Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 17, 1959
NUMBER 19, PAGE 4-5a

I Attended The Hot Rally


J. P. Lusby, Amarillo, Texas

The church of Christ, 23rd & Grace, Wichita Falls, Texas, staged a "rally" at Central meeting house, 14th & Monroe, Amarillo, Texas, Sunday afternoon, August 2, 1959, in behalf of a proposed radio and television program for the continent of Australia. The Pleasant Valley church received a letter of invitation from 23rd & Grace to attend this "rally." I presume they mailed invitations to all the churches of Christ in the high plains area. The Amarillo daily newspaper carried an article regarding the proposed "rally" and stated: "Sunday's meeting will be open to the public." No doubt a large attendance from a "100-mile radius of Amarillo" was expected.

I had left home with an uneasy feeling that I might be unable to find a seat in Central's spacious auditorium, which will accommodate more than one thousand. To my amazement, when the time arrived for the "rally" to begin, only thirty-five were present!

The "rally" was called to order at 3:00 P.M. and brother Paul McClung, preacher for Central, made a very brief introductory speech. Brother Cecil Wheeler then led a song, after which brother Jack Mackey, preacher for Southside of Amarillo, led a prayer. Following the prayer, an elder from 23rd & Grace made a short speech in which he stated that 23rd & Grace of Wichita Falls in cooperation with 5th & Highland of Abilene had worked out a plan whereby they could take the Herald of Truth to Australia.

Brother Sam Mormino, preacher for 23rd & Grace, then gave a talk on the possibility and advantage of evangelizing the Australian frontier. He lauded the foresight and vision of the Roman Catholic leaders in evangelizing the American frontier in bygone years, and opined that the great strength the Catholics now have in our beloved country is a result of their sagacity and perseverance in frontier work. He speculated that if "we" evangelize Australia now, while it is a frontier, "we" will "possess" that country in years to come.

The startling impression I received from listening to brother Mormino was that he wants us to possess Australia as he thinks the Catholics do America. It seems to me that brother Mormino should be less concerned with our possessing Australia and more concerned about converting to Christ those who already possess Australia. Anyhow, the present possessors of Australia just might resent an effort by anyone — even "us" — to possess their country, either now or in years to come. They manifested rather vigorous opposition some sixteen years ago toward those who desired to "possess" their country.

Brother Mormino concluded his speech by stating that one way to reach the Australian frontier is by radio and TV, and informed his audience that 5th & Highland and 23rd & Grace have a plan to present HOT (Herald of Truth) to the "land down under."

Elder Cawyer from 5th & Highland followed brother Mormino in order of speaking. Of course, it was hard for him, or any of the other speakers, to generate much enthusiasm with only thirty-five present — and most of them sponsoring elders and promotin' preachers. However, Elder Caner made a few statements that deeply impressed me.

The first was God had in his mind the church just as we have it today, Eph. 3:10,11.

Now, I believe Paul's statement. I believe the church as set forth in the New Testament reflects the immeasurable wisdom of God. But where, Oh, where, in the language of inspiration, did God ever mention or hint at such an organization as HOT or a Sponsoring Church? Where is it revealed that God had in mind for one congregation to be a "sponsoring church" and all other congregations to be "contributing churches"? If it is not revealed, how did Elder Cawyer learn that God had such in mind? "The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." (1 Cor. 2:11.) Has he "known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?" (1 Cor. 2:16.) But if Jehovah did not have such in mind, we do not have the church today just as God had it in his mind.

Elder Cawyer's second statement that impressed me was: God placed upon "the church" the responsibility of carrying the gospel to the world. But when God said "the church" he had not the local congregation in mind, Col. 1:18. There are 10,000 local congregations. All of them together make up the one body.

Since Paul said, "All members have not the same office" (Rom. 12:4), I am curious to know which local congregations are to "prophesy according to the proportion of faith" and which are to "wait on our ministering" and which "on teaching," which "on exhortation" and which are to rule with diligence ? Which congregation is the head? Which congregations are the feet? Which congregation is to "sponsor," and which congregations are to "contribute"? By what inspired rule can we determine? "Let us walk by the same rule." (Phil. 3:16.)

Elder Cawyer, Herald of Truth bishop, made the above ridiculous and unscriptural assertions while speaking in a "rally" at Central in Amarillo sponsored by 23rd & Grace of Wichita Falls in behalf of HOT for Australia! These statements impressed me with their woeful ignorance of Bible teaching or their utter disregard of the word of God.

The third impressive statement by Elder Cawyer was that HOT is a work of Highland, supported by individuals and "sister" congregations. Of course, brother Guy N. Woods and some, if not all, of the feeder churches would disagree with Elder Cawyer, but brother E. R. Harper would stand with him. Maybe brother James D. Willeford could arbitrate the dispute as to whose work it actually is.

This statement of Elder Cawyer's impressed me because of the complete lack of harmony between it and the position of other supporters of HOT.

Following Elder Cawyer, a second elder from 23nd & Grace informed us that Highland's elders have "granted permission" to 23rd & Grace elders to sponsor HOT in Australia, and the "rally" was being held in Amarillo at Central's building by the 23rd & Grace elders in an attempt to get some churches in this area to "sponsor" HOT programs emanating from various points in Australia. These subsidiary or subordinate churches would not have to "pay" for the programs, just "sponsor" them — that is, as I understand it, simply obligate themselves to raise the money from "sister" congregations and send it to the elders at 23rd & Grace. So now we have sponsors sponsoring for sponsors! Some set up, eh?

He stated that 23rd & Grace will purchase the radio time for HOT in Australia, and its elders will approve the programs. (This will amount to double certification, for the 5th & Highland elders will approve the programs when they are produced.) All money contributed for Australian HOT will be mailed to the elders at 23rd & Grace. He pledged the 23rd & Grace elders to use the contributed money for the very purpose for which it was contributed! and called upon the ones present (thirty-three including himself) to sign the pledge cards to 23rd & Grace, which had been previously distributed, and turn them in. He said some of the contributing congregations would not be able to start sending to the sponsoring 23rd & Grace church before September 1. He spoke with the emphasis of extreme urgency: "But we need money now."

Brother Joe Lomax, a Southside elder, Amarillo, made the closing remarks, a collection was taken, and someone led the closing prayer. The whole thing lasted about one hour.

All things considered, the "rally" was a complete flop. There were only thirty-five present to begin with, one came in about midway, but three departed, so there were only thirty-three left at the finish. Most of them were promoters, and it is extremely difficult for promoters to promote one another out of anything — especially money! Maybe brethren — even institutional brethren — are tiring of the continuous begging campaigns of high-pressure promoters, or perhaps they will respond only when some good-looking, top-flight entertainer makes the appeal.

Whatever the reason, I doubt not that the HOT rally in Amarillo, which turned out to be as cold as a refrigerated mackerel in February, was about the biggest disappointment its leaders have experienced in a long, long time.