The second Field School of Evangelism, conducted by the theology department of Southern Missionary College, is now a matter of history. It was conducted in the beautiful city of Montgomery, Alabama. Since the field school is a new experiment in connection with the educational program of Seventh-day Adventist colleges in North America, it has been suggested that a comparison between the two that have been conducted in the South would be of interest and profit to readers of THE MINISTRY.
There were twelve students at the first field school, which was conducted at Asheville, North Carolina. In the second one there were twenty-five. From these two experiments it has appeared that perhaps twenty-five students are a few too many to get the fullest benefit from the training, unless there could be some more help in the meeting from workers of experience. The instructor in evangelism has been the only experienced worker who has worked all the way through these field schools with the students, and, in view of the fact that the students are without any previous experience, it is rather difficult to give each one the help he needs when the number is so large.
In the plans for future field schools it is suggested that a full-time, successful Bible instructor be connected with the effort. She will help in opening the campaign, work with the students in their personal work during the time they are there, and be ready to take over a large part of the interest and follow it up after the students leave. This plan will make it possible for the conference to gather in a much larger harvest of souls as a result of these schools.
The budget for the second field school, which was nearly six thousand dollars, was twice as large as it was for the first one. This naturally made it possible the second time to do some things that were not possible in the first experiment. The greatest advantage was that the effort could continue in the large city auditorium for seven weeks, whereas during the first effort in Asheville the city auditorium was used only for a three-night spearhead. Also, in the Montgomery effort we were able to have a fifteen-minute broadcast direct from the auditorium stage each Sunday evening during the first few weeks of the meetings. This added a very interesting feature to the evening meetings and also gave the students a little experience in radio work.
In the Asheville field school it was discovered that many of the students had never gone into a home and given a Bible study. They did not know the first thing about this important phase of our evangelistic program. An effort was made to correct this situation in our second experiment. Classes in personal evangelism were conducted at the beginning of the summer's work, so that the students would have some knowledge of how to enter the homes of the people and give them Bible studies when the time came for that part of the work.
In the campaign at Asheville meetings were conducted on two Saturday nights during the summer, and it was observed that the attendance was exceptionally good on both these occasions. So, in the program for Montgomery it was decided to use every Saturday night during the first eight or ten weeks of the effort. This plan was successful, for the attendance was about the same on Saturday nights as it was on Sunday nights. As a special feature on Saturday night a fifteen-minute program for youth was conducted.
For various reasons the first campaign was not followed up successfully, so improvements had to be made in this important part of the campaign. Consequently, it was planned that the evangelist and a group of the students who attended the field school should made a trip from the college to Montgomery each week end from the close of the summer's work in September until the Christmas vacation. In this way the spirit of the campaign was carried on in a strong manner every Friday night, Sab bath, and Sunday night for many weeks after the summer was over. This plan of follow-up work was most successful. The new members were strengthened by these weekly visits, and a large number of others were brought to their decisions and baptized during these extended meetings. The different students who made the trips back to Montgomery each week spent their time visiting their interested people.
When the field school finally closed up its work in Montgomery, thirty-three people had been baptized, and there was a large group of interested ones still attending the services. Out of this group the new pastor, K. M. Kennedy, plans to baptize several more. The follow-up work was also strengthened by the plan of the conference to leave ministerial intern Robert Chism and his wife in Montgomery for six months after the summer effort was over. The Chisms were there throughout the summer and were well acquainted with the interested people, so that they could carry on the interest.
The new pastor, Elder Kennedy, came to Montgomery just as the field school was moving out, but despite the fact that he had to settle in his new home, start up his church schools, and take over a new district, he did a fine job in helping to follow up the interest of the effort. The Lord has richly blessed his work there.
There were many things in the second field school that remained the same as in the first one. The teaching staff was the same. Prof. H. A. Miller was in charge of the music at the meetings and conducted three hours of class- work for the students. His music is always an inspiration to the students, the church members, and the evangelistic congregation, and the field school would not be complete without him. Dr. Wayne McFarland was also present this time. His health lectures and classwork (a three-semester-hour class in medical evangelism) were greatly enjoyed and appreciated by both the congregation and the students. I taught the classes in public and personal evangelism and pastoral methods during this second school also. The students could take as many as twelve hours of upper-division work during the summer.
In both places, Asheville and Montgomery, the local church members were most helpful throughout the campaign. They gave the students and leaders in the field school a cordial welcome to their cities, and did all they could to make their stay during the summer as happy and comfortable as possible. The officials of both the Carolina Conference and the Alabama- Mississippi Conference gave one hundred per cent support financially and morally to these campaigns. An evangelistic effort in a conference in connection with the field school is perhaps more expensive to a conference than one without it, but the conference committees cheer fully gave the necessary financial support, feeling it a privilege to contribute in this way to the training of future soul winners.
The field school was not conducted this summer because of the General Conference session and other conventions. However, it is definitely in the plans of the theological department and the collegeboard to conduct another field school during the summer of 1951, and to continue it as a definite part of the ministerial training of Southern Missionary College.