W.F. Kumlien

Bulletin No.


Document Type



Department of Rural Sociology


The main purpose of this study has been to discover significant trends in the general church situation of the state. To accomplish this end and also because of lack of space, it has seemed desirable to omit reference to individual churches or to compare the work of denominations. In lieu of these alternatives the writer has attempted to picture an average of all churches, which, in most cases has been further subdivided into four groups based on location. In some respects the net results of such an approach are unfortunate. The casual reader may get the erroneous impression that the writer is unduly critical, impersonal, and unappreciative of the church's purpose and program. This is by no means the case. It is recognized that many heroic struggles have been made by pioneer ministers, their families, and by loyal church organizations. M any inspiring stories could be told of sacrifices and unbelievable burdens which ,have been carried by such church groups. While these ministers and church groups should be honored for the work they have done in the pioneering stages of a commonwealth the fact remains that we are now rapidly passing into a new situation. From now on South Dakota needs a new type of church with a redirected purpose, program, and method. The new goal calls for the rebuilding of community life based on local needs. Whereas the old church served only a fraction of the community, the new church should serve the community as a whole. The goal of personal salvation for individuals must be extended to include community salvation as well. In suggesting a social gospel program for the rural church, the writer does not have in mind that the minister should become a "community chore boy" or a mere "discusser" of current problems. It is suggested that he with other leaders of community social institutions should work shoulder to shoulder,for the planning and rebuilding of community life. The church's part in such a program will be to off er guidance in the selection of personal and community ideals, developing spiritual insight, inspiration, and moral courage. Such a program will follow only as the minister learns to have confidence in the community and the latter in turn reciprocates by seeing new possibilities in the work of the minister.


church social problems, church conflicts



Publication Date









South Dakota Experiment Station, South Dakota State College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts