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PRESBYTERIAN ASSEMBLY

Fifth Day.—Monday. The General Assembly sat in First Church at 7 p.m., the Rev. A Grant (Moderator) presiding. Between 400 and 500 persons were present. —Sabbath Schools' Examination. — The principal clauses of tho report of this committee were as follow : —The work done in our Sabbath schools is, generally speaking, of a satisfactory nature. In the middle division, for example, 669 entered, and of tho number 604 were placed as follows : 275 got 70 per cent., and over 339 ranged from 40 per cent, to 69 per cent. Tho essay subject, ‘ David Livingstone,’ proved attractive to tho scholars, although not so popular as a Scripture character. The total number who sent in essays was 681. Christchurch Presbytery loads with 96, Auckland 89, Dunedin 72, Hawke’s Bay 54. Southland 55, Wellington 50, Timaru 39, Oaraaru 34, Waikato 24, Wanganui 23, Taranaki 13, Clutha 13, Dunstan 7, Westland 6, Nelson 4, Mataura 5, and Wairarapa 1. Rev. J. J. Caimey, in moving tho adoption of the report, referred in complimentary terms to the work done by the competitors in the Sunday school examinations during tho past year. Those engaged in teaching had given very groat attention to Sunday school work. Rev. James Clark (Wyndham) seconded the adoption of the report. Rev. A. Miller (Auckland) moved as an amendment—" That the ago-grading for the Sunday school examination bo the same as last year, and that the work prescribed from the catechism be on the principle laid down by the Assembly of 1912, and followed by the Assembly of 1913, this work to be taken from the second part of tho catechism.” The mover said that in 1912 the Assembly laid clown a scheme which was adhered to in the 1913 examinations. This had the effect of bringing about an increase of 80 candidates in Scripture and 270 in catechism. One would have thought that this would have been considered satisfactory, but for some reason which he could not explain tho scheme as laid down in 1912 was abandoned. Mr W. A. Patterson (Wellington) seconded the amendment. Rev. R. M. Ryburn (Invercargill) said tho progressive stages by which the catechism was taken in the various grades, as provided for in the past year’s examinations, was an advantage which Mr Miller’s scheme did not possess. Ho did not claim, however, that the committee s scheme was perfect. Rev. 11, H. Barton said he was familiar with the history of this movement. It would bo most ungracious to throw out the scheme at the present stage. Ho hoped tho Assembly would hesitate before accepting tho amendment. The amendment was lost by an overwhelming maiority. Mr W. S. Fitgcrald then moved a further amendment—“ That the Sunday School Examination Committee be not continued, and that the examinations be conducted by tie Youths’ Committee; and that, with the exception of the essays, the examinations be conducted on the lines of last year.”

The mover said tho Sunday School Examinations Commit toe had no power, except in making awards, whereas the Youths’ Committee had. There was a tendency to increase organisations, and the Assembly should set their faces against that. He preferred the syllabus as outlined by Air Cairney. Both amendments were lost and tho deliverance as moved by the convener was adonted.

The Moderator then handed over tho prizes. The banner for schools with an attendance of over 60 went to St. David’s (Auckland): the banner for schools under 50 to Lanriston (South Canterbury); tho gold modal to Nan Robb, St. David's, .Auckland; and the silver medals ns follows; Primary, Marv Alackcnzie, Nelson; junior, Jessie Ross, Forest Hill; senior 1., Alison Burns, St. Paul’s. Christchurch; senior IT., John Connal Robb, St. David’s, Auckland. —A Visitor from England.—

Tho Assembly then listened to an address by the Rev. J. R. Fleming, representative of the Presbyterians of England. Mr Fleming is a bachelor of divinity, tho minister of the Newcastle Church, and tho author of ‘The Burning Bush.’ He conveyed the greetings of his church : ha called attention to many points of likeness in regard to custom and purpose as between his church and the New Zealand Church, and he outlined the work and policy of tho body which ho represented, mentioning that a* church house was about completed at Oxford and that missions were specially looked after. Mr Fleming explained that he was spending a year in studying tho developments of Presbyterianism in various parts of tho world. Ho had already visited Canada, and hoped to look through South Africa. He felt very much at home in New Zealand, and congratulated Dunedin upon her educational institutions, which surpassed all he had been told about them. On the motion of tho Rev. A. Cameron the Assembly accorded Air Fleming a vote of thanks. —Youth of the Church.—

Tho committee presented a lengthy report from which wo glean a few ontctanding facts. The breaking of new ground in the Far North by Mr R. Blair, the Sunday school agent, should bear abundant fruit in the years to come. The Church is fortunate in having for her travelling representatives such men as Robert Blair and Frazer Barton, During the year the total receipts were £BIO, as against £906 the previous year. Fortunately the expenses were also reduced, leaving (be balance to be carried forward £172 19s Cd, or £7 more then last year's. Tho Young Men’s Bible Classes have again more than met their promised quota of £l5O. The Younc Women are still short of their £IOO, and the Sunday schools have not yet reached their guarantee of £l5O. All of these bodies contribute as much as they did last year, eo that the falling off in tho receipts for the year is owing to a reduction in the contributions from churches. Mr Frazer Barton, Bible class travelling secretary, had intimated bis intention to resign so as to complete his studios for the ministry. Tho number of schools in 1905 was 461; in 1914, 698. Scholars in 1905, 25,555; in 1914, 37,100. Teachers in 1905, 2,701; in 1914, 3,701. Contributions for missions in 1905 were £1,295; in 1914, £1,425. v

Tn the Bible class section of the report it -was stated that the young tnon’s classes had increased) their membership by 9 per cent., the young wo men’s classes by 7 per cent, and the mixed classes by over 12 per cent. Altogether there is an increase for tho year of 757 members, equal to 11.3 par cent, of tho whole, which is the larges! increase that has ever been reported in any ono year. The number of classes has increased by 22, and of the total of 395 classes returned, 270 arc affiliated to the Young Women’s and Young lien’s Unions, being an addition of 49 for the year, which is most satisfactory. It is not so pleasing to note the decrease, of 155 in the number of young people who have joined the Church during the year. Notwithstanding this decrease, the number of Bible class members who aro communicants-—viz., 3.142—is larger than over it has beou, showing an increase for tho year of 201. Tho proportion of church members in the classes is now 40 per cent, of the whole. It is to be regretted that Christian Endeavor societies are gradually passing out of the life of the Church. During the paet year the number of societies has been reduced from 52 to 37 and the membership from 1.228 to 886—a reduction of over 2? per cent. The committee consider that, provided the Bible classes will guarantee the additional sum required, it- will be advisable to appoint two students as agents, each at a salary of £175 per annum, instead of the on© agent as at present, who has received a salary of £3OO per annum. Tho travelling expenses allowed the. agents not to exceed £SO per annum. As to Sabbath schools, for the first time for several years we aro unable to report any substantial numerical increase in any department of the work. To some extent this fact may be due to the difficulty which corresponding members experience in securing complete statistics. When, however, all allowances are made, it is a matter for regret that the record of continuous progress to which we have become

accustomed has not been, maintained during tho past year. There h:ia been a decrease of six schools, and in no fewer than four North Island Presbyteries—viz., Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, Wanganui, and Wairarapa —a decrease is reported. Th saino Presbytciies, with the addition of Westland and Matanra, also report decreases in the number of Sabbath school scholars. In junior Bible classes a decrease of 26 classes and of 296 members is reported. The number of scholars who have joined the Church direct from tho Sabbath school is ISO, as against 205 in the previous year. On the other hand, there are 42 more scholar communicants in attendance at Sabbath schools. The leading recommendations of tho committee were in this direction: Expressing appreciation of the work done by agents ana others ; cnggesling_ tho formation of a Presbyterian Sabbath Schools’ Union; recommending that each school should make a direct contribution for the support of the extension agent, that the committee inquire with a view to an Australasian scheme of graded lessons, and that as the Bible class unions had found the money the services of two students bo engaged to continue the work at present done by Mr Frazer Barton.

Air G. A. Troup (Wellington), one of tho joint conveners, explained various clauses of tho report, and said that tho past year had been peculiarly satisfactory. Rev. W. T. Todd seconded the motion for the adoption of the report. Rev. J. Aitkcn spoke about the children’s magazine, ‘ Break of Day,’ stating that in its sixth year the circulation reached 7,600. An address was given by Mr R. BlairAir Frazer Barton was to have spoken, bub the other speakers used up all tho time, and at 10.25 it was resolved to adopt the recommendations and adjourn.

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Bibliographic details

PRESBYTERIAN ASSEMBLY, Issue 15658, 24 November 1914

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1,670

PRESBYTERIAN ASSEMBLY Issue 15658, 24 November 1914

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