Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 4, 1952

Appeal And Exhortation -- No. 2

William E. Wallace, Hickory, North Carolina

In a recent article published in the Gospel Guardian, brother Thetus Pritchard and I listed the needs in N. C. as we see them and brought attention to the opportunities in the "OLD NORTH STATE." It has been suggested that further articles concerning the work in this area be written. This article will serve as the second in the series.

I think that the following statistics are in order: There are now forty three established white congregations in N. C. and about six in the making. There are about a dozen colored groups. There are two or three groups who are extremely radical as to the one cup, no classes, etc. (I know of one group out here who greet each other with a "holy (?) kiss" — both men and women!) There are approximately 1800 attending church members in the state. The total weekly contribution over the state averages approximately $2,500.00, and that does not include the outside support coming into the state. There are about 25 preachers. (I think that we should mention here that about 20 years ago Thetus Pritchard was for awhile the only full time preacher in the state.) There are only three or four groups of sufficient financial strength to do any extensive evangelistic work alone. Some of the preachers have part time secular jobs which of course hinder their church work, and others receive some outside support. Only in a very few cases, are the preachers sufficiently supported by the congregations for which they labor.

There are many individuals who are devoting their lives to the work in this area who are not "regular preachers," but they are gospel emissaries indeed. Several great preachers of the past have labored in this area. Brother M. C. Kurfees was born and raised in N. C. and the Kurfees family is known for their contribution to the church. Brother J. W. Brents of Nashville, Tenn., has perhaps done more for the work in N. C. than any living preacher. His name and work is familiar to the majority of the Christians in N. C.

Now as to the opportunities for growth in N. C. we ask you to grasp these facts: There are over 4 million people in N. C. Charlotte is the largest city and it has a population of approximately 135,000. There are only 75 active members in this Houston of N. C. Raleigh, the capitol of the state has a population of 70,000 and only 43 active members. There are 10 cities with populations over 25,000 where there are less than 100 members or none at all. There are scores of other towns with populations over 5,000 where there are no churches, and there are actually hundreds of small communities where the church is unknown.

The reason for the scarcity of churches in N. C. is not that this is such a hard field, it is because the state as a whole has not been sufficiently worked. There are several instances where some preacher has started a small group but was forced to leave for the lack of support which resulted in the termination of the work. At New Bern where there is no church, an effort was made to establish a congregation. Progress was made and several from the digressive church became intensely interested, but the preacher had to leave because of previous commitments elsewhere and the digressive preachers snuffed out this small fire. Numerous other examples could be cited.

I contend that where there is a problem a solution can be found. The first step as I see it is for someone to take the initiative. This I am trying to do, but I will step aside and let anyone of greater ability who is willing, write these articles and campaign for help. Keeping in line with the suggestions that we made in the previous article I should like to suggest the following to interested parties: Inquire into this matter. I will be happy to send you a list of churches and a numeration of the opportunities. It would be fine for elders to send investigators to see the needs and observe the opportunities with the intention of locating a suitable spot to send help. We cannot and do not want to set up any kind of centralized control out here, but we do want to take steps to introduce opportunities to potential benefactors. When they see the opportunity it is their own business, their own obligation, their own responsibility to choose a course of action. If you want to do some worthwhile evangelistic work, let some of these preachers out here in N. C. know about it, or come on out and look around and we will see that you are exposed to some great possibilities.

It is natural for me to first want to publicize the work here at Hickory where I labor. The church here was established seven years ago as the result of personal work by brother J. W. Brents. He baptized C. L. and L. L. Downey (twin brothers) who are successful business men in Hickory, and their families. The Downey's furnished the capital, brother M. E. Burns of Valdese, N. C., the teaching, and the church was established. We now have one of the finest buildings in the state with a debt of $8,000.00. There are 45 members here and contribution averages $65.00 weekly. The church here is not receiving any outside help. It has moved under its own power. They are not able to give me full support, but I have been taking some schooling under the G. I. Bill and receiving subsistence from the government. This subsistence will cease in December of this year and then I will have to search for some outside help. Only 16 of the members live in Hickory. The rest live in towns and villages 10 to 20 miles away. This is of course a great handicap to the work and it illustrates one of the problems N. C. churches must contend with. Until our building is paid for thereby releasing our total contribution to evangelism, it is imperative that we have financial support to carry on successfully this work. There is a great opportunity here at Hickory. In Hickory and the surrounding area the population totals 25,000. This is a Lutheran stronghold, but the interest in the church is mounting and we look forward with anticipation to "breaking the ice."

We have made this second appeal with the risk of trying your patience and appearing offensive or invidious. In forthcoming articles we will present individual reports of opportunities and we will list the needs of weak congregations where help will be best justified. I close in saying, answer our appeals and some day we will be able to answer somebody else's appeals.