Echoes From Union Conference Groups
As Bible workers' meetings in connection with union conference sessions represent a somewhat new , departure from the general plan in recent years, it is not surprising that there should be some difficulty in getting these meetings started. The enthusiastic interest and ready response on the part of the Bible workers to such a new departure, however, more than compensates for hurried plans and lack of careful preparation on the part of the one chosen to take charge of the meetings.
Just four days before the date of the opening of the Pacific Union quadrennial session, I received notification of the responsibility placed upon me in connection with the Bible workers' meetings. It was therefore impossible to arrange for an assignment of papers covering special topics, as would have been preferred; so it was decided to follow the round table plan.
As a basis for this plan of operation, the request was made at our first meeting that questions for consideration be written out and handed in. The result was that we had ample material for round table discussion. It may be of interest to know the scope of the field of discussion which was opened up, as indicated by the following inquiries and requests:
1. What method have you found most successful in securing readers?
2 .Should Bible workers encourage young people to engage in giving Bible readings and to choose this as their life work?
3. What is the most successful plan for getting people to take their stand and attend church?
4. Which is the more successful plan, holding Bible studies with individuals or with class groups?
5. Do you know of any place where we can secure appropriate helps in the way of charts not too large for use in our work in homes
6. Is it best to have prayer before the Bible study, or after the study?
7. How soon should the Sabbath be introduced?
8. Will you please discuss the best plans for conducting Bible training classes in churches?
9. How can we bring more of Christ and His love into every study?
10. What can we do to make our work more effective?
In our first two meetings, questions 9 and 10 were given careful consideration. I had been giving special study to this particular phase of the Bible work for some time past, and so drew upon personal investigation and experience. With a certain group of readers it has recently been my custom to swing away from the usual opening line of doctrinal and prophetic studies, and begin as the Bible begins,— with a presentation of God, the Creator, a God of love. Following this, I give studies on Christ, the associate Creator, explaining how He became the Son of man; then give studies on Christ our ransom, Christ our High Priest, Christ our returning King. Three additional studies are given on the saving relationship between Christ and the believer. The interest which has been manifest on the part of those to whom I have given these studies has been very encouraging, and a number are about to take their stand as full-fledged Adventists. The Bible workers at our round table meeting were very much interested in this form of presentation, and requested outlines of the studies for personal use.
Item No. 8, in the foregoing list, called forth considerable discussion.
All seemed very much interested in this line of training, and many items of personal experience were related. It was the unanimous opinion that wherever the pastor or elder of the church requests the Bible worker to assist in training the church members to engage in the work of giving Bible studies, there should be a ready response; and that in every way we should co-operate in interesting and enlisting church members to respond to the many calls for Bible studies, which are altogether more than the present force of conference Bible workers can care for.
We felt that our meeting together was indeed profitable, and returned to our fields with renewed courage and with a unity of heart and vision which will add strength and efficiency to our work.
Jennie L. Ireland.
Los Angeles, Calif.
Western Canadian Union
The Bible workers in attendance at the Western Canadian Union Conference session manifested a sincere desire to profit to the fullest extent by the round table discussions of their perplexing problems. Many good suggestions were presented for consideration, some of which were new to the Bible workers of limited experience, but as they were explained and emphasized by narratives of personal experience, they found their place in the larger program upon which all purposed to enter on returning to the field.
It seemed that practically every phase of the Bible work received attention, but the three main points were these: (1) The best method of securing entrance into homes, and developing and holding the interest through the necessary period of time for presenting the message; (2) methods of reaching different classes of individuals; (3) methods for bringing to a decision and establishing in the truth. The paramount conclusion was to the effect that mechanical methods and studied program must ever be governed by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and that there must be earnest prayer, diligent study, and faithful service in order to attain results in the Bible work.
S. G. White, Evangelist.
Vancouver, B. C.
In one of the regular conference sessions, Elder E. K. Slade, our union president, made the following statement: " I realize that we have been neglecting one important part of our ministry, the Bible work, and believe that the time has come when we should put forth unusual effort to train young women, and perhaps some who are not so young, to engage in this partiCular line of work. Recognizing the importance of this matter, we took steps to stress this branch of our work here at this union meeting." This statement furnishes the background for the full representation of conference Bible workers at the Atlantic Union session, April 5-11, at Springfield, Mass., and the dedication of a daily hour of convention time to the Bible Workers' Round Table meetings. A program for these meetings was arranged and printed as follows:
Tuesday: "Importance of the Bible Work."
Wednesday: "Women of the Bible."
Thursday: "Qualifications."--(a) Consecration; (b) Burden for souls; (c) Thorough knowledge of and conformity to the fundamentals of the message; (d) Combining the medical with gospel teaching.
Friday: "Mental Development."—(a) Study of the Bible and " Testimonies; " (b) Helps from outside sources — exchange of quotations, etc.; (c) Current events.
Sunday: "The Bible Reading."—(a) Construction; (b) Each subject complete in itself, (c) Length; (d) Personal confidence in the subject; (e) Christ the center; (f) Leaving copy of texts; (g) Prelude and postlude. Monday: "Question Box."
Tuesday: " Reward of Faithful Service."
At our first meeting the room which had been chosen as appropriate and adequate for our use, was filled to overflowing, necessitating removal to a larger room close by. Twenty-five regular conference Bible workers were in attendance, and a number of friends especially interested in the Bible work assembled with us. Never before had the Atlantic Union Conference Bible workers met together as a group, and the gratitude of the workers for this privilege was manifest not alone by the many expressions of interest and appreciation, but also by the countenances which, as we faced those faithful toilers fresh from the field of conquest, seemed to speak volumes. The seasons of prayer were refreshing.
From the very first meeting there was absolute freedom in entering into the discussion of problems presented, — questions were asked and answered, experiences were related, methods which only a Bible worker employs were discussed, baffling difficulties found a solution in the wealth of personal experience available, and the making and giving of a Bible reading (covering one particular puzzling subject) was demonstrated and explained by different workers.
We were especially privileged in having with us Elder L. E. Froom, of the General Conference Ministerial Association, whose words of encouragement, counsel, and advice on specific problems were greatly appreciated. We were also favored by the presence of Mrs. 0. Montgomery, who accompanied her husband to the union session, and because of her special interest in the Bible work, participated in our prayer seasons and round table discussions. She imparted the inspiration to unselfish, constant, patient, and loving ministry which can emanate only from a life dedicated, molded, and tempered by service on the front lines of battle in the conquest of sin. Many were the expressions of gratitude on the part of the Bible workers for the excellent help rendered by these General Conference workers.
We also had the unique privilege of having with us the first lady Bible worker connected with the advent movement, Mrs. A. T. Robinson. Forty-five years ago, while living in the city of Worcester, Mass., Sister Robinson began the work of giving Bible readings, under the guidance of Elder S. N. Haskell. Shortly before this time, Elder Haskell had been stopped in preaching a sermon in a tent on account of a heavy rainstorm, and was led, to resort to the hitherto unknown method of announcing a text of Scripture and calling for it to be read by those in the audience. The plan worked well, received the unqualified indorsement of Mrs. E. G. White, and has ever since been a definite line of denominational endeavor, which has yielded a rich harvest of souls. The many interesting reminiscences of those early days related by this veteran worker, brought an inspiration into our meetings which could not have come from any other source.
Under the leadership of one of the Bible workers possessing musical ability, a Bible Workers' Chorus gave an effective rendering of that appropriate song, " The King's Business," in connection with the Friday evening service. The sentiment of the song was true,—" I'm here on business for my King," and each Bible worker sang with the spirit and with the understanding. Elder Montgomery referred to this chorus in one of the later meetings of the conference, as follows:
" It gave me a. thrill as I saw that group of Bible workers singing that song. I have been in some conferences where there is not a single Bible worker, and often there is but one Bible worker in the entire conference. I am praying to God that the day will speedily return when we shall have a whole force of Bible workers in every city.
" I believe in the Bible work with all my heart. Some of the most thorough work, and that which has continued during the years, was accomplished in those days when the Bible work was given the greatest encouragement, and when there was an army of such trained workers co-operating with the ministry. All over this country there are individuals and churches which to-day stand as Gibraltars of the third angel's message, as the result of the combined work of minister and Bible worker. I say, God give :us more Bible workers! And may God convert our conference presidents, ministers, and workers to the need and the importance of developing this class of workers."
At every meeting of the Bible workers it was interesting to note the attendance of women not employed as conference Bible workers, but who came because of special interest in the work. Some had been actively engaged in the Bible work in years past, but because of curtailment and restrictions placed about this work, had dropped out and taken up other lines of activity, but the present revival of the work renewed interest, and led to a desire to get in touch with plans! in the hope of engaging in the work again. Others had never been engaged in Bible work, but felt a call from God to enlist in the ranks. Still others were conference office workers who were dedicating as much time as possible to the giving of Bible studies as a part of the church missionary work, and desired to secure all possible help.
At the close of the meeting some of the conference Bible workers stated that they came to the meeting discouraged, because of lack of co-operation in their work on the part of ministers and leaders, and because of being so heavily loaded down with detail work of the local church, some acting as pastors or district leaders, others conducting meetings in churches or in the open air; and altogether they were somewhat weary and faint-hearted. But as the result of the Bible workers' meetings, the encouragement and indorsement given to the work by the action of the conference, and the wonderful spiritual studies which had been given day by day during the union session, they had received a new vision of the high calling and the possibilities in the work, and were returning to their fields with a song of joy and courage.
Our last meeting was a memorable occasion, for in the closing moments every one in attendance gave expression to heart longings, and the Spirit of God rested in sweet benediction upon us.
The recommendations presented by the Bible workers to the full conference assembled, called forth very encouraging remarks by a number of leading workers (to which reference will be made at another time), and were passed by unanimous vote. These recommendations are as follows:
" Whereas, The spirit of prophecy has plainly stated that the plan of holding Bible readings is a heaven-born idea,' and that ' consecrated women should engage in Bible work from house to house; ' and further, that ' women can take their place in the work at this crisis, and the Lord will work through them,' enabling them to do a work in families that men cannot do; and,
" Whereas, We can but clearly recognize the hand of Providence in the wide-open doors into the homes of the people on every hand, creating a demand for consecrated Bible workers to an extent never before realized in our work; and,
"Whereas, There Is at the present time a great awakening on the part of Seventh-day Adventist women as to the possibilities in lending a helping hand in the closing work of the third angel's message through this means; therefore,
"We recommend, 1. That conference presidents and ministers give renewed recognition to the Bible work, and put forth special effort to the end of establishing and strengthening this specific line of gospel work.
"2. That, as a matter of primary importance, more specific effort be made to bring about a better understanding and closer co-operation between minister and conference Bible worker, in order that each may understand the true position and work of the other, and, consequently, be enabled to most effectively blend their service for the souls of men and women in the same efficient manner in which the Christian physician and nurse combine their knowledge and skill in behalf of the physical needs of humanity.
"3. That, as a means to the establishment of closer co-operation between minister and Bible worker, due attention be given to more definite organization of the Bible work in conferences, placing it upon a definite basis of operation, bounded about by due caution as to legitimate scope and methods of operation, possibilities, expectations, limitations, etc., thus establishing uniformity in methods of operation for the Bible work throughout the entire field, which will serve as a guide, not only to the Bible worker in action, but also to ministers and all conference workers in the placing of responsibilities and requirements upon Bible workers.
"4. That, in view of the misunderstanding which exists in the mind of the public concerning the term Bible worker,' we request the General Conference Committee, at the next Fall Council, to give consideration to the advisability of substituting the word ' teacher ' for worker,' thereby being known to the public as ' Bible teacher.'
"5. That larger provision be made for securing and training new recruits for the Bible work,
" a. By diligent watchfulness on the part of ministers and other workers to seek out young women in churches, schools, or those already in institutional training, who give evidence of possessing natural qualifications which tend to success in the Bible work, and present before them the open field in the Bible work and encourage them to make this their life work, if God so leads and opens the way.
" b. By co-operating with the Home Missionary Department in the development of Bible Training Classes in the churches, under the immediate leadership of the pastor of the church; and that conference Bible workers render all possible assistance to the pastor in this training work.
"Whereas, It is our conviction that there is need of a course of intensive training for Bible workers when leaving our colleges, and also for women of mature years who are free to dedicate their life to the Bible work, but do not find it feasible to enter college; the specific objective in this intensive training to be to aid inexperienced workers in adapting theoretical knowledge to the practical needs of the situation confronting them in dealing with the public, either as a member of a group of evangelistic workers or single-handed, thus endeavoring to conserve time and money and establish permanent trained Bible workers; we would further,
" Recommend, 6. That we ask the union conference committee to take under consideration the advisability of providing a training center somewhere in this union, to be conducted on the order of the city mission training plan of former years, as so clearly outlined in the Testimonies' of the spirit of prophecy, and 'which produced such decided results in former years."
Mary Walsh. Boston, Mass.
A Day With the Bible Worker in Washington, D. C.
By Mrs. J.W. Mace
As I was saying, the " home " of this Washington Bible worker interested me, for I recalled a number of inquiries originating in the field as to the consensus of opinion regarding most advantageous living conditions for the Bible worker. The observations made on this occasion cannot, of course, be taken as the criterion. They simply reveal how one lone Bible worker in a large city has planned her " home life."
The Bible worker said that she found it absolutely necessary to be centrally located, in a community where she could with safety go and come day and night; it must be a place in which an even temperature is maintained at all hours, and where reception-room facilities are available for meeting pastor and friends in appropriate manner; also,< and by no means least, it must be reasonable in rent. The present arrangement, although not entirely satisfactory, comes the nearest to meeting requirements of any place which has been found, and has served as " home " during the two years in which the Bible worker has been in the city.
This one-room " home " is located on the second floor of an old-fashioned colonial house, on one of the main streets of Washington, about three blocks from the center of the city, ten minutes' walk from the Seventh-day Adventist church, and within easy radius of all street car and bus lines. It is a large front room, fully equal to three ordinary cottage rooms, with high ceiling, and windows which extend from ceiling to floor, affording good light and a pleasant view. This room serves for' sitting room, living room, bed room, and dining room, the latter being screened off as a corner kitchenette, where the lightest of morning and evening repast is quickly obtainable.
It was a delightful homey place, with its photographs of loved ones conspicuous on mantle, dresser, and shelf, the white lace curtains and the dainty sofa pillows, the companionable books, the melody-enticing guitar, and the cheery fern. One could well imagine how restful it must be to enter such a quiet haven after a weary day of trudging over the streets and incessant talking to people hungering for the bread of life. I was told, however, that the occupant of this room often leaves it before nine o'clock in the morning, and does not return until after eleven at night; although, whenever possible, a flying trip " home " is made at the noon hour for a fifteen-minute relaxing rest period. The reception room on the main floor of this house is subject to general use, and this the Bible worker finds of special advantage. The usual price for such accommodations in the city of Washington ranges from $55 to $75 a month, but this room is obtained for $28 a month, a fact which the Bible worker considers among the " all things " which " work together for good to them that love God."
The one o'clock appointment is for a Bible study on the subject of the millennium, with an elderly woman who is a cripple, confined to her room by an advanced stage of arthritis. This lady has been studying for some time, and manifests the keenest interest. She is keeping the Sabbath, and united prayer for healing is being offered in her behalf. The Bible worker has strong faith to believe that God will answer this prayer, and make it possible for His obedient child to attend the church services, which she greatly desires to do.
We find her with Bible in hand, all ready for her " teacher." After kneeling in prayer by the side of this crippled lady, the Bible study begins. First, is explained the meaning of the two Latin words,— mille meaning " thousand," and annus meaning " year." Having established a clear understanding of the " big word " announcing the subject of the lesson, we are prepared to proceed step by step with the events leading up to and following the millennium, as well as the actual conditions existing during that period. The lady turns quickly from text to text, and reads each verse in a manner to indicate unusual familiarity with the word of God. Brief review questions at the close of the study are answered clearly, revealing that every point in this study has been understood by the reader.
And now, for the first time, I get a peep inside the Bible worker's broad and deep leather purse, as she opens it to return her Bible to its place, at the same time searching through some folded sheets of printed matter with apparently some further definite aim in view. Quickly she brings forth the neat little Present Truth bearing across the top in bold letters the familiar word " Millennium." This publication is left with the reader as a friendly reminder and aid in reviewing the Bible study. Each morning, as I afterward learned, literature covering the topic of each Bible study for the day is tucked away in the Bible worker's hand bag to be used in this manner. It seemed a most appropriate method of scattering truth-filled literature on soil which had been prepared in a very special way for its reception.
We now take the bus to a distant part of the city, to fill an appointment with a lady living in one of Washington's exclusive apartment sections.
"My! I didn't know there were so many busses in the city," I remarked to my friend. " Your weekly bus and car fare must be quite an item. Have you considered the advantages of having an automobile to use in your work? "
"Yes," she replied, " sometimes my transportationoexpense ranges between
$17 and $20 a month. But even that is cheaper than running an automobile.
I have investigated the matter quite thoroughly, and have decided that the many restrictions in parking and traffic regulations to which the automobile driver is subjected, to say nothing of the risk of unexpected contingencies through breakdown or accident, makes the automobile impractical in my work.
I much prefer to climb aboard bus or car, and having dropped my dime or nickel in the box, be free from all worry as to the certainty of reaching destination. Automobiles are all right, but they have their limitations."
(To be concluded)