REV. JOHN S. HACKETT was a well known figure in Depression-era Camden. He operated the Wiley Mission, and in that capacity ran what amounted to being one of the largest homeless shelters in South Jersey. He acquired the former post office building at Third and Arch Streets when the current one opened up at 4th and Market Streets, and converted the building for use by his mission.
This web-page contains the text of the book "JOHN S. HACKETT: Portrait of the Man and His Work", compiled by Helen K. Gledhill and privately published in 1937, which has been reproduced in great part on this web-site. For a more detailed look at Reverend Hackett's work in the City of Camden in the 1920s and 1930s, click on the companion web-page to this one "Rev. John S. Hackett", which can be found in the biographical section of this website.
The Wiley Mission continues to serve those in need in Camden and the surrounding towns, and most recently has operated in Pennsauken NJ.
Camden Courier-Post - January 2, 1928
Rev. John S. Hackett
MAKE YE FISHERS OF MEN"
On a cold December morning of 1871, there was born into this world, in the little town of Millville, New Jersey, a man-child, who would in due time take his place as a Leader of men, lending a hand freely and with compassion ·where needed.
While the mother and father were looking forward with happy expectancy to the coming of their first-born, still their meals were meager, but their love boundless, and the babe, instead of a burden, would be a crowning JOY.
On December the 16th the little visitor arrived, awl the mother, feeling overwhelmed with the divine love that had blessed them with this tiny expression of God, said to her good husband:
"Let us call him John, which in the Hebrew means 'Gift of God' and may he so grow in wisdom and godliness that many may call him blessed."
As time went on, other little ones came to be cared for and clothed, until, when still a child himself, this first-born must shoulder a goodly share of the family burden. This he did with all the courage of a full-grown man, and, perhaps, unknowingly by God's guidance, so that mercy and fortitude might be molded into his character.
Young John's schooling naturally terminated very early, and as no laws existed then to forbid child-labor, this lad became a financial help at the very early age of nine years.
Long hours and a mere pittance were the lot of the tender-boy in the glass factory; less than fifty cents a day for serving from seven in the morning until five at night was far short of the needed help at home.
During the berry season young John would increase his earnings by hustling out early in the morning to pick berries, but always on the alert lest he be late for the factory.
About this time the State of New Jersey passed a law requiring all factory children to attend night school. Then began the further education of young John. Among the teachers who helped to mold his character were Edward Casper Stokes, who later became Governor of New Jersey, and the Misses McClong and Hanna Chew.
continued in this manner until John
reached the age of twenty. Then he
felt that he had had enough of factory life, and with nothing
excepting his determination to better himself, he left Millville and
went to Philadelphia to become a barber's apprentice. After eighteen
months' apprenticeship, he returned to his native town and opened a
barber shop of his own. There for twenty years he gave close shaves to
the notables and lowly of Millville.
One priceless gift had God given John. This became evident in early childhood and increased as he grew in years. That gift was Loyalty. Among his youthful companions was a lad named Jim Ramsay. He and John were chums in the glass factory days, and continued through the barber shop days, and when, later in life, Jim found going against the tide too strenuous, it was at the Mission John again proved his loyalty and friendship, giving Jim the needed help.
It was not until John joined the Improved Order of Red Men that he really felt the "urge within" to be a Leader. While "going through the Chairs" he gave much time and thought to the charitable work of the organization, and in furthering this end it was necessary to increase the membership. The tribe to which he belonged only numbered nineteen. Though these" braves" had untold valor, still a greater number would strengthen the forces. This was really John's first attempt at leadership, and with a little headwork and originality, it was not very long until six hundred braves answered the war-whoop at the meetings. This led to a wider scope of work, and soon his activities were extended to the Great Council of the Order, in New Jersey, and he was honored with the post of Great Sachem, becoming a special representative of the Order in Chicago and Portland.
John now began to nose about in politics, and not having awakened to the soul conscientiousness of God's Divine Love, it seemed perfectly all right to run as candidate for the New Jersey Assembly on the "wet" ticket. His naturally pleasing personality and popularity polled him a large vote, but he was beaten by a Methodist preacher. The following year he ran for coroner. When the returns were first counted, Brother John thought he had won, but a few days later returns came dribbling in from Greenwich township, leaving John the loser by exactly ten votes. He took defeat philosophically, accepting the decision of the people as part of the lesson he must learn in the great school of life, to prepare him for bigger things.
Between barbering and politics, John found time for outdoor sports, organizing the Millville Cyclones. Almost at once they found themselves short of funds, but nothing daunted their leader. A Minstrel Show would be just the thing to raise the needed funds, and so a Minstrel Show it was that regaled the players in bright new uniforms. Next he managed the Millville, first team in the South Jersey Baseball League. Though time has slipped by he is still an ardent baseball fan.
It had now become more and more apparent that the boundary of the little town was too cramped. John wanted a wider field in which to work. With the same courage and determination which always urged him on, he gave up the barber business and entered the field of selling. John Hackett now represented several large firms in the South Jersey territory, selling soft drinks, hard drinks and tobacco. This varied undertaking naturally brought him in contact with all walks of life and was really the stepping stone to greater salesmanship.
For some unknown reason, just at this time of Rev. Hackett's life he showed a marked animosity toward evangelists, using every possible means to discourage their work, even going to the extent of holding meetings at Red Men's Hall to discredit this noble work.
Then one night in 1915 this liquor and tobacco salesman wandered into the Third Street Methodist Protestant Church. Mrs. Anna Wells Berry, a woman evangelist, was delivering the sermon, her subject being, "Ye Shall Be As Free As the Eagle". Without knowing it, all his life, Brother John had been walking firmly and with certain tread toward this very night. It was no chance that led him to the Church, but that inward voice which speaks to everyone, if he will but listen. And at the close of the sermon both Brother Hackett and his friend, Clarence Johnson, with many others, professed conversion and found the living God. The following night Rev. Charles Hand answered Christ's call, “Follow Me". Shortly afterward a Gospel Team was formed of which Rev. John S. Hackett and Rev. Charles Hand were members. They visited many churches in New Jersey with great success in bringing souls to Christ.
Rev. John S. Hackett had now heard the voice and answered the call, so that within three months, he became a minister of the Gospel. A Real Leader of Men.
Shortly after this he was appointed chaplain of the New Jersey prison farm at Leesburg by former Governor Walter E. Edge. By this time Brother Hackett had been ordained a Baptist Minister. Three years later Rev. Hackett was replaced at the prison farm by a Democrat, when the late Governor Edward B. Edwards was elected; but John was reinstated under Governor Harry Moore.
Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church now accepted Rev.
Hackett into its ranks as a Supply Preacher, and sent him to his first pulpit at
Dividing Creek. While ministering at the church they had an
old-fashioned Revival meeting where one hundred and sixty souls found
Christ. For nine years Rev.
Hackett was the pastor of this flock,
leading and counseling them spiritually, and helping where possible
Rev. Hackett was always careful not to allow his sympathies to overbalance his good, sound judgment, as Charlie Smith can readily vouch for. One morning, while in Millville, Rev. Hackett saw Charlie scurrying around a corner, as though endeavoring to avoid him. Rev. Hackett hastened his steps and soon overtook Charlie. Questioning him, Brother Hackett learned that he was running away from the prison farm. This needed quick and severe acting. Running away would never do. So the Pastor delivered a short, direct talk and a little persuasion, which resulted in Charlie returning to the farm to serve his time out and leave a free man. Through this straightforward talk Charlie was converted, first realizing his duty to God and secondly his duty to his fellowman, and giving thanks for so true and reliable a friend as Rev. Hackett. The loyalty of the friendship was proven conclusively when in the winter of 1935 Charlie met reverses and became a guest of the Mission.
On another occasion Brother Hackett became aware of a colored man following him. The man seemed to he a stranger, so Rev. Hackett could not conjure any good reason why he should be followed. At last the man came close enough to clasp Rev. Hackett's hand firmly in his and thank him reverently and sincerely for lending him to Christ. This man told Brother Hackett that he had been a convict, but at this time was a trustee of the largest colored Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlantic City.
At the 1927 Conference, Rev. Hackett was among the pastors to make a change, and found himself transferred from Dividing Creek to Wiley Church, Camden, New Jersey. His first congregation numbered thirtythree, but he remembered the words of his Master:
"Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I also." Knowing very well that the Divine Spirit never fails, he was neither discouraged nor down-hearted, but saw the sun breaking through the clouds of doubt, clearing his vision so that he might see a crowded church. This vision has been fulfilled over and over again.
Being transferred from the little church at Dividing Creek to the frame church known as Wiley Methodist Episcopal Church, right on the fringe of Camden's tenderloin, needed courage and faith, with a firm belief in the words of our Saviour, "Lo, I am with you always".
Into this squalor came the white-haired minister, his devoted wife, and their two devoted daughters, sent by the superintendent of the Methodist Episcopal Conference of New Jersey. They looked around in dismay and were half frightened at their new surroundings. They had been transferred from a peaceful little country church and transplanted into the very midst of the caldron of the underworld life. It was not weakness but apprehension which made one of the daughters say:
"'We can never live here, Father."
The brave little mother came forth with the one remark which made them all prepare for the battle with existing evils.
"Prepare ye the way of the Lord", quietly said the Mother.
“We will stay and prepare". They all agreed.
The real despair of a larger city confronted Mrs. Hackett one day when she saw little children foraging in a garbage pail for a bit of food to stay that gnawing hunger. This so pulled at her heartstrings that she wanted to go back to their little church at Dividing Creek, where church workers were able to give aid to the children.
Then she returned
home and told Rev. Hackett
the dreadful plight of the little children in
this poorest section of Camden, which surrounded their church, he did
not falter, but with faith in God and sheer determination, he answered
"We will soon alter that, Jennie." This was more a pledge than a reply. Just how it was to be done he did not know, but remembering the words of Scriptures, "Ask and it shall be given you," might apply to material things when real need was evident, as well as spiritual manna.
Within a week
seventy-five little children were being fed every morning in festive
style. Though the food was plain, it was nourishing, consisting
principally of corn cakes, bread, butter and cocoa.
Within a week seventy-five little children were being fed every morning in festive style. Though the food was plain, it was nourishing, consisting principally of corn cakes, bread, butter and cocoa.
"FROM THIS KERNEL GREW WILEY MISSION"
Then with more daring than ever before, Rev. Hackett decided to broadcast, both his simple services and his appeals for help, knowing that God would not forsake so just a cause.
are always among us pulling long faces and forecasting doom, but Rev.
Hackett knew that his work was God's will and as such it could not fail.
Did not Jesus feed the multitude, knowing that the body is the house of
the soul and must be cared for also?
Doubting Thomases are always among us pulling long faces and forecasting doom, but Rev. Hackett knew that his work was God's will and as such it could not fail. Did not Jesus feed the multitude, knowing that the body is the house of the soul and must be cared for also?
At times when needs
are greatest and special appeals go out on the air waves, the morning
mail brings in the answers from the unseen hearers who give so that the
good work may go on.
Surrounding himself with a small group of faithful mission workers, Rev. Hackett began his good work in 1930. Among his devout and earnest workers were a Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Rose, and their invalid son. In quest for an applicable name for the shelter for these forlorn children of God, Rev. Hackett had talked to the nose family about his new undertaking, and the name of "Wiley Haven for Homeless Men" came from young Alfred, who, being a victim of infantile paralysis, spent much of his time in silent meditation. It was during meditation and communion with God that this name was received. So the home for forgotten men and women, and neglected little children, became "Wiley Haven for Homeless Men."
Every effort was made to make the lives of the children more happy. There are few children that do not enjoy a picnic or outing of some kind, and with this thought in mind an Outing was planned at Knight's Park where the youngsters might really romp to their delight.
The children had only to be at the Church on time the Mission arranged their transportation, their play and games, and the food.
Many of these little
folks knew no other playground than the small streets and alleys of
Camden, where playing is a hazardous pastime.
With the Mission as their Guardian these unfortunate little children were given days of untold pleasure.
Miss Maryetta Hackett (now Mrs. Gilmore) took particular interest in arranging these excursions for the neighborhood children, feeling that giving healthful pleasure to children would give them happy memories.
Certainly most of
these children, without the effort of Wiley Mission, would have few
happy recollections of their childhood.
Certainly most of these children, without the effort of Wiley Mission, would have few happy recollections of their childhood.
These Outings were not confined to the nearby parks, but annual Outings were spent at the seashore. When it was decided that the Wiley M.E. Sunday School Picnic would celebrate Decoration Day of 1932 at Seaside Park, there was a general hurrah by the children. To some of these children "seashore and beach" were just so many words, meaning nothing in particular.
Among these poor families of Camden there was no money for trips to the seashore. Frequently there was no money for food, so a suggestion of seeing the ocean in all its splendid beauty made many little hearts beat faster. Playing in the clean white sand on the beach would be so different from the dirty streets.
The joy of seeing the happiness in the faces of the children and hearing their merry chatter about the trip was worth all the work and trouble that these occasions incurred. For weeks afterward Miss Hackett found references of the seashore trip creeping into the Sunday School lessons.
The way the little faces would light up at the magic word SEASHORE prompted Miss Hackett to interpret some of the Biblical stories into simple language which the children could grasp more readily, using their trip to the sea as an example.
After having seen the beating of the waves on the beach, and hearing the swish of the water at the ebb and flow of tide, it was not so difficult for the children to understand the fear that overtook the disciples, when several of them, with Jesus, had gone in a boat to be apart from the multitude, when the winds rose and the waves beat, but Jesus slept peacefully. At last a great alarm the disciples awakened Jesus, and Jesus had only to raise his hand and say "Peace Be Still" and the winds and waves obeyed.
These homely little analogies brought the fact of Christ's power more clearly to the children. Did they not see how strong the waves were, and if Jesus could quiet the ocean, how much more could He do for them?
These Sunday School lessons made more impressions on the children because they had seen how rough the ocean could be, how it would beat and beat on the beach. They had seen small boats off in the distance tossed by the swells of the ocean.
Wiley Mission felt a great responsibility where the little children were concerned, and was constantly seeking where it could relieve their suffering and give them pleasure.
Both Virginia and Maryetta felt they were the big sisters of these little folks, and as such looked after their welfare both spiritually and materially.
As the summer gave way to the cooler winds of fall, it became apparent that many of these children had no proper clothing for the coming winter. Here was a real problem, which would take time and careful preparation, if these youngsters were to be at all comfortable when the north wind came howling around the corner, and the snow came fluttering down so silently, but none the less coldly.
When one is shivering, the beauty of the snow is lost, the glistening of the frozen surface seems more like a vicious foe than sparkling diamonds in the sunshine.
And so as bleak November gave way to a cold December, these workers at the Mission had much to do. Not only were there many children that needed warm clothing, but many grown-ups were facing the winter without warm garments. Many, too, needed food with which to sustain their bodies.
As December came nearer to its close, there was the festive season to be remembered.
The annual preparation for Christmas is always a busy time at the Mission. Hundreds of toys to be collected, many in need of repair, which the Mission workers skillfully rebuild.
Every year the Mission gives away hundreds of Christmas baskets. This is no small item, when one considers that all this must be collected, arranged and then distributed. Into every basket goes only good, wholesome food, and a very generous supply.
The gratitude with which the families receive these Christmas baskets makes the work a real pleasure. No one at the Mission could enjoy their Christmas if they had not done all in their power to bring some joy into the lives of those who have so little besides trouble and despair.
The happiness of the children when they gather in the Church for the Christmas Party is beyond description. Each child receives a present and some candy. The whole place is imbued with the holiday spirit. This happiness is not only among the children, the very joy of the children spreads to all those present, and soon the workers forget that they are no longer little children.
The real satisfaction comes on Christmas Day, when men and women and children are fed at the Mission. Many of these guests have no home, no kin, and no friends, know no kindness excepting the contact with the Mission. On Christmas Day there is a TURKEY DINNER for everyone who comes to the Mission.
This is one of the festive days in the Christian Year when we commemorate the birth of Christ. Could a good Christian give thanks to God for the gift of His Son, and withhold a kindness to his fellow man.
The Mission stands ready to do so much for humanity and asks only the hearty co-operation of those interested in helping the helpless. The Mission workers have all the worry of meeting expenses and doing the work, but the happiness they spread cannot be told in mere words.
In view of this it becomes our duty to support the Mission, since individually one can do so little, but with a willing and able organization so much can be done and so many can be reached.
Their first effort was lending a helping hand to the hungry, neglected children, and these were fed in the church building. But the cries of those in distress became louder and louder.
Many of us remember the howling monster which traveled over our land and fastened its savage teeth on mankind. Banks failed, business went to pieces, and millions of unemployed walked the streets, looking for shelter. All victims of this depression.
Brother Hackett and his little band became aware of the ghastly conditions confronting humanity long before the National Government seemed to sense the enormity of the distress rampant in our country. This wave of human driftwood almost engulfed the Mission workers, but for their assurance of God's promise through his Son Jesus Christ, that, "Even a cup of cold water given in His Name, was given unto HIM," they should have given up hopelessly discouraged.
God looked upon Brother Hackett's work and found that it was good, and soon the little church was too small to meet the needs of this situation. The Mission workers undertook to house some of these helpless people in dwellings throughout the southern section of the city, but alas, these, too, became crowded, and then, as is usual, there loomed upon the horizon that very despicable element, Self Appointed Critics; these fault-finding offspring of envy and petty jealousy made a great deal of difficulty for those who were about their Master's business, and had to be met and silenced.
Then as though in
answer to their prayer, the Federal Government completed a new post
office building, leaving the old one empty and bare. Alert to the
needs of his work and the possibilities with so spacious a place as the
old government building, Brother Hackett applied for a lease. It was
granted, and so the tiny kernel which was nurtured in the obscure little
wooden church grew into a mighty oak, and was transplanted to its new
home at Third and
Arch Streets, Camden, New Jersey, spreading its
sheltering branches of charity in all directions and becoming the
greatest Mission in the New Jersey Conference.
No one knocks in vain at the doors of this Mission.
A helping hand is always stretched out as soon as discover no particular line of help, but whatever the distress is sighted. On one occasion an ex-service man staggered into the Mission, being the victim of a most peculiar accident. His need was not of food or clothing, nor was his a need of spiritual manna, but of medical advice, and what afterward turned out, surgical attention. He had eaten a tiny piece of glass at some time with food, and this glass had worked its way to his heart, causing slow, constant bleeding. His appeal was for funds to aid his family and transportation to a government hospital for himself. The money was soon raised, and he was sent to the hospital.
In another instance death came stalking in the form of a fire which destroyed the home of a family in Woodbury, and in the midst of the ruins were the bodies of two small children. The Mission buried the children and raised funds to obtain another house for the remaining family, also furnishing it.
The services rendered to humanity by the Mission cover no particular line of help, but whatever the distress the Mission endeavors to alleviate the suffering.
About the middle of February of 1931, when the thermometer was below zero, urgent appeals came from the pastor of a church at Shell Pile, an oyster village on the Delaware Bay near Port Norris, New Jersey. Located here is a settlement of about eight hundred colored men, women and children, whose income ceases when the river freezes over. With the thermometer below zero there was no work available, and soon the little community was literally starving to death. Being frugal had only stretched their limited supplies into the month of February, then the shelves became bare, and, worst of all, no means of replenishing them.
The Mission workers know neither color nor creed. They have pledged themselves to the service of God, and by that act have pledged themselves to helping the lost, strayed and needy of the flock of the Shepherd, whether this help be spiritual or material. So when the distress call came from Shell Pile, these servants of God did not quibble about racial barriers, but as true workers in their Master's vineyard, prayed for guidance and God's blessing on their work.
Rev. Johns, pastor of the Shell Pile Methodist Episcopal Church, had sent the message of the lamentable circumstances surrounding his people, and that help was most urgently needed to save them from starvation and freezing.
As all things work together for good to those that believe, it was on this same day that the Campbell Soup Company had sent the first big supply of soup to Rev. Hackett to be served at the Mission.
The appeal for help came in on Thursday, and needed prompt attention if these people were to be saved. Rev. Hackett had his workers appeal to the Camden bakers for bread, and, to their credit, no one refused. Then Rev. Hackett "went on the air to broadcast his message of NEED, so that the starving human beings that came to him for aid might not be turned away. Over a thousand loaves of bread were pledged, and the Courier-Post Relief Fund, donated through Mr. Frank H. Ryan, manager-editor, three hundred cans of vegetables.
Pledges poured in from the broadcast, and these pledges were all made good. The following morning, Friday, the Mission workers were ready to make their first trip to Shell Pile. As they neared the Community Building, they learned the Rev. Johns had given the last loaf of bread and that only empty shelves remained.
No ever was the Doxology sung more earnestly or more fervently than when these cold and hungry people saw supplies being unloaded and brought into the Community House. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow" meant more than just words at this time. Here came a material answer to their prayers- how could they doubt but that God had heard their prayers. Rev. Johns, in a voice that faltered with emotion, called to his people to wait their turn and each one would be given two loaves of bread and two cans of soup, but counseled them to save their soup for Sunday. This counsel was undoubtedly good, but alas what meager fare; two loaves of bread and two cans of soup, from Friday until Monday, when the Mission workers would come again.
As though answering this thought of apprehension, Rev. Hackett's brother, William, of Bridgeton, who had made a hasty trip to Shell Pile, stepped up to the Mission workers, telling them that Rev. Hackett had been on the radio at noon and made another appeal, and that without fail they would be down the next day (Saturday) with more supplies.
The farewell of the Mission workers was “We will be down again tomorrow."
"Praise God" "was Rev. Johns reverent reply.
Even with Rev. Hackett's prompt response to their needs, relief had not come soon enough to save everyone. During the following night one of their members died, practically frozen to death. This brought forth another appalling need of these people. Fuel for so many was not as simple as it sounded, but nothing daunted this stalwart man of God. By the following day a half cord of wood was delivered to every shack in the village.
These men and women are oyster shuckers, but the hitter cold weather had frozen the fleet in the Maurice River Cove, and their means of livelihood was frozen there with it. Only the balmy breezes of spring would relinquish the strong hold of the ice, but in the meantime these men and women must be taken care of.
The Emergency Relief Administration agencies, upon investigations, found that a majority of these people were not the real inhabitants of this locality but a transient population which had migrated from other states m an aimless and vain effort to find food and work.
The white inhabitants of Bivalve, it was later revealed, were in just as deplorable a condition, and finally in desperation seized one of the mission trucks, taking what they needed of the food hut leaving some for the colored people. This did not occur until the fourth visit of the Mission workers.
Naturally these circumstances gave apprehension as to race trouble, so that Rev. Hackett, with a bodyguard of Camden firemen and State Troopers, took the next load of provisions to Port Norris, and under his supervision was equally distributed among both villages.
After the establishment of the Emergency Relief the Mission was no longer appealed to.
To prove their appreciation, the Shell Pile residents arranged a pilgrimage to the Mission, bringing a large choir and much religions zeal, which attracted large crowds to the Mission.
Even in so distressing an episode as the Shell Pile disaster, there were unkindly comments as to the real motive under Rev. Hackett's benevolent act; the serpent's tongue of malice spoke slightingly of the aid, and loudly of the public advantage of such wide advertisement as Rev. Hackett's benevolence had been given.
The Port Norris Advertiser, however, voiced its gratitude unflinchingly. The following is an excerpt from that paper:
"Hats off to Rev. Hackett, of Wiley Mission, Camden, New Jersey. Through the efforts of this man, the Shell Pile and some needy of the oyster center have been fed the past week, when huge truckloads of food arrived at the oyster port.
"Rev. Hackett is aware of the acute conditions facing the oysterman in the winter when the "freeze-up" comes, and as he was pastor of the Dividing Creek Methodist Episcopal Church for about eight years, he knows the intimate problems of the oystermen. Local Relief was doing the best it could when Rev. Hackett broadcast his message to the East for relief for the sufferers of Shell Pile.
"Mrs. Shropshire, who dispenses Federal aid, was unable to grant relief to transient residents, and the result was that there was acute need of something to be done to relieve things, when Rev. Hackett took it upon himself to assist.
"Folks, if you could have seen the eager faces awaiting those trucks loaded with food, it would have reminded you of children waiting for Santa Claus and their toys. In most instances, while the men waited, they had at least hopes of food for another day. Soup kitchens have been maintained at both Shell Pile and Bivalve to relieve the suffering. Clothing and food are still needed to maintain life.
"Most of the sufferers will not earn a penny until the river ice goes, so that the boats can secure oysters and they can get back to their regular jobs of shucking and opening the oysters.
"Thanks, Rev. Hackett, many thanks for your whole-hearted support and help. Port Norris, Shell Pile and Bivalve owe you and your loyal donors a living debt of gratitude."
The Mission seemed equal to any occasion, and as they rallied their forces to answer the call at Shell Pile, so they, like true soldiers of the Cross, came to the rescue of some three hundred men, women and children whose homes in the Line Ditch section of Camden were inundated during the summer of 1933 when a tornado swept South Jersey. No sooner had the Camden police appealed to the Mission than the doors like sheltering arms opened to receive and care for these temporary refugees.
The bitter winds and blinding snowstorms drove hundreds of men from all walks of life to the Mission, winter being the cruelest foe of the helpless. Many of these would not have taken a job eyen though it were available; others, however, had been men of means, or had had good jobs, while here and there scattered among, them was a former convict. But the Mission, like a mother, saw only the human misery and longed to help.
At one time Wiley Mission cared for two hundred and fifty of these homeless men. This led the Mission to adopt for its theme song "Home, Sweet Home; My Home, Sweet Home."
Discontentment was the prime element among these men, which can readily he understood. Many of them were in no way personally responsible for their present plight. Knowing hunger and having no warm bed, no place to call "Home" is apt to generate discontentment. Some looked at things more or less apathetically, taking things and conditions as they came; others
which had dragged them down to such a low level of society. Some, to be
sure, could trace their present circumstances to their own misconduct,
and these latter sort of assumed the attitude that life owed them a
living and they were ready to collect by whatever means handy. Many had
harbored such constant rebellious thoughts that they had a most
distorted view of things. These latter were not so easy to deal with.
against conditions which had dragged them down to such a low level of society. Some, to be sure, could trace their present circumstances to their own misconduct, and these latter sort of assumed the attitude that life owed them a living and they were ready to collect by whatever means handy. Many had harbored such constant rebellious thoughts that they had a most distorted view of things. These latter were not so easy to deal with.
The pathetic and oftentimes unbelievable story each one had to tell seemed a blot on this advanced age of civilization when there is enough for all. The real cause does not seem so much production as it does distribution. These unfortunates came from the north, south and west, and not a small number from within the city limits.
February was, and usually is, winter at its worst, hence it was almost impossible to walk out of doors. This added to everyone's discomfiture and discontentment. Already there were more at the Mission than could be comfortably handled, but who could turn a needy one away?
It might seem
unlikely or improbable that anyone taken off the icy, frozen streets,
given food, warmth and a good bed, could foster a thought of
ingratitude, but such a circumstance did occur and even got so far as to
declare a strike
against doing any kind of work. The agitators called out the cooks one
declare a strike against doing any kind of work. The agitators called out the cooks one snowy morning.
"No cooks, no food" was the ultimatum which Rev. Hackett presented, who would in no way be intimidated by their snarls. However, their attitude became ugly, so a call to the Camden Police Department brought representatives of the law, who handled the situation rigidly. The ringleaders were weeded out and sent on their way. Having relieved their suffering had in no way made them grateful; hence it was best for those who were inclined to appreciate the Mission, that these unruly ones should be expelled. This ended the strike and the Mission workers did not face another situation of that kind. However, it did necessitate the employment of special officers for a time. When the demon rum is tormenting its victims, almost anything containing alcohol is commandeered. So it was at the Mission. Some of these men smuggled liquor to their cots, others brought in lotions containing alcohol. Special officers were employed to combat this practice. On a few occasions men who had been befriended by the Mission appeared intoxicated and caused disturbances, then it seemed wise and necessary to let the law take its course and have them incarcerated for a time.
The natural sequence of Mission work is criticism, and sometimes this takes the attitude of radical viciousness. This the Mission had to contend with, but the accusers failed in their purposes. Time proved that the work was essential, regardless of its possible shortcomings; time also changed most of the critics into helpers.
The district superintendents of the Methodist Episcopal Church became the strong arm of the Mission. It was not long before public officials were lending whatever aid was at their command.
Bishop Richardson, of the New Jersey Conference, gave his moral and religious encouragement to the work, as did Rev. Charles I. Fitzgeorge, Merchantville, New Jersey, former district superintendent, who had recommended the sending of Brother Hackett to Wiley Church. Rev. Dr. Edwin Forrest Hann, of Vineland, New Jersey, a former district superintendent; Rev. Harold Paul Sloan, district superintendent; Dr. Joseph N. Kulp, of Collingswood, and Congressman Charles A. Wolverton, all of these men gave their help to the Mission.
The long, cold winter of 1933-34 had silenced the voice of the critics.
The sudden rise of an obscure clergyman, sent to a slum district, brought unfriendly comments, a sort of professional jealousy, but in no way halted Rev. Hackett's fame throughout the east.
The name of John S.
Hackett became a trademark of the little Wiley Church. The little Mother
Church assumed a great responsibility when it opened the doors of its
child, the Big Mission, with the approval of the United States
Department. With each adversity, new friends came to the fore, and with
God's help Wiley Mission is still carrying on.
States Post Office Department. With each adversity, new friends came to the fore, and with God's help Wiley Mission is still carrying on.
Those of the Mission learned the truth of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus said to his disciples: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all matter of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad."
Ingratitude was not paramount within those sheltering walls during that bleak, bitter winter; while it did present itself with one or two of the guests, the general attitude was thankfulness.
One day there came
to the Mission a forlorn, almost helpless and hopeless creature, having
been a drug addict for some years. As Rev. Hackett looked at this poor
soul, he wondered if it would be possible to reclaim him and lead him to
Christ. The words of the
One day there came to the Mission a forlorn, almost helpless and hopeless creature, having been a drug addict for some years. As Rev. Hackett looked at this poor soul, he wondered if it would be possible to reclaim him and lead him to Christ. The words of the
Master to Peter came to his mind, "Oh, thou of little faith." The very presentment of these words made Rev. Hackett more determined than ever to save this man from himself and his Vices. Today, reclaimed and one of the hardest workers at the Mission, this man reverently bows his head in prayer or raises his voice in praise of God.
Several years ago
the son of a Methodist preacher wandered into the Mission, the old story
of the prodigal son who had wasted his substance in riotous living and
his wanderings over the country. He had eaten of the husks, but now he
found a home and haven within the Mission walls. His stay at the Mission
was not so very long, for the cold hand of death had already marked him
for its own, but not before he realized the blessed comfort of the
teachings of the Saviour. "When the messenger of God claimed his
soul, the Mission laid his body to rest with Christian burial, and, the
chief mourners were his associates of the Mission.
Several years ago the son of a Methodist preacher wandered into the Mission, the old story of the prodigal son who had wasted his substance in riotous living and his wanderings over the country. He had eaten of the husks, but now he found a home and haven within the Mission walls. His stay at the Mission was not so very long, for the cold hand of death had already marked him for its own, but not before he realized the blessed comfort of the teachings of the Saviour. "When the messenger of God claimed his soul, the Mission laid his body to rest with Christian burial, and, the chief mourners were his associates of the Mission.
for the guests of the Mission include checkers, newspapers, magazines,
radio broadcasts, etc., and the evidence of men taking advantage of
one or the other of these pastimes proves the good work of the Mission
among these forgotten men who enter its portals.
Recreation provided for the guests of the Mission include checkers, newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasts, etc., and the evidence of men taking advantage of one or the other of these pastimes proves the good work of the Mission among these forgotten men who enter its portals.
No women are housed within the Mission. The Mission endeavors to find homes for these unfortunate women, and has placed over two hundred already. And to the Mission and the women's credit let it be said that few have ever had to call for help again.
Each day brought new
victims of poverty to the Mission's door. One stormy morning a woman
staggered in and fell, numb with cold. The Mission took care of her
until she recovered her broken health, then gave the woman and her
husband a new start in life.
Each day brought new victims of poverty to the Mission's door. One stormy morning a woman staggered in and fell, numb with cold. The Mission took care of her until she recovered her broken health, then gave the woman and her husband a new start in life.
Perhaps the saddest side of Mission work is that of the expectant mother. Scarcely able to care for herself, poor, undernourished and discouraged, she is wholly unable to prepare for her coming baby. This is Mother Hackett's side of the work, with the faithful aid of Maryette and Virginia. As soon as the Mission becomes aware of such circumstances they diligently prepare. If not m position to relieve the situation with means within their grasp, a radio broadcast soon brings a hearty response.
The appeals which
come into the Mission are varied and sometimes almost humorous. Were it
not for the earnestness of both the applicant and the donor, some might
seem ludicrous. One man even wanted a horse so that he might farm his
land, and strange as it might seem, a horse was given to the Mission.
The appeals which
come into the Mission are varied and sometimes almost humorous. Were it
not for the earnestness of both the applicant and the donor, some might
seem ludicrous. One man even wanted a horse so that he might farm his
land, and strange as it might seem, a horse was given to the Mission.
was doing everything it could to relieve the suffering of all who came
within its walls, there were still a large number of people in dire
need, cold and hungry, but who had homes, or rather shall we say, four
walls and a roof; but nothing wherewith to stay the pangs of hunger.
To these men, women, and children, Campbell Soup Company offered to
provide forty gallons of newly made soup daily. This was not for guests
already taken care of by the Mission, but for those with homes but no
moans for the barest necessities of life. These latter were given warm
meal in the corridors of the Mission while the guests of the Mission
were being fed in the main dining room. The Mission also provided food,
which women and children carried home to their hungry families.
While Campbell Soup
Company had offered to provide forty gallons of soup daily, they did
not hold fast to this sum and frequently gave as high as one hundred and
sixty gallons a day.
During this severe
winter there was a strike at the Campbell plant, but at no time did this
hinder the providing of soup, nor at any time did the Canners' Union
pickets interfere with the delivery of soup to the Mission. The Mission
trucks were given the right of way during the strike, as many of the
strikers were being fed at the Mission.
management was very grateful and still is happy to acknowledge the
generosity of the Horn & Hardart Baking Company, General Baking
Company, American Stores Company and Grant Stores, for liberal
contributions of bread, pies and pastries.
So crowded had the
Mission become that it was necessary to operate four dining rooms. The
bitterness of the weather, with ice and snow and biting winds, drove
more and more unfortunates to the doors of the Mission. With so many
guests, it was necessary to separate the employees and give them their
own dining room.
Mr. Hackett and his
staff had a private dining room, where he entertained contributors.
Thursday, being the day of all-day meetings, as high as seven hundred and fifty meals were served.
breakfast services were in charge of William Robbins, a member of the
GOOD WILL STORES
The contributions to the Mission became so varied and in some instances cumbersome, which could not be housed at the Mission building, it becoming necessary to have special accommodations. Thus originated the happy thought of the Good Will Stores. Two trucks are kept busy every day excepting Sundays, collecting these contributions of furniture, household effects and clothing. The first store was opened at Third and Royden Streets, and then another at Third and Arch Streets. Here contributions are placed on sale at the lowest possible amounts, to enable persons of small means to obtain some of the necessities of life, and then, too, what would to these people seem like luxuries. These stores also help the Mission. In this way frequently when urgent calls come to the Mission they have been able to answer immediately, with the supplies which are at the Mission Stores.
have been the victims of heartless landlords, who have seized their
furniture for overdue rent, and the Emergency Relief regulations do
not permit the relief paying rent unless the family possesses furniture.
In these cases the Mission has had the pleasure of giving these families
the necessary start in life.
Upon the shelves of
these stores are a supply of warm coats, shoes, sweaters and other wraps
as protection against the winter winds. Especially have they been
fortunate in taking care of little children who, though entirely
blameless, must pay a heavy toll in discomfiture and misery for their
lot in life.
Upon the shelves of these stores are a supply of warm coats, shoes, sweaters and other wraps as protection against the winter winds. Especially have they been fortunate in taking care of little children who, though entirely blameless, must pay a heavy toll in discomfiture and misery for their lot in life.
These contributions come from distant points in Pennsylvania, as well as Philadelphia, Camden and South Jersey. Many families, separated through adversity, have sent their furniture to the Mission, hoping that someone will find comfort through their donations. The Good Will Stores do not deal exclusively in the bare necessities of life, but distribute, or sell for a pittance, such things as pianos, radio sets and talking machines, which bring happiness and diversion to shut-ins.
So that the night may have less terror than the day, the Stores seemed blessed with contributions of warm bed clothing, springs, mattresses and other bedroom furnishings, which have kept families from sleeping on bare floors. To those that do not know the absence of such comforts, they cannot conceive the joy of being able to rest upon a bed of warmth and comfort.
The Mission was also happy to supply wheel chairs for sick and crippled shut-ins. These wheel chairs were such special blessings that the Mission workers gave thanks to God for each one received, knowing that God had opened the minds and hearts of their listeners.
CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GODLINESS
Throughout the winter, two hundred and fifty men were housed at the Mission, but no epidemic of any sort was reported, because the strictest sanitation, under the inspection of the Camden Department of Health, was maintained.
Dr. Arthur L. Stone, Director of Health, inspected the Mission, making certain recommendations for the betterment of the sanitation of the building, which to a certain degree assured the Staff that there was no danger of disease arising. One recommendation was proper fumigation installation, both for the building and for the removal of vermin from clothing. Electric refrigeration was also installed to preserve foods.
Every guest was
required to take a sanitary bath daily. Sleeping rooms, beds and
bedding were frequently fumigated. With this precaution only minor
ailments were reported among the guests.
Every guest was required to take a sanitary bath daily. Sleeping rooms, beds and bedding were frequently fumigated. With this precaution only minor ailments were reported among the guests.
Dr. H. S. Riddle
became the Mission physician and was assisted by Mrs. Wallace Lee,
registered nurse. Mrs. Lee not only acted as nurse, but took an active
part in the management of Good Will Store No.1, and being familiar with
music was choir leader also.
Dr. H. S. Riddle became the Mission physician and was assisted by Mrs. Wallace Lee, registered nurse. Mrs. Lee not only acted as nurse, but took an active part in the management of Good Will Store No.1, and being familiar with music was choir leader also.
Lending a hand to so
many afflicted human beings, it was quite natural that some bed-ridden
cases should come under the Mission's care, and these, through the
co-operation of the Cooper and
Homeopathic Hospitals, were
given the best care.
For such cases as
might come under the heading of everyday ailments, there was a complete
medical kit maintained at the Mission at all times, so that immediate
attention was available.
The government then
inaugurated what was known as rehabilitation camps. On January 1, 1934,
the Registration Bureau registered all men from other states who
applied for shelter and food. All of these were examined by physicians
employed by the bureau; doctors inoculating such men as were eligible to
be sent to these camps.
Men found on roads
or riding freight cars were sent in, and the government paid a small
amount for their board and housing until they could be returned to their
homes or sent to rehabilitation camps.
The Mission being the largest of its kind in New Jersey and the most adequately equipped to care for transients, the authorities naturally took advantage of this opportunity. The income from the government for this service eased the cost of operation of the Mission. The Emergency Relief took over the work of the Registration Bureau.
On Sunday afternoons at 2 o'clock Rev. John Delamater, treasurer, conducted the largest class meeting in the New Jersey Conference.
Among the most faithful and earnest workers were and still are the daughters of the Pastor, Maryette and Virginia, who lead one of the most unique Young People's Meetings on Monday evenings. This is perhaps the most necessary work of the Mission, or, in fact, of any organization, Since the young people of today are the elders of tomorrow, and as the reed is bent so will it grow. With the growing generation's close contact with God-fearing people and learning at an early age the vital importance of Godliness, they will, with their right living, set such examples that their associates will, without exactly knowing why, feel the urge to emulate them.
It was not idle talk
when the Master said, "Let your light so shine, that men may
see your good works." As these young ladies are doing their bit to
make this world a better place in which to live, should not each and
everyone of us do likewise. Then perhaps, there would not be so much
It was not idle talk when the Master said, "Let your light so shine, that men may see your good works." As these young ladies are doing their bit to make this world a better place in which to live, should not each and everyone of us do likewise. Then perhaps, there would not be so much left undone.
In order to reach a
larger field of listeners, Maryette and Virginia conduct their own
broadcast over WCAM, Camden's municipal radio station. They alternate
at the microphone, singing solos, duets, delivering their messages of
cheer, which has gained them a large and sympathetic audience.
In order to reach a larger field of listeners, Maryette and Virginia conduct their own broadcast over WCAM, Camden's municipal radio station. They alternate at the microphone, singing solos, duets, delivering their messages of cheer, which has gained them a large and sympathetic audience.
winter months Rev. Hackett had the very able and willing assistance of
Rev. Ella Nace, West Conshohocken, Pa.; Rev. Anna Wells Berry, Rev.
Edgar Robinson, Rev. W. H. Johns, Rev. Preston Kennedy, and Dr. E.
Throughout the winter months Rev. Hackett had the very able and willing assistance of Rev. Ella Nace, West Conshohocken, Pa.; Rev. Anna Wells Berry, Rev. Edgar Robinson, Rev. W. H. Johns, Rev. Preston Kennedy, and Dr. E. Robinson.
In his missionary
work outside the Mission, Rev. Hackett preaches and practices the same
simple Christianity as within the Mission walls. He draws no line of
creed or color. All human beings are children of the Father, and Rev. Hackett
as a worker for the Lord answers the Call.
In his missionary work outside the Mission, Rev. Hackett preaches and practices the same simple Christianity as within the Mission walls. He draws no line of creed or color. All human beings are children of the Father, and Rev. Hackett as a worker for the Lord answers the Call.
Frequently during the winter months Rev. Hackett visits churches in nearby towns and cities. This brings him into personal contact with many of his radio listeners who are unable to get to the Tabernacle. Rev. Hackett has on several occasions held most impressive and satisfying services at the church of Rev. A. L. Martin in Philadelphia. Both Rev. Martin and his faithful wife work earnestly and wholeheartedly for the Lord, preaching the Gospel of Christ's intercession for the Redemption of the world.
During the winter of
1933-34 the Mission had many famous and infamous characters as its
guests. The one thing especially noticeable is that the Mission always
refers to the persons staying there as guests, not as inmates. At the
Mission there is but one thought in mind and one end as a goal; that is
the reclaiming of the human driftwood that comes under its care- the
betterment of living conditions to those that call for help, and
whatever other aid that will make life better for the unfortunate and
this world a better place in which to stop for the short span that God
has allotted us. The first step, then, is to make these unfortunates
feel that they have not fallen below the pale of our social strata, but
that we consider them our equals, our brothers, in fact. No one of us
should fancy that we can rise so high that we are above lending a hand
to one who has stumbled and fallen by the wayside. As we look to the
Master to take our hand and help us over the rough spots that we may
rise to the Godliness of touching the hem of His garment, so must we be
ready to reach down to aid our brothers and sisters. As God is not
unmindful of the fall of a sparrow, how much more attentive is He to His
children? Perhaps beneath the tatters beats as true a heart as our own,
and just as faithful a conscience.
Would we come out without scars if we were subjected to the same ordeal? The Scriptures very admirably caution against forming unfavorable conclusions, viz:
"Judge not that ye be not judged, for with the same judgment that ye judge others, so likewise shall ye be judged. "
The Mission has one guest that had trekked from California eastward and finally came to Wiley Mission. He quite readily agreed that of the seven missions where he had stopped Wiley was by far the best. After a very short stay he moved on and became second in command at a government rehabilitation camp for transients, but before leaving he entertained many with some of his stories of aviation. Fred Sawtell was a World War aviator.
He had spent
twenty-seven months in the Army Air Service with the 423rd Squadron at
Kelly's Field, San Antonio, Texas, as a pilot and received the rank of
lieutenant during the fourth month of his service. He survived five
crack-ups, one of these accidents proving very disastrous to himself at
least, since he received a broken back and was in a plaster cast for
fifteen months. He had made innumerable parachute jumps, the highest
being about 18,000 feet.
He came to the
Mission on August 26, 1933, and remained until March, 1934, when he
registered to go to the government rehabilitation camps.
Another guest during
that winter was a young orphan boy who wandered about until he found a
home at Wiley. This young lad had only the faintest recollections of a
home. In his wanderings he found one place much like another until he
came to Wiley. There he was befriended by a family who were members of
the church. They took him into their home.
"Pat" Crowe, one-time notorious for lawlessness, also visited for a few days. "Pat" has heard and answered the call, "Follow Me," and tours the country in behalf of .the young people.
All too often among the guests who come to the Mission for aid are those who have fallen prey to the drug habit. One guest came to the Mission in a most deplorable state and was cared for, and with God's help saw the light, gave up the drug habit, but not without a terrific battle with his desires. In the end, however, his better self rose to the surface; he conquered the habit, professed conversion and became an employee of the Mission.
And then there is that pitiable class who are not aware that their husbands, sons or even fathers are leading double lives, and are among the outlaws of society, commonly known as gangsters.
It happened that one day a well-dressed young woman walked into the Mission and asked to have a talk with Rev. Hackett. She was crushed under the knowledge that her husband and his associates came under the heading of Public Enemies. The law had finally taken command and dealt with this gang. The young woman said they had been married three years, but that she was entirely unaware of her husband's connection until he was arrested, tried, found guilty and sent to the penitentiary. Rev. Hackett investigated her story and found that she had been truthful with him. She was, of course, on the verge of a breakdown. The discovery that she had been giving her love and loyalty to a gangster was appalling, and the crash of her home left her without a foothold. Now her desire was to start life anew where she might not be known. Rev. Hackett took complete charge of this case and with God's help placed her with understanding friends where she could forget.
It would be almost impossible to mention or tabulate all the men and women that the Mission had given the hand of fellowship and given a new lease on life.
Many, of course slip back into the old ruts once or twice, some for good, but the vast majority are only too glad for the help given awl show their appreciation by renewed faith in God.
As the festive season approached, added responsibilities arose which the Mission must assume. Thanksgiving would be an empty word for those hungry and without a home. Christmas is a real trial to those without home or kin, without food or a warm place in which to rest. This season should be especially joyous, since it is the commemoration of the gift of God of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that the human race might bettor understand the gracious bounty of God.
The Mission workers put earnest Christian effort into the preparation of Christmas. The Hackett sisters, Mrs. Hackett and numerous workers and friends of the Mission helped in distributing three thousand toys to children, who otherwise would have gone unnoticed. Dinner was served to seven hundred, both at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
As the winter winds and snow mounds gave way to the balmy breezes from the south, the crowding of the
Mission became less evident. As the season became more advanced, it was thought possible that open air services might be held, but the question of WHERE immediately presented itself. Then through the courtesy of Commissioner Clay W. Reesman, director of parks and public property, it was made possible that services might be held in Farnham Park during June. This proved a most popular innovation. Thousands were attracted to these services held in the shade of beautiful park trees and God's green grass, and to those that could not attend these services in person, Rev. Hackett had arranged that a broadcast would be possible so that his unseen audience might still hear his voice.
At the Spring Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church on March 21, 1934, Rev. Hackett read the following report:
"Five minutes has been given me today to speak of the Missionary Work of the Wiley M. E. Church, located at Third and Beckett Streets, Camden, N. J. In this section of our city we find only Italian and colored people living. If there was ever a place that needed real missionary work, it is in the section where we make our home and have our work.
"This work is upon our hearts and to be successful in any movement we must become first vitally interested in the task. 'Easy come, easy go' is the destroying parasite that reduces the power and prestige of any organization.
"Just a summary now, of some of our activities, under the efficient leadership of Miss Edna Griffith, our director of Religious Education.
"We report the
GIRL SCOUT TROOP,
Renamed the COUNCILORS
BOYS' CLUB Ten Meetings- Thirty Enrolled
SENIOR EPWORTH LEAGUE Thirty-six Meetings- Thirty Enrolled
JUNIOR EPWORTH LEAGUE Thirty-five Meetings- Thirty Enrolled
PAGEANTRY CLASS Seven Meetings- Eighteen Enrolled
SUNDAY SCHOOL Fifty-two Meetings- Seventy-five Enrolled
WEEK-DAY BIBLE SCHOOL Thirty-five Meetings- Sixty Enrolled
DAILY VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL Three Weeks- One Hundred and Five enrolled
TEACHERS' TRAINING CONFERENCE Twenty-four Meetings- Eight Enrolled
LOAN LIBRARY One Thousand and Fifty Books in Circulation
HAPPY HOUR Eight meetings- Sixty Attendance
Twelve thousand four hundred and ninety-five lessons taught. Cost to the Home Missionary Board-two cents a lesson.
Eight hundred and thirty-two broadcasts and lectures at the Mission. Two hundred and sixty services in the Church.
Some may feel that the Church is not a feeding place, but Matthew says, "Give ye them to eat."
We clothed them because the Great Master and Teacher said, "I was naked and ye clothed me."
A physician at the Mission made daily visits; also, a graduate nurse, who looked after the welfare of the Mission. We have never had an epidemic in the Mission.
Come down and look us over- I believe you will feel that it is worthwhile.
I am now going to list a copy of a report we made to the United States Government of our activities.
Charles H. Ellis,
In connection with our formal application for renewal of our temporary lease on the old post office building at Third and Arch Streets, Camden, N. J., we beg to submit the following report to the Postmaster General of our activities during the year ending today:
Two hundred and fifty-five thousand meals served during the year (eight thousand of which have been to families living outside of the Mission).
Forty-four thousand seven hundred and fifty beds per annum.
March 20, 1934.
Thirty thousand dollars for maintenance of the Mission, of which two thousand five hundred was for sanitary equipment, such as electric refrigeration, dish washers, delousing devices, etc.
Eight hundred starving residents of Shell Pile and Bivalve were aided.
Three hundred and fifty men, women and children sheltered when floods drove them from their homes.
Twenty-five families saved from eviction. Twenty-five families aided that had been evicted.
Five funeral expenses paid, where families were unable to meet this expense.
Two families, whose homes were destroyed by fire, were aided in rebuilding.
Appeal for a blood transfusion, which saved the woman's life.
One hundred men and women placed in employment.
Forty homes furnished with necessities.
Twenty stoves provided for needy families. Hundreds of persons clothed.
Two thousand five hundred eyeglasses supplied to needy. Housed and fed, at least one hundred men daily for the Federal Transient Bureau and the Emergency Relief, this being the only Mission of its kind in seven South Jersey Counties equipped to handle such cases.
At times during February of this year we had two hundred and twenty-five homeless men under the roof of the post office.
During the Conference of March, 1934, Rev. Hackett fully realized the able support and the many sincere friends he had in the Conference. With their aid he had successfully brought an untold number of people, through a bitter and cruel winter, to the balmy days of spring. People who could not help themselves, lost to any possible saving from freezing or starving, without the aid of Wiley Mission. This winter saw the worst misery among humanity for several decades. The plight of these people was pitiful, their hardships could not be understood excepting by those who worked to relieve their suffering. The moral support of the Conference was most gratifying, and seemed to imbue the spirit of fellowship into all the workers.
The happiness of doing the Master's work had so illuminated Rev. Hackett's soul that his whole countenance shone with spiritual radiance. The sparkle in his eyes could only come from a soul in tune with his Creator. Had not his labor saved many of God's children from death? Many from hunger and cold?
As spring gave way to the summer's sun he longed to give these unfortunate people a really festive time, which would not come exactly under the heading of warding off starvation and death, something to stir their souls with spontaneous joy, a jubilation in God's bright sunshine.
At the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Mission it was decided that there would be a grand and glorious Outing at the Seashore. Ocean City, N. J., was selected and July 28th was the date.
This was not as easy a task as might be thought, but difficult tasks were the thing that Rev. Hackett and his workers sought to do. No limitation was set on the number of people to be guests. No special requirements or qualifications were necessary. Wiley Mission was to be the Host.
As soon as the date and place had been decided upon, a marked activity was noticeable around the Mission Home.
perhaps the largest item, and one which needed proper attention so that
ample accommodation would be available.
Transportation was perhaps the largest item, and one which needed proper attention so that ample accommodation would be available.
Food was no small
consideration, since no one was to bring anything excepting their own
precious selves. The Mission obligated itself to take care of food,
transportation and such things as go to make a good time for the
kiddies and pleasant memories for the older folks.
Food was no small consideration, since no one was to bring anything excepting their own precious selves. The Mission obligated itself to take care of food, transportation and such things as go to make a good time for the kiddies and pleasant memories for the older folks.
At last the much
talked of and much longed for day drew near. On the night of July 27,
1934, the workers of the Mission were busy with their preparations. Loaf
after loaf of bread to be cut, hams to the right and hams to the left to
be sliced, boxes to be packed, fruit to he looked over, and countless
other errands to be attended to in order that the following day would be
a success and long remembered.
At last the much talked of and much longed for day drew near. On the night of July 27, 1934, the workers of the Mission were busy with their preparations. Loaf after loaf of bread to be cut, hams to the right and hams to the left to be sliced, boxes to be packed, fruit to he looked over, and countless other errands to be attended to in order that the following day would be a success and long remembered.
One thought was
paramount in everyone's mind: "If only it is clear," and as
though God had hear the wishes of these poor peoples who had come
through such a dire struggle during the preceding winter, heard their
longings for a bright day in which to enjoy a little pleasure which
the Mission was planning to give them, the sun shone.
One thought was paramount in everyone's mind: "If only it is clear," and as though God had hear the wishes of these poor peoples who had come through such a dire struggle during the preceding winter, heard their longings for a bright day in which to enjoy a little pleasure which the Mission was planning to give them, the sun shone.
Early in the
morning, as dawn came slowly over the far horizon, the promising rays of
the sun could be distinguished before the sun itself came into view.
This assurance of a clear day gave everyone a glad heart.
Early in the morning, as dawn came slowly over the far horizon, the promising rays of the sun could be distinguished before the sun itself came into view. This assurance of a clear day gave everyone a glad heart.
It gave unbounded
joy to the kiddies, and a sigh of thankfulness rose from many a mother's
heart that God had seen fit to give her children and herself a day of
pleasure at the shore, under the care of Wiley Mission.
Quite early the
whole neighborhood was alive with shouts, calls, greetings,
"Hellos" and "See You Later".
Before the door of
the Mission, and as far down the street as the eye could see, was a long
line of buses, trucks and private cars. It was a most formidable
gathering which congregated at the Mission. Fifty buses were in
line, followed by fifty trucks. Still more transportation space was
needed, so into the line came one hundred and twenty private cars, and
in these vehicles thirty-five hundred guests of the Mission were being
speeded to the seashore.
SEASHORE, that magic
word which stirs the souls of all. Many of these guests had never seen
the ocean, known the tang of the salt air, or felt the gritty grains of
sand. To these people this was a real event in their lives.
As the caravan
neared Millville, word seemed to come on the air that there was to be a
stop here at a certain barbershop. All eyes and ears were alert with
Somehow all seemed to sense that the Mission had planned a SURPRISE.
The surprise? What could give a child who knows nothing but hardships, hunger, harsh handling from all, with little knowledge of luxury, than ice cream? The South Jersey Police Association, who had donated most of the food for the holiday, were on deck at the barber shop, at one time operated by Rev. Hackett, and distributed ice cream to all the guests. Some of these same South Jersey Police traveled with the Mission in order to keep the band together. Thirty-five hundred individuals is a small town, and each and everyone had to be taken care of, and as many of these were small children the Police were kept busy, but so efficient was their help that no child became lost or was hurt. The Police seemed to be everywhere doing their bit to make the outing something worth recalling.
After the respite at Millville the procession started on its way. Now there was to be no stops until they reached Ocean City. On they traveled, and almost before the passing of time could be noticed they had reached their destination.
The big moment had
arrived. There they were, looking at the ocean, standing on the sands
of the seashore.
The big moment had arrived. There they were, looking at the ocean, standing on the sands of the seashore.
What a revelation to
those who had only known the ocean and beach as words, but had never
known the joy of watching the ocean beat eternally on the beach, or the
touch of grains of sand slipping through the fingers. At last these poor
people had come close to one of God's creations, seen it, felt it, and
realized the greatness of the Creator.
What a revelation to those who had only known the ocean and beach as words, but had never known the joy of watching the ocean beat eternally on the beach, or the touch of grains of sand slipping through the fingers. At last these poor people had come close to one of God's creations, seen it, felt it, and realized the greatness of the Creator.
There were games on
the beach, bathing for those who were so inclined, and walking on the
boardwalk for those less desirous of vigorous recreation.
There were games on the beach, bathing for those who were so inclined, and walking on the boardwalk for those less desirous of vigorous recreation.
Around about noon
lunch was served, which consisted of sandwiches of all kinds and plenty
of them, fruit, cake, milk, and once again that joy of childhood, ice
Around about noon lunch was served, which consisted of sandwiches of all kinds and plenty of them, fruit, cake, milk, and once again that joy of childhood, ice cream.
The lunch at the
shore was served by the South Jersey Police, aided most admirably by the
Ocean City Firemen.
The lunch at the shore was served by the South Jersey Police, aided most admirably by the Ocean City Firemen.
It seemed as though everyone wanted these poor of Camden, who were under the care of Wiley Mission, to have a good time, so assistance was rendered almost without solicitation.
In the afternoon
religious services were held in the Auditorium, very ably assisted by
the Marshall Family Band. It would have been a seeming neglect of God
if no time could be spared from the day's pleasure to give THANKS to God
for such a glorious outing. Had not God brought these very people safety
through a bitter winter, was that not reason enough for Thanksgiving?
In the afternoon religious services were held in the Auditorium, very ably assisted by the Marshall Family Band. It would have been a seeming neglect of God if no time could be spared from the day's pleasure to give THANKS to God for such a glorious outing. Had not God brought these very people safety through a bitter winter, was that not reason enough for Thanksgiving?
Much of the
exuberant spirit had spent itself during the day, so the trip home was
rather quiet. Many of the kiddies so tired they nestled their little
heads on anyone's lap and happily floated off into the land of sleep.
The workers of the Mission and their never-tiring leader still had much to do after the gathering had reached the Mission. All the kiddies who did not have older persons with them had to be safely returned to their homes, so that it was quite late when the last detail had been attended to. Each and every worker felt richer for having been the instrument of God to make His people happy.
OUR RADIO FRIENDS
OUR RADIO FRIENDS
Inasmuch as the radio has been the worthy instrument which God saw fit to use whereby ·Wiley Mission should touch the hearts of thousands of eager souls, and was the real messenger which brought about the present home at the farm, it would seem right and proper that these helpers should receive mention in these pages which will go out among our friends.
WCAM has been our able partner.
These men and women whose voices travel over the air-waves, mingling with our own, have helped bring about the happy gathering known as Wiley Mission Farm. It is these same men and women to whom we turn each time our hour of broadcasting arrives, and with their co-operation it is made possible for our large unseen audience to receive our messages. It is also through this medium that our most urgent appeals receive such quick and hearty response. How much misery has been saved and how much alleviated through the radio cannot be tabulated. The radio has become indispensable as a member of our staff, and is our voice speaking to the outside world.
We have traveled far along the road of science since the days of John the Baptist, whose heralding of the coming of Christ required the fatigue of traveling, not in motor cars, but much of it was done on foot through uncleared forests, and even with this self-sacrifice his voice reached only a few. Today, our voice is relayed over a network into thousands of homes, with only the turn of a dial.
On Sunday afternoons and other times when we are sending our messages to those gathered in the Tabernacle, as just the right moment our radio partners move into the work with such precision that we may continue our services without interruption, knowing that our Gospel of Good Will and Faith is being sent over miles of land into the homes of thousands of listeners.
This we could not do if it were not for the co-operation of those standing ready to do their part at Station WCAM.
Another feature of the Radio, which is really a feature of Mercy and Benevolence, is the fact that life is no longer so burdensome and lonesome to the Shut-ins.
Mission has supplied many radios to these unfortunate people, who through
illness are practically isolated. Here the radio plays the part of a
radio brings the whole world into the four walls of the room-distance is
of no consequence. So that a shut-in who must spend days and nights in a
wheelcehair, or one who is bed-ridden, can still know the affairs of the
world; can still enjoy beautiful music and singing; partake of educational
features, and most helpful of all hear the word of God. While unable to
attend the services in church, the message may be received, bringing cheer
and consolation. All these blessings are brought to us by the Radio and
the Radio Artists.
OUR RADIO WORK
Mrs. Gilmore, before her marriage, was well known to all the visitors and listeners as Maryette Hackett. Among the workers who came from time to time to lend their assistance in the Mission Field, came Rev. Charles Gilmore. Here his work seemed to fit in most congenially and most effectively. Soon there grew an intimate friendliness which grew into real affection. Rev. Hackett approved of this growing friendship, and when it matured into love, he was the first to give the young folks his blessing. This add lent more strength to the Mission, for now there was another worker who would give his services constantly to furthering the work.
On Sept. 2, 1936, God sent this little youngster to bless the union of Rev. and Mrs. Gilmore. 0ne glance will tell you that he brought happiness to his Mother and Father, and the Rev. Hackett and Mrs. Hackett, who are his grandparents, feel that God has been good to them. With this merry little fellow as Mascot of The Mission Farm, there can be
little doubt of God's protection and watchful care over those who work only for the glory of God and our Lord Jesus Christ. It was Jesus Himself who said "Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
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