These two councils have been chosen because of the recent retirement of their distinguished executives, because they illustrate what has happened in the last two decades, because of available historical summaries, and to illustrate the merger process. The list could easily be multiplied by at least ten, to include a score or more of significant local demonstrations of church cooperation of long standing.
Eric F. Goldman, writing in the January 1960 Harper's, called the 1950's a "stuffy decade." In terms of Buffalo church cooperation the facts were quite otherwise. During these years the growth of the Council of Churches, under the long leadership ( 1944-1959) of Dr. Frost, was conspicuous.
In June 1951 The Christian Century, in an article on "Christian Church Cooperation in Buffalo--A Study of a Successful Council of Churches", said, "To know Dr. Frost is to understand the position of trusted leadership the council holds in the life of the churches and the city. His notable traits of humility, sincerity, and democratic spirit are at the heart of great Christian leadership. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with Phi Beta Kappa honors in 1915. After completing his theological training at Colgate-Rochester Divinity School, he served pastorates in Minnesota, New York, and Ohio. At the end of a ten-year pastorate in Toledo, he was elected executive secretary of the Toledo Council of Churches in 1934. (Some of us still remember his exceptional counsel on "Undergirding Spiritually" at the 1936 joint sessions of the AES and ECOA.) In 1914 he was called to head the Federal Council's commission on camp and defense communities. When he came to Buffalo the budget of the Council was $17,000. Now it is four times as large." The 1959 budget was $110,354, with cash on hand January 31, 1958, in double the amount of the total budget when Dr. Frost went to Buffalo.
That this growth resulted from the labors of many others is part of the administrative leadership of this well-loved, representative executive, as well as evidence of the progress of the entire movement during the decade, in program, in personnel, and in support.
The Erie County Sabbath School Association was organized December 3, 1857. In 1886 its name was changed to the Erie County Sunday School Association.
The Interchurch Council of Women was organized in 1911. Taking over a $600 debt from the local Men and Religion Movement, the Buffalo Federation of Churches was organized April 15, 1913. Its Committee on Religious Education paralleled the County Sunday School Association.
As early as 1916 thought and effort were expended to bring the Association and the Federation together. On April 1, 1930, the Sunday School Association became the Department of Religious Education of the Federation of Churches.
In 1941, when it was given its fine new home, the Federation sought incorporation as the Council of Churches.