Protestant Educators

Picture of Harrison C. Munro

As a member of the Disciples of Christ and as a pupil of William C. Bower, Dr. Harrison Clyde Munro (1890-1962) emerged as a product of the progressive movement of the early to mid-twentieth century. He served as a missionary to Alaska, an ordained minister for the Disciples, an editor and curriculum writer for the Disciples, an editor and writer for the International Journal of Religious Education, a director for multiple initiatives by the International Council of Religious Education, a book author, and finally as a college professor at Texas Christian University and Jarvis Christian College. He earned his bachelor degree from Hiram College, a Master of Arts degree in psychology from Spokane University, a master of religious education degree from the College of the Bible at Transylvania University, and an honorary doctorate awarded by Jarvis Christian College. Through his writings, fieldwork, and teaching, Munro put into practice the predominant theories of progressive Christian education.

Biography

The Early Years

Harrison Clyde Munro was born on April 1, 1890, in Petosky, Michigan (Gebhard, 1965, p. 1; Stokes, 1965, p. 59). His parents, Erastus and Anna, were lumberers and homesteaders in northern Michigan, and Harry spent his childhood helping his parents with the farm, learning in the one-room schoolhouse (where his mother was their teacher), and attending the Methodist Church (C. A. Munro, 1984, p. 8). The Munro household modeled Christian living, which left a lasting impression on Harry and set him on a course devoted to Christian service (Heron, 1943, p. 723).

Young Harry dreamed of a life beyond the farm, and when he was nineteen, his uncle Merritt Vanneter from Hiram, Ohio, invited Harry to return with him to pursue more opportunities for education (Gebhard, 1965, pp. 3-4). Harry gladly accepted, left behind the homestead, and after completing his preparatory work, he enrolled in Hiram College, a school founded by the Disciples of Christ and known for its claim to President James A. Garfield as an alumnus and early president of the institution (1956-1959) (Gebhard, 1965, p. 4; Lee, 2004, p. 394; Rushford, 2004, p. 349; West, 1950, p. 200). It was during this time when Harry joined the Disciples of Christ, the denomination to which he would pledge his membership for the rest of his life (Stokes, 1965, p. 59; Walker, 1962).

While at Hiram, Munro met two people there who shaped him greatly. First, he heard John R. Mott's appeal to "Save the world for Christ in this generation" (Gebhard, 1965, p. 6). Anna Laura (Munro) Gebhard, Harry Munro's oldest child, records in her memoirs:

A close-knit, dedicated group of students, the Student Volunteers, responded to his challenge. They were ready to dedicate their lives, all that they were or might become, to the achievement of a Christian world. Never did they doubt that Dr. Mott's dream was possible.

Seldom in his long professional career did Dad get away from the impetus and inspiration of this college-inspired dream. It motivated much of his creative writing in Christian education and it inspired movements like the United Christian Adult Movement and the National Christian Teaching Mission which he later fathered (Gebhard, 1965, p. 7).

Gebhard's assessment corresponds well with the evidence. For the rest of Munro's life, he never lost his passion to serve the church and to help its members be more Christlike, a major theme that surfaces throughout his writings (H. C. Munro, 1929, pp. 32-49, 1930a, p. 100, 1933, pp. 58-59, 1934, p. 50, 1956, pp. 92-125). In the years that followed this call to ministry, Munro would preach as a student, work as a pastor and teacher in multiple congregations, and devote two years of service to mission efforts in Alaska under the American Christian Missionary Society (hereafter ACMS) (Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1925). According to Munro's biographical sheet from the Disciples of Christ Historical Society, he preached his first sermon at South Russell, Ohio, in June 1910, which would have been the first year he arrived to Hiram (Disciples of Christ Historical Society, n.d.).

The second influential person who entered Harry's life was Vera Segur. Vera, also a student at Hiram College, had a special gift for music. She would lead both student groups and congregations in singing, and as Gebhard records, "… she made the task of the minister or evangelist much more effective" with her ministry of music (Gebhard, 1965, p. 8). Vera's voice and her shared passion for ministry caught Harry's attention. Though they began to court while both in school, Vera graduated from Hiram in 1911 and enrolled in Butler University in Indianapolis for further training. The following year, on June 16, 1912, Harry and Vera were married in Angola, Indiana. They, then, returned to Hiram together for the next four years, while they started a family and while Harry completed his first degree (Gebhard, 1965, pp. 7-9). Vera Munro remained as committed to ministry as her husband, serving at his side, mothering four children, directing church choirs, working as an editor for David C. Cook Publishing Company, and contributing writings of her own (Walker, 1949; H. C. Munro, Munro, & Swift, 1923; V. S. Munro, 1933, 1940).

Harry Munro graduated from Hiram with a bachelor of arts (A.B.) in June of 1916 (Shirey, 2011), and he was ordained that same month. Ministers officiating his ordination were John E. Pounds, Miner Lee Bates (president of Hiram College), and B. S. Dean (Disciples of Christ Historical Society, n.d.). While many young men in the U.S. and Europe were concerned about war, Harry Munro moved toward a different mission, to become a Bible-school missionary in the frontiers of the Alaskan territory.

The Call to Alaska

Most accounts of Munro's two years in Alaska come from news briefs published in Christian Standard and The Christian-Evangelist written by R. M. Hopkins of the American Christian Missionary Society (ACMS). Harry Munro also wrote a lengthy article published in both papers that summarized their work, and the Disciples Historical Society has a few documents, including Hopkins's "Alaska Bulletins" that were transcribed for archiving purposes. Although Gebhard has reconstructed a brief summary of these turbulent years in Alaska, she confesses, "Dad seldom spoke of his Alaskan experiences. It was as though many of them he wanted to forget" (Gebhard, 1965, p. 13).

Hopkins first announced the Munro's commitment in May of 1916 with enthusiasm of having "secured" the "Bible-school missionary to Alaska" (Hopkins, 1916a, p. 1227). Anna, their first child, had already been born (1914), and Harry Munro's parents had previously left Michigan to relocate in California. The plan was for Vera, who was expecting their second child, and Anna to reside with Harry's parents while Harry would go ahead of them to Alaska to begin the work and to prepare a home for his family (Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1925; Hopkins, 1916a, p. 1227).

For the next three months, Hopkins sent regular updates to the Christian Standard and The Christian-Evangelist, charting the Munros' cross-country journey to California. Along the way, Munro and Hopkins made several stops to congregations, appealing for prayers and financial support. Munro's ministry would begin in Seward, Alaska, and the ACMS insisted that he begin the work with church building construction in order to provide a meeting place for members of the Disciples of Christ who were already there. Once established in the community, he would proceed to develop an educational program for the region. On June 27, 1916, Harry Munro set sail for Seward from Seattle, Washington (Hopkins, 1916b, p. 1259, 1916c, p. 1291, 1916d, p. 1323, 1916e, p. 1355, 1916g, p. 880).

In the initial months, Munro reported the construction of three buildings totaling a cost of $50,000. He also described how Seward was a growing settlement and a prime location for the ministry. He wrote, "I feel that my time, for a year or more at least, spent in Seward will do more to give the Disciples of Christ a foothold in Alaska than if spent anywhere else" (The Christian-Evangelist, 1916, p. 1455).

Munro was quite the craftsman, and in addition to overseeing the building projects, he personally built tables, pews, and the pulpit in order to save money and to utilize his skills. Apparently, the local school recognized his woodworking talents, and appointed him as "Instructor in Manual Training" in the high school, which allowed Munro to become acquainted with "every teen-age boy in town" (The Christian-Evangelist, 1916, p. 1455).

It must have been difficult for Harry to be serving in a new field, under harsh conditions, knowing that he would be apart from his wife during their second child's birth; yet no complaints entered into the records. On September 6, 1916, Virginia was born, and just six weeks later, Vera, Anna, and Virginia left the comforts of California to join Harry in rugged Alaska (Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1925; Gebhard, 1965, p. 12). On November 21st, Vera and company arrived to Seward.

The Alaskan plans moved forward: The Munro family reunited, and the Seward Christian Sunday School commenced with twenty in attendance (Hopkins, 1916f, p. 422, 1916h, p. 1645). For the next several months, Harry Munro would travel by foot and boat through the frontier to encourage Disciples congregations and to take Bible school resources to nearby settlements, such as in Hope, Girdwood, and Latouche (H. C. Munro, 1917a, p. 1164, 1917d, p. 762). About one such journey he wrote,

Although I lost the trail frequently, came near going snow-blind, and gave one of my feet a close call when the temperature suddenly dropped to fifteen below … I came through little the worse for the wear and rather enjoyed it… A little over ninety-four miles may seem like quite a walk to preach three sermons, but I wish that all efforts put forth in the work of the kingdom could yield such relatively large fruitage as this seems to (H. C. Munro, 1917b, p. 907, 1917c, p. 515).

Vera Munro also stayed actively involved in the ministry, supporting the Seward congregation with her musical gifts by playing the organ and leading singing. Gebhard notes that Mrs. Munro even preached on occasion when Harry was away (Gebhard, 1965, p. 12).

The initial enthusiasm in Seward was short lived. Just a little over one year after the work had begun, on September 10, 1917, the combination of melting snow and early rains caused Glacier Stream to swell and destroy much of the town. Gebhard records,

Near the church it broke over its bank, cut a new channel through the town to the sea, and swept into its fury, homes, the school house, and finally the church and home of the new missionary. The school was turned onto its side like a child's block, a quarter of a mile downstream. The church came to rest on a pile of rubble half a block off its foundations (Gebhard, 1965, p. 13).

Fortunately, the Munros had plenty of warning and were able to escape to safety before the currents swept away the building they called both church and home. The Munro family retreated to California, spending there the winter of 1917 while making plans to return to Alaska the next year (Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1917).

The Munros resettled in Petersburg, Alaska, where they could establish a new congregation and still supervise the work in Anchorage and Juneau (Gebhard, 1965, p. 15). With sparse funding, Harry was able to build a new home for his family and to continue advancing the Disciples' mission efforts (The Christian-Evangelist, 1918, p. 826). By this time Harry was beginning to establish quite a reputation for his ingenuity, fortitude, and positive attitude through the midst of catastrophe. Indeed, the ACMS was quite supportive of the results they saw in Alaska (Mason, 1918, p. 669).

In spite of his reported success and encouragement from the home office, one must wonder how these experiences might have allowed for times of reflection and evaluation of one's calling. Munro's devotion to kingdom expansion through Christian education drove his determination, but as he would pause and observe his context, he would see mining towns depleted of population because of World War I. He would reflect on a home destroyed and a family nearly lost due to the deluge. He would also consider how, although he was serving his own denomination diligently, there were other Protestant churches in Alaska that were advancing the gospel of Christ. Munro, in fact, would ask his Mission Board, "Why should mission funds be used to maintain competitive work?" (Gebhard, 1965, p. 15). Harry Munro, thus, decided to resign from his post and return to the northwest to continue his calling of Christian education elsewhere. Little did he know that this change of course would mark the beginning of a fruitful career of writing, teaching, and administration that would reach far beyond the confines of his denomination.

Back to School

Leaving Alaska proved to be as difficult as remaining would have been. While sailing back to Washington, the Munro girls both caught a whooping cough, which led the captain of the boat to request that the Munros disembark at Ketchikan. There, Harry secured a job at a lumber yard for about six weeks while his children recovered from their illnesses (Gebhard, 1965, p. 16). Once Anna's and Virginia's health returned, the journey continued.

The Munros stopped next in Tacoma, Washington, where Harry accepted an interim preaching job at the First Christian Church for about six months. In the fall of 1919, however, Spokane University offered Harry a teaching position, and his family relocated once more. While at Spokane, Harry completed his master of arts degree in psychology (sources conflict as to whether this was in 1921 or 1922) (Disciples of Christ Historical Society, n.d.; Heron, 1943, p. 723) and remained at this post till 1922. During this time Vera gave birth to their third child, Rosalind (December 2, 1919), Harry served in Spokane churches, and Vera also began teaching Spanish classes at Spokane University. Unfortunately, Anna, their first child, contracted polio, which demanded much additional care from her mother (Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1925; Gebhard, 1965, pp. 17-18).

In the summer of 1922, the Munros were on the move again, this time to Norman, Oklahoma, where Harry had accepted a teaching position with the religion department of Oklahoma University but funded by the First Christian Church. His funding was "insecure," and in order to add regularity to his salary, Harry preached Sunday nights with a congregation in Purcell, Oklahoma (Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1925; Gebhard, 1965, p. 19).

The Oklahoma assignment proved to be only one of transition, since after just one year of teaching at the university, the Christian Board of Publication recruited Harry to be one of their new Sunday School editors (The Christian-Evangelist, 1923, p. 1077). Harry and Vera with three children and another on the way (Harrison, born November 15, 1923), packed their belongings and continued their sojourn to St. Louis, Missouri, where Harry's editorial and writing career began in force (Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1925; Gebhard, 1965, p. 21).

Just prior to the Munros' arrival to St. Louis, a new institution emerged from among Protestant Christian educators. In 1922, representatives of the International Sunday School Association and the Sunday School Council of Evangelical Denominations met in Kansas City to formalize the merger of the two organizations into the International Council of Religious Education (hereafter ICRE). According to the records archived by the Presbyterian Historical Society, "The ICRE, consisting of forty denominational boards of religious education and thirty-three state councils of churches and religious education, combined lay and professional strength for closer interdenominational cooperation in Christian education" (Presbyterian Historical Society, n.d.). This same document lists eleven statements of purpose of the ICRE, which primarily focus on the council's providing of resources, training, professional collaboration, assistance with planning, and other services to church leadership and directors of education. Hugh S. Magill served as the first general secretary of the council from 1922 to 1936 and was replaced by Roy G. Ross from 1936 to 1950 until the council was subsumed under the National Council of Churches in 1950 (Presbyterian Historical Society, n.d.; Stokes, 1965, p. 147).

It appears that Munro was not only aware of the emerging ICRE, but he was also close enough to the organization to report on the annual meeting of the executive committee held in Chicago in 1924. In his article, published in The Christian-Evangelist, Munro related the council's assessment of the merger, explained the rationale for the new name, and announced the upcoming International Journal of Religious Education (hereafter IJRE). Munro also noted several members of the Disciples of Christ who were closely involved in this council's creation, notably his former liaison to ACMS, Robert M. Hopkins (chairman of the executive committee), and William C. Bower (H. C. Munro, 1924, p. 298).

The inaugural issue of the IJRE appeared in October 1924 (with its editorial office in Chicago, Illinois). General Secretary Hugh S. Magill brought forth the new journal with much enthusiasm. He wrote, "The International Council in all departments is organized on a basis of service. The new JOURNAL is published to serve individual workers in the home, in the Church school and in the community, and the classes and groups which these workers constitute" (Magill, 1924, p. 12). About half a year later, Magill continued to tout the ICRE and described how the merger would support a stronger Protestant cooperative effort, resulting in improved standards of religious education throughout member denominations. Magill's summary below illustrates well the high stakes being poured into this organization:

To meet this demand the Churches working cooperatively must develop a system of religious education which shall as adequately minister to all the children as does our system of general education furnished by the state. The Sunday school alone can not meet this imperative need… This cannot be done by any one denomination, nor by all the denominations working separately… The powers of Protestantism must converge to meet this mighty challenge.

The International Council of Religious Education is the agency through which these cooperating Christian forces work (Magill, 1925, p. 9).

Over the next several years the IJRE featured notable Christian education writers such as William C. Bower, George H. Betts, H. Shelton Smith, Harrison S. Elliott, and George A. Coe. Little did Harry Munro know that in a short time, he, too, would be featured in this journal and join the editorial staff.

Munro spent the next six years in St. Louis promoting Christian education among the Disciples of Christ, serving in editorial capacities for both the Christian Board of Publication and later with the United Christian Missionary Society (hereafter UCMS). He wrote Sunday school curriculum, published articles in The Christian-Evangelist and The International Journal of Religious Education, and established the Bethany Church School Guide, a periodical for leadership education in the Disciples of Christ, serving as its first editor from 1926 to 1929 (Heron, 1943, p. 723; Stokes, 1965, p. 60).

In 1925 Munro took a brief leave of service to complete his master of religious education degree at the College of Bible, a Disciples of Christ seminary (now Lexington Theological Seminary) affiliated with Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky (Wolfgang, 2004). While in Lexington, Munro enjoyed the privilege of studying under William C. Bower, who later, in 1926, joined the faculty of the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. Bower was a high-ranking member of both the Religious Education Association as well as the International Council of Religious Education (Smith, n.d.). According to Gebhard, Munro's first book, Agencies for the Religious Education of Adolescents, was a published version of Munro's thesis (Gebhard, 1965, p. 22; H. C. Munro, 1925).

Following the completion of this degree, Munro returned to St. Louis, where the UCMS recruited him as their "director of leadership education." The UCMS, an organization founded by the Disciples of Christ, sought to bring six different Disciples societies under one board, and religious education was one facet of the UCMS's mission (Toulouse, 2004, p. 750). Munro showed exceptional organizational skills and wrote prolifically. It was during this time when Munro wrote the manuscripts for five of his books: The Pastor and Religious Education, The Director of Religious Education, The Church as a School, The Effective Adult Class, and Christian Education in Your Church (Gebhard, 1965, p. 22). These books were later published in the 1930s (except for The Church as a School, published in 1929), most of which were published by the Disciples' Bethany Press.

While dedicated to his post with the Disciples, Munro increasingly showed interest in interdenominational efforts of Christian education. In the July-August 1927 issue of IJRE, Munro published his first article in the journal, in which he discussed the place of religious education as part of undergraduate curriculum (H. C. Munro, 1927). In 1928 Munro published an article in The Christian-Evangelist, recounting the state of religious education among the Disciples of Christ the previous year. In his enumeration of accomplishments Munro mentioned the Disciples' involvement in the ICRE (H. C. Munro, 1928). In fact, the ICRE commissioned Munro to write The Church as a School as a textbook for establishing leadership and educational standards in congregational schools (H. C. Munro, 1929, p. 8).

In The Church as a School, one can find several indications of progressive education. From his focus of experience as education to his referencing W. H. Kilpatrick and E. L. Thorndike, Munro applied cutting edge social science to Christian education (H. C. Munro, 1929, pp. 19, 22, 46, 49, 55). The Pastor and Religious Education (H. C. Munro, 1930a) and The Director of Religious Education (H. C. Munro, 1930b) likewise demonstrate Munro's integration of educational theory and the Sunday school. In both books, Munro argued for well developed standards of curriculum that require trained specialists for the job, whether the pastor or a hired director of religious education (H. C. Munro, 1930a, pp. 19, 25-26, 134, 139-140, 1930b, pp. 16-18, 32, 36).

Given his strong connections to the Council, it should come as no surprise that the ICRE took interest in Munro; and in 1929 he gladly accept an invitation to serve as ICRE's convention manager for the upcoming Sunday school convention in Toronto, Canada, in 1930, an appointment announced in the May 1929 issue of The Christian-Evangelist ("Munro leaves United Society," 1929; Gebhard, 1965, p. 22; Heron, 1943, p. 723; C. A. Munro, 1984, p. 8; Stokes, 1965, p. 60). This time the move took the Munros to Chicago, Illinois, where the family would spend the next 19 years. Just five months after Munro's move was announced, the October 1929 issue in IJRE listed Harry C. Munro among the journal's board of editors.

Years with the International Council of Religious Education

The Toronto convention was held on June 23-29, 1930. One can peruse through the IJRE of 1930 and see the convention's theme of "Go … Teach," taken from the Great Commission (H. C. Munro, 1930c, p. 55), referenced throughout. By all indications, Munro organized a successful gathering with over 5000 in attendance (H. C. Munro, 1930c, p. 37). Following the event, Munro edited a one-volume report of the Toronto convention, which provides a wealth of information on Christian education. The book, titled "Go … Teach," includes a brief history of the Sunday School Movement of Robert Raikes, statistics from ICRE's member denominations, photographs of speakers and the convention site, and most importantly, presentations from the speakers of the convention, which included George A. Coe, Hugh S. Magill, William C. Bower, Russell Colgate (the convention president), and Robert M. Hopkins.

Dunlap Heron recalls the reputation for organizational and leadership skills Munro had developed at the ICRE. He writes that when new programs needed to be launched, the Council office would reply, "Let Harry do it" (Heron, 1943, p. 723). Perhaps it was this work ethic that persuaded Russell Colgate to keep Harry Munro employed at the Council once the Toronto convention had ended (Gebhard, 1965, p. 24). Prior to the convention, in April 1930 the IJRE announced Munro's appointment as the Director of the Department of Adult Work. At that time, the new position was only for the rest of that year, but it eventuated into a full-time job with the Council's national staff and the journal's editorial office.

Although faced with hard times during the Depression years, Munro's ministry in education gained fervor with his new national platform. Armed with progressive educational models, Munro pioneered programs for adult Christian education. Kenneth Stokes in his dissertation on trends in adult education from 1936 to 1964 writes,

However, this movement - important as it was overshadowed by the personality of the genius behind it, Harry Munro. He was undoubtedly the key figure in Protestant adult education during the period covered by this chapter [1936-1945] and it was his leadership that gave unity and direction to the multifarious activities of the U. C. A. M. [United Christian Adult Movement]. This chapter might well be titled "The Harry Munro Period" (Stokes, 1965, p. 58).

Stokes, drawing from archive reports of the ICRE and personal interviews, recounts how Munro helped take the fledgling Committee of Religious Education of Adults (hereafter CREA) to new heights. The CREA was first formed in 1928 as part of the Educational Commission of the ICRE; however, prior to Harry Munro's involvement, the CREA lacked clear vision and resources.

One can see evidence of Munro's influence in a couple of ways. First, Munro adapted curriculum guides for adults according to adult learning theory, opening up the adult studies to be elective in nature and adaptable to individual needs and interests. The CREA referred to this new program as "Learning for Life" (Stokes, 1965, p. 67, 1966). The principle of adult-centered learning is evident in Munro's book The Effective Adult Class. Munro wrote, "… there are immediate problems upon which every Christian needs practical guidance and help… This may involve courses from time to time which are developed largely out of the situations and problems which the members wish to share" (H. C. Munro, 1934, p. 28). In line with progressive education, Munro also opined, "Social and recreational activities should be planned as a part of the educational program of the class" (H. C. Munro, 1934, p. 37). True to Deweyan impulses, "growth" became central to the goals of adult learners in the Sunday school (H. C. Munro, 1934, pp. 49-52). This book serves as another example of how Munro used contemporary educational theory to benefit the church.

Second, the CREA with Munro's leadership collaborated with other organizations that had interest in the advancement of adult Christian education. In 1936 the CREA hosted the Lake Geneva conference (in Wisconsin), which had in attendance organizations such as Directors of Religious Education Professional Advisory Section (ICRE), Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, Missionary Education Movement, National Board of the YWCA, National Council of Parent Education, and National Women's Christian Temperance Union (Stokes, 1965, pp. 71-72, 1966). Thus, the United Christian Adult Movement had begun and would be Munro's focus for the next ten years as he would work tirelessly launching state and city councils, adult training conferences, and summer camps that served as conduits for this movement (Adult conferences span the continent, 1940; Gebhard, 1965, pp. 25-26; H. C. Munro, 1940; The Christian-Evangelist, 1937). Munro also edited eleven booklets between 1938-1940 that promoted the principles of the adult education movement. Stokes offers a brief annotation of all eleven in his dissertation. Included in the eleven were such titles as Adult Program Guide, Adults in Action, Christian Action on Social Problems, Learning for Life, and Christian Family Life Education (Stokes, 1965, pp. 94-102).

Toward the end of the 1930s, war in Europe drew America's attention away from the economy and toward the international scene. War also occupied the minds of the IJRE editors (Hayward, 1940a, 1940b). Recognizing the grave effects war would have on social values, the ICRE began focusing on protecting families, which would add "family life" to Munro's ministry (Stokes, 1965, pp. 82-83). Believing that the family was the microcosm of the kingdom of God, Munro devoted events and writing to repairing the disrupted American families with Christian values (Gebhard, 1965, p. 28).

In 1939 and 1941 Munro organized family camps. In an attempt to promote the 1939 camp through the IJRE, Munro wrote, "The International Council of Religious Education is conducting an experiment this year in a new kind of camp which is organized and conducted to keep the family together and enrich family life" (H. C. Munro, 1939, p. 13). Munro announced that this gathering would be at Conference Point Camp, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, from July 30th to August 6th.

In 1942 Munro directed the first Christian Family Week, and in the following year, this effort extended beyond Protestant borders and included Roman Catholic and Jewish participation. Christian Family Week functioned ecumenically for a few years and gained national attention with a Presidential endorsement from President Roosevelt, who declared the first Sunday in May "National Family Day." Christian Family Week became known as National Family Week and left a long-lasting mark in American Protestant churches (Gebhard, 1965, pp. 27-28; Stokes, 1965, p. 115). In addition to camps and the National Family initiative, Munro wrote several articles and resources during the war years to encourage Christian values in the home (H. C. Munro, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945a).

Unfortunately, the effects of World War II on the nation coupled with an overworked director, resulted in the waning of the momentum and enthusiasm that initially drove the adult movement. Stokes reports that at the beginning of 1944, Munro assessed that participation in the UCAM was decreasing and observed how the ICRE was producing graded curriculum for adults that stood in competition with his Learning for Life materials. Stokes writes, "This troubled Munro particularly because he had always felt such a close unity within the I.C.R.E., but now sensed a lack of cooperation on the part of other departments and committees" (1965, p. 118).

In 1945 Munro resigned from his adult work at ICRE and became director of ICRE's Department of Educational Evangelism (Stokes, 1965, p. 119). This shift in part was out of frustration over the adult work; however, his move to educational evangelism actually brought him closer to the calling that had driven him up to this time. From his Alaskan missionary days till his career with ICRE, Munro saw educational ministries as his vehicle for evangelism. Furthermore, as Gebhard reveals from a family perspective, Munro had an unpublished manuscript titled "Penetrative Evangelism." Munro argued in this book that one's conversion experience was gradual, where a person can be convicted to follow Christ and make the cognitive decision to do so, but the same person's attitudes and behaviors do not follow suit as quickly. Since Munro was unable to find a publisher for "Penetrative Evangelism," he implemented his model through his educational evangelism appointment (Gebhard, 1965, pp. 27-30).

The ICRE and Munro deemed this new field initiative the "National Christian Teaching Mission," and it involved site visits to congregational communities. The visits consisted of self-studies by local churches, a census of the community, "fellowship cultivation" (an introduction to evangelism strategies for the local churches), and "program enlargement" (recommendations for evangelistic strategies by the guest team to the local leaders) (Gebhard, 1965, p. 30). For three years Munro developed this system, reporting on its progress often in the IJRE (Lawson & Munro, 1945; H. C. Munro, 1945b, 1945c, 1946a, 1946b). Several years later Munro published his book Fellowship Evangelism Through Small Groups, which explained the National Christian Teaching Mission system (H. C. Munro, 1951). Fellowship evangelism, or the Mission system through Christian education, became his primary way of following the vision for nurturing Christlikeness among Protestant churches.

Munro worked diligently in his new fieldwork endeavors, but the effort ended prematurely. In 1946 his wife, Vera Munro, was diagnosed with a malignancy, which quickly deteriorated her health. In the April 1948 issue of IJRE, the journal announced Harry Munro's resignation from the staff of ICRE. Wishing to move his ailing wife to a warmer climate and reduce his time away from home, Harry accepted the position of professor of religious education at Brite College of the Bible of Texas Christian University, a Disciples of Christ school. The Munros left Illinois on good terms, and the editors of IJRE surmised Munro's impact on their work with the following praise: "The face of Christian education as it is known on this continent today is very different from what it would have been without Mr. Munro. He has been a highly regarded and much loved member of the Council staff" (Founder of National Christian Teaching Mission Resigns, 1948, p. 2).

Twilight in Texas

Vera Munro never recovered from her tumor, and on March 23, 1949, she died. Reverend Granville Walker officiated her funeral at the University Christian Church in Fort Worth, Texas. At her memorial service, she was remembered for her dedication to serving the church as a minister's wife, as a choir director, as an editor and a writer, and as a mother of Christian children who have also dedicated their lives to ministry. Walker writes, "I can think of no tribute to the triumphant Christian life of a mother loftier than the fact that a family was reared in such a wholesome atmosphere of Christian commitment that every member of it seeks and finds those avenues by which he may serve and enrich the cause of Christ" (Walker, 1949). When the family gathered after Vera's passing, Harry told them, "This is not a time for sorrow; it is a time to celebrate a life that has been victoriously and courageously lived" (Gebhard, 1965, pp. 32-33). To be sure, Harry and Vera shared a marriage of faithful service to the kingdom of God and of love for each other.

From 1948 to 1955 Harry Munro concentrated on his work for the seminary at Texas Christian University. In addition, he married Dorothy Hanson, an English professor from Baylor University. Together, they continued Harry's ministry of writing and teaching in north Texas. While at Brite, Munro published his last three books that served as both summative works of a lifetime as a Christian educator as well as platforms for his teaching. The first of the three, Be Glad You're a Protestant, printed in 1948, represents a lesson series Munro delivered to the youth of the Congregational Church of Lockport, Illinois. He attempted through the series to educate emerging adults about the history of Protestantism in order to soften "blind prejudice" and to inspire democratic, religious freedom and the pursuit of unity in Christendom (H. C. Munro, 1948a, pp. 8, 137). Democratic religious freedom and unity surface in other writings and public addresses as well (H. C. Munro, 1948b, 1949, 1950). Munro published Fellowship Evangelism Through Small Groups, treated above, in 1951, and he published his final book in 1956 what might be regarded as his magnum opus: Protestant Nurture: An Introduction to Christian Education. Protestant Nurture draws from Munro's cumulative combination of ministry experience and his studies of the social sciences, presenting a thorough address of Christian education's place in the lives of the church institutionally and in the individual lives of her members. Key themes found in this book typical of Munro are experience and education, Christlikeness, and democracy. Astute readers may see traces of John Dewey, George Albert Coe, and Horace Bushnell throughout this tome.

Although enjoying the seminary life, Munro did not resort to isolated research and teaching. He was a scholar, but his research and writing was always closely tied to his passion for fieldwork and evangelism. Most of his lifetime of ministry had been under the shadow of council work. Therefore, the absence of functioning ecumenical councils in North Texas incited him to continue interdenominational cooperation by establishing councils in his new found home. With the help of the National Council of Churches, Munro was appointed as the executive secretary to head the Southwestern Intercouncil Office (Gebhard, 1965, p. 35), In June 1950 The Christian Century announced Munro's appointment and noted that this new office would collaborate with multiple organizations from Protestant denominations in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Louisiana (Bryant, 1950). Three years later, Harry Munro, Methodist bishop William G. Martin, McGruder E. Sadler (chancellor of TCU), and Harold C. Kilpatrick opened the office of the first Texas Council of Churches. All denominations in the state were invited to ratify this plan on May 4, 1953, and eleven mainline Protestant denominations were represented at the meeting. The Texas council later gave way to the Texas Conference of Churches, which presently claims three million members, comprised of twelve Protestant denominations, fourteen dioceses of the Catholic Church, and the Eastern Orthodox churches (Kilpatrick, n.d.). Munro was also instrumental in establishing the Fort Worth Area Council of Churches and the Dallas Council of Churches (Sparks, 1972; Walker, 1962).

After turning 65, Munro retired from Brite College in 1955. Although retired from a platform with ties to a national network of students, churches, and councils, he did not retreat from Christian education. Just prior to this year, in 1954, the Fort Worth Area Council of Churches launched a public gathering on October 31st, Reformation Day. This event would become known as the Festival of Faith, and it served as a time for any Protestant denomination to celebrate the Reformation heritage in a public way. Consistent with the ICRE's declaration of racial inclusion of 1947, invitations were sent to several African-American churches, which unknowing to the event planners, violated Fort Worth city ordinances at that time which forbade interracial (African-American and Caucasian) gatherings (Christian Century, 1947; Sparks, 1972, p. 11). Sparks records,

Mr. Hayward was uncertain about what to do in the situation, because Black Churches had already been invited to the rally. He contacted Harry Munro who said to just have the service and not bring up the issue unless someone else did first. On Reformation Sunday, Black churchmen walked through the doors of Will Rogers Auditorium along with white churchmen. Many of the whites found themselves in an uncomfortable position and left the worship service, but they were hardly missed as Will Rogers was full. The city ignored the action against the ordinance and the pace was set for other meetings and changes in the future (Sparks, 1972, p. 11).

Civil rights and social justice became Harry Munro's next and final campaign. His method was not to take to the streets or to draw much attention to himself and the issue. Rather, following his retirement from Brite, he and Dorothy spent their own financial resources and volunteered time to providing Christian education to African-American communities. Gebhard writes that Munro saw this move as his "atonement," to help bring reconciliation for generations of evil committed against African-American individuals and communities (Gebhard, 1965, p. 38).

In 1958 the Munros accepted teaching positions at Jarvis Christian College, an African-American college in Hawkins, Texas (The Jarvisonian, 1958). Harry Munro accepted no compensation, and Dorothy Munro received a meager salary for her teaching. Although they were surprised by the inadequate conditions of the school, they were most surprised by the lack of acceptance of them by the Jarvis community. Bridging the racial divide would not be easy. In spite of these difficulties, the couple persisted, taking residency in Hawkins, Texas, in 1961. That same year, Jarvis Christian College awarded Harry Munro with a well-deserved honorary doctorate (Fort Worth Tribune, 1962). After a lifetime of dedicated service to the kingdom and to scholarship, publishing a dozen books on Christian education, and writing countless articles and booklets, Mr. Harry C. Munro was now Dr. Munro.

Both Dorothy and Harry contracted a flu virus in February 1962. Though they recovered, the virus took its toll on Harry. Gebhard shares in her memoirs how during these days while ill, Harry Munro would watch television, particularly, the historic news releases of John Glenn's orbiting the earth. Harry expressed how magnificent it must be to experience outer space. In his last letter that would circulated among his children, he reflected, "I don't personally expect to go into orbit till I kick off this earthly shell, after which I think it will both safe and thrilling to take to outer space!" (Gebhard, 1965, p. 39; Walker, 1962). On March 19th, 1962, Munro lost his battle for recovery, but as Gebhard concludes, "Harry Munro had gone into orbit!" (Gebhard, 1965, p. 40).

On March 22, 1962, Munro's memorial service was held at the University Christian Church. Granville Walker preached his funeral just has he had Vera's funeral fourteen years prior. Munro's adult life ended the way it began, in service to Christ and with educational ministry as the primary way to nurture others to become Christlike. Walker's memorial sermon expresses this sentiment well: "Harry Munro was as thoroughly Christian in his personal life and faith as he was in his professional career. He has had a great personal interest in many areas of Christian social concern and he has borne his personal witness in these areas, often at great cost to himself" (Walker, 1962). One might consider the troubles in Alaska and the unsteady income until he arrived in Chicago as enough to discourage any normal person out of ministry, but the Munros endured. Harry Munro led a life of tenacious service, no doubt leaving the reputation behind in each of his organizations, and perhaps even among the heavenly hosts, that when a job must be done, "Let Harry do it."

Contributions to Christian Education

Harry Munro became a Christian educator during the apex of American progressivism, and religious educational leaders of the era such as George A. Coe, George H. Betts, William C. Bower, and Paul H. Vieth influenced greatly Munro's writings and ministry. Indeed, each of these authors appeared regularly in Munro's footnotes and bibliographies. Bower taught Munro in Lexington, and they maintained professional association as well as denominational association while they both worked in Chicago. Munro's educational philosophy was cut from the same fabric as the progressive movement driving the Religious Education Association and the ICRE.

Munro was not a theorist; rather he was a scholarly practitioner. His books and many articles can best be described as bridges between the theorists of Christian education and the congregation. His council activism and seminary teaching put him in contact with church leaders on the frontlines, where he sought to put progressive education into the daily living of Protestantism. Munro translated progressive thought into accessible strategies for the sake of growing and uniting the church of Christ. One may describe Munro's contribution to Christian education in three parts: (1) he applied the social sciences to congregational ministry; (2) he focused on Christlikeness as the aim of education (3) and he promoted democratic, free-thinking education as the principle mode for nurturing spiritually mature individuals and for unifying the Christian movement.

Bridging the Social Sciences with the Church

Harry Munro returned to graduate studies in the 1920s following his brief mission in Alaska at a time when Dewey's experimental learning had already seen widespread influence and when psychology and education, as through E. L. Thorndike's advancement of intelligence testing, continued to emphasize a naturalistic view of learning. With scientific experimentation of learning's exploration of how to observe, categorize, and mathematically predict human behavior based on empirical data, Munro raised no objections or suspicions to such pursuits. In fact, he joined the opinions of other progressive Christian educators that the social sciences were not a threat to Christian nurture but rather they informed teachers about God's created order in human behavior.

We can see this support for the scientific method and social sciences in each of his books. For example, in Church as School, Munro wrote, "But is the scientific method with its reliable prediction of outcomes, and its ability to control those outcomes by controlling their causes, as valid in the realm of mind and spirit as in the realm of matter? Certainly if it is, the loading of responsibility for bringing the Kingdom of God which rests upon the modern church school program makes it imperative that we use this method" (H. C. Munro, 1929, p. 19). In The Director of Religious Education Munro noted, "Psychology has not eliminated the divine forces in religious experience, but it has taught us to associate or identify these forces with a much broader scope of experiences" (H. C. Munro, 1930b, p. 44). He carried his use of the social sciences throughout his career and modified his views as science also developed. In Protestant Nurture Munro presumed both behaviorism and stage theory psychology as contributors to understanding human development, and he supported Angyal's holistic theory of personality development and the trend toward homonomy, that is, the human desire to function in an ecology rather than autonomously (Angyal, 1941; H. C. Munro, 1956, pp. 65-87).

An example of his attempt to integrate science with church work can be seen in his discussion of the "spiritual output," which was a measurable formula to gauge spiritual growth in the church. The spiritual output was the product of the number of people attending the church, the duration of a lesson, and the efficiency of one's teaching. Munro admitted that the first two were quantitative and the last one a qualitative measurement, but by multiplying the three together, a church could measure spiritual output (H. C. Munro, 1929, pp. 140-143). He explained, "The spiritual output, being our real objective, may be defined as the volume of Christian living resulting from the school session. Other things being equal, it will of course be in direct proportion to the number reached by the school program. A doubled attendance would mean a doubled spiritual output" (H. C. Munro, 1929, p. 139).

Munro's high regard for experiential learning serves as another example of how the social sciences of his day informed his practice and writing. In Christian Education in Your Church Munro wrote, "Where there is a person there is experience. Where there is experience there is change" (H. C. Munro, 1933, p. 70). Anticipating Dewey's "learning situation," Munro described how one's environment and experiences shaped how one learns (Dewey, 1938, p. 43; H. C. Munro, 1933, p. 91). Therefore, Munro saw experience as a key component to the curriculum in the church school (H. C. Munro, 1930a, p. 107).

Munro also considered educative experiences as tools for community growth in a Christian context: "When our purposes began to center in the needs, experiences, and relationships of growing persons, and in the Christianization of community life, it is inevitable that the church's community relations will become of prime importance" (H. C. Munro, 1933, p. 192). The greatest advantage that the church can have for designing an educative experience is worship: "Religious education draws upon the one type of experience which has the largest resources for the creation of noble motives - the experience of worship" (H. C. Munro, 1930b, p. 10). Worship ought to be designed for educational purposes (H. C. Munro, 1930a, pp. 179-180). With the church's having a built-in mechanism for generating learning experiences that stimulate all senses of the human body, a carefully crafted worship experience would lead participants to develop character in ways unavailable to traditional, non-religious school settings.

Munro's studies of the social sciences informed his curriculum writing and his work with the ICRE. His approach to administering the council's adult education movement as well as the family services always included research, assessment, and responding to the data. Through his articles, curriculum, and books, Munro brought educational theory into church life, educating congregational leaders in how to utilize the sciences and to implement theoretical methods for the sake of producing qualitative and quantitative growth in Protestant churches.

Christlikeness as the Aim of Christian Education

One finds Christlikeness as a central theme in Munro's writings. He regarded nurturing people to become Christlike as the goal of Christian education and the purpose of the church (H. C. Munro, 1956, pp. 92-94). He wrote, "When the church centers its attention upon developing a higher, more Christlike type of church member, it concentrates upon Christian education," and "the church's concern for the religious growth of persons is primary in the consideration of aims" (H. C. Munro, 1933, p. 59). He argued that when individuals grow and experience transformation that they will in turn transform their society (H. C. Munro, 1930b, p. 48). In The Effective Adult Class Munro listed several ways that adults may grow in Christlikeness, and he concluded the list with emphasizing one's "conscious relationship with God" and the "sharing of His purposes and co-operation with Him in carrying forward the age-long struggle for a better and more Christ like world" (H. C. Munro, 1934, p. 51). It would be through individuals that God would reach the world, and Christian education was the method by which the Spirit of God would accomplish this goal.

So how does one develop Christlikeness in the church? Here is where Munro would connect educational theory and theology. The church leadership had the responsibility to create experiences that would lead people toward Christlikeness. Through Bible classes, service organizations, worship experiences, and social activities, church members were to learn more about Christ so that they could discern better how to emulate Christian values in daily living. Becoming more like Christ was not something that one teaches how to do in a classroom; rather the educational ministry must weave Christian dispositions and values throughout the whole body life (H. C. Munro, 1930a, pp. 102, 107). For Munro the learning by doing of progressivism provided the model needed in churches for developing Christlike personalities (H. C. Munro, 1930a, p. 108).

A key part of becoming like Christ is the basic assumption that God created humans with the ability to grow and develop in an upward or positive direction. Munro wrote, "A Christ-centered philosophy sees man as he actually is - created by God, made in the divine image, but with that image ruined beyond human power to mend it" (H. C. Munro, 1956, p. 100). Growth begins with the problem of sin and evil. Although made in the image of God, humanity finds itself in a struggle between individual desires for evil and cultural reinforcement of evil behavior. The only way out of this dilemma and to rediscover the "Godlikeness" for which people were created is through "a regenerative commitment to Christ and by a family and community environment" (H. C. Munro, 1956, p. 111). Through this transformation, Christ and the church help Christlike individuals to live to their fullest potential by the "power of God" (H. C. Munro, 1956, p. 111).

Munro adopted progressive Christian education's vision of transforming the world through Christ. He never relented from this goal as he embedded in his ministry and literature the philosophy and practical suggestions for ways the church may transform individuals who in turn would change the society around them. The National Christian Teaching Mission was one way he proactively worked with individual congregations in preparing them for community outreach and growth. Although the program was short lived at ICRE, his strategic method influenced many churches in the United States, and by recording the method in Fellowship Evangelism, Munro was able to provide the system for his readers in the public and for students in Fort Worth. The Munros' decision to work with the Jarvis Christian College and to move to Hawkins, Texas, offers another example of how Munro not only promoted Christlike living for societal transformation but also lived according to its principles.

Democracy and Education

In the spirit of John Dewey and George A. Coe, Munro held democracy as a central value in his educational philosophy and methodology (Coe, 1917, p. 54; Dewey, 1916). Although, in the wake of two world wars, the Great Depression, and in the early days of the Cold War, Munro directed his discussion of democracy toward the nature of learning and the right for free-thinking rather than to a naive reinvention biblical metaphors with Americanisms. Indeed, just as easily as he promoted free-thinking and democracy, he equally criticized social injustice caused by free enterprise: "The industrial and business system known as capitalism, or more recently as free enterprise, has exploited the technological products of science on the basis of the profit motive. It has operated toward higher standards of living, though with great inequalities" (H. C. Munro, 1948a, pp. 126-127). In addition, Munro noted that the kingdom of God does not become a democracy of God, which would imply that God's rule would somehow be subject to the will of the people (H. C. Munro, 1956, p. 13). As Munro tied democratic freedoms to freedom of religion, he saw these freedoms as the natural outgrowth of the Reformation and the pursuit of unity through New Testament Christianity, a reflection of his Disciples' Stone Campbell Movement heritage.

In Be Glad You're a Protestant, Munro demonstrated how Protestantism grew out of a situation where believers were unable to explore for themselves biblical teachings. He wrote, "The birth of the nations and the spread of the ideal of democracy were the political expression of the Reformation. The dignity of the common man and the worth of human life and personality are religious concepts based on Christian principles reasserted by the Protestant Reformation" (H. C. Munro, 1948a, p. 102). Democracy stands in opposition to authoritarianism, and in the case of religious freedom, a democratic church is one where individuals find tolerance and freedom to discover truth (H. C. Munro, 1948a, p. 77). Ecumenical cooperation among Protestant churches would continue the democratic spirit as diversity would be regarded as a resource rather than a hindrance for growth. By collaboration and freedom to pursue truth through education, "Protestantism will have come into its own as the radiant, free type of restored New Testament Christianity adequate for and appropriate to a democratic and cooperative world which enthrones the common man in all his God-given worth and dignity" (H. C. Munro, 1948a, p. 137).

In Protestant Nurture, the book begins with a strong anti-communism stance and appeals to Cold War concerns; however, with a clever twist, the discussion shifts from government ideologies to educational ones. Munro juxtaposed authoritarianism and democracy in such a way that the comparison paralleled educational essentialism and progressivism: "No individual or group or institution has a monopoly on truth. Every person is free to challenge any accepted truth and try to supplant it with more valid and better attested truth. … The authoritarian attitude toward human knowledge rests upon a certain body of a priori assumptions which are not open to examination or question" (H. C. Munro, 1956, pp. 9-10). A democratic attitude toward knowledge, however, reflects human dignity and trust in humanity as children of God (H. C. Munro, 1956, p. 15). While most Christian theology has emerged from an authoritarian rather than a democratic spirit, "all truth, including religious truth, is equally open to all seekers after truth" (H. C. Munro, 1956, p. 34).

Munro perceived his work with ICRE and the establishing of Christian councils as the best way to foster the democratic spirit across denominational lines. He attributed Bower with putting Coe's democratic ideals in written curriculum of the ICRE that were used by a variety of educational boards (H. C. Munro, 1956, p. 53). He regarded diversity of denominations as a means for free exploration and experimentation (H. C. Munro, 1956, p. 169). Councils, instead of threatening church autonomy, generated relationships, collaboration, and variegated contributions that represented the "embodiment of Christ's spirit and purpose" (H. C. Munro, 1956, p. 256). For Munro, whether local congregations or large ecclesiastical institutions, churches that prohibited the spirit of freedom not only denied access to truth discovery through the sciences and life experiences, but they also stifled movement toward union in Christendom. At the heart of Munro's presuppositions stood his confidence in God's sovereignty. All truth must be God's truth, and new frontiers worth exploring could only lead to positive, new light shed on God's created order. Democratic education seeks truth. Authoritarian education prohibits this pursuit.

Concluding Thoughts

Harry C. Munro bridged the gap between theory and practice. He understood well the leading social sciences of his time and folded his research into a Christian context. Social sciences alone, though, were insufficient. The only education worth having was an education that recognized the values created by God in this world. He envisioned a society in which all churches would work together to discover, learn, and grow in such a way that God would be honored and that God's people would be restored to his likeness through Christ. It was a vision to which he held strong throughout his years of writing and ministering for the sake of nurturing Christlikeness both individually and corporately.

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  • The Jarvisonian. (1958, October). Dr. and Mrs. H. C. Munro join Jarvis faculty, p. 7. Hawkins, Texas.
  • Toulouse, M. G. (2004). United Christian Missionary Society, The. (D. A. Foster, P. M. Blowers, A.
  • L. Dunnavent, & D. N. Williams, Eds.) The encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
  • Walker, G. (1949, March 26). Memorial sermon. Presented at the Memorial Service at University Christian Church, Fort Worth, TX.
  • Walker, G. (1962, March 22). Memorial sermon. Presented at the Memorial Service at University Christian Church, Fort Worth, TX.
  • West, E. I. (1950). The search for the ancient order: 1865-1900 (Vol. 2). Germantown, TN: Religious Book Service.
  • Wolfgang, J. S. (2004). Transylvania University. (D. A. Foster, P. M. Blowers, A. L. Dunnavent, & D. N. Williams, Eds.) The encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Bibliography

Books and study materials

  • Lewis, H. A., & Munro, H. C. (1924). A handbook on week-day church schools. St. Louis: Christian Board of Publication.
  • Lockhart, C., Munro, H. C., Cheverton, C. F., & Cheverton, V. P. (1923). Young people’s quarterly for the teacher.
  • Munro, H. C. (1923). Vacation church school manual for the teacher of group IV intermediate: (pupils approximately 12, 13 and 14 years old). St. Louis: Bethany Press.
  • Munro, H. C. (1925). Agencies for the religious education of adolescents. St. Louis: Bethany Press.
  • Munro, H. C. (1926). How to increase your Sunday school. St. Louis: The Bethany Press.
  • Munro, H. C. (1929). The church as a school. St. Louis: The Bethany Press.
  • Munro, H. C. (1930a). The director of religious education. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.
  • Munro, H. C. (1930b). The pastor and religious education. New York: The Abingdon Press.
  • Munro, H. C. (1933). Christian education in your church. St. Louis: The Bethany Press.
  • Munro, H. C. (1934). The effective adult class; A guide for improving the work of adult classes in the church or Sunday school. St. Louis: The Bethany Press.
  • Munro, H. C. (1936). Your church and its program: A discussion course. St. Louis: Bethany Press.
  • Munro, H. C. (1938a). Your church and its task. Toronto: Leadership Training Committee, Religious Education Council of Canada.
  • Munro, H. C. (1938b). Group work with adults through the church: A manual of method in adult religious education. Educational Bulletin No. 403. Chicago: International Council of Religious Education.
  • Munro, H. C. (1945). Parents are teachers. An Adult Study Course (Revised.). New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press.
  • Munro, H. C. (1946). Why should I teach? St. Louis: Bethany Press.
  • Munro, H. C. (1947). Fellowship evangelism.
  • Munro, H. C. (1948). Be glad you’re a Protestant. St. Louis: The Bethany Press.
  • Munro, H. C. (1951). Fellowship evangelism through church groups. St. Louis: The Bethany Press.
  • Munro, H. C. (1956). Protestant nurture: An introduction to Christian education. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Munro, H. C. (n.d.). Senior handbook for the pupil.
  • Munro, H. C. (Ed.). (1930c). Go … Teach" ; "Every church a school in Christian living. Chicago: International Council of Religious Education.
  • Munro, H. C. (Ed.). (1935). Learning for life: A systematic guided study plan for adults in the church. Educational Bulletin No. 410. Chicago: International Council of Religious Education.
  • Munro, H. C. (Ed.). (1938c). Adults in action: A guide to adult work in the local church. Educational Bulletin No. 402. Chicago: International Council of Religious Education.
  • Munro, H. C. (Ed.). (1939a). Christian action on social problems: A guide for adults in the church. Educational Bulletin No. 405. Chicago: International Council of Religious Education.
  • Munro, H. C. (Ed.). (1939b). Personal religious living: A guide to making effective in and through the united Christian adult movement provisions for the promotion and enrichment of personal religious faith and experience. Educational Bulletin No. 404. Chicago: International Council of Religious Education.
  • Munro, H. C. (Ed.). (1939c). Schools in Christian living: A manual of guidance and resources for vital, action-centered adult education programs in church and community. Chicago: International Council of Religious Education.
  • Munro, H. C. (Ed.). (1939d). Young adults in the church. Educational Bulletin No. 415. Chicago: International Council of Religious Education.
  • Munro, H. C. (Ed.). (1940a). Adult program guide for the United Christian Adult Movement; An interpretation of the movement and a guide to field administration in adult work. Educational Bulletin No. 401. Chicago: International Council of Religious Education.
  • Munro, H. C. (Ed.). (1940b). Adult projects in study and action: Case descriptions of effective adult work and action which may prove fruitful in the ordinary church. Service Bulletin 411. Chicago: International Council of Religious Education.
  • Munro, H. C. (Ed.). (1940c). Christian family life education: an interpretative bulletin for professional workers in Christian education stating the view-points, principles, and objectives on the basis of which a program of Christian education in family life may be developed. Educational Bulletin No. 425. Chicago: International Council of Religious Education.
  • Munro, H. C. (Ed.). (1940d). Home and church work together: A manual for pastors and other local church workers to assist and guide in developing better cooperation between home and church in Christian education. Educational Bulletin No. 423. Chicago: International Council of Religious Education.
  • Munro, H. C. (Ed.). (1941). The international council of religious education yearbook, 1941. Chicago: International Council of Religious Education.
  • Munro, H. C., & Heron, F. D. (1947). Learn a lot and like it. Indianapolis: Audio-Visual Services of the United Christian Missionary.
  • Munro, H. C., Munro, V. S., & Swift, C. B. (1923). Second handbook for the pupil. St. Louis: The Bethany Press.
  • Munro, H. C., & National Ch. (1948). Fellowship cultivation. Chicago: National Christian Teaching Mission.
  • Taylor, J. C., Lewis, H. A., Carmichael, F. C., Settle, M. C., Munro, H. C., & Irvin, I. M. (1923). Vacation church school first series. St Louis: The Bethany Press.

Articles by Munro

  • Lawson, M., & Munro, H. C. (1945). The mission comes to hometown. International Journal of Religious Education, 22(4), 16-17, 35.
  • Munro, H. C. (1917a). Shall we make advance in Alaska? Christian Standard, 52(39), 1164-1165.
  • Munro, H. C. (1917b). Harry Munro in Alaska. Christian Standard, 52 (30), 907.
  • Munro, H. C. (1917c, April 26). Harry Munro in Alaska. The Christian-Evangelist, 515.
  • Munro, H. C. (1917d, July 5). Shall we make advance in Alaska? The Christian-Evangelist, 762-763.
  • Munro, H. C. (1924, March 6). Recent progress in religious education. The Christian-Evangelist, 298.
  • Munro, H. C. (1925, November 12). How to double the output of your Sunday school. The Christian-Evangelist, 1458, 1479.
  • Munro, H. C. (1927a). Religious education in the college curriculum. International Journal of Religious Education, 3(10-11), 17-18.
  • Munro, H. C. (1927b, November 17). Forward step in church school work. The Christian-Evangelist, 1529.
  • Munro, H. C. (1928, January 12). Religious education in 1927. The Christian-Evangelist, 49-50.
  • Munro, H. C. (1929, February 7). Co-operative program in Oklahoma. The Christian-Evangelist, 189.
  • Munro, H. C. (1930a). If we only had the leaders. International Journal of Religious Education, 7(1), 15-16.
  • Munro, H. C. (1930b). Motives for church school leadership. International Journal of Religious Education, 7 (2), 23-24.
  • Munro, H. C. (1930c). Ways to train for leadership. International Journal of Religious Education, 6 (6), 16, 51.
  • Munro, H. C. (1930d). From castle to cathedral. International Journal of Religious Education, 6 (4), 25, 45.
  • Munro, H. C. (1930e). Launching the quadrennial program. International Journal of Religious Education, 6 (11), 15.
  • Munro, H. C. (1931a). Mud roads. International Journal of Religious Education, 7 (6), 19-20.
  • Munro, H. C. (1931b). Adult leaders define their problems. International Journal of Religious Education, 7 (7), 9-10, 40.
  • Munro, H. C. (1931c). Religious education week a community force. International Journal of Religious Education, 7 (8), 81.
  • Munro, H. C. (1932a). Loyalty to Christ. International Journal of Religious Education, 8 (7), 13-14, 40.
  • Munro, H. C. (1932b). Unifying the field forces. International Journal of Religious Education, 8 (9), 15-16.
  • Munro, H. C. (1932c). The church and parent education. International Journal of Religious Education, 8 (10), 19-20.
  • Munro, H. C. (1932d). Facing the total task. International Journal of Religious Education, 9 (1), 10-11.
  • Munro, H. C. (1932e). Do adults want to learn? International Journal of Religious Education, 9 (2), 14-15.
  • Munro, H. C. (1933). How shall we use the Bible? International Journal of Religious Education, 9(9), 10-11.
  • Munro, H. C. (1934). Christ in the life of the home. International Journal of Religious Education, 10(6), 8, 32.
  • Munro, H. C. (1935). Using the church emphasis in convention. International Journal of Religious Education, 11(11), 20-21.
  • Munro, H. C. (1938a). Laymen plan extension program. International Journal of Religious Education, 14(9), 12-13.
  • Munro, H. C. (1938b). Schools in the Christian living. International Journal of Religious Education, 14 (10), 18-19.
  • Munro, H. C. (1938c). For adults. International Journal of Religious Education, 14 (8), 13, 39.
  • Munro, H. C. (1939). Family vacations. International Journal of Religious Education, 15 (11), 12-13.
  • Munro, H. C. (1940a). What happens to adults? A study of the effects of various religious activities. International Journal of Religious Education, 16 (5), 19, 36
  • Munro, H. C. (1940b). 1940 United Christian Adult Movement conferences are self-repeating. International Journal of Religious Education, 17 (2), 15, 36.
  • Munro, H. C. (1940c). Advance is the word in Christian education. International Journal of Religious Education, 17 (4), 17, 32.
  • Munro, H. C. (1941a). Authority in the democratic home. International Journal of Religious Education, 17(8), 12-13.
  • Munro, H. C. (1941b). Differences between an argument and a discussion. International Journal of Religious Education, 18 (3), 12-13, 36.
  • Munro, H. C. (1941c). Meditations. International Journal of Religious Education, 17 (10), 5-6.
  • Munro, H. C. (1942a). What’s new about this advance? International Journal of Religious Education, 18 (6), 10, 36.
  • Munro, H. C. (1942b). How the advance becomes effective. International Journal of Religious Education, 18 (8), 16.
  • Munro, H. C. (1942c). Foundations of freedom. International Journal of Religious Education, 18 (11), 20, 33.
  • Munro, H. C. (1942d). Christmas worship in the home. International Journal of Religious Education, 19 (4), 7-8, 35.
  • Munro, H. C. (1943). A Christian Christmas in our homes. International Journal of Religious Education, 20 (4), 14, 35.
  • Munro, H. C. (1944a). IV The religious education of adults. Religious Education, 39 (2), 115.
  • Munro, H. C. (1944b). A family-centered curriculum. Religious Education, 39 (3), 161-168.
  • Munro, H. C. (1945a). A first report on the missions to Christian teachers. International Journal of Religious Education, 21 (5), 4-5.
  • Munro, H. C. (1945b). The preacher-teacher. International Journal of Religious Education, 21 (6), 12-13.
  • Munro, H. C. (1945c). Where do veterans fit into the church school organization? International Journal of Religious Education, 21 (10), 14-15, 36.
  • Munro, H. C. (1945d). Teaching mission continues. International Journal of Religious Education, 22(1), 16-17.
  • Munro, H. C. (1945e). Keeping up with the movers. International Journal of Religious Education, 22(3), 7.
  • Munro, H. C. (1946a). Accent on community. International Journal of Religious Education, 22(6), 17-18.
  • Munro, H. C. (1946b). What is this crusade? International Journal of Religious Education, 22(8), 5-6.
  • Munro, H. C. (1946c). Trends in evangelism. International Journal of Religious Education, 23(4), 11-14.
  • Munro, H. C. (1946d). What about the emphases. International Journal of Religious Education, 22(5), 24-25, 45.
  • Munro, H. C. (1948, October 27). Our Protestant freedom. The Christian-Evangelist, 86(43), 1087-1089.
  • Munro, H. C. (1952). Can laymen teach religion? International Journal of Religious Education, 28(9), 4-6.

Works about Harry Munro

  • Bower, W. C., & Hayward, P. R. (1949). Protestantism faces its educational task together.
  • Appleton, WI: C. C. Nelson Publishing Company.
  • Charlton, J. E. (1931). The Pastor and Religious Education. Methodist Review, 114, 142-143.
  • Gebhard, A. L. (1965). Consider this man: an intimate portrait of Harry C. Munro.
  • Heron, F. D. (1943, July 28). Roundabout advancer. The Christian-Evangelist, 723-724.
  • Hope, N. V. (1950). Be Glad You’re a Protestant. Princeton Seminary Bulletin, 43(4), 44-22.
  • Munro, C. A. (1984). Progressive theories for Christian education: A discussion of the writings of Harry C. Munro. Discipliana, 44(1), 8-10.
  • Stokes, K. I. (1965). Major trends in cooperative Protestant adult education 1936-1964 (PhD diss.). The University of Chicago, Chicago.
  • Stokes, K. I. (1966). A new vision for adults. International Journal of Religious Education, 43(1), 24-25.
  • Wyckoff, D. C. (1957). Protestant Nurture: An Introduction to Christian Education. Princeton Seminary Bulletin, 51(2), 59-61.

Other Resources

  • Disciples of Christ Historical Society. http://www.discipleshistory.org/ The Disciples of Christ Historical Society has most of Munro's books in its library, and it also has a biographical file that includes newspaper clippings, ministerial records, and articles about Harry Munro.
  • Presbyterian Historical Society. http://www.history.pcusa.org/ The Presbyterian Historical Society archives the official documents of the International Council of Religious Education from 1922 to 1950.

Excerpts from Publications

Munro, H. C. (1930). The pastor and religious education. New York: The Abingdon Press.

"The scientific method was for a time the possession of a few specialists whose uncanny feats amazed and puzzled us. Our general mode of thinking was not greatly affected thereby. To-day, however, the most efficient and extensive educational system ever developed is busily engaged in putting the growing generation into possession of at least the general patterns of the scientific method. The type of mind with which the church of the future must deal is one that is inquisitive, critical, analytical, and logical, rather than credulous and submissive to arbitrary intellectual authority" (17-18).

"The church's program, if it is to become a determining factor in the developing mind of the oncoming generation, must necessarily center in the needs and welfare of childhood and youth. Its provision to meet the religious needs of adults must become more rather than less effective. But the minister and the church, while continuing to provide for adults, must become child-centered in consciousness" (25).

"A Christ like personality develops out of Christlike experiences. If the church would develop Christlike persons, it is necessary to provide opportunity for Christlike experiences and to induce persons to choose these experiences and to shun those which interfere with the desired outcome. This means that the church's total program should consist of experiences through which persons and groups are learning Christ like living and achieving Christ like character" (102).

"If it is the purpose of the church to develop persons sufficiently Christlike that they will set about transforming society into the kingdom of God, then this type of person is to be developed through having the necessary Christ like experiences" (183).

Munro, H. C. (1933). Christian education in your church. St. Louis: The Bethany Press.

"We may say that the program of Christian education in your church consists of all those activities and experiences which the church provides, directs, or uses (1) to lead persons to commit themselves to Christ and his cause, (2) to engage persons and groups in living the Christian life ever more fully and effectively, and (3) to enable persons to work together and with God in the development of a better world" (58).

"Where there is a person there is experience. Where there is experience there is change" (70).

"If we think of the curriculum as the means through which we arrive at educational aims or proceed toward them, we must center curriculum in the experience of the learner" (92).

Munro, H. C. (1934). The effective adult class; A guide for improving the work of adult classes in the church or Sunday school. St. Louis: The Bethany Press.

"The general aim of the adult class might be stated somewhat as follows: To help each of its members to be come more intelligent and useful Christian through (1) gaining a knowledge of the Bible and ability to use it; (2) gaining a growing conception of God as he is revealed through Jesus Christ; and an ever clearer understanding of his place and purpose in the world; (3) receiving guidance in meeting everyday problems of living as a Christian should; (4) engaging in Christian service and in action leading toward a better social order; (5) enjoying the fellowship of other Christians in wholesome social and recreational activities" (20).

Munro, H. C. (1948). Be glad you're a Protestant. St. Louis: The Bethany Press.

"Thus as long as the church remains loyal to the New Testament example, it will be saved from these degenerate forms which so often both depend upon and support an elaborate, corrupt priesthood. Departure from the New Testament example brings such dangers. Jesus brought an end to the need of men for a professional priesthood" (39).

"What then is the true church of Christ? … It is a spiritual reality. It consists of all the true disciples who have caught his spirit, who have enthroned him in their lives in accordance with the best light they have, and who release his spirit in testimony, in service, and in brotherly love through their daily relationships. These disciples of his constitute his only, present, living body. It takes all that there are in any one place to embody him" (117).

"Our Protestant denominations will be transformed into the democratic, spiritually free, richly diverse church of Christ. At the community level they will face their task of evangelizing and Christianizing the whole community as a shared task. The richness of heritage and diversity of experience and testimony will be conserved through denominational fellowships, but shared through equally primary community-wide Christian fellowships. Our heritage of religious freedom will be preserved, but constrained by a sense of responsibility to the whole communion of the saints. Our differences will be respected and appreciated on the basis of their contributiveness rather than despised on the basis of their exclusiveness….

"Protestantism will have come into its own as the radiant, free type of restored New Testament Christianity adequate for and appropriate to a democratic and cooperative world which enthrones the common man in all his God-given worth and dignity. Protestant Christianity can do it yet. Be glad you're a Protestant!" (136-137).

Munro, H. C. (1956). Protestant nurture: An introduction to Christian education. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

"A deeper analysis of our situation reveals that our fear of Communism, our seeming moral and spiritual lag, our retreat into authoritarian attitudes, and our involvement with conflicting sovereignties are symptoms of a basic corruption of the faith by which we live" (13).

"What we are saying is that the liberal or liberating type of Christian education, taking into account the scientific and democratic principles which actually root in Christianity itself, has developed an educational philosophy, basically Christian, and yet congenial to liberal public education as well" (59).

"The object of Protestant nurture is not merely to propagate a faith; its object is also to enable persons to develop into reality their highest potential character and worth through embracing that faith" (65).

"In the Protestant sense and in the New Testament sense those who constitute the true Church of Christ are identified, not by their relationship to a particular institution, but by their relationship to Christ himself" (150).

"The Christian curriculum consists of those experiences essential to growth in Christlikeness…. The curriculum revolves around two poles: learner experience and the content of the Christian faith" (176).


Recommended Readings

Bower, W. C., & Hayward, P. R. (1949). Protestantism faces its educational task together. Appleton, WI: C. C. Nelson Publishing Company.

Bower and Hayward provide a comprehensive history of the International Council of Religious Education from before its creation in 1922 to the late 1940s. The authors highlight Munro's work with the United Christian Adult Movement, the National Christian Family Week, and the National Christian Teaching Mission.

Gebhard, A. L. (1965). Consider this man: an intimate portrait of Harry C. Munro.

Anna Laura (Munro) Gebhard is the first-born daughter of Harry and Vera Munro. A few years after Harry Munro's death, she wrote a biography from a daughter's perspective. Though brief, it is the most comprehensive single work on Munro's life. The Disciples of Christ Historical Society library possesses a copy of this booklet.

Munro, H. C. (1930a). The pastor and religious education. New York: The Abingdon.

In this book Munro addresses the challenges churches face when integrating educational ministries into the overall work of the church. A key message of Pastor and Religious Education is that senior ministers must have training in education or be willing to work with a team of people who do. The book also reveals elements of Munro's progressivistic educational philosophy.

Munro, H. C. (1948). Be glad you’re a Protestant. St. Louis: The Bethany Press.

Be Glad You're a Protestant was originally written in order to give emerging adults at his Lockport, Illinois, congregation a broader understanding of the Protestant heritage. Munro was a member of the Disciples of Christ, a part of the Stone-Campbell Movement, which from its beginnings has been a unity movement. Munro's emphasis of ecumenical unity represents one way the unity tenet was manifested among some Stone-Campbell branches.

Munro, H. C. (1951). Fellowship evangelism through church groups. St. Louis: The Bethany Press.

In Fellowship Evangelism Through Church Groups Munro presents the National Christian Teaching Mission's method in one volume. The book sheds light on the process used by the Mission in assisting churches with self-studies and workshops in order to become better equipped for evangelism within the local community. The 1951 printing followed the earlier edition that was used for private circulation in 1947. This earlier version was simply titled Fellowship Evangelism.

Munro, H. C. (1956). Protestant nurture: An introduction to Christian education. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Protestant Nurture represents the culmination of Harry Munro's educational philosophy and methodology. As his final major work, one finds here discussion on human growth and development, spiritual development toward Christlikeness, and curriculum development in educational ministry. He also compares authoritarian and democratic approaches to education, which represents the ongoing historical divide between perennialism and progressivism.

Munro, H. C. (Ed.). (1930b). "Go … Teach"; Every church a school in Christian living. Chicago: International Council of Religious Education.

"Go … Teach" was compiled by Harry Munro following the Toronto convention of 1930. The book contains pictures of the events, records from the deliberations, and essays from notable presenters such as Paul H. Vieth, Hugh S. Magill, George A. Coe, William C. Bower, Mary Alice Jones, and Robert M. Hopkins.

Stokes, K. I. (1965).. Major trends in cooperative Protestant adult education 1936-1964 (PhD diss.). The University of Chicago, Chicago.

Kenneth Stokes in this dissertation compares adult education initiatives among the United Presbyterian Church, the Disciples of Christ, the Church of the Brethren, and the Methodist Church from 1936 to 1964. Stokes gives particular attention to Harry Munro's work with the United Christian Adult Movement from 1936-1945. His research includes personal interviews with Anna Gebhard, International Council of Religious Education documents, and other printed materials such as pamphlets and booklets distributed by Munro's organizations.


Author Information

Timothy P. Westbrook

Timothy Paul Westbrook (M.A. and M.Div., Harding School of Theology) is the director of the Distance Bible Program and assistant professor of Bible at Harding University. He is a Ph.D. student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the educational studies program.

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