Part 3 out of 6
HOW THE CHURCH WORKS
The Ladies' Aid Society. The Young Women's Association. The Young
Men's Association. The Ushers' Association. The Christian Endeavor
Societies. The Many Other Organizations. What They Do, and How They Do
Now that the church was built, now that such power was in its hands,
how should it work?
"The church of Christ should be so conducted always as to save the
largest number of souls, and in the saving of souls the Institutional
church may be of great assistance," said Russell Conwell in an address
on "The Institutional Church." "It is of little matter what your
theories are or what mine are; God, in His providence, is moving His
church onward and moving it upward at the same time, adjusting it
to new situations, fitting it to new conditions and to advancing
civilization, requiring us to use the new instrumentalities he has
placed in our hands for the purpose of saving the greatest number of
The conditions confronting him, the leader of this church studied. He
turned his eyes backward over the years. He thought of his own boyhood
when church was so distasteful. He thought of those ten busy years in
Boston when he had worked among all classes of humanity, with churches
on all sides, yet few reaching down into the lives of the people in
any vital way. He knew of the silent, agonizing cry for help, for
comfort, for light, that went up without ceasing day and night from
humanity in sorrow, in suffering, in affliction, went up as it were to
skies of brass, yet he knew a loving Savior stood ready to pour forth
his healing love, a Divine Spirit waited only the means, to lay a
healing touch on sore hearts. What was needed was a simple, practical,
real way to make it understandable to men, to bring them into the
right environment, to make their hearts and minds receptive, to point
the way to peace, joy and eternal life. He brought to bear on this
problem all the practical, trained skill of the lawyer, the keen
insight and common sense, the knowledge of the world, of the traveler
and writer. Every experience of his own life he probed for help and
light on this great work Nothing was done haphazard. He studied the
wants of men. He clearly saw the need. He calmly surveyed the field,
then he went to work with practical common sense to fill it, filling
his people with the enthusiasm and the faith that led him, doing with
a will all there was to do, and then leaving the rest with God. Never
did he think of himself, of how he might lighten his tasks, give
himself a little more leisure or rest. The work needing to be done and
how to do it was his study day and night.
[Illustration: This Picture Shows the Four Speaking Tubes Which
Connect by Telephone with the Samaritan Hospital]
A reporter of the "Philadelphia Press" once asked Dr. George A. Peltz,
the associate pastor of Grace Church, "if you were called upon to
express in three words the secret of the mysterious power that has
raised Grace Church from almost nothing to a membership of more than
three thousand, that has built this Temple, founded a college, opened
a hospital, and set every man, woman and child in the congregation to
working, what would be your answer?"
"Sanctified common sense," was the Doctor's unhesitating reply.
Rev. F.B. Meyer, in speaking on "Twentieth Century Evangelism," at
Bradford, England, in 1902, made a plea for "the institutional church,
the wide outlook, more elastic methods, greater eagerness to reach and
win outsiders, more varied service on the part of Christian people,
that the minister of any place of worship should become the recognized
friend of the entire district in which his chapel is placed."
The "elastic method" is characteristic of the work of The Temple.
When Dr. Conwell first came to Grace Church, he organized four
societies--the Ladies' Aid Society, the Business Men's Union, the
Young Women's Association, the Young Men's Association. Into one or
another of these, every member of the church fitted, and as the new
members came into the fellowship, they found work for their hands in
one or the other.
The Ladies' Aid Society is the pastor's right hand. It stands ready
to undertake any project, social, religious, financial, to give
receptions in honor of noted visitors, to hold a series of special
meetings, to plan suppers, festivals, and other affairs--whenever it
is necessary to raise money. Its creed, if one might so call it, is:
"Use every opportunity to bring in new members.
"Remember the name of every new church member.
"Visit useless members and encourage them for their own sake to
"Visit persons when desired by the Pastors.
"Speak cheerfully to each person present on every opportunity.
"Regard every patron of your suppers or entertainments, and every
visitor to your religious meetings, as a guest calling on you in
your own house.
"Accept contributions and subscriptions for the various Christian
"Bring in every suggestion you hear which is valuable, new or
effective in Christian work elsewhere.
"Never allow a meeting to pass without your doing _some one
practical_ thing for the advancement of Christ's kingdom.
"Make yourself and the Society of some certain use to some person,
or some cause, each week."
The Society helps in the church prayer meetings, in refurnishing
and improving the church property, in celebrating anniversaries, in
missionary enterprises, securing the insertion of tablets in the
Temple walls, in clothing the poor, in supporting the local missions
connected with the church, in calling socially on church members or
members of the congregation, in evangelistic meetings, in household
prayer meetings, in supporting reading rooms, in comforting those in
special affliction, in visiting the sick, in aiding the needy, in
paying the church debt, in maintaining Mother's meetings, in looking
after the domestic wants of the Temple, in sewing for the Hospitals,
the Missions, the Baptist Home, the Orphanage, church fairs,
Missionary workers, the poor, in managing church suppers and
receptions connected with Ordinations, Conventions, and other
It is one of the most important organizations of the church and has
its own rooms handsomely furnished and well supplied with reading
The Business Men's Union drew into a close band the business men of
the church and used their knowledge of business affairs to plan and
carry out various projects for raising money for the building fund.
They also took a deep personal interest in each other's welfare as is
shown by the following incident, taken from the "Philadelphia Press":
"At one time a member became involved in financial difficulties in a
very peculiar way. Previous to connecting himself with the church,
he had been engaged in a business which he felt he could not
conscientiously continue after his conversion. He sold his interest
and entered upon mercantile pursuits with which he was unfamiliar. As
a result, he became involved and his establishment was in danger of
falling into the sheriff's hands.
"His situation became known to some members of the Business Men's
Union, and a committee was appointed to look into his affairs. His
books were found to be straight and his stock valuable. The members
immediately subscribed the thousands of dollars necessary to relieve
him of all embarrassment, and the man was saved."
After the building was completed and the imperative need for such an
organization was past, the members joined other organizations needing
their help, and it disbanded. It is typical of the elastic methods of
Grace Church that no society outlives its usefulness. When the need
is past for it as a body, the members look elsewhere for work, and
wherever each is needed, there he goes heart and soul to further some
The Young Women's Association is composed of young women of the
church. It bubbles over with youthful enthusiasm and energy and is one
of the strongest agencies for carrying forward the church work. Its
"Secure new members.
"Attend the meetings, propose new work, urge on neglected duties.
"Help the prayer meetings.
"Volunteer for social meetings.
"Aid in the entertainments.
"Originate plans for Christian benevolent work.
"Welcome young women to the Church.
"Visit the sick members of the Church.
"Seek after and encourage inquirers.
"Hold household devotional meetings.
"Sustain missionary work for young women.
"Make the Church home cheerful and happy.
"Arrange social home gatherings for various church or charitable
"Solicit books or periodicals for the reading room or circulating
"Secure employment for the needy.
"Treat all visitors to the rooms as special personal guests in
"Undertake large things for the Church and Christ in many ways, as
may be suggested by any new conditions and deeds.
"Instruct in domestic arts, dressmaking, millinery, cooking,
decoration, and, through the Samaritan Hospital, in the art of
"Furnish statedly instructive entertainments for the young.
"Develop the various singing services.
"Specially care for and assist young sisters.
"Cooeperate in sewing enterprises of all sorts.
"Aid the Pastors by systematic visitation.
"Push many branches of City Missions, especially with reference to
developing young women as workers.
"Maintain suitable young women as missionaries at home or in
"Carry sunshine to darkened hearts and homes.
"Be noble, influential Christian women."
It has a room of its own in the Lower Temple, with circulating
library, piano and all the cheerful furnishings of a parlor in the
home. To this bright room comes many a girl from her dreary boarding
house to spend the evening in reading and social chat. It has been
the cheery starting point in many a girl's life to a career of happy
The Young Men's Association follows similar lines and is an equally
important factor in the church work. It plans to:
"Help increase the membership and efficiency of the Young Men's
Bible Class and other similar organizations.
"Persistently follow the meetings of these associations and keep
them in the hands of able, consecrated managers and officers, who
will lead in the best enterprises of the church.
"Make the reading-room attractive and helpful.
"Help sustain the great Sunday morning prayer meeting.
"Invite passers-by to enter the church, and welcome strangers who
"Advise seekers after God.
"Bring back the wandering.
"Organize relief committees to save the lost young men of the
"Look after traveling business men at hotels, and bring them to
"Promote temperance, purity, fraternity and spiritual life.
"Initiate the most important undertakings of the church.
"Surround themselves with strong young men, and inaugurate
vigorous, fresh plans and methods for bringing the gospel to the
young men of to-day in store, shop, office, school, college, on
the streets, and elsewhere.
"Visit sick members, help into lucrative employment, organize
religious meetings, make the church life of the young bright,
inspiring and noble, plan for sociables, entertainments for closer
acquaintance and for raising money for Christian work and to use
their pens for Christ among young men whom they know, and also
It has a delightful room in the Lower Temple, carpeted, supplied with
books, good light, a piano, comfortable chairs. It is a real home for
young men alone in the city or without family or home ties.
During the building of The Temple many associations were formed which,
when the need was over, merged into others. As Burdette says:
"Often a working guild of some sort is brought into existence for a
specific but transient purpose; the object accomplished, the
work completed, the society disbands, or merges into some other
organization, or reorganizes under a new name for some new work. The
work of Grace Church is like the operations of a great army; recruits
are coming to the front constantly; regiments being assigned to this
corps, and suddenly withdrawn to reinforce that one; two or three
commands consolidated for a sudden emergency; one regiment deployed
along a great line of small posts; infantry detailed into the
batteries, cavalry dismounted for light infantry service, yet all
the time in all this apparent confusion and restless change which
bewilders the civilian, everything is clear and plain and
perfectly regular and methodical to the commanding general and his
Another association of this kind was the "Committee of One Hundred,"
organized in 1891. The suggestion for its organization came from the
Young Women's Association. A number of them went to the Trustees and
proposed that the Board should appoint a committee of fifty from among
the congregation to devise ways and means to raise money for paying
off the floating indebtedness of the church. The suggestion was
adopted. The Committee of Fifty was appointed, each organization of
the church being represented in it by one or more members. It met for
organization in 1892. The Young Women's Association, pledged itself to
raise $1,000 during the year. Other societies pledged certain sums.
Individuals went to work to swell the amount, and in one year, the
Committee reported that the floating debt of the church, which at the
time of the Committee's organization was $25,000, was paid. Encouraged
by this success the Committee enlarged itself to one hundred and
vigorously attacked the work of paying off the mortgage of $15,200 on
the ground on which the college was to be built.
Among the minor associations of the church that promoted good
fellowship and did a definite good work in their time were the
"Tourists' Club," a social development of the Young Women's
Association. The members took an ideal European trip while sitting in
the pleasant reading room in the Lower Temple. A route of travel was
laid out a month in advance. Each member present took some part; to
one was assigned the principal buildings; to another, some famous
painting; to others, parks, hotels, places of amusement, ruins, etc.,
until at the close of the evening they almost could hear the tongue of
the strange land through which in fancy they had journeyed. Maps and
pictures helped to materialize the journey.
The "Girls" Auxiliary was formed to meet the needs of the younger
members of the church. Any girl under sixteen could become a member
by the payment of monthly dues of five cents. There were classes in
embroidery, elocution, sewing, etc.
The "Youth's Culture League" was organized for the work among youth of
the slums; an effort to supplement public school education, making it
a stepping-stone to higher culture and better living.
Sports of various kinds of course received attention. The Temple
Guard, the Temple Cyclers, the Baseball League gave opportunity for
all to enjoy some form of healthy outdoor sport. But since the college
and its gymnasium have become so prominent, those who now join such
organizations usually do it through college instead of church doors.
The following incident from the "Philadelphia Evening Bulletin" is
typical of the help these organizations often gave the church in its
[Illustration: THE OBSERVATORY
Built on the Site of the Old Hemlock Tree]
[Illustration: THE PRESENT CONWELL HOMESTEAD IN MASSACHUSETTS]
"Eight and a half years ago the Rev. Russell H. Conwell surprised a
great many people by organizing a military company among his little
boys. The old wiseacres shook their heads, and the elders of the old
school wondered at this new departure in church work. Then again he
fairly shocked them by making the organization non-sectarian, and
securing one of the best tacticians in the city to instruct the
boys in military science.... From the first the company has clearly
demonstrated that it is the best-drilled military organization in the
city, and the number of prizes fairly won demonstrates this. However,
the company does not wish to be understood as being merely in
existence for prize honors, although it cannot be overlooked that
twenty victories over as many companies afford them the best record in
"In 1896, the Samaritan Rescue Mission was established by the Grace
Baptist Church, and proving a great financial burden, Dr. Conwell
offered to give a lecture on Henry Ward Beecher. The Guard took the
matter up, brought Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher, despite her threescore
years and ten, to Philadelphia for the first time in her life, and
so great was the desire of the church-loving public of this city to
attend that the mission did not perish."
When the stress of building and paying the church debt was passed,
many of these societies went heart and soul into the Christian
Endeavor work. Indeed, for awhile it seemed as if the Christian
Endeavor would absorb all the church associations. There are at
present fifteen Christian Endeavor Societies in the church. In
addition to the Christian Endeavor pledge, the following special ways
in which they can forward the church work is ever held before each
"For the sake of your character and future success, as well as for the
supreme cause, keep your pledge unflinchingly.
"Endeavor persistently, but courteously, to seek after those who ask
for our prayers and advice at any meeting.
"Never discontinue your endeavors to get new members for the
societies. Follow it continually in the name of the Lord.
"Endeavor each day to think, speak, act and pray like the Savior.
"Endeavor and present plans for effective work. Build up a standard of
noble living in the Church.
"Send comforting messages to members of the Church in sorrow, send
flowers to the sick, or for the funeral, look after the orphans, visit
the widows and the fatherless, write letters of advice, invitation,
condolence, establish missions for new churches in growing parts of
the city, and hold by kindness at least one thousand personal friends
at The Baptist Temple.
"Select one leading duty, and follow it without waiting to be asked.
"Make yourself a master of some special line of Christian effort.
"Save some one!"
Five of these societies some years ago started a mission at Logan,
a suburb of Philadelphia, and so successful was their work that the
mission soon grew into a flourishing church.
The Ushers' Association is one of the strongest and most helpful
organizations in furthering the church work. The ushers number
twenty-four, and are banded together in a businesslike association for
mutual pleasure and good fellowship, and also to better conduct their
work and the church interests they have in hand. They are under the
leadership of a chief usher who is president of the Association. The
spirit of hospitality that pervades The Temple finds its happiest
expression in the courteous welcome and ready attention accorded
visitors by the ushers.
All members of the church who are willing to give up their seats to
strangers on special occasions send their names to the chief usher.
And it is no unusual thing to see a member cheerfully relinquish his
seat after a whispered consultation with an usher in favor of some
stranger who is standing.
In addition to their work in seating the crowd that throng to The
Temple either for Sunday services or the many entertainments that fill
the church during the week, the Ushers' Association itself during the
winter gives a series of fine entertainments. Its object is to offer
amusement of the very highest class, so that people will come to the
church rather than go elsewhere in their leisure hours and thus be
surrounded by influences of the best character and by an atmosphere
that is elevating and refining. They have also undertaken to pay off
the balance of the church debt.
Missionary interests at Grace Church are well looked after. The church
has educated and supported a number of missionaries in home and
foreign fields, as well as contributed money and clothing to the
cause. The Missionary Circle combines in one organization all those
interested in missionary work. One afternoon a month the members meet
in the Lower Temple to sew, have supper together, and afterward hold
religious services. The members are advised in the church hand-book
"Suggest plans for raising money; arrange for a series of addresses;
organize children's societies; distribute missionary literature;
maintain a circulating library of missionary books; correspond with
missionaries; solicit and work for the 'missionary barrels'; send out
'comfort bags'; advocate missions in the prayer meetings and socials;
encourage those members who are preparing for or are going into
foreign fields, and maintain special missionary prayer meetings."
Members of the church have started several missions, some of which
have already grown into flourishing churches. The Logan Baptist Church
and the Tioga Baptist Church, are both daughters of The Temple.
The Samaritan Aid Society sews and secures contributions of clothing
and such supplies for the Samaritan Hospital. Other charities,
however, needing such help, find it ever willing to lend its aid. It
is ready for any emergency that may arise. A hurry call was sent
once for sheets, pillow cases and garments for the sick at Samaritan
Hospital. The President of the Society quickly summoned the members.
Merchants were visited and contributions of muslin and thread secured.
Sewing machines were sent to the Lower Temple. An all-day sewing bee
was held, those who could, came all day, others dropped in as time
permitted, and by sunset more than three hundred pieces of work were
Two other organizations very helpful to the members of the church
are the Men's Beneficial Association and the Women's Beneficial
Association. They are purely for the benefit of church members during
sickness or bereavement, and are managed as all such associations are,
paying $5.00 a week during sickness and $100 at death.
The books are closed at the end of each year and the fund started
The Temple Building and Loan Association was organized by the
membership of the Business Men's Association, and is officered by
prominent members of the church. But it is not in any way a church
organization and is not under the management of the church. It is
very successful and its stockholders are composed largely of church
To keep members and friends in touch with the many lines of activity
in which the church works, a magazine, "The Temple Review," is
published. It is a private business enterprise, but it chronicles
church work and publishes each week Dr. Conwell's sermons. Many
living at a distance who cannot come often to The Temple find it most
enjoyable and helpful to thus obtain their pastor's sermons, and to
look through the printed page into the busy life of the church itself.
It helps members in some one branch of the church work to keep in
touch with what others are doing. The work of the college and hospital
from week to week is also chronicled, so that it is a very good mirror
of the many activities of the Grace Church membership.
Thus in good fellowship the church works unitedly to further Christ's
kingdom. New organizations are formed as some enthusiastic member
discerns a new need or a new field. It is a veritable hive of industry
whose doors are never closed day or night.
FAIRS AND ENTERTAINMENTS
The Temple Fairs. How They are Planned. Their Religious Aim.
Appointment of Committees. How the Committees Work. The Church
Entertainments. Their Character.
Not only does the church work in a hundred ways through its regular
organizations to advance the spiritual life of its members and the
community, but once every year, organization fences are taken down and
as a whole and united body, it marches forward to a great fair. The
Temple fairs are famous. They form an important feature of church
life, and an important date in the church calendar.
"The true object of a church fair should be to strengthen the church,
to propagate the Gospel, and to bring the world nearer to its God."
That is Dr. Conwell's idea of the purpose of a church fair and the
basic principle on which The Temple fairs are built. They always open
on Thanksgiving Day, the anniversary of Dr. Conwell's coming to the
church and continue for ten days or two weeks thereafter. These fairs
are most carefully planned. The membership, of course, know that a
fair is to be held; but before any definite information of the special
fair coming, is given them, a strong foundation of systematic, careful
preparation is laid. In the early summer, before Dr. Conwell leaves
for his two months' rest at his old home in the Berkshires, he and the
deaconess of the church go over the ground, decide on the executive
committee and call it together. Officers are elected, Dr. Conwell
always being appointed president and the deaconess, as a rule,
secretary. The whole church membership is then carefully studied,
and every member put at work upon some committee, a chairman for
the committee being appointed at the same time. A notice of their
appointment, the list of their fellow workers, and a letter from the
pastor relative to the fair are then sent to each. Usually these lists
are prepared and forwarded from Dr. Conwell's summer home. The chief
purpose of the fair, that of saving souls, is ever kept in view. The
pastor in his letter to each member always lays special stress on it.
Quoting from one such letter, he says:
"The religious purpose is to consolidate our church by a more
extensive and intimate acquaintance with each other, and to enlarge
the circle of social influence over those who have not accepted
"This enterprise being undertaken for the service of Christ, each
church member is urged to enter it with earnest prayer, and to use
every opportunity to direct the attention of workers and visitors to
"Each committee should have its prayer circle or a special season set
apart for devotional services. This carnival being undertaken for the
spiritual good of the church, intimate friends and those who have
hitherto worked together are especially requested to separate on
this occasion and work with new members, forming a new circle of
"Do not seek for a different place unless it is clear that you can do
much more in another position, for they honor God most who take up His
work right where they are and do faithfully the duty nearest to them.
"Your pastor prays earnestly that this season of work, offering, and
pleasure may be used by the Lord to help humanity and add to the glory
of His Kingdom on earth."
This is the tenor of the letters sent each year. This is the purpose
held ever before the workers.
Each committee is urged to meet as soon as possible, and, as a rule,
the chairman calls a meeting within a week after the receipt of the
list. Each committee upon meeting elects a president, vice-president,
secretary and treasurer, which, together with the original executive
committee, form the executive committee of the fair.
During the summer and fall, until the opening of the fair, these
various committees work to secure contributions or whatever may be
needed for the special work they have been appointed to do. If they
need costumes, or expensive decorations for the booths, they give
entertainments to raise the money. All this depends upon the character
of the fair in general. Sometimes it is a fair in the accepted sense
of the word, devoted to the selling of such goods as interested
friends and well-wishers have contributed. At other times it takes
on special significance. At one fair each committee represented a
country, the members dressed in the costume of its people, the booth
so far as possible was typical of a home, or some special building.
Such products of the country as could be obtained were among the
articles sold or exhibited.
Every committee meeting is opened with prayer, and each night during
the fair a prayer meeting is held. In addition, a committee is
appointed to look after the throng of strangers visiting the fair, and
whenever possible, to get them to register in a book kept especially
for that purpose at the entrance. To all those who sign the register,
a New Year's greeting is sent as a little token of recognition and
appreciation of their help.
Much of the great tide of membership that flows into the church comes
through the doors of these church fairs. The fairs are really revival
seasons. They are practical illustrations of how a working church
prays, and a praying church works. Christianity has on its working
clothes. But it is Christianity none the less, outspoken in its faith,
fearless in its testimony, full of the love that desires to help every
man and woman to a higher, happier life.
The church entertainments form another important feature of church
life. Indeed, from the first of September until summer is well
started, few weekday nights pass but that some religious service or
some entertainment is taking place in The Temple. In the height of
the season, it is no uncommon thing for two or three to be given
in various halls of The Temple on one evening. An out-of-town man
attending a lecture at the Lower Temple, and seeing the throngs of
people pouring in at various entrances, asked the custodian of the
door if there were a rear entrance to the auditorium.
"Here's where you go in for the lecture," was the reply. "There are
two other entertainments on hand this evening in the halls of the
Lower Temple. That's where those people are going."
In regard to church fairs and entertainments, Dr. Conwell said in a
sermon in 1893:
"The Lord pity any church that has not enough of the spirit of Christ
in it to stand a church fair, wherein devout offerings are brought to
the tithing-house in the spirit of true devotion; the Lord pity any
church that has not enough of the spirit of Jesus in it to endure or
enjoy a pure entertainment. Indeed, they are subjects for prayer if
they cannot, without quarrels, without fightings, without defeat to
the cause of Christ, engage in the pure and innocent things God offers
to His children."
And in an address on "The Institutional Church," he says:
"The Institutional church of the future will have the best regular
lecture courses of the highest order. There will be about them
sufficient entertainment to hold the audience, while at the same time
they give positive instruction and spiritual elevation. Every church
of Christ is so sacred that it ought to have within its walls anything
that helps to save souls. If an entertainment is put into a church
for any secular purpose--simply to make money--that church will be
divided; it will be meshed in quarrels, and souls will not be saved
there. There must be a higher end; as between the church and the world
we must use everything that will save and reject everything that will
injure. This requires careful and close attention. You must keep in
mind the question, 'Will Jesus come here and save souls?' Carefully
eliminate all that will show irreverence for holy things or disrespect
for the church. Carefully introduce wherever you can the direct
teachings of the Gospel, and then your entertainments will be the
power of God unto salvation. The entertainments of the church need to
be carefully guarded, and, if they are, then will the church of the
future control the entertainments of the world. The theatre that has
its displays of low and vulgar amusement will not pay, because the
churches will hold the best classes, and for a divine and humane
purpose will conduct the best entertainments. There will be a double
inducement that will draw all classes. The Institutional church of the
future will be free to use any reasonable means to influence men for
The Temple, as can be seen, believes in good, pure, elevating
amusements. But every entertainment to be given is carefully
considered. In such a vast body of workers, many of them young and
inexperienced, this is necessary. By a vote of the church, every
programme to be used in any entertainment in The Temple must first
be submitted to the Board of Deacons. What they disapprove cannot be
presented to the congregation of Grace Church under any circumstance.
The concerts and oratorios of the chorus are of the very highest order
and attract music lovers from all parts of the city and nearby towns.
The other entertainments in the course of a year cover such a variety
of subjects that every one is sure to find something to his liking.
Among the lectures given in one year were:
"Changes and Chances," by Dr. George C. Lorimer.
"The Greek Church," by Charles Emory Smith.
"Ancient Greece," by Professor Leotsakos, of the University of Athens.
An illustrated lecture on the Yellowstone Park, by Professor George L.
"Work or How to Get a Living," by Hon. Roswell G. Horr.
"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," by Rev. Robert Nourse, D.D.
"Backbone," by Rev. Thomas Dixon.
The other entertainments that season included selections from "David
Copperfield," by Leland T. Powers; readings by Fred Emerson Brooks,
concerts by the Germania Orchestra, the Mendelssohn Quintette Club
of Boston and the Ringgold Band of Reading, Pennsylvania; a "Greek
Festival," tableaux, by students of Temple College; "Tableaux of East
Indian Life," conducted by a returned missionary, Mrs. David Downie;
"Art Entertainment," by the Young Women's Association; concert by the
New York Philharmonic Club; and many entertainments by societies of
the younger people, music, recitations, readings, debates, suppers,
excursions, public debates, class socials. The year seems to have been
full of entertainments, teas, anniversaries, athletic meetings, "cycle
runs," gymnasium exhibitions, "welcomes," "farewells," jubilees,
"feasts." But every year is the same.
A single society of the church gave during one winter a series of
entertainments which included four lectures by men prominent in
special fields of work, four concerts by companies of national
reputation, and an intensely interesting evening with moving pictures.
"We are often criticised as a church," said Mr. Conwell, in an
address, "by persons who do not understand the purposes or spirit of
our work. They say, 'You have a great many entertainments and socials,
and the church is in danger of going over to the world.' Ah, yes; the
old hermits went away and hid themselves in the rocks and caves and
lived on the scantiest food, and 'kept away from the world,' They were
separate from the world. They were in no danger of 'going over to the
world.' They had hidden themselves far away from man. And so it is in
some churches where in coldness and forgetfulness of Christ's purpose,
of Christ's sacrifice, and the purpose for which the church was
instituted, they withdraw themselves so far from the world that they
cannot save a drowning man when he is in sight--they cannot reach down
to him, the distance is too great--the life line is too short. Where
are the unchurched masses of Philadelphia to-day? Why are they not
in the churches at this hour? Because the church is so far away. The
difference that is found between the church which saves and that which
does not is found in the fact that the latter holds to the Pharisaical
profession that the church must keep itself aloof from the
people--yes, from the drowning thousands who are going down to
everlasting ruin--to be forever lost. The danger is not now so much in
going over to the world as in going away from it--away from the world
which Jesus died to save--the world which the church should lead to
In all these entertainments, the true mission of the church is never
forgotten--that mission which its pastor so earnestly and often says
is "not to entertain people. The church's only thought should be to
turn the hearts of men to God."
THE BUSINESS SIDE
How the Finances are Managed. The Work of the Deacons. The Duties of
"The plain facts of life must be recognized," says Dr. Conwell. The
business affairs of Grace Baptist Church are plain facts and big ones.
There is no evading them. The membership is more than three thousand.
A constant stream of money from the rental of seats, from voluntary
offerings, from entertainments, is pouring in, and as quickly going
out for expenses and charitable purposes. It must all be looked after.
A record of the membership must be kept, changes of address made--and
this is no light matter--the members themselves kept in touch with.
It all means work of a practical business nature and to get the best
results at least expenditure of time and money, it must all be done in
skilled, experienced fashion. Dr. Conwell, in speaking of the careful
way in which the business affairs of the church are conducted, says:
"What has contributed most as the means used of God to bring Grace
Church up to its efficiency? I answer it was the inspired, sanctified,
common sense of enterprising, careful business men. The disciplined
judgment, the knowledge of men, the forethought and skill of these
workers who were educated at the school of practical business
life, helped most. The Trustees and working committees in all our
undertakings, whether for Church, Hospital, College, or Missions, have
been, providentially, men of thorough business training, who used
their experience and skill for the church with even greater care and
perseverance than they would have done in their own affairs.
"When they wanted lumber, they knew where to purchase it, and how to
obtain discounts. When they needed money, they knew where the money
was, and what securities were good in the market. They saved by
discounting their own bills, and kindly insisted that contractors and
laborers should earn fairly the money they received. They foresaw the
financial needs and always insisted on securing the money in full time
to meet demands.
"Some men make religion so dreamy, so unreal, so unnatural, that the
more they believe in it the less practical they become. They expect
ravens to feed them, the cruse of oil to be inexhaustible, and the
fish to come to the right side of the ship at breakfast time. They
trust in God and loaf about. They would conduct mundane affairs as
though men were angels and church business a series of miracles. But
the successful church worker is one who recognizes the plain facts of
life, and their relation to heavenly things; who is neither profane
nor crazy, who feels that his experience and judgment are gifts of God
to be used, but who also fully realizes that, after all, unless God
lives in the house, they labor in vain who build it.
"None of our successful managers have been flowery orators, nor have
they been in the habit of wearying man and the Lord with long prayers.
If they speak, they are earnest and conservative. They are men whom the
banks would trust, whose recommendations are valuable, who know a
counterfeit dollar or a worthless endorsement They read men at a glance,
being trained in actual experience with all classes. They have been the
pillars of the church. While some have been praying with religious
phraseology that the stray calf might be sent home, these men have gone
after him and brought him back. They have faithfully done their part,
and God has answered their earnest prayers for the rest."
Dr. Peltz, for many years associate pastor of The Temple, in speaking
of the business management of the affairs of the church, says:
"Many persons imagine that the financial organization of Grace Baptist
Church must be something out of the usual way, because the results
have been so unusual. There is nothing peculiar in the general plan of
financial procedure, but great pains are taken to work the plan for
all it is worth. Special pains have been taken to secure consecrated
and competent men for the Board of Trustees. And the Trustees do this
one thing, a rule of the church permitting a man to hold but one
elective office. Competent financiers, consecrated to this work, and
doing it as carefully as they would do their own business, is the
statement that tells the whole story."
All these business matters are in the hands of the deacons and
Trustees, the deacons, if any distinction in the work can be made,
looking after the membership, the Board of Trustees attending to the
[Illustration: _Photo by Gutehunst_ PROFESSOR DAVID D WOOD]
After a person has signified his intention to join the church, he
meets the deacons, who explain to him the system by which members
contribute to the support of the church. If he desires to contribute
by taking a sitting, he is assigned a seat according to the amount he
wishes to pay, or he can pay the regular church dues, $1.20 a year
for those under eighteen years of age, $3.00 for those over that age.
Those who take sittings find in their seats, on the first of every
month, a small envelope made out in bill form on the face, stating the
month and the amount due. Into this they can place their money,
seal it, and put it into the basket when the offering is taken. The
following Sunday a receipt is placed in their seat, a duplicate being
kept in the office. Envelopes are sent those who do not have sittings,
and in these they can send in their dues any time within the year.
In addition to the little envelope for the seat rent, every Sunday
envelopes are placed in each seat for the regular Sunday offering.
These envelopes read:
THE BAPTIST TEMPLE
This offering is made in thankful recognition of the Mercy and
Goodness of God during the past week, and with the hope that
my gift and my prayer may he acceptable to God.
In addition to the amount raised from sittings and dues, it is
necessary for the payment of the debt on the Temple to have
givers for 5 years as follows:
100 persons who will contribute 50 cents per week. 300 persons
25 cents per week. 1000 persons 10 cents per week. 1300
persons 5 cents per week.
VISITORS AND MEMBERS
Can enclose special Messages for the Pastor with their offerings.
This Gift will be Recorded on the books of the Church.
All this money pours into the business office of the church, where it
is taken in charge by the Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees
and duly recorded by the Financial Secretary.
The business office is a very businesslike place, with files,
typewriter, letter-copying press, big ledgers and all the modern
appliances of an up-to-date business office.
The card system is used for keeping the record of member's
contribution, being printed in a form that will last for eight years.
All payments are entered on these, and at any time at a moment's
notice, a member can tell just what he has paid or what he owes on the
But in addition, the Sunday offerings of all those who place their
contributions in envelopes at the morning and evening service and sign
their names, are entered on cards, and when it is remembered that the
basket collections alone for the year 1904 amounted to $6,995.00, it
can be seen that this is no light task. But The Temple appreciates
what is given it, and likes to keep a record. Any person giving to The
Temple and signing his name to his gift, can find at any time how much
he has contributed during the year.
All this income is deposited to the order of the church treasurer,
who is then at liberty to draw against it as directed by the Board of
Trustees and properly certified by their chairman and secretary. The
business office is kept open during the entire week with the exception
of two afternoons, and two evenings.
The pew committee, which is composed of three members of the Board of
Trustees, attends to the rental of the many sittings in The Temple. A
large number of the regular attendants at the services of The Temple
are not members of the church. They enjoy the services and so rent
sittings that they may he sure of a seat. The third committee drawn
from the Board of Trustees is the House Committee, composed of three
members. It has charge of The Temple building; sees to its being kept
in order; arranges for all regular and special meetings; sees that the
building is properly heated and lighted; decides on all questions as
to the use of the house for any purpose, for the use of a part of it
for special purposes; manages the great crowds that so often throng
the building; has charge of the doors when entertainments are going
on; in short, makes the most and the best of the great building under
its care. Six persons are constantly employed in taking care of The
Temple, and often there is necessity for securing extra help for the
caretakers of this church whose doors are never shut.
The Deacons, as always, look after the welfare of the membership. On
Communion Sundays, cards are passed the members that they may sign
their names. These cards the Deacons take charge of and record the
members present and those absent If a member is away three successive
communion Sundays the Deacons call on him, if he lives in the city, to
find the cause of his absence. If he resides in some neighboring town,
they send a kindly letter to know if it is not possible for him to
attend some of the Communion services. In person or by letter, they
keep a loving watch over the vast membership, so that every member
feels that even though he may not attend often, he is not forgotten.
Thus the business of Grace Baptist Church is managed prayerfully but
practically. If some part of the machinery seems cumbersome, shrewd
and experienced minds take the matter in hand and see whereby it can
be improved. What may seem a good method to-day, a year from now may
be deemed a waste of time and energy and cast aside for the new and
improved system that has taken its place in the world of every-day
work. In its business methods the church keeps up to the times, as
well as in its spiritual work. It knows it cannot grow if it is not
THE CHORUS OF THE TEMPLE
Its Leader, Professor David Wood. How he Came to the Church. A sketch
of His life. The Business Management of the Chorus. The Fine System.
The Sheet Music and Its Care. Oratorios and Concerts. Finances of the
Chorus. Contributions it has Made to Church Work.
With a pastor who had loved music from childhood, who taught it in
his early manhood, who was himself proficient on several instruments,
music naturally assumed an important place in Temple life and work.
From the moment of his entering upon the pastorate of Grace Baptist
Church, Mr. Conwell made the music an enjoyable feature of the
In this early work of organizing and developing a church choir, he
found an able and loyal leader in Professor David D. Wood, who threw
himself heart and soul into helping the church to grow musically. He
has been to the musical life of the church what Mr. Conwell has been
to its spiritual growth, and next to their pastor himself, it is
doubtful if any man is so endeared to the Grace Church membership as
is Professor Wood, their blind organist.
He came to them in May, 1885, the regular organist being sick. His
connection with the church came about in the most simple manner and
yet it has been invaluable to the work of The Temple. His son was an
attendant at the church, and when the regular organist fell ill,
asked his father if he would not take his place. Ever ready to do a
kindness. Professor Wood consented. The organist never sufficiently
recovered to come back to his post, being compelled to go West finally
for his health. Mr. Conwell asked Professor Wood to take the position,
and from that day to the present he has filled it to the satisfaction
and gratification of the Grace Church.
He was born in Pittsburgh, March 2, 1838. His parents were poor, his
father being a carpenter and he himself built the little log cabin in
which the family lived. When David was a baby only a few months old,
he lost the sight of one eye by inflammation resulting from a severe
cold. When about three years old, he noiselessly followed his sister
into the cellar one day, intending in a spirit of mischief to blow out
the candle she was carrying. Just as he leaned over to do it, she,
unconscious that he was there, raised up, thrusting the candle in her
hand right into his eye. The little boy's cry of pain was the first
warning of his presence. The eye was injured, but probably he would
not entirely have lost its sight had he not been attacked shortly
after this with scarlet fever. When he recovered from this illness
he was entirely blind. But the affliction did not change his sweet,
loving disposition. He entered as best he could into the games and
sports of childhood and grew rugged and strong. One day, while playing
in the road, he was nearly run over by a carriage driven by a lady.
Learning the little fellow was blind, she became interested in him
and told his father of the school for the blind in Philadelphia. His
parents decided to send him to it, and at five years of age he was
sent over the mountains, making the journey in five days by canal.
He was a bright, diligent pupil and a great reader, showing even at an
early age his passion for music. When eight years old, he learned the
flute. Soon he could play the violin and piano, and in his twelfth
year he began playing the organ. All these instruments he took up and
mastered himself without special instruction. In mathematics, James G.
Blaine was his instructor for two years.
After leaving school his struggles to succeed as an organist were hard
and hitter. Despite his unusual ability, it was difficult to secure a
position. He met with far more refusals than encouragement. But he was
persistent and cheerful. Finally success came. Two days before Easter
the organist of an Episcopal church was suddenly incapacitated and no
one could be found to play the music. Professor Wood offered himself.
The rector's wife read the music to him. He learned it in an hour,
and rehearsal and the services passed off without a break. He was
immediately engaged, his salary being one hundred dollars a year, his
next position paid him fifty dollars a year. In 1864, he went to St.
Stephen's Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, as choirmaster and organist,
which position he still holds, playing at The Temple in the evenings
He is to-day one of the most widely known organists of the country,
being acknowledged everywhere a master of the instrument. He is a
member of the faculty of the Philadelphia Musical Academy, principal
of the music department in the Pennsylvania School for the Blind. It
is said he has trained more good organists than any other teacher in
His cheery, kindly personality wins loyalty and devotion at once. His
Christianity is the simple, loving, practical kind that fairly shines
from his presence and attracts people to him immediately. The members
of the Chorus of The Temple are devoted to him. No rules are required
to keep them in order; no other inspiration to do their best is needed
than his simple wish.
In the old church at Mervine and Berks streets he had a volunteer
choir of about twenty, all that the little organ loft would
accommodate. They could sing as the birds sing, because they had
voices and loved it, but of musical training or education they had
little. They were drawn from the membership of the church, composed of
poor working people.
From this nucleus grew the chorus of The Temple, which was organized
in 1891, six weeks before the membership took possession of its new
building. With the organization of this large chorus, Professor Wood
faced a new and difficult problem. How was he to hold from one hundred
to one hundred and fifty people together, who were not paid for their
services, who were not people of leisure to whom rehearsals are no tax
on time or strength? These were nearly all working people who came to
rehearsal after a day's tiring employment. That he has succeeded so
splendidly in these fourteen years proves his fine leadership.
He had a body of workers devoted to the church, people before whom was
ever held up the fact that they could serve the Master they all loved
by singing, if they could in no other way; that they could give their
voices, if they could give nothing else. He had a body of workers
devoted also to himself, who would have followed him unhesitatingly no
matter what commands he lay upon them. But he felt they should have
some other encouragement, some other interest to hold them together,
so almost immediately upon their organization he took up the study of
Haydn's "Creation." It seemed a stupendous undertaking for a young and
inexperienced chorus, one with no trained voices, few of whom could
even read music at sight. But they plunged into the study with spirit.
No incentive was needed to come to rehearsals, no one thought of
dropping out. Indeed, the opportunity to study such music under such
a master brought many new members. And in the fall of that year the
oratorio was given with splendid success.
This method has been followed ever since. Every year some special work
is taken up for study and given in the fall. It is an event that is
now a recognized feature of the city's musical life, eagerly awaited
by music lovers not only of Philadelphia but of nearby towns. In
addition to Haydn's "Creation," which has been sung four times,
the chorus has given Handel's "Messiah" three times, Mendelssohn's
"Elijah" twice, Beethoven's "Mount of Olives," Mendelssohn's "Hymn of
Praise," Miriam's "Song of Triumph." It has also given a number of
secular concerts. For all this extra work neither Professor Wood nor
any member of the chorus has ever received one cent of pay. It is all
cheerfully contributed. The oratorios are given with a full orchestra
and eminent soloists. In the secular concerts the music is always of
the highest order. Guilmant, the celebrated French organist, gave a
recital at The Temple while in this country. The chorus believes
in the best, both in the class of music it gives and the talent it
secures, and has long been looked on by those interested in the city's
musical welfare as a society that encourages and supports all that
is high and fine in music. Among the selections given at the Sunday
services are Gounod's "Sanctus," the magnificent "Pilgrim's Chorus,"
the "Gloria," from Mozart's "Twelfth Mass," Handel's beautiful
"Largo," the "St. Cecilia Mass," and others of the same character.
The plan of fining members for absence from rehearsal, which was
adopted at the time the chorus was organized, has also had much to do
with its success, though it is rather unusual for a choir. Instead of
being paid to sing, they pay if they do not sing. The fine at first
was twenty-five cents for each failure to attend rehearsal or Sunday
service. Many shook their heads and said it was a bad idea, that the
members wouldn't come and couldn't pay the fine, and that the chorus
would go to pieces. But the members did come, and when for any reason
they were compelled to stay away they cheerfully paid the fine and the
chorus flourished. These fines helped to pay the current expenses of
the chorus. In the last three years the amount has been reduced to
ten cents, but it still nets a sum in the course of the year that the
treasurer welcomes most gladly. A collection is also taken at each
service among the members, which likewise helps to swell the chorus
Speaking of the organization and work of such a chorus, Professor Wood
"In organizing a church chorus one must not be too particular about
the previous musical education of applicants. It is not necessary that
they be musicians, or even that they read music readily. All that I
insist upon is a fairly good voice and a correct ear. I assume, of
course, that all comers desire to learn to sing. Rehearsals must be
scrupulously maintained, beginning promptly, continuing with spirit,
and not interrupted with disorder of any kind. A rehearsal should
never exceed two hours, and a half hour less is plenty long enough,
if there is no waste of time. In learning new music, voices should be
rehearsed separately; that is, all sopranos, tenors, basses, and altos
by themselves first, then combine the voices. You should place before
a choir a variety of music sufficient to arouse the interest of all
concerned. This will include much beyond the direct demand for church
work. The chorus of The Temple has learned and sung on appropriate
occasions war songs, college songs, patriotic songs, and other grades
of popular music.
"No one man's taste should rule in regard to these questions as
to variety, although the proprieties of every occasion should be
carefully preserved. Due regard must be paid to the taste of members
of the chorus. If any of them express a wish for a particular piece, I
let them have it. When it comes my time to select, they are with me.
Keep some high attainment before the singers all the time. When the
easier tasks are mastered, attempt something more difficult. It
maintains enthusiasm to be ever after something better, and
enthusiasm is a power everywhere. In music, this is 'the spirit which
"In the preparation of chorus work do not insist on perfection. When
I get them to sing fairly well, I am satisfied. To insist on extreme
accuracy will discourage singers. Do not, therefore, overtrain them.
"An incredible amount may be done even by a crude company of singers.
When the preparation began for the opening of The Temple, there was
but a handful of volunteers and time for but five rehearsals. But
enthusiasm rose, reinforcements came, and six anthems, including the
'Hallelujah Chorus,' were prepared and sung in a praiseworthy manner.
Do not fear to attempt great things. Timidity ruins many a chorus.
"Do not be afraid to praise your singers. Give praise, and plenty of
it, whenever and wherever it is due. A domineering spirit will prove
disastrous. Severity or ridicule will kill them. Correct faults
faithfully and promptly, but kindly.
"In the matter of discipline I am a strong advocate of the 'fine
system.' It is the only way to keep a chorus together. The fines
should he regulated according to the financial ability of the chorus.
Our fine at The Temple was at first twenty-five cents for every
rehearsal and every service missed. It has since been dropped to ten
cents. This is quite moderate. In some musical societies the fine is
one dollar for every absence. This system is far better than monthly
"The advantages to members of a chorus are many and of great value.
Concerted work has advantages which can be secured in no other way. A
good chorus is an unequaled drill in musical time. The singer cannot
humor himself as the soloist can, but must go right on with the grand
advance of the company. He gets constant help also, in the accurate
reading of music. Then, too, there is an indescribable, uplifting,
enkindling power in the presence and cooeperation of others. The volume
of song lifts one, as when a great congregation sings. It is the
_esprit du corps_ of the army; that magnetic power which comes from
the touch of elbows, and the consecration to a common cause. No
soloist gets this.
"Some would-be soloists make a great mistake right here. They think
that chorus work spoils them as soloists. Not at all, if they have
proper views of individual work in a chorus. If they propose to sing
out so they shall sound forth above all others, then they may damage
their voices for solo work. But that is a needless and highly improper
use of the voice. Sing along with the others in a natural tone. They
will be helped and the soloist will not be harmed.
"The best conservatories of music in the world require of their
students a large amount of practice in concerted performance and will
not grant diplomas without it. All the great soloists have served
their time as chorus singers. Parepa-Rosa, when singing in the solo
parts in oratorio, would habitually sing in the chorus parts also,
singing from beginning to end with the others.
"Many persons have expressed their astonishment at the absence of the
baton both from the rehearsals and public performances of the chorus
of The Temple. Experience has proven to me, beyond a doubt, that a
chorus can be better drilled without a baton than with it, though it
costs more labor and patience to obtain the result. To sing by common
inspiration is far better than to have the music 'pumped out,' as is
too often the case, by the uncertain movements of the leader's baton."
With a membership that has ranged from one hundred to two hundred
and fifty, skilled business management is needed to keep everything
The record of attendance is regulated by the use of checks. Each
member of the chorus is assigned a number. As they come to rehearsal,
service, or concert, the singer removes the check on which is his
number from the board upon which it hangs and gives it to the person
appointed to receive it as he passes up the stairway to his seat
in the choir. When the numbers are checked up at the close of the
evening, the checks which have not been removed from the board are
The bill for sheet music for one year is something between $400 and
$500. To care for so much music would be no light task if it were not
reduced to a science. The music is in charge of the chorus librarian,
who gives to each member an envelope stamped with his number and
containing all the sheet music used by the chorus. Each member is
responsible for his music, so that the system resolves itself into
simplicity itself. In the Lower Temple enclosed closets are built in
the wall, divided into sections, in which the envelopes are kept by
their numbers, so that it is but the work of a moment to find the
music for any singer. An insurance of $1,200 is carried on the music.
Typical of the spirit of self-sacrifice that animates the chorus is
the fact that for nearly ten years after the choir was organized, one
of the members, in order to reduce the expense for sheet music, copied
on a mimeograph all the music used by the members. It was a gigantic
task, but he never faltered while the need was felt.
In order to avoid confusion both in rehearsals and at each service,
every singer has an appointed seat. There is also a system of signals
employed by the organist, clearly understood and promptly responded
to by the chorus, for rising, resuming their seats, and for any other
duty. This regularity of movement, the precision with which the great
choir leads the attitudes and voices of the congregation in all the
musical services, the entire absence of confusion, impresses the
thoroughness of the chorus drill upon every one, and adds greatly to
the effectiveness and decorum of the service.
Most remarkable of all the work of the chorus, perhaps, is the fact
that it has not only paid its way, but it has in addition contributed
financially to the help of the church. Most choral societies have to
be supported by guarantors, or friends or members must reach down in
their pockets and make up the deficits that occur with unpleasant
regularity. But the chorus of The Temple has borne its own expenses
and at various times contributed to the church work.
At the annual banquet in 1905, the following statement was made of the
financial history of the chorus since 1892:
Collections from members $ 2,564.60
Fines paid by members 975.60
Gross receipts from concerts 11,299.40
For music $ 2,167.80
For sundry expenses for socials, flowers for sick,
contributions for benevolent purposes, etc. 1,035.81
Expenses of concerts 8,506.34
Contributions to church, college, hospital, Sunday
School, repairs to organ, etc. 3,050.51
The chorus has furnished a private room in the Samaritan Hospital at a
cost of $250, pays half the cost of the telephone service to a shut-in
member, so that while lying on his bed of sickness he can still hear
the preaching and singing of his beloved church, and has contributed
to members in need; in fact, whatever help was required, it has come
forward and shouldered its share of the financial burdens of the
church. It is a chorus that helps by its singing in more ways than
singing, though that were enough.
Out of the chorus has grown many smaller organizations which not only
assist from time to time in the church and prayer meeting services,
but are in frequent demand by Lyceums and other churches. All the
money they earn is devoted to some part of The Temple work.
The organ which rears its forest of beautiful pipes in the rear of the
church is one of the finest in the country. It was built under the
direct supervision of Professor Wood at a cost of $10,000. The case
is of oak in the natural finish, 35 feet wide, 35 feet high, 16 feet
deep. It has 41 stops, 2,133 pipes, four sets of manuals, each manual
with a compass of 61 notes; there are 30 pedal notes, 9 double-acting
combination pedals; all the metal pipes are 75 per cent pure tin.
In loving Christian fellowship the chorus abides. No difficulty that
could not be settled among themselves has ever rent it; no jealousies
mar its peaceful course. Professor Wood is a wise leader. He leaves
no loophole for the green-eyed monster to creep in. He selects no one
voice to take solo parts. If a solo occurs, he gives it to the whole
of that voice in the chorus or to a professional.
Dr. Conwell reads the hymns with so much expression and feeling that
new meaning is put into them. The stranger is quietly handed a hymn
book by some watchful member. The organ swings into the melody of the
hymn, the chorus, as one, rises, and a flood of song sweeps over the
vast auditorium that carries every one as in a mighty tide almost up
to the gates of heaven itself. And as it ebbs and sinks into silence,
faith has been refreshed and strengthened, hardened hearts softened,
the love of Christ left as a precious legacy with many a man and woman
SERVICES AT THE TEMPLE
A Typical Sunday. The Young People's Church. Sunday School. The
Baptismal Service. Dedication of Infants. The Pastor's Thanksgiving
Reception to Children. Sunrise Services. Watch Meeting.
Sunday is a joyous day at The Temple, and a busy one. It is crowded
with work and it is good to be there. Services begin at half after
nine with prayer meetings in the Lower Temple by the Young Men's
Association and the Young Women's Association. The men's is held in
the regular prayer meeting room; the women's in the room of their
association. Each is led by some member of the association who is
assigned a subject for the morning's study. These subjects, together
with the leaders' names, are prepared in advance and printed on a
little schedule which is distributed among the church members, so that
they may know who has charge of the prayer meeting and the topic for
Dr. Conwell has for twenty-two years presided at the organ in the
men's meeting, and usually before the services are over takes a peep
into the women's gathering, leaving a prayer or a brief word of cheer
and inspiration. The meetings are not long, but they are full of
spiritual strength. Men and women, tired with the business life of the
week, find them places of soul refreshment where they can step aside
from the rush and press of worldly cares and commune with the higher,
better things of life.
By the time the prayer meetings are over, the members of the chorus
are thronging the Lower Temple, receiving their music and attendance
checks, waiting for the signal to march to their seats in the church
The morning services begin at half after ten, with the singing of
the Doxology, the chanting of the Lord's Prayer by the choir and
congregation, followed by the sermon. At the close of the service, Dr.
Conwell steps from the pulpit and meets all strangers or friends with
a hearty handclasp and a cordial word of greeting.
While morning service is being conducted in The Temple, a Young
People's Church is held in the Lower Temple. Dr. Conwell has not
forgotten those wearisome Sundays of his boyhood when, too young to
appreciate the church service, he fidgeted, strove to keep awake,
whittled, and ended it all by thoroughly disliking church. He wants no
such unhappy youngsters to sit through his preaching. He wants no such
dislike of the church imbedded in childish hearts and minds. So he
planned the Young People's Church. Boys and girls between three and
fourteen attend it, and Sunday morning the streets in the neighborhood
of The Temple are thronged with happy-faced children on the way to
their own church, the youngest in the care of parents, who are able
later to enjoy more fully The Temple services, since they are not
compelled to keep a watchful eye on a restless child.
Before the services begin, the children are very much at home. No
stiff, silent formalism chills youthful spirits. They are as joyous
and happy as they would be in their own homes. As the moment
approaches for the services to begin, they take their seats and at a
given signal rise and recite, "The Lord is in His holy Temple. Let all
the earth keep silence before Him." A hush falls and then the sweet,
childish voices begin that beautiful psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want," and without break or faltering, recite it to the
end. Songs follow, bright, cheerful songs full of life, which they
sing with a will. Then responsive readings and the Lord's Prayer and
always plenty of singing. A short talk is given by the leader, often
some one especially secured for the occasion, a talk not over their
heads, but into their hearts, a talk whose meaning they can grasp and
which sets young minds to thinking of the finer, nobler things of
life and inspires them to so live as to be good and useful. Sometimes
lantern exhibits to illustrate special topics are given. The mere
sight of their bright, happy faces in contrast to the dull, bored
expression of the usual child in church proves the wisdom of the work.
The children, as far as possible, perform all the duties of the
services. A small boy plays the music for their songs, two small girls
keep a record of the attendance, children take up the offering. But
it is a church in more than mere services. Committees from among the
children are appointed for visiting, for calling on the sick, to plan
for entertainments, provide the games for the socials, and to look
after all details of this character. There are also two officers, a
secretary and treasurer. An advisory committee of ladies, members of
The Temple, keep an oversight and guiding hand on the work of the
children. The instruction is all in the hands of trained teachers,
mostly from the college, including as Director the lady Dean of the
College, Dr. Laura H. Carnell.
In the afternoon the Sunday Schools meet. The youngest children are
enrolled in the primary or kindergarten department. This has a bright,
cheery room of its own in the Lower Temple, with a leader and a number
of young women scattered here and there among the children to look
after their needs and keep them orderly. Hats are taken off and hung
on pegs on the wall and the youngsters are made to feel very much at
One of the prettiest features of the service in this department is
the offering of the birthday pennies. All the members who have had a
birthday during the week come forward to put a penny for each year
into the basket. Then the class stands up and recites a verse and
sings a song on birthdays. Very pretty and inspiring both verse and
song are, and then the honored ones return to their seats, wishing, no
doubt, they had a birthday every week.
The taking of the offering is also a pretty ceremony. Verses on giving
are recited by the children, then one small child takes his stand in
the doorway, holding the basket, and the children all march by and
drop in their pennies.
The intermediate department claims the next oldest children. It is
led by an orchestra composed of members of the Sunday School, and the
singing is joyous and spirited. The superintendent walks around among
the scholars during the opening exercises, smiling, encouraging,
giving a word of praise, urging them to do better. The fresh, clear
voices rise clear and strong. Outside, on Broad Street, people stop to
listen. Men lean up against the windows and drink in the melody. No
one knows what messages of peace and salvation those songs carry out
to the throng on the city street.
The classes of the senior department meet in the various rooms of the
college, and the adult class in the auditorium of The Temple. This Dr.
Conwell conducted himself for a number of years, until pressure of
work compelled him to use these hours for rest. A popular feature of
his service was the question box, in which he answered any question
sent to him on any subject connected with religious life or experience
or Christian ethics in everyday life. The questions could be sent by
mail or handed to him on the platform by the ushers. They were most
interesting, and the service attracted men and women from all parts of
the city. The following was one of the questions, during the year of
building the college:
"Five thousand dollars are due next week, and $15,000 next month. Will
you set on foot means to raise this amount or trust wholly to God's
And the pastor answered from the platform:
"I would trust wholly in God's direction. This is a sort of test of
faith, and I would make it more so in the building of the College.
I do not know for certain now where the money is to come from next
Wednesday; I have an idea. But a few days ago I did not know at all. I
do not see where the $15,000 is to come from in December unless it be
that the Feast of Tithes will bring in $10,000 towards it; that would
be a marvelous sum for the people to give, but if it is necessary they
will give it. We are workers together with God. I have partly given
up my lecture work this month, as the church thought it was best, but
suppose there should come to me from Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, or
some other place a call to go and lecture on the 10th or 12th
of December, and they should offer me $500 or more--I would say
immediately, 'Yes, I will go'; that is God's call to help the College;
that would be the direction of God. Such opportunities will come to
those who should give this $15,000. If God intends the amount due on
the College to be paid (and I believe he does), he will cause the
hearts of those who desire to help to give money toward this cause. We
trust entirely to God. I don't believe if I were to lie down, and the
church should stop, that it would be paid. But I am sure that if we
work together with God, He will never fail to do as He promises, and
He won't ask us to do the impossible. I tell you, friends, I feel
sure that the $5,000 will be paid next Wednesday, and I feel sure the
$15,000 will be paid when it is due."
It may be interesting to know that the $5,000 was paid; and when the
$15,000 was due in December, the money was in the treasury all ready
From half after six on, there are the meetings of the various
Christian Endeavor Societies in the Lower Temple. At half after seven
the evening services begin and an overflow meeting is held at the same
time in the Lower Temple for those who find it impossible to gain
admittance to the main auditorium.
The preaching service is followed by a half-hour prayer meeting in the
Lower Temple in which both congregations join, taxing its capacity
to the utmost. It is a half hour that flies, a half hour full of
inspiration and soul communion with the "Spirit that moved on the
waters," a fitting crown to a day devoted to His service.
After the solemn benediction is pronounced, a half hour more of good
fellowship follows. The pastor meets strangers, shakes hands with
members, makes a special effort to hold a few words of personal
conversation with those who have risen for prayer. Friends and
acquaintances greet each other, and the home life of the church comes
to the surface. The hand of the clock creeps to eleven, sometimes
past, before the last member reluctantly leaves.
Baptism is a very frequent part of the Sunday services at The Temple,
usually taking place in the morning. It is a beautiful, solemn
ordinance. The baptistry is a long, narrow pool, arranged to resemble
a running stream. Years ago, when Dr. Conwell was in Palestine, he was
much impressed with the beauty of the river Jordan at the place where
Jesus was baptized. Always a lover of the beautiful in nature, the
picture long remained in his memory, especially the leaves and
blossoms that drifted on the stream. When The Temple was planned he
thought of it and determined to give the baptismal pool as much of the
beauty of nature as possible.
It is fifteen feet wide, sixty feet long, and during the hour of the
solemn ordinance, the brook is running constantly. The sides of the
pool, the pulpit and platform, summer or winter, are banked with
flowers, palms, moss and vines. On the surface of the water float
blossoms, while at the back, banked with mosses and flowers, splashes
and sparkles a little waterfall. Over all falls the soft radiance of
an illuminated cross. It is a beautiful scene, one that never fades
from the memory of the man or woman who is "buried with Christ by
baptism into death," to be raised again in the likeness of His
resurrection. The candidates enter at the right and pass out at
the left, the pastor pressing into the hands of each, some of the
beautiful blossoms that float on the water. During the whole service
the organ plays softly, the choir occasionally singing some favorite
When the number of candidates is large, being on occasion as high as
one hundred and seventy-seven adults, the associate pastor assists. It
is no unusual thing to see members of a family coming together to
make this public profession of their faith. Husband and wife, in many
cases; husband, wife and children in many others; a grandmother and
two grandchildren on one occasion, and on yet another, a venerable
gray-haired nurse came with four of the family in which she had served
for many years, and the five entered the baptistry together.
"Among the converts," says one who witnessed a baptismal service,
"there were aged persons with their silvered hair. There were stalwart
men, fitted to bear burdens in the church for many years to come.
There were young men and maidens to grow into strong men and women
of the future church. There were little children sweet in their
simplicity and pure love of the Savior, little children who were
carried in the arms of those who assisted, and whom Dr. Conwell
tenderly held in his arms as he buried them with Christ."
Another solemn service of the church is the dedication of infants. Any
parents who wish, may bring their child and reverently dedicate it to
God, solemnly promising to do all within their power to train it and
teach it to lead a Christian life and to make a public profession of
faith when it has arrived at the years of discretion. The service
QUESTION.--Do you now come to the Lord's house to present your child
(children) to the Lord? ANSWER.--We do.
QUES.--Will you promise before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that you will, so far as in you lieth, teach this child the Holy
Scriptures, and bring him (her) up in the nurture and admonition of
the Lord? Will you train his (her) mind to respect the services of the
Lord's House, and to live in compliance with the teachings and example
of our Lord? When he reaches the years of understanding, will you show
him the necessity of repentance, explain to him the way of salvation,
and urge upon him the necessity of conversion, Baptism, and union with
the visible Church of Christ? ANS.--We will.
QUES.--By what name do you purpose to register him (her or them) at
this time? ANS.--
* * * * *
_Beloved_: These parents have come to the house of God at this time to
present this child (these children) before the Lord in imitation of
the presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple as recorded by the
Evangelist Luke, saying, "When the days of her [Mary's] purification
according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him
to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice
according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of
turtle doves or two young pigeons." These parents have learned from
the Lord Jesus himself that he desires that all the children should
come unto him, and that he was pleased when the little children
were brought unto him that he might put his hands on them and pray.
Therefore, in obedience to the scriptures, these parents are here to
present this child unto the Lord Jesus in spirit, that he may take him
up in his arms, place his spiritual hands on him and bless him.
We will turn, therefore, to the Holy Scriptures for direction, as they
are our only rule of faith and practice, and ascertain the wishes and
commandments of the Lord in this matter.
_I Sam. I, 26, 27, 28_:
And Hannah said, O my Lord, as thy soul liveth, my Lord, I am the
woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord.
For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which
I asked of him;
Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he
shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there.
* * * * *
_Mark X, 13, 14, 15_:
And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them; and
his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them,
Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for
of such is the kingdom of God.
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God
as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed
* * * * *
_Luke XVIII, 15, 16, 17_:
And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them; but
when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to
come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God
as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
* * * * *
_Matt. XVIII, 2-6, 14_:
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as
little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the
same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me,
it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck,
and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Even so it is not the will of your father which is in heaven, that one
of these little ones should perish.
Therefore, believing it is wise and that it is a sacred duty to
dedicate our precious little ones to God in this solemn manner;
believing that all the dear children are especially loved by Christ;
and that when taken from this world before active, intentional
participation in sin, they are saved by His merciful grace; and
believing that Christ by His example, and the apostles by their direct
teaching, reserve the sacred ordinance of baptism for repentant
believers, we will now unitedly ask the Lord to accept the
consecration of this child (children), and to take him in His
spiritual arms and bless him.
* * * * *
The pastor's reception to the children Thanksgiving afternoon is a
service the youngsters await from one year to another. Each child is
supposed to bring some article to be given to Samaritan Hospital. One
year each child brought a potato, which in the aggregate amounted to
several barrels. A writer in the "Temple Magazine," describing one of
these services, says:
"The children came from all directions, of all sizes and in all
conditions. One lad marched up the aisle to a front seat, and his
garments fluttered, flag-like, at many points as he went; others were
evidently rich men's darlings, but all were happy, and their bright
eyes were fixed on the curtained platform, rather than on each other.
They came until four or five thousand of them had arrived, filling
every nook and corner of the Upper Temple."
"Then Dr. Conwell came in, made them all feel at home--they already
were happy--and music, songs and entertainment followed for an hour
or more. At the close he shook hands with every happy youngster who
sought him--and few failed to do it--gave each a cheery word and
hearty handclasp, and then the little ones scattered, swarming along
the wide pavements of Broad Street till the Thanksgiving promenaders
wondered what had broken loose and whence the swarms of merry children
Sunrise services are held Easter and Christmas mornings at seven
o'clock. These beautiful days are ushered in by a solemn prayer
meeting, spiritual, uplifting, which seems to attune the day to the
music of heavenly things, and to send an inspiration into it which
glorifies every moment.
Another service very dear to the members of Grace Baptist Church is
watch meeting. The services begin at eight o'clock New Year's Eve
with a prayer meeting which continues until about half after nine. An
intermission follows and usually a committee of young people serve
light refreshments for those who want them. At eleven o'clock the
watch meeting begins. It is a deeply spiritual meeting, opened by the
pastor with an earnest prayer for guidance in the year to come, for
renewed consecration to the Master's service, for a better and higher
Christian life both as individuals and a church. Hymns follow and a
brief, fervid talk on the year coming and its opportunities, of the
record each will write on the clean white page in the book of life
to be turned so soon. As midnight approaches, every church member is
asked to signify his re-dedication to God and His service by standing.
Then the solemn question is put to others present if they do not want
to give themselves to God, not only for the coming year, but for all
years. As twelve o'clock strikes, all bow in silent prayer while the
organ, under the pastor's touch, softly breathes a sacred melody.
A few minutes later the meeting adjourns, "Happy New Years" are
exchanged, and the church orchestra on the iron balcony over the great
half rose window on Broad Street breaks into music.
Sometimes an audience of a thousand people gather on the street to
listen to this musical sermon, preached at the parting of the ways, a
eulogy and a prophecy. A writer in the "Philadelphia Press" relates
the following incident in connection with a watch meeting service:
"For the last half hour of the old and the first half hour of the new
year the band played sacred melodies to the delight of not less than
a thousand people assembled on the street. Diagonally across Broad
Street and a short distance below the church is the residence of the
late James E. Cooper, P.T. Barnum's former partner, the millionaire
circus proprietor. He had been ailing for months and on this night he
"Although not a member he had always taken a personal interest in
Grace Church, and one of his last acts was the gift of $1,000 to the
building fund. On this night, the first on which The Temple balcony
had been used for its specially designed purpose, among the last of
earthly sounds that were borne to the ears of the dying man was the
music of 'Coronation' and 'Old Hundred,'--hymns that he had learned in
childhood. The watch meeting closed and from a scene of thanksgiving
and congratulation Rev. Mr. Conwell hurried to the house of mourning,
where he remained at the bedside of the stricken husband and father
until the morning light of earth came to the living and the morning of
eternity to the dying."
Sacred music on the balcony at midnight also ushers in Christmas
and Easter. "On the street, long before the hour, the crowds gather
waiting in reverent silence for the opening of the service," writes
Burdette, in "Temple and Templars." "The inspiring strains of 'the
English Te Deum,' 'Coronation,' rise on the starlit night, thrilling
every soul and suggesting in its triumphant measures, the lines of
Perronet's immortal hymn made sacred by a thousand associations--'All
hail the power of Jesus' Name.'" "This greeting of the Resurrection,
as it floats out over Monument Cemetery just opposite, where sleep
so many thousands, does seem like an assurance sent anew from above,
cheering those who sleep in Jesus, telling them that as their Lord
and King had risen, and now lives again, so shall they live also.
Men looked at the graves of them that slept, listened to the song of
triumph that was making the midnight glorious, remembered the risen
Christ who was the theme of the song, thought of that other midnight,
the riven tomb, the broken power of Death a conquered conqueror,
and seemed to hear the Victor's proclamation as the apostle of the
Apocalypse heard it, pealing like a trumpet voice over all the earth,
'I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth and was dead; and
behold, I am alive forevermore; Amen; and have the keys of hell and
"The music continues, the band playing 'The Gloria,' 'The Heavens are
Telling,' 'The Palms'; now and then the listeners join in singing as
the airs are more familiar, and 'What a Friend we Have In Jesus,'
'Whiter than Snow,' 'Just as I Am,' and other hymns unite many of the
audience on the crowded streets about The Temple in a volunteer choir,
and when the doxology, 'Praise God from whom all blessings flow,'
closes the service, hundreds of voices swell the volume of melody that
greets the Easter morning."
A TYPICAL PRAYER MEETING.
The Prayer Meeting Hall. How the Meeting is Conducted. The Giving of
Favorite Bible Verses. Requests for Prayer. The Lookout Committee.
The prayer meetings of Grace Baptist Church are characterized by a
cheery, homelike atmosphere that appeals forcibly and at once to any
one who may chance to enter, inclining him to stay and enjoy the
service, be he the utmost stranger.
But underneath this and soon felt, is the deep spiritual significance
of the meeting, which lays hold on men's hearts, inspiring, uplifting,
sending them home with a sense of having "walked with God" for a
The large prayer meeting hall is usually crowded, the attendance
including not only members of the church but hundreds who are not
members of any church. It is no unusual sight to see all the various
rooms of the Lower Temple thrown into one by the raising of the
sashes, and this vast floor packed as densely as possible, while a
fringe of standers lines the edges. People will come to these prayer
meetings though they cannot see the platform, though they must lose
much of what is said. But the spirit of the meeting flows into their
hearts and minds, sending them home happier, and with a strengthened
determination to live a more righteous life.
Frequently Dr. Conwell arrives ten or fifteen minutes before the time
for the service to begin. As he walks to the platform, he stops and
chats with this one, shakes hands with another, nods to many in the
audience. At once all stiffness and formalism vanish. It is a home, a
gathering of brothers and sisters. It is the meeting together of two
or three in His name, as in the old apostolic days, though these two
or three are now counted by the hundreds.
When Dr. Conwell thus arrives early, the time is passed in singing.
Often he utilizes these few minutes to learn new hymns. So that when
the real prayer meeting is in progress, there will be no blundering
through new tunes or weak-kneed renditions of them. The singing, Dr.
Conwell wants done with the spirit. He will not sing a verse if the
heart and mind cannot endorse it. After singing several hymns in this
earnest, prayerful fashion, every one present is fully in tune for the
services to follow. Prayer meeting opens with a short, earnest prayer.
Then a hymn. It is Dr. Conwell's practice to have any one call out the
number of a hymn he would like sung. And it is no unusual thing to
hear a perfect chorus of numbers after Dr. Conwell's "What shall we
A chapter from the Bible is read and a short talk on it given. Then
Dr. Conwell says, "The meeting now is in your hands," and sits down as
if he had nothing more to do with it. But that subtle leadership which
leads without seeming to do so, is there ready to guide and direct.
He never allows the meeting to grow dull--though it seldom exhibits a
tendency to do so. If no one is inclined to speak, hymns are sung. An
interesting feature, and one that is tremendously helpful in leading
church members to take part in the prayer meeting, is the giving
of Bible verses. It is a frequent feature of Grace Church prayer
meetings. "Let us have verses of Scripture," or "Each one give his
favorite text," Dr. Conwell announces. Immediately from all parts of
the large room come responses. Some rise to give them, others recite
them sitting. Hundreds are given some evenings in a short space of
time, sometimes the speakers giving a bit of personal experience
connected with the verse.
The prayer meetings are always full of singing, often of silent
prayer; and never does one end without a solemn invitation to those
seeking God and wishing the prayers of the church, to signify it by
rising. While the request is made, the audience is asked to bow in
silent prayer that strength may be given those who want God's help
to make it known. In the solemn hush, one after another rises to his
feet, often as many as fifty making this silent appeal for strength to
lead a better life. Immediately Dr. Conwell leads into an eloquent,
heartfelt prayer that those seeking the way may find it, that the
peace that passeth understanding may come into their hearts and lives.
But Dr. Conwell doesn't let the matter rest here. A committee of
church members already appointed for just such work, is posted like
sentinels about the prayer meeting room, ready to extend practical
help to those who have asked for the prayers of the church. After
the services are over, each one who has risen is sought out, by some
member of this committee, talked with in a friendly, sympathetic way,
and his name and address taken. These are given to Dr. Conwell If time
permits, he writes to many of them. All of them he makes the subject
of personal prayer.
Frequently, before asking those to rise who wish the prayers of the
church, Dr. Conwell asks if any one wishes to request prayers for
others. The response to this is always large. A member of the staff
of "The Temple Magazine" made a note at one prayer meeting of these
requests and published it in the magazine. Three requests were made
for husbands, eight for sons, one for a daughter, three for children,
ten for brothers, two for sisters, two for fathers, one for a cousin,
one for a brother-in-law, four for friends, eleven for Sunday School
scholars, one for a Sunday School class, four for sick persons, two
for scoffers, twenty-one for sinners, four for wanderers, five for
persons addicted to drink, three for mission schools, five for
churches--one that was divided, another deeply in debt, another for
a sick pastor and the other two seeking a higher development in
As many of these requests come from church members, both pastor and
people pay especial attention to them and practically, as well as
prayerfully, try to reach those for whom prayers are asked. In many
cases distinct answers to these prayers are secured, so evident that
none could mistake them. At an after-service on Sunday evening a
mother asked prayers for a wayward son in Chicago. Dr. Conwell and
some of the deacons led the church in prayer for the boy, very
definitely and in faith. At that same hour, as the young man afterward
related, he was passing a church in Chicago, and felt strangely
impressed to enter and give his heart to Christ. It was something he
had no intention of doing when he left his hotel a few minutes before.
But he went in, joined in the meeting, asked for forgiveness of his
sins and the prayers of the church to help him lead a better life,
and accepted Christ as his personal Savior. In the joy of his new
experience, he wrote his mother immediately.
At another prayer meeting, Dr. Conwell read a letter from a gentleman
requesting the prayers of the church for his little boy whom the
doctors had given up to die. He stated in the letter that if God would
spare his child in answer to prayer, he would go anywhere and do
anything the Lord might direct. After reading the letter, Dr. Conwell
led earnestly in prayer, beseeching that the child's life might be
saved since it meant much for the cause of Christ on earth. Several
members of the church made fervent prayers for the child, and at the
close of the meeting, many expressed themselves as being confident
that their prayers would be answered. At that same hour, the disease
turned. The child has grown to be a young man, and with his father is
a member of Grace Church.
Such direct, unmistakable answers to prayer strengthen faith, give
confidence to ask for prayers for loved ones, and make it a very
earnest, solemn part of the prayer meeting service. Thus working and
praying, praying and working, the church marches forward.
THE TEMPLE COLLEGE
The Night Temple College Was Born. Its Simple Beginning and Rapid
Growth. Building the College. How the Money was Raised. The Branches
it Teaches. Instances of Its Helpfulness. Planning for greater Things.
In a letter written to a member of his family, from which we quote the
following, Dr. Conwell tells how the idea of Temple College was born
in his mind one wintry night.
"A woman, ragged, with an old shawl over her head, met me in an alley
in Philadelphia late one night. She saw the basket on my arm, and
looked in my face wistfully, as a dog looks up beside the dinner
table. She was hungry, and was coming in empty. I shook my head, and
with a peculiarly sad glance she turned down the dark passage. I
had found several families hungry, and yet I felt like a hypocrite,
standing there with an empty basket, and a woman, perhaps a mother, so
pale for lack of decent food.
"On the corner was a church, stately and architecturally beautiful by
day, but after midnight it looked like a glowering ogre, and looked so
like Newgate Prison, in London, that I felt its chilly shadow. Half
a million cost the cemented pile, and under its side arch lay two
newsboys or boot-blacks asleep on the step.
"What is the use? We cannot feed these people. Give all you have, and
an army of the poor will still have nothing; and those to whom you do
give bread and clothes to-day will be starving and naked to-morrow.
If you care for the few, the many will curse you for your partiality.
While I stood meditating, the police patrol drove along the street,
and I could see by the corner street lamp that there were two women,
one little girl and a drunken old man in the conveyance, going to
jail! I could do nothing for them.
"At my door I found a man dressed in costly fashion, who had waited for
me outside, as he had been told that I would come soon, and the family
had retired. He said his dying father had sent for me. So I left the
basket in a side yard and went with the messenger. The house was a
mansion on Spring Garden Street. The house was inelegantly overloaded
with luxurious furniture, money wasted by some inartistic purchasers.
The paintings were rare and rich. The owners were shoddy. The family
of seven or eight gathered by the bedside when I prayed for the dying
old man. They were grief-stricken and begged me to stay until his soul
departed. It was daylight before I left the bedside, and as the dying
still showed that the soul was delaying his journey, I went into the
spacious, handsome library. Seeing a rare book in costly binding among
the volumes on a lower shelf, I opened the door and took it out My
hands were black with dust. I glanced then along the rows and rows of
valuable books, and noticed the dust of months or years. The family
were not students or readers. One son was in the Albany Penitentiary;
another a fugitive in Canada. At the funeral, afterwards, the wife
and daughter from Newport were present, and their tears made furrows
through the paint. Those rich people were strangely poor, and a book
on a side table on the 'Abolition of Poverty' seemed to be in the
"That night was conceived the Temple College idea. It was no new
truth, no original invention, but merely a simpler combination of old
ideas. There was but one general remedy for all these ills of poor and
rich, and that could only be found in a more useful education. Poverty
seemed to me to be wholly that of the mind. Want of food, or clothing,
or home, or friends, or morals, or religion, seemed to be the lack of
the right instruction and proper discipline. The truly wise man need
not lack the necessities of life, the wisely educated man or woman
will get out of the dirty alley and will not get drunk or go to
jail. It seemed to me then that the only great charity was in giving
"The first class to be considered was the destitute poor. Not one in a
thousand of those living in rags on crusts would remain in poverty if
he had education enough of the right kind to earn a better living by
making himself more useful. He is poor because he does not know any
better. Knowledge is both wealth and power.
"The next class who stand in need of the assistance love wishes to
give is the great mass of industrious people of all grades, who are
earning something, who are not cold or hungry, but who should earn
more in order to secure the greater necessities of life in order to be
happy. They could be so much more useful if they knew how. To learn
how to do more work in the same time, or how to do much better work,