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were almost an exact counterpart of those employed more than twenty years before by the Wesleyans there. It will enable us to better appreciate the American history in this matter if we trace briefly what the English have done. In 1763 they formed an association of the members of the conference, on the principle of mutual assistance, called "The Preachers' Fund." Its conditions were that each preacher should pay into the treasury a guinea a year, and when he became superannuated he should receive annually as many guineas as he had performed years of effective service. The widows, if they needed it, were each to receive ten pounds a year. This "fund" was the chief, if not the only, provision for the worn-out preachers among the Wesleyans until about the year 1800. At that time it was modified in its conditions, requiring that every new member should pay ten pounds initiation, and three pounds annually thereafter, and also making provision for much larger distribution to its beneficiaries. The contributions of the people were then asked, for the first time, to increase the funds of this association. The inadequacy of the relief given to the "disabled," and probably the increase of pecuniary ability in the laity, led, the same year, to an organization among the laymen of London of the "Preachers' Friend Society," the design of which was to give "casual" aid to preachers that were destitute. It raised quite a respectable amount, discriminating in the recipients of its bounty. No new measures were introduced by the Wesleyan body until the year 1838, the centenary year of Methodism. In that year an "auxiliary fund" was created, from the memorial offerings of the people, and forty-five thousand dollars were invested, and subscriptions and legacies were invited to increase the funded amount. An annual collection was also ordered of sixpence from each member of the societies. The receipts from the "auxiliary fund" have steadily increased. In 1859 its income amounted to over sixty-two thousand dollars, and was disbursed to two hundred preachers and two hundred and sixty-nine widows; an average of about one hundred and thirty-three dollars to each.
The ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1784, adopted the mutual assistance policy. Their organization and name, with the amount required from each one on joining con
ference, and annually, and the sum proposed to be given each year to the superannuated and to the widows and orphans, were nearly the same as the one existing in England. From the regulations published in the Discipline of that year, it is probable that much relief was expected from this fund, for there were appointed three treasurers, three clerks, and three inspectors, who should form a joint board for the direction of its affairs! As there are no reports in the minutes of the conference, except for two or three years, of the receipts or disbursements by this mutual arrangement, it is impossible to determine how far it was successful in giving aid to the disabled or the bereaved. From the efforts that were made in a few years, and in another way, to obtain funds for the same object, it is quite certain that it failed to meet all the requisitions made upon its treasury.
In reading the records of the earlier conferences, one cannot fail to be arrested by the large number who left the itinerant ministry, and became what is technically called located. The traditions of those times tell us that this arose chiefly from the insufficient support that they received, and the dark look before them, when, without health, they would be unable to provide for the necessities of their families. This habit of locating from necessity, and also the pressing wants of others who continued itinerant, created great solicitude in the General Conference of 1796, and led to the next attempt to answer the question, "What shall be done for the worn-out and the widows?" It was resolved, at this conference, to create a new fund. It has since been known as the "Chartered Fund." It was simply an incorporation of nine trustees, laymen, who should receive and hold in trust such donations and legacies as would be paid them, and who should pay over the income thereof in equal sums to each Annual Conference. Earnest appeals were made to the Church in behalf of this fund, and liberal contributions were given in response to these appeals. To many it seemed the dawn of the golden age to disabled ministers. It proved, however, only a northern light, not the true aurora of the day. It will be seen that this fund differed from the old one for mutual relief, in that it brought aid to the minister from the generosity and love of the people, and not from a timely laying-by of his own funds against the rainy day. It also adopted
the questionable policy-a policy at that day more popular than at present-of funding a charity, and disbursing only its annual proceeds. It originated in the noble purpose to make comfortable the latter years of a class of men and women as worthy as any that have ever lived. But it never succeeded in meeting a tithe of the demand upon its treasury. From 1833, the year when its dividends first appear in the minutes, down to the present time, it has paid less than two per cent. a year of the amount of each claimant, allowing that none but the worn-out and widows were the recipients. How much less than this it must have been, as those who had not received their allowance as effective men had also a proportionate share from its funds!
About the same time there began to be small dividends from the profits of book publishing, that had been commenced under the direction of the General Conference a few years before. These dividends were distributed to the same beneficiaries as received from the Chartered Fund. Although, for some years after its commencement, the "Book Concern" was the "day of small things," it soon began to assume importance, and its dividends continually increased. For twenty years after 1832 its annual distribution to the conferences averaged over sixteen thousand dollars, and about eighteen dollars to each claimant. This method of obtaining relief for the necessitous differs from both the preceding ones. It was not a charity, like the Chartered Fund, for the purchaser of books who contributed to it received an equivalent for his money. It differed from the mutual relief fund, in that the seller of the books, the minister, had a primary and avowed design to circulate religious literature for the benefit of the purchaser, and not for ultimate profit to himself. It had something of the "funded" principle, but depending on the success of trade for dividends. It was a kind of contingent second percentage that the minister might receive if he should be brought into a certain class as a claimant.
The failure of many societies to pay the small disciplinary salary of their ministers required that some provision be made to meet this failure. For this, the General Conference of 1800 ordered that an annual collection should be made "where the people would be willing to contribute," "to make up the
allowance of the preachers." This was then called and is now known as the "Fifth Collection." A portion of it came to the relief of the superannuated and widows, but the greater part of it was required to meet the "deficiency" of effective men. As the financial condition of the societies improved, and more liberal and punctual habits obtained for the payment of their ministers, their claims for deficiency greatly decreased, and in later years the avails of the fifth collection have been mostly appropriated for the benefit of the worn-out and widows. In 1863 it amounted to nearly fifty thousand dollars.
Notwithstanding the means before devised for their comfort, many of the superannuated were still in "distressed" condition, and the General Conference of 1812 resolved, "That each Annual Conference, if they think proper, should raise a fund, subject to their own direction, for the aid of such." This doubtful expedient of conferring conference sovereignty in the matter, resulted in a variety of measures to meet the end proposed. In some of the conferences it led to taking a special collection for "necessitous cases;" in a few, to the organization of "Mite Societies " in the Churches. In others it took the form of a "ten-cent collection" from each member of the classes. Three or four others organized a "Preachers' Aid Society," taking collections in the congregations, and intrusting the avails to a board of clerical and lay managers for distribution. And others, perhaps in addition to one of the plans already named, formed “A Mutual Assistance Society" of the members of the conference, depending for funds on the annual dues of its members, and contributions and legacies that might fall to it from others, and making dividends only to the needy of the society. These various conference schemes were each, for a while, instrumental in raising respectable sums for the objects of their creation. A few of them continue to the present, but the most of them have expired.
The General Conference of 1832 made it "the duty of each Annual Conference to raise moneys in every circuit and station within its bounds for the necessitous superannuated ministers, widows, and orphans." This order was a quickening and making general the taking of the "fifth collection." Until this time it had been taken in only a few of the charges. The
order brightened, henceforth, the pathway of the needy ones. It gave efficiency to a plan, simple in its machinery, abundant in its resources, and natural in its application.
The memorial services of the centenary of Methodism, in 1839, were made the proper occasion for the hundreds of thousands who had been benefited by this branch of the general Church to show their gratitude by some substantial offerings. Large contributions were made, and the several conferences in which they were made directed the different objects to which they should be appropriated. In most of them the wants of the superannuated received a generous share. The money was usually committed to trustees and funded, and the dividends from it annually distributed. The amount of these dividends varies in different conferences, from less than fifty to over four hundred dollars.
From this narrative account of the means that the Methodist Church has employed to raise the funds needed for worn-out ministers, let us turn and inquire respecting their efficiency and their relative merits. To do this properly, it is necessary to determine which produces the greatest revenue; which is most practicable in use; which is most consistent with the end proposed; and, what is of great importance, which has the best moral influence on the parties concerned.
Of the "Preachers' Fund," the first attempt and similar in its organization to others now existing in a few of the conferences, but little need be said. It had nothing of the nature of a beneficiary institution. It asked nothing from any who might not receive its benefits. It was simply a mutual assurance, and by its conditions was very limited in its practical results. It was the same as most life or health insurance companies, with the peculiarity that it was confined to Methodist ministers, and in this had no more merit than if organized by cordwainers or physicians. It was a company of ministers annually depositing a bonus with their brethren for the guarantee, that in case of failing health, or death, they or their widows should receive it back again and perhaps more.
The "Chartered Fund" took a step forward. From mutually helping each other the ministry turned to look for help from the Church. They sought aid from those whom they had served. So far it adopted the right policy. But it also adopted the