6: Brothers return to personal evangelism

by Jim Goodson

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Slowly, the "no atheists in foxholes effect" began to fade, as Americans found themselves astride a new world order.

It was clear that Jesus Christ was needed as never before, but as Americans saw their economy take off due to mammoth efforts to rebuild Europe and the Far East, the Brotherhood found it needed to retool its evangelical efforts. What worked in the midst of a worldwide conflagration didn't translate to a time of economic prosperity.

It meant a return to the model of evangelism first devised by Brotherhood founder James L. Houghteling and his 13 original Sunday School class members from the streets of Chicago.

Different models worked in different locales, but in each case it was a personal style of evangelism that built up the Brotherhood - Brother by Brother, parish by parish, chapter by chapter. In Alexandria, Virginia a Brother named Ward Boswell brought 210 children to the Sunday Schools of Episcopal churches. At the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Columbia, South Carolina each brother was assigned four men - their names were entered into a ledger - and they remained charged to that individual until they became Brothers themselves.

In Chicago a Brother who wished to remain anonymous interjected himself into the life of a family whose bread-winner was the Norwegian janitor in the apartment building in which the Brother lived. Despite our anonymous Brother's best efforts, the janitor father was never won over to Christ, but his son was. The young man was brought into the Sunday School, founded a Junior Brotherhood chapter and eventually became one of the leading Brothers in the parish.

H. Lawrence Choate was president of the Brotherhood.

"Every politician knows it is the man-to-man work that swings the election," Choate told Province III Brothers on Oct. 21, 1930. "Any student of psychology knows that if we wish action in any field we must normally have a private conversation so that the person sought will have an opportunity to ask questions, to express his own doubts and difficulties, in order that the person desiring to influence him may talk of his proposition in the terms of the prospect's personal needs.

"The subject is evangelism. The emphasis is on the word personal. Preaching evangelism, educational evangelism, advertising tracts, etc., are all subsidiary. "The one thing which most influences men's decisions, whether in the field or in secular fields, is the man-to-man contact. Men are influenced by great sermons, but they make their decisions in interviews with one or two consecrated men."

Expansion and contraction

The Brotherhood was growing by leaps and bounds in many parts of the world, especially in Japan, the Philippines and in Korea - where the wearily-familiar "foxhole effect" made itself known during the Korean Conflict.

And thanks to the personal brand of evangelism espoused by the Brotherhood, the organization was holding its own in the U.S., at a time when the church itself was losing members at an alarming rate (who can forget the summer of 1969 edition of Time magazine that proclaimed "God is Dead"?)

Nevertheless, membership in the Brotherhood had dropped from a high of about 40,000 to about 6,000 in the 1970s. It was clear that something needed to happen. The church needed to be invigorated from within. Jesus Christ needed to be pro claimed and introduced to a new generation of largely unchurched young people in bold, imaginative ways.

And so the Brotherhood of St. Andrew - with its long history as the evangelical arm of the Episcopal Church - retooled itself for the task.


At the Episcopal Church General Convention of 1973, a coalition of nine Anglican organizations pushed legislation through the General Convention committing the Episcopal Church to boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ through prayer, witnessing and evangelism. Brothers return to personal evangelism.

PEWSACTION sought and obtained formal promises from new Presiding Bishop John Allin to appoint representatives from these organizations to appropriate planning committees and action groups with full voice and vote.

The mere fact that these organizations felt compelled to introduce and pass these kinds of resolutions shows how far the Church had drifted from the very reason it exists. Social justice and liberal - certainly not literal - translations of the Bible were the order of the day.

This coalition was called PEWSACTION and was led by former Brotherhood of St. Andrew President Fred Gore. In addition to the Brotherhood (led at the time by President Hugh Bellas), other organizations involved were the Daughters of the King, the Conference on Religious Life, the Bible Reading Fellowship, The Episcopal Center for Evangelism, the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer, the Fellowship of Witness, the religious newspaper FISH, Fishermen, Inc. and Faith Alive (also led by former Brotherhood President Fred Gore).

Brother Bellas also served as chair of the PEWSACTION board and Brother Bob Kirschner, who would go on to serve as president of the Brotherhood, also served on the PEWSACTION Board.

PEWSACTION represented a plea for the church to return to its mission and for "putting first things first in the mission of the church in full relation to the gospel of Jesus Christ," according to its literature. The letters in the title PEWSACTION stood for Prayer, Evangelism, Worship and Study.

Faith Alive

One of the most effective PEWSACTION ministries is Faith Alive, which is still active and growing congregations today. This very significant ministry traces its creation directly to the Brotherhood, but quickly grew to serve seven mainline denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church.

The founders of Faith Alive were Brothers Andrew. Brother Gore, president of the Brotherhood from 1964 to 1970, was helped by The Rev. Sam Shoemaker in the founding of Faith Alive. Brother Shoemaker was the rector of Calvary Church in New York City and is credited with creating the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Tailored for each congregation it serves, Faith Alive provides Christians an opportunity to re-examine the promises that we made, or were made for us, at our baptism, and again when we were confirmed.

The Faith Alive Weekend is primarily a time to rethink what these promises mean to each of us, and time is taken during Sunday's services, for those who desire, to make a new commitment or a recommitment to the Lord.

Faith Alive is not a teaching ministry. There are no lectures. Members of a number of churches throughout the state, and perhaps beyond, come to churches to lead a Faith Alive Weekend. Its role is to be facilitators. They do not come to teach or preach. They may be asked to share what it has meant to them to make Jesus Christ the Lord of their lives, but mostly they are used to lead small groups.

The result is always an invigoration. Church attendance - really the only true measure of a parish's effectiveness - always increases but, even more important, lives are transformed. Families grow closer together as Jesus Christ is returned to His rightful place as the center of church and family life.

Powerful presidents, meaningful ministries

Even as the Episcopal Church struggled with dropping numbers and a series of controversies, the Brotherhood of St. Andrew found itself fortunate enough to field a series of prayerful and, ultimately, powerful presidents that produced many of the worldwide ministries the Brotherhood is known for today.

PEWSACTION and Faith Alive represent the hard work of Brothers Andrew within the U.S. These organizations and others - and the Brotherhood itself - play an important role within the Episcopal Church by sticking to their core ministries. For the Brotherhood, it is bringing men and boys to Jesus Christ.

Brave and bold ministry in Uganda The Brotherhood's best-known ministry is in Uganda, where Brothers began saving lives, providing fresh water, building homes for orphans, creating crops and farms in war-torn areas, building a chapel and chicken houses and arranging for medical supplies - in short, creating an infrastructure in the devastated town of Baale in 1980, just one year after the fall of murderous dictator Idi Amin. Baale is 80 miles north of Kampala, the capital. Brotherhood international vice-president (and former president) Bob Kirschner and current president Jerry Balcom first visited Baale in the mid 1980s - a considerable act of bravery since Amin's forced exile left the country in shambles. Baale's proximity to the capital made it a staging area for anti-government rebels.

"These rebels were really a bunch of teen-agers with guns," Balcom recalls. "You give someone that young a gun and bad things start happening." The two Brotherhood leaders witnessed the sacking of St. Andrew's Chapel in Baale. Their first project was to provide funds to rebuild the chapel, which involved replacing all the pews, which had been used for firewood.

Noting that food other organizations sent to Uganda was quickly consumed, the two Brothers employed a lay-reader with a background in farming to work full-time out of St. Andrew's to teach farming techniques to the 30 sub-parishes served by St. Andrew's parish. This was followed by container shipments of clothes, farm implements, building supplies, tires for the bishop's vehicles, a grain mill and a full size tractor.

Fresh water had always been a problem in this part of Uganda, so the Brotherhood purchased a $36,000 water tank truck, with help from the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief. However, the water tank truck was confiscated by the Ugandan government, which wanted $8,000 to release it. This figure was eventually negotiated down to $400 after the U.S. government and U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (an Episcopalian) got involved.

Soon, Brother KIrschner turned the projects over to Brothers Tom Porter and Rodney Dolan, who holds a PhD in micro-biology. Dolan works for Calgon Corp., which specializes in water treatment. Calgon gave brother Dolan leave to travel to Baale and build a sand water filtration system to provide clean water, which was desperately needed in all of Uganda.

Brother Porter's specialty is agriculture. He and his wife own a seed business in Pennsylvania and his plan was to develop truck farming in Baale. By the summer of 1990 a successful fruit tree operation was in bloom, gardens were producing higher yields, cows, goats and laying hens had been distributed to farmers, among many agricultural projects. The centerpiece of the Brotherhood's Ugandan ministry is the Archbishop Livingstone Nkoyoyo Children's Home, a combination orphanage and school supported by Brothers throughout the world. It has housed and educated children from families in crises situations since 1997. It can house some 80 children and house parents.

Like just about all African ministries, the orphanage faces on-going problems, but the current Brotherhood leadership is responding to changes in educational requirements being put in place by the Ugandan government, so that the Archbishop Nkoyoyo Children's Home can continue its vital ministry in southeastern Uganda.

Other international successes Also during the 1990s, two longtime Brothers - The Rev. Bill Brake and Brother Ken Evans - fulfilled all three goals of the International Missions Committee by building up the number of Brotherhood chapters in South Africa to 12.

Those goals are to maintain contacts with other Brotherhood chapters in Africa, to encourage and support the Brotherhood's ministry to men in other countries spiritually and financially, if possible, and to extend the Brotherhood's ministry to men wherever the Anglican and Episcopal Church exists.

The Brotherhood in the Philippines added many new chapters during the 1990s and Jamaica Brothers just celebrated their 100th anniversary.

Recently, Anglican churches in Cuba have made steps toward forming chapters of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew.

The Brotherhood of St. Andrew remains committed to its core ministry of bringing men and boys to Jesus Christ. There are 390 chapters in the United States and 31 known chapters in 12 countries. This does not count chapters in Japan, the Philippines or Eastern Europe, where chapters exist but do not report to the Central office at this time. Thirteen chapters in Uganda have been temporarily disbanded.

To paraphrase an old phrase about the British Empire, the sun never sets on the Brotherhood of St. Andrew.

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

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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.