• U.S.

Religion: The Upper Room

2 minute read

Four years ago Dr. Grover Carlton Emmons, a mild-mannered Southern Methodist who had held pastorates in the West and Southwest, became secretary of Home Missions, Hospitals and General Work for his church’s Board of Missions. Unsure what his general work was supposed to be, Dr. Emmons finally decided to publish a devotional periodical. He planned one. and found a name for it when he heard a Richmond minister mention “the Upper Room”* in a sermon.

Against the judgment of his superiors. Secretary Emmons had 100,000 copies of The Upper Room’s first issue printed by the Southern Methodist Publishing House in Nashville, Tenn. They were sold in no time. By last week this pocket-size quarterly (10¢ to 50¢, depending upon binding) had broken all records in U. S. religious publishing. No 1938 issue had run under 1,000,000 copies. The winter issue, out last week and advertised as suitable for Christmas greetings, will reach 1,250,000. Altogether, nearly 10,000,000 copies have been sold.

Contents of The Upper Room: daily Biblical quotations, brief homilies, prayers and “A Thought for the Day,” each page contributed by a different churchman or layman (usually but not always a Methodist). Sold mostly by mail order, advertised mostly by word of mouth, the popularity of The Upper Room among Protestants of all faiths (it is even more widely circulated in the East and West than in the South) indicates to many a hopeful evangelical churchman the possibility of a return of the “family altar.” Dr. Emmons estimates that 1,000,000 people practice its devotions daily.

*The room in the Jerusalem house in which Christ and His disciple; had their Last Supper.

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