Report by Dr. Ellenwood Report State of Universalist Church in Atlanta, Jul 1907

REPORT OF THE ATLANTA MISSIONARY Rev. E. Dean Ellenwood

To the Board of Trustees of the National Young People’s Christian Union:

The Board of Trustees of the First Universalist Church of Atlanta, represented in this convention by their pastor, beg to render to your body the report of the church for the past year.

The year has been in all respects a prosperous one with our church. While our statistics do not show any remarkable net gain in membership, yet we are sure our report will convince you that we have gained in strength and in influence really out of proportion to our increase in membership. The financial condition of the church is decidedly improved; confidence has been renewed and established to a very encouraging degree. The spiritual life of the church has been quickened and deepened, and the congregations have been uniformly good and marked by reverence and attention during the entire year. Our people are confident, enthusiastic, and determined, and indications are that the church has entered upon another period of substantial growth. From Sunday to Sunday we find ourselves “gathered together in the spirit of Jesus Christ,” and are encouraged by the evidences that he is increasingly there, in the midst of us; for the spirit of criticism, and faultfinding, and pessimism, by no means absent a few months ago, is now very rarely manifested.

Membership

During the year we have received twenty new members into the fellowship of the church, eleven men and nine women, these additions making a gross increase of twenty-nine since the beginning of the present pastorate, of whom seventeen were men and twelve were women.

We have lost from our actual resident strength, during this year, twelve members, several of whom we have reason to believe will eventually return to the city and the church, but their names are for the present carried upon our non-resident list, owing to their absence from the city for more than six months. Two, who have been on our non-resident list for more than a year, have been dismissed by their own request, one to the Baptist denomination, and one to join another Universalist church in the city in which she now makes her home. Two have been promoted to the Church Triumphant. One of these members has been absent from the city for more than two years and the other has shown no interest in the church or its services during the present pastorate. As was explained, in the report given at the last convention, the official book of record or list of members of the Atlanta church, mysteriously disappeared sometime during the interim between the close of the pastorate of the Rev. W. H. McGlauflin and the beginning of the present pastorate.

Your pastor has worked at somewhat of a disadvantage; therefore, as the only list of members with which he was furnished was a mailing list of the acting secretary at the time of his arrival, and this has been discovered to be inaccurate, and deficient in many instances. During the past year I have labored at the revision and correction of the list, having discovered by mere chance several members whose name were not on the list furnished, and having discovered that others whose names were on the list were not members of the church. After the most careful revision which I have been able to make. I find that our present strength in membership is one hundred and twenty-three, classified, according to the changes and transfers which I have noted, as eighty-seven actual resident members and thirty six non-resident members. We have a very encouraging and increasing list of families whom we claim in our congregation, and many of them are active in their interest and liberal in their support, but, as I find it a very difficult and uncertain thing to determine who are actually members of a congregation, I have preferred to give in this report only those whom I have reasonably good reason to believe have connected themselves formally with the membership of the church.

It may be of interest and encouragement to the convention to know that, of the twelve whose names have been this year transferred to our non-resident list, five are regular attendants upon Universalist services in other communities, three who moved to the thriving city of Macon, Ga., have formed the nucleus of a Universalist church there and hare had several preliminary services to that end under the efficient leadership of one of our enthusiastic Y. P. C U. ministers, the Rev. Stanley Manning, of Georgia, Alabama, and other Southern states. Two of our this year’s additions to the non-resident list were placed upon that list as soon as they became members of the church, as they entered upon the work of the Universalist ministry, one becoming the pastor of the Universalist Church at Table Grove, Ill., and the other engaging in independent Universalist missionary work in the Southern field.

Women’s Mission Circle

The Women’s Mission Circle has continued its splendid work for the past year, and finds itself stronger and more enthusiastic in its work than at the beginning of the season. Following the suggestion of the pastor, the object and policy of the society has been somewhat changed, and instead of devoting almost its entire time and energy to the task of raising money for current expenses of the church, it has endeavored to become more and more the center of the social life and the benevolent work of the church. This change in policy has resulted in a smaller financial showing than that of last year, but this, I believe, is as it should be, and the gains in the directions indicated have more than compensated for the slight decrease in financial return. The society has taken a membership in the Associated Charities, in the King’s Daughters Hospital, and in the Home for Aged Women, and has paid its dues in full to each of these institutions, thus showing to the community in which our church desires to become more and more of a factor, that we exist for something more than denominational propaganda.

The meetings of the society are held semi-monthly, instead of monthly, as formerly. In addition to the regular monthly business meetings, monthly literary and social meetings are held at the homes of the members. These have been very successful, well attended, and charming in every way. Some of the subjects for these meeting have been, the poet Longfellow, our own beloved Atlanta poet, Major Charles W. Hubner, who is a member of our church, and Clara Barton. The society has also had the good fortune to listen to an excellent address from Dr. McGlauflin, on “The New Womanhood.” Other meetings have been occupied with music and with book reviews.

The business meetings have been held in the church parlor, except the last two, which were “spend the day sewing bees” at the homes of members. All of these meetings have had good attendance. The pastor does not often attend the business meetings of the society, but his wife is an active member, and he usually manages to arrive in time for refreshments.

A cash balance of $118.10 was brought over from last year, and $236.01 received from all sources, during the year. The year’s disbursements amount to $283.09, including a pledge of $150.00 for current expenses of the church, which has been paid promptly each month, and various bills for repairs and improvements to the church property, besides the benevolences already noted. The society carries over to the next year a balance of $70.42 Nearly all of the money of the society is secured through “rummage sales,” and a splendid opportunity is thus presented to the strong churches in our denomination to render very efficient aid to the Atlanta church by sending to our ladies’ society boxes or barrels of rummage to be thus disposed of. Several of our churches have already in this way rendered assistance, which is hereby very gratefully acknowledged. The society desires to assist in the work of finishing the basement during the next year, and will need all of the outside help obtainable.

Sunday School

The Sunday School shows little change in enrollment or attendance over last year. The total enrollment is thirty-seven, and the average collections have been $1.06, with an average attendance of twenty-seven. This we feel to be a very good showing, when it is remembered that nearly all of our Sunday School members are obliged to use the street cars to reach the church.

The Christmas entertainment was a special success. A splendid tree, fresh from the Maine forests, the gift of one of our loyal workers, was beautifully decorated by this same worker and his faithful wife, and proved a real delight to the large company gathered to celebrate the “birthday of the King.” The Christmas spirit was made abundantly manifest by the presence, as the invited guests of the Sunday School, of twenty-five of the city’s unfortunate little ones for whom no other Christmas cheer had been provided.

Easter Sunday was appropriately observed, and a special collection taken and donated to the church to assist in paying for needed repairs. On Children’s Sunday, special exercises were held in the church by the children, and the pastor gave a brief history of the origin of the observance of the day, and also preached a sermon especially for the children. The school has instituted the Roll of Honor, whereon are enrolled the names of all scholars who bring recruits to the school, and also the Cradle Roll for names of the future Sunday School scholars arriving from time to time in the homes of our people. The school this year increased its pledge to the church for current expenses, from 50 cents to 60 cents per week and has paid it faithfully.

The regular Sunday collections for the year have amounted to $42.09. The Birthday offerings $4.80, and special collections for Christmas entertainment and picnic expenses amounted to $23.15, bringing the total receipts of the school for the year up to $70.04. This has been disbursed as follows: For literature and supplies, $15.26; to church for current expenses, $25.60; for Christmas entertainment, picnic, and miscellaneous expenses, $22.80, leaving a balance on hand of $6.38.

Young People’s Christian Union

The Y. P. C. U. was organized in March, 1906, with fourteen charter members. It now has a membership of forty, of whom twenty-eight are active members. (By this distinction is meant those who pay dues).

Seven social gatherings have been held, all of them enjoyable, and all of them making a distinct contribution to the social life of the church. The Union has held nine business meetings and forty devotional meetings, which are held on Sunday evenings.

The Union has been especially active in a financial way, as will be shown by the following report: Dues to the amount of $21.50 have been collected; a social netted $4.78; a bazaar held at Christmas time, $71.15; and a play, “The District School” netted $148.50, making the total receipts, $245.93. The special missionary pledge of $10.00 made at Detroit has been paid, together with our per capita tax for the current year $4.80; $69.00 was paid to the church as a contribution toward the final payment on our piano, $148.50 has been paid into the “basement fund,” and $13.63 for incidental expenses, making total disbursements of $245.93, and leaving the treasury quite empty. The Union desires to use this occasion to thank most cordially and earnestly the Unions and Ladies’ societies of several of our churches who responded so generously to our appeal for assistance in our bazaar, and who contributed greatly to the success of that enterprise. I feel that it is also fitting that this report should state that the play, given just a few weeks ago, with such great success, for the benefit of the basement fund, owed its success very largely to the untiring zeal and painstaking energy of Miss Martha E. Smith, who directed the play, and brought to the aid of our own young people friends of nearly every shade of religious belief, both Jew and Gentile. Miss Smith is the musical director of our Atlanta church, and a very busy teacher, and has chosen as her vacation to be with us at this convention, as a delegate from our Y. P. C. U. It is only fair, also, to state that this addition to our basement fund will be still further augmented by $10.00, still due on advertising, and readily collectable, so that the total net receipts of this venture will be $158.50. The Union now has a faithful and efficient chairman of “2-cents-a-week,” who has collected and remitted to the National Union the sum of the collections.

Organ Fund

Under this heading, I make mention of an entirely new activity of our parish under the present pastorate, and yet only a revival of an enterprise begun some years ago, and of necessity discontinued.

At the beginning of the present pastorate we found the church in possession of a very good piano, whose purchase had been wisely contracted during the pastorate of Brother Harris, and upon which $150.00 was still due. There was also a small cabinet organ, the property of Dr. McGlauflin, which has since been removed by its owner. The piano was much needed in the Sunday School room, and the small organ was hardly adequate for our use. I learned that an organ fund of some proportions had been accumulated some years ago, but through the stern necessity of a brief period of stringency, it had been found wise to borrow this fund to supply a deficit in the current expenses, and prosperity had never sufficiently overtaken the parish to permit of the repayment of this fund. This temporary postponement of hopes long cherished, acted at first as quite a decided handicap toward any definite progress toward the reestablishment of an organ fund. Last November the time seemed ripe for a step to be taken in that direction, as the opportunity was presented to secure a very serviceable organ to be purchased by monthly payments, with a written guarantee that every dollar paid upon this organ shall be credited upon the payment of a pipe organ at any time within five years. It seemed a bold undertaking for the parish, inasmuch as we were still burdened with a floating debt of over $300.00.

However, one of our most loyal and enthusiastic members believed the thing to be possible, and by his untiring effort was able to communicate his optimism to a sufficient number of our members to begin the fund which shall give us the organ fully paid for within two or three years. Dr. Hitchcock, the chairman of our organ fund committee, is one of the busiest of Atlanta’s successful business men, yet he has found time not only to formulate and execute the plan, whereby we are being able to pay for the organ, but also freely contributes his services as organist, and with the help of Miss Smith, has made our music a very valuable part of the service all of this year. Our organ is very sweet toned, two manual, pedal base, pipe organ stop, Estey, and it answers our needs splendidly. The plan adopted for its payment is by monthly subscriptions from the members, which are entirely apart and distinct from the regular weekly pledges for current expenses, and which have been paid with encouraging regularity and promptness. The gathering of this new organ fund begun in November, and there has already been collected the sum of $122,76. All payments have been made up to July I, amounting to $80.00, $1.00 has been paid for clerical expenses, and a balance remains in the hands of the special treasurer of this fund, of $41.76. We still owe on the organ, $470.00, payable at the rate of $10.00 per month, without interest. Best of all, the earlier chief objectors to every proposition looking toward the re-establishment of an organ fund, are now among the most enthusiastic and faithful endorsers and supporters of the present plan.

Basement Fund

This section represents another new item in the annual report from Atlanta, yet, the beginning of this fund dates back for three or four years, to the time when the idea of beginning a fund to be used in finishing the basement of the church presented itself to Miss Sallie Clayton, one of the faithful ones of our church and Sunday School. Since its birth the fund has grown slowly but surely, and has resolutely refused to be loaned, until it had passed the “century mark” and totaled the sum of $107.10. The recent contribution of the Y. P. C. U. of the net proceeds of a play, amounting to $148.50, brings our basement fund up to the very respectable proportions of $255.60, and fills us with the hope that the time is not now very far distant when we shall be able to finish the basement and then be able to properly accommodate the constantly growing social life of the church. The amount yet required for this purpose is approximately $400.00.

REPORT OF TREASURER

The report of our treasurer for the past year shows the following items:

RECEIPTS

Woman’s Mission Circle $142.50
Y.P.C.U. $69.00
Sunday School $12.55
Organ Fund $80.00
Christmas Collection $19.25
Easter Collection $64.30
Special Collection $281.64
Pledge Subscriptions $700.00
Miscellaneous Collections $236.95
Cash on Hand July 1, 1906 $13.93
$1620.82

EXPENDITURES

Pastor’s Salary $750 .00
Music $135.00
Payments on Piano (in full) $10.00
Payments on Organ $80.00
Fuel $23.50
Printing and Postal $37.75
Repairs and painting $82.10
Writing Church (or lights) $14.50
Interest on Note $3.00
Lights and Water $49.60
Janitor Service $63.50
Expense Special Services $62.25
Note of Dr. W.H. McGlauflin $130.00
Quota to General Convention $15.00
Sundries $28.90
Cash on Hand 7-1-07 $35.72
$1620.82

Of the balance of $35.72, remaining in the hands of the treasurer, July 1, 1907, $30 00 belongs in the fund raised for the retirement of floating debts, and can not be used for any other purpose.

The liabilities of the parish are: a note in favor of Mrs. H. Hitchcock, for $100, due Mar. 7, 1908, at 8 percent, and the balance of $470 still due on the organ and payable at $10 per month, without interest

In addition to the amounts which passed through the hands of the treasurer, and which therefore appear upon his books, the following additional funds were raised by the various auxiliaries of the church, and used, or to be used in the interests of the parish : Ladies’ Mission Circle, $86 01; Sunday School, $44 44; Organ Fund, $41.76; Y. P C U., $176 93; making a total of $349 14, and raising the total receipts of the parish for the year to $1969.96, entirely exclusive of the appropriation of the National Y. P. C. U toward the salary of the pastor.

The floating indebtedness of the parish has been reduced during the year by $310.

REPORT OF PASTOR

The work of the pastor, so far as it may be shown by figures, is as follows: There have been 77 sermons preached in the church, of which the pastor has delivered 58. Rabbi David Marx of the Synagogue has preached for us three times; Dr. Sherrill, a Congregationalism once; Dr. Seddon, a Christian, once; Dr. Troutman, Methodist, once; Rev. Lyman B. Weeks, State Superintendent of Universalist Churches of New York, five sermons; Dr. Betts of Syracuse, N. Y., four sermons, and Dr. McGlauflin, General Superintendent, four sermons.

Besides his work in his own pulpit, the pastor has delivered sermons and addresses elsewhere as follow:

Ryder Memorial Church, Chicago, Ill.,. . . . . 1;
Universalist Church, Camp Hill, Ala.,. . . . . . 4;
School house, Rutledge, Ga.,. . . . . . . . . . .  .1;
Universalist Church, Canon, Ga.,. . . . . . . . .2;
Odd Fellows Hall, Chattanooga, Tenn., . . . 4;
Universalist Ladies’ Mission Circle,. . . . . .  1;
Atlanta Psychological Society, . . . . . . . . . .  .1;
On board Steamer City of Atlanta, at sea, .. 1.

The pastor has continued his work on the religious department of the Atlanta Georgian, and has furnished to that paper during the year 50 sermonettes, which have been published in the Saturday edition. He has conducted religious services on 10 different Sunday afternoons at the King’s Daughters Hospital, and on five Sunday afternoons at the Home for Aged Women. He has attended six funerals, two in Atlanta, one in E. Atlanta, one at Rutledge, Ga., one at Senoia, Ga., and one at Turin, Ga. Only two of these were of members of our own parish. He has officiated at two weddings.

No exact record of the number of pastoral calls has been kept, but the pastor and his wife have done their best to keep actively in touch with every member of the parish, giving the preference always to the sick and troubled, and endeavoring always to reach those who imagine themselves to be strangers to our church and its work.

SUMMARY

In summing up the work of the past year, and making predictions for the future, it is only necessary to add that the condition of the parish is certainly improved in every way. Only one as intimately acquainted with the financial ability of the members as is the pastor can fully appreciate the full extent of the sacrifice which has been made by our people to succeed so well in removing from the parish the large burden of debt resting upon it. It seems hardly wise to expect or to demand so great a sacrifice for the coming year, lest discouragement and depression come with the continued strain, but everything possible will be done to keep the parish up to its work and hasten as much as possible the day when it may proudly proclaim itself a self-supporting parish.

The opportunity for the spreading of the gospel of Universalism was never better in the Southland than it is today, and new avenues of opportunity constantly open to the Atlanta Church and its pastor. If we shall be able to build wisely upon the splendid foundation laid through the past years by earnest and consecrated service, the National Y. P. C. U. shall be able to rear a lasting monument to its missionary activity.

This annual report will be hardly complete without some mention of the urgent needs of the church, for in this recital will be revealed the plans and hopes and desires of its pastor and its people. We need, very much, to have the basement room of the church building finished as soon as possible, for already we are feeling the handicap of want of proper facilities for the social work of the church. We need constantly contributions to our organ fund in order that the payments upon the organ may not be allowed to fall behind. Our people are now quite ambitious to replace the original organ fund, which amounted to a little over $800.

We are always in need of strong and logical denominational literature, and, as we have no fund for that purpose, we are obliged to depend almost entirely upon the generosity of our friends. The demands upon us for literature are greatly increased by the sermons of the pastor published in the Atlanta Georgian, and come to us from all parts of the South, and we are anxious that not one shall go unsatisfied.

And, finally, we need always your prayers, your deep and sincere interest and sympathy in our work, and the continued exercise of that rare patience which does not demand the harvest ere the seed time shall have passed, for we can assure you of our faith that “in due season we shall reap, if we faint not”.

Source:  Onward found in Google Books, Vol. XIV, No. 30,  Jul 30, 1907, Page 251 – 255

Posted in Onward, Universalist Church of Atlanta

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