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REPORTS OF PRESIDING ELDERS.
Our Heavenly Father has filled the year with
tokens of his care and favor, and the Savior's presence and power
have been manifest, in all our work. I acknowledge myself under a
debt of gratitude to the pastors and their wives who have worked
so faithfully and successfully, for their open doors of
hospitality, their words of welcome and of cheer, and for their
helpful Christian fellowship. To attempt to enumerate their
graces, abilities and successes would needlessly burden our
Minutes and consume our time. A general view of the years work
The happenings of the year have considerably hindered our work. Many revival meetings were prevented and others were prematurely closed by either the scare or scourge of smallpox. The wet open winter gave us impassable roads, and the terrific heat of the summer paralyzed the Sabbath activities of many of our people. Some charges have been weakened to a disheartening extent by removals. The drought robbed our people of their corn crop and brought them many other losses. In consequence our financial showing cannot be what it otherwise would have been.
The German Lutherans have been gradually buying up the farms and homes of those who formed the membership and congregation of Prairie Chapel church, for so long connected with the Holmesville circuit, until at the beginning of this year some removals so reduced the attendance that the Sunday School and preaching service had to be discontinued. The sale of the church to the Germans is being negotiated. Similar causes led to the abandonment of the Rock Creek appointment on the Diller charge, where for years a strong class had worked and worshiped together in a school house. On the other hand, Powells, Burress and Strang, once abandoned, have all maintained services throughout the year. All have been strengthened and at Strang the membership has more than trebled.
We have given special attention to the matters of church insurance and the titles by which our church property is held. Practically all the buildings are insured, our societies are all incorporated. But two of the deeds to the real estate have revertible clauses, all others being warranty deeds. Quite a number of deeds cannot be found, though they are all recorded and most of them contain the clause prescribed by our Discipline.
While about $3,000.00 have been paid for improvements, no new churches have been built and but one additional parsonage has been
secured. During the session of the conference three years ago
the trustees sold the parsonage at Belvidere to pay a debt upon
it, for which they were personally liable. This property has been
much improyed (sic) by the purchaser and under the financial
leadership of E. V. Gates, pastor, and his wife, it was again
secured as a parsonage at a cost of $800.00. It was a cash deal
and there is no debt. Eight charges have so far failed to comply
with the advices of the Discipline that a suitable dwelling be
owned by the church for the home of the pastor.
Nearly $5000.00 have been paid this year on church and parsonage debts leaving but $3000.00 of the $15500.00 that stood against our property three years ago; and our people are planning to pay that shortly. Wymore stands at the head of the list, this year having paid at least $2000.00 of her debt. Fairbury has paid $700.00, Centenary and Ellis each $300.00. Diller and Western each $250 and Chester, Alexandria, Burchard and Daykin with some other places have paid smaller sums.
Fully $4000.00 is being paid on our Wesleyan debt this year from this district. The University having had precedence over other claims, the general benevolences may show a small decrease over last year.
During the hard times in the early nineties the preachers salaries were reduced to the minimum level. As prosperity has returned and living become more expensive, the pastor's support in many instances has not been increased. So that with some of our brethren these are the really hard times. We have steadily maintained in the Quarterly Conferences that $500.00 and a house should be the minimum of support for a married pastor who gives his full time to his charge. To effect this will require the readjustment of some of the circuits, and so far as this has been proposed our people have willingly consented.
Two years ago on Chancellor Huntington's motion the Conference ordered the presiding elders to apportion $5000.00 to the charges in the hope of increasing our Conference Claimant's fund. This order was faithfully carried out on the Beatrice District, resulting last year in more than trebling the amount raised and I believe a further increase will be reported this year.
Though it seems that some churches sleep while the enemy sows tares, yet in the warfare against the open saloon our people in some communities did effective service. In a number of towns our laymen were the strength of the anti-saloon forces. In a few cases the Methodist pastor led the fight, and in one town our preacher shared the eggs with the anti-saloon lawyer. Fifteen of our thirty-eight towns still license this abomination.
The relations of our people to the publishing interests of the church have been much strengthened during the year. The Rev. W. E. Grose, special field agent of the Book Concern lectured, sold books and increased the Advocate list on most of the charges. He was successful in increasing the information and interest among the people in this work. The
bringing of the depository and the office of the Central
Christian Advocate to Kansas City, and especially the high favor
in which the new Central is held among both the laymen and the
ministers, serve to bring home to us all how our own the
Book Concern is. With but one or two exceptions our Sunday Schools
use our own literature. Three hundred and twenty Epworth Heralds
are taken and this number should be doubled within a year. Three
hundred and eighty Advocates are taken which is fewer than the
number of official members. This claim, we fear, is not mined to
its full capacity on the Beatrice District.
The close of conference last fall left the district with four appointments to be supplied. Mayberry would not be comforted until L. G. Parker, who had organized them and led them in building their church, consented to add the care of them to his already heavy pastoral charge. C. A. Hale, who began his ministry in this conference, and N. J. Chrysler were transferred from the West Nebraska Conference and appointed to Hubbell and Dubois respectively. Their people speak in the highest terms of the christian character and services of these brethren. L. M. Fleming, a local preacher, was secured to supply at Strang and Burress. A good work has been wrought at Strang where the year opened with fifteen members and will close with over fifty. D. C. Phillips was transferred from Tobias to the Des Moines Conference at the very beginning of the year. Rev. Thomas Scott, a local preacher, supplied the work until spring and greatly endeared himself to the pepole (sic). E. M. Furman took charge at the close of the Drew Seminary school year and his people wish him to remain their pastor indefinitely. About the first of December T. H. Lillie asked to be relieved from Alexandria charge that he might find larger opportunities in Oklahoma. The charge was irregularly supplied until I. C. Lemon came at the end of his course in Drew to take up the work. The year closes well, the only uneasiness coming from the fear of losing their pastor. With the beginning of the new century C. H. Gilmore accepted a call to the Congregational ministry in Iowa. His Chester people greatly regretted to lose him. We secured Dr. P. P. Carroll of the Genesee Conference, who took up the work without the loss of a service. A gracious revival blessed the church and brought many substantial helpers into its membership. S. H. Maxwell next asked to be relieved from Diller to return to the United Presbyterian ministry from which he came to us. He was much loved by his people and we all regretted his going from our fellowship. Edgar M. Reed of the United Brethren church has supplied the charge the latter part of the year, and has led the people in paying their church debt and in spiritual advancement. With the close of August J. W. Swan left Wymore to engage in the Anti-Saloon League work. During his eleven months at Wymore he led his church in a succession of triumphs. With the dawn of the century this long captive daughter of Zion loosed the bands of debt from her neck. Then came church
repairs and a gracious summer revival, bringing forty-five into
the church, and last, the payment in full of all ministerial and
incidental claims. The people of Wymore are reconciled to have
Brother Swan leave them only because he feels it his duty to take
up the other work. Added to all these changes E. F. Gales and H.
E. Covell left at the end of the year to attend school. F. E.
Smith goes to work in the Puget Sound Conference and Dr. T. McK.
Stuart returns to the Des Moines Conference. We acknowledge our
debt of gratitude to the rest of the brethren who served
faithfully from conference to conference.
Our District Epworth League held in unusually well attended and profitable convention at DeWitt in the fall. The Woman's Foreign and Woman's Home Missionary Societies held conventions at Tobias and Hebron respectively. The District Ministerial Institute was held at Holmesville in April. The attendance was good, timely and practical subjects were ably handled and we were all refreshed for our work.
The religious training of the children has been a matter of concern with us during the year. Strictly speaking, the direction of the Discipline are rarely carried out. There are twenty Junior Leagues on the district with about 700 members which are substituted for the classes of baptized children which pastors are directed to organize, catechize and prepare as probationers for reception into full membership. I doubt if one in twenty of our preachers can tell who among the children of his charge are baptized, and who makes any difference in his thought and care between those who are and those who are not baptized. Most of the pastors have the care of the children on their hearts to some degree, but we do not proceed in a disciplinary way. And, I fear, our children, far too frequently fail to receive the personal instruction, leadership and fellowship the Discipline intends the pastor shall give them. Practically nothing is done aside from the Sunday School work for the religious instruction of the children on the charges where there are no Junior Leagues. I feel sure many of us need as the under shepherds of the flock of God, to be awakened and led to a new devotion and activity to bind the children to Christ.
There has been some increase in Epworth League membership and some new chapters have been chartered. Much good is done, through the devotional meetings and quite generally these organized young people are a great help to the church. But as I have gone from charge to charge I have deeply felt the need of systematic Bible study for our Epworthians. For their intellectual and missionary awakening and improvement how earnestly we should seek to organize them in clubs to take the prescribed reading course. With what prayer and effort we should undertake the deepening of the personal religious life of these young people. and to bring them to be conscious of their measureless power and oppportunities (sic) for service to Christ and Men. The preacher who hopes to still be speaking when his voice is silent will give his strength to the religious enlargement of his young people.
Special revived meetings were held on most of
the charges. About 500 professed conversion. There have been more
than 600 accessions from probation and by letter. We have lost by
death and removal 430 members, reducing our net gain in membership
to less than 200.
And now at the end of the year we gather in annual conference. We shall all need to be enlarged and ''transformed by the renewing of the mind," to be equal to the tasks of another year. Some of us come short and fall as pastors, others lack the thorough furnishing for the work of evangelists, some of us need the inner strengthening that will make us less of self and the world, and all of us must he greatly refreshed from the presence of the Lord or our ministry will become as barren as the rainless plains. May we all so have waited on God in secret and together, that when this conference shall adjourn we may go forth perfect as his men, and thoroughly equipped for our great work.
GEO. W. ISHAM.
It is with gratitude to Almighty God for His
preserving care and His sustaining grace that we give our first
report as presiding elder of the Hastings district.
The district is not so large as it was when reported a year ago. At that conference there were taken from it two charges, and a part of another charge, which were added to other districts. With those charges were taken from us three hundred and seventy members, and ten thousand seven hundred dollars worth of church and parsonage property. We had still thirty charges left, and each charge well manned. The preachers have faithfully done their work, and all have remained at their posts to the end of the year, except E. D. Gideon, on the Kenesaw charge, who felt impressed to go into religious and prohibition journalism and C. A. Park. on the Inavale charge, a supply, who left his work on account of the impaired health of his wife; and F. A. Wells, on the Oak charge, another supply, who has chosen to go to the north west part of the state. We appointed in the place of Brother Gideon, S. W. Gamble. In August Brother Gamble resigned, and we appointed Howard P. Young as pastor. We appointed Lawrence Yost, a young man who had just graduated from the Seminary of the Hastings college, in the place of Brother Park. We have had no pastor at Oak since the retirement of Brother Wells, the pulpit being supplied by four faithful local preachers, who live within the bounds of the charge. This arrangement was made at the request of the people, and was for the time quite satisfactory. They now desire a pastor.
The dry season has affected finances, and it is likely that on some of the charges there will be a reduction of salaries next year. The chief
cause of the deficiencies was the drought. The same cause has
interfered in taking up collections for benevolences, so that
these collections are not as full on every charge as we desired.
The work on some of the charges was greatly hindered by small-pox.
Several churches were closed for weeks.
Revival services have been held in nearly every charge, and about four hundred and fifty persons have been converted at our altars. The Camp-Meeting was held at Deweese as in past years. The attendance was very large. The preaching was by the pastors of the district. We were ably assisted by Brother and Sister McCarty, singing evangelists, of Fairfield. Iowa. The consecrated labors of these persons were greatly appreciated. and God made them a great blessing. The meeting vas remarkable for its spiritual power. Twenty adults professed conversion, and twelve children. Donations were given by the Camp-Meeting association to both the foreign and home mission work.
The ministerial association met in Edgar. and was a season of interest and profit. An Epworth League convention was held in Harvard. The attendance was good and the interest great.
We have thirty two Epworth Leagues on the district. and two other young peoples' societies, and most of them are doing good work. And we have eleven Junior Leagues.
A church was dedicated at Mt. Clare in December. The expense of building was provided for, except a five hundred dollar loan of the Church Extension Society. A school building was purchased by our people at Ruskin, and moved to a desirable location and converted into a church. The work has all been completed, the church furnished and they now have a delightful place for services. All the expenses were met and they have money still on hand. A parsonage was built at Blue Hill, which makes a very comfortable home for the pastor and his family. Improvements have been made in church property at Fairmont, Juniata, Doniphan, Hardy, Nora and Sutton; and in parsonage property at Red Cloud, Cowles, Doniphan, Roseland and Geneva. New parsonages are needed very much at Ayr, Inavale, Bladen, Oak, Deweese and Hastings. Plans were on foot to erect parsonages at some of these points, but the dry season has prevented. The people of Byron on the Hardy charge had decided to build a church this fall but were compelled to abandon the enterprise. The last of the debt on the Deweese church was paid during the year, and great jubilee was held, when the people came together to rejoice that the burden was finally lifted. A history of the church was read; several speeches were given; and the mortgage was duly burned, and the ashes safely bottled, to be kept as a warning to future generations against placing a mortgage on the house of God.
I have personally presided at every quarterly conference during the year, and have attended every quarterly meeting I could reach, and thus kept in as close touch as I could with the charges.
The home of our pastor at Davenport, A. G.
Forman, was visited by the death angel and their second son was
taken from them. This young man served in the army in the
Philippines, and came home with his constitution broken by
disease, and having an attack of pneumonia was carried away. The
blow was heavy to the parents, but the grace of God sustained
them. They are greatly comforted at the thought that he was a
In closing our report we regret that more has not been accomplished, but we leave our work with God. and we trust something has been done toward advancing the Redeemer's Kingdom.
The various departments of the church have
been well looked after by the pastors of the Lincoln district
during the year. While there have not been as many souls converted
and the spiritual tide of the church has not risen as rapidly as
we could desire still we have much for which to praise God.
We are always chary in reporting numbers lest it should savor of vanity: and yet we have scripture authority forgiving the numbers saved. Luke tells us that on the day of Pentecost one hundred and twenty church members were filled with the Holy Ghost, and about three thousand souls were converted. The pastors report about six hundred conversions during the year.
Alvo has had a good year. The spirituality of the membership has deepened and souls have been converted. A ten days meeting was held in July resulting in great good to the church and community.
Ashland. All departments of this church are in excellent condition The benevolences are largely in advance of last year.
Bennet is prospering. Crowded houses have greeted the pastor an the varied departments of the church are in good working condition.
Ceresco has had prosperity. Valley View, one of the appointments on this charge, was visited with a gracious revival resulting in fifty conversions. At other points souls have been saved. The Ceresco quarterly conference sold the church property at Davey and adding $500.00 to the proceeds, built a beautiful and commodious parsonage at Ceresco. Ceresco is now one of the best circuits in the district.
Cedar Bluffs has had a pleasant, harmonious and prosperous year.
Crete is one of our good stations. The work in this charge moves on in peace and harmony.
Dorchester. Souls have been converted and there has been an advance on all lines of church work.
Eagle. A new barn has been built and two lots purchased for a parsonage. Some twenty souls were converted, and spiritually the church is in good condition.
Elmwood has suffered greatly from removals.
Two years ago there were one hundred and seventy-two members on
the church rolls. Since then sixty-seven have removed. At the
close of this year the pastor reports one hundred and ninety-four
members, showing the good work that has been done. An elegant
parsonage costing $1700.00 has been built, every dollar of which
has been paid.
Friend advances. The benevolent collections are larger than the previous year. About $900.00 were raised on improvement on the church property and to pay a balance due on the parsonage.
Greenwood has about held her own.
Havelock was visited with a genuine revival of religion. About sixty souls were reported converted, and the church received a great spiritual uplift.
Ithaca. Harmony prevails on the Ithaca charge. A new barn has been built, and valuable improvements have been made on the church property.
Lincoln. There are nine charges in this city as follows:
Asbury. An old debt has been cancelled. A revival of the old fashioned type took place in the winter. Fathers, mothers and children bowed together at the altar and were wondrously saved.
Bethel, North Lincoln and Arbor are missions and must remain mission fields.
Epworth is a power for good in the northeastern part of the city and her influence is constantly widening.
Emmanuel is in a good condition. During the extra meetings held last winter. fifty-six souls professed conversion. The benevolent collections are larger than ever before, $199 were raised for missions, being an average of one dollar per member. The balance of all old debt on the church, amounting to $625.00 was paid.
Grace church has made advancements. During the revival in the winter fifty souls were converted, and at the regular means of grace souls have been saved. $1100.00 were raised for benevolences, including $500.00 for the debt on the University. $1000.00 were raised for paving and other improvements on the church property. All departments of this church are in a healthy condition.
St. Paul. Notwithstanding the great disadvantages under which this church has labored. worshiping part of the time in the opera house, and part of the time in other churches, she has had a year of remarkable prosperity. Souls have been converted and the membership quickened. The splendid new church will be ready for dedication in November. When completed it will be the largest and most beautiful church in the west. The exterior and interior are all that could be desired. We have never seen more beautiful and well arranged building for church purposes than this magnificent edifice. The benevolent collections are larger than in any previous year of her history.
Trinity is a growing church. The work on all
lines moves along pleasantly. The debt on the church is gradually
diminishing. A subscription of $1600.00 was raised. Part of this
was used in building a new sidewalk, and the balance was applied
on the payment of the church debt.
Mead. This charge has had a successful year. At Ottoe Creek discordant elements were harmonizd (sic), many souls were converted and the whole society is in a most happy state of feeling. At Mead a church debt of long years standing was paid, and the mortgage burned amid the rejoicings of a delighted people.
Normal is doing splendid work for God. A beautiful church costing about $2500.00 has been built and will be ready for occupancy in a short time. The spiritual tide is high, and Normal is rapidly coming to the front as one of our best and most desirable charges.
Raymond holds steadily on her way without any great changes.
Roca has suffered for two years in succession, last year by hail, this year by drouth.
Prairie Home, Sharon, Denton and Victoria are student appointments and are doing fairly well.
University Place has had a grand year. The members of this church are wonderfully baptized. A three weeks meeting last winter resulted in one hundred and fifty conversions. Every student in the regular college course was converted. The finances are in a splendid condition. The benevolent collections are one hundred per cent larger than the apportionment. and are far in advance of my previous year in the history of this church. Aside from paying all current expenses, and doubling the apportionments for benevolences, about six thousand dollars were raised for the debt on the University.
Valparaiso. A revival in the winter resulted in twenty conversions. The work on this charge is advancing.
Wahoo. Peace and harmony reign in this station. No debts, no complaints. A beautiful little girl came to brighten the parsonage, and make her permanent home with the pastor's family.
Weston has about held her own. There are a few faithful souls here that are as true to God as the needle to the pole.
Waverly has had a pleasant year.
The Sunday Schools, the Epworth and Junior League are still powerful factors of usefulness in the churches.
A very successful and helpful ministerial association was held at Wahoo. The District Epworth League Convention held at Dorchester was also a great success, and was an inspiration to all who attended it.
The Nebraska Wesleyan University has achieved a great victory in providing for the removal of the debt which has long threatened her existence. With the debt gone, and the institution perfectly free, the outlook was never before so hopeful.
Brother W. H. Prescott, Conference
Evangelist, has been busy throughout the year and has had good
We are impressed that we ought not to take another charge. What work we do hereafter will be done in the way of assisting others. For the many favors and kind words we have received from the pastors and the members of the churches, we tender our sincere and most heartfelt thanks.
H. T. DAVIS.
The Nebraska City district embraces the south
east corner of the State and is comprised of twenty nine
Adams on the B. & M. R. R. has had a very prosperous year. Many new and substantial buildings have been erected making it a very attractive and desirable place to live. Our pastor, Duke Slavens, lives in the affections of the people. They want him to stay and complete the new church which promises to be one of our best.
Auburn is rapidly increasing in population. The wise men of our church are enthusiastic for a new church location and the erection of a building that will be in keeping with this prosperous city. A. C. Crosthwaite is leading on in the enterprise. Through his influence the church has become more Methodistic and spiritual. Souls have been converted and the outlook is cheering.
Brock and Talmage can no longer walk side by side for Talmage the weaker financially asks to be made a station. With a strong man for this growing town and a missionary appropriation of $100, no doubt in a short time this would be a desirable place. We are the only English church here. Brock will also be a station. Her membership is strong and when adjusted to the new order, all will be well. O. T. Moore has done the work of two men besides watching tenderly over an invalid wife. Revivals and church improvements crown his efforts.
Brownville, Bethel and Nemaha rejoice in the fearless preacher of temperance. Much good has been done by A. V. Wilson and the membership is increased.
Cook and Mt. Hope have been praising the efficiency of their much beloved pastor, John Calvert. The churches are in a prosperous condition. It has however been a year of great burden on account of the sickness of Sister Calvert. It has become necessary to send her to the hospital. Let us pray that she may be saved to the church and their precious children.
Douglas and Burr, are prosperous under Dr. DeMotte. All debts have been cancelled, benevolence and salary met, valuable improvements made and an urgent call for the return of their pastor and wife.
Elk Creek. The pastor, L. F. Harmon. has labored very hard. Twelve persons have come into church fellowship. For many years this
place has had the best ministers. It has, however, been a
prolonged "Holding of the Fort."
Falls City has had the invincible Dr. Dean. His ringing utterances against the saloon, his determined stand for a new parsonage, and his love for the University will never be forgotten. This is one of the most desirable stations and the loyal people will welcome the man sent by the Bishop.
Highland and Glenrock will never in our judgment witness again such sacrifices for the cause of Christ as made by G. W. Ayers. Out of a very meagre salary he pays one tenth and beside made a thank offering of $25 to the University. Such work puts to shame the rich people of our congregations. The work of the Lord prospers in his hands.
Humboldt under the able pastorate of E. M. Evans has risen to be one of the best. Its membership is increased. All causes are well represented. A carefully planned warfare against rum by the pastor resulted in driving out the saloons. The good people commend him for his faithful work, and the best churches desire him for their pastor.
Johnson and Graf have enjoyed the labors of Geo. Shuman. The charge is in a prosperous state.
Louisville under the able pastorate of D. S. Davis has had another year of success. Valuable improvements have been made, souls identified with the church, benevolences well in hand and a strong effort made for our University. Our brother deserves a promotion.
Murdock, Wabash and South Bend is a difficult field which has been ably served by C. L. Myers for three years. Marked improvements have been made and the churches have grown steadily.
Nehawka and Eight Mile Grove were greatly enjoying the labors of F. E. Toms but on account of failing health he was obliged to give up his field of labor. We found H. F. Huntington of the Wesleyan who has finished out the year successfully.
Nebraska City still profits by the labors of C. M. Shepherd, D. D. The revival brought numbers into the church. The Doctor has made for himself a name and reputation at home and abroad. His church stands loyally by the Wesleyan and will pay nearly $2000 on its indebtedness and the benevolences. The people desire his return.
Palmyra became a station with Geo. W. Martin, D. D. as pastor. The royal good people put the minister's salary $200 above last year.
Peru has had some degree of prosperity. W. W. McGwire has repaired and beautifully decorated the church. Benevolences show great gain.
Plattsmouth people are happy to see their splendid new church reaching completion. The property with its lots will be worth $10,000. Great credit is due Asa Sleeth who has shown himself competent in every department of work. All are in love with him and want him to stay.
Rulo has nobly stood at her post against all obstacles. Geo. Wash had a good year and the people appreciate him.
Salem and Shubert have been well served by
Eugene Maxey. Souls have been converted, all interests guarded and
a good advance made.
Smartville, Trinity and Spring Creek circuit has been traveled by J. W. Davis who brings a good report of progress on all lines. Truly the Lord is with him and the church desires his return.
Stella and Howe are satisfied with S. Goldsmith. A revival at Howe gave some additions to the church.
Sterling is still in love with J. M. Darby. His salary was placed at $1000. The benevolences show a marked increase. The church and people of the town desire his stay among them.
Syracuse. Dr. D. B. Lake has swept away the entire debt. All causes have been represented and collections are at a high water mark. He has had a successful pastorate of four years. He is very popular with his people.
Table Rock as usual comes up with a good report. A. W. Shamel has endeared himself to his people.
Tecumseh during the year paid their pastor monthly in advance. All claims have been met in full. Valuable improvements have been made. Congregations are enlarged and the League and Sunday School are flourishing. The quarterly conference unanimously ask for the return of their beloved pastor, A. B. Whitmer.
Unadilla is a new charge. Last year a fine new church was dedicated by the presiding elder. This so encouraged them as to ask for a pastor. H. W. Cope, their choice, has met their expectation. A glorious revival brought many into the church. They paid him a larger salary than they promised. All claims are met and they plead for his return.
Union has bestirred herself through the wide awake pastor, H. F. Smith. A beautiful eight room parsonage has been built; also a new barn. Too much cannot be said in favor of this hard working brother who with his own hands labored for months to complete these improvements.
Weeping Water Dever wearies in well doing. The pastor, T. H. Worley, meets their expectation. A new church is being advocated which no doubt will be undertaken upon the return of the pastor. All departments of work are in a flourishing condition.
We have had our conventions during the year. The Home Missionary Society elected Mrs. A, B. Whitmer President. At the Woman's Foreign Missionary convention Eva M. VanFleet was re-elected President. The District Epworth League re-elected W. R. Kelley President. All these, conventions were a great inspiration to our work. We gave the cause of our Wesleyan University the right of way on the district. Bishop McCabe gave us his loyal service and Chancellor Huntington never failed us. To these brethren beloved we owe much for without them we would not be able to bring the good report for the University which the statistics will show.
Six years ago our district had twenty-six
charges. The new year will begin with thirty-one charges on the
district. About $12,000 of old debt has been swept away. Eleven
new and repaired churches cost $33,000. Four new commodious
parsonages cost $5,000. Ministers' salaries have been greatly
increased. Benevolences in some cases have doubled and trebled.
Churches have increased in membership. God has been glorified in
the salvation of souls. I have at best been but an unprofitable
servant, "beloved and cared for far beyond my worth." God bless
you all and may we through the merit of Christ be brought to the
"well done good and faithful servant, enter ye into the joy of thy
P. VAN FLEET.
Five whole counties and a point in each of
three other counties are within York district. There are
thirty-two pastors and sixty-eight preaching places in the
district, of the latter, fifty-three are in our churches, nine in
school houses, four in churches of other denominations, and one in
a poor house.
SUPPLIES. J. G. Day resigned Linwood last fall and it was supplied by W. H. Holland until last month when a more hopeful field opened to him. McCool had several temporary supplies until Dec. 28, when O. L. Burres took charge. E. W. McMillen failed to accept Hampton and it has been supplied by the Stockham pastors. G. E. Abern resigned Ware last month and J. M. Wilson has supplied it.
HEALTH. Sickness has entered several pastoral homes during the year, but none have departed, and all have regained their usual health. E. J. Randall had the most severe sickness of any of the pastors, but is gaining strength daily. Rev. J. C. Browning, of Bellwood, one of the old war horses of Methodism in this district, has passed to a glorious reward. A larger number of efficient lay members than usual has been called to the church triumphant.
CHURCH PROPERTY. We have fifty-four churches, and all but Beaver Crossing, Brainard, Hampton, Germantown, Linwood, Millerton, Pleasant Hill and Stromsburg are free from debt. Church extension debts have been paid at Aurora, Octavia, Ulysses and Ware. Other church debts have been paid at Exeter, Garrison, Rising City and Waco. Keckley Chapel has been sold as abandoned property for $225, the donation of $200 was returned to the Board of Church Extension, and we request the Conference to order the balance and the unsold land to be given to Benedict to apply on the purchase of the parsonage. The members of Keckley have been transferred to Benedict, and desire the proceeds of Keckley to be thus applied. The Germantown church is, with the consent of the Board of Church Extension, in process of sale to the
Congregationalists, and we expect settlement to be made soon.
In June, the Millerton class purchased Heath Chapel, at Octavia,
took it to pieces, and have rebuilt it at Millerton at cost of
$833. The church was dedicated last Sunday, subscription for $341
taken which amply provides for all unpaid indebtedness and heating
apparatus to be procured. Improvements have been made upon many of
the churches. Fairview on the McCool circuit has been made new in
appearances. Aurora has repaired the damage done by lightning.
Rising City has a new furnace and the interior papered. David City
has been painting, laying walks and carpeting. York, Exeter,
Utica, Pleasant Dale, Goehner and Bradshaw have made substantial
repairs and other churches have done some repairing. Church lots
are still owned at Octavia and Farmer's Valley.
PARSONAGE PROPERTY. We now have twenty-seven parsonages and one in process of construction. Ware erected a neat five room parsonage at a cost of $700, which is covered by a good subscription. Benedict purchased a parsonage property for $825, and painted it, paying for all except $400 thereof. All of the other parsonages except that at Waco are free from debt. Gresham is now building a parsonage at an expense of $700 with only a part of the cost provided for. The Stockham parsonage has been enlarged and improved at a cost of $325. Other parsonages have been repaired, those at Milford, Platte Valley, Arborville and Waco the most extensively. All of the churches but three and all the parsonages but two are insured, and the trustees have been urged to insure these. Two uninsured churches are at Hampton and Germantown, the former being owned by the Board of Church Extension. The title to proprety (sic) acquired at Benedict and Millerton has been examined and found to be good.
Pastoral salaries have been largely increased in one half of the charges. The largest increase over last year is at Benedict, Aurora, Beaver Crossing, David City, Exeter, Garrison and Ware. The net gain in the district is laarge especially when we consider a net gain of $700 made last year.
SPIRITUAL WORK. God has blessed the district with an unusual revival spirit. Only one charge fails to report a convert, and nine others report less than ten each and fifteen report ten or more and less than forty each. The seven charges reporting the largest number of conversions are Benedict, David City, Aurora, Phillips, Surprise, Pleasant Dale and York. The total number of professed conversions is seven hundred and twenty-one. Many christians have received spiritual life more abundant, and a general advance spiritually is discernible in many charges. Conference Evangelist Prescott, E. F. Miller, J. M. Life, James Mailley and P. C. Burhaus gave efficient help in fourteen charges and received over $1100 therefore. Yet we have greatly needed more evangelistic help and would have gladly paid for it. Four hundred and
ninety-six probationers have been received and a net gain in
full membership achieved, although the removals from the district
have been exceedingly many. Although the "Forward Movement" has
been systematically worked by few pastors, yet the laity are
moving forward in grace, giving and going for the Master.
BENEVOLENCES. York District has subscribed a total of $10,392.39 on the debt of our University, $2709.39 of it being Thank Offering money. J. H. Mickey, our honored President of the Board of Trustees, has made this possible by his generous giving, and his efficient service in public and private throughout the state has been a potent factor in the success of the debt campaign. Aside front Brother Mickey's large giving, the district has made a surprising and splendid showing, when you consider the facts of its small membership and their financial weakness, and the history of our schools in the district. Notwithstanding the severe drouth and our earnest and successful effort for the Wesleyan, our benevolences are very large. Every named collection. except that for tracts, exceeds the sum given therefor last year. In making this statement we exclude the special gifts hereafter reported, and consider the sums given last year by points now, but not then in York district.
The Sunday Schools are quite prosperous. Ulysses, York and Osceola are making the Home department a success. Decision Day is observed at Aurora, York and a few other schools with good results. Urgent effort to have the schools take up missionary work has been successful in several schools but much yet remains to be done. The most efficient schools are at York, Aurora, Bellwood and Osceola, although many others are pressing forward rapidly. Substantial advance in observing the rules respecting the instruction and enrollment of children has been made.
EPWORTH LEAGUES. There are thirty Senior, one Intermediate and seventeen Junior Epworth Leagues in the district. Most of them are doing successful work and several are deeply interested in missionary study and work. York, Seward and Bellwood Seniors and Utica, Tamora, Aurora, Osceola, Gresham, Seward and Bradshaw among the Juniors are deserving of special commendation.
TEMPERANCE. Our Church is a leading factor in the temperance and anti-saloon work done in the district. Victories have been won at Aurora, Bellwood, Milford, Osceola, Stromsburg and Waco in municipal elections. Aggessive (sic) work has been carried on at Beaver Crossing, Stockham and a few other towns.
Love Feasts and Class Meetings need to be greatly developed, as they are less used than, any other public means of grace. Pastors and Class Leaders can by study and wise leadership improve them. Aurora has made the most marked advance in this line this year.
Our District Conference held a successful session at York in April.
Rev. David F. Canfield, a highly esteemed local preacher of
Rising City, and his wife, Julia Canfield, have made their wills
devising and bequeathing all of their property to our Annual
Conference to be used as a home for and the support, of our
conference claimants under the direction of our conference
stewards. The value of their property is (at a reasonable
estimate) $1800. It affords me great pleasure to now present to
our Conference the said wills and to request that they be read to
the Conference. Rev. E. J. Randall, our pastor at Rising City had
a noble part in deciding the object to which this benevolence
should be given.
Rising City also reports a special gift of $400 to the Mothers Jewels Home of York, which is mostly the product of E. J. Randall's liberality, and wholly donated by him and his brothers and sisters. This Home has been generously helped this year, considering the pressure for our University, but will I trust be more widely and amply aided by the whole Conference next year. It is an efficient and worthy distributor of charity, and the greatness of its achievements can only be revealed in eternity. The various societies belonging to the women continue their efficiency in the district, and are to many a charge, a vital necessity to its success.
Benedict well illustrates the possible success of one year's faithful effort. The membership had been led to feel that earnest effort and generous giving were essential to success in their new career as a separate charge. They were given a pastor full of grace, grit and go, and the united endeavor of pastor and people resulted in an increased total of giving from below $300 to over $1200, in seventy-seven professed conversions, fifty-five accessions by probation, and a gain of forty-two to the full membership roll. Each apportionment is paid, and many claims over paid.
Aurora has "tidings of great joy" to report. The salary of the pastor has been advanced $200, over that of last year, the last $579 on the church debt has been paid. the benevolences made a good gain, twenty-three have passed by way of probation into full membership, the increase of attendance upon every public means of grace has been large, but the membership say, ''that there still remains a debt to the pastor that not even a loving people can pay -- the debt of gratitude."
York under its present pastor has grown in three years from four hundred seventy-two to six hundred twenty-eight members, and also has developed in all of its financial and spiritual work. During this pastorate one hundred eighty-eight probationers have been received; of these, one hundred thirty-nine have been received into full membership, twenty-two remain on probation, ten have gone by letter, ten removed without letter and seven were dropped. Seventy-four per cent of them became full members. This record discloses high efficiency of pastoral supervision. During this pastorate, one hundred sixty-one were
received by letter and from other churches, and two hundred
seventy-two of the present full members were received by the
David City during the two years has grown from two hundred and sixty-one to three hundred and twenty-eight in membership, and it reports to this conference every financial claim met in full, and several with a surplus, the property in good repair, and expects to prove its liberality by entertaining the conference and about fifty wives of ministers in a home like way. But David City will be disappointed if every preacher does not try to make his presence in the home and the conference sessions spiritual benedictions.
Did space permit many other victories could be noted. Suffice it to say, that the pastors have been loyal to Christ and Methodism, faithful and earnest in their labors, kind and responsive in their treatment of me, and have achieved a record for the district full of fruit and glory. Some of them labored in hard fields, amid discouraging trials, but not one has made a failure in work, although several have seen little silver lining the clouds that swept their sky.
The laity have been generous and sympathetic in their treatment of me. Having tried to faithfully discharge every duty imposed upon me by the church and been abundant in labors, I am deeply sensible of God's goodness to me, praise Him for the victories won by pastor and people, and face the future believing it auspicious of greater achievements for Christ and the church in York district.
GEORGE I. WRIGHT.
The following plan adopted and submitted by
the North Nebraska Conference, was concurred in by the Nebraska
Conference, Sept. 30th and John Gallagher, Hiram Burch and P. C.
Johnson were chosen as charter members.
1. For the purpose of instituting a State Methodist Historical Society three members shall on the adoption of this plan be elected by each Conference from among those who have seen the longest service in the state, and these shall be and are hereby constituted charter members of this society.
2. The Rev. H. T. Davis, D. D., is hereby appointed a member at large and constituted the first President of the Society.
3. This action shall take effect and the State Methodist Historical Society shall be considered as constituted when three of the Nebraska Annual Conferences shall have concurred in this action.
4. If by the concurrence of three Conferences this Society is constituted it shall be the duty of the President within ninety days after such action to call a meeting of the Society.
5. The Society when thus convened is hereby authorized to adopt a constituion (sic) and enact by-laws, determine conditions of membership and make any regulations necessary to carry out the purpose for which this society is instituted.
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