The Life and Experiences of a Layman by Charles Boller

Pages 163 - 167


upon a critical arena. Confronting a host of honorable brethren, who maintain the office with marked success, whom I do not wish to shadow or reflect upon. I can uprightly say, that my relation with all my dear ministerial brethren is one of love and friendship, and therefore, I do not want to be understood, that this my paper pertains to personality, but exclusively to the dignity and honor of office. I well realize that the subject is a very, very delicate, angular and complex one. Some may think that it is very assuming for a lay-member to catechise a Presiding Elder of our church or his official function; however this is not the case.

Our Saviour had but one Peter, one James and one John, among the twelve disciples which He chose for His Presiding Elders and spokesmen. Nowhere do we read that Andrew or the others questioned the prerogative of said three apostles. The Saviour loved them all, and used them in his vineyard, though less talented. Concerning this illustration I humbly ask, did not, in the New York Conference, and perhaps in other conferences, A Peter make room for an Andrew, and a congenial and active John make room for a Thomas? These are facts found on


the surface. It has repeatedly been said that the Sunday School Superintendent ought to be the best man in the congregation, and therefore, according to my conception, the Presiding Elder ought to be the most consecrated, talented, qualified with executive ability and unction-filled minister in the conference. If you want such men, why not elect them? The answer is, because such men do not receive sufficent votes. No one has a better opportunity to practice politics than a Presiding Elder, if he chooses so to do in his district. He can ascertain the pulse of his brethren at least four times a year. The politican takes things pertaining to his and his party's interest a year in advance, putting forth all the efforts he possibly can to gain his point. This ought not to be in the ministry! Years ago we members were asked to take such vital affairs to God in earnest prayer, seeking his guidance.

This gnawing evil existing for a number of years in our conference, members and ministers, not endorsing such procedure, long to see this cancerous evil removed. Who can blame young ministers and others obeying the advice given by Horace Greely [sic], "Young man, go West." Is it not a deplorable fact that some reared in our


conference and financially aided to gain a good school education, have turned their backs to their Mother Conference (of course one does not hold the professors of our institutions of learning responsible for such acts.) However, where such an evil exists, the conference is indeed a good fishing-pond for other energetic Presiding Elders, and for others likewise, and therefore not unexpected nor surprising, that ten or eleven successful men that could not endure such administration (this is a bitter pill) have found refuge elsewhere.

Dear Brother Chairman! If we look about us we behold in other conferences, east and west, men of God, popular among the people, and successful, that were once in our conference.

Furthermore, I desire to allude to the consequences where such a government exists. Is it not a fact that the blessed function of the Presiding Elder office has had its day, and the powerful quarterly meeting of the past years, in part, have ceased? And, is it not the remark made again and again, and by some of whom least expected: "The Presiding Elder office has had its day?" "Of not much use?" "A waste of money and of time?" etc.


In cities where there are from four to six of our congregation, and some of them small congregations, the Presiding Elder spends about twenty-four Sabbaths annually. Is this not a strong argument for lay-representation? But the question is raised: "Will lay-representation aid in any way the stationing committee?" My answer is: "No, not as long as the present management exists. If the highest authority in our church, in their wisdom and good judgment, will do their best and utmost to counteract the evil mentioned, then my answer is, yes!"

Herewith thank this honorable body, the General Conference, for opening the way for lay-representation. It is at least a beginning that laity can be heard and voiced. If introduced into the annual conferences, the lay-representation would be a help in sharing the exclusive responsibility of the stationing committee somewhat, in devising plans what to do with such ministers that are not wanted, and in raising the salary of the preachers. However, we will comfort ourselves with the remark of a high-standing official in our church, saying: "We will see how the twenty-five lay-delegates


"conduct themselves on the General Conference floor. If they are able to say any more than yes and no, then we will be able to judge if a more equal lay-representation is desirable and feasible."

In conclusion let me use an illustration. If an experienced physician prescribes to a very sick man a tablespoon of medicine three times a day, but for some reason or other only a drop of medicine is given him in a glass of water three times daily, the recovery of the sick would certainly be very slow, if any. This is the present situation of the lay-representation.

Thanking you heartily for the forebearance shown me, in listening to this my paper.

Very respectfully your obedient servant,

                                                C. BOLLER

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73. An Incomplete Overview of my Part in the Lord's Work

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On May 3, 1910 I sat quite alone in my sanctum and thought how little I had accomplished. Indeed, had I been truer with my resources I would have achieved different results. I found myself to be very small and wretched and I had to cry and say to my savior: "O, beloved Savior, forgive my coldness and laziness."


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Text provided by Lockwood Library, State University of New York at Buffalo, BX8080.B65

Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks