General Conference Bulletin, vol. 1

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PROGRESS AND PROSPECTS OF THE CANVASSING WORK

F. L. MEAD

IT seems proper at this time to say a few words in regard to the progress and prospects of the canvassing work. This line of work has been in operation among us about twelve years, and during that time many important events have occurred which have made interesting history. GCB February 6, 1895, page 33.13

This is the fourth general convention of canvassing agents held by this denomination. The first one was held Jan. 13 to Feb. 7, 1890; and while that was the first meeting of the kind ever held among Seventh-day Adventists, some claim that it was the first of the kind ever held in the world. GCB February 6, 1895, page 34.1

Of the twenty-nine canvassing agents who attended the first Convention, only five are present at this Convention; several of those who attended the first one are now laboring in other branches of the cause. GCB February 6, 1895, page 34.2

It will be of interest to many to note some of the results which have been obtained through the canvassing work during the past eleven years. During this time the following amount of books have been sold each year:- GCB February 6, 1895, page 34.3

1884$62,409.12
1885$41,692.36
1886$76,219.52
1887$113,795.06
1888$250,000.00
1889$500,000.00
1890$734,397.00
1891$819,749.00
1892$706,650.33
1893$416,044.52
1894$310,434.35
Total$4,031,391.26
According to reports in Home Missionary.

These figures represent a large number of books placed in the homes of the people. These books have done and are still doing their heaven-appointed work. GCB February 6, 1895, page 34.4

From the above figures, some of the financial results of the canvassing work will be readily seen. First, over two millions of dollars have been received as wages by the canvassers for their faithful labors. Second, the various tract societies have received over $400,000 profit on subscription books alone, since they receive ten per cent profit on all books handled by the canvassers. Third, we have another $400,000 for the upbuilding of the publishing work, allowing that the publishing houses make equally as much as the tract societies. Fourth, it will be observed that in spite of the hard times during the past year, we have sold over $300,000 worth of books. This means that the canvassers have received over $150,000 for wages the past year, to say nothing about the amount which the tract societies and publishing houses have received for their share. GCB February 6, 1895, page 34.5

But while we may be able to calculate with mathematical exactness the amount of sales and the profits to various parties, there are other items of much interest among the results of the canvassing work, that should be carefully considered. One item to which I refer is the large number of workers now engaged in other branches of the work, who received their first experience in the work in the canvassing field. I will not claim that all of their success is due to their experience in the canvassing work, but it should receive its share of credit. GCB February 6, 1895, page 34.6

Another item to be counted among the results, which cannot be computed or expressed in figures or words, is the amount of good the books have done and will continue to do. But this will never be known by us until it shall be revealed by the books of heaven. GCB February 6, 1895, page 34.7

The gratifying results that have followed the canvassing work may be attributed to the following reasons:- GCB February 6, 1895, page 34.8

First, the special blessing of God which has attended the work all the way. Second, conducting the work in a systematic manner. third, the devoted efforts of God-fearing Christian canvassers, supported by the sympathy, prayers, and substantial encouragement of a denomination of believers, who regard this work as one of the agencies which the Lord ordained for accomplishing a specific work. GCB February 6, 1895, page 34.9

I have spoken principally of the past, and the results achieved; but what of the future? Is the canvassing work destined to continue to be an efficient factor in carrying the light of truth to the world, and training workers for other lines of work? or has it served its purpose, and outlived its usefulness? We do not so believe. GCB February 6, 1895, page 34.10

It is freely admitted that times are hard, and that there is but little prospect of any permanent change for the better. On the other hand, it will have to be admitted that we have not done in the past all we ought to have done, and that “what the church has failed to do in time of peace and prosperity, she will have to do under most discouraging, forbidding circumstances.” GCB February 6, 1895, page 34.11

No one can blame the ten spies for seeing great giants and high walls in the land of Canaan, for both the giants and walls were there in plain sight; but we do blame them that they did not see a God who was higher than the walls and more mighty than the giants. Caleb and Joshua saw the walls and the giants as plainly as any one, but they saw with the eye of faith what others did not see, - the walls thrown down and the giants conquered, because they believed the Lord would give them the victory over all obstacles. Calebs and Joshuas are wanted to-day, and through them God can do as great works as he did in days of old. GCB February 6, 1895, page 34.12