How Far Does "Co-Operation" Go?
There has been much generalizing, both pro and con, in the discussions on the "missionary" question. It appears that some have one thing in mind when they use the word "cooperate", while others include far more. I have looked at the matter to try and see what was a reality and what was not. The people who are doing the work show by their work what their idea of "cooperation" is. I think that is the fairest and truest test of all.
After hearing one of the workers from Germany speak, I wrote brother James Bales to see if his idea of "cooperation" included the things that are apparently being done. Nearly three months have gone by (the letter was written August 16), and I have received no reply from brother Bales. I believe there are many others who might like an answer to my questions, so I am making the letter public.
Just how far does "cooperation" go? What are the details in which we may cooperate; and what would constitute a breach of the independence of the congregations? These are the things I wanted to know from brother Bales. Here is the letter:
Dear Brother Bales:
In the study of the scriptural means of preaching the gospel to those in foreign lands, I have read with an open mind your articles in the various papers. The last article in the Guardian contained a statement that I believe is in error, and one which really gets the problem before us that has caused many to fear the outcome of some tendencies among us today.
On page 11, under heading 8, Guardian, August 10th, you say that, "Broadway and N congregation in Lubbock does not control all the work in Germany. In fact, they exercise oversight only over the men whom they support."
On June 11th, brother Fred Casmir spoke in our services on the work in Germany. He is supported by the Lawrenceburg, Tenn., congregation. In his talk he told of the establishment of nine congregations in Germany, and said that these congregations have a program of personal work. He said that this program in all the congregations was supervised by brother Otis Gatewood. I guess that brother Casmir knew the plans for the work there, for he came from Germany and was then preparing to return and work under those plans. Since brother Gatewood is under the Lubbock church, they, they are over "the personal work program in all nine congregations", according to Fred Casmir.
In the December, 1949, "Germany for Christ", page 2, carried this statement: "A report on the German Mission Work. Published by the Broadway Church of Christ, Lubbock, Texas, in the interest of preaching the gospel in Germany. All donations to the work will be promptly acknowledged." Page 23 of the same report carried this statement: "For food, tracts, Bibles, or support of boys in Bible Training School or for general support of the work, send your gifts to Elders, Broadway Church of Christ, Lubbock, Texas. It will be used as directed." Above this statement was a draft to be signed, payable to Broadway church "For German work until further notice from me."
Again, in the same report, page 4, we are told of the establishment of nine congregations, and that: "A budget has been worked out which outlines the contributions and the expenses of each congregation,' "As the several congregations become able to meet their budgets, the money contributed by Americans will be used for such projects as the Training School for preacher students, distribution of Bibles, tracts and literature, construction of buildings, purchase of food for relief, office expenses, and salaries of office workers."
All of this sounds to me like the Lubbock church is seeking for money that they plan to spend in a large organized work that involves all the nine congregations in Germany.
Another fear that some of us have is the tendency of these movements to grow into what they were not planned to be. For instance, brother G. C. Brewer wrote in the July 8, 1943, Gospel Advocate: "It was never the purpose of the Lubbock church to act as agent for anybody, and we do not want money sent to us." But now Lubbock is asking people to sign a draft payable to them to be spent by them in the German work. Other items that brother Brewer suggested then are not necessarily a part of the Lubbock plan today. All this is evidence that we may start with a little deviation, and reach great divisions.
One other statement that raises the question about the broad supervision of the Lubbock church: April 27, 1950, in Gospel Advocate, brother M. Norvel Young wrote, "Of course, there is a great need for funds for buildings, for printing tracts and books in German, for advertising and radio preaching, as well as for some relief work. The church here (Lubbock) is eager to help secure these funds and to see that they are efficiently spent for the advancement of the cause in Germany."
"The advancement of the cause" is the work of the church which Broadway proposes to see is efficiently done. Thus the question: Does Broadway oversee more than the work of three people? If they exercise supervision over the buildings, radio work, literature, school, etc., then where is there a line of authority, and by what assurance do we know that it will not in a few years be moved to include even more, as the line has already been moved to include receiving funds for this general work, which at one time they did not want to do?
Since they have declared a willingness to efficiently oversee this work which is admitted to involve all nine congregations, and their missionary is to supervise the personal work program, the real question is: Should they scripturally exercise this much authority?
I know some other preachers who have not entered into the discussion of these matters who see these statements in the same light that I do. If I am wrong, I would like to see some proof that should help everyone to get a better picture than now appears.
Frank L. Smith
Leonard C. Bankhead, 5909 Bernice Drive, Houston 17, Texas, October 24: "I am in position to schedule two additional meetings for 1951. The Telephone Road congregation is making splendid progress. One was baptized last Sunday."