Not long ago the secretary of our Theological School Committee, who is also treasurer of our Theological School Building Fund, telephoned me with some encouraging news.
The news was this: our Pella congregation has completed its drive (by means of a series of collections) for the Theological School Building Fund, and has contributed a total of $1039.50. Consulting the latest statistics available to me at this writing, I find that this averages a little better than $100 per family.
Up to this time, for various reasons, I have restrained myself from writing about this subject. But when I received this news, I could restrain myself no longer.
This is indeed encouraging news. Pella is one of our smaller congregations. She has been through a period of severe struggle ever since the crisis of 1953, and only recently has she revived and grown somewhat in numbers, to the point where she once more has her own pastor and her own church property. And now Pella is the first of our churches to complete a concerted drive for our Theological School Building, and to do so, too, in royal fashion. I like to believe—and I am certain that this is correct, too—that this is a warm expression of love and devotion on Pella’s part toward the cause of our Theological School. Not only does this deserve public acknowledgement and thanks to our Pella congregation, but also it is a cause for gratitude to our God.
And it is a good example!
And it is an example which should provoke all our consistories and congregations to emulation!
I am surely revealing no secrets when I write that on the whole there has been a very lethargic and lackadaisical attitude and response toward this drive for funds up to this time. We are far, very far, from our goal of new and adequate facilities for our seminary. Nor am I revealing any tales, I think, when I say that a not inconsiderable cloud of criticism has in some cases been allowed to obscure this project and thus to hinder this drive. I could, write much about this. And I could also write much about the sore need our school has in this respect. And then I would not hesitate to say that our school is indeed suffering because of the lack of adequate facilities; nor would I hesitate to say that the need for these facilities is far greater and far more urgent than many seem to realize. Our school is presently handicapped, and its growth and progress will be even more handicapped in the near future if our churches do not act soon. About all this I could write at length; but I will refrain at this time.
I only want to call attention to Pella’s worthy example, and to say that when all the dust of criticism concerning such things as the manner of the School Committee’s drive and the location of the new building (which, by the way, can be changed by proper procedure and by synodical decision)—the following facts remain:
1) Our churches in common, through their synod, have decided upon this project. They did so initially 25 years ago. They did so more recently almost 4 years ago. And they also decided to finance our new school building by a drive and by voluntary contributions, rather than by assessments. This is a solemn commitment of our churches.
2) Not only is it true, in general, that all our churches are responsible in common for the care of the seminary and are also very directly dependent upon the seminary; but it is also a fact that there is not one of our churches which does not benefit greatly and constantly from the seminary. All our ministers, old and young, are graduates of the seminary. Abundant have been the mercies of our God upon the churches through our school. This thought alone should provoke us to an outpouring of gratitude to God which will find concrete expression in such royal support as Pella has shown.
3) There is not one of our consistories which, with a little concerted effort, cannot do what Pella’s consistory has done. Whether this effort be in the form of soliciting or in the form of a series of collections is of no moment. What is important is that the consistories must give leadership and guidance and must kindle the enthusiasm of love and devotion. 4) There is not one of our congregations which cannot do what Pella’s congregation has done. There may be some differences of degree, true. But if our seminary has the love of our churches—and I believe that it has the love—then let us all give as we areable.
There is sufficient time before Synod meets to accomplish enough so that we can go ahead next summer, the Lord willing. At our next Synod the Theological School Committee has been mandated to submit final plans for approval. There are five months left before Synod meets. By that time we can—if we try—collect at least enough funds to enable Synod to give the go-ahead.
Let us imitate Pella’s worthy example!
Let us go forward in faith and in dedication!