Columbia Union's Epochal Council

This highly practical and stimulative council, re­ported by Ministry request, resulted in a wealth of valuable papers and discussions, many of which will be shared with our readers.

By L. H. KING, President, West Pennsylvania Conference

This highly practical and stimulative council, re­ported by Ministry request, resulted in a wealth of valuable papers and discussions, many of which will be shared with our readers. Two of these appear in this issue, and others will follow from month to month throughout the year. Virtually all ministers, both ordained and licensed, and all Bible workers, of the Columbia Union, and the senior theological stu­dents of Washington Missionary College, had the privilege of hearing these presentations orally, in a unique council divorced from all conference business or other interests. It was one of the most Profitable investments of time and money ever made by the union. The forward impetus in evangelistic emphasis and endeavor is bound to be felt throughout this field, which has one of the greatest evangelistic tasks in the North American Division. Never will the occasion be forgotten, especially by the younger workers. We'd be happy to be able to share the papers with our readers.—Editor.

The 1939 evangelistic council of the Columbia Union Conference stands as the most important institute on practical evangelism ever sponsored by the union. Ap­propriately timed and fitting into the needs of a loud cry in Adventist evangelism, the council moved into the spotlight of union-wide interest when H. J. Detwiler, president of the union, greeted several hundred evangelists and re­lated workers in the well-appointed Gold Room of the Fort Pitt Hotel, at eight-thirty Tuesday morning, January 10. A fund of information, covering in wide sweep every essential phase of practical and effective evangelism, was presented in the well-prepared papers and dis­cussions of experienced workers. The great underlying theme, "How to Win Souls for Christ," permeated every presentation.

Before swinging into the rapid stride of the three-day session, M. N. Campbell, president of the North American Division, ably ex­pounded the serious and practical lessons found in the text, "They made me the keeper of the vineyards, but mine own vineyard have I not kept." No more appropriate passage of Scripture could have been chosen than this text from the Song of Solomon. This hour was the beginning of a constructive and help­ful series of services conducted by Elder Campbell each day of the council.

It can very properly be observed that really distinguished service was rendered by those prepared to speak on specialized topics. L. E. Froom, editor of The Ministry, thrilled a large audience as he illuminated the path of truth, even from early beginnings, with proofs of ancient verity drawn from a great reservoir of irrefutable evidences gathered from the Old World and the New. Many photographs and photostats stirred the interest of the workers. Seventh-day Adventists are indeed the true Fundamentalists of the last days. B. G. Wilkin­son, president of Washington Missionary Col­lege, was very effective in his treatment of fundamentals at a similar meeting. All of those present were given a deeper appreciation of the precious gift of the Spirit of prophecy, as nuggets of gold were brought forth from "The Great Controversy." The trail of truth and of its noble heralds was traced through early struggles with foes in the wilderness. All were impelled to esteem the oracles of God as worthy of complete confidence.

No less penetrating and valuable were the several presentations of J. L. Shuler, South­ern Union evangelist; R. L. Boothby, union evangelist ; M. R. Coon, of Ohio ; and Lindsay Semmens, dean of the School of Theology, Washington Missionary Colleges Papers brimming over with applied principles of evangelism were presented by the local con­ference presidents, by the secretaries of the union staff, and by men from each of the con­ferences.

The treatment given the important subject, "Getting Decisions," by Elder Shuler and others, is worthy of special mention. Step by step these experienced workmen led the assem­bly to the conclusion that God has given this cause complete instruction on the delicate work of persuading interested persons actually to cross the line. From the choice of sermon topics in logical sequence, down through vari­ous minutiae to the final signing of cards, the way was explained. We are verily amazed at the remarkable guidance God has given this people for finishing the proclamation of the gospel message. R. L. Boothby and M. R. Coon not only presented pertinent, enlightening facts in treating "Large and Small Efforts,' but also made most earnest pleas for a larger faith, in expecting an influx of thousands into the remnant church where hundreds are now received. In support of this plea,. an excerpt worthy of emphasis was cited:

"If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one."—"Testimonies," Vol. IX, p. 189.

No similar convention in my recollection maintained such fervent interest by the whole body in attendance for three solid days. Papers on "Radio Preaching," "Building and Holding an Interest," "Establishing New Believers, "When to Baptize," "Lay Evangelism," "Di­vergent Movements," and other subjects of equal importance, approximated the sum of wisdom in soul-winning paraphernalia. Elder Detwiler ably -marshaled the conclusive facts of record in each of the seven conferences and the union as a whole, with reference to previ­ous accomplishments and to present tremen­dous needs of the 27,000,000 souls who populate the Columbia Union. Most impressive was the pull upon the hearts of many stalwart workers for God as posters disclosed in one typical conference more than three hundred Cities and towns of from 1,000 to to,000 popu­lation without a single Seventh-day Adventist church. There are more than 300,000 people to one Seventh-day Adventist minister in one conference, as well as whole counties in which we have no representative.

Rejoicing Over Results

When evangelists from the various confer­ences reported the results of efforts during the past year, a wave of rejoicing and praise to God swept over the gathering. And rightfully so. It is indeed wonderful to record groups of souls ranging from twenty or twenty-five to several hundred, as the fruits of small and large evangelistic meetings. The Columbia Union is pressing toward the 2o,000-member­ship mark. Gratifying as is this record of performance, it was impossible to conceal the heart burden of the workers as the union president laid bare the task which remains in the carrying of the gospel message to the millions in our territory. Many silent prayers, pleading for a spiritual anointing to measure up to the requirements of the hour, ascended to God.

C. S. Longacre, of the General Conference Religious Liberty Department, outlined in mas­terly fashion the dangerous trend of restricted civil and religious rights. His appeal met with unanimous response. F. D. Nichol and M. E. Munger, of the Review and Herald Publishing Association, who spoke with reference to our publications, contributed to the success of the program. The music of the council was under the direction of R. S. Fries, of the Chesapeake Conference. Mr. and Mrs. John Hickman, Earl Robbins, E. F. Koch, Lois Veach, Harry Gray, Leslie Mansell, S. R. Haynes, and H. R. Veach contributed to this part of the program either by leading or by giving special numbers. Elder Fries also gave a practical demonstration on how to conduct an evangelistic song service, using illustrated hymns.

Council Appointments Complete

Many favorable comments were heard con­cerning the presence of the senior theological students of Washington Missionary College. These young men appreciated the opportunity of receiving the instruction of the council, which will greatly assist them in their minis­terial careers after graduation. The class is representative, and a credit to the department and institution. The union secretary-treas­urer, W. B. Mohr, and his assistants on the reception committee, were continually in evi­dence as they ministered to the needs of the gathering. The appointments were complete, the program moved smoothly from beginning to end, and the stenographic help was faithful and efficient. None who attended will fail to remember such essential principles as:

"Successful evangelism depends on getting into the homes and hearts of the people."

"Public evangelism, stripped of personal visitation and labors, tends to defeat and disaster."

"You can't make Seventh-day Adventists out of new People in three weeks."

"God has Promised much more than we have re­ceived. Expect thousands where there are now only hundreds."

"Practice what you preach."

A rousing service, with every seat occupied, featured the final meeting. J. L. Shuler pre­sented his "Trial by Jury," on the change of the Sabbath. It was a wonderful season. No fitter conclusion to this brief recital of abun­dant blessings thankfully received could be expressed than the words of Elder Campbell: "We had some very wonderful thoughts brought out. I would urge upon all union con­ferences the importance of holding meetings like this. This gathering has been a blessing to everyone."


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By L. H. KING, President, West Pennsylvania Conference

April 1939

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