The hearty singing of people glad to be singing together, the contagious interest of a well-filled house, and the simple directness of the preacher were all of a piece. Here was no effort to ape the forms of a cathedral, but neither was there any careless, cheap slovenliness. And assuredly there were no religious “stunts.”
Marty preached the Christian evangel, not moralized agriculture. He made the gospel invitation a social appeal, without blinking its primary message to the individual to place himself under the authority of Christ’s self-forgetting love. He put first things in front—“Him that cometh unto me,” and then with simple illustrations and words as simple he showed that they who had accepted Christ’s lordship were honor bound to live together under a new sort of law from that of the restless, pushing, self-centered world: “It shall not be so among you.” Besides, he told them they could not separate service from profit. They knew, for instance, that their farm values were a third higher because of the presence of the church and its work, but they would find that the profit motive was not big enough to keep the church going. They had to love the work, and do it for love of it.
That afternoon the friends drove over to Valencia, where at night Marty would preach again this his one sermon of the week; and J.W. left him there, turning his car homeward for the fifty-two miles to Delafield.
As they parted, J.W. gripped Marty’s hand and said: “Old man, I own up. I thought you ought not to bury yourself in the country, but I had no need to worry. I know preachers who are buried in town all right; you have a bigger field and a livelier one than they will ever find. And I’ll never say another word about your two-weeks’ school. If the Home Missions Board had nothing else to do, such work as it showed you how to do would be worth all the Board costs. I’m going to make trouble for Mr. Drury and the district superintendent and the bishop and the Board and anybody else I can get hold of, until Deep Creek gets the same sort of chance as this circuit of yours. If only they knew where to find another Martin Luther Shenk—that’s the rub!” And with a last handclasp the chums went their separate ways.
On Monday J.W. called up Pastor Drury and gave that gentleman, who was expecting it, a five-minute summary of his day with Marty. “I’m awfully glad I happened to think of going over there,” he said, “not only for the sake of being with the old boy again, but because I’ve got some new notions about the country church, and about what we Methodists are beginning to do for the places where Methodism got its start.”
And Walter Drury said, “Yes, I’m glad, too.” So he was; he could put down a new mark on the credit side of the Experiment.
“IS HE NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER?”