TRANS-CONTINENTAL CONVENTION TOUR
CONTINUED FROM OUR LAST
We left Vancouver, B.C., near midnight, June 22. Many of the dear friends accompanied us to the train, loading us with flowers and bidding us God-speed. The journey to Calgary, Alta., required a day and a half. It afforded beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains and the glaciers, at the same time giving the Editor and his stenographer opportunity for literary work.
Calgary, June 24.--We were warmly welcomed by the brethren here and greatly enjoyed fellowshiping with them in the afternoon. The great interest centered in the evening meeting, which had been well advertised. We were not disappointed in the results. Approximately 1,500 heard with the closest attention the story of the Love of God--His wonderful provision for His Elect Church on the Heavenly plane, and His Restitution provision for the non-elect world on the earthly plane.
While pointing out the blessings of the coming Age for the world of mankind, at the hands of the glorified Redeemer and the saintly Church, His Bride, we failed not to call special attention to the great privilege of the present time--the only opportunity that will ever be offered to any for attaining glory, honor, immortality and joint-heirship with the risen Master, as "partakers of the Divine nature." (2 Pet. 1:4.) We considered the attendance very remarkable for a week night and a religious subject. That considerable interest was developed was manifested by the fact that 270 addresses were handed in making request for literature.
Edmonton, Alta., was our next stop. It was our most northern appointment, and was our first visit to that city. Out of a total population of 55,000, the attendance at our public address included 2,000 adults; very astonishing results for a week night religious meeting. Who will say that the public has no interest in religion! More and more we are convinced that may souls are hungering because unwilling to feed upon the chaff of human speculations evolved into creeds and nonsense of the Dark Ages. The real Message of the Gospel, "good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people," has a charm, an attraction, for intelligent, thinking people. Here we had 372 addresses handed in expressing desire for further information.
We spent a pleasant time with the friends here also, and left them apparently encouraged, as we, of the Excursion party, were encouraged also by meeting them. We had another long ride to Regina, Sask. The mountain scenery was gone and, instead, we traversed vast prairies. A full day's journey afforded another good opportunity for literary work.
Regina we should have reached at 5 p.m. Our schedule at Regina was, too, a limited one. The meeting had been arranged for 8 p.m. Anxiety increased as we ascertained that the train would be an hour, and yet another, and another, late. We could not hope that an audience assembling from 7:30 to 8 o'clock would remain long under such uncertainties, especially not until 10 o'clock! We were disappointed, and wondered why the Lord had allowed matters to be so. But on arriving we were met by some of the friends who advised us that the meeting was waiting for us! Street cars and automobiles soon hurried us to the place of meeting.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Editor of the local newspaper had taken the platform in our interest; this had helped to entertain the audience during the waiting period. Already we were introduced before going on to the platform. Without preliminaries--other than a brief supplication for the Divine blessing--we proceeded with the topic announced, BEYOND THE GRAVE. Our audience numbering altogether about 800, remained to the close, 11:30 p.m., and handed in 168 requests for further information.
We considered the meeting a very remarkable manifestation of interest. The very Editor who presided explained that some time ago he had published our sermons weekly, but under certain arrangements made with him by local ministers he had discontinued them. The ministers had not been able to point out anything wrong with the sermons, but they had taken up certain slanderous misrepresentations [R5288 : page 237] regarding "Pastor Russell," and shot out at him their evil "arrows, even bitter words."--Psa. 64:3.
Brandon, Manitoba, was reached the next morning. It was not a favorable time for a public meeting, but was the only time at our disposal and the friends there had arranged for a public meeting at 10:30 a.m., Friday, June 27, in the Sherman Theater. We were surprised at so good an audience as 900, with 88 requests for further information handed in. For a small city, on a week-day and for a religious topic, was not that a wonderful attendance at a morning meeting? Thus it seems to us. Our Convention party constituted nearly 200 of the above number.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, was reached the same afternoon, and a public address was given at the new Convention Hall. The attendance was estimated at 3,000. Closest of attention was given and 314 requests for further information were handed to the ushers. On the next day we had quite an interesting little Convention at Odd Fellows Temple. These meetings were not advertised and were attended only by already interested Bible Students. The friends were very enthusiastic and appeared greatly to enjoy the addresses, not only from Brother Russell, but also from several of the Convention-Train party.
Saturday evening when we were leaving, many of the local Bible Students crowded about the Convention-Train of eleven cars, singing hymns to us and we to them, respecting the precious tie that binds our hearts in Christian love, and praying in song, "God be with you till we meet again!"
Sunday, June 29, brought us to Minneapolis for the afternoon meeting and to St. Paul, the sister city, for the night meeting. A wave of hot weather met us there and much decreased the attendance at both meetings. In the afternoon we had approximately 1,200; in the evening about 900--a phenomenal attendance for such extremely sultry weather. We were not discouraged, nor were the dear friends who had worked very earnestly and faithfully, expecting cooler weather, in which event the attendance at these meetings would have been at least 3,000; 290 requests for further information were handed to the ushers.
At midnight we left for the Madison, Wisconsin, Eight-Day Convention; a car-load of Minneapolis and St. Paul friends accompanied us. We stopped but one day at Madison, and then the Convention-Train made its next appointment at Rockford, Illinois. Here, approximately 1,000 of the public gave us the closest attention, after we had been introduced by His Honor, the Mayor. Requests for further information here handed in, numbered 74. The Convention-Train then returned to Madison, terminating thus our Trans-Continental Convention Tour.
Almost the entire party declared that Dr. L. W. Jones, the conductor and manager of the Excursion and train, deserved great credit for the way in which he handled every detail of the trip. They agreed, as with one voice, [R5289 : page 237] that the Convention Tour had been one of the greatest events of their lives--spiritual from first to last. Their association with the dear friends at different points on the way had done them good, and their endeavors put forth to refresh and encourage others had also done them good.
The Editor expressed to Dr. Jones special thanks for his many kindnesses en route--among other things, putting at his disposal for the entire journey a most comfortable compartment. This latter not only conduced to rest and refreshment as to sleeping, but the better enabled him to utilize his time in dictation during the journey. And for all this the doctor refused to receive compensation, declaring that it was a privilege to be thus permitted to serve the Lord's Cause.