More than one tenth of all who visited any part of the Century of Progress International Exposition in Chicago in 1933, spent some time in the Hall of Religion, where nearly twoscore denominations and quasi-religious organizations staged attractive, interesting, and educational displays. This large, imposing Hall of Religion, over the entrance of which is inscribed, "Righteousness Exalteth a Nation," ideally and centrally located on the lagoon midway of the length of the grounds, was crowded with spectators at almost all times during the period of the exhibition season.
Fair officials, and others in a position to know, confidently predict that the attendance and achievements in 1934 will exceed those of last summer, with its twenty-three million paid admissions. With a year of successful experience back of them, the exposition officials are now in a position to plan for a much more satisfactory showing during the coming summer. Certain ethically and financially objectionable features of last year have been eliminated, and improved plans adopted for the coming season, which runs from May 26 to November 1.
Because of the unusual opportunity for getting our work and message before millions of people, which in the final analysis is our raison d'etre, the General Conference Committee decided early this year to respond to the invitation of the fair management to place an exhibit in the Hall of Religion. Such a step was seriously considered last year, and would have been taken but for the aggravated economic and financial conditions early in 1933. Many other religious and business groups were not so deterred, however, as the success of last year's exposition testifies, and as all who visited it know. This year space has been secured, and a special committee has been appointed by the General Conference, of which J. L. Shaw is chairman, to plan for and prepare our exhibit. At this writing (April 22), our plans are laid, and are rapidly taking shape.
Our committee was fortunate in securing the space used by the Salvation Army last year, near the main entrance to the Hall of Religion, and directly in the line of vision of all who enter the building. The booth begins at the main rotunda and extends down the hall seventy feet, containing an even thousand square feet of floor space. There is no better location in the building, and our space is as large as that taken by any single religious organization, and larger than that of many.
It is the purpose of our committee to develop a striking, dignified, informing exhibit of the work and message of Seventh-day Adventists. Much careful effort is going into this matter. For months the entire time of several men is being devoted to preparations, supported by the counsel and help of a representative special committee, and by the General Conference Committee itself.
Included in the plans for our display is a large and beautiful oil painting of the Christ, flanked on both sides by the decalogue done in letters of gold, over which will appear, also in gold characters, "Christ Our Righteousness." This painting, properly lighted, now being prepared by three artists, will be the central and dominant figure of the exhibit.
The first thing to greet most eyes, however, since it will come first in our display, being next to the central rotunda, will be a huge revolving world globe, covered by nearly one thousand small lights to show the location of our institutional, conference, and mission headquarters. Appropriate space will be given, respectively, to our evangelistic, educational, medical, and publishing activities. Pictures, transparencies, charts, books, etc., will be liberally employed. Our work for the blind, which has a strong humanitarian appeal to the public, will be featured; and blind sisters from the Christian Record Publishing House will be on hand to answer questions, to read from the Braille Bible, consisting of many thick volumes, and to print names on souvenir cards by means of a typewriterlike machine using raised characters instead of English.
The writings of Mrs. E. G. White, with a picture of the author, will be featured in a case, with a proper statement of the extent of her writings. In addition to her numerous books, we shall display a copy of each of our principal publications in the 157 languages in which our truth is printed. Several bookcases will be required for this. Another display will feature articles dispensed with by converts to our faith, as, for example, idols, the opium pipe, tobacco, liquor, ornaments, etc. An attractive souvenir folder will be given all who visit our booth, and orders will be received for our books and periodicals.
From the time the exposition opens in May until its close, there will be in attendance at our exhibit at all times, several representatives of our work, to meet the public, to give brief lecturettes, to answer questions, and to be of any possible assistance.
Among the millions who will visit Chicago and the World's Fair during 1934 will be many from all States and provinces of the United States and Canada, and from foreign countries. Every major city in the world will be represented, and almost every town, hamlet. and rural section of the United States. Many of these will have been in gospel meetings in the recent past, conducted by Seventh-day Adventist ministers, Bible workers, and lay evangelists. Might it not be well for each worker having contact with the public this summer and fall to invite any present who might be planning a trip to the exposition to be sure to see the striking and worth-while exhibit of the Seventh-day Adventists there, in the Hall of Religion, just off of the main lobby or rotunda? Such an announcement will help to dignify and enlarge our work in the minds of the listeners, and to give them a more adequate idea of our movement. While we are small numerically, God is doing great things through our membership in all parts of the earth. Many people have an erroneous idea of who Seventh-day Adventists are, of what they believe and stand for, and are accomplishing. Our exhibit at the Century of Progress Exposition presents a unique opportunity for educating and helping the public.
Already possibilities are coming to us that have not been planned for nor even anticipated. The other day a representative of the Publicity Department of the Exposition said: "I know you people, and the fine work you are doing. I live out at Hinsdale, and am familiar with your sanitarium work, and the activities in behalf of unfortunate girls here in Chicago. In fact, an Adventist girl works in our home and seems to be very loyal to her church. We are planning a much greater use of the radio this year than last, and have contracts with several Chicago stations. How about your folks taking some time on the air both before and during the exposition?"
The head of the publicity and press sections of the exposition said he saw no reason why we should not broadcast many times, perhaps directly from our booth in the Hall of Religion, or elsewhere as might be arranged. This matter is receiving consideration by our committee and the General Conference Committee.
Far-reaching results may come from our exhibit at the Century of Progress Exposition. It has been described as the greatest single publicity effort in our history. Undoubtedly it will reach many more people than any previous individual attempt. We should work, plan, and pray that it may be so developed and conducted that it will wield a tremendous influence for good and for God, the results of which will be seen and felt for many days to come. Those of us who are to be identified with the exhibit throughout the period of the fair, who will be meeting the public, making explanations and giving descriptions, sense to a degree the greatness of this opportunity and the seriousness of the work, and pray the readers of the Ministry to remember us in their petitions to the throne of grace.
Washington, D. C.
* This article was solicited by the editor, first that our workers might have an adequate conception of the greatest publicity and informational attempt of its kind ever made by us as a people ; and, second, to encourage our evangelists to urge all not of our faith who may attend the exposition in 1934 to be sure to visit our exhibit in the Hall of Religion. It will assuredly enlarge their vision of the significance and comprehensiveness of this movement of God among men. But only as this is intelligently presented can best results be expected—hence this descriptive article. —Editors.