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SHEPHERDING THE FLOCK
YOU CANNOT afford to, you must not permit yourself, to be absent this year. I expect to meet you at the Anoka camp meeting."* The Northern Union Reaper, published at Hutchinson, carried this greeting a week before M. L. and Annie left Washington Missionary College on their way to Minnesota. For a month the president-elect had been encouraging the church members to be there. "It is not too early to lay plans for coming to camp meeting. . . . Let us have the largest and best meeting we have ever had," he had written. "The times demand it. God expects it." "All of us need a new spiritual revival." "Elder Daniells . . . will take a leading part in the meeting. God has greatly used him the last few years, and we expect great things."
The readers of the Reaper were accustomed to seeing weekly articles from the presidents of the various conferences. Each article covered at least a page, usually more. M. L.'s were different. They seldom occupied a column. The little articles constituted personal messages from the pastor, as it were, to each member of his flock.
"You are cordially invited to attend June 19-29." The next week carried "A Last-Minute Call: By the time you are reading this, camp meeting is just beginning. . . .
* All quotations and references in this chapter are from the Northern Union Reaper, issues dated between April, 1924, and December, 1929.
If you have been unable to come until now, it is better to come late than not at all . . . so come if you possibly can."
During the 1,500-mile trip from Washington to Minnesota, mostly over gravel roads, always through the center of each town and city, M. L. was thinking about the campsite in the beautiful grove of trees in the southeastern part of Anoka, near the interurban line. He could hardly wait until the two hundred family tents should be pitched in rows, and the Danish-Norwegian tent, the Swedish tent, the various youth and children's tents, and the big pavilion itself should all be hauled up around their center poles, then anchored down.
The meetings were to begin on Thursday. Wednesday evening M. L. and the tired group of ministers who had worked so faithfully getting everything ready looked over the campground, content. They could have a good night's sleep. There were only the finishing touches to do on the morrow, then the families would begin to arrive from all over the State.
Long before daybreak, heavy drops of rain began to plop down on the canvas over the heads of the sleeping ministers. They awoke with a start. The drops fell thicker; it began to pour. Each man jumped out of bed, pulled on his clothes and hurried out into the storm to his post. He didn't want anything to befall his area.
When all the safeguards had been taken, the drenched men huddled together in the pavilion. The wind was blowing in great gusts now. Suddenly the rain poured down on the men. Lightning flashed.
"Oh, no!" moaned one.
"It's no use," an older minister sighed. "Last summer we barely could make the thread hold on a small tear. With this big one—the canvas is just too flimsy with age."
"Then we'll have to rent a tent." And rent one they did, and had it up before time for the opening meeting that evening.
After reporting the storm in the Reaper, M. L. appealed, "Are there not many throughout the conference who have so enjoyed the meetings in the old pavilion that they would like to contribute toward the purchase of a new one?" On Sunday morning at camp meeting $1,725 was given in just a few minutes. M. L. wrote in the Reaper that they really ought to purchase a larger tent in order to accommodate the Sabbath visitors. "Are there not others who would like to invest something in the new large tent? If so, please send it through the regular channels."
While the crowd of church members were still assembled under the rented pavilion, M. L. was contriving a plan to provide for future emergencies. Instead of having to make special appeals, there should be some way for each family to make regular contributions in proportion to its income. He had it! Why not tithe the tithe? The conference committee agreed. Andreasen wrote: "We trust that when you pay your tithe next time you will not forget the One Percent Fund." A few weeks later he inserted a note, "Lest We Forget: Ofttimes we forget to do the things we really intended to do. Last time I paid my tithe, I came very near forgetting the One Percent Fund."
A few months later a report could be made of the use of the new fund. "This fund will enable us to purchase this year 100 new three-quarter-size folding steel cots with sagless springs, for use at camp meeting. Those who have slept, or tried to sleep, on some of the old double springs that we have had to use at camp meeting time will appreciate these new
cots, we are sure. The One Percent Fund has made them possible, and there are other needs that should be supplied from it, so please keep it in mind whenever you pay your tithe."
Following camp meeting during the twenties was Harvest Ingathering, conducted in the autumn. Singing bands and other such refinements were unheard of. Instead, individual members went out and visited non-Adventist friends and neighbors, asking for contributions for missions. M. L. conducted his own campaign of inspiration through the Reaper.
Q. "Why should I go Harvest Ingathering?"
Q. "How do I go?"
Q. "When shall I go?"
Two weeks later he wrote: "Do your part. . . . Wherever I go I find our people anxious to get at the work and to finish it in short time."
One year when Ingathering time came, M. L. took a different approach: "When I am out to go bathing I dread very much walking into the shallow water and getting wet inch by inch. I would far rather dive in head first and have it all over with. . . . Go right to work; be optimistic, cheerful, and the work will be done."
The year of the Wall Street crash—1929—all the optimism failed. As December passed. Ingathering was decidedly behind. "To fall behind last year's record would be nothing short of a calamity. And yet we are in imminent danger of so doing. . . . I appeal to our workers, to our elders, leaders, people, young and old, to make one more effort. This is an emergency. We must not fail. Let all have a part. One dollar apiece for the whole conference will save the situation."
The Minnesota Conference was noted for its strong laity. In fact, some of the laymen on the conference committee made it hard for any conference president who did not favor their part of the field, or make sure that the conference academy was given due consideration. Some presidents of the conference had lasted only a couple of years, but M. L. went on year after year. Seven times he had to inspire the members to go out and finish Ingathering. Some leaders were concerned that if they tried all their ideas for getting the goal one year, they would have no new ones to inspire the people the next year. But M. L. was not worried. His mind was always searching out new approaches.
One year he thought of issuing a badge to each member registering at camp meeting. Wearing his name and address, the member felt as if he were attending a General Conference session or a professional convention. It also helped M. L. to call each member by name.
A typical method M. L. used to secure the cooperation of the laymen was to invite as many of them as could to stay after camp meeting and help break camp so the ministers could get at their regular work more promptly. "We were surely blessed with good weather for camp meeting this year and also for taking down the camp. Most of the tents were down and in the warehouse by Monday evening, and the grounds were cleared entirely by Wednesday afternoon. The assistance of the lay brethren who stayed after camp meeting and helped in this work was much appreciated."
When Michigan was carrying on its camp meeting on the race track of a fairground, Minnesota had already put up a permanent building on its campground. There were members who objected, but M. L.
had studied the Testimonies on the subject and consulted with General Conference and union men. The decision was reached that a permanent site should be developed.
According to the per-capita mission-offering report sent out from the General Conference for the first quarter of 1925, Minnesota was one of the poorest conferences in North America. The next year it did better, raising nearly forty cents a week per member, two thirds of the sixty-cent-a-week goal. "Some can do a little more. And I believe there are enough who can do a little more to raise the whole goal—the last third. One third more to make up the whole three thirds. Who will help? Who will add to this offering? It can be done. Let us do it. And let us start early this year—right now. Minnesota will raise the last third."
M. L. invented Square-up Day: "In this campaign dollars mean souls. . . . Work, pray, then work some more. The end of the year must see every church square on its sixty-cent-a-week goal. Let all the workers do their part. Let all the officers get under the responsibility. Let the women rally to the work. Let all pull together, and then Minnesota will not come behind."
No matter what special activity was on the calendar, M. L. had at least a sentence to help it on its way:
"The 'One Thing' just now is the 'Big Week.'"
"The Signs of the Times subscription campaign begins next Sabbath. Let us all boost it, remembering, 'More Signs, more souls.'"
"Subscribe for the Review and keep up with the message."
"May the love of Christ, who gave all for us, constrain us to make a liberal gift for Him next Sabbath in the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering."
The more isolated members of the flock were not forgotten. One year M. L. sent them all camp meeting
programs so that "all who for some reason cannot come to camp meeting [can] unite with us in seeking the Lord. The daily program will enable you to join heartily with us at the same time as the meetings are being held on the campground."
Side roads were not snowplowed in the late 1920's, so for weeks many church members were snowbound. "But these are not deprived of the blessings of the home Sabbath school," M. L. wrote. "Even if there is only one person, he can belong to the Home Department. Let him set apart a little time for the review and study of the lesson. Let him have prayer audibly or silently. Let him put aside his offering to be handed in at the first opportunity, and let him keep faithful record." "The enjoyment of the Lord's presence and blessing does not necessarily depend upon numbers or the presence of a minister. He has promised to be with us even unto the end, and no matter how isolated we may be."
Radio sets were just making their way into Minnesota homes. In March of 1929, three years after H. M. S. Richards made his first broadcast, M. L. began an eight-week experiment in broadcasting "on Sabbath afternoon, especially for the benefit of our isolated believers, as well as for smaller companies who do not have a pastor."
"It is planned for Elder Andreasen to deliver the sermon at the afternoon radio service next Sabbath. Many have written about neighbors who have listened to these services, and others have been invited to the home of a neighbor to hear over their receiving set. . . . Be sure to follow up such an interest as tactfully as you can, and let us hope that much good may be accomplished in this way. At three o'clock sharp."
This same year also saw Minnesota's first camp for youth, directed by Frank Yost. That was three years after Michigan had pioneered with the first
Seventh-day Adventist junior camp. M. L. wrote, "There are many things to be taken into consideration in planning for a camp of this kind, and we want to make no avoidable mistakes. We firmly believe that this encampment will prove a great blessing to the young men who will avail themselves of this unusual privilege."
As the year 1929 drew to a close, M. L. suggested a personal inventory: "Are we better able to meet the struggles and trials of the last days now than we were at the beginning of the year? Have we made any progress spiritually? . . . Have any definite victories been gained in 1929, or are the defeats more numerous? Are we more faithful in Sabbath observance and private religious devotion than we were twelve months ago?
"The end of the year should also be a time when we should make up our financial records. . . . Let these few remaining days of 1929 be a time of heart searching and examination and with that desire to redeem the time and square up all things with God and man."
At other times the articles would be purely devotional:
"For a child of God no question is of greater importance than his own relation to the Godhead. As a child of God, does he exhibit the family likeness and the family traits that immediately identify him as being related to God? Ordinarily children partake both of the physical and spiritual qualities of the parents. They may look like and act like father or mother, and they sometimes have small 'ways' that are characteristics of the family. . . .
"Apply this spiritually. We take it for granted that God is not irritable, impatient, unkind, or unlovely. He does not speak ill of any, does not treat His own family to exhibitions of temper, carefully concealed from others. He is unvaryingly kind and sympathetic
and never gets cross or says unkind words. He is kind to those who are unkind, patient with those who are in an ugly mood, willing always to forgive and forget. He is all that we can conceive of as being worthwhile. How much do we exhibit the family traits? It may be worthwhile to check up on ourselves. When others see us in a burst of temper, they are well aware of our shortcomings. Are we? We should be. Let us rather show forth the graces of Him who has called us from darkness into His marvelous light."