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About The McCook tribune. (McCook, Neb.) 1886-1936 | View Entire Issue (March 16, 1900)
ij tnt ; ? ? $ ?
By REV. CHARLES M. SHELDON , # 0
Author of "In His Steps : What Would Jesus DoP" "Malcom
Kirk , " "Bobert , Hardy's Seven Days , " Etc.
1800 , by The Advance Publishing Co.
tiie lire 'of CfirTsT , Tu"e lIT3 Mbrti aoun-
"The houses down there are of the
cheapest description. The people who
come out of them are far from well
dressed. The streets and alleys are
dirty and ill smelling , and no one
cares to promenade for pleasure up
and down the sidewalks In that neigh
borhood. It is not a safe place to go
to at' night The most frequent dis
turbances come from that part of the
town. All the hard characters find ref
uge there. And let me say that 1 am
not now speaking of the working pee
ple. They are almost without excep
tion law abiding. But in every town
like ours the floating population of vice
and crime seeks naturally that part of
, } a town where the poorest * houses are ,
and the most saloons , and the greatest
darkness , both physical and moral.
"If there is a part of this town which
needs lifting up and cleaning and heal
ing and inspiring by the presence of
the church of Christ , it is right there
where there is no church. The people
on B street and for six or eight blocks
each side know the gospel. They have
large numbers of books and papers anil
much Christian literature. They have
been taught the Bible truths ; they are
familiar with them. Of what value is
it , then , to continue to support on this
short street , so near together , seven
churches , of as many different denomi
nations , which have for their members
the respectable , moral people of the
town ? I do not mean to say that the
well to do , respectable people do not
need the- influence of the church and
the preaching of the gospel. But they
can get these privileges without such a
fearful waste of material and power.
If we had only three or four churches
on this street they would be enough.
We are wasting our Christianity with
the present arrangement We are giv
ing the rich and the educated and well
to do people seven times as much
church as we are giving the poor , the
ignorant and the struggling workers
in the tenement district There is no
question , there can be no question , that
all this is wrong. It is opposed to ev
ery principle that Christ advocated.
And in the face of these plain facts ,
which no one can dispute , there is a
duty before these churches on this
street which cannot be evaded without
denying the very purpose of a church.
It is that duty which I am now going
to urge upon this Calvary church.
"It has been said by some of the
/ministers and members of the churches
that we might combine in an effort and
build a large and commodious mission
in the tenement district * But that , to
my mind , would not settle the problem
at all as it should be settled. It is an
easy and a lazy thing for church mem
bers to put their hands in their pock
ets and say to a few other church
members : 'Wo will help build a mis
sion if you will run it after it is up.
We will attend our church up town
here while the mission is worked for
the poor people down there. ' That is not
w.hat will meet the needs of the situa
tion. What that part of Milton needs
Is the zhurch of Christ in its mem
bers the whole church on the largest
possible scale. What I am now going
to propose , therefore , is something
which I believe Christ would advocate ,
if not in the exact manner I shall ex
plain , at least in the same spirit"
Philip paused a moment and looked
over the congregation earnestly. The
expectation of the people was roused
almost to the point of a sensation as he
went on :
"I have consulted competent authori
ties , and they say that our church
building here could be moved from its
present foundation without serious
damage to the structure. A part of it
would have to be torn down to assist
the moving , but it could easily besre-
placed. The expense would not be
more than we could readily meet. We
are out of debt , and the property is
free from incumbrance. What I pro
pose , therefore , is a very simple thing
that we move our church edifice
down into the heart of the tenement
district , where we can buy a suitable
lot for a comparatively small sum , and
at once begin the work of a Christian
church in the very neighborhood where
such work is most needed.
"There are certain objections to this
plan. 1 think they can be met by the
exercise of the Christ spirit of sacrifice
and love. A great many members will
not be able to go that distance to at
tend service any more than the people
there at present can well come up here.
But there are six churches left on B
street What is to hinder any Chris-
1 tian member of Calvary church from
working and fellowshiping with those
churches if lie cannot put in his service
in the tenement district ? None of these
churches is crowded. They will wel
come the advent of more members.
But the main strength of the plan
which 1 propose lies in the fact that if
it be done it will be a live illustration
of the eagerness of the church to reach
and save men. The very sight of our
church moying down off from this
street to the lower part of the town
will be an object lesson to the people ,
nnd the church will at once begin to
. Once established
mean something to them.
lished there , we can work from It as a
center. The distance ought to be no
discouragement to any healthy person.
There is not a young woman in this
/ > lnirr > b who. Is Irt.rlu * habit-oL dorjrJncr
"who tlbCs iiof ufakT ? twice as many
steps during an evening dancing party
as would be necessary to take her to the
tenement district and back again. Sure
ly any Christian church member is as
willing to endure fatigue and sacrifice
nnd to give as mucli time to help make
men and women better as he Is to have
a good time himself. Think for a mo
ment what this move which 1 propose
would mean to the life of this town
and to our Christian growth. At pres
ent we go to church. We listen to a
good choir , we go home again , we have
a pleasant Sunday school , we are all
comfortable and well clothed here , we
enjoy our services , we are not disturb
ed by the sight of disagreeable or un
"But is that Christianity ? Where do
the service and the self denial and the
working for men's souls come in ? Ah.
my dear brothers and sisters , what is
tills-church really doing for the salva
tion of menin this place ? Is it Chris
tianity to have a comfortable church
and go to it once or twice a week to
enjoy nice music and listen to preach
ing , and then go home to a good din
ner , and that is about all ? What have
we sacrificed ? What have we denied
ourselves ? What have we done to
show the poor or the sinful that we
care anything for their souls or that
Christianity is anything but a comfort
able , select religion for those who can
afford the good things of the world ?
What has the church in Milton done to
make the workingman here feel that it
is an institution that throbs with the
brotherhood of man ? But suppose we
actually move our church down there
and then go there ourselves weekdays
nnd Sundays to work for the uplift of
immortal beings. Shall we not then
have the satisfaction of knowing that
we are at least trying to do something
more than enjoy our church all by
ourselves ? Shall we not be able to
hope that we have nt least attempted
to obey the spirit of our sacrificing
Lord , who commanded his disciples to
go and disciple the nations ? It seems
to me that the plan is a Christian plan.
If the churches in this neighborhood
were not so numerous , if the circum
stances were different , it might not be
wise or necessary to do what 1 pro
pose. But as the facts are , I solemnly
believe that this church has nn oppor
tunity before it to show Milton and the
other churches and the world that it is
willing to do an unusual thing , that it
has within it the spirit of complete will
ingness to reach and lift up mankind in
the way that will do it best and most
speedily. If individuals are command
ed to sacrifice and endure for Christ's
sake and the kingdom's , I do not know
why organizations should not do the
same. And in this instance something
on a large scale , something that repre
sents large sacrifice , something that
will convince the people of the love of
man for man. is the only thing that
will strike deep enough into the prob
lem of the tenement district in Milton
to begin to solve it in any satisfactory
or Christian way.
"I do not expect the church to act
on my plan without due deliberation.
I have arrived at my own conclusions
after a careful going over the entire
ground. And in the sight of all the
need nnd degradation of the people
and in the light of nil that Christ has
made clenr to be our duty as his dis
ciples it seems to me there is but one
path open to us. If we neglect to fol
low him ns he beckons us , I believe
we shnll neglect the one opportunity
of Calvary church to put itself in the
position of the church of the crucified
Lamb of God , who did not please him
self , who came to minister to others ,
who would certnlnly npprove of nny
steps his church on earth in this nge
might honestly make to rench men and
love them and become to them the
helper ar/1 savior and life giver which
the gre.i * Head of the church truly in
tended we should be. I leave this plan
which I have proposed before you for
your Christian thought and prayer.
And may the Holy Spirit guide us all
into nil the truth. Amen. "
If rhilip had deliberately planned
to create n sensation , he could not
have done anything more radical to
bring it about If he had stood on
the platform and fired n gun into the
audience , it would not have startled
the members of Calvary church more
than this calm proposal to them that
they move their building n mile away
from its aristocratic surroundings.
Nothing that lie had said in his previ
ous sermons had provoked such a spir
it of opposition. This time the church
was roused. Feelings of astonishment ,
indignation aud alarm agitated the
members of Calvary church. Some of
them gathered about Philip nt the close
of the service.
"It will not be possible to do this
thing you propose , Brother Strong , "
snid one of the dencons , n lending mem
ber nnd n mnn who had defended Phil
ip once or twice against public criti
"Why not ? " asked Philip simply. He
wns exhausted with his effort that
morning , but felt that n crisis of some
sort 'had tJeeu "precipitated by liis mes
sage , nnd so he welcomed this show of
Interest which his sermon had aroused.
"The church will not ngree to such a
"A number of them favor such a
step , " replied Philip , who had talked
nvor the matter fully with many in the
"A majority will vote against it. "
"Yes , an overwhelming majority , "
said one mnn. "I know a good many
who would not be "able to go that dis
tance to attend church , mid they cer-
tninly would , not Join any other church
on the street I know , for one. 1
"Not if you thought Christ's kingdom
in this town would be advanced by It ? "
asked Philip , turning to this mnn with
a directness that was almost bluntness.
"I don't see that that would be n test
of my Christianity. "
"That is not the question. " said one
of the trustees , who had the reputation
of being a very shrewd business man.
"The question is concerning the fensi-
bility of moving this property a mile
into the poorest part of the town nnd
then maintaining it there. In my opin
ion it cannot be done. The expenses
of the orgnuization en > t be kept up.
We should lose some ir best finan-
cinl supporters. & . jng's spirit
and purpose sprin | a good mo-
tive , no doubt , but vie ; fem n busi-
ness point of view t ircli in that
locality would not be ! success. To
my mind it would be' ' jery unwise
thing to do. It would jractically de-
stroy our organiznti6n-jpre | nnd not
really establish anything there. "
"I do not believe < we can fell until we
try , " said Philip. " 1 certninly do not
wish the church to destroy itself fool
ishly , but I do feel thnt we ought to do
something very positive nnd very Inrge
to define our altitude ns saviors in this
community. And moving the house ,
ns 1 propose , has the ndvnntage of be-
in a definite , practicnl step In the di
rection of n Christlike use of our pow
ers as n church. "
There was more talk of the same
sort , but it was plainly felt by Philip
that the plan he had proposed was dis
tasteful to the greater pnrt of the
church , and if the mntter came to a
vote it would be defented. He talked
the plan over with his trustees , as he
had nlrendy done before he spoke in
public. Four of them were decided in
their objection to the plnn. Only one
fully sustnined Philip. During the
week he succeeded in finding out thnt
from his membership of 500 less than
40 persons were willing to stnnd by
him in so rndicnl a movement. And
yet the more Philip studied the prob
lem of the town the more he was per
suaded that the only way for the
church to make"any impression on the
tenement district was to put itself di
rectly in touch with the neighborhood.
To accomplish thnt necessity Philip
wns not stubborn. He wns ready to
ndopt nny plan that would actually do
something , but he grew more eager ev
ery day that he spent in the study of
the town to have the church feel its
opportunity nud mnke Christ a reality
to those most in need of him.
It was nt this time thnt Philip wns
surprised one evening by a call from
one of the workingmen who had been
present and heard his sermon on mov
ing the church into the tenement dis
"I came to see you pnrticulnrly. Mr.
Strong , nbout getting you to come
down to our hnll some evening next
week nnd give us a talk on some sub
ject connected with the signs of the
"I'll come if you think I can do any
good in that way. " replied Philip , hesi
tating a little.
"I believe you can. The men nre be
ginning to take to you. and while they
"It will not be possible to do lids thing
won't come up to church they will
turn out to hear you down there. "
"All right. When do you want mete
to come ? "
"Say next Tuesday. You know where
the hall is ? "
Philip nodded. He had been by it in
his walks through that pnrt of Milton.
The spokesmnn for the workmen ex
pressed his thanks and arose to go , but
Philip asked him to stny a few mo
ments. He wanted to know at first
hand what the man's representative
fellows would do if the church should
at any time decide to act after Philip's
"Well , to tell the truth , Mr. Strong ,
I don't believe very ninny of them
would join nny church. "
"Thnt is not the question. Would
they feel the church any more there
than where it is now ? "
"Yes , 1 honestly think they would.
They would come out to henr you. "
"Well , thnt would be something , to
be sure , " replied Philip , smiling. "But
as to the wisdom of the plnn how
does it strike you on the whole ? "
" 1 would like to see it done. I don't
believe 1 shall , though. "
"Why ? "
"Your church won't ngree to it"
"Mnybe they will in time. "
" 1 hope they will. And let me tell
you , Mr. Strong , even If you succeeded
In getting your church nnd people to
come into the tenement district you
would find plenty of people there who
wouldn't go to hear you. "
" 1 suppose thnt is so. But , oh , that
we might do something ! " Philip clasp
ed his hands over his knee nnd gazed
earnestly at the man opposite. The
ulumed-lhu-iraze almost asear-
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McCook , Neb.
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