by David Crowe
Recently, I came across an interesting article about Free Will Baptist Home Missions. The article was simply titled, Home Mission Appropriations. I found it while reading the May 29, 1872, edition of The Morning Star newspaper—the major publication of northern Free Will Baptists from 1826 to 1911. The paper came out weekly for a period of 85 years, and was a wealth of information about the denomination, current United States and world events, and many helps for sermons and Sunday School lessons. The article follows:
"The most difficult and responsible labor of the H.M. Board is to decide where the money entrusted to them can be the most wisely expended. From the east and the west, from the north and the south, from the country and from the cities, come earnest appeals for aid, to save an old church, or to commence a new interest. The several requests are made with the assurance that each is of the most vital importance to the welfare of the denomination, and it is not to be supposed that the Board will hesitate one moment to grant the request. But sometimes the Board is informed that if the appropriation is not granted, then the friends will withhold their contributions, and be under the necessity of organizing a Home Mission Society in their own Quarterly Meeting.
"It is impossible for the Board to grant aid to all the applications, or to all that are worthy and important, for the want of means. The work of the H.M. Society is at home, and if any failures are made, they are known and discussed in private and in public. Then to establish a church is of such slow progress that the Society scarcely gets any credit. Some brethren that fail to get an appropriation are certain that an injustice is done them, for the church at Ephesus received an appropriation and doesn't the whole Christian church that Ephesus is not one half as important as Jerusalem?
"Perhaps an appropriation was made to a church in the city, and the minister in the country is astonished at the extravagance in aiding a minister that receives a thousand dollars a year salary, while he has but five hundred; or, not one dollar will he give the Society if that young Timothy goes to the city of Rome when Peter would be just the man to succeed there; or, there is a fine growing village on the railroad, with no Freewill Baptist church, and if the Society would give only three hundred dollars, he would consent to make the sacrifice to leave this country church and move to the village. But strange to say, the Board could not make the appropriation, and the good brother can never again feel any interest for the H.M. Society."
—A. H. Chase, Corresponding Secretary
Does it seem to you that the more things change, the more they stay the same? Our denomination has struggled over the years to have adequate funds to accomplish the task of building God's Church. Every Free Will Baptist department faces this struggle on a daily basis.
The greatest thing you can do for Home Missions and all the other departments is to pray that every decision that is made would be the right decision and a decision that honors God and His Word.
About the Writer: An avid student of Free Will Baptist history, David Crowe is director of development for the Home Missions Department. Learn more about the mission of Free Will Baptist Home Missions at www.homemissions.net.