Last month I shared with you the delightful copy of Rev. Maly’s report to the District Superintendent in August of 1942. This month I will report on what was happening in our church in September of 1942, seventy-five years ago.
The first Sunday in September fell on the 6th and the attendance for Sunday School for that day was 226 counting both teachers and students. The collection for that day was $14.29. Next Sunday, the 13th, attendance was 315, with the collection $18.58. The third Sunday’s attendance was 310 and the collection $16.67, while the final week in the month of September had attendance of 257 and a collection of $14.15. These attendance figures sound wonderful to our ears. However, the collection amounts seem so low, we cannot help wondering how they could possibly pay expenses for books and other teaching materials. When we check a conversion table, however, $100 in 1942 is roughly $1,557.63 today. These figures don’t apply to all purchases, but probably Sunday School teaching materials, at least printed ones probably would be in line with that ratio. So, the roughly 63 dollars collected in the month of September would be about 981 dollars today. If our Sunday School collected that amount each month, we wouldn’t have trouble purchasing teaching materials for approximately 300 students for the year. I wish I had the attendance figures for the Sunday morning worship, along with the collection figures. If these exist in our archives, I have yet to find them.
On September 3rd the Official Board held their monthly meeting at the Church. Their reports of minutes of the meetings are all handwritten, which I often struggle to decipher. They opened with prayer by Bro. Crider. Then they read the minutes of the August meetings, and approved them. Then Mrs Powers, Chairman of the Membership Committee, reported that “members plans for (illegible word – looks like it starts with a c – changing?), and may need help”. Then, Mrs Powers made the following motion, seconded by Mr Wormer: “That present arrangement for Sunday services be carried through October”. Motion carried. This was followed by a motion from Mr Crider, seconded by Mrs Powers that Financial Secretary be instructed to send October statements to membership. Motion carried. Then there was a motion to adjourn which passed. Nine members were present for this meeting.
The Women’s Society of Christian Service reported receipts for October, 1942 of $2.82 with disbursements of $1.00 for New Guides. This figure may be misleading, however, as it may be for only one unit. There were five or six different units. In addition, there was a note at the bottom of the page that Mrs. Baumgartner received $3 from Mrs. Guss and $2 from Mrs. Jones to send four boxes to our men in the service. The amount for boxes, cards, and postage was $4.56 or roughly $71 in today’s money. What we have from these ladies is only the financial report. It would be nice to know what goodies they included in the boxes and the names of the four young men who would receive the boxes, and where they were stationed.
Our country and our church family were only about ten months into World War II. It had been impacting our community since September of 1939, however, when Girard residents Arthur Fisher, a young teenager, and his mother were coming home from a summer vacation in England on The Athenia. This ship had the dubious distinction of being the first passenger ship torpedoed by the Germans in World War II. Arthur’s mother was rescued; Arthur was lost at sea. Along with all Americans, our church family watched unfolding events with feelings ranging from growing unease to increasing horror. Then, on December 7th1941, we weren’t watching anymore; we were in. Now we know that by September of ’42, we had at least 4 boys from our church serving our country. With the draft ever escalating, we know many more would join them. The early war news was generally bad. The Philippines had fallen although Gen. Douglas MacArthur, his family and key members of his staff had been smuggled out by PT boat to safety in Australia. German submarines operated off the Atlantic Coast with seeming impunity, picking off ships from convoys, 6 here, 4 here, 2 or 3 here or there. They were even picking off ships in the Gulf of St Lawrence and in the Gulf of Mexico. The Japanese had invaded some of our Alaska islands. Now, in September, a Japanese float-plane had dropped incendiary bombs near Brookings, Oregon. This was the first bombing of the continental United States. As I said earlier, there is little in our Archives that tells us the thoughts and fears of our church family at that difficult time. We can only imagine how we would have felt had we been there, mothers and fathers of young men and women of age to fight for our country. Most of us who lived through the war were just kids at that time. We can remember practice blackouts, neighborhood air raid wardens, our moms writing letters to cousins or uncles, our dads working overtime, saving our tin cans for scrap drives, rationing cards for sugar and shortages of meat.
With that said, we will leave our church family in September of 1942, seventy-five years ago.
After reading the passage below about a month ago, I was again amazed at how something I've read many times before could affect me so deeply. It's one of my favorite things about reading the same book in the bible, seeing something I didn't see before. After writing an email to the Cornerstone class a few weeks ago regarding this passage, I wanted to blog about it as well, but I was just "too busy". The scripture is an excellent passage about poverty and riches, but we all need to realize that riches can be so much more than just money and/or possessions and though I will touch on riches, I'd primarily like to focus on the line I put in bold below.
James 1:9-11. Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.
I want to briefly touch on "riches". Yes, it can most certainly be about money and/or possessions, but there are so many other "riches" which sidetrack us from our relationship with God and growing our faith. There's work, family commitments, kids activities and sports, friends, food, our houses, vacations, staying in or getting back in shape, parties, TV, social media, sleeping in, our golf game and many, many more. These are all wonderful things in moderation and most certainly gifts from God or "riches". However, are they the focal point of our lives to the point where we have no time for God? Speaking for myself, the answer to that question is way too oftenYES. All of those things I mentioned aren't bad, but if they are all time consuming in our lives and we never, or rarely make time for God, we fall right into the last line of the passage, in the midst of a "busy" life, they will wither and fade away.
For most of this summer, I have been in a spiritual rut, for lack of a better term. And after reading these few lines in James, I can honestly say I was blown away. I came to realize that I've have been way too busy to find time for God. Yes, I've done some occasional reading and been at church every week and even prayed, but it's usually when I have "extra time". You see, my point is this, God gives us so much, we are blessed with abundant riches and yet those blessings can almost become all time consuming, to the point where we don't have much time, if any, for God in our daily lives.
Are we in the midst of such a busy life, that we only spend time with Him when we have some spare time? I have been trying to make time every day for God after reading this passage about four weeks ago and I can honestly say, other than a random day here or there, I am still absolutely terrible at it. And this is even after the aforementioned email I sent to Cornerstone. If we truly want to spend more time with God, it has to be intentional, it has to be something we wholeheartedly want to make part of our daily lives.
Imagine if God was there for us only when He had spare time, which by the way, would be never, or after He was done doing all His "other stuff". Imagine if He wasn't there always, at any time of the day, but only during Sundays and specified prayer time, or only during certain hours of the day or week. That's what so amazing and at times, hard to fathom. He's always there, ALWAYS!! And yet, because we are too busy, we can only give Him an hour on Sundays, except in the summer, when we're "even busier" and if we have time during the week, after we finish with all the other important things we need to do, then we'll get to Him.
Now I didn't write this to make us all feel guilty about how we spend our time, or guilty about what's truly important in our lives. All that stuff I mentioned above is important, but we can't let it be so important that we have little if any time for God on a daily basis. Because I believe if we do that, then yes, we will wither away. As I was writing to Cornerstone, my thoughts wandered back to what I said earlier in that email, that I was in a spiritual rut. In the midst of writing to them, I had the following revelation, every time I've been in one of those ruts, there was one thing missing, meaningful, truly meaningful time spent with God. I know there are times when we are just so busy, that it's not possible that day to spend some time with Him. That's called life and at this time of the year, it's also called SUMMER. However, it is very easy to get into that life mode, especially in the summer and the next thing you know, we haven't been to church in weeks, picked up our bible, had some meaningful prayer time, served in some capacity at the church, gone out of your way to serve or reach out to others, or just spent some quiet time with our Lord. It's especially easy to do in the summer, isn't it? All I have to do is look in the mirror. I'm the king of being in "summer break mode".
So what's the answer? What's the solution? There are many, like don't get caught up in the busyness of our summer schedule, or don't let all our "riches" get in the way, or don't say we're too busy today and we'll get back to Him tomorrow and many more I could give you. But in the end, the question is what do we want in our lives? Will it be a life full of stuff and things and possessions and busyness, with little if any time for God? Or is it a day to day relationship with the one who gives us all those blessings? After all is said and done, it's our choice.
My prayer for all of us is that we can make more time for God, every single day. If we do that, I truly believe the spiritual ruts will be few and far between, we'll all be much, much better for the that time we invested with our Father and His son and we won't wither, but truly blossom in our faith and in service to our Father.
This month I thought I would share with you the following delightful report from our pastor, Rev. Maly, to the District Superintendent, for the fourth quarter report of the church year. It seems that the church year began in September and ran through August, so this report was made during the month of August. It is not dated, so I am not completely certain that it was submitted in August of 1942. It could have been 1943 or 1944. However I found it with the August minutes of the Official Board for 1942 and I will just assume that is the correct date for it.
Rev. Maly begins the report with a paragraph addressed to the District Superintendent, Dr. Paul Secrist, thanking him for his cooperation and fellowship, and wishing him well for the coming year’s work.
The rest of the report is, in Rev. Maly’s own words, a description of his past year’s work. It is so different from the type of report we send to the District Superintendent today. Ihope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did:
“As the pastor of this church I wish to make a report of some of the things we have done this year. It would be impossible to bring a full account of the year’s work, for there are so many things that cannot be said about the work that is done, for many of the pastor’s duties spring up impromptu as the days come and go. It is almost impossible to really keep track of the time a preacher spends in his study, in calling, in conferences of all kinds, in community and social work, in letter writing, in attending socials and in devotions. So far in my ministry I have never been able to say my work was really done. I have always discovered there are still sick to visit, problems to iron out, reading to be done, folks to love and fellowship with, letters to write, prayers to pray, boys and girls to teach and social work to be done.
A Resume of This Past Year’s Work:
We have made some progress this past year. We have increased our attendance and decreased our indebtedness. Our membership is still growing. Our church finances have been better this year than any year since I have been here. We have had several vital conversions. We have added new people to the official family of our church and they have done an excellent job. When we have fallen back on those of the church who have been the back bone of this church for many years we have found them to be ready and willing to help. I feel we are on the right track and with the help of Almighty God we will do an even better piece of work in the future.
Next I want to show my appreciation for the fine Christian woman who for some reason does not feel ashamed to call me her husband. She has been wife, mother, secretary, treasurer and adviser in the parsonage. I know a church does not hire a minister’s wife but a minister without a good wife to keep him straight is not as good a minister as he would be with such a wife. I want to say here and now that I owe a great deal to Mrs. Maly for she has been a constant help and inspiration to me.
We have many plans for the future and all of them concern the forward movement of the church. We pray for the guidance and help of Almighty God. Our chief concern is that the Kingdom of God shall continue to succeed. Mrs. Maly and I want to do all we can to help it succeed. We appreciate your faith in us and the cooperation we have received from you in the past more than we can tell you, and we hope and pray for your continued faith and cooperation for the future. Sincerely yours, Rev. A. S. Maly”
This was our pastor’s report to the District Superintendent seventy-five years ago in our church. In all the official reports I have seen, this one seems unique, and I just wanted to share it with you.
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