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TOO MANY CHURCHES
HOW COMPETITION REDUCES THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THEIR WORK
EVERETT T. TOMLINSON
HY are ministers among Congregational
$880 the most poorly paid Reformed Church in America
923 workers in every com
Presbyterian Church in U.S.A. (North). 977 munity? The amount Universalists.
987 Protestant Episcopal . of capital invested in
Unitarian. their education, time, preparation, and libraries is as great as that of most other
The average leaders of other religious professions. Is the condition due to ineffi- organizations in the United States are ciency or are the churches niggardly and
paid as follows: do they take advantage of the spirit of consecration which is the compellingmotive Greek Orthodox Church
$720 with many men in this calling? A careful Russian Orthodox Church
731 study drives an investigator to the conclu- Buddhist ..
840 sion that no one cause fully accounts for Jewish Congregations
841 existing conditions, but that the chief cause is the over-churching of many communities.
The number of individual congregaThe marvel is, not that salaries are so low,
tions to which these men minister ranges but that they can be so high!
from 64,701 among the Methodists and The spirit of independence and religious 54,880 among the Baptists down to 1,147 liberty particularly manifest two or three among the Friends.
among the Friends. Next to the Methogenerations ago led to a multiplication of dists and Baptists, the Presbyterian denominations and churches. There was
Church has more congregations (15,506) a spirit of competition, even of rivalry, than any other. The Roman Catholics though it was not recognized by either of have 12,482 and the Protestant Episcopal these terms. As some one has said, “We Church 6,845. have sects and insects, some of the bodies
In the United States there are 192,795 are so small and pestiferous.” The result church edifices providing a seating cais that to-day we are facing problems that pacity for 58,536,830 people. The total were born of a zeal that frequently was value of church property is $1,257,575,876. divorced from knowledge.
The highest average of membership per Just what the salaries of ministers are organization is found in Rhode Island, in the more prominent denominations is where the figures are 522. On the other shown in this table, compiled from the hand Oklahoma has an average memberlatest reports of the Census Bureau:
ship per organization of only 58, followed
in order by Florida, 66; Arkansas, 69; and AVERAGE SALARIES OF MINISTERS OUTSIDE
West Virginia, 75. An average memberTHE LARGE CITIES
ship of less than 150 is reported by twelve
states; of 100 or more, and less than 200, Southern Baptist Convention (White)
$ 334 in 23 states; of 200 or more, and less than Disciples.
526 United Brethren.
300, 7 states; and of 300 or more, 7 states.
547 Methodist Episcopal (South)
The average number per organization is Northern Baptist Convention (White) 683
157. The average value of church propMethodist Episcopal (North)
erty is $6,756, and the debt is $3,214. Lutheran.
The average encumbrance upon church Presbyterian Church in U.S. (South)
() 857 property varies from $12,400 in New York, $10,983 in the District of Columbia, and a larger proportion of the minister's salary. $8,608 in Massachusetts, to $960 in Kansas, The reply was "that as they were one of six where the average membership is 92;
churches in a village of 1,300 they did not feel to $1,013 in Florida, where the average
able to raise more." I think that this is true membership is 66; and to $483 in Alabama,
of a large number of our churches. which has an average membership of 93.
On the other hand, my correspondent in A careful study of the data presented
Indiana believes that over-churching is not shows that there are 192,795 church edi
the greatest cause of inadequate church fices with an average of 157 members per organization, and that the debt of the support, and the reply from Illinois says
that “over-churching and low salaries average body is nearly 50 per cent. of the value of the church property. This im
are both prevalent, though their interrelaplies a heavy tax on the membership even
tion is more apparent than real."
In the far West, as is natural, there are before its legitimate work is begun. With
some places where there are not churches a membership of 157, it is estimated that
enough, but even from such a state as at least two thirds of the members are
Colorado comes this report: “In almost women. This leaves 52 male members, of whom doubtless a large proportion are
every instance the low salary is directly boys too young to be of much financial
in consequence of the community supportassistance. If only one third is deducted ing too many churches. Towns of 500 to for non-resident members, there are left
1,000 population containing from three to
five churches of different denominations approximately twenty to thirty men upon whom must fall the chief burden of support
cannot but feel a heavy financial strain."
It is possible to select certain representaof the “average” church. What such a tax would be if raised for other than church
tive regions where conditions will throw
some light on our problem. The following purposes is apparent.
table is made from a study of the churches The opinions of certain careful and candid religious leaders have been obtained
in southern New Hampshire: in every state. These reports agree that,
POPULATION NO. OF in certain places at least, over-churching
CHURCES of communities has been carried to an
12 extreme. For example, the response from
Exeter. a minister in Maine says:
3 In at least one fourth of the towns of Maine
8 there are more Protestant Churches than there
1,300 is a demand for. But the problem is being Plaistow :
1,200 worked out. Protestantism must plan for the
11,269 future, as do our Catholic friends, and we must
1,600 plan economically. The great trouble is that Somersworth .
6 so many inefficient men go into the ministry. Stratham
3 There is no question that there is over
In this district there is a church for churching in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and
every 701 people. many other states in the Middle West; and the response from Michigan blames a similar example:
The adjacent state of Vermont furnishes the same cause for the low salaries of
POPULATION NO. Or ministers. From New York the reply was
5 Over-churching is not the great reason, but Castleton
1,000 it is very certainly one great reason for the Centre Rutland .
200 inadequate salaries paid in this state.
470 One concrete illustration may serve you. When
300 our Board made our appropriations this year Fair Haven
8 we wrote one church, which we had been help- Fowler
200 ing, that we ought to expect the church to pay Hydeville
NO. OF CHURCHES
3 3 12
From the region beyond Kansas City, Manchester
5 Mo., the following table is made: Mendon
2 Middletown Springs
150 North Bennington
3 Cummings Pittsford
8 W. Haven
2 W. Pawlet
My informant writes, “People in the W. Rutland
Southwest stand pretty close to their own My informant writes me that in the
church, even if it is small. They want
that or nothing." And "it is small" territory included in the places men
there being a Protestant church for every tioned in the above table there are “more than a dozen other churches, mostly Prot
The Presbyterian Home Mission Society estant, concerning which I am unable to give you information.” Not including (North) has been making some investigive you information.” Not including gations, selecting certain counties which these "more than a dozen," we have an
would be typical of certain phases of life average of one church in the region to about
in the various states, and from their studies every 447 people.
I have selected Webster County, Ky., with A group of cities and towns in New York State present the following sugges
20,974 white population and 68 Protestant
churches. The total membership of these tive figures:
churches is 5,997, or 32 per cent. of the POPULATION
total white population. The average memAlbany
bership is less than 90, and 54 churches Cohoes
18 have ministers one fourth of the time or Hoosick Falls
6 less. That is, 82 per cent. of the churches Mechanicsville
5 in this county have one fourth or less of Troy ..
76,813 73 the time of a minister. The average Waterford
6 church budget is $328, and the average Watervliet
wage paid by a church to the minister is
$183. In this region there are examples In most of these places there are addi
of communities of 740 people trying to tional religious organizations which are
support five churches. In Gibson County, not included in this table.
Tenn., which has a population of 41,629, A rural region in New York State shows a Protestant church for every 287 people church for every 224 people, and one
there are 179 churches. There is a white of the population:
church in every four and eight tenths square
miles. Ninety-five of the churches have Canastota
preaching one quarter of the time. The Cazenovia
following table has an interest of its own: Chittenango
THE RECORD OF THE LAST DECADE Eaton
87 COUNTRY Georgetown 200
9 New Woodstock 300
7 West Eaton . 400
Organized within Ten years 16
The average salary paid by the country the conditions could be changed salaries church is $108, and the average salary of at once would be increased. Tradition, the town church $455.
local conceptions, and unwillingness to In the printed report is included a photo- enlarge this support are still prevalent. graph of four churches in a row, three of The over-churching primarily is not which have preaching once a month; one, due to the efforts of the present generation. twice a month, and there is no resident The condition largely is the outcome of minister in the town!
the unwise zeal of former workers who In the spring of 1909, a joint committee believed that by multiplying churches composed of representatives of most of they were increasing instead of dividing the leading Protestant home mission their strength. The slogan, "a new societies was formed to investigate con- church every day,” in places has drawn out ditions in certain states.
the line of attack until it has crumpled This committee selected Colorado, a from sheer weakness or thinness. typical Western state, and at once began The condition to-day is recognized in their investigations there with so
many states and an honest effort is being ceedingly interesting results. “Nearly made to remedy it in most of the religious 90 per cent. of home mission aid to-day bodies. goes either where there is no duplication The tax upon many communities in the of effort whatever, or to the swiftly grow- support of more churches than the religious ing cities." Whatever duplication was needs of the place demand is heavy. An found naturally belonged to the regions average debt of half the value of the church in which this small percentage was ex- property had been a fixed overhead charge pended. Exceptional instances of a town Union or federated churches do not solve with 400 people and four churches receiv- the problem, and in most instances they ing home mission aid to the amount of
soon die. $660, and of another of 300 people with Federated churches only touch the six churches receiving $530 of such aid, surface of the problem, still leaving the “call for prompt and careful scrutiny." underlying causes unchanged. The sale
The committee reports, however, that aries in federated churches are no large: there is much more over-looking than over- than they were in the individual churches lapping. There were 133 places found, that federated. ranging in population from 150 to 1,000, Among many religious bodies inefficiency without Protestant churches of any kind; is increased by lack of care in the selection 100 of these are also without a Roman of men for the ministry. Catholic church. There are 428 com- Protestant churches suffer much more munities that are of sufficient importance than Catholic from over-churching. The to have post offices, but that are without latter churches are unified, the former are churches. There are whole counties with not and in many places are competitors no adequate religious work, of which the among themselves. committee cites several examples. Of the If over-churching has produced a consixty counties in the state, at least eighteen . dition in which it is well-nigh impossible appear to be without adequate church for many churches to support their miniswork of any kind.
ters, the recognition of the condition is the The whole investigation seems to point first step toward improvement, though its conclusively to the fact that the rural effect may not be seen in the present sections are suffering more than the cities. generation. Improvement may not come This condition is not confined to any local- speedily, but it can never come until ity East or West. Many churches whose efficiency is recognized as a logical eleactive work has ceased are not yet dead, ment in extension. It is as necessary to being kept alive by unwise aid. Without weigh as to count. Religion may be question, over-churching has been a pre- needed in business. It is no less certain dominant cause in producing present that unbusinesslike methods cannot make conditions, but it does not follow that if even zealous efforts successful.
THE MARCH OF THE CITIES
COLLEGE TRAINING FOR COMMERCIAL SECRETARIES
NEW_era has opened in the Shipper — and a choice may be selected work of the chambers of from the following: Commercial Organizacommerce of the cities of the tion, Foreign Trade, European Trade, and United States by the
the new South American Trade. course in secretarial training Practical experience in trade body manwhich will be opened to graduate students agement will be given by an arrangement of Harvard University this fall. Remark- with the Boston Chamber of Commerce able results have been achieved by such under which the students will be given bodies as the Chamber of Commerce of tasks in the various departments of that Boston and the Chamber of Commerce of body under ordinary working conditions Chicago and the Chamber of Commerce of to work out definite practical problems Los Angeles under leadership that has such as they will confront later, wherever developed naturally with the growth of this they may go. As the Boston Chamber of type of organization. But these bodies Commerce is one of the largest and one of have drawn upon the best constructive the most efficient commercial organizations ability of the country and have been able in the country, this training will be invaluto hold it because they have been able to able. The following quotation from the pay large salaries.
announcement of the courses gives some But there are now more than 4,500 com
idea of their scope: mercial organizations in the United States and more than 1,000 of sufficient impor
The various forms of activity in which chamtance to justify membership in the Cham
bers of commerce and similar bodies engage are
examined in the light of the actual experience ber of Commerce of the United States of
of some of the more progressive organizations. America. Doubtless hundreds of these
The subjects covered include various aspects of organizations are less efficient than they
the supervision of trading, such as inspection might be. It is time for a clearing-house of grain and other commodities, control of to be established that shall put at the serv- warehouses, vigilance work, etc. They also ice of all these bodies the knowledge of the include some of the methods for city developbest methods of developing the commercial ment employed by trade bodies, such as methods interests of these communities. This is for securing new industries, methods for betterwhat the Graduate School of Business ing existing industrial conditions, railway rate Administration of Harvard University activity, internal transportation problems, etc. has decided to do toward this ideal:
the organization and powers of chambers of It has opened a course that will cover two
commerce and similar bodies in the United full years and that will be open to college States with those in some of the chief European graduates only. In the first year students countries and a survey of the federation movein this school may select five full courses ment both in the United States and abroad. from the following: Business Law, Accounting, Commercial Organization, Similar courses are under consideration Industrial Organization, Business Statis- by the officers of the Wharton School of tics, Work and Methods of Trade Bodies, Commerce of the University of PennsylMunicipal Government, Railroad Organi- vania and by the officers of the University zation, and Investments.
of Wisconsin. Professional rank for the In the second year, four courses are leaders in organized commercial developrequired — in Problems in. Trade Bodyment will lend a new dignity and a new Management, Business Policy, Corpora- seriousness to the work of commercial tion Finance, and The Railroad and the bodies throughout the United States.