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Crowd at the Baptists Convention in early 1900s
Beginning in the 1880s, Henry L. Morehouse was a lone voice addressing the need for support for aging ministers. In the early 1900s, Morehouse was inspired by Andrew Carnegie’s effort to establish a pension program for Cornell University faculty. He believed this approach could be applied to ministers. At the 1911 meeting of the Northern Baptist Convention in Philadelphia, Morehouse successfully lobbied for passage of a resolution creating an organization "to promote interest in the maintenance of the ministry".
At the 1911 meeting of the Northern Baptist Convention, Henry L. Morehouse received a telegram. A layperson who wanted to be known only as “A Man from Pennsylvania”—later identified as Milo C. Treat—pledged $50,000 to create “a permanent committee whose duty shall be the collecting and dispensing of funds for the relief of superannuated and disabled ministers and missionaries…” There was one condition: an additional $200,000 had to be raised by noon on Christmas day. As Morehouse read the telegram, the convention broke into applause—and then passed a resolution to authorize such a committee.
Meeting Milo C. Treat’s challenge to raise $200,000 before Christmas required organization. Henry L. Morehouse recruited Everett T. Tomlinson to lead the effort. They organized committees in each state and reached out to individual ministers. At the end of the first week of December, however, the effort was still $100,000 short. A few days earlier, Morehouse received a letter from John D. Rockefeller with instructions not to open it until noon on Christmas day. At noon on Christmas day, still $18,000 short of the goal, Morehouse opened the letter. Rockefeller offered to contribute as much as $40,000. Rockefeller continued to support MMBB. The value of his gift exceeded $6 million and helped ensure MMBB’s success.
Morehouse pledge to fund MMBB
The Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board was incorporated in 1913 under Chapter 107 of the Laws of New York
John D. Rockefeller donation of $50,000 to the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board of the Northern Baptist Convention
Colonel Edward H. Haskell, an astute Boston businessman, generous MMBB benefactor and trusted advisor to Morehouse, assumed the founder’s mantle of leadership and led the Board in establishing The Retiring Pension Fund in 1920, served as President from 1918-1923.
"Those intimately acquainted with [Everett T. Tomlinson] know well how unstintingly he has given his best. Years were passed without a vacation. Personal convenience has been put aside. The anxieties and responsibilities incident to pioneer work in a new sphere have been borne as by one who clearly sees a great goal. [He] has brought to his leadership a kind and sympathetic heart, a clear insight, an intuitive discretion, and a personal winsomeness…”
Excerpt from The Ministry, June, 1926
Peter C. Wright drew on his seven years under Tomlinson to help move MMBB into the modern investment era by establishing what became The Retiring Pension Fund.
Arthur M. Harris became an original and long-term member of the Board as a result of contact with Everett Tomlinson during the first campaign inspired by Milo C. Treat’s $50,000 challenge. Harris, a bond expert, was Vice President and Treasurer of the Banking firm of Harris, Forbes and Company. As an MMBB Board member, he provided unusual expertise and established high standards for MMBB’s investment policies. He later served a term as President of the Northern Baptist Convention.
Rev. Avery A. Shaw, a Brooklyn, NY, pastor and long-term president of Denison University, was the Board’s longest serving President. He led the Board through the prosperous 20s as well as the multiple crises of the Depression.
Depression era poster promoting MMBB
William R. Conklin was an advisor to Baptists in New York and an experienced attorney, business advisor and occasional representative of Rockefeller interests. As President he presided over the Board during a period of membership increase and financial expansion.
Worry Free by '43 was both the slogan and the title of an MMBB campaign in the 1940s to enlarge membership to the greatest possible number of eligible ministers, missionaries and others
During his 21 years as Executive Director, M. Forest Ashbrook oversaw dramatic increases in membership, an expansion of benefits, development of strong, reliable accounting procedures, and unparalleled stability.
L. Jerome Matteson, son of one of MMBB’s first field secretaries, a superlative Baptist layman and attorney of distinction, led the Board as President through a period of rapidly expanding benefits and new services, including the extension of Social Security to ministers, 1951-1960.
Advertisement promoting additional member benefits at no additional cost
Early issue of MMBB member newsletter… Tomorrow, A Bright Day for the Baptist Ministry
Early issue of the Tomorrow newsletter demonstrating MMBB's thought leadership
MMBB staff at convention
Rev. Robert G. Middleton, a pastor of prominent churches in Chicago and Kansas City, Missouri, presided over the Board with unusual sensitivity and resolve during the turbulent early 60s when both civil rights and social unrest increasingly defined the agenda.
Celebrating MMBB 50th Anniversary
As MMBB’s longest serving Executive Director, Dean R. Wright grew the field staff to meet the needs of plan members and of an organization expanding into new markets.
His commitment to diversity allowed MMBB to play an important role in civil rights and promoting women in ministry.
Dr. Martin Luther King's application for MMBB membership
MMBB executive director Dean Wright assured pastors who suffered from the support of civil rights of MMBB's continued support through job placement services and grants.
American Baptists Have Spoken on Race pamphlet from the American Baptist Convention, May 1964.
Telegram from Charles Forsberg to Mrs. Martin Luther King offering MMBB condolences
Richard B. Fisher, then a young associate at the banking firm of Morgan Stanley and Company, became a member of the MMBB Board in 1961 and remained until 1998. During most of that period he served as Chair of the Finance Committee. He presided over the merger of Morgan Stanley with other banking and investment firms. His leadership in investments and financial management for MMBB was without parallel.
An active Baptist layman, a highly regarded lawyer and professor of law, a man of both wisdom and wit, confident leadership style and skill, Mr. Reed guided MMBB through challenging times as Board President for three terms over three decades.
Celebrating MMBB Diamond Jubilee
Rev. E. Spencer Parsons, pastor and Dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago, both a prophet and a negotiator, led the Board through difficult years of stagnant financial returns and resulting constituent criticism, 1975-1981.
Gordon E. Smith positioned MMBB for growth by streamlining processes, incorporating technology, and increasing the ability to serve members efficiently.
Retirement brochure from the 1980s
Rev. Howard Moody, an urban pastor in Greenwich Village, New York, brought a sensitivity to social justice that contributed to the Board’s support for civil rights and opportunities for women as well as encouraging the Board to promote training to prepare pastors to minister in the era of HIV/AIDS.
An activist for human development through leadership of several global organizations and the first woman to be President of MMBB Board of Managers. Ms. Purcell provided strong and gracious leadership as President.
Sumner M. Grant reinvigorated MMBB’s evangelical spirit. His focus on promoting interest in the better maintenance of the ministry included extending benefits to those in other denominations, creating new investment choices for MMBB members, and expanding Morehouse’s vision for the 21st century.
A respected Baptist leader and pastor, Rev. Tooze positioned MMBB’s ministry for the future through his expertise in governance and strategic recruitment of industry experts in finance and business to the Board.
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg congratulates MMBB on 100th anniversary
Louis P. Barbarin’s vision calls for MMBB becoming the premier financial services organization serving the free church community. To this end, he is leading MMBB’s commitment to provide financial planning services to all MMBB members and a major investment in state-of-the-art technology to serve members with grace and efficiency.
Gwynn L. Perlich, brings a strong commitment to member and employer service to MMBB. As vice president of Patient Care Services at St. Vincent Carmel Hospital in Indiana, she understands the importance of seeing each member as unique and ministering to their individual needs. She is a member of the First Baptist Church of Indianapolis and joined the MMBB Board in 2004.
Translations of any materials into languages other than English are intended solely as a convenience to the non-English-reading public. We have attempted to provide an accurate translation of the original material in English, but due to the nuances in translating to a foreign language, slight differences may exist.
Las traducciones de cualquier material a idiomas que no sean el inglés son para la conveniencia de aquellos que no leen inglés. Hemos intentado proporcionar una traducción precisa del material original en inglés, pero debido a las diferencias de la traducción a un idioma extranjero, pueden existir ligeras diferencias.
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