are molding the citizenship which makes the very life of the Republic.
All honor to the men and women of character and ability who, as Home Missionaries, are devoting their lives to such fields—the most difficult in the world—where no picturesqueness of scenes or people relieves the strain—where sordid sin, monotony, crudity, and newness prevail, but where the returns in character-building contribute to the life of a nation whose mission is the world.
* * * * *
The following quaint letter was written by Rev. Aratus Kent, a Congregational Missionary at Galena, Ill., to the Congregational Home Missionary Society under date of April 9, 1844:
"When I came to Galena (in 1829), there was not any church or clergyman within two hundred miles, and I used to say that my parish extended from Rock River to Wisconsin. Now I can count within these bounds twenty-five churches and fifteen ministers.
"Let those then who think little of the influences of the Home Missionary Society blot out of being those twenty-five churches, and drive out of the state those fifteen clergymen, and disband fifty Sabbath-schools, and burn a thousand Bibles, and recall a thousand volumes of the Tract Society, and stop the monthly visit of a tract to five hundred houses, and give back a drunken father to fifty families that are now rejoicing in the peace and plenty consequent upon their regeneration." And yet this work of vandalism is not done until you have taken back that stream of heavenly influence which has gone forth from this district to bless the heathen in our forests and the heathen beyond the ocean, and until you have recalled that company of young men who have gone away for the ministry.
"We need within this field more missionaries who can endure privations, and who, to meet their appointments, can face a prairie storm and buffet a swollen stream, and who, like their Divine Master, can take the mountain top for their study and the midnight hour for the season of their devotion.
"We want also assistance here in the West to establish literary (educational) institutions upon the right basis, and if the professors of the East would come and see what I see, they would court the honor of contribution to establish the female seminary in Galena which was yesterday projected, and which is next week to commence its existence. This church has sustained a German colporter during the winter."
* * * * *
About a little valley in the Southland stand mountains grim and forbidding in their rugged beauty—holding close within their bounds those who for generations had found their scanty living upon the sterile mountain sides and in the richer valleys, saying No! to the pressing outside world, with its progress and its change.
Many winters and summers passed over the settlement of J——, on —— creek, forty miles from all railroads, shut in by laurel-covered hills and pine mountains; its people, of fine pioneer ancestry and deeply religious, thrown back upon themselves through segregation and isolation, had lost much of the initiative and force that characterized their ancestors, and had crystallized along the lines of their peculiarities, as any people will under the same conditions.
Up the creek and into the valley one day there came two "foreign" women from the great world beyond. They were Home Missionaries, but did not use this designation for fear the mountain people might not understand that they came simply as friends to bring to the valley the opportunity America gives to her children.
They found the people simple folk, ignorant, but with no touch of vulgarity. Their eyes saw no opening beyond the blue shadows of the enveloping mountains. To a few the longing to know, or that their children might have a "chance," hung like a star afar off, but with little hope of attainment.
A dark fatalism presided over their destinies. "What is to be will be, I reckon," summed up their philosophy.
About many of them appeared an atmosphere of the unconscious moral heroism that willingly gives its all to meet whatever the day may bring of privation, hardship, suffering, or death.
The valley folk were very suspicious of the two friends at first, and curious about them in a shy, kindly way.
Why had they come? What were their real motives? Did they mean only good to the valley? It took many months of devoted service on the part of the women to answer these queries.
Did sickness ravage some home where many little ones were crowded into two or three rooms? Was some man crushed by the heavy logs while at work? There the nurse friend came with her comforts and her skill to fight for the life of the sufferers, to watch beside them during the long, chill nights of pain—to pray that the healing power of the Christ might be manifested.
The two friends found that the valley had no Sunday-school or regular preaching service to mark the Lord's day. Occasionally an itinerant preacher held meetings, but Sunday after Sunday came and went in the valley with no religious service whatever.
They found that the children received but poor schooling, and little or no training for life.
They found mothers who knew only the monotony of drudgery and were eager to share in the fuller life.
They found the wide use of corn whisky to be sapping the moral and physical strength of the men, and that everywhere among them lawlessness prevailed, even though some were anxious for better things.
Through the love-service of the two friends and those who followed them, and the co-operation of the people, the valley to-day is transformed even in its outward appearance.
Drinking has disappeared except in sporadic cases. Lawlessness is under ban. A great, throbbing, new life has come to stimulate and inspire not only the valley, but its environs.
Here the reclaiming power of Christian service meets with fullest response. A church and Sunday-school (also four outlying schools), men's Bible classes, several Endeavor Societies and King's Daughters' Circles, Boy Scouts, Girls' clubs—the ministry of a hospital, schools and dormitories, all are spreading the regenerating forces and bringing in a new day of hope, opportunity, and efficiency to this valley, and to hundreds of others throughout the Southland.
* * * * *
All along the fine military road built by Spain in Porto Rico—and still more on the bridle paths that pass for roads in much of the island—may be seen little brown shacks, or huts, made of old boards and tin cans flattened out, and thatched with palm leaves. In these the people live.
"We had sixty names on the waiting list of the Missionary Home in Porto Rico, and money had come so we could take in a few more, and we—the superintendent and I—went to try to find the most needy. Our search took us into a dreadful, slimy patio, where we found a grandmother and three little girls. We could take but two of them. The oldest was thirteen—we knew she would soon be too old to be helped at all if we did not take her now. The second was under ten, and the youngest was three and a half. We could not bear to leave the dead mother's baby, so we took the oldest and the youngest, and promised the second girl that we would come for her as soon as possible. They lived in a room nine by twelve feet in size, in which twenty-two people slept under some old clothes. Do you wonder that she fell on her knees begging 'Oh, lady, take me, too!'"
"The next day the grandmother was taken ill and had to be sent to the hospital, and on Tuesday when I went to the patio again the girl had disappeared.
"Three months later we found her, beaten and bruised from head to foot, at the door of the Home. She had been in a place where care and shelter were expected, but when the poor, home-sick girl cried, they abused her and then put her out on the street, and somehow she found her way to our Home.
"You would enjoy seeing how quickly the girls in our Home learn to help each other. Mercedes had been in the Home but ten days when Francesca came—a bit of a waif who had never worn shoes in all her life, nor seen a bed before. Of course she knew nothing about undressing and sleeping between clean, white sheets. She tried to do like the others, but got into bed with her precious new shoes and stockings on. Mercedes watched her, and when ready herself, slipped across the room, whispered to Francesca, took off her shoes and stockings, pushed her—but very gently—down on her knees for the evening prayer, and then covered her up in bed as softly and lovingly as a mother." [Footnote: In Southern Seas—Alice M. Guernsey—Women's Home Missionary Society, Methodist Episcopal Church.]
* * * * *
With soft, Insistent regularity came the beat of the tom-tom over the hills, calling the Indians to the Medicine Lodge dance. There was something weirdly fascinating in the reiterated turn, turn, that carried almost a hypnotic power as hour after hour it called through the stillness.
Wrapped in their bright blankets—men on horseback—whole families in wagons—the Indians passed round the curve of the road, to disappear in the big, open depression just beyond, where the Medicine Lodge was in camp. There was a group of rounded tents in which families and guests were prepared to live the four days and nights during which the rites of the dance lasted. It was an untidy and disorderly camp, with children and dogs tumbling about—women kneeling to arrange small strips of meat to cook over the bit of wood fire on the ground, or attending to other home-keeping matters. Dirt, flies, children, and dogs were everywhere.
A few feet away stretched the long tent where the ceremony of the dance was to take place. They had taken their places and were ready for the ceremony—mostly men, a few women, a little girl of nine years, a young mother of twenty whose baby two weeks old was held by an aged grandmother, who crouched at the end.
All were dressed in beaded finery. All wore moccasins—some men had long beaded stoles—others wonderful beaded waistcoats. The women wore long beaded hair ornaments reaching almost to the ground, as well as strings of beads and other ornaments.
The faces of nearly all were marked with spots of bright red or long streaks of yellow and red. The same color was used in the parting of the hair.
They sat on the ground in two long rows, facing each other; back of each, attached to the wood trellis of the tent, hung fur pouches of various shapes and sizes, ornamented with beads and containing the "medicine," which was some trifling article—a bit of bone, stone, seed, or whatever, through some special circumstance, had come to be accepted by them as their charm, or "medicine," to ward off sickness and evil—to bring them the good offices and protection of the good spirits.
The four or more medicine chiefs, wearing wonderfully ornamented, apron-like front pieces, stand together at one end for a few moments while one and then another addresses the audience. The medicine men then, with drum and rattle, keeping step, lead in the dance down the length of the tent and back. One by one the audience, from their crouching positions on the ground, as they are summoned or moved, join in the dance, swaying while they keep step back and forth for hours at a time, to the sound of drum and rattle. Those being initiated, as were the young mother and the little girl, were expected not to give up, if possible, until the end.
The dance is maintained for parts of four days and nights, almost incessantly, except for the interruption of the feast given by some members. The close is marked by the utter exhaustion of many of the dancers, and sad immorality accompanies its progress.
Can the Gospel of Christ lift such as these, with a thousand generations of savagery back of them?
Let another picture answer.
* * * * *
Almost half a mile from the Medicine Lodge camp, on a rise of ground, stands a little Christian church—plain but beautiful. From it seem to flow visibly those purifying and redeeming forces that are destined to transform the darkened lives of these Indian children of the great All-father.
It is prayer-meeting night. The bell is rung and the audience begins to gather. A number of alert, intelligent-looking, English-speaking young men come in together.
One of these, an earnest Christian, will interpret, sentence by sentence, the Scripture reading and the message of the speaker.
Some older men and women come next, heavy of feature and step. One is blind and feels his way to his accustomed seat.
Old women come wrapped in blankets, their faces seamed with toil and showing the hardness of heathen customs, when sickness and death, unrelieved by faith, wear the heart and waste the body.
Mothers come with bright-eyed babies tucked in their blankets, or leading children of various sizes—also some young women, beautiful and intelligent—and a few white employees from the Agency—and the workers from the Mission—until the room is nearly filled.
The meeting is opened with prayer, and a quiet fills the room as all are brought into the very presence of the loving Father.
And then follows the singing, "My faith looks up to Thee," "Lovingly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling to you and to me." Did ever the words seem so fraught with meaning, so filled with the yearning love of the Master?
The message that follows is one of passionate earnestness, as the missionary seeks to make clear to them the meaning of purity of life—of faith in God, of His saving, keeping power.
At its close an Indian elder, using his own soft, Indian language, pleads in prayer for the presence of the Holy Spirit to lead his people.
Another rises and says through the interpreter: "When I was away at school I learned about Christianity, but when I came back to the reservation and the old Indian life called me, there was none to help, and I went back. I did not work; I gambled, I drank; liquor, I went to the medicine dance—I was very bad. Then came the Mission and it got hold of me. The missionary brought me to Christ. Now I cut off those bad ways. I am happy. I have a Christian home with my wife and my child."
This testimony was true. All there knew him to be an industrious, upright, manly Indian, one of the two hundred members of this church, all of whom had, in a few years, been led from the old life of degradation to the pleasant, wholesome peace of the Jesus Road.
* * * * *
"Missionary work begins with evangelism. It does not end there. The people must hear the good news of salvation. So we have spent much time 'to make the message plain.' It has taken years of labor to put the gist of the Gospel into several Indian languages having no literature, that the people might get the word of God. One had to work to get a clue to a word through a crude interpreter; or by making signs or motions where, as often, no interpreter was at hand, and then guessing between several possible meanings. In this way one would in time get a knowledge of the commonplace things in a language. Then there must follow the task of finding equivalents for Christian terms in the speech of a people without Christian ideas.
"Difficult as all this work was, it is only a beginning, only elementary. The message must be applied to all phases of life. A constant educational process must be kept up to incorporate Christian ideals into the daily thinking of the people. This is to be done by the reiterated daily teachings of the schools, and the living example of the missionary, and of those he can educate to lead the people. A bare message unrelated to life is like seed scattered on the road or on a rock. After sowing one must harrow and cultivate and fight insect pests all the season to get a crop. So a constant process of education, moral, industrial, hygienic, must go on, or there will be no regenerated, fruitful characters.
"The old Indian linked his hunting and corn planting and simple arts to religion. He lived by the help of his gods. We are trying not to destroy this faith, but to transfer it to the living God, and to make it 'work by love,' instead of by selfishness. Our little girls in the Home are learning to keep house and sew and cook, because it is the work of a child of God to do these things well. We are trying to teach our neighbors by word and example to farm and build and make homes in a way that will be becoming to a redeemed man. They must understand that the Gospel means diligence in business, honesty, carefulness, co-operation, skill, cleanness of heart and body, health and prosperity, and any other virtue that makes life worth living now and always. We think our example in raising seventy bushels of oats or two hundred bushels of potatoes to the acre, garden vegetables, improved cattle and hogs, well-kept horses, small fruits and sheltering trees and pretty shrubs, in what is classed as a semi-arid land, is a part of the Gospel of Christ, who came to make all 'deserts blossom as the rose.'
"When our former Mission school boys are found taking hold of agricultural work according to present-day methods and earning a support for their growing families, building their meeting-place, and making some contributions to the church work abroad, we feel that the foundation of a Christian community is being laid.
"The clouds return sometimes. There comes a recrudescence of heathenism. Yet faith sees still the leaven at work. An old man's daughter went away to our Santee School and returned a believer in the Christian way. She taught her father what she had learned, and prayed for him. He yielded to her faith and threw away his fetishes after a hard struggle with all the past and present environment that bound him. Then at once his instinct was to make a better home for his family. He must get away from the heathen village, with its squalor, and impurity, and idolatry. It is true that environment does not regenerate the soul, but the renewed soul transforms the environment. Better conditions are evidence of the new life. On the contrary, when some fall back to heathenism, they fall into slovenly attire, ill-kept homes, and neglected fields." [Footnote: Rev. C. L. Hall, D.D., American Missionary Association.]
Alaska is a post which beyond any other in the American church demands courage and endurance, both physical and moral.
"The natives of Anvik invited the missionary to visit their village, 450 miles by water from St. Michael.
"These natives were Ingiliks, partly Indian and partly Eskimo. They lived in underground houses and were superstitious, dirty, ignorant, and degraded. Rude buildings were erected for a mission house and the schoolhouse. In 1894 the first church was erected, the money for it being a part of the first United Offering of the Women's Auxiliary. Little by little the people came out of their holes in the earth and built themselves houses. The community has been physically and morally transformed. A saw-mill, the gift of a generous Eastern layman, has been a most practical means of evangelising, not only furnishing lumber for houses, but healthful occupations for the men. This transformation has been wrought, not by legislation or civilization as such, but by the consistent teaching and example of a devoted Christian man and his splendid helpers. 'Through these long years, in the loneliness of this far-away station, the missionary has remained the kind, wise, spiritual shepherd of these native souls in the wilderness. The mission has pursued high ideals, and has ministered spiritually and helpfully to a vast region.'
"A gold strike was made at Nome, and with the first rush of eager prospectors went in a missionary, who aided with his own hands in the building of the church. Though the saloon men were bidding for the only available lumber, the bishop got it first to build a clubhouse for the men, the only competitor of fourteen saloons.
"So he goes back and forth across his great district, up and down its rivers in the short summer time—formerly by boat or canoe, but now in a launch, the 'Pelican.' In the winter he is away across the trackless wilderness, a thousand miles or more, behind his dogs, cheerily facing hardships and making light of dangers, carrying his life in his hand as he goes about his daily work.
"Particularly is he interested in the preservation and betterment of the native races, the Eskimos and the Indians, endangered by their contact with the white man and their own lack of knowledge. Everywhere his hand is raised and his voice is heard in their behalf.
"Alaska is the land of one great river, without which it could scarcely have been explored—much less occupied and inhabited. The Yukon is the great highway. Over its waters in the brief summer, and upon its frozen surface in the winter, go travelers by boat and sled, and among them the representatives of the church. Familiar to the dwellers along its banks is the little 'Pelican' bearing the missionaries, with a half-breed engineer and the faithful dogs. Everywhere along the river in the summer time may be found the temporary camps of the Indians, to whom the short fishing season means food through the long winter for themselves and their dogs. Here a stop is made at a native camp to baptize a baby—there a marriage ceremony is performed; a communion service is held or a call made at a fishing camp to pick up some boys and take them to a far-away boarding school. The work is as varied as it is far-reaching. Not a mission point along the river is neglected, and places which formerly could never be visited by the hand-paddled canoe now look forward once a year to the coming of the 'Pelican,' and wait to hear the familiar throbbing of her motor, as does the New Yorker for his morning mail, or the farmer for the postman's whistle.
"Fairbanks, the metropolis of central Alaska, was a new mining camp when the missionary Bishop secured an early entrance for the church. The log building which was a chapel on Sunday became a reading-room on week-days for the rough-clad miners. A hospital was built and it ministered to the sick through the range of a wide territory. Missions both to white men and to Indians have spread along the valley of the river on either hand, and now Fairbanks is the center of what is known as the Tanana Valley Mission, with half a score of workers, schools and missions, hospitals and reading rooms, distributing tons of literature in lonely mining camps, and carrying everywhere the message of the Master.
"Over on the coast, at Cordova, may be found the unique settlement work called 'The Red Dragon,' a clubhouse for men which on Sundays is converted into a place of worship. Missions in Alaska minister to human need as a preliminary to and accompaniment of an effective preaching of the Gospel." [Footnote: Board of Missions of the Protestant Episcopal Church.]
These pictures of the power of Home Missions to restore—to give capacity—are merely typical, and stand for the thousands of others unrecorded except as the lives of the reclaimed individuals and communities make their indelible imprint upon our national life.
Surely through the demonstration of such reclaiming power the consciousness must grow that ignorance, degradation, vice, crime, and bitter poverty need not be the inevitable accompaniment of a great civilization, but that these diseased spots in the social fabric are abnormal and curable, if to their removing is directed first the power of Christ in the inner life, and for the outer a social regeneration which will substitute physical conditions that do not menace, but make for righteousness.
"In haunts of wretchedness and need On shadowed thresholds dark with fears, From paths where hide the lures of greed We catch the vision of Christ's tears.
"The cup of water given for Thee Still holds the freshness of Thy grace; Yet long these multitudes to see The sweet compassion of Thy face."
AN EDUCATIVE FORCE
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."
"After all, it is the children who are the important factors of our nation, and every one of them neglected is a reproach to every Christian, man or woman, in the churches who has a dollar or a voice. When the Spartans were demanded to give fifty children as hostages, they wisely replied, 'We would rather give one hundred of our most distinguished men.'
"It is an irrefutable fact that the work with the children pays the best dividends to the state and nation. There is a Doric oracle which says, 'If the Athenians want good citizens let them put whatever is beautiful into the ears of their sons.' If we Americanize this oracle it would read, 'If the Americans want good citizens let them put whatever is beautiful and useful into the ears of their sons and daughters.'"
* * * * *
It is instructive to note the inter-relation and interaction of forces and influences that have been powerful factors in national development, and to consider their sources.
The American passion for education had its roots far back in Holland, in the period when that country was the world's great intellectual center, as well as the world's leader in commerce and manufacturing. The most powerful single factor in shaping Colonial thought and character was the Bible. It was from Holland that England received its first Bible printed in the English tongue.
It is said that under the persecution of Phillip II and the Duke of Alva, fully one hundred thousand Hollanders crossed the channel to find homes in England.
Industrious, self-supporting, self-respecting men, and women they were, refugees for freedom and for conscience' sake—among them were scholars, bankers, merchants, and intelligent, plain people. They came from a land of free schools and universities.
The counties in England in which the Hollanders settled sent the Pilgrims and the Puritans to America. These counties also gave birth to the University of Cambridge; the Puritan movement in England was largely under the leadership of men who had studied in Cambridge, and it was that educational center of broad culture, thought, and inspiring ideals which furnished America the first scholars and leaders of New England.
The first free school of America was opened by the Hollanders in Manhattan in 1633. It was known as the Collegiate School, and though it has changed somewhat in character, it is still one of the leading preparatory schools of New York City.
Regard for education thus came to this country with the colonists, though not all the colonies attached the same importance to it.
In the Home countries of the colonists, the schools had been an adjunct to the churches. It was natural, therefore, that the impetus for the establishment of schools in this country should come from the church.
"One of the first provisions made by the Virginia company in their settlement of Jamestown was to set aside land for the use of a college to 'teach Indian children the rudiments of religion and the Latin language,' and money was collected in England to establish a school which should prepare children for this college. The failure of the company a few years later defeated these plans."
"Twenty years after the landing at Plymouth, the Massachusetts Colony ordained by law that every child should be taught to read and write and understand the principles of religion and the capital laws of the country. A little later in the same section, every township, when it numbered fifty householders, was required to support a teacher, and towns numbering a hundred householders, to establish a school to teach Latin. These were rude pioneer experiments, for the conditions which surrounded them were rude; their importance lay in the fact that they gave education a first place in public interest and accustomed people to think of education as a function of the community." [Footnote: American Ideals, Character and Life—Hamilton Wright Mabie.]
From these feeble beginnings has come that greatest bulwark of the Republic—the free school.
It lies at the very foundation of our national life. It makes possible our democracy. A helpful government by the people is not possible if the people are ignorant and superstitious.
It is the greatest institution for citizenship. "Through it come knowledge of the meaning of our institutions, the interpretation of our national past, and a reverence for the national symbol—the flag."
It is a fusing force whereby children of many nationalities, differing in feelings, sympathies, purposes, and class, become Americans.
The forty-eight States in the year 1912 spent $450,000,000 on the public schools of the country. The nation's tobacco bill for the same period was nearly three times as great, and it spent five times as much for liquor.
Even with this large expenditure, the provision for the school population of the country is, in places, fearfully inadequate. In our large cities, if the truant and labor laws were properly enforced, the lack of school provision would be still more apparent. In New York City alone more than 100,000 children are attending school but half the time.
As we turn to study the need for Mission Schools, and their place as an educative force, it is well that we should seek to realize something of the splendid achievements of our public schools as well as where they seriously fail.
Their efficiency differs with the vision and effectiveness with which they are administered by the different states.
Many states have added incalculably to the usefulness of the schools by relating the curriculum to life through industrial and vocational training, but much remains to be accomplished in attaining a proper balance in the adjustment of the cultural and the practical in the public school courses.
The state of Ohio affords an interesting illustration of the wider relation of the public schools to the life of the school population.
"In the winter of 1914, nearly one thousand boys and girls of Ohio, in five special trains, were sent on a tour which embraced the cities of Washington, Philadelphia, and New York, as a reward for their efficiency in agriculture and domestic science. The people of Ohio have found that it pays to encourage thrift and industry in their children, for since these "corn tours," as they are termed, were started, the annual value of the corn crop of Ohio has become almost twenty million dollars more than it formerly was." [Footnote: Outlook, Dec. 16, 1914.]
Public School, No. 23, of Mulberry Bend, New York, stands in the heart of an Italian district of more than 100,000 souls, and draws also from the great Chinese section. Various other nationalities in less degree contribute their quota, so that the school ministers to the children of twenty-nine different nationalities.
This school is fortunate in having a teacher of unusual ability and magnetism for its new students in English. A visit to her room on the top floor well repays the effort of exploration in a very foreign quarter of America's greatest city, and the long climb up the winding cement stairs of the school building.
As you enter, the class is asked to bid you "Good morning," and the familiar greeting comes to you in the soft Italian accent, mingled with the higher-keyed voices of the Japanese and Chinese.
The group of ten Chinese young men impress you by their alertness, neatness of appearance, and evident eagerness to learn. An Italian boy who had been set at a trade when very young is now having a belated chance to learn to read. A number of girls of various sizes help to make up the class, with little Italian Mary, ten years old, quite new to America, beautiful and winning in spite of her unkempt appearance and poor clothing.
With the exception of two who had acquired a little English, the class entered school three months before with no knowledge of English. All are able to write their names and addresses and simple sentences in English on the blackboard.
They can go through the transaction of buying a newspaper, explaining each action involved, and making correct payment or exacting correct change.
When questioned, they give quickly and correctly the names of the President of the United States, the Governor of New York, the Mayor of New York City, and answer other questions on civic affairs.
It was deeply stirring to see a little Italian whose patois English was scarcely intelligible, step forward, with conscious pride, to be the standard-bearer and hold the flag while the class, with eager enthusiasm, saluted, touching foreheads and extending arms at full length as they repeated, the foreign tongues giving queer twists to the words:
"I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indissoluble, with liberty and justice for all."
Many night classes likewise afford opportunity for new Americans to learn English. Public School No. 95, located on Clarkson Street in the old Greenwich Village of New York, where now many Italians, Irish and a few Jews find homes, carries forward a remarkable service to its neighborhood.
Here the opportunity of helpful evening recreation is given to girls and boys. These evenings include basket ball games and athletics, Boy Scout activities, moving picture exhibits, public concerts and meetings, with such speakers on popular themes as Commissioner of Corrections Katharine B. Davis. Other public schools give carpentry training in actual shop work, qualifying the students for positions in trade. They also prepare students to pass the civil service examinations for public positions and give suitable training for positions on the Police and Fire Department.
The establishment of continuation schools in a few stores and factories is an inestimable boon to some of the toilers thrust too early into the livelihood struggle.
The employers are finding it to their interest to spare their workers for certain hours and days for such schooling because of the increased efficiency and intelligence of their service.
A peculiarly neglected group in the foreign quarters of all our cities are the older women—workers and mothers in the homes. To these Home Missions is striving to bring some knowledge of the tongue of the new country through classes arranged especially for them.
It is startling to find that the United States census for 1910 reports a greater percentage of illiteracy among native whites of native parentage than among native whites of foreign parentage. The proportion of children from five to fourteen years attending school is greater among those of foreign parentage and foreign birth than among native Americans of two or more generations.
For the entire population over ten years of age, the following table gives the percentage of illiteracy:
Foreign Foreign Native or Mixed born Native Parentage Parentage Whites Negro[A]
United States as a whole....... 3-7 1.1 12.7 30.4
The North...................... 1.4 0.9 12.7 10.5 The South...................... 7.7 4.3 18.8 33.3 The West....................... 1.7 0.8 9.5 7.0
For the children of school age from ten to fourteen, the following table shows the percentage of illiteracy:
United States as a whole....... 2.2 0.6 3.5 18.9
New England ................ 2.2 0.6 3.5 18.9 South Atlantic................. 5.0 0.8 5.3 18.9 East South Central............. 5.8 0.9 11.4 20.7 West South Central............. 4.1 11.2 34.6 22.4 Etc............................ —- —— —— ——
[Footnote A: United States Census for 1910].
In some Western states the percentage of illiteracy is as low as one-tenth of 1 per cent.
* * * * *
An examination of schools in fifty-two cities representing with fairness the entire United States, shows that the majority of children who enter complete only the fifth grade; of one thousand children of school age, only one hundred and twenty graduate from the grammar school and six from the high school. [Footnote: Henry C. Vedder—The Gospel of Jesus and the Problems of Democracy.]
It is axiomatic that if children are to be spared by law the strain of enforced labor upon immature bodies and minds, and to be properly conserved because they are the most precious of the nation's resources, they must be prepared by suitable training for the life work that lies ahead—"making a living being an indispensable foundation for making a life."
Through special circumstances certain parts of our country have been slow in developing the free school so as to make possible even a most elementary education for their children. This is notably true of sections in the South. From the early days when the University of Virginia entered upon its honored service to higher education, the schools and colleges of the South have been influential, but through the force of peculiar economic condition these have ministered to the privileged classes, while the great masses of Negro and white children in the isolated regions were given few opportunities for even the most elementary schooling.
The devastation of war left an impoverished South, and as free schools depend upon the generosity of the individual states, many, though desirous, were utterly unable to make suitable school provision for their children.
Sections in the North thus neglected may also be found, as some of the islands on the coast of Maine and other more or less isolated regions of New England, New York, and other states will testify.
There have been great gaps where the government has failed to make adequate educational provision among the Indian tribes. The Spanish-speaking people are also exceptional in their educational needs. Though the government has done much, yet Cuba and Porto Rico are among the places where conditions make necessary special educational effort.
The vast number of non-English-speaking adult foreigners calls for unusual educational provisions.
As the church sent out the school in the early days to become one of its greatest contributors to our national life, so ever since, the church has earnestly sought to supply the neglected with that knowledge which is power.
It is increasingly the aim of the schools founded and maintained by Home Missions to lead to self-realization and self-help, to bring the Christ motive to the inner life, and efficiency and effectiveness to the mastery of outward circumstances through the training of minds and hands.
Among the early Home Mission schools, were those opened to give guidance and direction to the millions of Negroes in their baffling struggle upward from bondage to all that freedom means of ability toward self-direction and development.
"At Kent Home for Negro girls at Greensboro, North Carolina, the schedule of the day's activities shows the scope of such schools.
* * * * *
"The day's work begins early, breakfast being at 6:30. Busy hands have the house in perfect order, and advance preparations made for dinner by the time the chapel bell rings at 8:30.
"All the work of the Home is done by the girls under the supervision and with the practical assistance of teachers. They are marked and graded in this as in their school work. They are also making creditable progress in general cooking, plain sewing and dressmaking.
"The students in the college range in age from sixteen to sixty years. One of the latter took eleven years to graduate, keeping two girls in school and a large family at home at the same time.
"The taste for reading must needs be cultivated in most of the girls who enter our Homes. The gift of $100 from a former 'Kent girl' and her husband, provides the nucleus of a library made up of such books as girls need and enjoy; better still, it is reaching more than our girls. Neither college nor village has library opportunities for colored people, and so the supply at Kent Home was made available to those outside." [Footnote: Woman's Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.]
* * * * *
"It was a Negro girl from Boylan Home, Jacksonville, Florida, who went back to her cabin home to find no floor but the earth, and nothing to sit on but home-made stools. But she had the equipment for producing better things, and was soon conducting quite a dressmaking business for the neighborhood.
"A frequent sign of progress is the request of a girl to buy a broom to take home to her mother. Neither mother nor girl had known in the past anything better than a bundle of twigs wherewith to sweep the rough wooden or earth floor of the cabin."
* * * * *
Spelman Seminary at Atlanta, Georgia, founded (1881) and maintained by the Woman's American Baptist Home Mission Society, has carried forward a varied and far-reaching service to Negroes.
One student referring to her own experience says—"I thought I was going to Spelman to learn books, but I soon found that sewing, washing and ironing, sweeping and dusting, cooking and all sorts of work are included in getting an education here.
"While carrying on high school work I completed the three years' course in cooking. Plain sewing had been thoroughly mastered. Basketry, practical gardening and agriculture were a part of the grade work. Now while I am completing the course in Normal training I am taking bench work, more advanced agriculture and care and raising of poultry. This knowledge will be needed as I seek to better the home conditions of the pupils in the country schools under my care.
"I have also some knowledge of nursing gained at MacVicar Hospital, which is connected with Spelman and which gives full nurse training courses to some eighteen or twenty students each year."
One of the most telling features of Spelman's community service is the sending out of a county supervisor of public schools to introduce industrial training and better methods of school work.
During the last year of Normal work each student-teacher is sent out to visit the county schools with the supervisor whom Spelman employs for the rural work in Fulton County.
There are eight rural and seven suburban Negro schools in the county. The school buildings range from an old house or a one-room building, with almost nothing to work with, up to a good school building fairly equipped.
The following is told by one of the Normal students of her work in the country schools:
"Mothers' clubs were formed and fathers were interested so far as possible in order to secure the sympathy and co-operation of the parents in introducing industrial work.
"The tools were crude. In many instances jack-knives, stones and glass were used if hammers, planes and saws could not be obtained.
"Sewing was taught to both boys and girls. At first the boys objected, but such remarks as 'Can't she see us is boys?' failed of results, and soon the boys became thoroughly interested in making good sized boys' handkerchiefs from flour sacks. Baskets were made from pine needles, reed, willow, and rushes, and mats from corn shucks.
"Early in the term the untidy, neglectful school yards were converted into gardens, farmers supplying the seed, and when no mule could be procured for ploughing, four boys were harnessed to draw the plough, while another guided it.
"Parent-teachers' clubs were organized and many mothers came for instruction."
The fact that the last census reports thirty-three per cent of the Southern Negro population above ten years as illiterate, shows a vast need here of additional educational effort of the kind that Missions are bringing—the all-round training that gives ability to earn a living, combined with the moral and spiritual qualities which alone can produce worthy citizenship.
* * * * *
In Porto Rico and the island possessions of the United States, Mission schools have rendered the greatest possible service.
There were almost no schools for the plain people on the islands under Spanish rule. Our government, when it assumed control, addressed itself vigorously to the task of providing schools as well as giving the islands wholesome physical conditions, but there was great need of supplemental Mission schools, especially for the younger children.
In addition to the lack of sufficient public schools, there are reasons involved in the former religious control of the islands which make the Mission school most essential in bringing to the citizens of to-morrow quickening ideals and constructive training.
"Mercedes, Juanita, Pachita, Juan, Felipe—here they are, all out at play, just like American school children at recess, only that it is too hot for hard running games. Where is the schoolhouse? Why, under that cocoanut tree. Yes, that little shack, thatched with palm leaves. See the American flag floating atop it! That tells the story. If the breeze that waves it could speak to you as it does to some older people, it would say, 'In all this beautiful island outside the city of San Juan, there was but one schoolhouse when it came into the possession of the United States. Spain had kept the men and women in ignorance for more than four hundred, years. Every bright fold of Old Glory means new life, new joy, new hope to the boys and girls of Porto Rico, for now they have a chance.'"
* * * * *
The concentration of Orientals on the Pacific coast has laid a heavy responsibility upon Home Missions to interpret to them the message of Christ and the meaning of true citizenship in the Republic.
A number of the larger denominations have responded effectively to this call, and their schools and missions extend from the Golden Gate north to Seattle and south to San Diego.
Homes for girls, with kindergarten and primary schools, and evening classes for young men are most important and telling features in this service.
The story of one girl in the Home maintained in San Francisco by the Woman's Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church is typical of the far-reaching character of all missionary service to Orientals.