OCR Interpretation

The Presbyterian of the South : [combining the] Southwestern Presbyterian, Central Presbyterian, Southern Presbyterian. [volume] (Atlanta, Ga.) 1909-1931, February 26, 1919, Image 3

Image and text provided by Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/10021978/1919-02-26/ed-1/seq-3/

What is OCR?

Thumbnail for 3

bly must have real authority and not merely
advisory powers.
Our deepest and most immediate need is ta
bring into practical oneness in life and service
kindred Christians in the local communities
rather than the maintenance of a truce of God
among warring members of the same great
family. Our problem is not so much in the
Synods of Virginia and the Carolinas, as in
Texas, Missouri and Kentucky. Only by the
use of the largest authority could the proposed
Federal Assembly meet this need, and then
only in part.
The practical issue before the Southern
Church is our relationship to the U. S. A. As
sembly. Geographically and historically we
have a peculiar relationship to that body of
Christians. We scarcely touch the other Pres
byterian and Reformed Churches, but in al
most every Synod we are in direct competi
tion with the U. S. A. Church. Historically we
are second cousin to the Dutch Reformed
folks, first cousin to the U. P.'s, but the sister
of the U. S. A.'s.
I agree most heartily with Dr. Whaling in
the opinion that Uncle Sam affords us a shin
ing example that may well be followed in the
union of the Presbyterian Churches. I diffef
with him in the application of the principles
illustrated by the United States.
I also agree with him that Simon pure or
ganic union (I presume that is what he means
by consolidation) is undesirable# In the first
place it would split our own Church. We are
seeking union and not a new division. In ad
dition it would not afford a sound basis of gov
ernment. In a Church so numerous in mem
bership, so far reaching in territory and so
diverse in its local interest as would result
from a reunion of the U. S. A. and U. S. As
semblies, sound principles of government de-.
rr.and that there be provision for local self
direction in its various sections. If our people
can be brought to see that union is not incon
sistent with the fullest authority of each Sy
nod over its local affairs, I believe that nine
tenths of the opposition to it will pass away.
What are the barriers between us? Our last
Assembly considered the report of the Com
mittee on Conference. The U. S. A. Commit
tee prevented a clean cut, forward looking ba
sis for definite conference on union, while our
own committee took as its task the digging up
and magnifying of every possible objection to
union. When in the debate the whole matter
was boiled down, this is all that remained.
Our Assembly fears the lenient attitude of
the U. S. A. Church toward its relatively few
ministers of questionable theological views.
Even Dr. Fraser stated that in his judgment
95 per cent, of the Northern ministers are as
sound as those of our own Assembly.
Again the U. S. A. Assembly from time to
time makes deliverances, not mandatory but
advisory, on public and political questions
such as prohibition and woman's suffrage.
(By the way, the boundary line of political
deliverance seems a wee bit uncertain. Re
cently Dr. McPheeters has attacked a deliver
ance of our last Assembly as more political and
vicious than the Spring resolutions. Forth
with Dr. FrascfT rises to say that he spent many
hours over that very paper to keep it clean of
such contagion. Verily some of us must turn
our faces while we smile.)
Over against these two objections I would
suggest two considerations.
(1) Every barrier (and they have in past
years been listed by our Assembly to the num
ber of five) has been removed, save these two.
Shall we not be encouraged to attempt the re
moval of these?
(2) The basis of discussion proposed by the
U. S. A. Committee specifically includes doctri
nal soundness and the spirituality of the
Church. Is it not the part of wisdom to enter
into definite conference on union with the U.
S. A. Assembly to ascertain if that great
Church will stand by its committee's state
Some of us plead for this at the last Assem
bly. While the vote was about two to one
against us, it is rather significant that one out
of every three commissioners voted for a defi
nite step toward organic union, and that the
vote for the enlargement of our Conference
Committee was two to one.
believe that the Synod is the key to our
pv( 1 lem. At present our system is illogical.
We jump in our series of representative courts
from the Presbytery to the Assembly. Tv*
Synod is a sort of uselss appendage.
May I illustrate the proposed plan using the
State of Kentucky as an example in order that
the presentation may be concrete, but asking
the reader to hear in mind that same process
would be followed in all the States, the same
advantages experienced by every border Sy
nod and the same safeguards enjoyed by all
our central and eastern Synods.
In Kentucky there are two Synods (U. S.
A. and U. S.) of about equal strength. (Inci
dentally I may remark that competition does
not seem here to be the life of trade, for neith
er of these Synods is doing more than holding
its own ? woeful words). The union that some
of us advocate would bring into one Synod all
the Northern and Southern Presbyterian
Churches of Kentucky, and this Synod would
be given the largest constitutional authority
over its local affairs. A similar union of the
U. S. and U. S. A. Presbyterians would be ac
complished in every State and similar author
ity over its local affairs would be given to each
In every section of the Church the Synod
would be lifted into its rightful place of power
and efficiency. A new and brighter day would
dawn for the border Synods. The Synods at
the heart of our Church would remain undis
turbed. All of their interests would be safe
guarded. Each Synod would have the fullest
i-uthority over its local affairs.
The very small Synods, of which we have
only a few, could be combined with others in
such a way that every Synod would be large
enough to meet the new responsibilities laid
upon it.
Over these Synods there would be a great
National Assembly, composed of commissioners
from the Synods.
The authority of this Assembly and of its
constituent Synods would be clearly defined;
the peculiar responsibility of the Assembly be
ing the general work of the Church, such as
the Assembly causes with which we are now
familiar, while each Synod would control its
own local affairs.
This, it seems to me, would be union a la
Uncle Sam.
I wonder if our brethren in the heart of the
Church realize the problems that exist on the
border. Only a few days ago the First Pres
byterian church of Louisville, one of our great
historic churches, requested to be dismissed to
the U. S. A. Presbytery in order to unite with
the Warren Memorial church. Shall we work
out the problem on the border along the slough
ing off line in which there is so much of diffi
culty and heart burning, or shall we, as an As
sembly, face it and solve it now?
I feel sure that the coming years will prove
that we who plead for this are not as Dr. Whal
ing writes, "the blind trying to lead the blind
and both falling into the ditch."
Many of the most loyal sons of the Southern
Church earnestly hope that our next Assembly
will appoint a Committee or Conference with
a similar committee from the U. S. A. Church
to work out, if possible, a basis of union in
which the Synod, or perhaps the provincial
Assembly (favored by many of our brethren)
will conserve local self-government, and in
which at the same time there will be real and
effective oneness.
Louisville, Ky.
By Rev. J. Ernest Thacker, ]). D.
We began a campaign of intensified evan
gelistic church work in the First church of
Lexington, Ky., on January 5th. The purpose
is to deepen the spiritual life of church mem
bers and to bring the unsaved to Christ. The
Sunday night service, each week, is a real
decision service, and every person in the con
gregation is given the opportunity to express
his earnest purpose to live a more consecrated,
useful Christian life, or to unite with the
church by letter or to accept Jesus Christ as
his Saviour. Each member is asked to be a
real personal worker ? a soul winner ? and to
keep a prayer list. The Sunday-school teach
ers are asked to make a special effort to lead
their scholars to Christ, and both teachers and
scholars are asked to go out after others and
bring them into their classes, and through the
classes into the church.
The results have been a wonderful increase
in the spiritual atmosphere of the church ; new
members have been received each Sunday, the
prayer meetings have become such a vital force
that men are saying, "I used to go to prayer
meeting because I thought I ought to go, now
I go because I want to go;" the attendance at
all services has been greatly increased and the
warm, cordial welcome given to all who come
is constantly drawing and holding new peo
This work is being done mostly by the peo
ple themselves, and not by the actign pastor,
and could be done much better by a regular
pastor leading his church into intensified
enthusiastic evangelistic work. We are hop
ing to have a series of special services in
March, so that by April 1st we may be able
to report the best Stewardship Evangelistic
campaign in the history of the church.
Throughout the Assembly our churches have .
all been greatly hindered in their work by in
fluenza, and by natural absorption in war
work of one kind or another, and if our re
ports on April 1st are to show commendable
results in our work for the Master, it will be
necessary to intensify our work along all lines
and especially in evangelism.
This personal testimony, which I'm sure the
brethren will pardon, is written in order to
suggest that all our pastors and churches make
all their services during the next few weeks
intensely evangelistic that each member be
asked and trained to become a real personal
worker at once, winning souls for Christ ; that
each one have a personal prayer list; that the
Sunday night service be made an enthusiastic
evangelistic service and that each church, as
far as possible, have a series of special meet
ings in March.
This would undoubtedly revitalize and spir
itualize our forces, make our great Steward
ship movement a real success, win many souls
for Christ and bring us to the close of a
Church year of great blessing, which other

xml | txt