BLESSED seasons of spiritual refreshing both of our conventions proved to be. We have every reason to believe that the Lord not only used them as channels of blessing to the "brethren" already interested, but also to others who came with friends or through curiosity. Under the Lord's providence the daily press of both cities gave us liberal notices which reached some of the Lord's hungry sheep.
The WATCH TOWER announcement styled these "Believers' Conventions,"—as signifying believers in God's Word at this time, when so many professed Christians are falling into disbelief through the influence of the Evolution theory, "higher criticism," infidelity, etc. And the word "believers" is widely known as signifying adherents to the doctrine of the Second Coming of our Lord. We are "believers" and hope always to be such, but let us beware of thinking of or using this as a distinctive or sectarian name—to distinguish and separate us from other Christian believers. We do not want to be separated from other believers, but to continue to love and cherish and fully fellowship all who with us trust in the sure Word of God, even tho they do not yet see eye to eye with us on all points respecting that Word's teachings.
The announced programs were pretty generally carried out: at Boston addresses were delivered by Bros. Thorne and Graham of the Boston company, Bro. Alexander of the Yonkers, N.Y., company, Bro. Barton of the Philadelphia company, Bro. Weber of Maryland, Bro. Lewis of Cohoes, N.Y., Pilgrim Bro. McPhail of the Chicago company (who also conducted the musical features) and by the Editor of this journal. And in the testimony meetings all had good opportunity of which very many availed themselves. Visitors about 100; attendance on Sunday about 250. Many strengthened; all refreshed; and so far as we know none disappointed and turned empty away.
St. Louis had a larger territory to draw from, being more central, and the number of visitors was about 200, and the Sunday attendance about 400. Amongst the speakers were Bro. Dann of the St. Louis company (who also conducted the musical program), Bro. Moffatt of Florida, Bro. Henninges of Allegheny, Bro. Owen of Indianapolis, Bro. Weber of Maryland, Pilgrim Bros. Willis and Draper, and a number of others. Your servant, the Editor of this journal, was obliged in obedience to the wishes of the friends, to occupy [R2524 : page 227] very much more than his proportion of the time at both conventions;—especially at the last one.
In both Conventions the spirit of love and fellowship prevailed; and if even one jar occurred or one discordant note sounded, we did not learn of it. The local churches had given careful attention to every detail of arrangement for the visiting "brethren"—including the free entertainment of those who needed such provision. Their reception committees in both instances were tireless in their loving endeavors to make all comfortable. May the Lord abundantly reward them each and all!
At Boston, symbolic baptism was administered to twenty-three, at the hands of Bro. Woodworth. At St. Louis forty-one (21 males and 20 females), at the hands of Bro. Henninges. Bro. Dann informs us that as a result of the Convention they have an increase of about 30 in attendance, and that several more desire to confess Christ in symbolic baptism. The meetings have been forced to move to the more spacious quarters at Nineteenth and Morgan streets.
As usual, the money question was kept out of notice. One dear brother came to us, saying, "Brother Russell, I wanted to contribute something toward the expenses of this convention, but they will not accept it. I want to get even on the matter somehow, so you must accept it for the Tract Fund." Another dear brother sent ten dollars by mail, saying that he could not attend, but wanted a share in the good work and would be glad to help meet the expenses of some of the poor in attendance. Indeed, several have since sent "Convention Thank Offerings" to the Tract Fund.