ANDREW FEARING, associate secretary of the Ministerial Association of the General Conference, joined ministers of the Eugene-Springfield area of the Oregon Conference for a three-week evangelistic series January 29 through February 18. Meetings were held Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday nights, with a meeting at four-thirty on Sabbath afternoons.
The sermon presentation was unique, being a combination of revival and evangelistic sermons. Each night the emphasis was on practical godliness, the doctrines being skillfully interwoven with conversion-type sermons. No attendance awards were offered. The meetings were held in the sanctuary of the Eugene Seventh-day Adventist church, which has a seating capacity of seven hundred. The pews were consistently well filled, with overflow crowds on Sabbath afternoons. The evening sermons were preceded by a twenty-minute musical program under the direction of Ken Smith, associate pastor of the Eugene church.
Prayer and planning on the part of the area pastors well in advance of the meetings ensured the support of our own church members. Two notices were placed in the union paper announcing plans for the meetings and asking for names of those in the area who should receive invitations.
The one hundred thousand residents of the Eugene-Springfield area were invited to the meetings by means of bulk mailing a handbill listing the topics for the entire three-week program. These were addressed and mailed by a local mailing service for a fee of one-half cent per piece in addition to the postage of 11/4 cents per piece with a bulk-mailing permit available to nonprofit organizations.
Names of those attending were secured each evening by offering supplementary reading material to those who requested it by addressing an envelope to themselves. Precanceled envelopes were handed to each one as he came in each evening. These cost $20.90 per thousand. They must be zip coded and bundled according to post office regulations for bulk mailing. A minimum of 200 identical pieces must be mailed at one time. Issues of The Present Truth were selected to fill requests that came as a result of the nightly literature offer.
A record of attendance was kept in an alphabetized 51/2 by 81/9 three-ring notebook. The name and address of each nonmember in attendance was recorded in the book with the number of the night of the first meeting attended following the name. Each succeeding night that this person attended, the number of the night was added to the record following the name so that the book gave an up-to-date attendance record of each individual. As names were assigned for visiting, the initials of the worker to whom the name was assigned were placed before the name in the book.
Each worker participating in the visitation program was provided with a book. Having this in the car as he visited gave him the attendance record of each person on his list. These books were turned in to the secretarial committee each night at the beginning of the meeting to be brought up to date. The worker was responsible for picking up his book after each meeting.
Every worker assigned a number to each name given him to visit. The numbers were then spotted by geographical location on a map of the area, to make for efficiency in visiting. The worker would then make out an Interest Information card for each name assigned to him. The card would bear the number assigned to that name corresponding with the number identifying the location on the map. On this card was recorded pertinent information gained at the time of each visit.
The card used for this purpose becomes a part of the pastor's permanent prospect file. The card is punched to fit a 51/2 by 81/2 three-ring notebook and scored for folding in the middle for those who prefer to use it in a 4 by 6 card file. This card has been standardized for use throughout the Oregon Conference for recording interest information.
A two-hour workers' meeting was held each Sunday morning at ten o'clock to complete organizational details for the ensuing week. Visitation during the first week was for the purpose of building attendance. Short visits were made to those having either Adventist background or some previous contact with the message who had not been attending.
Stop Smoking Clink
During the second week of the meetings a Stop Smoking Clinic was conducted, beginning Sunday evening at seven o'clock and continuing for five consecutive nights. A newspaper ad and news story in the Eugene Register-Guard informed the community of this special feature. Some forty persons took advantage of the clinic, which was conducted by Pastor Adam Rudy and two members of his congregation, Drs. Alex Dederer and M. K. Hartzell. A good percentage of those attending the clinic conquered the tobacco habit, including some who took part in the first baptism. The clinic was conducted in a separate room of the church. It terminated each evening in time so that those who wanted to stay could hear the evening sermon. Attendance at the evening service was recommended as a means of providing spiritual help in the struggle against nicotine, but attendance was optional.
Altar Call Planning
During the second week visitation was concentrated on those nonmembers who had attended during the first week. The purpose of these visits was to evaluate the interest, to clear up questions on points already covered in the meetings, and to set up prospects for the first altar call, which came at the end of the second week of meetings.
Altar calls were held on Friday evening and Sabbath afternoon after two weeks of meetings. Those who came forward in each altar call were informed of a special Bible class to begin at 7:00 P.M., just prior to the Sunday evening meeting, and continuing nightly for five consecutive nights. It was made clear that if any in the group had to miss one of the special classes, they would be visited before the next class period by one of the team members for the purpose of making up the lesson material missed.
Bible Class Attendance
Attendance at the special Bible classes was almost one hundred per cent. Very few lessons had to be made up privately. It was assumed that those in the class would go forward in baptism the next Sabbath, because they had already made a public decision. Special help was given to those having tobacco problems or Sabbath work problems. The five-night class constituted a review of the major points of faith in preparation for baptism, with emphasis on conversion. One entire class period was devoted to the gift of prophecy and another to Christian standards. A mimeographed summary of each class was provided to those in attendance.
On the second night of the Bible class each one attending was given a Membership Information blank to fill out and also a label to be attached to their baptismal clothing. They were requested to bring these cards to class the next evening. At the final class period the baptismal vow was read and the pastors who were to do the baptizing were given opportunity to explain the mechanics of baptism to the candidates.
The baptisms were conducted at the worship services in the respective churches. Because of the large number of candidates, there was no sermon as such. Between the immersion of the candidates, one of the workers told briefly the conversion experience of the one to be baptized. Some beautiful testimonies were written by the candidates on the Membership Information blanks. These also were shared in part with the congregation.
A number of families were united in the faith as husbands and fathers went forward in baptism. One man who had left the church in his youth came to the meetings as a result of receiving a handbill in the mail. He was baptized after being fifty years away from the church.
Another thrilling evidence of how God seeks out the honesthearted was the experience of the man who on a business trip read a copy of The Desire of Ages in a motel room in Bend, Oregon. He noticed the offer of a free copy printed on the flyleaf of the book. He wrote for a copy so that he could share the blessing of the book with his wife. While the impression made by the book was still fresh in their minds, the handbill came in the mail announcing the meetings at the Seventh-day Adventist church. They attended and were pleased to discover the connection between the book and the meetings. This man and his wife, having had no prior contact with Seventh-day Adventists other than the book in the motel room, attended each night of the meetings and were in the first baptism.
Seventy-five decisions for Christ and His last-day message were made during these three weeks. Fifty-seven were baptized on February 18 and other baptisms are scheduled in all of the area churches in the coming weeks.
Area workers participating in the meetings included Adam Rudy, W. W Ring, G. K. Lashier, E. C. Harms, Mrs. Faye Anderson, Bible instructor, and Ken Smith, associate pastor of the Eugene church, who served as singing evangelist for the series. Sunny Liu, singing evangelist for the North Pacific Union Conference, was guest soloist on several occasions. He also joined in the visitation program when he was present. Also assisting in the series as coordinator was George Knowles.
The fine fellowship enjoyed by the workers in laboring together for souls will long be remembered. We are deeply thankful to Pastor Fearing for his heaven-sent messages and inspiring spiritual leadership. For souls won, members strengthened, and for every victory gained, we say, "To God be the glory, great things He hath done."