The Atlantic Union ministerial institute was held in New York City. Strong March winds accentuated the activities of this bustling metropolis. During this institute visitors from all points of the union became part of the vast stream of humanity that travels by means of New York's great subway system. Hotel housing in Manhattan, with meetings held at the Washington Avenue Church in Brooklyn, and with every meal necessitating a subway ride to the city's food center, helped to impress upon visiting workers that here life is exceedingly harassing.
The discussions in the Bible instructor group meetings stressed various problems, and Mrs. Elva Heald and Miss Harriet Holloway, both trained nurses as well as Bible instructors, ably provided practical help on how to maintain health under such abnormal city pressure. Excellent points were stressed on relaxing and overcoming noise and sleep difficulties. The advantages of a healthful diet for Bible instructors was stressed. A worker must know herself as well as be herself.
The Sunday evening evangelistic service at the Brooklyn Academy of Music afforded an excellent observation point for evangelism. Here W. A. Fagal and his helpers were drawing in the large gospel net. A half hour before the regular service begins, Mrs. Ena Ferguson has been instructing those who attend the public Bible class. During the institute Mrs. Ferguson led out in discussing with the Bible instructors the various objectives and techniques of such a class and smaller group instruction.
The Atlantic Union presents great cosmopolitan problems affecting our evangelism. National and racial problems, complicated by language difficulties, often prevent these workers from conducting inspirational evangelistic meetings such as those of our other Eastern States. A sympathetic and helpful understanding of the needs of these struggling groups is necessary. Many of the strongest churches in this union represent the strength of various foreign-language groups, and are a distinctive contribution to our work. The instruction of the Spirit of prophecy, that the work in Greater New York is to be an object lesson to our city work generally, received new significance because of proximity. The increasing problems of Catholicism, and how to win souls from its ranks to our message, were presented by C. A. Reeves, who, with his strong group of workers, has been wrestling with this problem in Greater Boston. The Bible instructor's work is indispensable here. Pastor J. B. Conley, a visiting director of evangelism from Australia, brought a new challenge to the Bible instructors. A fine group of young women from Atlantic Union College, who are looking forward to entering the Bible work, were present. These young women thoroughly enjoyed the institute.
IX. Lake, Union Conference
Because of its good hotels and cafeterias Grand Rapids is a suitable convention city. This city again lent itself to our denominational needs, and a very profitable ministerial institute was conducted during one of the winter's blizzards, which resulted in a complete traffic tie-up with many visitors actually snowbound. Because of accommodations in the meeting hall, which almost adjoined our hotels, we were not inconvenienced during the heavy storm. Good will and faithful attendance at all the meetings made this institute a blessing to the workers.
The Bible instructor group meetings were well attended by young people in training for Bible work at Emmanuel Missionary College.
This college is leading out in a strong way in field training and in practical theology. The union already has a most representative group of young college-trained Bible instructors, who are fast developing into strong workers, in addition to a number of noble veteran women of the profession, who continue to inspire young women for the Bible work.
The Lake Union is faced with the acute problem of meeting various isms. Questions by the Bible instructors revealed strong inroads of dispensationalism in this area. Various approaches and instruction techniques were discussed with freedom by those who have had experience in dealing with such isms as the Jehovah's Witnesses and other groups.
A number of Bible instructors have gathered experience by helping laymen to become useful in our larger evangelism plans. Not merely class instruction, but actual experience by joining a trained Bible instructor when visits or Bible readings are made in the homes of the people, is the true need of our laymen desiring to become acquainted with personal work.
A well-balanced discussion on standards relating to our reform message, and the proper technique for presenting these standards to the public, assured us of the sound caliber of our Bible instructors in this union, and of their true devotion to principle. Our Bible instructor meetings were characterized by good fellowship and a larger vision of the work.
X. Canadian Union Conference
The setting for the ministerial institute in Canada was the lovely city of Toronto. The weather was as varied as the problems awaiting discussion. An anticipated spring was delayed by a heavy snowfall, drizzle, and slush. Our leaders had skillfully dispensed with their conference business preceding the institute, leaving us an extra day for ministerial and evangelistic problems. Some of the "best wine" for the feast of institutes had actually been kept for this last meeting.
Our Bible instructor group meetings were most inspirational. Quite generally the wives of our ministers took part in all the meetings of this group, and made their contributions. Canada is blessed indeed with capable personal workers. Her two colleges point the way by stressing the Bible work as an important profession for both young men and young women.
Often the minister's wife is her husband's only helper. Our Canadian sisters must still supply physical as well as spiritual vitality in pioneering. Isolation in the work, while living without many 'of the comforts of modern life, develops the same strength that characterized the laborers in the earlier days of our message. Here we detected that woman plays a real part in the worship program of our churches. The leadership of the minister's wife in the church is reflected in the observation of true worship principles in the lives of the minister's family. While the topic of Christian standards received due attention at each of the season's institutes, here in the "Maple Leaf Dominion" the discussions pertained to real principles rather than minor details.
Conclusion.—As we reflect the blessings and also the impressions of the various ministerial institutes held in the United States and Canada, we can say from the heart that our Bible instructor family is indeed a strong sisterhood for service. While our colleges lead in this respect by strengthening their Bible instructor training, the field is keeping abreast by following Ministerial Association guidance in courses of reading and study. The Bible work has been unified during the last few years, and is already a profession that is attracting the highest type of womanhood and manhood. These union ministerial institutes made us conscious of the strength of personal work in our message. Cognizant that our greatest need is the power of the Holy Spirit in our efforts, our Bible instructors everywhere dedicated themselves anew to this noble ministry.
L. C. K.