Chickasha Indian Territory
Now, as I have not heretofore burdened you with long letters, I feel that I should write you somewhat of the work here.
First I wish to say that the work here is not what it might have been under more favorable circumstances. It never has had a pastor very long at a time. Much of the time it has had no pastor.
When I came last January I found a shell of house - outer work done, but nothing in the way of interior work; no belfry - it had been started, but that was all. I found sixty members, most of whom are women; no congregation from the outside at all. Not a young man of whom I remember attended our services. They had been nearly one year without a pastor. They had, however, kept up their Sunday-school and prayer meeting very well.
We have since that time finished the belfry; we are unable to secure a bell. We have cased the windows, put on the molding, canvassed and nicely papered the house, carpeted the rostrum, paid off two lumber debts of some $50, beside the lumber which we bought in finishing the belfry, which was a considerable amount.
We have purchased another lot, and paid one-half down. We are now trying to raise money enough to build a pastorium. I have raised $305. I think we can build it if we can get some help from outside. We want to commence it next month.
You perhaps do not understand why we have not helped the Home Mission Society more, but you can see from the expenses we have had the why. I wish to say that our church is in sympathy with H. M. S.; no dissension in any way in our church. We have also tried to help all mission objects. We have contributed to missions purely something over $50.
To my way of thinking, we are in better condition than we have ever been. We now number about eighty-five. We have lost some of our best members. My salary is paid. It is paid each Monday morning. My congregation is growing all the while. I hold my own people, and nearly all attend regularly. I am getting many who are connected with no church to attend regularly. Besides, in our town, we have many strangers who are here but for a few days. This is a great trading place. I hold many of such people. Besides, on Sunday evenings, we have members from every church in town.
Our town is steadily growing. We now number near 3,000. There is another railroad being built here from Oklahoma City, and the Rock Island is preparing to build west from here.
Many difficulties present themselves, the greater of which is indifference. We have people here from almost every State. Each brings his own peculiarities; hence there is a lack of social and common life among the people. If this country was a State - which it ought to be - so that the rising generations would feel a local pride and citizenship, this would all sooner or later vanish.
Again, another difficulty is the disposition of the people to move. Why, they cannot stay in one place long enough to boil a mess of beans. Verily, we have to preach to a procession.
Another is in our church - we have as yet no financial strength.
However, we compare favorably with the other denominations every way. We are now, perhaps, in the best condition as to debt of any church in town. I am sure, as to the Christian life of the members, we compare well. Oh, many things I could say, but I forbear.
I will state that the New England ladies treated me and family royally.
We can praise the work which the Home Mission Society is doing all over this country, as well as heartily appreciate what they are doing for us.
H. R. Best
P. S. - I forgot to mention that we have organized a church at Minco of about thirty members. I am giving them one Sunday. We have no house there. We have some lots donated if we can build. We also have a mission station at Ninnekah. Brother Anderson, who is a preacher and member of our church, takes care of it. I go down in the week once each month.
I held some protracted meetings this summer with considerable success.
A Primitive Baptism
I was compelled to stay in my room in the month of October, on account of sickness; yet by the help of God I will endeavor to make it up in this new year. To-day I witnessed one baptism; deacon had to break ice three inches thick; snow was on the ground. All Choctaw Indians.
J. P. Thompson, Missionary.
McAlester, Indian Territory
Parsonage Built - A Needy Field
I hoped to make an offering to the Home Mission Society this quarter, but as you will see from the report, we have been wholly occupied in parsonage work.
The house is completed except one coat of paint outside. I have paid out $234.25 and owe $50 for lumber, which is about covered with pledges. I hope to cancel the debt on the house within ten days. The church owes $35 at the bank for parsonage lot, etc. We hope to pay that in the spring. My whole attention has been absorbed in this building, and so have not accomplished all that I could desire, but now I can turn my attention to other things and hope for greater things the coming year. We hope to build up the church financially and spiritually next year.
A large number of Baptists have moved into town who promised to join. Pray for us, brother, that the saving power of the Holy Spirit may be felt in Miami.- Miami is rapidly becoming the center of a large population, and the responsibility that lies on us we fully realize, and are trying to lay a good foundation.
We could use a box if there is one at hand. Building and moving have left us in straitened circumstances.
Our association is very destitute. Only about three preachers are regularly at work. Vinita is pastorless. I try to reach out and help the churches and cause generally, so far as I am able.
Fraternally and cordially,
L. O. Hudson,
A Church Bell Wanted.
Muskogee Indian Territory,
December 13th, 1898.
An Indian church in the Cherokee Nation, located at Prairie Gap, has recently erected and two-thirds completed a house of worship. The membership of the church is about forty. They are poor financially, but are nobly trying to support their pastor and complete their house of worship. They need a bell for their meeting house. With $25 one can be secured that will do very well for them. This church is not aided by the Home Mission Society either in building their house of worship or in the support of their pastor. Will not some church, individual, Sunday-school or Baptist Young People's Union donate the above amount to aid this worthy church in their desire to ring out the invitation to come and hear the Gospel? Any one who would feel it a privilege to render the assistance asked can correspond with me,
Muskogee Indian Territory, I consider this a very worthy object.
Indian Territory - Muscogee.
This closes one year's faithful work on this field, and we have accepted the call and settled down for another year's work. During the year we have made some progress. The church has been nicely carpeted, the pulpit and arch behind, between that and baptistry draped and curtained, and new song books purchased, all at an expense of $300; besides, we have given $51 to Home Missions, $41 to Foreign Missions, $18 to Tirritorial Missions, $18 to local work, and $33 to the American Baptist Publication Society. Wc have fifty additions to the church, nineteen by baptism and the rest by letter; besides, the interest in the prayer-meetings and Sunday school has more than doubled. We now have an average of about thirty at the prayer-meeting. The prospect seems much brighter for another year. I preach almost every Sunday at the jail to 150 to 300 prisoners. In the afternoon and at every service we have from six to fifty-one for prayer; there have been many conversions. This work is very important.
M. O. Keller
Oklahoma Territory - Shawnee.
My intention at present is to resign my work here, at the end of next quarter. My reason is, to avoid spending another summer in a climate of so much malaria. I mean to go to Colorado, Wyoming or Montana, starting about the first of April. I will go overland, with my wife, in two-horse hack. I should not think of making a change for any other reason than the above; or, more properly speaking, I have no other reason. My work gets better every quarter. I have been laboring with the society in this Territory three years. First, I served the church at Chickasha eighteen months. I left the church united, with 55 additions to the 40 members they had when I went there. I came from there to Shawnee. Found the church here weak; membership, 33; no house. I bought a tent with my own means, and we began work for the Lord, and asked help from the Home Mission Society. They generously granted us $500 gift. With this help we have built a house worth $2,000, and only owe about $40 on house, with no one holding d mortgage, note or any claim against the house. We have received over one hundred members. The church is as nigh perfect unity as I have ever known. They love their pastor and he loves them and their interest, and we altogether bless God for what He has done for us. When I go to the Northwest, after resting up while traveling, I will be ready for work as the Lord shall open a way.
Respectfully and fraternally,
Henry B. McGee
Oklahoma Territory - Oakdale.
This quarter has been one of blessing and progress. As a result of our annual camp meeting, the Lord gave us eight who followed Him in baptism. The church was much revived.
There were almost four hundred Indians at these meetings. We have built over our church, increasing the seating capacity from sixty to two hundred. The entire cost is over $600; of this amount the Indians gave $103; the rest was given by the children of the Sunday-schools through the Ladies' Society of the West. The Indians are much pleased with the new Jesus' House, and pronounced it all very good.
Money cannot tell the cost of such improvements when you consider that we are fifty-four miles from the railroad. Lumber, paint, glass, workmen - all must come from that point. Our Indians, with my help, hauled the lumber after two weeks of talk about this new road of working without pay, even for Jesus.
The Indians have received their grass money - forty dollars per capita. They have paid their debts, bought wagons, buggies and household goods. One of my deacons has a new carpet on his floor - the first one in his life. Many have put money in the agent's hands for cattle to be bought this spring.
During our camp meeting we were purified by fire. Prairie fires swept the country, and did not pass around the mission. Burnt up the stacks of alfalfa and five tepees. Coming from baptism, your missionary ran his horses to get away from the flames. The wind was very strong, and the fire traveled five miles an hour.
The health of Miss Reeside has failed, and she has retired from the field. Our hearts are all sad because of this, and count it a great loss to the work.
The most of our Christians are growing in divine and material things, but, alas! some fall into temptation through the power of sinful associations. Holiness must fight its way even here.
H. H. Clouse
[From The Baptist Home Mission Monthly, Volumes 21-22, 1899, pp.62-65, Google On-line edition. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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