By Earl Fly
I understand that the Firm Foundation editorial of August 29, 1961 says that Gospel Press does not solicit funds from churches and that those who had written and spoken about it “did not know what they were talking about relative to the activities of Gospel Press.”
Inasmuch as I was one of those who talked and wrote about its activities, I publish the following to set the record straight. I have the two original letters from Gospel Press, Inc., signed by Vice-President Paul Hunton.
When the Belmont Heights church in Tampa, Florida, received a letter from Gospel Press signed by Paul Hunton, postmarked Sept. 26, 1960, asking for a contribution from the church to Gospel Press, the brethren considered it in a business meeting conducted October 3, 1960. They instructed me to write the following letter, which was read and approved in a special meeting October 5, 1960.
“Mr. Paul Hunton
Gospel Press, Inc.
3813 Hillsboro Road
Nashville 12, Tennessee
Dear brother Hunton:
“The Belmont Heights church received your letter postmarked Sept. 26, 1960, in which you request the fifth Sunday contribution in October for Gospel Press. The letter was read and discussed Monday night, October 3, in the regular business meeting of the church and the decision was made that I be authorized to write this letter to you, which was read and approved in a special called business meeting, Wednesday night, October 5.
“Some of the brethren here, Wendel Strickland, John Langford, Gerstle Slatton and others, remembered favorably your preaching in this area, and an interest was expressed to hear what you might have to say further about some questions regarding Gospel Press.
“The brethren here have always rejected and opposed church contributions to the Missionary Society to enable it to preach the gospel on the grounds that there is no Bible authority for it, that the church is sufficient to preach the gospel without contributing to and consequently working through human organizations. We believe that Gospel Press, with its Board and Chairman, President, Vice” President, is an exact parallel with this missionary society of yesteryear, which alienated brethren, divided churches, and resulted in a new denomination being born, namely, the Christian Church. For this reason the decision was made not to support Gospel Press in any way.
“We understand that Gospel Press publicly stated in its beginning that it would not solicit or accept church contributions. The brethren are interested to know the grounds for the change. It is also requested that you give Bible authority for church contributions to Gospel Press.
“The brethren here sincerely request your reply to these matters, which will be read to the brethren for consideration in a called business meeting.
BELMONT HEIGHTS CHURCH OF CHRIST, By Earl Fly, Evangelist.”
The following letter, dated October 18, 1960, was signed and sent by Paul Hunton, via air-mail, to the Belmont Heights Church.
“When we mailed out the letter requesting contributions from the churches we assumed that everyone had read of the revised position of the Board of Directors of the Gospel Press. Contributions are now solicited from churches if the check is specifically for the advertising, tracts to be mailed out, or answering the inquiries. We never have and we do not now solicit funds from churches for salaries or other necessary expenses involved. These expenses are paid by individual contributions. It has been stated in our gospel papers that all contributions raised east of the Mississippi will be used only for the ads, tracts and answering inquiries. I should have stated this again in my letter to you.
“I hope this answers your questions and you will encourage the church to send a sizable contribution in October.
Yours very truly,
(signed) Paul Hunton,
The reader will please notice that the second letter reaffirmed the intentions of the first to solicit contributions from churches, and I was personally asked to encourage the church to “send a sizable contribution in October.” Surely the Vice-President knew the policy of Gospel Press and the position of its board. If they have now ceased their solicitations for church contributions they owe us an explanation. What are their reasons for the newly revised position to not solicit churches, if this be their latest position when this article is published?
The indisputable facts in this article are published to keep the record straight.
Truth Magazine VI: 2, pp. 1, 24