Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 30, 1953

Questions For Brother Gayle Oler

Charles A. Holt, Jr., Mt. Pleasant, Texas

Brother Gayle Oler, as perhaps all of us know, is the superintendent of Boles Orphan Home, which is located at Quinlan, Texas. This Home has nearly three hundred children under its care. Boles Home is supposed to belong to the Churches of Christ, and as some express it, it is a "Church of Christ Orphan Home." Said churches are urged to support it. It is a medium by which and through which the Churches of Christ may care for the fatherless. Boles Home has become an institution of considerable size, operating a farm, a school, engaging in business, and many other such projects. The plans call for larger' and larger facilities. There is an everlasting appeal for money to carry on the present work and to enlarge the whole affair. The farm and the dairy are operated to help carry on the work. The churches are constantly besieged to support the Home and to send "once and again" to their needs. There is that constant appeal for the "fifth Sunday contribution" from all the churches. They need it to help pay off some debt or help build something else. There is always the need to enlarge — build a new dormitory, new auditorium, or some such building, and thereby expand the work of the Home. There is the continual appeal for everyone to "remember Boles Home in his will" — to will the Home one's property or money. They even offer efficient service in helping one write his will. The list of needed items is ever before us — shoe strings, athletic equipment, cows, hogs, hay, canned goods, clothes, play togs, and on and on. It is an endless list. If you can do no better shower them with cookies. On the Sanger farm, which belongs to Boles Home, a test oil well was drilled. Boles Home owns full mineral rights on some 1,225 acres. There is no angle left unexplored or untouched that might pay off for the Home. It seems that every possible means of profit from begging to business is utilized to get money. Dead or alive, they want your money. The Home wants nearly anything and everything it can get. They will even ask for your prayers if you can do no better.

I have just been looking over some past copies of Boles Home News, Facts, Appeals, "Fifth Sunday Contribution Wanted" letters, and such like, all sent out by Boles Home. It is quite interesting to study these things and observe the needs; the construction going on; the business ventures; the progress of the recreation area on Lake Texoma; the progress of the farm; how to make your will to Boles Home; the religious activity at Boles Home church; the school affairs; results of their ball games; the tours of the choruses; the various gifts received; the list of contributors; and so forth. Boles Home is indeed a "Big Business." I would emphasize both words — it is big and a Business, too! It is an enormous project already and the end' is not yet. The superintendent and the board of directors have plans made and are hard at work to build an even greater institution. The superintendent wants to see it become the biggest religious orphan home in the world. All available means are utilized to help further the program to build a bigger and still bigger institution. With the emotional appeal that by helping Boles Home, you are helping poor, fatherless children, the churches are besieged for support. The churches have been made a "victim" of this institution in this respect. Churches have responded by the hundreds and have sent and continue to send, thousands of dollars of the Lord's money for the upkeep of this institution. The desire to help the fatherless and practice pure religion has thus motivated them. They have gone about it in this way without any question as to the way and manner being right and scriptural. In this way, 'this institution has reached enormous proportions. This institution lies comfortably secure in the budget of many churches under the specious plea that they are caring for orphans. Unthinking, but honest and good elders, preachers and members in general, have helped foster and build this mammoth institution with the idea of its being a scriptural means to an end.

Many people have just accepted Boles Home institution as being scriptural without any question or investigation whatever, and churches have spent thousands of dollars in support of it. Perhaps it is time that we were acquainting ourselves with some of the facts regarding Boles Home. We need to know whether or not Boles Home is scriptural and should be supported by the church. With a desire for information and in the interest of the truth, I hereby address some questions to Brother Gayle Oler. I do so in this public way because there are hundreds of others interested in this matter. I sincerely hope he will give us the answers in clear, positive terms that all may understand. Surely this request for information is not out of place, and if we are to support Boles Home, we are entitled to it. Now to the questions:

(1) To whom does Boles Home belong Does it belong to some congregation of the Lord's people, and is it under the oversight of the elders of said congregation and a part of the work of said church Or, does it belong to all the Churches of Christ If it does, just how and why does it. Do all churches of Christ have a voice in its affairs? If it belongs to all the churches, should not all of these churches have a voice in its affairs? How can the Churches of Christ, as a great brotherhood, own anything? How could all the churches thus unite their efforts through Boles Home without violating scriptural teaching of church autonomy? May the churches, as a great brotherhood, unite their efforts to do a part of their work? If so, would not the same principle allow the churches to unite their efforts to preach the gospel through some institution or society? If not, why not? Why is it wrong for churches to preach the gospel through the Missionary Society — one institution or organization — and not wrong for the same churches to do their benevolent work through another institution organization — Boles Home?

(2) Is Boles Home a privately-owned and privately operated institution comparable to a hotel or hospital? If it is, who are the private individuals who own and operate it? If it is such an institution, upon what grounds does it appeal to the churches for support? Do all privately-owned and privately-operated institutions and organizations have the right to appeal to the churches for support? If the church may scripturally support one such institution, may they not on the same basis support any and all other such institutions that they may deem wise? If not, why not?

(3) Is Boles Home "the church at work" as you have said in time past? Is the Home a medium by which or through which the churches may do their work of benevolence? Is Boles Home "Kingdom Business?" If so, how could it be a privately-owned and privately-operated institution? If it is "the church at work," is It not a part of the church? If it is "Kingdom Business," should it not be under the oversight of some eldership? Is it right to have "Kingdom Business" on a brotherhood-at-large scale is the Home under the oversight of a local eldership? If Boles Home is "separate from and independent of the church as an organization," as you have said, can it be "the church at work" — "Kingdom Business"?

(4) Is there no difference in paying some institution or organization for "services rendered," and in making a contribution to said institution? It is agreed by all that a congregation may purchase service from a radio corporation to broadcast the gospel, but does this prove that the congregation may make a monthly contribution to said radio corporation to help with its upkeep and enlargement program? May a church scripturally put a radio corporation in its budget and send a monthly contribution when it is purchasing no service? May a congregation purchase literature from a privately-owned and privately-operated publishing company? If so, does this make the publishing company "the church at work" — "Kingdom Business"? Also, may churches scripturally make regular contributions to said publishing company to help them in their work? Are churches simply to purchase "services rendered" from Boles Home on the same basis as they would from any other institution Is this the grounds upon which Boles Home exists and operates If so, why urge all congregations to contribute monthly, or at all, to Boles Home? Does Boles Home render service to all churches contributing to it Do all these congregations have children there? If not, on what basis may such churches make contributions to the Home? Why should a congregation having no child in Boles Home contribute to it? If any say because the Home is rendering service to and for other congregations having children there, then would it not be as acceptable for a church to contribute to a publishing company, hardware store, or what not, on the grounds that said company or store has rendered, and is rendering, service to some other congregation? In other words, because a publishing company renders service to a church in Dallas by providing them literature, may the church in Mt. Pleasant make a monthly contribution to the publishing company? If the Baker Hotel in Dallas renders service for some congregation by keeping a preacher for them during a meeting, may all the other churches scripturally make a contribution to the Baker Hotel?

(5) Is Boles Home under the oversight of the elders of the Terrell church? If so, do they serve in overseeing the Home in their official position as elders, like they do the Bible classes, or, simply because they are elders? In just what sense, if any, is the Home under their direction? If they are serving in their official capacity as elders, and the Home is under their oversight like the Bible classes, what right do they have to work through a board of directors? Are not the directors actually the ones who oversee and control the Home? Do churches have the scriptural right to do a part of their work through such a board of directors? If churches may thus do their benevolent work through a board of directors, why is it wrong for them to do their "mission" work through such a board? Since churches are thus using a board of directors to oversee their benevolent work, could they not use the same board to oversee their "mission" work? If not, why not?

(6) Do the elders of any congregation have the right to set up an institution or organization through which the other churches may do all or a part of their benevolent work Does a group of elders, as the elders of the Broadway church for example, have the right to plan and oversee such an institution to care for the fatherless for the whole brotherhood, or even the churches in a given area? Do the elders of any congregation have the scriptural right to set up a "Brotherhood Home" — to plan a work larger than the congregation of which they have the oversight, can carry out? Does simply putting such a Brotherhood Home under some local eldership make such work scriptural? Would the Missionary Society be scriptural if it was put under the oversight of a local eldership

(7) Did you advise the elders of the Broadway church in Lubbock not to put the orphan home they are planning under the eldership? Did you advise them to keep it separate and apart from the church, and as a private institution? If so, why?

(8) Have you not changed your position in recent months relative to Boles Home? Have you not taken at least two different positions about its right to exist and obtain support from the churches? Just what is your present position and defense of the Home?

These are only a few of the many questions in my mind that need answering. These same questions are being asked by brethren all over the country; we need and should have the information. Elders should demand it. It is past time for some serious study regarding Boles Home, its right to exist, the basis upon which it is operated, and whether or not churches should support it. My hope is that Brother Oler will answer. The pages of the Guardian are open to him to set forth the true position and place of Boles Home. We await his reply.