It makes my heart heavy to have to write you this letter, but today we are faced with the decision of calling off the building of the new Tabernacle near Gladewater, Texas, for one more year.
I have just had to call the Behlen Manufacturing Company, at Columbus, Nebraska, which is handling the entire contract for the new, larger Tabernacle.
The ministers here have gone into all the circumstances, and we have decided that the building of this new Tabernacle must be called off for one more year.
That probably is shocking news—it surely ought to be. But the hard cold FACTS are that you Brethren MUST finance this Tabernacle if we are to build it. We simply CANNOT take money from the Gospel work and divert it to the Tabernacle used only by our own members—and you Brethren have been sending in only about one-third as much in special offerings for the Tabernacle as we would have to bind ourselves to pay out every month for the next 18 months if we are to start.
We had approximately $90,000 cash in the bank in the special Building Fund for this purpose. Out of that we have paid the architect in full (his work is all completed), and spent some at Gladewater, and there is remaining in this special Building Fund $85,000. That is about one-fourth enough to pay for the new building in full. We had planned to pay $50,000 down on it at the start of actual construction, and $15,000 per month until paid out. Mr. Walter Behlen, president of the contracting company, is willing to put up the Tabernacle for us on that basis. HE IS WILLING TO DO THIS LARGELY DUE TO CONFIDENCE IN ME PERSONALLY. He has so expressed himself several times, as have other officials of his company. I have been over there about four times, and he has come to know me—but he does not know the others of the Church. Once this Tabernacle is built, with some $95,000 paid on it, and over $200,000 still unpaid, even tho I would not be legally responsible, personally, yet I am the one he would look to for his money, and therefore I am personally assuming a pretty big MORAL responsibility if I, at the direction of the Board of the Church, sign a contract for this construction.
During February the work of the Church as a whole has been running $1,000 a day behind. Mr. Mattson, our Business Manager, was putting into the Building Fund account $500 per day, even tho you members were only sending in about a third of that amount. That is one reason we were going so rapidly behind in payment of regular operating expenses.
Something had to be done. The first thing I did was to direct Mr. Mattson to stop putting the $500 a day into the Building Fund, but instead to put in exactly what is received SPECIALLY FOR THAT FUND each day.
Brethren WHAT SHALL WE DO? Some 900 of you were unable to see the speakers at the Festival last fall. Some 500 of you were unable even to get inside the present Tabernacle and had to sit outside. Next fall there will be probably 1200 to 1500 unable to even get inside the building!
IS THAT THE WAY GOD'S PEOPLE MUST HOLD GOD'S GREAT FESTIVAL? When God's people of old, in Moses' day, needed a Tabernacle, Moses sent out a proclamation asking them to send in special offerings to build it. THEY RESPONDED SO GENEROUSLY MOSES WAS FORCED TO SEND OUT A SECOND PROCLAMATION ASKING THEM TO STOP SENDING IN SO MUCH!
Brethren, WHY ARE WE NOT LIKE THAT TODAY? Are we, after all, the lukewarm "Laodicean" Church? Some few have written that they have been thrown out of jobs. That only means that the rest of us ought to sacrifice all the more to make up for it. I KNOW THAT SOME OF YOU HAVE BEEN DOING THAT. But the facts themselves tell us that MOST of you have not been doing all you could!
Here are the facts! In December you brethren sent in for this Building Fund $1,991. In January the first 16 days, $1,800. Then. after my last letter about it, amounts went up for a while, and the January total was $6,575. The February total was $6,551.13. That is less than HALF of what we must pay out every month for a year and a half.
THERE REMAINS ONE LAST POSSIBLE CHANCE! Mr. Reuter of the Behlen Company told me on the long-distance phone just now that they could hold off ten days, and still start it. THEREFORE, IF you brethren will now respond MORE GENEROUSLY, and send in PLEDGES for this Special Building Fund totalling $15,000 per month, within ten days—to reach us here not later than March 15th, we can yet go ahead and have the Tabernacle.
BUT, remember, this must be ADDITIONAL—over and above your tithes and regular offerings for the Gospel work of the Church! This must be money you would not otherwise have sent. If you merely mark part of your regular offerings for this special purpose you are taking it out of the Gospel work, and then that would have to stop. This must be EXTRA—ADDITIONAL to everything you could otherwise have sent!
I feel I should set the example. This is our situation: Mrs. Armstrong and I had hoped we might, for the first time in our lives, be able this year to start saving a little toward future needs. God says we ought to lay aside a reasonable amount for future needs—and even for our children and grandchildren. But we are perfectly willing to give that up, or postpone it, although WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING SAVED AHEAD NOW. We have nothing what- soever of our own in this world's goods except a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and enough for food to eat. WE had made a pledge as large as we thought we could afford in January, when I sent out the former letter to you. But now we are pledging, provided there is enough to go ahead with the Tabernacle, two and a half times the amount we pledged in January.
If ALL of you will follow our example and do as well proportionately, WE CAN THEN STILL BUILD THE TABERNACLE!
Now this is the CONDITION of all pledges you send in response to this letter: IF too little is pledged to proceed with the building, then you are released from your pledge. It is binding ONLY if there is enough so that we do go ahead with the building. And secondly, IF for any reason you are thrown out of work during this 18 months, or your source of income is shut off, then of course you are released from your pledge, and it is no longer binding. The pledges must be for 18 months—a year and a half from date.
Brethren, PRAY OVER THIS! The final decision must be made on March 15th, so USE AIR-MAIL—and the decision depends now on what you are ABLE, and willing, to do.
This is a great TEST for GOD'S CHURCH! May He bless and prosper you all!