Six of the ministerial institutes held in connection with the ten union conference sessions in North America are now past. We shall report on these, leaving the last four of the series for a later issue of THE MINISTRY. These institutes were seasons of great spiritual refreshing and proved to be most helpful days of instruction for ministers, evangelists, Bible instructors—in fact, for all the workers in attendance. Together we arrived at a realization of our supreme task—evangelism! With all the business in hand—and surely the duties of the church as an organization are growing with our developing work—one sensed clear vision and deep consecration to meet the needs of this challenging hour. In these institutes many Bible instructors expressed their soul yearnings for a new measure of heavenly power and a strengthening of methods and skills for the Bible work.
I. Northern Union Institute
The Northern Union ministerial institute was first in the series, and began during the first days of January. A wholesome spirit prevailed. M. K. Eckenroth's evangelistic meeting in Minneapolis became the ideal setting for a practical demonstration of large city evangelism, with many a progressive method having been successfully tested. It was inspiring to see this experienced evangelist in action. Our workers appreciated getting a close-up view of soul winning on a large scale.
Although the Northern Union does not have a large group of Bible instructors, it does have an efficient force. Our Bible instructor meetings were intensely inspirational because of the very practical nature of the problems discussed. The minister's wives joined us, and took these meetings very seriously. Their part in the discussions were appreciated. Younger workers learned much from the more experienced.
Many practical suggestions were freely given in the setting of sweet fellowship. Problems of woman's leadership in the churches and many home and family problems affecting younger workers were wisely and inspiringly discussed. An array of baby buggies in the back of the room assured us that young mothers were determined to get all they could out of these group meetings. We must pay tribute to these noble young ministers' wives who are standing loyally by their husbands in the work, and must often fill the place of the conference Bible instructor. Many of them revealed the thorough training our colleges are endeavoring to supply. Not only the minister but also his wife and family must today be considered in our preparation of church leaders.
II. Central Union Conference
The spirit of this institute was most cheering. Here, too, our ministers' wives shared in the interest of the Bible instructor meetings. We entered into some of the details of Bible instructor techniques, considered common problems, and mutually shared our best experiences.
These group gatherings were held in a most attractive room in the Jefferson Hotel in St. Louis. Here we had a perfect setting for our "round table," for we were actually seated around a huge mahogany table of that shape. This comfortable yet businesslike privacy for our Bible instructor meetings added to the interest of all our discussions and bound our hearts together into common fellowship. Problems were here seen eye to eye, and a larger vision for Bible work surely must result. Other general discussions pertaining to ministerial and evangelistic work also lifted the eyes of the Bible instructors to larger possibilities in soul winning:
III. North Pacific Union
My journey into the Northwest was introduced with a marvelous glimpse of the Canadian Rockies, snowbound at the time. These lofty peaks presaged high ideals for our ministerial institute to be held in Portland, Oregon. Here the Lord blessed us with many excellent discussions by the entire group of evangelistic and pastoral workers. Larger quarters had to be suggested for our Bible instructor group meetings. The gallery of the Sunnyside church provided a lofty setting for the study of our Bible instructor problems. Many ministers' wives also attended these meetings and made excellent contributions. We must also mention the valuable help provided by some of our sisters who are in responsible positions at the Portland Sanitarium. Happy and blessed were we to have those retired from active Bible work to remind us of the former days. The spirit of their deep consecration must not be lost to the work. It was a good gathering, and our contacts made many helpful, new friendships. We rejoiced to see the conferences of this union opening the way for younger workers, and they too were highly appreciative of the meetings. Let us faithfully stand by these future burdenbearers.
IV. Pacific Union Institute
Balmy weather and clear blue skies in San Francisco, the place of our next institute, promised us another spiritual feast. And we were not disappointed. This gathering will linger in our minds as we repeat reminiscently, "The Lord hath done great things for us !" The brethren ably and quickly handled their conference business, clearing the way for a spiritual institute. Our blessings were often recalled in praise and song while our ministerial, evangelistic, and Bible instructors' problems were squarely met in the light of divine instruction.
Our Bible instructor gatherings were unusually helpful. The fine force of competent women in the profession renewed our courage for the work at hand. Here we sensed wide horizons and exploits for God. There were outstandingly helpful discussions on teaching classes in both public and home evangelism. Dr. Vollmer and his trained dietetics instructors showed us how to combine health instruction with Bible work. The California sunshine warmed and cheered our hearts as we contemplated the future of the Bible work.
V. Southwestern Union Institute
Traveling by train as it skirted the Mexican border, we proceeded eastward. As we passed through desert country with mountain ranges as a background, the needs of the people in these isolated areas gave us keen interest in the meetings which were soon to follow. On arriving in Oklahoma City, we were soon in the hands of a group of hospitable and aggressive Bible instructors. Whether in group meetings or wherever we chanced to be, we lived constantly in the atmosphere of Bible work.
Here we found a group of Bible instructors, small in number, who enthusiastically talked the joys and possibilities of Bible work. We believe that the great expanses of the Southwest will continue to provide an ever-increasing army of happy and efficient Bible instructors. It was a wholesome, good fellowship, and we grew in their midst as we together considered current problems.
VI. Southern Union Conference
The hospitality of Asheville, North Carolina, is not dampened by a bit of fog which occasionally hangs around the mountains. It always disperses with the bright sun beaming on this fine section of the Southland.
The spirit of this conference was contagious. What a marching to Zion and keeping step while marching, we here observed ! We found good friends with whom we had worked in northern climes. This interesting Advent Movement! Comfortably housed in a fine Methodist church right near our hotels with excellent cafeteria accommodations to demonstrate the unique hospitality of the South, we found those busy, busy days to be a treat. They provided a mutual contact with workers sharing like responsibilities in God's cause. The spirit of the institute was wholehearted and earnest. Each worker seemed to be present to get all he could of spiritual help and of better methods. This institute will be remembered by the deep consecration which must ever precede a more glorious day of soul winning.
What inspiring Bible instructor group meetings ! Here again our ministers' wives joined freely in the problems related to the Bible work. As at other institutes, we were happy to find in attendance a representative number of ministerial students from our colleges—Southern Missionary and Oakwood.
We rejoice in the earnest group of Bible instructors in this large union field, and are happy because here is true vision and a desire to develop a constantly stronger worker group for the future. The South is a field of evangelistic possibilities, and our Bible instructors stand ready to do their share in the appointed task.
(Other union conference sessions will be reported later.)
L. C. K.