American Tract Society

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The American Tract Society building in New York City

The American Tract Society (ATS) is a nonprofit, nonsectarian but evangelical organization founded on May 11, 1825 in New York City for the purpose of publishing and disseminating Christian literature. On September 1, 2012, American Tract Society entered into a joint publishing agreement with Good News Publishing, which is a division of Crossway.[1] ATS traces its lineage back through the New York Tract Society (1812) and the New England Tract Society (1814) to the Religious Tract Society of London, begun in 1799. Over the years, ATS has produced and distributed many millions of pieces of literature. There is a printed pamphlet titled "Constitution of the American Tract Society, instituted in Boston 1814" referencing the distribution of 'Religious Tracts' by Christians in Europe and America during the previous twenty years. The purpose of which was to combine the energy & activities of various groups & individuals across New England.

ATS is theologically conservative. It receives funding through a combination of private donations and tract sales. ATS accepts donations to fund tract and evangelistic resource distribution including start-up funding for foreign tract distribution in regions including Africa, Asia, India, South and Central America, Canada, Australia, and Europe. Churches and other evangelistic groups in the United States can purchase ATS literature at nominal cost for use in their own evangelistic ministries.

ATS is board-governed and benefits from the visibility of its Council of Reference, an advisory board of evangelical notables from business, ministry, and other walks of life.

ATS is currently headquartered in Garland, Texas.

Contributions to ATS are fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. It is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).

Mission of American Tract Society[edit]

To provide relevant tools for presenting the gospel.

Vision of American Tract Society[edit]

Every Christian effectively sharing the life-changing gospel in their world.

American Tract Society Statement of Faith[edit]

  • The Bible is the only inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:15-17.’’
  • That there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19; Ephesians 4:4-6; John 1:1; Genesis 1:26.’’
  • In the deity of Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory. John 1:1-4; Matthew 1:23; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 1:1-4; 4:15; Acts 1:11; 2:22-24; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.
  • That the salvation of lost mankind is based solely on the finished work of Christ through regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:4-7; Luke 24:46-47; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 14:6; Acts 4:12.
  • In the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life. Galatians 5:16-18; Romans 8:9-11; Luke 24:49.
  • In the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation. Revelation 20:11-15; 1 Corinthians 15:51-57.
  • In the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:22-23; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13,27; Romans 10:12.
  • The chief purpose of the Society is to reach the world with the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • We believe this to be the obligation of every Christian. Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Peter 3:15.

Early history[edit]

American Tract's first home in 1825 was a four-story building at 87 Nassau Street in New York City. Later, in 1894, American Tract built a 23-story headquarters at 150 Nassau Street, which still stands today. At the time of its construction it was one of the tallest buildings in NY City. [2]

American Tract Society today[edit]

The American Tract Society has disseminated Christian tracts for over 185 years, and believes its mission and message are as relevant today as when it was formed in 1825.

In 1978, ATS relocated its headquarters from New York to Garland, Texas. The move came about as a result of the growing number of churches and ministries purchasing ATS literature in Texas. The leaders of American Tract Society also discovered that it would be cost effective to have the ATS office in Texas.

The ever increasing advances in technology and social media present both challenges and opportunities for ATS in disseminating its message. Over the years ATS has developed a number of ways to present the gospel in a relevant and timely manner. ATS continues to develop new tools to communicate Christian teachings to the next generation.

Through its international division (International Tract Society) ATS has approximately 136 print partners in 70 countries who print and distribute tracts in over 100 languages. The goal is to provide ATS print partners with the necessary resources and funding to print and distribute evangelism tools among disadvantaged churches and evangelists worldwide.

American Tract Society in the news[edit]

In 2010, MainStreet.com and the Dallas Morning News reported American Tract Society as the least efficient charity in America citing a rating from Charity Navigator based on 2007 financial data. Using data from ATS’s 2007 federal income tax return, Charity Navigator reported that administrative and management expenses comprised 68% of total expenses and assigned ATS their lowest efficiency rating.

While MainStreet.com recognized that ATS receives income from other sources than contributions (i.e. tract sales), their analysis counted the production cost of the tracts as "administrative and management" expenses. Tract sales are ATS’ primary source of revenue and including these production costs in the calculation of total expenses improves ATS’s organization efficiency as measured by Charity Navigator and more closely aligns ATS with other charities performing similar types of work.

While ATS’ ratio of Management and Administrative expenses to Total Expenses was unusually high in 2007, it should be noted that 2007 was a year in which ATS incurred unusual management expenses related to reorganization. ATS emerged from the reorganization a much leaner and more effective operation as evidenced by the 2008 and 2009 financial data presented in the Organizational Efficiency Table included below.

In December 2010, The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) announced their accreditation of ATS based on the ECFA Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™, including financial accountability, transparency, sound board governance and ethical fund raising.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Source[edit]

  • Rorabaugh, W.J. The Alcoholic Republic. NY: Oxford University Press, 1979.

Further reading[edit]

  • Elizabeth Twaddell. The American Tract Society, 1814-1860. Church History, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Jun., 1946), pp. 116–132

External links[edit]