Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jamaica Plain Brings God To Missouri

Granted the title is a reach, but not by much. During the post-Civil War years, New England churches sent out missionaries to "the West" to spread Christian teachings to settlements that had left church and The Book behind. Today we tend to think of missionaries as international travellers, but, as told in this article, Christian missions in the 1870s supported by established American churches were internal. The new lands of the West had to be Christianized before churchmen could begin looking overseas for souls to save.

So how many Texans do you suppose know that it was New Englanders who taught them their Evangelical A-B-Cs? And make sure you don't miss the last sentence.

Boston Daily Globe June 12, 1876

American Sunday School Union.

Fifty-second Anniversary Observed at Jamaica Plain.

The fifty-second anniversary of the American Sunday School Union was observed last evening at the Central Congregational Church at Jamaica Plain. There was a large attendance, the beautiful and specious audience-room of the church being filled to its full capacity. Nelson Kingsbury, Esq., the secretary of the New England department of the society, presided, and in the course of an address in which he set forth the general character of the work performed by the society during the past fifty-two years, he said that in that period there had been established by agents and missionaries of the society, principally at the West, 63,793 Bible and Sunday Schools. The total number of pupils represented by these was 2,745,000; teachers 420,000: aid furnished to 7000 destitute scholars; money expended in furnishing such aid, $517,000. The exercises of the evening consisted largely of singing by the children of the Boylston Chapel Sunday School. Prayer was offered by the Rev. Mr. Virgin, pastor of the Methodist Church of Jamaica Plain. The principal address of the evening was made by the Rev. William P. Paxson of St Louis, who is the agent and missionary of the society for the States of Missouri and Texas. He explained in detail the methods of missionary work followed by him and related many interesting facts of his experience as illustrative of the classes of people he has had to deal with and the peculiar success which, under adverse circumstances, has often rewarded his labors. The establishment of Sunday Schools in newly-settled or sparsely-populated districts he regarded the most efficient method of building up the cause of religion and multiplying the number of churches. In these districts there is often no difficulty in gathering children together for a Sunday School, when it would be impossible to induce their parents to come together for religious worship, much less to organize a church. IN time the little one taught in Sunday School grows to maturity, and constant accessions to the various settlements being the rule, the nucleus is in good time found to exist for the establishment of a church. In this way through Central Illinois and Northern Missouri 500 churches have been organized and are now in a flourishing condition. The same good work in its natal stages in the form of Sunday School organization is now going forward in Southern Missouri, Arkansas and Texas and would as he predicted one day cross the border and carry the gospel to the ignorant and priest-ridden people of Mexico.

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