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THE AMERICAN VOLUME OF
HE American Volume of the Interchurch World Survey includes the
statements and budgets prepared by the following survey departments: Home Missions, American Education, American Religious Education, Ministerial Salaries, Pensions, and American Hospitals and Homes. The results of the surveys reported in this volume are in the nature of a national spiritual stock-taking. They reveal conditions as they actually exist today; they disclose essential details; they present unusual opportunities. Above all, they constitute an impressive call to the performance of obvious duties imperatively demanded in the interests of the whole nation. These can be fully discharged only through the fullest measure of sympathetic cooperation by all the churches.
The home missions survey discloses the changed conditions confronting the church in urban and rural life; the extent to which it has failed to function in each and why. It also offers a plan and program of constructive advance to remedy the defects pointed out and to meet the obvious challenge of a changing social order.
The report on American education reveals two vital needs of our schools and colleges; an increase in their endowments to ensure the highest scholastic standards; and a deeper infusion of the Christian spirit in education so that the coming leadership of the nation and the world shall be morally sound and spiritually effective.
The report on religious education shows that the time devoted to the religious training of American youth is ridiculously inadequate; that the application of scholastic and pedagogical standards to religious education is away below par; and that the needed professional supervision is practically unknown. A plan and program of advance is suggested.
Ministerial salaries, pensions, and relief, as disclosed by the survey, are in a deplorable state. The ministry approaches bankruptcy. The ranks of our spiritual leadership are being constantly depleted and recruiting is increasingly difficult owing to the failure of the laity to develop a sound business policy of conserving the best asset
of the church-an educated ministry free from financial anxiety during active service and assured of the future.
The reason why so many hospitals and homes under church auspices are needed is that suffering humanity can best be served and cured in an atmosphere charged with Christian love and sympathy to be found nowhere else.
The needs disclosed in these surveys are tremendous. They must be met if the church is to secure the moral leadership of the world. They can be met if, as during war-time, the Christian forces in the nation will unite to put through a constructive and cooperative program of advance in which the public, as well as themselves, may entertain the utmost confidence.
To any readers of this volume who may still be inclined to stress the old argument, "Let us evangelize America before we go to the foreign field," it is sufficient to say: The revelations contained in this volume are a direct challenge to you to do exactly what you say should be done.
If you are sincerely interested in the spiritual condition of America you cannot fail to be impressed, even if you are not appalled, by these disclosures of the religious condition of your own land.
If you really mean what you say when you say "America first," then you cannot fail to see that your own country needs your help at once, even if you are not convinced as to your duty elsewhere.
There is no phase of American religious life that is functioning as completely or efficiently as it should. There are many lacks and many needs. But these mean just as many opportunities for service. And service is always personal.
Therefore, as you read these painful disclosures of lacks and wants and needs in the religious life of your own beloved land, do not do it in any detached or impersonal way. Keep this thought constantly in your mind as you read: This is my country that I am reading about. This is my church that is failing in its duty.
But do not let any pessimism creep into your mind. You are not a doctor making an autopsy on a dead body. You are a consulting physician, feeling the pulse of one you love and intend to save.
If hitherto you have done little or nothing except "belong" to some church, these surveys will disclose your opportunity to become an active force. If you have been a worker, but have not really "found yourself," here is the chance to "lose yourself" in some absolutely compelling task that cannot be denied.