Includes three articles

A Continuing Baptismal Class

CARL C. WEIS: Sabbath School and Home Missionary Secretary, Australasian Inter-Union Conference

The superintendent of one of our Sabbath schools in Canada approached her pastor on one occasion and urged him to teach a class for that quarter. Of course the pastor was a very busy man and hesitated to accept the invitation, but the good superintendent was persistent, and after some further persuasion he accepted. The superintendent then handed him two record cards filled with names, over which he glanced hurriedly, and immediately dis covered that the list was entirely made up of the names of persons who had left the message.

"Where did you get this idea?" inquired the pastor.

"I read of a similar plan in the Sabbath School Worker, and thought we might try it here," answered the superintendent.

On the first Sabbath the pastor was the only one in the new class. The superintendent came over with a smile and asked him how he was getting along.

"Very well! This gives me an excellent opportunity to study my sermon," said the pastor.

"We hope you will have a few pupils to teach next Sabbath," was her reply

By this time the pastor was growing curious, so during the following week he set himself the task of visiting the names on his card. Many of them were greatly astonished to see him. One woman said, "Pastor, it has been twenty years since I attended the Sabbath school and church service, and you are the first one from the church to call on me. I thought I had friends over there, but thus far they have not visited me." Others related similar experiences.

The following Sabbath the pastor had two pupils in his class. But the number kept increasing week by week, until by the fifth Sab bath of the quarter he had eight members in the class, and by the end of the quarter he had a full class, including some who were studying the truth for the first time.

This is a wonderful evangelistic endeavor that should be carried on in every Sabbath school. This plan works I know it does. It wins "souls I saw it win souls, for I was that pastor!

One of Our Strongest Evangelistic Agencies

The year 1952 marks the beginning of greater evangelism in our Sabbath schools. The soul- winning phase of the Sabbath school should be the burden of our hearts in the future. Every church pastor should consider the Sabbath school one of his strongest evangelistic agencies in soul winning.

Our boys and girls should be the first concern of the church pastor and the officers of the Sab bath school. Our youth, so precious to this de nomination and to our own hearts, must be led to the cross of Jesus by Christ-centered teaching in the Sabbath school. We need to lay careful plans for soul-appealing decision days in order that we may reap an abundant harvest of youthful souls for the Lord. These decision days should be held frequently in every division of the school, and those who respond by giving their hearts to Christ should immediately be enrolled in a baptismal class for further study in preparation for baptism.

In the senior division of the Sabbath school a special class should be organized. Into this class should be gathered ex-Adventists, interested neighbors, interested friends of Adventists, and Bible correspondence course interests. This special class could be conducted by the pastor or church elder. Thus an evangelistic effort could be carried on right in the Sabbath school the year round.

These persons prior to baptism become accustomed to attending Sabbath school, and immediately upon their baptism they are in ducted into other classes in the Sabbath school in order to make room in the special class for newcomers. Persons won to the truth in this manner make strong church members and good Seventh-day Adventists.

My junior baptismal class usually numbered from thirty to forty-five youthful souls of the ages of eight to fourteen the year round, with a good-sized baptism every six months. The primary and junior divisions in the Sabbath school became feeders to my baptismal class.

In my senior baptismal class I could count on eight to twelve the year round, with a baptism every six months. This special Sabbath school class became a feeder to my adult baptismal class. During the winters when I conducted an evangelistic effort, as soon as people took their stand for the Sabbath they were brought into the Sabbath school and enrolled in this special class. It was known to them as a Bible class, and was so announced to them in the evangelistic effort. The regular Sabbath school lesson was studied and adapted to appeal to the heart. Thus my evangelistic meetings became feeders to the special Sabbath school class, and the special class became a feeder to the baptismal class.

This Bible class lends itself especially well to winning ex-Adventists. Scores of ex-Adventists surround every Sabbath school. Many of these dear people, if carefully and prayerfully labored with, will come back into the fold.

We should and can make all our Sabbath schools evangelistic. Granted that not all schools have the same opportunity of drawing from the youth connected with the church, since in some schools we find few youth to draw from, yet an adaptation of this plan is workable almost anywhere. A truly evangelistic concept in the Sab bath school will draw and hold our youth. Some of our Sabbath schools need to study this problem seriously. All aggressive plans must be built around our church needs, however, for an objective such as doubling our membership must embrace each department of the church. Winning souls, young and old, is our God- assigned responsibility in these closing hours of the message. When the pastors lead our churches to catch the vision of our task, then the objective of doubling our membership will not be merely a slogan to build up our statistics but a vital part of the glorious task of shepherding the flock.

A Church by the Side of the Road

L. H. LINDBECK: Director of Public Relations, American Temperance Society

"He was a friend to man, and he lived in a house by the side of the road." HOMER

That the church can be a friend to man as J. well as a house by the side of the road has been wonderfully demonstrated by the well- balanced public relations program of the Chula: Vista, California, Seventh-day Adventist church and its progressive pastor, Arlyn D. Stewart. This is a unique church. It has a distinctive personality among Seventh-day Adventist churches, primarily because it maintains an open-door policy toward the community in which it lives. The photograph gracing the front cover of this issue of THE MINISTRY tells the story. Notice the cordial, dignified invitation posted on a neat sign in front of the church door which reads:


Sounds friendly, doesn't it? This invitation is a neighborly gesture to the community. It infers that this church is there not only to serve its own congregation at set times of worship but to serve the spiritual needs of the community at all times. Like a friend by the side of the road, its invitation to meditation and prayer signifies that it is interested in the spiritual problems of all men and women in the community. Its doors are always open for those who seek rest, spiritual communion, and a place for prayer open to---

"The men who press with the ardor of hope, The men who are faint with the strife."

But more, this church is always open to friends and guests at each public service. Its program is planned with this in mind. From time to time certain civic groups are invited to attend the services as guests of honor. Pro motional work is not neglected, and still the preaching service is devoted wholly to divine worship and conducted in a manner to make strangers feel at home.

This is a sound approach to the problem of community relations. It is based on the fundamental concept that if the church is to win recognition and good will, it must earn such recognition through a positive contribution to the welfare of the community. Arlyn Stewart, the pastor, explains it this way: "As church members we are trying to live the golden rule in our daily lives. We recognize that good will is earned by good behavior, good conduct, and good performance, and we always try to identify our church in terms of the spiritual needs and welfare of the community." Publicity, as such, does not earn this recognition; it merely helps to report the story of the performance of the church to others. When this recognition is deserved it is lasting and genuine and creates an active acceptance mood toward the church in its community.

Such a well-balanced program of public relations pays big dividends. Elder Stewart writes: "In our recent Ingathering calls a number have said, 'Oh, yes, I know that church. It is the friendly one with the open door and the invitation.' Somehow it helps to convey the thought that we are really here to serve the community at all times. This is the positive approach that we have noticed pays dividends in evangelism."

Elder Stewart is blazing new trails in genuine public relations. Should not every Seventh-day Adventist church become known as the friendly church with the open door? The church can no longer live in its house by the side of the road, "like a man who dwells alone."

EDITORIAL POSTSCRIPT. Arlyn Stewart spent ten years in public relations and economic analytical work before entering the ministry as an intern in the Southeastern California Conference four years ago. He was ordained at camp meeting this year. His recent letter brings a further report on the work of this church:

"Regarding your question as to the source of the church sign. At one of our church board meetings about a year ago I brought the suggestion to the attention of the board members. William E. Steinbach, a deacon, donated the art work; and Fred McDunnah, a deacon, donated the metal work, after the unanimous vote of the church board.

"We feel that the Lord has definitely led out in this venture of identifying our church with the spiritual needs of the community. The real results can be seen in our spirit of friendliness at Chula Vista as witnessed in a doubled membership since the last General Conference. We have had the Kiwanis at a worship service as our special guests, as well as the WCTU organization. Recently I was invited to be the speaker at the Rotary luncheon meeting, and to offer the prayer at the local high school consecration service. Many soul-winning contacts have been made through these invitations that have come about through a positive public relations approach."

Elder Stewart is certainly leading out in an approach that we might well study carefully and emulate in many respects in an endeavor to make every Seventh-day Adventist church an institution recognized as a positive influence for good by the citizens of the various com munities surrounding our churches. B. G.

What About Halloween?

ROBERT M. WHITSETT: Associate Secretary, General Conference Ministerial Association

Among all the festivals that are customarily celebrated today, few have histories more strange and weird than that of Halloween. From the viewpoint of some religions it is the eve of Allhallows or Hallowmas of All Saints' Day and as such it is one of the most solemn festivals of the church. But strange as it may seem, it also commemorates rites and ceremonies that are extremely antagonistic to all Christian thinking. This is the night when, according to ancient mythology, ghosts walk and fairies and goblins are abroad, as well as the witch with her broom stick, and the black cat.

In Latin countries Halloween is a solemn religious occasion, with many people attending extra masses and saying fervent prayers. But in America the celebration rests upon Scottish and Irish folk customs that can be traced directly back to pagan days. Although in modern times Halloween has become a night of rollicking fun and strange occult games, which many take only half-seriously, its beginnings were certainly otherwise. Ralph and Adelin Linton, writing in the book Halloween Through Twenty Centuries, published by Henry Schuman in New York, state on page 2:

"The earliest Halloween celebrations were held by the Druids in honor of Samhain, Lord of the Dead, whose festival fell on November 1. This day was also the Celtic New Year's Day, the beginning of winter and of the time of 'the light that loses, the night that wins.' The rites performed on this day were eerie enough to thrill the most blase, but the spirit of fun was sadly lacking."

It took a longer time for the feast of Samhain to be incorporated into the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Allhallows is a feast of the church celebrated in honor of all the saints known or unknown.

In A.D. 609 Pope Boniface IV consecrated the old Roman temple called the Pantheon and dedicated it to the blessed virgin and all the martyrs. The feast of Saint Mary and the martyrs was held on May 13 in A.D. 610. In the eighth century Pope Gregory III dedicated an oratory in St. Peter's to all the saints, and fixed the anniversary as November 1. In 1834 Pope Gregory IV established this festival in the calendar to be observed by all churches.

In the Science Newsletter of October 30, 1948, on page 88, this description is given of Halloween:

"Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows' Even, which means the eve or vigil of the Feast of All Saints, long ago appointed by the church to be ob served on the first day of November. Like the vigils of all major feasts, it is-liturgically a day of fasting and prayer, but stubborn sinners have persistently balked at this and turned the evening into a time of merrymaking within doors and of mischief making without.

"The carnival nature of present-day Halloween observance is said to be a survival of the pagan saturnalia, a harvest-home festival observed in ancient Latium even before the founding of Rome. After their hard labor in getting in the crops, slaves and hired field hands were rewarded with a week of license, when they could get as drunk as they pleased and raise hob generally. It was supposed to represent a return of the reign of Saturn, banished father of the gods a legendary golden age of prosperity and plenty, of all play and no work.

"When all the old pagan gods followed Saturn into banishment after the triumph of Christianity, they were regarded as devils. Saturn shared with Satan the kingdom of the dark, and his roistering followers naturally acquired familiars and pets from the nocturnal fauna bats and owls and black tomcats."

Our Relationship to Halloween

But it is not our purpose here to go into a detailed history of this strange and weird night. We do wish to discuss some aspects of our relationship to Halloween.

In the light of this brief historical account, certainly any Halloween festivities by any Adventist group are totally out of place. But what can be done on the thirty-first of October to use the energies of the children and the youth in a way that will keep them out of mischief?

The Pittsburgh Junior Academy has employed a splendid plan for the use of these youthful energies by sending the boys and girls out on "trick or treat" night, not with the idea of dressing up as ghosts or goblins, but rather as normal children going from door to door re questing people to contribute clothing and food for welfare use. Still other boys and girls in other cities have used this night to distribute radio logs inviting people to listen to the Voice of Prophecy broadcast or to view the Faith for Today telecast. They have carried with them enrollment blanks for the Bible school, and have found it a perfect evening to make contact with the people of the community.

Police Authorities Appreciate Cooperation

The police officials and juvenile authorities in many cities are asking the cooperation of minis ters in planning activities for the children of the city in a positive channel rather than in a negative one. Responsible people everywhere are convinced that vandalism must stop, and even in the spirit of fun on Halloween it is not good training for citizenship to encourage the "trick or treat" idea.

While Charles Keymer and I were associated as pastors of the St. Louis church, we arranged, in cooperation with the police captain of the district, to invite not only Adventist boys and girls but also neighborhood children to the gymnasium of the church, where activities were organized and their energies were utilized in running games, shuffleboard, and other indoor recreation. During the course of the evening police officials came into the church gymnasium to see how we were conducting the activities, and afterward gave most favorable publicity to the church.

But in addition to doing something like this, we should certainly use representative Adventist boys and girls in every community to take something positive into the homes of the people. On that night some representatives of each family nearly always stay home to guard their property. What more favorable opportunity could be found during the year to present an enrollment card for the Bible school or to request clothing and food to be used in welfare activities of the church?

On this night let us never sponsor foolish parties or masquerading accompanied by bon fires and all the trimmings. The whole idea of such a festival is absolutely contrary to our teachings. How much better it will be for the Adventist children to visit homes with Bible correspondence school enrollment cards or with a request for contributions of clothing and food for welfare activities, and thereby surprise the nervous home owner with a new definition of "treats for the children"! By such activities, not only will the children have a better time, but the community will be talking about the "Adventist idea" for a long time to come. The very fact that on such a "crazy" night someone does something sensible will make a deep impression.

Here is a real opportunity to do something in a positive way on the night that home owners and police dread to see come--old Halloween.


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September 1952

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More Articles In This Issue

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"Promotion, administration, public evangelism, youth guidance, finance, teaching, pastoral work all these come within the scope of the ministry, but whatever our particular work, as individuals we must each be men of the Word."


Contains three articles and two sermon outlines

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Includes two articles and two study outlines

SHEPHERDESS: Read, Mark, Clip!

Our ministers' wives will profit by these practical suggestions on how a ministerial couple can work together in collecting material for sermons, articles, et cetera.—B. c.

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