The Good Friday Offering: The First Decade: 1922-1932￼
Our Good Friday Offering began in the Roaring Twenties, a time of economic prosperity with a distinctive and vigorous social, artistic, and cultural zestfulness. The western world saw a rapid increase in the growth and use of telephones, films, radio, automobiles, and electrical appliances. Cultural upheaval was the norm, with the enfranchisement of women voters in the United States, the sudden death of President Warren G. Harding, the famous Scopes Trial, in which John Scopes was arrested, tried, and convicted for teaching evolution, and Charles Lindbergh’s and Amelia Earhart’s flights across the Atlantic. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 ended the era, as the Great Depression brought years of hardship worldwide.
This was the American context when the Good Friday Offering was initiated. The Rev. William Chauncey Emhardt, field officer for church work among foreign-born Americans, visited Europe and the Middle East in 1922. His lengthy report to the National Council noted the need for increased communication between Eastern churches and the American Church, and he made a recommendation for regular financial support “for the development of missionary work along educational lines in the Near East at the request of and in cooperation with the authorities of the Native Churches.”
Emhardt’s appeals were heard; the 1923 report of the Department of Missions and Church Extension of the National Council listed the first offering of $18,000 for “work in the Near East.” The first $15,000 of this fund was given to support the Jerusalem and East Mission under the care of Bishop Macinnes of the Church of England. The balance was used to “meet the expense incurred in responding to the request of the ancient Christians in the Near East for aid in training their clergy among more modem lines.”
The amount of money raised by the Good Friday Offering continued to grow in its first five years. By 1928, the Offering amounted to almost $27,000, of which $5,000 was set aside for mission work among Jewish Americans by direction of the General Convention that year. Shortly thereafter, however, instability and poverty resulting from the Great Depression caused giving to drop precipitously, and less than $20,000 was raised in 1931.
Please join us in celebrating a century of gifts and rejoicing in 2,000 years of Good News. Give now at iam.ec/goodfridayoffering or text ‘GFO’ to 91999 (messaging and data rates apply).