I was born in a Methodist parsonage when the present century was biting a teething ring. My dad served mountain and small-town circuits 100 miles long and eight to ten churches per circuit. He rode aboard a steed he had to buy himself from his $300 to $500 annual salaries. We raised the difference between these salaries and starvation on a few scraggly acres belonging to the parsonage range or we rented them on the halves from some “bighearted” parishioner. I have seen things from the ranks. I have been through the mill.
I have known of some well-to-do “pillar” arise in the quarterly conference and ask, “Just what is the very least you can live on, preacher?” They wanted that dividing line between life and starvation. They would settle for that. One church paying $30 a year argued that during revival meeting time they had to keep and feed both the preacher and his horse and shouldn’t be expected to pay the $2.50 a month salary. Yes, they shouted in the revivals. I still don’t know why.
Missionary or other “foreign” support was virtually nil in many of our churches. We basked behind the old argument, “There’s enough to do at home.” There always was—but we seldom got around to doing it.
In one area in which we lived there was a Christian college. Young student ministers were often sent out to nearby churches that they might earn money to stay in school. Father was giving way to one such pastor at one of his churches when an old brother arose and said, “I am tired of rocking the cradle for Morris Harvey College.” Whereupon, the treasurer of the church turned hurriedly through his ledger and replied: “Sir, according to my record you have rocked the cradle to the tune of four dollars during the past twelve months.”
Yes, we’ve always ...1
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