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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 38

The Rechabite Burial Society. — Its Origin, Progress, and Mode of Working

page 57

The Rechabite Burial Society.

Its Origin, Progress, and Mode of Working.

From the many inquiries made respecting the above Society, by members of our Order, I think it is absolutely necessary to give a brief outline of the origin and progress of the Rechabite Temperance and General Family Burial Society. The question of a Burial Society in connection with the I.O.R. is by no means a new one; for years the question was discussed in Tents, Districts, and Order, with a view of establishing such an organisation connected with the I.O.R. as would give the brethren an opportunity of insuring their families in a society which they might very well call their own. The question was discussed at one of the Moveable Conferences some years ago, and was left in the hands of the High Officers and Board of Directors: but nothing was done in the matter. The members of No. 1 District were very anxious about the much-talked-of society, expecting every month to hear something about it; they very patiently waited and watched, and eventually got tired of waiting, as nothing was done to develope the scheme; therefore, the question was raised again at the No. 1 District meetings, and a resolution was passed that the representatives bring the whole matter before their respective Tents, and report the result at the following District meeting. The Tents, through their representatives, were unanimous in giving their consent to co-operate with the District to establish a Rechabite Burial Society. The District appointed a committee to draw up a code of rules. The first meeting of the society was held on the 30th October, 1870, when the rules were agreed to. The principal rule provided that the business of the society should always be conducted by Rechabites, namely, three members from No. 1 District Board and one representative from each Tent in the District, which constituted the Board of Management, from which all officers were elected. It was decided to have the rules registered, which was done according to Act of Parliament. At this meeting the officers were appointed, including five collectors. Bros. H. Roper and H. Sharpies were appointed as a deputation to wait upon the members of the No. 1 Adult District at their next monthly meeting, also to Nos. 1, 5, 6, 7, and 900 Tents, with the view of getting the members to make a small grant of money to start the society. At a meeting held on April 13th, 1871, the deputation reported their praiseworthy efforts which had been the means of getting £12 from the Adult District Board, and £20 from the above-named Tents, making a total of £32, which sum was given into the treasurer's hands to lay the foundation of the society's funds. At the end of 1871 the first balance sheet showed the funeral fund to have a balance of £24 14s. 10d., the contingent fund £3 12s. 9d., or a total of £28 7s. 7d. The expenses had been £6 for funerals and £20 14s. 5d. for contingent expenses. Out of that sum a large amount of printing had to be paid for, and the neccssary books provided. From that time to the present the society has increased yearly in numbers and funds. The total amount of funds at the close of last year was £258 10s. 8d.; the number of members 548, with nine collectors, six in Manchester, one in Liverpool, one in Cornwall, and one in Southsea (Hants). In commencing the present year we are hopeful that the society will be very rapid in its future progress, not in Manchester alone, but throughout a number of the large Districts of our Order in the United Kingdom. At the last Moveable Conference, held in 1877, the question of making some provision for the children of our brethren in case of death was discussed very freely, and the feeling of the brethren at the Conference was that it would be very desirable to have some plan adopted by which a sum of money could be given at the death of a member's child. There seemed to be a link wanting in our Order, and this evidently was the missing one. We had Juvenile Tents, but they only admitted candidates as members at six years of age, so that we had no provision whatever for children from three months to six years, the result being that in many cases our brethren entered their children in burial societies holding their meetings at public-houses, which is something all true Rechabites deplore. However, the Conference left the matter in the hands of the page 58 Board of Directors. As they had to revise the Juvenile Rules, they were requested to draw up a scheme at the same time which would remedy the evil complained about. The Board of Directors met for the purpose of carrying out the resolution passed at the Conference, namely, to revise the Juvenile Rules, and if possible to form a burial society in connection with the Order. The Board of Directors obtained all the information it was possible to get on the subject, and also sent an invitation to the Juvenile District Secretary of No. 1 District to assist them in the work they had before them, which invitation was accepted, in order to promote the interests of our Juvenile Order. Having revised a suitable copy of rules which would meet the requirements of the Districts of the United Kingdom, the members of the Board were unanimously of opinion that it would be far better not to give sick benefits to Juvenile members, but have a uniform basis of funeral contributions and benefits; and as that plan had worked very successfully in the Manchester District for 15 years, they had no hesitation in recommending the large Districts to work on the Manchester plan. The question of making some provision for the children of members from three months to six years had a great amount of attention and consideration from the Board. Great difficulties appeared in the way of forming a Burial Society to be worked from the Head Office of the Order, therefore it seemed as if nothing could be done in that direction. As the question of the Rechabite Temperance and General Family Burial Society had been brought before their notice by Bro. Henry Roper, the president, who fully explained the manner in which the society was worked, the Board saw that this society was the very thing which would remedy the evil they had spent so much time to remove. In fact, it was the very thing that was wanted, and it was now in a good position, having overcome the difficulties which very often appear in the early history of similar societies. Therefore the Board of Directors passed a resolution that they would recommend the Society to the attention of the members of the Order, and especially to the large Districts, as that appeared to be the only practical method in which they could deal with the question which had occupied so much of their time and attention. In fairness to the High Chief Ruler and the Board of Directors, I must bear testimony that they have carried out the resolution to recommend the Society to the very letter, judging from the large number of letters and inquiries I have received, and which has already resulted in commencing branches of the society in Cornwall and at Southsea (Hants). 1 have written this article so that the members may get all the necessary information respecting the Society, and no doubt it will save unnecessary inquiries being made, as I hope that all the brethren throughout the Order read our valuable Rechabite Magazine, published monthty, which contains all our Order intelligence. In conclusion, I have to state that the Committee of Management are prepared to open branches of our Society in any part of the United Kingdom, and appoint suitable collectors or agents. Each applicant for the office of collectorship must be a Rechabite, and obtain a reference from the District Secretary in his District, to ensure success. The terms are 15 per cent, on amounts collected; 6d. each for every new member after three months' membership, and a fee of 1s. for each death which occurs in the collector's district. The collectors are provided with all the necessary material for working. Return sheets are provided, one of which the collector fills up at the end of every quarter, according to the printed headings, then deducts amount of commission due, and remits balance through post with a P.O.O., payable to the Secretary. In case of death of a country member, the collector sends a registrar's certificate of death, and the amount due will be at once forwarded through the post office to the collector, whose duty it is to pay at once to those entitled to receive the funeral money. I have thus endeavoured in as brief a manner as possible to give the origin and the progress of the Rechabite Burial Society, and hope and trust that my efforts to give the brethren information respecting this question may be satisfactory to all, and that the members will see that this is the link that has been missed by many in our Order.