St. Mark's United Methodist Church
Friday, May 24, 2013
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
THE FINANCIAL CAMPAIGN
Before the financial campaign is discussed, conditions in Houston and the world at the time should be considered. The country was still in the throes of the Great Depression with many citizens without work. Those who did have work received low salaries - extremely low when compared to 1989 wages. Living expenses were fortunately low also.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was in his second term as president, W. Le O’Donnell was governor of Texas, Oscar F. Holcombe was mayor of Houston, and, a world away, Adolph Hitler was German Chancellor with dictatorial powers. The Nazi terror had begun.
Houston real estate was cheap if you had the money to buy it. The Houston Chronicle of May 8, 1938, reported the sale of two River Oaks homes - one on Ella Lee for $16,300 (lot 80’ x 150’) and the other on Wickersham for $11,000 (lot 65’ x 125’).
Weingarten’s Food Store advertised corn-on-the-cob for 19 cents a dozen, iceberg lettuce two heads for 9 cents, three tall cans salmon for 25 cents, picnic hams for 16 cents per pound, and beef prime rib roast for 19 cents a pound. J.C. Penney advertised men’s white oxfords, solid leather, for $2 and Levy Bros. Department Store had ladies’ I. Miller shoes for $16.95. West University Place wanted Sunset and University opened into Houston, Kirby paved, and Buffalo Speedway opened to Lamar High School.
As strange as it may seem now, “that was the way it was in 1938!”
The planned new church and educational building, together with the land and equipment, would represent an investment of about $130,000. The church already owned the land and had cash which included the sale of the Woodland Church and the anticipated sale of the Norhill property and other assets which rounded the total to about $30,000, leaving $100,000 to be raised in free-will gifts. To raise such an amount a memorial campaign was to be undertaken to construct “The Church of Loving Memory” and “to put a dream into stone and mortar.”
Mr. A.C. Olson, a professional fundraiser from Philadelphia, was employed to manage and direct the campaign. He had recently completed two successful campaigns in Houston at the First Christian Church and Trinity Episcopal Church. Pastors at both churches gave him excellent references which led to Rev. Leifeste’s following comment: “Whatever doubt might have been in our minds concerning employing Mr. Olson was quickly dispelled by the splendid manner in which he set up the campaign and the wholesome way in which he is conducting it. We have already raised decidedly more money than could have been done without outside expert leadership. And we are happy that it is being done in a highly constructive manner.”
It was stated at the time that “all expenses have been provided for.”
The campaign to raise the $100,000 was an intensive one and was well organized. Both congregations were equitably represented in all brackets of the campaign structure. There were two campaign chairmen, one from each church with the same make-up for the organization committee, the special gifts committee, the 14 division captains, and 70 teams of five members each making a total of almost 400 dedicated workers. The following members headed up the campaign organization -
G.J. Koppel W.E.Vater
ORGANIZATION COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN
W.R. Shriner M.V. Shively
SPECIAL GIFTS COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN
John B. Williams E.H. Peterson
<<Insert image from page 99 with the following caption>>
The Campaign Directing Committee
<<Insert next image from page 91 with the following caption>>
The Campaign Division Leaders
The names of the five teams under each division leader appear in Volume I of the St. Mark’s book in the Heritage Room.
John B. Williams hosted a dinner at the Houston Club on April 27,1938, for the nearly 100 leaders “to start the ball rolling” for the campaign to raise the money for the new church.
After the union service on Sunday, May 8, 1938, at the Norhill Church a Union Fellowship Banquet was held on the following night at the nearby James Stephen Hogg Junior High School to celebrate the merger and to signal the opening of the $100,000 memorial building campaign. More than 400 worker-members attended. The afternoon Houston Chronicle on May 10, 1938, carried the article on page 101.
John T. Scott, Houston banker and prominent Methodist layperson, presided at the meeting. The evening’s speakers included Bishop A. Frank Smith, Bishop Sam R. Hay, Father James Patrick McCarthy, Ewing Werlein, Col. John Lansdale, Dr. H.M. Whaling, Rev. B.A. Watson, Rev. John W. Mills, Rev. Oscar Lindstrom, Rev. A.A. Leifeste and Rev. D.L. Landrum. no pledges were solicited at the meeting, but it was announced $10,933 in pledges had been received.
The campaign was to be intense, beginning on Monday night , May 8, 1938, and ending on Wednesday night, May 18, 1938. Subscriptions were payable over three years with the payments to be made weekly or monthly. The name of every giver as well as the name of the person memorialized was to be recorded in a bound book and suitably enshrined in the new church.
Report meetings were held every night. The Houston Chronicle gave the cause more publicity on May 15, 1938.
The campaign was scheduled to end on May 18, but by that date only slightly more than half of the amount needed had been pledged with many unreported cards still to be accounted for. The campaign was extended another three days. Remember, this was the depression era, salaries were low and times were hard. $100,000 was a lot of money!
Even with the extension there was not enough pledged to cover the estimated $100,000 cost. Rev. Landrum reported to the steering committee on June 7, 1938, that only $76,359.19 in cash and pledges was on hand.
<<Insert image from page 101 with the following caption>>
The Houston Chronicle on May 10, 1938
<<Insert image from page 102 with the following caption>>
The Houston Chronicle gave the cause more publicity on May 15, 1938.