3: A lightning quick start

by Jim Goodson

icon2: A Curious Start - but it worked
icon4: A The Forward Movement
iconTable of Contents

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the spread of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew is not that it was so successful - in just seven years the Brotherhood was flourishing with more than 15,000 members in 17 countries (a zeal for mission work has always been a hallmark of the Brotherhood). This doubled the size of the turn-of-the-century Episcopal Church and resulted in an increase of more than 50 percent in the number of churches and missions - but the speed in which it grew. How did the Brotherhood grow so quickly in an era with little - if any - mass communications? Two months after the initial chapter at St. James' Cathedral, another Chicago chapter was formed at Grace Episcopal Church with 14 members. Then Philadelphia jumped into the fray, forming chapters at the Church of the Incarnation and the Church of the Holy Comforter on Nov. 30 - St. Andrew's Day.

These first four chapters took a year to be organized, but the organization was developing a style for growth that would soon quickly pay off. The rector of Grace Church (the second chapter formed) proved to be an important early supporter of the Brotherhood. After only one year, he wrote in the St. Andrew's Cross that the Brotherhood has been very effectual in deepening the religious life of the young men communicants, in inciting them to a greater earnestness in work for the Church, in interesting strangers and associating themselves with the parish, in bringing young men to Baptism and Confirmation and in assisting me in every good work.

"I thank God for raising up this instrument for good."

It was oh, so simple.

The disciple Andrew was not a learned man. He never felt it was his duty to prove Jesus was the Messiah. He simply believed it with all his heart. To Andrew, the work of the disciples was to make Christ known. To layman Houghteling and his brave men from the mean streets of Chicago - these men who called themselves Brothers - had a simple enough task: bring men to church. Let the theologians and trained clergymen introduce the men to Christ.

And so the Brotherhood became successful because its method was so very simple. Once this exercise crystallized into action, Brothers seeking to make a living in the large, often frightening cities of the turn-of-the-century United States, learned to live nearer to Christ, emboldening themselves and becoming happier in the process.

Chapter number five at the Church of the Epiphany in Chicago utilized printed cards of invitation and reserved seating in the pews. The initial edition of the St. Andrew's Cross reported, "a large increase in the number of young men connected with the parish, among whom a social club has been formed."

Word was beginning to spread about this new men's group that could double Sunday attendance. Rectors realized that the Brotherhood could help the church accomplish many projects that had been postponed, delayed or downright forgotten about due to the lack of a solid, committed group of churchmen.

"Gratifying results" were reported by chapter number six at Trinity Church in Newark, New Jersey and St. Paul's Episcopal Church in East Saginaw, Michigan informed the St. Andrew's Cross editor that "many young men (were) brought back who had wandered away, and many strangers (were) brought in. A parish paper has been published and we help the rector in all parish work." Chapters were soon formed in Augusta, Maine; Detroit (three) ; Cleveland; Philadelphia (three); Rockford, Illinois; Mount Holly, New Jersey; New Haven, Connecticut; Chicago (three more); Indianapolis; Irving Park, Illinois and Minneapolis. The first chapter in Philadelphia owes its start to the earnest effort of a member of the original chapter who, being a mechanic and out of work, arrived in that city on foot. He was neither rich, handsome nor eloquent, but he feared God, loved the Brotherhood and meant business from the start. When he had persuaded them to start, he went to work with his own hands and frescoed and decorated the rooms for the use of the Brotherhood. good."

These first 20 chapters were formed in less than three years. James L. Houghteling - the Sunday School teacher who was instrumental in forming the first chapter - had a hand in forming chapter number 27 at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Chicago. He was asked, "What is the secret of success in this work?"

Houghteling's answer reflected the simplicity woven into the organization's by-laws. "The power of God in the hands of praying, working Christian men," the Brotherhood's founder said.

People visiting Episcopal churches began to witness a different kind of Anglican Church. In 1885 the Brotherhood - only two years old - unveiled what Brothers called their Lay Mission Program. It was an evangelistic outreach into the small communities around the East Coast and Midwestern cities that were the Brotherhood's bread-and-butter. The technique was to seek out those not connected to any Christian church, to knock on doors and invite people to "come and see" an Episcopal worship service. What they ever-increasingly saw was a men-led church led by Brotherhood members who served as lay readers and who conducted Morning Prayer and Evensong. Brothers also taught church schools and led Bible study classes for adults.

This revolution occurred during a time of a severe shortage of clergy. Many Brothers helped out in mission churches and hundreds of Brothers entered seminaries to be ordained and serve our Lord full time.

The Brotherhood engendered tremendous respect right from the start. In 1886, 85 delegates signed up to attend the first National Convention of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew on Saturday, Oct. 23 - the same day as a meeting of the House of Bishops, although few noticed it at the time. So when the momentous event occurred - the House of Bishops meeting that is, word quickly spread that an army of highly-sought disciples known as Brothers were patiently waiting outside the gates of the Chicago Cathedral for their first national meeting, the House of Bishops graciously deferred their debate on the canons and resolutions occupying the church of the late 19th Century to turn the St. James' facilities over to the these bands of Brothers, whose main thrust was how to bring more people - especially men and boys - to the Lord. In 1886 the Episcopal Church adopted the Brotherhood's Lay Mission Program as its official Lay Reader Program. The missionary zeal of the Brotherhood began to spread throughout the colonies and former colonies of the former British Empire. Episcopal and Anglican churches in the USA, England, Scotland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, the West Indies, South Africa, China and Japan began to see chapters of this dynamic Brotherhood of St. Andrew.

The Cadets of St. Andrew

Back in the United States, Brothers were preparing to attend their third annual convention, to be held in New York City. With nearly 200 chapters, the Brotherhood could rightly claim to be one of the most important ministries in the Anglican Communion. But given its charter, Brothers knew there was still much to be done. It was time to get serious about youth.

During the New York convention of 1888 a special conference dealt with "the training of boys for the Brotherhood." Over the next several years, Brothers tried many different ways to bring Jesus to the young men of America. At Cleveland's 1889 convention the beginning of a junior Brotherhood was first discussed. Built upon the footprint of the original Brotherhood, the junior version was to "promote purity, temperance, general morality and a strong sense of duty in serving as faithful soldiers and servants of Christ."

They were to take up the name the Cadets of St. Andrew.

Six chapters of Cadets were formed, the first being at Christ Episcopal Church in Watertown, Connecticut in 1889 with 20 members.

Within two years 22 active chapters containing more than 300 Cadets had been formed. Yet continuing a trend that continues today, the nature of working with youth became a somewhat contentious subject. Should a man be required to become a Cadet before joining the Brotherhood? Is the Cadet model the only model chapters should use within their parishes? Should there be any definite "scheme" or method of work devised at the national level, or should churches and chapters simply define what works best in their own locales? Before long, these would be moot points.

There is an old saying that, "There are no atheists in foxholes." In just a few more years, the world would be lined with foxholes, and the Brotherhood of St. Andrew would have a lot to do.

The Brotherhood and Scouting

In addition to the Cadets of St. Andrew, the Brotherhood has influenced millions of young men through its support of the Boy Scouts of America, which has been almost an adjunct organization. Both are dedicated to bringing youth to know God. Both were chartered by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Teddy Roosevelt.

The Brotherhood was incorporated as a result of House Bill H.R. 16757 signed by President Roosevelt on May 30, 1908.

The Boy Scouts of America were founded by Robert Baden-Powell, the son of an Anglican priest, in 1910. By 1985 more than 75 million young American boys had taken part in BSA activities. The Brotherhood regularly supplies the Boy Scouts with Bibles for each Scout. Scouting meetings have been held at Episcopal Churches for decades; in 1985 1,305 Scouting units were housed in Episcopal Churches.

However, it is believed that number is considerably less these days since the 73rd General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed a resolution in Denver requiring all Scouting organizations utilizing Episcopal churches to support gay, lesbian and transgendered Scouts and Scouting leaders - something the Boy Scouts of America has declined to do.

Although no one knows how many Boy Scout units have found other places to meet, the number is expected to be significant.

This sad state of affairs hasn't deterred the Brotherhood from its unwavering support of the Boy Scouts of America. Through its evangelization committee the Brotherhood continues to supplies Bibles to Scouts and many if not most Brotherhood chapters make regular contributions to the Scouts. Many Brothers are Scoutmasters, too.

No atheists in foxholes

Earlier, we referred to an ancient truth - that there are no atheists in foxholes.

A review of Brotherhood statistics proves this old adage to be true: membership in the Brotherhood reached its largest level during World War I and recorded similar spikes during World War II and the Korean Conflict. Even today there are still many chapters in South Korea.

During World War I the Brotherhood stepped in to fill a much-needed void. The original plan called for the YMCA to handle all Christian lay ministries during what was called The Great War. To the Brotherhood, it was obvious at once that the YMCA approach was to encourage men to write home regularly and to provide a place to play cards and shoot pool.

The Brotherhood saw things differently. Its goal was to bring men to Christ and to serve their Godly needs. Just before the Good Friday which marked America's entrance into the war, two Brotherhood leaders from Philadelphia - Benjamin Finney and G. Frank Shelby - entered into a long discussion about the opportunities to serve God the Great War would provide. Within days, they had contacted the Brotherhood's National Council and its President E.H. Bonsall, outlining a mammoth project to put every single serviceman into contact with the Brotherhood of St. Andrew.

The next step was for President Bonsai to contact Presiding Bishop Daniel Tuttle. An editorial in The Churchman, written at the time, gives an early perspective of the work which was to grow into the Army and Navy Department of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew:

"The Brotherhood of St. Andrew has not been slow to recognize and respond to the exceptional opportunities presented by war conditions. Hundreds of Brotherhood men and large numbers of other churchmen are gathering in military camps. By their side are thousands of young men who will need, now as never before, and will more cordially welcome, all the steadying influences which the Christian religion can supply."

"The Brotherhood's twofold vow of prayer and service is of special appropriateness and special urgency under these conditions and the Church may well be gratified that definite measures are to be taken to marshal the resources of this excellent organization for the duty thus presented."

"There seems to be no one agency in the Church whose particular business it is to represent the Church in this war work. The Brotherhood is exceptionally well-fitted to undertake it and it ought to be given the right of way. The Brotherhood has before it the opportunity of a lifetime. If it can measure up to the needs of the great task before it - and we believe it can - the Church will be behind it with the needed measure of sympathy and financial support."

For 33 years the Brotherhood of St. Andrew had been preparing for just such a mammoth effort. It was estimated that there were at least 150,000 active communicants supported by 96 chaplains funded by the government and not under the control of the Church.

The backbone of the plan were the Brotherhood secretaries, who were trained to follow the model of Christ - to seek out the little group of the faithful and set them to work. Four secretaries were assigned to each of the major Army and Navy bases. Some 967 groups were formed. These were Christians from all denominations, a condition insisted upon by the Brotherhood's National Council despite considerable resistance from many of the clergy.

Working out of Church House at the intersection of Twelfth and Walnut streets in Philadelphia, courtesy of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, a staff of stenographers and clerks tracked the comings and goings of the officers, soldiers and sailors of the Army and Navy. In response to letters written to bishops, clergy, Brotherhood chapters, and chaplains from the Army and Navy, Red Cross, YMCA and rectors from churches, thousands of names were received.

The Brotherhood's efficiency was quickly demonstrated when a request for the names of all chaplains in all branches of the services - and where and who they were serving - could only be supplied by the Brotherhood, which produced the list almost instantly.

This massive card catalogue project became known as The Great Honor Roll of The Church. Once Brotherhood secretaries began making rounds at the camps, they found the Army and Navy full of earnest, Christian servicemen with the same desire and willingness to witness for the Master and spread His kingdom they had demonstrated in civilian life. The obvious plan was to seek out these men and muster them for constructive Christian service among their comrades.

So the question is: How well did all this work? Did the Brotherhood succeed in bringing men to Christ during World War I? We turn to statistics.

Cold statistics can be deceiving. There is no way to measure the effects of holding someone's hand as he waits for a medic; of getting letters from parishioners back home; of having someone to talk to and pray with on long, cold nights - and of learning that eternal life is possible through Jesus Christ.

Statistics were kept, however, on the number of men who were baptized and confirmed during The Great War. A total of 679 soldiers asked to be baptized and 1,247 asked to be confirmed. Brothers brought 326 of the men to be baptized (48 percent of the total) and 787 to be confirmed (63 percent), which demonstrates the effectiveness of the Brotherhood secretaries assigned to the Army and Navy camps and bases.

In other words, at least half - and probably more - of the men who met Jesus during World War I did so because of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. Additionally, 174 soldiers said they wanted to present themselves as candidates for Holy Orders.

The work of the Brotherhood was never more important. Brave Brotherhood secretaries carried out their work in barracks, mess halls, hospitals and debarkation centers, where the day and night ministrations were particularly inspiring. While the in the-field secretaries were ministering to the in-the field soldiers, the Central Office, after receiving reports from the secretaries, was sending out letters to the soldiers plus their families, letting everyone know the Brotherhood of St. Andrew was ministering to their sons and dads. Plus, each soldier received a copy of the current edition of the St. Andrew's Cross. In all, 102,915 copies of the St. Andrew's Cross were distributed in this way.

The Central Office vowed to fulfill any request made of the Brotherhood by any soldier. And with the cooperation of many agencies, including the Church Periodical Club, the Red Cross and many individual donors, all requests - 450 in all, were filled. They included everything from seeking someone to act as "Father" in a school play to a request for a book on The Art of Velasquez.

At its peak, the Brotherhood employed 78 stenographers, secretaries and clerks, who kept up with every soldier being ministered to. This Great Honor Roll of the Church, would prove to be invaluable to the Brotherhood in the years to come. It would also be invaluable to the soldiers themselves, who often needed help adjusting to "normal life" after participating in the bloody, mechanized Great War.

When the Armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918, the attitude of all the men in the service immediately changed. They had been preparing for frightful warfare and probable death. Suddenly, the prospect of returning to home, hearth and their previous life was real.

The men were returning home very rapidly and faced a variety of problems in readjustment which could not be solved by big parades, streets decorated with bunting, speeches and large social functions. Many clergymen recognized this problem and urged the Church to do something about it. The bishops of the Church agreed, issuing a statement that the war work would not be finished "until our soldiers and sailors are safe again in their homes."

The bishops designed a program of work called The Parish Plan. Noting the success of the Brotherhood of St. Andrews, and especially the importance of the Brotherhood secretaries, who had been living with the men in their camps for two years, the bishops offered the Brotherhood the opportunity to operate and oversee The Parish Plan. Seizing the day, the Brotherhood jumped at the chance.

Brotherhood secretaries were quickly withdrawn from the camps, given one week to get their affairs in order and then sent back into the field - this time the parishes and churches of the Episcopal Church (some secretaries were sent to the Churches of Christ, whose federal council had been early and unwavering supporters of the Brotherhood plan. The American Red Cross was also an enthusiastic supporter of The Parish Plan).

The fast-moving Brotherhood secretaries held 1,165 meetings with church laymen from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border. They talked with rectors and lay leaders about the best way to integrate the servicemen back into civilian life. Because of the nature of World War I, the secretaries didn't realize at the time how important this would prove to be and how ahead of the times they were.

World War I was a modern war fought with ancient battle plans. New, terrifying killing inventions such as the machine gun, tanks, flamethrowers and germ and chemical warfare were deployed along the front lines, which were proving obsolete and outmatched against the new machinery. Long, hand-dug trenches were built throughout Europe, just as they had been in the Civil War. Soldiers felt hopeless - their mud bunkers were no match against bombs dropped from high altitudes.

It didn't take long for people to realize that the serviceman they said goodbye to at the start of the war was psychologically different upon his return. Many were said to be "shell-shocked," a condition heretofore unknown; today we call it "post traumatic stress disorder." The pronounced difference in the mental state of many of the returning soldiers brought about the term "the Lost Generation," referring to the veterans of World War I.

Meanwhile, the Central Office was following the men as they were being demobilized by watching the reports of the movements of military units. Aletter of welcome was sent to each returning serviceman and the rector of their home church was notified. In all, 729 churches out of the 1,165 that existed during World War I organized church welcoming committees, thanks to the work of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew.

The Brotherhood's prescience in determining that the returnees would need more than a parade is truly the work of the Lord.

Turning to youth

Perhaps it was because so many young men died during the Great War.

Maybe the Great Depression's devastating impact on American families made Brothers more aware of the needs of young people. The Brotherhood of St. Andrew, which performed so admirably in ministering to servicemen during World War, turned its attention toward youth during the 1920s and 1930s. In addition to helping grow its "brother" organization the Boy Scouts of America, the Brotherhood itself operated 14 camps nationwide, where it introduced young people to leadership training and many other skills young men would need to create a world devoted to God and void of Great Wars and Great Depressions.

These camps were:

Camp Bonsell, Kelton, Pennsylvania
Camp Houghteling, Muskegon, Michigan
Camp Woodcock, Louisville, Kentucky
Camp Cayuga, Seneca Falls, New York
Camp Perry, Avon Park, Florida
Camp Mitchell, Arizona
Camp Houston, Goldbar, Washington
Camp Sumner, Gearhart, Oregon
Camp Stevens, Camp Radford, California
Camp Nichols, Bolinas Bay, California
Camp Chickagami, Alpena, Michigan
Camp Frisbie, Waterford, Michigan
Camp St. Edmund's, Glendale, Ohio

To go back to the thinking of that era, one must try as best as one can to ignore the still-to-happen rise of Nazism and World War II. In the 1920s and 1930s it was not considered naïve to long for pacification. It wasn't really radical to dream of a world without war. In fact, it was the predominant line of thinking, the reason President Woodrow Wilson supported the League of Nations and, if you can imagine, the reason the Brotherhood of St. Andrew operated youth camps, mostly in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest.

Listen to Brother and Bishop Paul Jones, writing in the April, 1932 edition of the St. Andrew's Cross:

Who'll save the world from war? By Bishop and Brother Paul Jones Old men make wars; young men fight them; but who is going to rid the world of this scourge? The fact that the young have usually been misled by the slogans and propaganda of the old is discouraging, but it leaves ground for hoping that some day they may think for themselves and rise to meet the world's need.

In spite of the fact that most people would like to get rid of war, it persists because it is deeply embedded in our habits of thought and action, and everyone knows how hard it is to change a habit. Nations have fought from time immemorial and our histories are the story of war. People in every country are trained to think in terms of nationalism - their own country ahead of every other people. Add to that the fact of imperialism, that the great nations are organized economically to try and secure each for itself the raw materials and markets of the world, and you have the setting in which wars are made. Neither reason nor wishes are very powerful in the face of established habits.

Nor is the outlook encouraging when one considers possible leaders for the struggle against war. The diplomats cannot be counted to do much about it, for the nature of their profession requires them to put their own country first in negotiations. The politicians will not do much, for they are not likely to go beyond what they believe to be the demands of their constituents, and the majority has not yet come out strongly against war.

As Mr. Hoover put it last October when a delegation of women presented to him a petition asking for steps toward disarmament: "I am grateful for your effort to mobilize public opinion. No head of a government can go beyond the support that can be gained in a world where democracy rules."

Industrial leaders and businessmen are even less to be counted upon, for since business is run for profit and there is always a chance for a business boom in connection with a war which someone else has to fight, they are apt to be lukewarm in their opposition to it. The labor group has most to lose from a war, for it supplies a large part of the armies, but it is so poorly organized in this country at least, due to the uphill fight it has had to secure decent conditions of work that it can raise only a weak protest against the war system.

The churches are beginning to become active in the matter, but as yet the strong feeling is mostly among the clergy. In a questionnaire sent to 53,000 ministers of the leading denominations last spring, replies were received from 19,372 and of those 54 percent said that it was their present purpose not to sanction any future war or participate as armed combatants, but it is doubtful whether the general membership of the churches is prepared to go that far.

Is then, the situation hopeless? Must the world move helplessly on to another catastrophic war which may not only pull civilization down in ruins but even destroy the spiritual foundations on which it has been erected? Not if there are still men of vision and courage in the world who see more in life than a personal striving for prestige and power and are willing to challenge the old ways and habits which have held the world in bondage. Esme Wingfield Stratford in his recent masterly book They That Take the Sword has said that "nothing less will suffice than a spiritual revolution" and that "no one is fit to be its pioneer who is not inspired by an unquestioning faith in the supremacy of love over hatred, and of reason over force."

The only ones who can do that and thus save the world from war are those who have committed themselves to a fundamentally religious view of life, and who at the same time are young enough not to have been caught already in the dubious entanglements of our pagan civilization. Such men, freeing themselves from the tentacles of tradition, of nationalism and imperialism, can become the pioneers of a living kingdom of God, and the world will be their debtor.

Jim Goodson is editor of St. Andrew's Cross.

icon2: A Curious Start - but it worked
icon4: A The Forward Movement
iconTable of Contents icon

St. James' Episcopal Cathedral

St. James' Episcopal Church in 1871, site of the founding of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew.

James Houghteling

James L. Houghteling (1855-1910), whose 13 member adult men's Sunday School class, at St. James' Episcopal Church in downtown Chicago, founded the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. more...

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An Act for the Incorporation of The Brotherhood of St. Andrew was passed and signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt on May 30th, 1908.