Ohio History Journal

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What have the churches of Ohio had to do with the war?

The answer to this question must of necessity await investiga-

tion since the source material upon which final judgments are

to be based cannot now be assembled. There is, however, evi-

dence already at hand in the collections of the Historical Com-

mission of Ohio which permits a tentative sketch of what the

churches of the state have accomplished during the first year of

the war, and it is from this incomplete record that the present

study has been drawn. The sources which have proved most

useful are the official reports, bulletins, pamphlets, and peri-

odicals published by the various religious organizations. Infor-

mation has also been gleaned from sermons and addresses,

printed announcements, and programs of church services, while

at certain doubtful points this information has been corrobor-

ated by verbal or written assurances from representative spokes-

men of the several faiths.

As a preliminary step it may be well to determine at the

outset what is meant by "the churches," and how many of these

churches there are in Ohio. The term "church organization"

as used by the Census Bureau of the United States applies to

"any organization for religious worship which has a separate

membership, whether called a church proper, congregation, meet-

ing, society," or by any other designation. According to the

preliminary census report for 1916, there were in that year over

200,000 such organizations in the United States with a total

membership of more than 42,000,000, approximately two-fifths

of the entire population of the United States. These numerous

church organizations were grouped in 201 religious denomina-

tions varying in size from a single congregation to a church

whose membership amounted to more than 15,000,000. About

thirty-seven per cent of the total church membership in the


*This article was read before the Ohio Teachers' Association,

November 15, 1918.