“Keep your conscience clear,” says the slogan, “with one gift a year.”

The average wage earner dutifully makes out his check, perhaps anxious over committing such a sum in one lump, but nonetheless confident that 12 months will elapse before he is again solicited. He is less than enthusiastic as he hands over the check, aware that his money may aid some causes he does not endorse but realizing, too, that a single gift seems an expedient recourse. His motive for giving? Muddled, to be sure. He has become a victim of the secularization and socialization of charity.

Biblical priority for charity (almsgiving) is clear in 1 John 3:17: “But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him how does God’s love abide in him?”

Christian charity is primarily a testimony. Christians give because God gave his Son. And Christ himself spoke much of almsgiving and stressed the underlying motive—love.

From the time of the Early Church, Christians have kept up a concern for brethren in need, but these efforts in recent years have been overshadowed as countless charities sprang up, detached of religious motivation. By the end of World War II, a lineup of secular fund appeals emerged from fall through spring and many more overlapped these on a regional basis. The multiplicity of campaigns had become so wearisome that the prospect of a single, all-inclusive drive promised welcome relief.

The new approach, a sort of voluntary communal giving system, was accepted quickly. There are currently more than 2,000 “United Funds” or “Community Chests” operating in America. Their advantages have been obvious from the beginning, but, now, disadvantages are increasingly being aired.

One leading business figure notes that “it is paradoxical that the men who are most concerned with the inroads of socialism, are the principal supporters of socialism in the field of charity.”

Another business man, who himself headed a united charity campaign in a large Southern city, admits that “a united drive destroys a lot of appeal or interest for the contributor.” In some respects, he says, it is “too cold.”

Others, comparing united drives with separate campaigns, complain that overhead and promotion costs take too big a bite from federated monies, that single gifts rarely equal contributions givens separately, and that the public is deprived of choosing what it feels are the most worthy causes.

These and other anxieties are working hard against organized philanthropy in the United States. In addition to independent charitable groups which have come out against united campaigns, some spokesmen within the cooperative circle are known to be increasingly troubled.

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The most significant objection to United Funds or their equivalents, however, turns on motive. Whereas for centuries Christians have given as an expression of love, this redemptive orientation of Christian philanthropy is today forgotten, and they seem obliged now to donate more or less as a community expedient, sometimes sharing in causes they do not approve in order to help some other worthy project. Nowadays, criticism of public charities is as common as enthusiasm.

Giving that is characteristically Christian, moreover, is obscured. Religious and secular charities are swallowed up in the same budget. Organizations like the Salvation Army find themselves recipients of allotments not unlike those given entertainment troupes of United Service Organizations (USO).

Thus far, there is no direct indication that community solicitations adversely affect church-giving. Last week the National Council of Churches released figures showing that overall contributions by members of 40 (most inclusive total available) Protestant and Eastern Orthodox denominations in the United States in 1958 increased nearly seven per cent over the previous year.Per member giving for all purposes among the 40 church bodies reporting was highest in the Free Methodist Church: $243.95. The next four highest averages were: Seventh-day Adventists, $217.31; Pilgrim Holiness Church, $194.85; Evangelical Free Church of America, $182.27; Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Inc., $153.87. The figures were announced by the Rev. T. K. Thompson, executive director of the Department of Stewardship and Benevolence of the NCC in the 39th report of an annual series compiled from data supplied by the denominations.

Since community charity is voluntary, it serves somewhat as a check on the growing tendency to surrender welfare responsibility to the state. Yet community agencies lack the dynamic for voluntarism inherent in revealed religion.

As tensions in secularized charity mount, more Christians are asking whether philanthropy ought not to begin a return to the canopy of the Church.

E. U. B. Men

The quadrennial International Congress of Evangelical United Brethren Men attracted 1,700 official registrants to Wichita, Kansas, last month.

The men spent three days “sharing Christian fellowship, listening to addresses, recharging their spiritual batteries, and mobilizing their efforts” to support the total program of the 765,000-member Evangelical United Brethren denomination.

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Principal speakers urged the men to channel their power to human need.

Dr. D. Elton Trueblood, author and professor of philosophy at Earlham College, urged the men to work hard at their “other vocation”—that of winning men to Christ. Ernest Mehl, sports editor of the Kansas City Star, told them to make the present the “eighth day” of the week—the day of accepting Christ and doing the worthwhile things that usually are shoved aside. Bishop Harold R. Heininger of Minneapolis proposed an action program for making the Christian witness effective in politics, economic life and international affairs. And Bishop Reuben H. Mueller of Indianapolis asked the men to look for other men who are “hiding out” in the church and bring them back to a wholesome relationship with Christ and their brethren.

Among highlights were a Communion breakfast at the Broadview Hotel and a Sunday worship service at the Wichita Forum. Members of E. U. B. churches in Wichita helped swell total attendance at the congress to nearly 5,000

William M. Fox of Connellsville, Pennsylvania, president of Evangelical United Brethren Men, presided.

People: Words And Events

Deaths:Dr. William Warder Cadbury, 82, medical missionary to China for 40 years, in Philadelphia … Dr. Elsie R. Graff, 84, physician who in the twenties helped Quakers fight famine in the Buzulux area of Russia, in St. Petersburg, Florida … Elizabeth Knauss, 71, Christian author and leader in the formation of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America.

Appointments: As dean of students at Union Theological Seminary, New York, the Rev. Charles Erwin Mathews … as editor of the Lutheran Standard, official periodical of the American Lutheran Church (to be formed in a three-way merger next spring), Dr. Edward W. Schramm … as editor of the Biblical Recorder, official weekly of the North Carolina Baptist Convention, J. Marse Grant … as pastor of Westwood Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio, the Rev. S. M. Mulkey.

Elections: As president of the new California Lutheran College being established as a joint effort of five Lutheran bodies, Dr. Orville Dahl … as president of Christian Business Men’s Committee International, Waldo Yeager … as president of Christian Writers of Canada, George M. Bowman.

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