There is a wonderful inspiration in meeting with hundreds of men and women of common interests, possessing the same great ideals, and devoting their lives to the attainment of the same great objectives. Our ministerial institute, held at Riverside, was a deeply interesting session, and brought rich blessings to all who attended. We were greatly favored with the labors of Elders McElhany and Campbell, whose sermons were attended by the witness of the Spirit of God. They entered heartily into all the discussions and gave wise counsel, touching the problems of pastors, evangelists, and our work in general.
We were also greatly privileged in having with us the workers from "Elmshaven." Our aged brother, W. C. White, forming as he does the connecting link between the present and the pioneer days of this great movement, was there with his ringing testimony concerning the mighty influence of the Spirit of prophecy in molding the church and the lives of its adherents. In spite of his failing strength, his message was still with power. D. E. Robinson also was clear and positive in his presentation of the place of this gift in the work of the third angel's message. After these good brethren had presented their themes, animated discussion revealed beyond a question of doubt that the workers in the Pacific Union Conference territory ring true to this precious gift to the remnant church.
The program covered a wide range of subjects. Evangelism in its many aspects occupied the most prominent place in the convention. There were no less than ten papers touching upon this most vital theme, contributed by such experienced evangelists as C. T. Everson, Phillip Knox, R. A. Anderson, 0. A. Sage, L. K. Dickson, G. R. West, L. E. Folkenberg, and others. These topics were of a character to stimulate a more intensive evangelism in our field, dealing at considerable length with evangelistic methods, and not overlooking the important question of preparation of candidates for baptism and entrance into their new relationship as members of the remnant church. There was a definite call by the pastors present for very thorough work in this preparation, as to these men is committed the responsibility of carrying on where the evangelist leaves off.
Nor were the serious problems confronting our pastors passed over in the session. Among the many problems of these shepherds of the flock, the divorce evil is a cause for considerable anxiety. Many speakers expressed the conviction that the denomination needs a clearer statement than we now possess to guide our workers into a uniform program in dealing with this growing evil and its many problems.
When we state that there were sixty papers assigned for presentation at this gathering, it becomes manifest that we cannot attempt even to name them all in this brief report. Among these, however, there were certain notable contributions which I will mention. H. C. Lacey's paper on "The Preacher in Study and Prayer," stands out prominently in this group. Our hearts were deeply stirred, and we longed for greater attainments as ambassadors of heaven when we heard this topic presented.
Another paper of great value was that by our much-beloved J. E. Fulton, whose subject was, "The Inroads Worldly Amusements and Recreations Are Making Among Our People." He declared:
"The very life of our work is at stake in these tremendous issues. The danger is so great and we have already become so permeated with the pleasure lust, that as leaders we need to bow down before God to seek for divine help. We all take pride in our denominational statistics. God has helped us to grow mightily; but we sometimes overlook a cancerous segment of our body, fast being eaten into by immorality. I am alarmed with what I know,—the loose home life of many, easy divorce, and actual sensuality of the lowest type. This cancerous growth cannot be corrected by the passive measures of a soothing-sirup type. Sin must be more vigorously met, and some meaningful discipline applied. Workers, also, who fail to protest are in essential conformity, drifting with the current. If by word or action we preach smooth things, we are indulging in a very flabby kind of preaching. Such preachers are poor examples of the ancient prophets or of the Master, who lashed the money changers from the holy temple and cried out against sin. If such preaching and discipline were needed then, they are most certainly needed now. Our drift worldward calls for more than passing resolutions."
This bold appeal became the rallying point, after animated discussion, for a solemn determination to sound the note of reform with more definiteness than ever before.
A unique feature of the program was that dealing with "The Preparation of Our Youth for Times of War," presented by F. G. Ashbaugh, Missionary Volunteer secretary of the union, and E. W. Dunbar, Missionary Volunteer secretary of the Southestern California Conference, supported by Elder Calkins, our union conference president. This presentation was virtually a report of a new activity entered upon in this territory during the past year, in which a corps of young men has been organized and intensively trained in military drill of a noncombatant character. It is essentially a medical unit, with full recognition from the office of the Surgeon-General of the United States Army, and seems to point the way out of future difficulties for a great many of our youth. We were convinced that something has been started here that may be the nucleus of a nation-wide denominational endeavor to meet this delicate and testing situation which our youth have faced in times past, and may again be forced to confront, perhaps in the very near future.
A forenoon session was devoted to the discussion of "Radio Evangelism," and hearty support was given to the union administration in establishing a radio commission to broadcast over a Pacific-Coast-wide hook-up under the suggestive caption, "Voice of Prophecy." These broadcasts are already on the air twice a week, and the indications for a wide interest are encouraging. No man's name is featured in this undertaking, but that which is made prominent is the Voice of Prophecy.
Time and space do not permit a more extended presentation of the many and varied discussions and resolutions at this most profitable session. We believe the men and women whom God has called into the work in this field went home greatly benefited and blessed, and considerably enlightened on many of the perplexing problems which had troubled them in their respective fields of labor.