Our Book Concern
Christian Recorder: September 22, 1866
Mr. Editor: The General Book Committee has had a standing notice in the Christian Recorder for over two months, calling upon the ministers of the A.M.E. Church to support the Book Concern. I have read this notice with shame and regret. It is also….notice that several of our ministers are indebted to the Concern, and that the program is thereby retarded and its operation paralyzed. So far as that feature of the question is concerned, I am not prepared to speak, --but I wish to tell the Committee that they should either remove that standing impeachment upon our ministry, or else make the Book Concern a real Invitation, and not something imaginary. If I may dare to speak the truth, we have no Book Concern, --only the name, and a very bad name at that. Our ministers are everywhere complaining that it is impossible to get Hymn Books and Disciplines to supply their churches, --and I, for one, have written and begged for books, month after month, until I am ashamed to own that the A.M.E. Church pretends to publish books at all. And on my arrival here, what do I find? Four Disciplines and fifty-five Hymn Books! Besides, I am at a loss to understand the Committee in any respect. Every year the General Book Steward gives to the Conference glowing reports of his grand success and future prospectiveness, which is endorsed by the Book Committee, of course, --and right upon the back of that, the indebters are all arraigned before the world for neglecting the Book Concern! What manner of stuff is all this?
I have no hesitation in saying if this Committee will only give us books, and reduce the ordering price, which they can easily do…..enough of our ministers at least will make sales and remittances sufficient to counterbalance whatever delinquencies may steal a few of our lazy and neglectful ministers.
I make those statements from no motives of personal prejudice whatever. I cherish the most profound regard for our General Book Steward. But I think the course of action pursued deserves the censure of every minister in the Connexion. And as one who neither wants nor expects anything more than he has, beyond living by his merits or dying by his faults, I dare to speak my honest convictions, regardless of likes or dislikes. I go not behind the bush to express my opinion on any matter. “If this is treason, make the most of it.”
Henry McNeal Turner