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Beloved: Before pronouncing the benediction I wish to call your kind attention to the Rev. Charles Peabody, of Brooklyn, who has a few remarks to offer. Mr. Peabody, as most of you know, is the authorized agent of the Church Extension Committee of our Eastern Synod, and whatever he has to present to your consideration you will doubtless receive with interest.
I do not propose to detain you long, lest the good effect of the excellent sermon to which we have just listened should be marred, but will merely present the object of my visit in a few brief sentences and lay the claim of the Synod before you. At the beginning of the year 1883, we had a church extension fund of about $45,000, and pledges, to be paid during the year, of some $25,000 more, leaving us a working fund of about $60,000. On the first of January, 1883, we owed upon unfinished church edifices nearly $20,000, which we had to pay, and did pay, within the first six months of 1883. Between the first of January, 1883, and Christmas of that year, we contracted for the erection of thirty new churches, in various parts of the Synod, at an average cost of $3,000 each - an aggregate of $90,000, most of which will become due June 1, 1884. At the beginning of July,
1883, we had on hand about $40,000 of the old fund, and had received, in fresh subscriptions, bequests, etc., $15,000 more - so that our available working fund was some $55,000. On the first of January,
1884, we had paid out of this amount $15,000, which was required for sundry expenditures, in addition to the sum already contracted for the thirty new churches. In the meantime, by business failures and slow contributions, our working fund had become reduced (including the $15,000 for extra expenditures) to about $35,000, leaving a surplus to be raised before the first of June of $55,000. The time is near at hand, and although money has been contributed, we are still behind about $40,000, which, for the honor of our religion and our own character as a benevolent people, we are very anxious to raise. If by the first of June we can wipe out these contract debts, we shall only be about even, for any surplus funds received since the first of January last will have been absorbed in the incidental expenses of the work. I am, therefore, here to-day to ask you to contribute as liberally to our church extension fund as your benevolence may dictate. Remember that this debt of $40,000 represents the freedom of thirty new churches and as many increasing congregations in new and thinly settled districts of the Great West - people who, in their Eastern homes, enjoyed the same blessed gospel privileges as you do now, but who, after emigrating West, find themselves in straitened circumstances, dependent upon their farm-labor for their support, yet anxious to worship in their own old way, and once more enjoy the benefits of stated preaching, with Sunday-school and other religious privileges.
We have been careful, this year, to refrain from making any important contracts for more new churches, preferring to release the Synod from debt and begin again anew when our funds shall commence flowing in for future operations. With the wealth and prosperity enjoyed by churches like this, we hope to clear our books. I have stated our necessities plainly, and earnestly call upon you to contribute your quota this morning to the extinction of our mutual obligations. Remember, "it is more blessed to give than to receive;" "freely ye have received, freely give;" "God loveth a cheerful giver."
Let me not appeal to you in vain for aid. The cause is worthy, and with the help of your faith and good works, under the Divine blessing, will prosper and redound to the glory of the Master.