Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 17, 1949
NUMBER 28, PAGE 1,3b

Orphan Homes

G. K. Wallace

A great deal is being written these days about orphan homes and how they should operate. The appeal has largely been to tradition. Catholic priests say that tradition is equal in authority with the word of God. Many of my brethren today are that much like the Catholic priests. The priest tries to prove his point by tradition without reference to the word of God. The appeal made by many preachers today is to Larimore, Lipscomb, Harding, and the pioneers. The Catholics appeal to the church fathers, and these preachers appeal to the pioneers. That the care of orphan children is a responsibility of the church is not denied, except by a few brethren north of the Mason-Dixon line. They affirm that the care of orphan children is an individual matter. Most of my brethren admit, however, that it is a work of the church. If it is a work of the church we wonder why the church cannot do this work without forming an organization to take over the work for the elders. The Children's Home, in Wichita, Kans., is operated by the Riverside Church. We have no organization except the church. If it is asked, "Why is the home chartered?" we reply, "In order to comply with the laws of the state of Kansas." In most cities brethren cannot build a meetinghouse without getting permission from the city government to build. This is called a building permit. In Kansas the elders of the church cannot take children under their care or under the care of the church without permission from the state. This permit is called a charter.

The elders of the Riverside Church, by virtue of their appointment as elders, are directors of the Children's Home without any further designating or recording. When a man is appointed an elder of the Riverside Church in Wichita, Kans., he becomes a bishop of all that God wants his church to do. It is not likely that any elder here will wake up and find himself governor of the state, since the state of Kansas is not under the directions of the Riverside Church.

Elders of the church have a right to hire a superintendent, a matron, a nurse, a cook, a teacher, a dairyman, just as they do hire a song leader, a preacher, a janitor, or somebody to mow the lawn, or fix a window.

The New Testament church does not contain officers such as matrons, nurses, cooks, no more than it contains officers called janitors, song leaders, ministers, carpenters, or plumbers, but the elders of the church may hire any or all of these to serve the church.

The elders of the church may hire someone to do a job for the church that is not a member of the church. They may let a contract to some builder to erect a building and this contractor may use dozens of men who are not even members of the church.

A congregation may cooperate with another in any good work. This is clearly seen in the New Testament. We do not have to appeal to the pioneers in order to prove this. For congregations to cooperate, it is not necessary to take a member from each congregation to set up a board separate and apart from the church through which to operate. There is no parallel between the college and the orphan home. The college is purely a human enterprises on the same basis as a hardware store or a printing press like the Firm Foundation or the Gospel Advocate publishing house. These are works carried on by brethren and are in no sense a part of the work of the church. Caring for orphans is a work of the church and since it is a work of the church, it should be done by the church.

There is no parallel between colleges and orphans homes. There is a parallel between an orphans home, that has a board of trustees other than the elders of the church to do the work of the church, and the United Christian Missionary Society. The United Christian Missionary Society is an organization to take over the work of preaching the gospel. An organization other than the church, to take over the work of caring for orphan children, is a parallel with the United Christian Missionary Society.

Since it is admitted that children may be cared for by New Testament churches, why is it necessary to have anything other than the church to do it? What we need today is to encourage congregations all over the brotherhood to take the children who are dependent and neglected in their community and provide for them a home. We need hundreds of homes, and perhaps there would be if preachers would encourage churches to do their duty in this manner. There are many large congregations in the brotherhood that could rent or buy a piece of property in their community, get permission from the state to take children under their care and place them in these homes and provide for them. In order to do this they do not have to go out from some organization that God never heard of. The organization to do the work was given to the church by inspiration before the close of the apostolic age. The elders of the church are bishops of the charge allotted to them, and the charge allotted to them includes taking care of the needy in the community as far as they are able to do so. Any group of elders should be willing to take advice from preachers or from elders of various congregations. Cannot we see the difference in asking good men to give advice and of taking these advisors and forming them into an executive body? Do all those who advise the church in any given community become executives in the church because someone asks their opinion in regard to certain matters? Can we still affirm that the church of Christ is scriptural in name, organization, doctrine, and practice?