Report of the First Universalist Church of Atlanta, Ga.
Rev. Everett Dean Ellenwood—For Board of Trustees
We extend to the members of this Convention our hearty greetings, and desire at this time to express our genuine gratitude for your prompt and continued cooperation in the work which we are trying to do for the cause of Universalism in the New South. We are grateful that we are able to bring to you a report which we feel to be an encouraging and a prophetic one, and which must have been largely impossible without your fostering care.
In many respects, the year marks an epoch in the history of our church. We witness an increasing interest in our message. A growing spirit of tolerance is manifest in our community. The minister is extended the courtesy of other platforms. We have demonstrated that we have a work to do.
Though obliged to weather a financial storm which struck our faithful little band with tremendous force, we are yet able to come up to this Convention with all current obligations paid in full, and, more than that, we have, during the year, paid off the last remnant of our floating debt, paid the installments on our new organ as they became due, and have added a substantial amount to our “basement fund.”
The year has indeed been a busy one, and in the main a joyous one, but life’s solemn, disciplining experiences have not been wanting. The shadow of bereavement has repeatedly fallen upon us, and certain loved ones, most loyal and most necessary to us, now labor with us no more.
Membership and Attendance. During the year we have added nine members to our list, but we have also lost four: one who withdrew from us to join another fellowship, three who have been promoted to the Church Triumphant. It is hard indeed to accustom ourselves to the sight of their vacant chairs in our little circle.
During the year 14 of our members have removed from the city, so that our total membership at this date numbers 128, classified as 78 resident members and 50 non-resident.
I have made a still further classification and discover that we have 62 active resident, while of the total number of our resident members, 16 of them must in all truthfulness be classified as “inactive.” I know that these latter figures do not make very encouraging reading, but I am determined that this body shall always know conditions with us as they actually exist, and in this instance I am glad indeed to tell the plain truth in order that you may better appreciate the splendid achievements of this faithful, energetic, and courageous little band.
The attendance has been encouraging since the beginning of the present pastorate, and particularly so since January 1, 1908. During the past six months, our attendance at the morning services has averaged 150 per cent of our actual active resident membership. Evening services were held from January 1 to May 17, and amply justified the effort, the attendance ranging from 25 to 150. Many strangers are present at every service, particularly at night; in fact the evening congregations are usually 90 per cent strangers. The proportion of men in our services is always very gratifying, in the evening often reaching as high as 75 per cent of the entire attendance. And the way these people make away with the denominational literature with which we always try to keep a table supplied, is at once encouraging and appalling.
We have been most fortunate in having for the greater part of the year, the services of an excellent volunteer choir of fine trained voices, under the competent leadership of a talented musician for whose services we are able to pay only a nominal sum. In addition to her service in this capacity, she has trained and directed a company of sixty-five young people, who, this spring, repeated their successful entertainment of last year, the “Deestrick Skule,” and realized the neat sum of $420 for the improvement of the church.
This part of my report would be incomplete without grateful acknowledgment of the splendid services of our organist, Dr. H. Hitchcock, who, though one of the busiest men of the city, has not only gladly contributed his services as organist for the past two years, but is also chiefly responsible for the presence in our church of the splendid new organ for which we are paying in monthly installments.
Ladies’ Mission Circle. This splendid organization has had a memorable year, in many ways one of the very best in its history. Although the society has only an active membership of twenty, it has been able to accomplish much work during the year. It has cooperated with the Y. P. C. U. in promoting the financial welfare. The society continues its membership in the Associated Charities, the Home for Incurables, and the Home for Aged Women. The society has furnished needed relief in several cases furnished them by the Associated Charities.
Financially this has been a banner year for the society. The receipts for the year amount to $594.35, realized from regular dues, “rummage sales,” collections in “mite boxes,” sales of fancy work, collections for the Shinn Memorial Fund, a share of the proceeds of the bazaar and the “Destrick Skule” and other miscellaneous receipts.
The disbursements have amounted to $314.90. A pledge of $12.50 per month toward the current expenses of the church has been promptly met the dues in the three charitable institutions before mentioned have been paid, $10.00 paid to the Shinn Memorial Fund, an offering made to the Japan Mission and to the State Missionary, dues paid to the National organization, assistance rendered the local Y. P. C. U., and there remains in the treasury a balance of $279.45, which is to be used in cleaning, renovating and redecorating the interior of the church during the vacation period.
Sunday School. The Sunday school has been in session each Sunday in the year with the exception of the months of July and August, with an average enrollment of thirty-eight and an average attendance of twenty-six. Christmas, Easter, and Children’s Day, were appropriately observed, our Christmas service being made beautiful again this year by a splendid tree from the forests of Maine, presented and decorated by our faithful organist and his wife. The school has paid promptly its pledge to the current expenses of the church of 60 cents per week, has paid its own current expenses, and has a balance of $7.60 on hand.
The “Blue and White” button system has recently been adopted to increase attendance and membership, but it is too early to report results. The International system of lessons is used.
Y. P. C. U. For apparently sufficient reasons, it was deemed expedient to discontinue the devotional meetings of the Union, early in the winter. As a social and business organization, however, the Union has proved one of the most valuable allies of the church, throughout the year. During the fall and early winter a series of suppers was given, at first weekly, and later semi-monthly. The object was not finance but fellowship, and the results were all that could be desired, and still the enterprise proved self-supporting. The Union has raised $454.59 and now has total resources amounting to $602.95.
One hundred dollars was paid to the church for current expenses, $10 to the Sunday school, $30.64, into the organ fund. The dues to the National Union, and the special pledge for missions made at Boston last year, have been paid, together with certain miscellaneous incidental expenses, and a balance of $426.63, added to our ever growing basement fund.
Basement Fund. This fund, which has now reached the encouraging dimensions of $539.63, is in the savings bank at 4 per cent, interest and is being accumulated for the purpose of finishing the basement of the church. It represents the enterprise and loyalty of our young people, as expressed in practical fashion during the past two years. This fund is not available far any other purpose than the one named.
Organ Fund. This is the fund established to provide for the payment of the balance still due on our new organ. A balance of $42.76 was carried over from the last report, the regular payments on the organ have been promptly met as they have become due.
Treasurer’s Report. The Treasurer’s Report shows the following items. In presenting this report, however, it should be borne in mind that it does not contain the amounts of the current expenses for June, as this report was presented at our parish meeting June 22, before the bills for that month had become due. These bills have, however, all been paid, so that at present we have no outstanding obligations, save the balance of $350 still due on our organ, and payable at $10 per month.
|Balance from last year||
|Woman’s Mission Circle pledge||
|Local Y. P. C. U.||
|Miscellaneous plate Collections||
|Regular pledge subscriptions||
|Paid on Organ||
|Notes and Interest||
|Lights and Water||
|Repairs and Improvements||
|Printing and Postage||
|Bal. on hand||
It is indeed a great satisfaction to us to be able to report to this convention, that your Atlanta Church is at present out of debt.
The Convention will doubtless find some interest in some further statistics furnished showing the amount of money raised by the Atlanta parish, entirely exclusive of regular current expenses, since the beginning of the present pastorate, Dec. 1, 1905.
|Amount owed on former pastor’s salaries||
|Still due on piano||
|Expended for repairs and improvements||
|Raised in present organ fund||
|Now on hand in “basement fund”||
|For renovating redecorating church||
|Total amount raised since Dec. 1, 1905 in addition to regular current expenses||$1872.20|
Only one somewhat intimately acquainted with the financial condition of the members of this loyal, enthusiastic little band of Universalists can fully appreciate the genuine sacrifice connected with this very encouraging showing. There is certainly every reason to believe that these people have in their hearts the spirit to cause every consecrated dollar so freely sown in Atlanta by your loyalty and your love, to bring forth abundantly and win every apathetic doubter in our denomination to the cause of missions.
Report of Pastor—The activities of the pastor, so far as they may be represented by statistics are as follows:
Sermons preached in our own church. . . . 63
Sermons and addresses, elsewhere. . . . . . . 28
In addition, the following devotional services have been conducted:
Home for Incurables, Atlanta . . . . . 7
Home for Aged Women, Atlanta. . . 5
Southern Unitarian Conference . . . 1
Casino at Ponce de Leon Park . . . . 3
A general survey of the work of the different departments of our church impels to the belief that substantial progress has been made during the year. Our people are united, energetic, hopeful.
New avenues of usefulness in the life of the city constantly open for us, and we are preparing ourselves to enter them. We are encouraged by the disappearance of the floating debt on our church and are determined to attempt new and larger things to justify the confidence of the National Y. P. C. U.
We are seriously handicapped in our work by lack of proper facilities for the social activities of the church. For this reason we are anxious to proceed at once to the completion of the basement; also, we shall need a new heating plant this winter, as the furnace now in the church is quite worn out; we feel that we can hardly wait for these improvements, until our basement fund has reached sufficient proportions; we are anxious to borrow the necessary funds, over and above the amount now on hand for that purpose, approximately $1000, as we believe we can secure the necessary funds for this enterprise, much more readily, when we have the rooms to assist us in our work. This is a need which we hope will be met by some of the loyal friends of the National Y. P. C. U.
We are constantly in need of convincing denominational literature, and are grateful indeed to the many friends who have remembered this need. Special subscriptions to our organ fund are constantly needed and greatly appreciated.
And always do we need your active interest in our plans and our work, the continuance of your cordial cooperation, the assurance of your patience, the strengthing sense of your fellowship and your earnest prayers that we may be able to endure as those who have “seen Him who is invisible.”
E. Dean Ellenwood.
Source: Onward found in Google Books, Vol. XV, No. 30, July 28, 1908, Pages: 233 – 235