Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 11, 1958
NUMBER 19, PAGE 6-7b

"Heartening Outlook In Northern California"

Lloyd Moyer, El Cerrito, California

The subject of this article was the headline of an Editorial by Brother Reuel Lemmons in the July 15, 1958 Firm Foundation. Brother Lemmons is possibly the most "reviewed" man among us today. The reason he holds such distinction could be his proclivity to write that which is false, or ambiguous. And if he does occasionally write the truth on some subject he usually will contradict himself, either in the same article or in his next one. His editorial "Heartening Outlook in Northern California" is a most revealing piece of literature. His title says "In Northern California." However, his article deals with "the San Francisco-Oakland area . . ." and "in a 50-mile radius." There is a great deal MORE to Northern California than just the "San Francisco-Oakland area." Further, the conditions in this area would NOT necessarily be representative of the rest of Northern California since this is the "melting-pot" of the country where millions are gathered; while the rest is composed of relatively small towns and rural areas. You will find many towns and drive for miles without finding a church of Christ. The church has grown rapidly in the "Bay Area" in the last ten years.

After spending one week in a meeting in Oakland, Brother Lemmons takes it upon himself to advise the "brotherhood" that all is peace and harmony in the bay area. He endeavors to leave the impression that just about all the congregations in this area supported and endorsed him and the meeting in East Oakland. I quote from His editorial:

"The churches of the area are cooperating in several missionary endeavors both at home and abroad. From nearly every congregation in a 50-mile radius brethren heartily supported the meeting. The spirit of fellowship and cooperation could hardly have been excelled anywhere and at long last, it prevails generally throughout the area." (Emphasis mine LM.)

This is an outright falsehood. "The churches of the area" leaves the impression that all the churches of the area "are cooperating" in the endeavors he mentioned. The church where he held the meeting along with a few other churches in the area DO NOT cooperate with many other congregations in the area. In fact they did not even notify many of the meeting. The "missionary endeavors" he mentioned are cases where many churches send funds to ONE church and that one church "sponsors" or takes care of the work. I can name many congregations in this area which do not believe this to be a scriptural arrangement. Here are a few: El Cerrito, San Pablo, Vallejo, Novato, San Bruno, Sunnyvale, East San Jose, Newark, and Alameda. There are others but this is enough to let the reader see that Brother Lemmons either did not know the situation here or he tried willfully to mislead. These institutional hobby riders would lead all to believe that only a few brethren oppose their unscriptural schemes. So, they "call" an editor or staff writer to the area for a week's meeting. Then there appears in the paper an article stating that "the churches of the area are cooperating:" or, that "the spirit of fellowship and cooperation could hardly have been excelled anywhere." May I say that if the "institutional crowd" does not have any more foothold elsewhere than they do in this area, they are a long way from having every thing "sewed up".

Some one may ask, "Who is this Moyer to contradict Reuel Lemmons?" That all may know that I am qualified to speak of conditions in California let me say that I have lived and done "local work" in the Bay Area for the last nine years. I have conducted 53 meetings and engaged in 17 debates in California during this time, as well as appearing on a number of "lecture programs." I think I am in a better position to state conditions in this area than some one who spends only a few days here.

Brother Lemmons says:

"It was a heartening experience indeed to find so many brethren in the area, and to find them so well united. What a force the Lord's people can be when they are united! Working together in love, the churches of the Bay Area have as promising a future as any area we have ever seen. In the next few years brethren will hear of accomplishments from this field that, if published today, would startle the wildest dreamer among us."

Again, this paragraph would lead those who are not familiar with this area to believe that the "institutional promoters" have the Bay Area in the bag. He says, "The churches in the Bay Area have as promising a future as any area we have ever seen." But WHAT KIND of a future for the churches which endorse fellows like Brother Lemmons? I am sure that their "accomplishments" in the future would "startle even the wildest dreamer among us." In fact, their "accomplishments" in the PAST few years "would startle" all faithful brethren. I mention a few of their "accomplishments": thousands of dollars spent for church kitchens, social halls, recreation rooms, huge sums placed in the budget for recreation, church of Christ basketball teams, baseball teams, ping-pong tables in church buildings, tacky parties, Halloween parties, Coke parties and just about every other kind of party you can imagine held in church buildings, open buildings on Saturday for children of the neighborhood and serve soda pop and ice cream, (you know that will get them to attend Bible class), churches sponsoring camp meetings in the mountains, youth camps, youth meetings and rallies, church dinners and social affairs, beach parties, wiener roasts, snow trips, Christmas trees, and parties, congregations turning their money over to another congregation to let it tend the work of preaching the gospel in some other place, using money from the church treasury to support a human institution and allowing that institution to do the work of he church. Had some brother "published" these "accomplishments" 25 years ago it WOULD have "startled" the "wildest dreamer among us." There is no doubt in my mind that if these digressing churches continue in their present course that their "accomplishments" in the next few years will "startle the wildest dreamer among us." It is startling indeed that congregations such as East Oakland and San Leandro desire the "fellowship and cooperation" of, and to be identified with congregations which practice some of the things I have mentioned. But even more startling is that they are guilty of doing some of these things, too. Just a few years ago these two congregations were known for their firm stand against error and worldliness, but now it's doubtful if they would even publicly defend WHAT THEY PRACTICE! Truly, institutionalism makes strange bed-fellows.

This article has been an effort to correct a false impression, and to let it be known that there are many congregations and preachers in the Bay Area which have not yielded to the pressure tactics of the digressives.