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WHEN vacancies become so numerous in any Presbytery that they cannot be supplied with the frequent administration of the word and ordinances, it shall be proper for such Presbytery, or any vacant congregation within our bounds, with the leave of the Presbytery, to apply to any other Presbytery, or to any Synod, or to the General Assembly for such assistance as they can afford. And when any Presbytery shall send any of their ministers or probationers to distant vacancies, the missionary shall be ready to produce his credentials to the Presbytery or Presbyteries through the bounds of which he may pass, or at least to a Committee thereof, and obtain their approbation. And the General Assembly may of their own knowledge send missions to any part to plant churches, or to supply vacancies, and for this purpose may direct any Presbytery to ordain evangelists or ministers without relation to particular churches, provided always that such missions be made with the consent of the parties appointed, and that the judicatory sending them make the necessary provision for their support and reward in the performance of this service.
[For a full account of the earlier missions of the Church, and of the origin and progress of the work culminating in the present Board of Home Missions, see New Digest, pp. 319-341, and annual minutes, N. S., from 1861 to 1869; also, Assembly's Digest, Baird's Collection, Rev. Ed., pp. 321-360, with annual minutes, O. S., from 1858 to 1869.]
1. The Standing Committee of Missions Appointed.
Resolved, 1. That a Committee be chosen annually by the General As sembly to be denominated the Standing Committee of Missions; that the Committee shall consist of seven members, of whom four shall be clergymen and three laymen; that a majority of this Committee shall be a quorum to do business; that it shall be the duty of this Committee to collect, during the recess of the Assembly, all the information in their power relative to the concerns of missions and missionaries, to digest this information and report thereon at each meeting of the Assembly; to designate the places where and to specify the periods during which the missionaries should be employed; to correspond with them if necessary and with all other persons on missionary business; to nominate missionaries to the Assembly and report the number which the funds will permit to be employed; to hear the reports of the missionaries and make a statement thereon to the Assembly relative to the diligence, fidelity and success of the missionaries, the sums due to each, and such parts of their reports as may be proper for the Assembly to hear in detail; to ascertain annually whether any money remains with the trustees of the college of New Jersey which ought to be used for missionary purposes, agreeably to the last
will of James Leslie, deceased; that they also engage a suitable person annually to preach a missionary sermon on the Monday evening next after the opening of the General Assembly, at which a collection shall be made for the support of missions, and superintend generally under the direction of the Assembly the missionary business.
2. That although this Standing Committee shall be elected annually, yet each Committee shall continue in office till the end of the sessions of that Assembly which succeeds the one by which the said Committee was chosen.
3. That this Standing Committee of missions, in addition to the duties above specified, shall be and they hereby are empowered to direct the trustees of the General Assembly, during the recess of the Assembly, to issue warrants for any sums of money which may become due in consequence of contracts, appropriations or assignments of duty made by the Assembly, and for which orders may have not been issued by the Assem bly, and on this subject the Committee shall report annually to the Assembly.-1802, p. 258.
In 1805, p. 345, the number of the Committee resident in or near the city of Philadelphia was increased to ten, and one other member added for each Synod, making in the whole seventeen. In 1816 the Committee was enlarged, and the title changed to
2. The Board of Missions.
1. That the style of the Committee be changed for that of the "Board of Missions, acting under the authority of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States."
2. That the Board of Missions be enlarged by the addition of the Rev. John B. Romeyn, D. D., Samuel Miller, D. D., and Messrs. Samuel Bayard, Robert Ralston, Robert Lenox, John R. B. Rodgers, John E. Caldwell, Divie Bethune and Zachariah Lewis.
3. That, in addition to the powers already granted by the Committee of Missions, the Board of Missions be authorized to appoint missionaries whenever they may deem it proper, to make such advances to missionaries as may be judged necessary, and to pay balances due to missionaries who have fulfilled their missions, whenever in their judgment the particular circumstances of the missionaries may require it.
4. That the Board be authorized and directed to take measures for establishing throughout our churches auxiliary missionary societies, and that the General Assembly recommend to their people the establish ment of such societies to aid the funds and extend the operations of the Board.
5. That the members of the Board of Missions be annually chosen by the Assembly, and that they continue in office until the rising of the next General Assembly, when they are to be succeeded by the persons chosen for the current year.
The Committee further report, that while deliberating on the subject referred to them, they at first thought it would be expedient for this Assembly to present to the consideration of their churches the importance of foreign missions, and to direct the Board to take measures for commencing and carrying on such missions, but on mature reflection they are inclined to believe that the union of foreign with domestic missions would produce too great complexity in the affairs of the Board, and render the pressure of business too severe and burdensome. And this consideration is strengthened by the belief which they indulge that a new society for conducting
foreign missions might be formed, composed not only of members belong. ing to our churches, but also of members belonging to the Reformed Dutch Church, to the Associate Reformed Church, and other churches which have adopted the same creed. Such a society is highly desirable; and were it organized on an extensive plan, so as to call forth the combined energies and charity of all those sister churches, it would be productive of beneficial consequences both at home and abroad, to ourselves as well as to the heathen.-1816, p. 633.
3. Enlargement of Powers.
a. Resolved, That the Board of Missions, in addition to the powers already granted to them, be authorized to manage, appoint and direct the whole concerns and business of the Assembly's missions definitely, and report annually their doings to the Assembly.
Resolved, That the Board be authorized to appoint, if they think proper, an Executive Committee of their own number, to carry into effect the details of their plan, and that they also be authorized to appoint and employ an agent or agents at their discretion.-1827, p. 217.
b. The Committee of Conference with the American Home Missionary Society reported that after mature deliberation they recommend the following resolutions, which were adopted, viz.:
Resolved, That the Board of Missions already have the power to establish missions not only among the destitute in our own country or any other country, but also among the heathen in any part of the world; to select, appoint and commission missionaries, to determine their salaries and to settle and pay their accounts; that they have full authority to correspond with any other body on the subject of missions; to appoint an Executive Committee and an efficient agent or agents to manage their missionary concerns; to take measures to form auxiliary societies on such terms as they may deem proper; to procure funds, and, in general, to manage the missionary operations of the General Assembly.
It is therefore submitted to the discretion of the Board of Missions to consider whether it is expedient for them to carry into effect the full powers which they possess.
Resolved, That an addition of seven laymen be made to the present number of the Board of Missions.-1828, p. 244.
4. Number of Members of the Board.
The action above made the number twenty-six ministers and fifteen elders or laymen. In 1833 it was made the rule hereafter to elect each year six ministers and six laymen. In 1834 the number to be elected annually was fixed at ten ministers and six elders. In 1845, p. 30, O. S., it
Resolved, That the present Assembly elect twenty-four members-fifteen ministers and nine laymen-to fill vacancies in the Board of Missions, and that hereafter the same number be elected annually, instead of the number heretofore elected.-1845, p. 30.
The N. S. Assembly continued to co-operate with the American Home Missionary Society until 1861. In 1862 a Report on Church Extension. was adopted, and a Committee of Conference with the A. H. M. S. appointed, who next year reported, recommending the continuance of cooperation. [See New Digest, pp. 361-367; also, pp. 368, 369.] After full discussion the following was adopted, establishing
THE CHURCH EXTENSION COMMITTEE.
This being obviously, therefore, a case which cannot be reached so effectually by any action of the inferior judicatories, your Committee cannot see how the Assembly can refuse to exercise in regard to it that power of" superintendence of the concerns of the whole Church" expressly confided to it by the Constitution. They therefore recommend the following
Resolved, 1. That the General Assembly hereby establishes a Standing Committee, to be called "The Church Extension Committee," a majority of whom shall reside in or near the city of Philadelphia. This Committee shall have no other powers than those conferred by the Assembly, and the functions now assigned to them are those of employing presbyterial, synodical and other Presbyterian itinerant or exploring agents, and affording aid in such exceptional cases as those already mentioned, and also the receiving and disbursing of funds for those objects.
2. That, in recommending this course of action, the General Assembly distinctly declare that it is not their intention thus to establish an Ecclesiastical Board or to interfere with the proper functions of the Home Missionary Society, but, as heretofore, they recommend that society to the confidence and co-operation of the churches under their care.
3. That the Standing Committee on Church Extension, now constituted, shall consist of fifteen members, to be chosen by the Assembly in such manner as the Assembly may direct, and the Committee shall at its first meeting divide itself into three equal parts, to serve respectively one, two and three years, but the same persons shall be re-eligible at the pleasure of the Assembly.
4. Five members of the Committee shall be a quorum; but in order to elect any salaried officer of the Committee or to increase or diminish the salary of the same, a majority of the Committee shall be necessary to constitute a quorum. The Committee shall have power to fill any vacancies occurring while the Assembly is not in session, and they shall make an annual report to the Assembly of all their proceedings.-1855, p. 21, N. S. See further, New Digest, pp. 371-375, and Minutes N. S. 1862, p. 252. The Constitution of the Presbyterian Committee of Home Missions may be found in 1861, pp. 466–469, N. S. The Charter is as follows:
AN ACT to incorporate the Presbyterian Committee of Home Missions of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, passed April 18, 1862.
The people of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:
SECTION 1. Edwin F. Hatfield, Albert Barnes, Benjamin J. Wallace, George L. Prentiss, Thomas S. Hastings, Charles S. Robinson, Joseph Allison, Jonathan F. Stearns, Henry Darling, Edward A. Lambert, Joseph F. Joy, Matthew W. Baldwin, James B. Pinneo, J. Milton Smith and Alfred C. Post (designated for the purpose by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, which met in Syracuse, New York, in May, eighteen hundred and sixty-one), and their successors in office, are hereby constituted a body corporate and politic, by the name of the "Presbyterian Committee of Home Missions," the object of which shall be to assist in sustaining the preaching of the gospel in feeble churches and congregations in connection with the Presbyterian Church in the United States, and generally to superintend the whole course of home missions in behalf of the said Church, as its General Assembly may from time to time direct; also to receive, take charge of and disburse any property or funds which at any time and from time to time may be entrusted to said Church or said Committee for home missionary purposes.
SEC. 2. The said corporation shall possess the general powers and be subject to the
provisions contained in title three of chapter eighteen of the first part of the Revised Statutes, so far as the same are applicable and have not been repealed or modified. SEC. 3. The management and disposition of the affairs and funds of said corporation shall be vested in the individuals named in the first section of this Act and their successors in office, who shall remain in office for such period and be displaced and succeeded by others, to be elected at such time and in such manner as the said Church represented in General Assembly shall direct and appoint.
SEC. 4. The said corporation shall be in law capable of taking, receiving and holding any real or personal estate which has been or may hereafter be given, demised or bequeathed to it, or to the said Church, for the purposes aforesaid, or which may accrue from the use of the same; but the said corporation shall not take and hold real and personal estate above the value of two hundred thousand dollars.
SEC. 5. No inhabitant of this State who shall die, leaving a wife, child or parent, shall devise or bequeath to the corporation hereby created more than one-half of his or her estate after the payment of his or her debts, but a devise or bequest by such inhabitant shall be valid to the extent of such one-half; in no case, however, shall any devise or bequest to such corporation be valid in any will made by any inhabitant of this State which shall not have been made and executed at least two months before the death of the testator or testatrix.
SEC. 6. This Act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK,
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE.}
I have compared the preceding with the original law on file in this office, and do hereby certify that the same is a correct transcript therefrom, and the whole of the said original law.
Given under my hand and seal of office at the city of Albany, this third
I. THE BOARD OF HOME MISSIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
a. The unfinished business was resumed, viz., the report of the Joint Committee on Home Missions, which, after protracted discussion, was adopted, as follows:
The Joint Committee appointed by the two Assemblies of 1869 to arrange for the consolidation of the "Board of Domestic Missions" and "The Committee of Home Missions," would respectfully report that, in full attendance, they have given the subject with which they were charged their most careful deliberation.
Some things pertaining to the proposed new organization were very readily adjusted, as appears in the following recommendations, adopted with entire unanimity, viz.:
1. The name to be "The Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America."
2. That this Board consist of fifteen members, five constituting a quorum.
3. That the Board be authorized to appoint one secretary, with so much assistance as the Board may deem necessary.
After proceeding so far, your Committee were advised by eminent legal counsel that, inasmuch as the Board and Committee now existing hold their respective charters from different States, legislative action in the States of Pennsylvania and New York would be necessary before the contemplated consolidation could be effected, so that the property now held by the one could legally and safely be transferred to the other. As instructed by counsel, your Committee cannot see any mode in which this General Assembly itself, without further legislation, can create such a consolidated