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John MacKintosh
Chapter X - The Business Man in the Church


John Mackintosh consecrated his great business gifts to the service of the Church. This did not reduce his efficiency in his own business, and it was of inestimable value to the church officials. The business of the Church was transacted with as much care and thought as that of a director's meeting in his own office. The minister in charge often found to his delight that problems which had cost him many a sleepless night were solved for him, and burdens heavy to be borne were eased from his shoulder by this expert financier. After leaders' and trustees' meetings, the members frequently expressed their astonishment at the ease with which grave difficulties had been overcome. There is a ministry, for the business man in the Church. Christian ministers have still to carry burdens of finance from which they should be relieved by men of business ; as the Apostles said of old to the members of the early Church, "It is not reason that we should leave the word of God and serve tables."

The readiness with which Mr. Mackintosh dealt with intricate business propositions arose from his habit of preparation for all possible contingencies. He adopted Captain Cuttle's advice, "When found make a note on." He carried in his vest pocket a scrap of paper and a short pencil. It was amusing to note how these were produced at all sorts of odd times—in the street, in church, in the middle of a sermon, in the dining-room or on the way to the table. If an idea was suggested to his mind at any time or in any place, out would come the inevitable pencil and paper, and a sufficient record would be made in his own style of abbreviated longhand; then at the opportune moment the slips of paper would be produced, and would be found to contain a veritable treasury of helpful suggestions.

When a social gathering was arranged for the evening, it was found that the pencil and paper had been made good use of during the day. He would keep the interest sustained from the beginning ; there was never a dull moment, nor any of those chilly intervals during which people freeze and all life goes out of the proceedings. His slips of paper contained a list of the most suitable parlour games, which he not only suggested but entered into with a zest that was infectious. Reserve soon melted in such a. genial atmosphere, cares were forgotten, weary faces lighted up with smiles, and hard, grim people, who seldom allowed themselves the luxury of a hearty laugh, found themselves joining in the fun. Old people renewed their youth, and young people never complained that the proceedings were slow."

The good business man hates debt as he does the Devil. He knows too well what it means to have the worry and anxiety of loans and overdrafts, and when he enters the councils of the church he brings his business habits with him. When John Mackintosh became fully acquainted with the church's finance, he determined that "Queen's Road" should be freed from financial burdens. The way opened for the realisation of his vision when the Great War was over. He was filled with thankfulness for the spared lives of his two sons the eldest had served in the Navy, and the second son in the Army, the youngest being a boy at school. Though the younger son had been badly wounded and had lost his leg, still he had come home, and many other of the "Queen's Road" boys had returned in safety. He therefore laid his plans before the leaders and the trustees. It was to be a memorial to the fallen, and an expression of gratitude to the "Giver of all good" for those whose lives had been spared. Those who had made the great sacrifice had made victory possible; their glory must never fade, nor their sacrifices be forgotten. Mr. Mackintosh undertook to collect 950, the amount of the mortgage still on the Queen's Road estate, from personal friends of his; then when the church was free of debt he would invest the sum of 1,000 in the name of the trustees, the interest of which would be available for church maintenance. He also asked the church to raise the sum of 300 for various purposes, in order that all might share in the effort, because, as he said, he did not want any "one man show." All his schemes for the church were arranged along these lines, so that the humblest member might have the satisfaction of being a fellow- worker in so good a cause.

That a man burdened with the cares of a vast business, and whose health was far from satisfactory, should undertake to collect nearly one thousand pounds filled all present with astonishment. They gladly and with enthusiasm accepted the wonderful offer, and with their hearty cooperation the scheme was successfully carried through. The church was freed from debt, and its finances were put into such a healthy condition, that, with wise administration, the trustees in the future will always be able to meet their obligations.

The two letters that follow sufficiently indicate the method Mr. Mackintosh adopted to remove the debt ; the other one thousand pounds to he invested he, of course, found out of his own pocket. The first letter is addressed to a personal friend, a citizen of Halifax, greatly esteemed by his fellow-townsmen, and on many occasions he co-operated with Mr. Mackintosh in various financial enterprises in aid of the churches they represented.

Dear Mr. - 26th November, 1918.

For many years I have been helping churches, here, there and everywhere, financially and in other ways. This help has taken me away at times from my own church, but I have gone on the principle of helping wherever I could, according to my ability.

"For some years I have thought I would try, one of these days, to put the finances of my church and Sunday school on a more satisfactory footing. The struggle every year to keep straight is considerable. We have a debt of L950 on the estate, and apart from this, our income is not sufficient to meet the expenditure; and now things are so dear on every hand it is becoming even more difficult to keep straight.

"Whilst my health is rather better, I feel it laid upon me to try and carry through a scheme that has long been on my mind. I feel sure that with the help of some of my very good friends I can succeed.

"I have mentioned this matter to some of my friends, and have received promises of substantial help, as you will see from the booklet enclosed.

"I wonder if you could see your way to help me? This will be the last big scheme of this kind I shall be connected with in all probability, and I would dearly like to carry it through successfully. My health will not permit me to canvass for a big lot of small subscriptions, so I am, at present at any rate, confining myself to friends who may feel disposed to help as substantially as they are justified in doing. I know, like myself, you are pulled at on every side, but when one has helped others one does feel rather braver in asking for one's own church,

"Please let the personal side come into this matter. It is a sincere wish of mine to carry this through to a successful !sue, so that I can feel that whilst I have been helping others I have not neglected the church and Sunday school with which I have been associated from boyhood's days."

The second letter is to an old "Queen's Road" boy, who is now a prosperous business man in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Dear Friend, 29th January, 1919.

How are you and yours getting on in these war days? I have no doubt you have felt their influence like all of us. My eldest son is just back from the Navy and commences business tomorrow. My second son lost a leg in the war and was taken a prisoner to Germany; he is now back. He has an artificial limb, and walks well considering the circumstances. Of course he is maimed for life, but his general health is good, and so are his spirits, and we can see all around us many men much worse maimed than he, so we try to be thankful it is no worse.

'At 'Queen's Road Church we have had a pretty clean sweep of the boys, but they are now dribbling back one by one. Alas some will never return again. Several have wounds of one kind or another, but on the whole we think we have been rather fortunate compared with others.

We have been wondering how we could celebrate their return home and perpetuate the memory of those who have been killed in the war. I suggested to the friends a scheme, and they are all joining heartily in the effort, and that is to clear off the final debt on the estate, and also get rid of some other little debts here and there. When this is done I have promised to invest C1,000 in the name of the trustees which will bring in 50 per annum. To be free from debt and have a small endowment will be a great thing for the leaders and trustees of 'Queen's Road' after forty-five years of debt. Every friend of ' Queen's Road' is being asked to help, and at a meeting the other evening I was desired to write you. You will remember, I have no doubt, the old days at 'Queen's Road.' A lot has happened since then, but the memory of the old days refuses to be blotted out.

This scheme is something which has been in my mind for many years, and is not a jumped up affair. The time of doing it, however, has been decided rather suddenly. This was brought about by a feeling of thankfulness that our boys had come through so well. I knew that there were many people at our church who are just as grateful to have their boys back home as I am, and I thought if we all joined together we could have a real time of rejoicing, but the idea of the debt clearance and other things origiated quite naturally in the days when we were struggling with a far larger debt than now. I always vowed, if I had health and strength, the day would come when it would be lifted if I had my way."

He had his way; the effort was completed, and a yearly deficit of 45 'in the finances of the church was turned into a surplus of 50. It was splendid business as far as "Queen's Road" was concerned, and a noble memorial for the soldier Sons of the church. How much better than any monument of brass or marble was this clearing away of the incubus of debt, and the safeguarding of the future of the church, which was clear to the hearts of these young soldiers and sailors as their spiritual home.

It was truly a red - letter day in their lives and in the history of the church, when the war was over and the great meeting was held in the School -room to bid them Welcome Home, and to accept on behalf of the church, as a memorial to their valour and sacrifices, the extinction of the old debt and 'the endowment given by Mr. Mackintosh.

The splendid service he had thus rendered was fittingly acknowledged at a meeting of the church held in October 1919, when an illuminated address was presented to him by Dr. Clemens, in the name of the church. It was a pleasant surprise to Mr. Mackintosh, for the secret had been well kept, and he had been asked to assist in certain matters to be decided in regard to the musical service of the church. He laughingly accused his friends of bringing him there under false pretences. The terms of the address are as given below :-

"Queen's Road United Methodist Church, Halifax,
To Councillor John Mackintosh, J.P.

"We, the trustees of the above church, and representatives of our whole congregation, desire to express heartiest thanks to you for the special services you have rendered the church in the recent great scheme for relieving and helping the estate.

"Remembering past years and the amount of debt with which our people have had to grapple, and considering our present very different circumstances, we are filled with thankful wonder, and above all give God the praise.

It is clear, however, that but for the part you have played in both the initiation and the completion of the scheme, its accomplishment would have been impossible. Through your personal influence and the example of your own generosity, some dozen friends have liberally contributed the splendid sum whereby the old trust debt has been extinguished. It was the same influence and example also that evoked a willing response from our congregation in general, to the appeal that they should carry the effort still further. They have thus raised the additional amount required for present and future needs. We are filled with gratitude, that altogether a sum of over 2,200 has resulted from the project you originated.

"In all this you have only been true to an early devotion to Queen's Road Church and Sunday school. That devotion you learnt from your father and mother, who were honoured members of our society, and happily it is fully shared by all their family. You yourself have frequently testified to the blessings gained from your long association with the church of Christ.

"We, on our part, have watched with pleasure your growing influence in the affairs of the town, and your prosperity in your business undertakings. It is a joy to see, that through all the strenuous years, your attachment to the church of your childhood has remained steadfast and unaltered. May the blessing of God abide upon you, your good wife and all your family, as also upon those who have co-operated with you in this happy and memorable undertaking." (Signed by Dr. Clemens and eighteen leading members of Queen's Road Church.)

When Mr. Mackintosh rose to reply, after the address had been presented to him, he was profoundly moved. Nothing touched him so deeply, nor brought him such sincere pleasure, as the hearty appreciation of his fellow church workers. In his reply he referred to the portraits of Mr. Joseph Seed and his mother which hang on the walls of the Sunday school, and said that now he had scarcely a wish left ungratified ; if he could desire anything further, it would be that his portrait might occupy a similar position in the school. That wish has speedily been fulfilled, for since his death a fine portrait in oils was presented to the school authorities by the family.


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