JANUARY 1 to April 30, 1965, was the first union-wide organized drive to promote the erection of roadside and church grounds identification signs in the Southern Union. The program involved a four fold effort:
1. Registration of Adventist churches in hotel and motel registers.
2. Telephone directory listings tor all Adventist churches.
3. Highway marker signs directing travelers to the church.
4. Building and grounds identification.
The highway identification signs were purchased in quantity. Thus considerable savings were effected to the individual churches. A special discount was arranged with the manufacturer of the fiberglass grounds identification signs.
The program was presented at the workers' meetings in every conference of the Southern Union. A kit complete with instructions, order blanks, and price lists was provided each minister. Emphasis was placed on removing all old battered signs and replacing them with new signs representative of the Adventist Church.
During these four months in 1965 twenty-five grounds identification signs were installed, and a total of 613 roadside signs were ordered. Many of these were erected; others lay in side rooms or church basements waiting to serve the intended purpose.
March, 1967, was declared by the Southern Union committee as church beautification month. Emphasis was placed on cleaning up, repairing, and redecorating all Adventist churches and properties. Again church identification within a town or city was given special attention.
In late fall, 1967, a complete study was made by a specially appointed committee within the union, and a new plan was devised whereby all churches could participate in properly identifying themselves to the passing public and visitors to the city. Monroe Crowson, a layman from the Alabama-Mississippi Conference, was engaged to meet with church boards and present the new sign-lease program.
The plan involves a three-year contract arrangement with individual churches. Signs are provided, erected, and maintained. They are localized, with address imprints as each church specifies, and are erected to meet local and State codes. They are maintained under the contract with inspections at regular intervals. Worn and damaged signs are replaced without cost to the churches during the three-year period.
During the initial installation periods within each conference, the local and union conferences assumed travel, lodging, per diem, and partial salary for Mr. Crowson. As the program advances, he will be come self-supporting.
During the months of November, December, 1967, and January, 1968, a pilot program was conducted in the Florida Conference as an experimental venture. In greater Orlando the area churches combined to erect twelve jumbo-sized highway signs covering all major arteries approaching the metropolis. In the Clearwater, Florida, district, thirteen of the different-sized signs were erected. A total of eighty-five highway signs were installed in the Florida Conference. Nearly eighty signs are under lease in the Carolina Conference, and ninety in the Georgia-Cumberland Conference. The Atlanta, Georgia, churches erected twenty of the jumbo signs around the metropolitan area.
The Adventist Church stands in the world as a symbol of faith and truth. It is the focal point of all our aspirations and the strength of our life. Through the appearance of our churches and the identification of them to the world we can project the importance of our religion to others. These roadside markers and church identification signs stand as a silent witness for God's work. As Adventists we should be able to stand before our church homes and say, "This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."