« ПредишнаНапред »
adoption of the new method, and especially of the rule requiring“ the number of known members at the end of this year,” has probably reduced that inflation during the last eighteen months by a number that would fall somewhere between fifty and seventy-five thousand. This has accounted for the apparently slow growth of the Church in numbers during the time.
Having adopted the policy, in this work, of keeping safely within the line of indisputable facts and unassailable inferences from them, an allowance of fifty thousand has been made for this contraction. That is, the rules of analysis and classification have been adjusted by the changed conditions required by this supposition. The change was effected in this way: It is manifest that every unreal member would fall into the class of noncontributors; therefore, after the results had been obtained under the working of the rules as they stood, the required proportion, 48,412, was deducted from the class of non-contributors and distributed among the other classes by the same rule that had governed the body of the membership. The remaining 1,588 of the 50,000 represents the contraction in the 42,128 members of the 628 charges contributing nothing.
A year's experience, if this work is continued, will show how nearly correct is the working hypothesis thus obtained, and how nearly this estimate covers the actual contraction. The error at most will fall below two per cent. Another slight change in the working of the rules was made by placing the class giving from 75 to 99 cents per member partly under the rule of the preceding class, to meet a changed condition probably occasioned by the improved financial condition of the country. The effect upon the whole, caused by this change, is very slight, and is in the direction of a more favorable showing
The reports in the General Minutes of 1882, tabulated with equal care as the preceding, show that besides nine charges reporting collections but no membership, and whose membership cannot be got from the preceding reports, there are :
20,134 2 00 to $2 49 2,142 202
43,895 1 50 to 1 99 1,455 609 110,426 1 00 to 1 49
628 730 130,760
99 1,441 250,191
74 10,091 FOURTH SERIES, VOL. XXXV.--22
Average. 25 to 49 10 to 24 Under 10 Nothing
Then, applying the rules of analysis and classification, with the modifications needed to meet the changed conditions as explained above, we find the number of each class of givers as follows:
This shows a decrease of 55,607, or .06 per cent. of the non-contributors, about half of which is accounted for by the contraction of the membership. The class contributing as in ordinary basket collection taken at every service by the trustees increased 10,860, or .02 per cent. Those giving somewhat larger sums than in ordinary basket increased 66,279, or .67 per cent. The large givers from the middle and lower classes increased 7,476, or 26 per cent.
The class of large givers increased 676, or 31 per cent.
These increments, at the respective averages assigned them in the tabulation of eighteen months before, would produce: 10,860 giving 10 cents $1,086
676 giving $125 84,500 66,279 51
33,802 7,476 74,760
$194,148 Now, turning to the General Recapitulation in the General Minutes, we find the increase reported is $184,691. The summaries in the reports include about $21,000 in the former and $14,000 in the latter case evidently raised for local institutions of learning, but reported as if raised for the Board of Education and auxiliaries. This item was deducted in the first calculation, and must be in the latter to make the cases parallel. Then we find the results required by the increments of these different classes under the rules differ from the actual increment as shown in the General Minutes by only $4,543. Certainly this is a most surprising proof of the correctness
of the rules of analysis and classification applied to the tabulated averages, and which in their turn are accurate because proved uniformly by reverse arithmetical process. And it may be confidently expected that the same process will trace with satisfactory accuracy the collections of any year or variation of totals while the present method of taking the collections prevails.
And further, when an advance is effected, it is clear from what classes the added money comes from the liberal few. That is, the liberal few are affected by the methods now used and the pressure as now applied. They respond more or less in proportion to the urgency of the appeal, while the great mass of the membership are unaffected by special appeals, and continue nearly stationary at their low figures. In this case, the part of the advance of $184,691 contributed by 1,672,207 members was $34,888, or an average advance of two cents each; while the part contributed by 39,331 members was $149,803, or an average advance of $4 05 each.
DISTRIBUTION. When we ask how the contributions of the people are distributed among the different benevolences, and how each one is sustained in different parts of the country, then a good system of tabulation is needed.
It will not suffice to take the Minutes and look at the compactness of the tables, the fewness of blanks, or even the magnitude of the totals. One church often gives respectability to the totals of a whole district. And as to the blanks, sometimes they would better serve the cause by remaining to tell the truth than do the figures that displace them. A few years ago, the constant reiteration of nearly every Secretary speaking at Conference was, “ Take a collection ;"“ Take a collection, if you only get a few shillings, and give the people a chance to give.” The glaring blanks gave a striking text to the speaker; they glared at the pastor and presiding elder till they produced an uneasy feeling. A few elders took pride in having their preachers report “No blanks.” And for the most part the resultant change was an omnibus collection, but little increased by being omnibus, or divisions and subdivisions of little sums raised for a few of them among the whole, and so filling blanks without increase. The practice is now one of the most noticeable characteristics of some districts and of some whole Conferences, and many pastors have the confirmed habit of leaving this kind of footprints on each successive charge. It is curious to see how little money can be made to do great things in filling blanks. Multitudes fill every blank, Woman's Foreign Missions included, with punctilious fidelity, and generally with uniform amounts, at an aggregate expense of ten cents per memher. After these come other multitudes who do it just as well at half the expense; and after these come crowds of others in descending grades, till half a cent per member answers every purpose. Not a blank in some places, and in others only an occasional one, is left to cast a reproach or check the triumphant report of the presiding elder at Conference. But, alas! the benevolences are not profited by the agitation, and few are they who lay it to heart.
The proper way to show what is real and what is seeming in this matter is by applying standards.
The Newark Conference has adopted a system of standards ; possibly other Conferences may have done something of the kind. Of this system, the Minimum Standard is for Missions, 40 cents; Church Extension, 8 cents; Freedmen's Aid, 7 cents; Bible, 4 cents; and Tract, Sunday-School and Education each 2 cents; total, 65 cents. This is understood to be too low by half to serve as a fair Average Standard for the Newark Conference, or any other in places where the work is established and the region is fairly prosperous.
Now, taking for a guide the average pastoral support and the character of the collections actually taken, we find this Minimum Standard is too low for a fair average standard in sixtyseven Conferences. By dividing it and calling the half of it a Sub-Minimum Standard, we can apply this last to eleven Conferences more.
Then there will remain eleven Conferences still which will be tested with equal fairness by bisecting the standard last used, being a quarter of the Minimum Standard. Call this the Minor Sub-Minimum Standard, and applying these standards to every collection reported in every charge in the United States, counting the missionary collection blank only when not taken in either Church or Sunday-school, and calling those "slighted” which fall below the standard, and those “standard” which equal or exceed it, we have the following: