By Laura J. Thomson and Amber L. Moore
Creator: United Church Board for Homeland Ministries (1962-2000)
Extent: 165.04 Linear Feet
Arrangement: The records of the Office of the Executive Vice President of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries is arranged into eight main series: Executive Vice President's Administrative Files (1937-1972), Committee of Divisional Heads Meetings (1961-2000), Corporate Secretary, Bill Hendricks (1986-2000), General Secretary, Robert Noble (1979-2000), Secretary for Special Mission Emphases, Theodore H. Erickson, (1965-2000), Treasurer's Office Files (1935-2000), Publications and Printed Items (1936-1999), and Audiovisual Materials and Realia (1926-1996).
Date Acquired: 01/01/1979
The United Church Board for Homeland Ministries (UCBHM) was an autonomous but recognized instrumentality of the United Church of Christ (UCC) that functioned as the administrative body of the United Church of Christ's home missions and services (1962-2000). The UCBHM formed in 1962 by the union of the Board of Home Missions of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Board of National Missions of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and continued the corporations and the work of predecessor mission boards and societies related to those two religious communities. The Office of the Executive Vice President was responsible for the day-to-day management of the organization with the Executive Vice President serving as the executive of the Board of Directors guiding and coordinating the activities of the organization. The officers who generated these records include the Executive Vice Presidents William F. Frazier (1936-1944), Truman B. Douglass (1944-1969), Howard E. Spragg (1969-1983), Charles Shelby Rooks (1984-1991), and Thomas E. Dipko (1992-2000); the General Secretary, Robert Noble (1986-2000); the Corporate Secretary, Bill G. Hendricks (1986-2000); the Secretary for Special Mission Emphases, Theodore H. Erickson (1977-2000); and Treasurers William Frazier, Howard Spragg, Richard Dubie, Matthew O’Brien, and Kathy Houston.
The records of the Office of the Executive Vice President encompass 165.4 linear feet with the bulk of the documentation dating 1962-2000 following the merger of the home missions and services programs of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reform Church in 1957. Early records are diminutive, but significant, covering the minutes of meetings of the Board of Home Missions of the Congregational Christian Churches, as well as the merger and restructuring of the organization into the UCBHM (1937-1961). The collection is arranged into eight series: Executive Vice President’s Administrative Files (1937-1972), Committee of Divisional Heads Meetings (1961-2000), Corporate Secretary Files, Bill G. Hendricks (1986-2000), General Secretary Files, Robert Noble (1979-2000), Secretary for Special Mission Emphases Files, Theodore H. Erickson (1965-2000), Treasurer’s Office Files (1935-2000), Publications and Printed Materials (1936-1999), and Audiovisual Materials and Realia (1926-1996).
Though the records extensively document the administration, programs, projects, and services of the organization, they also contain documentation on a large range of topics. Topic strengths found within the records include abortion rights; Native American communities; Christian and higher education; church population and demographics; health and welfare programs; Hispanic communities; historically black college and universities; Jewish-Christian relations; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community issues; missions and ministries history; race relations and racial justice; sexuality; and social justice.
The United Church Board for Homeland Ministries (UCBHM) was an autonomous but recognized instrument of the United Church of Christ from 1962 to 2000 that functioned as the administrative body of the United Church of Christ's home missions programs and services. The UCBHM formed in 1962 by the union of the Board of Home Missions of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Board of National Missions of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and continued the corporations and the work of predecessor mission boards and societies related to those two religious communities. The UCBHM also coordinated the mission of the United Church of Christ in higher education and in health and welfare through the councils established for services in those fields.
CONGREGATIONAL SOCIETIES, 1816-1926
The Congregationalists of the nineteenth century did not have a national organizational body overseeing the Congregational churches or societies that provided missions work and services, unlike other religious denominations of the time. The Congregational agencies and societies, conducting foreign and domestic missions work, established during the time period were extremely independent and included the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, the American Home Missionary Society (that later became the Congregational Home Missionary Society), the American College and Educational Society, the Congregational Sunday School and Publishing Society, the American Congregational Union (later called the Congregational Church Building Society), the American Congregational Association, the Congregational Board of Ministerial Relief, and the American Missionary Association.
The National Council of Congregational Churches, established in 1871, was a national organization that provided consultation to these individual agencies, but had no authority to oversee the work being done. The default voice of the National Council between sessions was the members of the Provisional Committee (1871-1913), which was reorganized into the Executive Committee in 1913. By the turn of the century the National Council recognized the need for more administrative support of the various agencies. In 1901, these Congregational societies had recognized delegates on the National Council; however, these delegates did not have voting privileges until 1913. The new constitution (1913) of the National Council, drafted in Kansas City to strengthen the Executive Committee and create the office of the General Secretary, included that the National Council had delegates on the boards of all societies. The new Executive Committee and the office of General Secretary were established to coordinate the work of the independent societies, to remove duplication of mission's efforts, and to provide accountability.
HOME BOARDS OF THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCHES, 1927-1936
The Home Boards of the Congregational Churches was established by providing the independent "Homeland Societies" with a common board of directors in 1927. The Home Boards became an instrumentality of the Congregational Churches to coordinate the work of the independent "societies" and consisted of the American Missionary Association, the Congregational Education Society, the Congregational Publishing Society, the Congregational Board of Ministerial Relief, and the Church Extension Boards, which were comprised of the former independent societies of the Congregational Home Missionary Society, the Congregational Church Building Society, and the Congregational Sunday School Extension Society.
The first meeting of the Home Boards was held on June 22, 1927 in New York with William Horace Day elected President (1927-1936). The Societies continued their work according to their own bylaws, with the General Secretaries as members of the Secretarial Cabinet of the Board of Directors. Each society retained an administrative committee, usually consisting of board and non-board elected members, whose purpose was to continually evaluate, report, and study the work of their organization and propose changes as required. The work of the Home Boards functioned to provide missions and services in the areas of evangelism, Christian and higher education, church building, and ministerial pensions reducing competition for funding and duplication of efforts, which had previously been determined to be an issue.
The Church Extension Boards, 1917-1936:
The Church Extension Boards became the national home missionary organization for The Home Boards of the Congregational Churches. After the 1913 Kansas City meeting of the National Council, where council members were provided with voting membership within all national societies, the work of three societies were grouped together under one board of directors and one general secretary in 1917 as the Church Extension Boards. The three societies of the Church Extension Boards were the Congregational Home Missionary Society (CHMS), the Congregational Church Building Society (CCBS), and the Congregational Sunday School Extension Society (CSSES). In 1927, the Church Extension Boards consisting of an Administrative Committee of sixteen members became a division of The Home Boards of the Congregational Churches, with nine members of the Administrative Committee also seated as board of directors of The Home Boards. The departments of church extension focused their missions programs and services in the areas of funding aid, consultation, and Christian education. The initial meeting of the Administrative Committee of the Congregational Church Extension Boards, under the union of The Home Boards was held in New York City on September 21, 1927.
The Congregational Home Missionary Society (CHMS) financially assisted congregations that were not able to support their own minister and was responsible for the missionary activities in thirteen states west of the Mississippi, the southern Ohio River region, Black churches in northern cities, and foreign-speaking churches. During reorganization in 1906, state organizations long a component of the CHMS, whether called a Missionary Society, State Conference, State Association, or State Convention, that raised more funding than was spent on their home missions programs within their area agreed to give a percentage of the excess funding to the CHMS. This "Constituent States" funding was administered through the CHMS for activities, such as maintaining a pastor for frontier, rural, and urban churches, and to assist churches during disasters.
By 1936, there were 24 self-supporting state conferences from areas that had higher population density, with the bulk of the funding allocated to support activities in less populated and impoverished areas, which continued to be the southern states, Ohio River states, and western states, except California and Washington and were termed "Missionary States." The CHMS also provided grant and loans for churches and parsonages, and continued support of foreign-speaking churches. Two special services departments established maintained relationships with African American churches in the north through the Department of Negro Work and rural areas through the Department of Town and Country.
A legacy of the American Congregational Union (1852) the work of the Congregational Church Building Society (CCBS) provided funding for the building of churches and parsonages, particularly underfunded churches on the frontier and in impoverished rural and urban areas. The Society provided grants and loans for the construction of new buildings and renovation of existing buildings, loans for parsonages, and refinancing of building mortgages. The majority of churches west of the Hudson River had received funding for church building from this agency, and by 1936, with the Great Depression haven taken hold of the nation, the chief function of the Society was to provide refinancing of mortgages for churches that were threatened with foreclosure due to extensive debt. Also, by the 1930s the majority of funding was no longer needed for new church building, but in the areas of facilities for educational programming and community activity. For the year closing March 31, 1936, the Church Building Society distributed $258,328 in grants and loans to 84 churches for buildings, loaned $16,150 to 16 churches for parsonages, refinanced mortgages totaling $141, 603, and provided financial aid for 23 new or purchased buildings, four of which were for religious education.
The last department of the Church Extension Boards administered Sunday schools in impoverished areas of the country through the legacy of the Congregational Sunday School Extension Society (CSSES) organized in 1918 to continue the work of the Sunday School and Publishing Society (1882). The purpose of the society was to establish new Sunday Schools with field activities developed from 1919 to 1926. The work of the Sunday School Extension Society was merged into the activities of the extension boards CHMS missionary program, except funding generated for the Children’s Day offering. The Children’s Day offering funded a field program called the Student Summer Services program. This program’s participants from college and seminary schools, conducted Daily Vacation Bible Schools in the south, youth programs, and worked in preaching and church activities in the west. These participants often continued their education and became ministers.
The Education Boards, 1915-1936:
The Education Boards consisted of two long independent societies, the Sunday School and Publishing Society (1882) and the Congregational Education Society (1893). In 1915, the National Council, with the consent of the Congregational Education Society and the Sunday School and Publishing Society, voted to place both under a common board of directors and share an Administrative Committee. The partnership of these two organizations provided each with a way to create educational texts, develop programs and services, and disseminate information. The functions of Christian education and publishing originally administered by the Sunday School and Publishing Society transferred it religious, educational, and Sunday school activities in 1917 to the Congregational Education Society (CES) and its publishing functions were transferred to the newly re-named Congregational Publishing Society (CPS).
The purpose of the Congregational Publishing Society (CPS) was to advocate Christian religion through the publishing and distribution of religious and Christian educational literature for use by individuals, churches, and communities. The Society produced through, Pilgrim Press educational literature for teachers and students, weekly papers, such as the Advance (formerly The Congregationalist), worship and program information, and books on religious topics.
The Congregational Publishing Society origins were complex dating from the establishment of the Massachusetts Sabbath School Union (1825) a joint venture between the Baptist and Congregational Churches to establish Sunday schools. By 1832, the Baptists had removed themselves from the Massachusetts Sabbath School Union and the organization's name was changed to the Massachusetts Sabbath School Society, which worked as a supporting agency of the American Sabbath School Union. In 1841, a charter was created that clarified the functions of the departments of missionary extension, education, and publication. During this time period the American Doctrinal Tract Society (1832) was established and became the Congregational Publishing Society (1854). The Congregational Sabbath School and Publishing Society (1868), which administered the work of Sunday school extension activities was created through a merger of the Congregational Publishing Society (1854) with the Massachusetts Sabbath School Society (1832) in 1868. During the National Council's early deliberations of merging the missionary work of the various "societies" its functions of Sunday school extension and publishing were assigned to the American Home Missionary Society (AHMS) in 1874; however, the inability of the AHMS to administer the Publishing Society's work resulted in the National Council's decision to restore its independence in 1882.The society was again renamed as the Congregational Sunday School and Publishing Society (1882-1917).
The Society's early work focused on missionary activities, education, and publishing services particularly the establishment of Sunday schools in the West and South. By 1917, the Congregational Publishing Society functioned exclusively as the publishing house for the Congregational Churches as its non-profit manufacturer of books and periodicals. The roots of the publication, Advance (1935) came from The Congregationalist and The Herald of Gospel Liberty. By 1936, the focus of the CPS was on providing schools with teaching literature and manuals, textbooks and aids for teaching Christian education. Special services provided by the CPS encompassed the publishing of pamphlets for adult education for independent study of the Bible and societal relationships.
The Congregational Education Society (CES) had a less convoluted origin then that of the publication branch of the Education Boards originating as the American Society for Educating Pious Youth for the Gospel Ministry (1816) to provide funding assistance for education of men in the ministry. In 1819, the name of the Society was changed to the American Education Society, since some of the Presbyterian churches were members of the organization. The founding of Christian colleges and their required funding was organized under the Society for the Promotion of Collegiate and Theological Education (1843). These two organizations were merged in 1874 as the American College and Education Society (ACES) in Massachusetts and by 1892 the functions of the Society's work were focused on providing aid to new educational institutions in the west. Due to the need of elementary and secondary Protestant educational institutions in the west, particularly the Mormon areas of Utah and the Spanish-speaking areas of the Southwest, the New West Education Commission (1879) was established. This institution was merged with the ACES in 1893 to become the Congregational Education Society.
The Congregational Education Society (CES) disseminated literature and provided consultations in Christian education to churches and colleges, as well as arranged educational conferences throughout the United States. By 1936, programs consisted of summer conferences for youth (often promoted under the Pilgrim Fellowship program), field activity in adult education, Christian training in religious education, course materials for leadership training, and the establishment of the Council for Social Action (1934).
The American Missionary Association, 1846-1936:
The American Missionary Association (AMA) was founded as an abolitionist missionary society in 1846, due to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions refusal to adopt an anti-slavery mission to the Mendi coast of Africa and abolitionist principals requested by delegates from the Union Missionary Society (1841) and the Amistad Committee. The Amistad Committee was formed by a number of New York abolitionists to assist in the legal defense of the fifty-three African captives, who were on trial for piracy and murder for revolting on the ship La Amistad off the coast of Cuba in 1839. The committee, led by Lewis Tappan, provided support to the Africans throughout their two year legal battle in the United States justice system. The case for their freedom was won in the United States Supreme Court in 1841 where John Quincy Adams represented the Africans. Following the trial, the Amistad Committee's focus was to assist in the return of the Africans to Sierra Leone and establish a mission. During this time a prolonged debate about the committee's request to the American Board to adopt an anti-slavery stance raged and was ultimately rejected and the AMA was born to counter-move the American Board's decision. The AMA was established "for the propagation of a pure and free Christianity from which the sins of caste, polygamy, slave-holding and the like shall be excluded." The Union Missionary Society and the Amistad Committee along with two other similar societies, the Western Evangelical Missionary Society and the Committee for West Indians Missions, were merged together under one banner and purpose.
The work of the AMA prior to the Civil War focused on five missions in West Africa, Jamaica, Sandwich Islands, Siam (Thailand), and the Ojibwe Indians of Minnesota, as well as missions to work with the Chinese population in California and the Copts of Egypt. Missions work in primary, secondary, and higher education of African Americans was an early core function of the AMA with the founding of the first coeducational and interracial educational institution in the United States, Berea College (1855) in Kentucky. The Civil War and post-Civil War focus for the AMA was in pioneering efforts to establish primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools throughout the southern states for the newly freed slaves starting with the Fortress Monroe School for Freedmen on September 17, 1861 in Virginia. After the Civil War the southern states did not economically have the resources or a societal inclination to support educational efforts for the freedmen. The AMA's contribution to education became a priority by sending hundreds of northern school teachers to the south during Reconstruction. Fredrick Brownlee, General Secretary (1927-1950) estimated the scope of the AMA's commitment to education for Blacks, Native Americans, and rural Whites at its peak were the support of approximately five hundred schools and colleges.
At the turn of the century the AMA slowly lost its independence as the push to consolidate the Congregational Churches home mission agencies moved forward. Though nondenominational as an institution, some of the AMA's financial support came from the Congregational Church. Under pressure from the National Council, due to the AMA competing with other home missions agencies for funding and the fear of the loss of that funding by refusing unity, small changes occurred, which decreased the AMA's independence, including the closing of some of the AMA's funding raising offices and the allocation of the AMA's journal, American Missionary, as the journal for all missions societies in 1914. The AMA's administration with Fredrick Brownlee, General Secretary, in the lead, objected vigorously in 1924-1925 to fully merging the AMA into The Home Boards. There was extreme concern about the legality of the merger with regards to the AMA's endowments, trust funds, and realestate holdings being administrated though the Executive Committee. At the time the AMA had over 100 separate endowments and trusts totaling eight to ten million dollars. The goal to stay independent did not happen with the merger of the AMA into the Home Boards in 1926 and the merger did cause a decline in funding for the AMA, as well as continued criticism in the nondenominational nature of the organization.
In the early 20th century the majority of primary and secondary schools established by the AMA had been absorbed within the public school system, though discrepancies in funding for White students as opposed to Black students was evident particularly in the southern states where an average of $44.31 per year was spend per White student, while only $12.57 per year was spend per Black student. The discrepancy in funding and salaries for teachers was even more pronounced in the states of Georgia and Mississippi. Public schools for Blacks were inadequate in school buildings and equipment as well, while extremely rural areas, such as in Alabama had no school buildings for Blacks at all. Though these discrepancies continued, the public school system in the south was taking more responsibility for education for Blacks by the 1930s as seen by the absorption of primary and secondary schools founded by the AMA. By 1936, the AMA was no longer operating schools at the elementary level with twelve secondary schools closed or absorbed into the public school system from 1912 to 1936. Only eight secondary schools for Blacks continued to be administered and financed by the AMA in 1936 including the Cotton Valley School (Tuskegee, AL), the Dorchester Academy (McIntosh, GA), Fressenden Academy (Martin, FL), Lincoln Normal School (Marion, AL), Trinity School (Athens, AL), Lincoln Academy (Kings Mountain, NC), Ballard Normal School (Macon, GA), and the Avery Institute (Charleston, SC).
The population of students seeking higher education in the south increased dramatically from 1920 to 1936 causing the AMA to increase financial and personnel resources to the development of its higher educational institutions. Each southern state in the early 20th century received Federal funding to support Black public or "land grant" colleges; however, these institutions programs were geared toward the education of teachers and agricultural or vocational studies rather than providing equivalent degrees offered by White public universities in such areas of medicine, engineering, law, etc. Since higher education offering a variety of programs was needed, AMA colleges and universities provided students with program opportunities that were equal to the standards set for White institutions. After having established a number of colleges and universities by the turn of the 20th century throughout the south by 1936 the AMA was sustaining only five colleges; Talladega College (AL), Tougaloo College (MS), Fisk University (Nashville, TV), LeMoyne College (Memphis, TN), and Tillotson College (Austin, TX); and providing funding to a sixth, Dillard University established by the union of Straight College (1869) and New Orleans University (1873) in 1935 in New Orleans, LA.
The missions work of the AMA encompassed establishing churches for the freedmen in the South after the Civil War, Native American missions on the frontier, missions in Alaska and Puerto Rico. The African American churches founded in the south were often a result of the AMA's work in education. These churches were small, numbering 245 with 23 receiving direct funding from the AMA in 1936. These churches provided a venue for community services, often by the use of the corresponding school buildings. The ministers and pastors of these churches were well educated, most often through an AMA higher educational institution or sponsored conference, as well as leaders in their communities.
Originally identified as foreign missions and administered by the American Board, the work among the Native American population took the form of Christian education and the establishment of churches throughout the reservations. The missions work among the Native Americans was transferred to the AMA from the American Board in 1883 starting with the Sioux Indians of the Dakotas. By 1936, the early missions had been transferred to other denominations or discontinued, except for the Sioux in South Dakota and the Fort Berthold Mission (1882) in Nebraska that administered to three smaller nations in North Dakota. The land allocated to the Native Americans by the United States in South and North Dakota was fairly barren with little support for economic progress and the cause of widespread poverty. Beyond bringing the Christian faith to the people, the missions work encompassed adult education programs in the areas of farming and health, particularly through summer programs. Boarding schools, a practice originated by the U.S. government, were administered by Christian interdenominational directors and staff and supported by the Council of Women for Home Missions. The AMA adopted a similar policy based on the government's model by establishing a boarding home at Elbowoods on the Forth Berthold Reservation in Santee, Nebraska. A trend that had emerged by the 1930s was to send Native American children from remote areas to boarding homes so they could attend the local primary and secondary public school. By 1936, the AMA maintained 27 churches with 1,400 members who were served by 25 Native American ministers.
The AMA's work among the Appalachian peoples started in 1884; however, prior to this date the AMA established Berea College in 1855, due to its concern for the physical isolation of this community. The AMA maintained a number of schools (academies) and churches throughout the Appalachia; but most had been absorbed into the public school system by 1936, with the churches transferred to the Congregational Home Missionary Society during consolidation into the Church Extension Boards in 1917. Only one educational institution remained solely under the umbrella of financial support of the AMA. Pleasant Hill Academy in Tennessee, located between Nashville and Knoxville in an area surrounded by poverty was still administered by the AMA. The school functioned with a staff of 21 and an enrollment of 240 by 1936, providing elementary, junior high, and high school curriculum, as well as boarding for 98 students. The AMA also provided funding in support of the John C. Campbell Folk School at Brasstown, North Carolina. The program focused on community service, based on the Danish folk school model.
The AMA sent missionaries to Puerto Rico following the Spanish-American War in 1898 to found churches and schools. The island was divided among the various Protestant denominations with the Congregationalists assigned to the eastern section. In 1924, seven denominations brought their resources together to form a union theological seminary, Seminario Evangelico de Puerto Rico (Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico), very closely located to the University of Puerto Rico. In 1931, the churches in Puerto Rico of the Congregationalists, Christian, and United Brethren merged to form the Evangelical Church of Puerto Rico. The goal was to become self-sustaining; however the rampant poverty in Puerto Rico interfered with this goal.
Ryder Memorial Hospital in Puerto Rico opened in 1918 and was founded by Dr. Charles Ryder, a field superintendant for the AMA. The hospital was located in Humacao on the eastern area of the island. In 1923, Dr. James Watson became superintendent and during his tenure the hospital's resources increased including equipment and personnel. The AMA brought Dr. Edward Hume to Ryder to conduct a survey in preparation for accreditation by the American Medical Association and the American College of Surgeons in 1933. His suggestions for improvement included the resignation of Dr. Watson and some staff; as a result, by 1936 the hospital had an entirely new administrative staff. The hospital also operated a nurses training school and had an interest in adult education including conducting clinics in the use of contraception, community sanitation, and hygiene.
The last institution established by the AMA in Puerto Rico was the Blanch Kellogg Institute in Santurce outside of San Juan, which opened as a primary school in 1907. The school became a high school and boarding school for girls in 1916, providing junior high and high school curriculum. The Institute suffered financially during World War II and the AMA closed it to divert its funds to other projects.
The AMA shared activities and funding with a number of interdenominational agencies, including the Department of Race Relations of the Federal Council of Churches, the Commission on Interracial Cooperation (Atlanta), the Committee on Cooperation in Latin America, the Mountain Workers Conference, the Home Missions Council, and the Council of Women for Home Missions. The AMA also received funding from the Julius Rosenwald Fund for their schools, colleges and universities in the south.
The Pension Boards 1815-1936:
Early efforts to provide funds to retired ministers and their families date from 1815 with The Widows Charitable Fund of New Hampshire and the Main Congregational Relief Society in 1829. There was no national agency available for retirement programs until the Detroit meeting of the National Council of the Congregational Churches addressed the need to provide pensions and aid for retired ministers with the creation of the Committee on Disabled Ministers and Their Families in 1877. The committee discussed the objectives of a pension agency with the National Council for a number of years, finally announcing the establishment of the Trustees of the National Council of the Congregational Churches of the United States that would administer funds using a standing committee in 1886. In 1907, the General Assembly of Connecticut passed a resolution to create an agency, the Congregational Board of Ministerial Relief (BMR), where the work previously done by the standing committee was transferred to the new board. A number of funds were established during the period including The Annuity Fund for Congregational Ministers (1914), The Pilgrim Memorial Fund (1919), and The Retirement Fund for Lay Workers (1931). The main purpose of the BMR was to provide funding aid to ministers whose allocation of retirement from the Annuity Fund was inadequate, support ministers who became disabled prior to retirement age, and support families when fathers and husbands became ill or deceased. The BMR's funds were used to supplement the Annuity Fund, which was administered separately and in which minister's paid into for their retirement. The allocation of BMR funds in 1935 totaled aid to 1,023 families through 813 grants given to ministers, widows, and orphans, and 210 emergency grants for individuals not enrolled in any other retirement fund. The total amount paid by the BMR in 1935 was $214,644. In 1934, at the general meeting in Oberlin, Ohio, a vote approved to accelerate the process of transferring the responsibilities of the BMR to the Annuity Fund.
HOME MISSIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, 1850-1936
A special session in 1872 of the American Christian Convention was held in Troy, Ohio, and a committee was appointed to organize the American Christian Church Extension Society (ACCES) to manage home missions work on a national scale. The ACCES combined with the Missionary Department of the Convention in 1878, established the Children’s Mission to raise funds, with offerings on Children’s Day for the home missions becoming a custom. The Women’s Board for Home Missions was organized in 1890 to assist in the development of home missions. In 1899, the Missionary and Church Extension Department was incorporated under the title of “The Mission Board of the Christian Church.” This board was reorganized in 1906, establishing secretaries for home missions and foreign missions respectively, through the Home and Foreign department. Two magazines were produced to promote the Christian Churches missions they were The Christian Missionary (1894) and The Herald of Gospel Liberty (1808).
BOARD OF HOME MISSIONS OF THE CONGREGATIONAL CHRISTIAN CHURCHES, 1937-1956
The first meeting of the incorporators of the Board of Home Missions for the Congregational and Christian Churches was held in New York on April 5, 1937, following the Plan of Unification adopted by the General Council in 1936. The merger in 1931 of the Congregational and Christian churches included planning to combine the various home boards of each organization. The merger of multiple mission agencies was based on the purpose and functions of the predecessor bodies of the Congregational and Christian Churches, which consolidated into five distinct divisions of the Board of Home Missions (BHM). The organizational structure remained relatively unchanged from the structure of The Home Boards of the Congregational Church, with home missions enterprises of the Christian churches transferred to the appropriate state conference or division of the Church Extension Boards. Two Christian missions were the exception with the Japan Mission transferred to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and the Puerto Rico mission transferred to the American Missionary Association. The new BHM organizational structure encompassed five divisions, the American Missionary Association Division, the Church Extension Division, the Christian Education Division, the Ministerial Relief Division, and Pilgrim Press Division. Each division continued to have its own General Secretary to administer its programs.
The administration and correlation of activities prior to merger fell to the Home Board Cabinet (1933-1936) previously the Secretarial Cabinet (1927-1933), in which the executive secretaries of the AMA, Church Extension, Congregational Education Society, Foundation of Education, Ministerial Boards, Congregational Publishing Society, National Council and the Commission on Missions met on a regular basis to discuss joint administration and promotion, make recommendations to the various administrative committees and the board of directors, and discussed common areas of concern between the "home societies." Following merger with the Christian Church the general secretaries of each division would meet regularly as part of the Committee of Divisional Heads with the Executive Vice President as chair. This committee reported field initiatives, activities and programs and discussed joint concerns, budgeting, and overall management to coordinate the work.
Population shifting and trends prior to, during, and after World War II greatly affected the Board of Home Missions' programs and services. There was a significant decline in the number of churches from 1930 to 1945, as well as a decline in church membership, as Truman B. Douglass, Executive Vice President of the Board of Home Missions noted in his 1947 report. The total number of churches closed by 1945 was 2,100 with only 933 new churches established at a net loss of 1,167. Douglass identified the need for a more dynamic and active program of church extension and building. The causes of decline included the shift in transportation from the horse and buggy to the automobile and movement of the population in rural and inner city areas to the suburbs. This decline was seen in the Town and Country Department, while new patterns of population and needs were emerging in the suburbs, small suburban churches could not give the BHM the same amounts of financial support as the large city churches had previously. The decline can be seen through the amount of giving. For example, in 1930 giving from the Brooklyn churches amounted to $60,939, as opposed to $13,355 in 1945. In 1926, twelve major Midwest cities had a giving total of $334,229 while only $175,958 was given in 1946.
The Church Extension Division and its Church Building Department found that new areas of population required an increase in new church building, as well as enhancement of existing churches to increase resources for parish development and Christian education. Church extension arranged for numerous field surveys through the Town and Country Department since in 1944 three of four churches in the U.S. were in rural areas. There was also an emphasis on interdenominational work in these areas to enable programs and services to be successful. The Town and Country Department surveys documented population movements with emergency studies done during World War II for Japanese churches and the evacuation of their pastors, studies for pastoral vacancies, and identification of areas for church building. The Department of City Work also noted two main areas of concern during this time with neighborhood population changes and the need of new churches in the suburbs. The Emergency Work Department established in 1943 to document new populations created by the war effort initiated over 180 projects with interdenominational cooperation including service centers for U.S. troops that provided housing, spiritual guidance and pastoral services, and recreation facilities. Also, with so many women entering the workforce during the war, vacation and Sunday schools and nursery schools were increased to meet the needs of child care. Other priorities for the Church Building Department during this time included clearing debt, refinancing mortgages, purchasing land for future building, and accumulating funding for post-war building projects.
Fredrick Brownlee, the American Missionary Association general secretary, continued to oppose the loss of the AMA's independence as the mission agencies, including the Christian missions, were merged into the Board of Home Missions for the Congregational Christian Churches in 1937. Brownlee believed that the board and officers of the BHM were not knowledgeable about the priorities, purpose, and functions of the AMA, particularly since the AMA was going to become a constituent division with funding and budget approval through the board. Brownlee was concerned that the AMA's mission in Black education would be neglected, since its work in that area had such a narrow scope focused on minority groups rather than the broader programs of the other divisions.
The AMA’s awareness of the problems of discrimination and segregation of the Black population became evident through a new program focus on race relations in the 1930s and early 1940s. By 1937, the AMA was financially assisting the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other similar organizations devoted to improving race relations. The goals of the AMA during the time period were to combat northern indifference to discrimination in the southern states and attack segregation practices, which were prevalent throughout society. A two day seminar on “racialism” was held at the Broadway Tabernacle Church in New York in October 1941<a href="#_ftn1" name="_ftnref1" title=""></a>. The seminar was attended by AMA officers, presidents of the historically black colleges and universities, representatives of philanthropic organizations, and U.S. government officials. The results of the seminar were the establishment of the Race Relations Department at Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee in 1942
Work in race relations was prevalent throughout the work of the BHM divisions, including the Christian Education Division and its Committee on Church and Race. This committee was a joint committee between Christian Education Division's Council for Social Action and the American Missionary Association's Race Relations Department. The committee's purpose was to continue to address and push educational programs and services addressing discrimination.
The Christian Education Division also extended its funding for programs of field service consultation and training for home religious education, colleges, institutes and conferences, and expansion of over 30 new junior high level summer camps and conferences. The emphasis on Christian education for young people focused on providing a Secretary of Young People's Work to coordinate the activities of the Young People's Department and provide leadership support to the Pilgrim Fellowship and youth conferences. The war had interrupted the schooling of young men for the ministry, causing a shortage of ministers and other Christian workers. The Young People's Department and the Student Life Department were working in this area through publications and practical training during summer service programs. Also, training for girls and young women in Christian education was increased to promote interest in women working in the field of religion professionally. Other projects for the division included work projects at Deering, New Hampshire and Pleasant Hill, Tennessee, in preparation for the return of young servicemen from the war.
Inflation following the war affected all areas of the BHM missions programs and services, but the areas of ministerial relief and pensions were particularly hard hit. The Ministerial Relief Division continued to supplement pensions through grants and worked to increase funding due to inflation to support pensioners and their families whose "fixed" income was no longer providing a comfortable standard of living.
Preparations for the union between the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches were being done as early as 1947. At the Annual Meeting for the BHM in October 1947 the board voted to approve a plan for the merger of home missions using portions of the Basis of Union dated January 22, 1947. This specified how the merger of the various missionary societies of both denominations would be structured into divisions.
BOARD FOR HOME MISSIONS OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST, 1957-1961
The Board of Home Missions of the Congregational Christian and Churches merged with the homeland boards, agencies, and instrumentalities of the Evangelical and Reformed Church excluding the Pension Boards and agencies for social action; becoming a single corporate body, the Board for Home Missions of the United Church of Christ (1957-1961). The first meeting of the BHM held after the union between the General Council of Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reform Church was held on September 25, 1957 in Mill Valley, California. During this transitional period the Corporate Membership of 225 elected by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ was entrusted to establish the administrative offices of the Board of Directors, Executive Vice President, and other officers quickly. To allow for the Boards to continue functioning, the Corporate Membership consisted of individuals from each of the Boards, agencies, and instrumentalities of the two denominations totaling 112 members from the Evangelical and Reformed Church (ER) and 113 from the Congregational and Christian Churches (CC). The divisions identified initially by the Basis of Union plan incorporated agencies from both denominations as follows:
DIVISION OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION:
CC Division of Christian Education
CC College and Seminary (aspects of higher education)
ER Board of Christian Education and Publication (education and curriculum)
ER Commission on Higher Education
ER College and Seminary
DIVISION OF MINISTERIAL RELIEF (later transferred to the Pension Boards):
CC Division of Ministerial Relief
ER Relief functions of the Board of Pensions and Relief
DIVISION OF EVANGELISM AND CHURCH EXTENSION:
CC Church Extension Division
CC Commission on Evangelism
ER Board of National Missions
ER Commission on Evangelism
AMERICAN MISSIONARY ASSOCIATION DIVISION:
CC American Missionary Association Division
DIVISION OF PUBLICATION:
CC Pilgrim Press Division
ER Board of Business Management
The Committee of Fifty was the prototype for the organization of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, which drafted by-laws by 1960. The staffs of the various agencies were correlating their work collaboratively to keep the home missions programs and activities working and by 1960, the main divisional and departmental organizational structure was established with a single general secretary for each. The functions of the "home missions" remained the same, which was to support and build churches, provide programs in education, support educational institutions, publication, ministerial relief, evangelism, stewardship, etc.
UNITED CHURCH BOARD FOR HOMELAND MINISTRIES, 1962-2000
Mergers between the four denominations of Congregational, Christian, Reformed, and Evangelical over a series of years, including the merger of the Reformed Church and the Evangelical Synod of North American into the Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1934, and the National Council of Congregational Churches with the General Convention of Christian Churches created the United Church of Christ in 1957. The United Church Board for Homeland Ministries (UCBHM) was formed in 1962 by the union of the Board of Home Missions of the Congregational Christian Churches, the Board of National Missions of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, and other predecessor mission boards and societies related to those two religious denominations. The first meeting of the Board of Directors of the UCBHM was held in New York from January 25-31, 1962 and was formally constituted on January 26, 1962.
The structure and functions of the UCBHM continued to be consistent with the past, but with some additional allocations of programs and services in the areas of health and welfare, as well as, having nondenominational limitations for certain aspects of its work. The purpose of the UCBHM was to provide support for missionary and education operations both in the U.S. and abroad; the creation or endowment of colleges, universities, and seminaries; providing consultation and funding aid to churches to promote membership and establish Sunday schools, bible schools, etc.; church and parsonage building without the limitation of denomination so that any Christian church could seek and receive church building funds; publication and distribution of material to promote Christianity; and Christian education programs and services to spread the Gospel, again without denominational limitation.
The organization's divisions established by the constitution in 1962 were similar to predecessor division of both the Boards of the Congregational Christian Churches and Evangelical and Reformed Church; but with the addition of program functions in health and welfare and higher education. Each division, having a general secretary to coordinate work, had their roots well established from the home missions of previous generations. The original six divisions of the UCBHM in 1962 were the Division of Church Extension, the Division of Evangelism and Research, the Division of Christian Education, the Division of Publication, the Division of Health and Welfare Services, and the Division of Higher Education and the American Missionary Association. The inclusion of health and welfare services, as well as a specific focus on higher education were new elements, while the preceding Division of Ministerial Relief was transferred to The Pension Boards of the United Church of Christ and no longer part of the organization.
Division of Health and Welfare Services had its roots from early welfare institutions of the Evangelical and Reformed Church missions programs. The Evangelical Synod of North America established the Protestant Children's Home in Louisville, Kentucky in 1851, while the German Reformed Church established the first welfare agency in the United States, the Bridesbury Home of the Shepherds of the Lambs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1863, and the Bethany Children's Home in Womersdorf, Pennsylvania in 1867. After the union of the German Reformed Church and the Evangelical Synod in 1934, the Commission on Benevolent Institutions of the Evangelical and Reformed Church was established in 1939 to provide health and welfare services throughout the U.S. The Congregational and Christian churches did not have a national agency to coordinate health and welfare services; however, institutions such as private church related hospitals, orphanages, and retirement homes were individually sponsored until after merger in 1957.
Since both denominations had various health and welfare missions established, the creation of the Division of Health and Welfare Services to coordinate these functions was a logical progression. A general secretary, Lee W. Rockwell, took office in 1960 and the Council for Health and Welfare Services of the United Church of Christ was established in 1961; composed of the executive heads of 65 chartered hospitals and homes and members of the UCBHM Board of Directors. The Council's purpose was to create new facilities, consult with local churches in the administration of their health and welfare activities, organize conferences, program development, and improve standards in the field. The UCBHM coordinated the Council's ministries through cooperation with the Division of Health and Welfare Services.
The Division of Health and Welfare Services was discontinued after restructure in 1985, due to problems negotiating with the Council for Health and Welfare Services (CHWS) from 1979-1985. The CHWS was unwilling to accept accountability to the UCBHM in the areas of programs and budget. The CHWS wrote and adopted a new charter and bylaws without input from the Executive Council of the United Church of Christ. The Executive Council established a special committee within the UCBHM to negotiate changes to the new CHWS bylaws that would require budget and program accountability. By 1982, an agreement could not be reached between the UCBHM and the CHWS, even though program funding and the cooperation of the Division of Health and Welfare Services were allocated within the United Church of Christ’s bylaws.
The Division of Higher Education and the American Missionary Association was the results of the merger of all programs and services of the Congregational Christian Churches and Evangelical and Reformed Church in higher education and race relations. The Evangelical and Reformed Church merger of 1934 established a Commission on Higher Education that organized the educational programs and institutions of the denomination including the Campus Ministry of the Board of Christian Education and Publication and the race relations missions of the Board of National Missions. The AMA’s ministries in these areas fit well with the Commission’s programs and services. The Division provided program development services and guidelines for new educational institutions and campus ministries, as well as coordinated grants and financial aid for the colleges, universities, seminaries, and academies of the United Church of Christ. The Division also conducted research about intergroup relations and societal changes for use in Christian education.
The Council for Higher Education of the United Church of Christ established in 1962 was the administrative body that worked with the United Church of Christ and its related educational institutions. Its purpose was to provide training in the ministry and increasing academic standards. Membership on the Council encompassed the executive heads of the academies, colleges, and theological schools recognized as related to the United Church of Christ, and members of the Board of Directors of the UCBHM, including the Executive Vice President. The Division of Higher Education and the American Missionary Association coordinated the Council’s recommendations and programs.
The first decade of the new organization was heavily influenced by the Civil Rights Movement with new patterns and policy issues. The Board had been working for a number of years with race relations and discrimination and the 1960s brought about a focus on integration. A resolution adopted on July 11, 1963, called for desegregation throughout the United Church of Christ and its institutions. The UCBHM threatened to discontinue funding to churches, educational institutions, and United Church of Christ communities who did not adopt the new policy. There was also a concern about "structural discrimination" within the church, where Black clergy were concerned that the White middle-class majority were imposing their values onto the Black community. Programs in intergroup relations and race relations were prevalent throughout the period to address these issues. Other policy issues that affected missions programs and activities included birth control and inner city slum cleanup. As the 1960s came to a close the UCBHM's programs continued to change and evolve with priority teams focusing on economic and racial justice, religious and ethical issues, labor, health and welfare legislation. Also, membership in the Church continued to decline causing the UCBHM to increase its programs to recruit young people to the Church and focused on Black church development in both the inner cities and rural areas.
The UCBHM went through one last reorganization in 1985 to consolidate and focus the work of multiple divisions into three main areas of evangelism, education, and services and action. The three new divisions established by January 1986, were the Division of Evangelism and Local Church Development (ELCD), the Division of Education and Publication (EP), and the Division of the American Missionary Association (DAMA). The Research Department was tranferred to the Office of the Executive Vice President and was open to requests from anywhere in the denomination. The predecessor corporations of the 19th and early 20th century were continued and incorporated fully into the UCBHM. The final three divisions of the UCBHM after restructure, incorporating elements of predecessor divisions as follows:
DIVISION OF EVANGELISM AND LOCAL CHURCH DEVELOPMENT (ELCD):
Division of Evangelism and Research
Division of Church Extension
Division of Christian Education
DIVISION OF EDUCATION AND PUBLICATION (E&P):
Division of Publication
Division of Higher Education (w/o the AMA)
Division of Christian Education
DIVISION OF THE AMERICAN MISSIONARY ASSOCIATION (DAMA):
Division of Health and Welfare Services
Division of Christian Education
Division of Higher Education and the American Missionary Association
The goals of program activities of the Division of Evangelism and Local Church Development were to reverse membership decline, provide printed resources and consultations to local churches, conferences, and other bodies of the United Church of Christ. The divisions focus was in evangelism, training for new ministers, as well as, continue new initiatives in church development, and increase development and acquisition of land for facilities construction.
The Division of Education and Publication's primary function in education included the areas of Christian education and higher education. Program activities were developed to enhance leadership education in the ministry, and public education particularly in the areas of HIV/AIDS, human sexuality, science, and technology. This division also continued to be the publishing arm of the United Church of Christ, producing books and printed materials for all areas.
The Division of the American Missionary Association took over the programs of health and welfare, mission coordination and communication, as well as, elements of Christian education, advocacy for public school education, and higher education. The new focus on Board initiatives in disabilities, human sexuality, Hispanic and Latin American communities provided programs and services in these areas. The heritage of assisting minority populations continued, while preventative programs in health care were established. The division also continued to work within the Native American community, assisting the Council on American Indian Ministries in the continuation of the Native American churches.
In 2000, the United Church of Christ was restructured into four Covenanted Ministries that included Local Church Ministries, Justice and Witness Ministries, Wider Church Ministries, and the Office of General Ministries. The corporation of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, including all its predecessor bodies, and most of its divisional functions, were transferred to its successor, Local Church Ministries. Some of the programs and functions of the Division of the American Missionary Association (DAMA) were transferred to Justice and Witness Ministries or Wider Church Ministries. This national reorganization closed the operation of the historic United Church Board for Homeland Ministries under this name while continuing its corporate life in Local Church Ministries.
The records of the Office of the Executive Vice President of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries are open and available for use.
Employee records generated by the Corporate Secretary, Bill G. Hendriks are restricted for public use.
Use Restrictions: Any copyrights such as the donor may possess in this property are hereby dedicated to the public. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.
Technical Access Note: The moving image materials in the formats of 16 mm films and Umatic videocassette are unavailable for viewing at this time.
Acquisition Source: United Church of Christ
Acquisition Method: Official transfer of the records in 1985 of the United Church Board of Homeland Ministries and its predecessor corporations to the Amistad Research Center as the offical repository of the records of the history of Congregational and United Church of Christ home missions and ministries work in the United States until 2000.
The Amistad Research Center holds the related collections of the American Home Missionary Society; the Congregational Home Missionary Society; the American Missionary Association; the Congregational Church Building Society; the Office of Church Building of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries; the Race Relations Department of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries; and minute books for the American Education Society; the American College & Education Society; and the Congregational Education Society. Lastly, one volume of the Records of the Trustees of the National Council of the Congregational Churches of the United States (1886-1915).
The Amistad Research Center also holds a number of collections of Officers of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries including the personal papers of Executive Vice Presidents Howard E. Spragg (1940-1989) and Shelby Rooks (1969-1994).
More records relating to the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, the United Church of Christ, and the Congregational Church can be found in the Archives of the United Church of Christ in Cleveland, OH, and the Congregational Library and Archives in Boston, MA.
Preferred Citation: United Church Board for Homeland Ministries records, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, LA.
Processing Information: The processing of the records of the Office of the Executive Vice President of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries were completed in July 2011.
Other Note: UCBHM Timeline attached as PDF.