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Two years after the formation of the Women's General Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (PCUSA) in 1883, reports were made to the General Assembly that a national organization of men also be formed. Various groups already existed with specific purposes--Bible classes, service projects, spiritual development--within the church. But the need for a more organized structure for the men of the church was felt at the grass roots level all across the entire Presbyterian church. The same request was also made in 1885 to the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in North America (UPNA).
By 1908, a group called the Presbyterian Brotherhood of America had opened a headquarters in Chicago and consisted of about thirty-five thousand members in eight hundred different local organizations. This group was affiliated with the PCUSA. Similarly, the UPNA reported that the Men's Movement was now in its third year and was continuing to grow.
Work and programs within these two groups continued until 1923, when the PCUSA recommended consolidation of several of its agencies with the Board of Christian Education. This included the men's work. Recognizing that men were involved in all aspects of the church, an Inter-Board Staff Committee on Men's Work was established in 1947, which included representatives from the staffs of National Missions, Foreign Missions, Christian Education, and the General Council. In 1948, a constitution for a National Council of Presbyterian Men was submitted to the General Assembly and by 1952 1,685 chapters had been chartered and five annual meetings had been held.
The UPNA also had consolidated its men's work under the Board of Christian Education after 1923. Expansion of that work led to a decision to hold a mass meeting for men in 1952 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to promote the whole program of the church through involvement of a men's organization. United Presbyterian Men was the name chosen and the first national meeting was held in 1955.
In 1958, the two Presbyterian denominations merged and, following a recommendation that the two men's groups be united, the National Council of United Presbyterian Men was formed. Affiliation was based on a unity of purpose, not the creation of a separate set of governmental structures.
In 1970, four objectives were defined for the General Assembly. The first was to encourage spiritual growth and action programs for laymen; the second was to establish a system of interpretation of mission by laymen; the third was to provide a training program for church officers; and the fourth was to develop a plan of participation in the Laymen Overseas program. In the 1970s, a study of the masculine role in the church was added. Reaffirmation to the goals of mission study, outreach, and evangelism, with attention to minority education and the need to assist in maintenance of properties and funding were additional areas of emphasis in 1980. The theme under study at the thirty-sixth National Conference in 1984 was "My Faith: Reaching into a Troubled World."
Scope and Content
This collection consists of an album of three phonograph records which contain hymns, selected addresses, and a devotional message from the Ninth Annual Meeting, March 15-17, 1957, of the National Council of Presbyterian Men, held at the Palmer House in Chicago, Illinois. An agenda of the meeting is included with phonograph record P1. Each address was concerned with some aspect of the church and its role in contemporary society, taken from the theme of Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed...."
In addition to a short devotional message by Dr. Orlo Choguil on selected passages from Acts 1 and 2, Side 1 of P1 contains an address by Dr. Arthur L. Miller on the nature of the church. Miller discussed the essential unity of the body of the church which transcends its individual parts and individual Christians, the ability of that body to renew itself as does the physical body, and the ability of that body to redeem and to be a literal part of the physical resurrection of Christ. Side 2 contains an address by Paul C. Payne in which he commented on man's present ability to destroy himself. Such a power requires not just a few leaders, but a concerted effort on the part of the entire church joined together in community to speak out before it is forced to do so under fires of testing when choice and freedom are taken away.
Record P2, Side 1, contains two addresses: the first, delivered by J. Howard Pew, discussed the history of the Presbyterian agencies formed to plan for, recruit for, and invest financial resources used for mission programs in the church. He stressed the urgency of counteracting the trend toward totalitarian life which limits and destroys men's freedom. Pew reiterated the fundamental qualities of honesty, fairness, and justice which are necessary to support a democratic process of free choice and which are found only in the Christian principles which need to undergird men's social and political activities. The second address is part 1 of Eugene Carson Blake's remarks concerned with the realities of contemporary church constituency, its strengths and "dark spots," and a brief overview of the forms of church government. He described the Presbyterian constitutional representative form and its need for a combination of commitment and education to be effective.
Side 2 of P2 begins with a speech by David W. Proffitt, then moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., discussing the challenge and need to increase giving to benevolence programs and to stress tithing. He urged attendees to maintain the momentum gained from their meeting and to return to live out the church's mission to provide hope for solutions to problems the church faces. The second section of the record contains the speech of William J. Grede, who expressed observations and convictions drawn from travels across the country as current leader of the National Assocation of Manufacturers and the YMCA. He concluded that individuals are the most important units in both society and religion. Stereotyping in groups does not reflect an accurate picture of individuals involved, nor do groups accomplish goals. Only men and women do this. He pointed out that the New Testament first stressed the unique and precious individual and that political and economic charity alone will not accomplish freedom for that individual unless rooted in Christ's teachings, clearly transmitted in each family and through friendships.
Side 1 of P3 contains the second part of Blake's address, challenging the church to more selfless use of its lay skills, more patience, and more obedience to the discipline of God. Though God is able to miraculously use what we do give, additional resources would be even more fully blessed. A second address was given by Governor Howard Pyle, then serving a Deputy Assistant to President Eisenhower, on the subject of why and how men function in the church. He stated that the question of why requires complete conviction, not a partial or easily-swayed loyalty, and the how should be guided by the words of James admonishing Christians to show forth their faith in their deeds, the measure to the world of Christian convictions. Lack of character based on Christian principles hinders all world peace and requires church members to witness through their deeds to the saving potential of Christ's standards in men.
Side 2 of P3 contains an address by Dr. Hermann N. Morse, General Secretary to the Board of National Missions, in which he discusses the agencies of the Presbyterian church to study, plan for, and implement the greatest needs and priorities of world mission programs. He reiterates the voluntary nature of this commitment, but he warns that the contemporary trend toward revolutionary and repressive political systems, the depths of need across the world, and our essential unity as men requires the fullest participation, commitment and effectiveness or men's allegiances will seek other channels.
This set of phonograph records was received at the Center in August 1981.
Accession 81-88June 13, 1984
P1 - 33-1/3 speed phonograph record. Side 1: Hymn by Presbyterian men, devotions by Orlo Choquill, address by Arthur L. Miller. About 30 minutes. Side 6: Address by Paul C. Payne, prayer. About 30 minutes.
P2 - 33-1/3 speed phonograph record. Side 2: Address by J. Howard Pew, part 1 of address by Eugene Carson Blake. About 30 minutes. Side 5: Address by David W. Proffitt, address by William J. Grede. About 30 minutes.
P3 - 3-1/3 speed phonograph record. Side 3: Part 2 of address by Eugene Carson Blake, address by Hon. Howard Pyle. About 30 minutes. Side 4: Hymn by Presbyterian men, address by Hermann N. Morse. About 30 minutes.