Brethren Archive
The Year 1938

The Truth of the Assembly. Notes of Meetings in Australia, 1938

by Henry (Harry) Filor Nunnerley

Syd said ...
Can anyone please explain what a CARE MEETING is? When a meeting was so designated, where first and for what purpose—scriptural support? such as Paul’s, “... that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (2 Cor 11:28)? Or is it something like “continuing in fellowship” (Acts 2:42)? It seems a practice among a few assemblies.

“Care meetings” are mentioned throughout Nunnerley’s booklet—“A brother who has experience is of great value in the care meeting ..... One thing greatly to be desired as a result of meetings for care, is that God should be praised. ...... There is little real gain from a care meeting, unless it results in the Lord being exalted..... You feel what lasting good would issue from our care meetings, if everyone came with a wealth of intelligent experience gained from his knowledge of God as able to meet every situation.” AE Myles also mentions care meetings.

In many evangelical churches there is the so-called “care ministry” which also manifests itself in Christian counselling. Any relationship with this? Thanks, would appreciate any input.
Sunday, Jan 22, 2023 : 14:16
Nick Fleet said ...

Syd, the expression 'Care meeting" is probably confined to those who followed JT's ministry (though I am willing to be corrected). My understanding is that it is a (monthly?) assembly* meeting where suggestions are made as to how the meeting's weekly (or special) collections should be distributed, in other words, to 'care' for those in need (Acts 6:1 and 1 Tim 5:16). After widows etc, gifts for the Lord's servants would be considered as well as any other special expenses.

* I say 'assembly' meeting as it was later attended by sisters as well as brothers but it was not considered to be on a par with other meetings of the assembly,

Sunday, Jan 22, 2023 : 17:44
Syd said ...
Thanks so much, Nick. It confirms what I could deduce from the notes of Nunnerley and Myles. Nunnerley does write—“We were considering yesterday the coming in of the Lord amongst His people, and referred to four passages in the gospels, linking them with the Lord coming into the reading meeting, into the care meeting, and into the meeting for prayer; then we touched very briefly on John 20, in relation to the first day of the week.”

It seems that the notion of a care meeting, according to their understanding, came from Mark 11 when the Lord Jesus was found three times in the temple (a house of prayer!). The prayer meeting is supported by the Mt 18 passage and the reading meeting on Luke 24 when the Lord expounded the Scriptures to the two disciples. So the care meeting was assigned a significant place in their estimation; also the shepherd's care was significant for them - as it should be.
Monday, Jan 23, 2023 : 14:34
Gregory Morris said ...
I thought the Care Meetings were a good thing. Apart from the dithering over how to divide the considerable surplus of the cash in hand after expenses were settled, it was a good opportunity to reach a consensus and deal with some difficult matters. I am less clear going back through my grandmother's diaries as to whether the Brothers' meetings often held to discuss matters of Discipline, became care meetings when all the brethren attended.

When I was a kid, the attic was full of Care Meeting Papers from the 1960s which listed matters arising for prayer. These included isolated meetings in Iran and other exotic locations, problems facing other meetings - brothers or sisters not quite right as to some edict or other, shared drains, people still living in flats or with People not in fellowship. I think they were monthly. I wonder if examples have survived
Monday, Jan 23, 2023 : 21:28
Syd said ...
Thanks. It's interesting historically (and ecclesiastically) and perhaps indicative of some looking for different ways of expressing assembly life to those 100 years earlier. To my knowledge, it's a foreign concept in Africa.
Tuesday, Jan 24, 2023 : 04:03
Gregory Morris said ...
In Africa it is still done weekly. At EB meetings among the Xhosa Brethren in the Eastern Cape, the money available is divided according to need after the breaking of bread when requests for practical help can be met.
Tuesday, Jan 24, 2023 : 05:50
Syd said ...
Yes, in what was known as the Transkei, a few assemblies exist. Our black brethren are known for great acts of mercy and kindness; also in Mocambique where the need is great.
Wednesday, Jan 25, 2023 : 03:04
Joshua said ...
In TW meetings Care Meetings are Men only ( Kids and Women excluded) meetings that deal with the administrative affairs of the local assembly. Acts 15 in principle (though Acts 15 doesn't deal with local matter) is said to be the basis of care meeting

Care meetings are also common among the Open Brethren where it is elders only.

Care meetings I think definitely predate JT.Sr as in 1871, in Words of Truth, FGP answered the following query

" We have long had the practice amongst us, for those who take an interest in the affairs of the Assembly, to come together to confer and deliberate on things brought before them prior to submitting such things to the gathered Assembly. Some few altogether object to “brothers meetings.They say that everything should go before the Assembly without any preliminary meeting.

Some insist on the presence of sisters at such preliminary meetings, or that they be set entirely aside by having everything done at the Lord’s table after the breaking of bread.
Our desire is to be guided by the Word of God, and I shall feel obliged if you would favor me with your judgment on this question.."?

Also in Bible Treasury Aug 1873, WK answered similar queries on Brothers Meetings.

While these queries don't mention the name Care meeting, they describe exactly how an modern care meeting goes around atleast in TWs.

In 1906 , The Christian's Library (ed. AH Burton) had an article by FMH " Assembly Meetings" which included the name "Care Meetings".

Perhaps the Saturday evening London Central Meetings from 1860s might be the starting point of such meetings ?
Wednesday, Jan 25, 2023 : 14:17
Syd said ...
This principle always holds—no elders or brothers in a local assembly, however esteemed or qualified, represent the assembly. No matter how routine or ordinary assembly affairs may be, there should be discernment and consideration for the assembly when brothers legitimately meet separately.

But back to the so-called “care meeting.” Why would brothers (elders) meet separately for the care of the assembly or the Lord’s people? Why wouldn’t the assembly gather for such a matter? 1 Cor 16:1-2—giving for the saints’ needs—suggests an assembly meeting; most likely when they came together to break bread. In Gal 2:10; 6:10— giving to the poor—it’s the assemblies in Galatia which are in view. Paul commends Gaius for his “charity before the church” in helping brethren and strangers (3 John). Gaius’s giving and for whom was known to the assembly.

Let us remember that an assembly meeting where the saints gather to the Person and Name of the Lord Jesus Christ (on the ground of the one Body), represent the Church of the living God everywhere.

PS. It's the Vol 6, 1904, The Christian's Library, referred to above.
Wednesday, Jan 25, 2023 : 20:58
Roger Holden said ...
In answer to Gregory Morris’s question I do have in my possession a copy of the Agenda (as it was called) for the Brighton meeting for May 1969. Such things were an invention of the JT Jr era. It was not really an ‘Agenda’ as usually understood, more what other people would call a list of items for prayer and I think it was intended to be used in the Monday evening prayer meetings. Being on foolscap paper it does not quite fit into an A4 scanner so I have scanned it in four half pages. I shall e-mail it to Tom.

Certainly Care Meetings pre-date JT Snr. There are two references to brothers’ meetings in JND (CW, Vol. 26, pg. 265 dated to 1871; Letters, Vol.2, pg. 416 dated to 1877).There is reference in an address by J. B. Stoney (New Series Vol.2, pg. 125) which is dated to 1876. The first reference in JT Snr is 1908 where he says ‘…what we call a care meeting, or a brothers’ meeting, is, to my mind, one of the most important meetings we can have…’ This is during a reading in Indianapolis (See New Series Vol.2, pg.217). As this quote suggests, JT Snr did develop quite an emphasis on the Care Meeting, particularly from 1920 onwards. At this time they seem to have been held on Saturday evenings. In places like London where several local meetings were considered to constitute the assembly in the city, another thing JT Snr emphasised, there would be on meeting for them all. Apart from financial matters they were concerned with receiving people into fellowship and conversely putting people out of fellowship, that is matters of discipline. Sisters began to attend the Care Meeting sometime after 1945, but before the end of JT Snr’s ‘reign’.

Under JT Jr things changed again.

Saturday, Jan 28, 2023 : 02:00
Steve H said ...
Hi All,

As this item was published by the Stow Hill Bible & Tract Depot, it was obviously from the "Exclusive" brethren line, and is an interesting read, along with the one referred to in connection with A E Myles.

My parents were both brought up in the "Exclusives" - one in a fairly large gathering, the other in a much smaller "meeting", but they, along with many others, left over the "eating ministry".

I was only a toddler at the time, so had no understanding of what had happened until much later, but heard older people speak of their fondness of their time with that group of brethren, especially during the period between the two major wars (WW1 & WW2).

This major division, and others that followed resulted in the various brethren groups becoming known as the "Ins", "Outs", "Out-Outs" etc.

For those brought up in the brethren "system" it was assumed that the younger generation had "automatically" gained a lot of "knowledge".

The term "Care Meeting" (which was continued by at least one group after the major "eating ministry" division) sounded great, but sadly, there was little effort to demonstrate real pastoral care for those who had genuine questions.

My wife and I moved to "pastures new" not long after we were married, and a lovely mature couple took a real interest in us, and helped us to settle in to our new environment.

We value the teaching we had from our youth, and treasure some of the lovely "Little Flock" hymns which do not appear in other hymn books, and on occasions even sing some of them during our Monday evening home group, which we host, and I (attempt to) lead our discussion - currently in Revelation (chapter 17 tomorrow evening).

We use a variety of hymn books - we have just enough copies of several publications for our small group - including music copies for my wife to play the piano.

These times are special for all who attend, and we are all growing in our appreciation of not only what God has done for us, but also Who He is.

Every blessing,

Steve H

Monday, Jan 30, 2023 : 02:30
Syd said ...
Thanks for the helpful inputs; it really gives perspective.

But can the origin of the care meetings, apart from how it later manifested among some “brethren” assemblies be determined? It is well known that the early brethren of the 19th century read very widely including the ante- and post-nicene fathers. Augustine, Jerome and others wrote much about charitable giving and distributions and how this was effected in early Christianity.

But Edward Lecky (1838-1903), educated at Trinity College, Dublin, wrote this in his ‘History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne, Vol 2’—“Christianity for the first time made charity a rudimentary virtue, giving it a foremost place in the moral type and in the exhortations of its teachers. Besides its general influence in stimulating the affections, it effected a complete revolution in this sphere, by representing the poor as the special representatives of the Christian founder, and thus making the love of Christ rather than the love of man the principle of charity. Even in the days of persecution, collections for the relief of the poor were made at the Sunday meetings. The agapae, or feasts of love, were intended mainly for the poor; and food that was saved by the fasts was devoted to their benefit. A vast organization of charity, presided over by the bishops, and actively directed by the deacons, soon ramified over Christendom, till the bond of charity became the bond of unity, and the most distant sections of the Christian Church corresponded by the interchange of mercy. Long before the era of Constantine it was observed that the charities of the Christians were so extensive—it may perhaps be said so excessive—that they drew very many impostors to the Church; and, when the victory of Christianity was achieved, the enthusiasm for charity displayed itself in the erection of numerous institutions that were altogether unknown to the pagan world.”

There has certainly been an ongoing “care ministry” in Christianity from those first days of the feasts of charity.
Monday, Jan 30, 2023 : 04:07

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