Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 20, 1961
NUMBER 49, PAGE 4,12a

Misrepresenting The Missionary Society


As controversy has increased among the brethren these last few years over various "centralized arrangements" both benevolence and evangelism, it has become crystal clear that many of the methods under fire were clearly parallel to the Missionary Societies. This point was hammered home with telling effect.

To counter the effect of this, brethren who were promoting the questionable projects took three postures: (1) denied the parallelism, (2) accepted the Missionary Society concept in principle, objecting only to its abuses, (3) grossly misrepresented the Missionary Society, and pictured it as something which it is not, and never was.

Brother Bob Haddow of Temple City, California, recently wrote to the President of the United Christian Missionary Society, quoting a paragraph from an article in the Gospel Advocate, and asking if this were a true representation of the Society. The article from which the paragraph was quoted was written by brother G. K. Wallace, and is typical of the misrepresentations of the UCMS which are now being made by some of our brethren. Following is the letter received in response to Haddow's inquiry:

February 16, 1961 Mr. Bob Haddow

5409 Baldwin Avenue Temple City, California Dear Mr. Haddow:

Your letter of February 13 addressed to Dr. A. Dale Fiers, President of the United Christian Missionary Society has been received in my office. Dr. Fiers is on an extended journey and will not return until about March 1. I am sure that he will want to make a personal reply. However, his letter has been referred to me as Executive Secretary of the International Convention of Christian Churches for comment, which I am glad to do. However, it should be understood that whatever I say in this letter is not an official communication from the United Christian Missionary Society, but only my impressions as to the inaccuracy of the statement quoted.

The statement which you quote from the February 9, 1961, issue of the Gospel Advocate is as follows:

"The United Christian Missionary Society is an association of churches, and delegates from these churches whether elected or voluntary meet in convention where they form the policies of the congregations. Thus their action in conventions, becomes a moral obligation and binding upon all churches that belong to the association."

In my opinion this is not a correct interpretation either of the nature of the United Christian Missionary Society or its relationship to the congregations which it serves. Strictly speaking, the United Christian Missionary Society is not an association of churches. It is rather a society of individual members of Christian Churches who voluntarily associate themselves together for the extension of the Kingdom of God through missions and education. The United Christian Missionary Society holds an annual meeting of members at the time of the Annual Assembly of the Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) at which time business is transacted in accordance with the charter, constitution and by-laws of the Society. This business consists of hearing the annual report of the Society regarding its services and financial transactions; officers and members of the Board of Managers and the Board of Trustees are elected, and authorization for the work of the Society is given. The Board of Managers and the Board of Trustees are responsible for the program and activities of the Society, which is incorporated as a non-profit organization and its work is commended to the churches and their members for support and fellowship.

Actions at this annual meeting do not in any sense of the term form the policies of the congregations; neither are the actions of the annual meeting binding upon the churches. It is fully recognized that local congregations are autonomous and have the right and obligation to manage their own affairs. Their contributions for the support of the United Christian Missionary Society are voluntary and are made upon the basis of the merit of the work performed.

The U. C. M. S. i s a reporting agency to the International Convention of Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) which is in itself an incorporated body holding annual Assemblies for the purposes of fellowship, inspiration, information and the formation of public opinion regarding activities of the Disciples of Christ broadly interpreted.

Both the International Convention and the United Christian Missionary Society are open to voluntary membership on the part of individuals or congregations who desire to cooperate through these media. It is interesting to note that an increasing number of congregations and individuals choose to express their outreach interest through these responsible channels, but as stated above, this is purely a voluntary matter. This fact does not lessen the importance or the effectiveness of the work being carried by the United Christian Missionary Society. All of this is in line with our fellowship as brethren in the Christian Churches and should not be construed as binding upon even one congregation which chooses to serve Christ our Master through this medium.

I am sure that when he returns, Dr. Fiers will want to write you as the President of the United Christian Missionary Society. I do not presume to speak for him, but only for myself.

Cordially, Gaines M. Cook

Executive Secretary International Convention of Christian Churches

(Disciples of Christ)