Monthly Archives: October 2015

Why was Keble College built?

“Why was Keble College built?”
“Ask the gingerbread and gilt!”
Answers Burgon. “Oh, that slid on
Quite by accident,” says Liddon;
“For though modest, humble, feeble,
All our work has been for Keble!”
“Humph best plough in broader furrows,
That’s my view of it,” cries Burrows.
“Yes,” adds Bernard, “reason why
We’ve not built it in the High.”
“Stay. I’ll make it clear,” says Pusey.
“College life’s but crêmant Bouzy.
Therefore Keble offers all
Beer that’s Christmas beer, though small.
Yes, the sons who pass her lats,
All go in for Christian greats.
Though like Christmas some be plucked,
All in Christian beds are tucked;
Fed in all on Christian dinners,
Not like us, poor Christ Church sinners,
Who, confessing thus our guilt,
Thank our stars that Keble’s built!”

Punch, May 25, 1878, p. 233.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Soft Shrift (1940)

I love a gentle eiderdown,
I am its proud possessor.
It is my very dearest friend,
And favourite confessor.

For, when I tell it all my sin,
It seeks no retribution;
But lulls me in its silken folds
With downy absolution.

I know deluded Catholics,
By sinister persuasion,
Are forced to give themselves away
To priests, without evasion.

I know neurotic server-boys,
And women with obsession,
Are lured by curates to commit
Auricular confession.

Yet, sins by which the Romanists,
And foreigners are smitten,
Are hardly likely to infect
The sturdy sons of Britain.

For, though we English have our faults,
Of which we do not chatter;
We seldom find the conscience bowed
By any weighty matter.

Although in church at Morning Prayer,
Of erring sheep the tale is;
Such florid Stuart rhetoric
We take cum grano salis.

To own my failings to a priest,
I dread beyond all measure;
But tell them to my eiderdown
And find it quite a pleasure.

This gospel of the Kindly Quilt,
Is worthy of all spreading.
Let Church of England saints exult,
Rejoicing in their bedding!

From S.J. Forrest, Parish Fashions (Dublin: Coelian Press, 1940), p. 21.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Beware of the Dogma (1940)

He preached about the Trinity and how the world began;
Explained the Incarnation and the destiny of man.
He carefully expounded every detail of the creeds,
And tried to show their relevance to modern human needs;
He brilliantly upheld the Christian heritage of truth,
And sought to make it lucid and acceptable to youth.
They listened with correctitude, but everybody said,
“He’s far too theological, and quite above our head.”

He gave an exposition of the Church’s means of grace,
Revealing how the Sacraments revive a fallen race;
Of self-examination and the ways of mental prayer,
And why we need Communion, and how, and when, and where.
He spoke of Bible-reading, and to make it all complete,
Gave practical instruction on the value of retreat.
And everyone agreed that it was logical enough,
But only suitable for those who like that kind of stuff.

He chose the Ten Commandments as the basis of a course,
He amplified their meaning and emphasized their force;
He took the eight Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount,
And spoke of Christian stewardship and rendering account.
He did his best to penetrate beneath their toughened skins
With pointed expositions of the Seven Deadly Sins.
They felt a little slighted to be led across this ground,
For morals in suburbia are basically sound.

One day, in disillusionment, believing no one cared,
He flung at them a homily completely unprepared,
Endeavouring his customary quarter-hour to fill,
With sentimental platitudes that meant precisely NIL;
Returning to the vestry in the grip of horrid fears
That people would consider it insulting to their ears.
But no, they were enraptured and devoured every word:
“Oh, Vicar, it was lovely! Quite the best we’ve ever heard!”

From S.J. Forrest, Parish Fashions (Dublin: Coelian Press, 1940), p. 9.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A-sitting on a Fence (1940)

THE Face of our Anglican Church
Is comely, we dare to suppose,
Because of a steady research
To balance the Ayes and the Noes.

By doctrines obliquely averred,
And slightly ambiguous phrase,
We marshall our dissonant herd,
The blacks and the whites and the greys.

Whenever required to affirm
A dogma of Heaven or Hell,
We use an equivocal term,
To cover denials as well.

When questioners ask for advice,
We find it is prudent to swerve,
By answering, “It shall suffice
As every man’s conscience may serve.”

And so the broad highway is paved
For all, who with penitent thrill,
Cry, “What must I do to be saved?”
“Believe … or deny … as you will!”

It diddles the devil, we know,
And baffles his sinister ends;
He cannot tell if he’s a foe,
Or one of our intimate friends.

To seek indeterminate day,
We trample a dubious fen,
A multi-directional way,
For ever and ever, Amen.

S.J. Forrest, Parish Fashions (Dublin: Coelian Press, 1940), p. 9.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Gala Day Church St. Mary the Virgin—Roman Fashion (1933)

EACH year, on Lincoln’s Birthday, it is the custom of the Merry Monks of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, New York City, to act as hosts for the acolytes of the metropolitan area and to put on a show of tremendous proportions. Solemn High Mass, two processions, benediction and what not are staged in the latest Roman fashion. The so-called “Catholic” clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church turn out for this annual performance as do quantities of the congregations committed to their charge. Arriving early we took our seats in the nave of the famous “Cathedral” of the High Church on West 46th Street. There amid the gaudy atmosphere of Times Square is nestled the even gaudier Gothic Saint Mary’s, an oddity in the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. Shortly after our arrival the various members of the local guild of acolytes commenced to prepare the stage for the performances that were to ensue. Hundreds of candles had to be lit, shawls and other draperies had to be put in place for the celebrating ministers, and the incense pots had to be made ready for the rite of fumigation which is such a necessary adjunct to the service of the Lord’s Supper in “catholic” parishes. These, and other menial tasks, were being performed by the sanctuary maids-of-all-work, the Ceremonariuses, of Saint Mary’s. It was a pleasure to see the august and robust Ceremonarius Primus of the church moving chairs about, all with a delicate sense of the arty. A piano stool was at length brought forth and placed on the Epistle side of the altar. The affair was covered with a bit of damask and one wondered just what this would have to do with the proceedings. At length the place was made ready for the opening procession. Readers of The Chronicle are by now acquainted with the general procedure that governs an “Acolytes’ Festival”. It is necessary merely to say that all sorts and conditions of acolytes were there. A mitred bishop appeared as the celebrant. It was his Lordship of Algoma. Algoma is not in the South Seas as many people think. It is a diocese in Canada. Our friend from across the border likes this sort of performance and Saint Mary’s is fortunate in having so splendid a figure perform at these services. A red biretta appeared and another bishop was seen. This was the Lord Bishop of Milwaukee. In resplendent red shawl this fellow recalled to mind that among other things Milwaukee is remembered for its Catholic oddities in the Protestant Episcopal Church. Visiting clergy took seats in the chancel. These were garbed in surplice and biretta. It was interesting to note that many of them wore a crucifix depending from the neck. A sweeping fashion, we are told, in “catholic” circles. In the course of the Mass we looked up and saw a monk in the grey habit of Saint Francis. The young fellow was assisting the fathers at the altar and he continually held a lighted taper. We wondered at first just what he was looking for. Did they lose the Book of Common Prayer? That, of course would be a small loss. The services of Saint Mary’s are not those of the Prayer Book of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, dear reader. Saint Mary’s prefers the American Missal or, better still, the Missal of the Church of Rome. We were led to believe that this ambitious Franciscan was searching in the chancel for a loyal and true member of the Protestant Episcopal Church. We believe, too, that he did not find one for when the show was over he still had the candle. At odd times in the service one caught sight of the celebrating bishop seated upon the piano stool. Some times bishops are weary and so, we suppose, he just sat down for a rest. Few, if any in the place, knew what it was all about, so the good bishop just stopped to take another breath. When it came time for the sermon the second bishop took his turn. Yes, it was an all star cast. At this point the ample Ceremonarius Secundus ushered in a number of acolytes that had arrived late. A Bronx delegation and a Jersey group, no doubt. The position of Ceremonarius must be a rather fine one. These gentlemen seem to thrive on it. One is minded of the Gilbert and Sullivan lyric which, in Saint Mary’s, could be their theme song or leading motive, “Stouter than I used to be, still more corpulent grow I; there will be too much of me in the coming bye and bye”. There are already too many of these in the Protestant Episcopal Church.

The Grand March and Promenade “was just swell.” Incense filled the place as acolytes and priests marched out on display. Our Lord was carried under a canopy by the celebrant and profound and humble were the bows that the congregation made as He passed on his way. At the conclusion the benediction was given. One thought for a moment that the bishop had developed the jitters as he imparted the blessing from the smoke filled chancel. No, he was simply giving the triple blessing, a new wrinkle that is also finding its place in the Protestant Episcopal Church. About the only comment that we can make is to quote a remark made by a little girl whose fond mamma had taken her to see brother march. “It was lovely”, she said, “but mamma, what was it all about”?

From The Chronicle, Poughkeepsie, March 1933, p. 130.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Back to the Church of England (1916)

Back to the Church of England!
Why did you ever stray?
Hers is the Old Time Gospel;
Hers is the Living Way.

Back to the Church of England!
That’s where the heart beats true;
Children, why do you linger?
Your Mother yearns for you.

Back to the Church of England!
Bring all your treasures rare;
Pike up your golden virtues,
Your Mother craves a share.

Back to the Church of England!
Yes, She has treasures, too;
Why should you live without them?
Children they are for you.

Back to the dear old Mother!
Back to her arms once more;
Jesus, her Lord and Watchman,
Calls you from every shore.

Back to the Church of Jesus!
Back with the victory won;
Buried, all strife and discord
Answered, they all are one.

Back to the Church of England!
Back to the Empire’s Stay;
Hers is the Grand Old Gospel.
Hers is the Living Way.

By the Reverend Canon J. T. Richards, priest of Flower’s Cove (1904-1905).

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Sir,—The death of some, and the sad defection of others, have left me almost the last survivor of those who took a prominent part in the Anglo-Catholic movement at Edinburgh, thirty years ago, who has remained true to his opinions, so that I read the Bishop of Argyll’s remarks on this subject almost as a personal attack upon myself. But I am much more concerned for the reputation of those who have departed; and I trust that you will therefore allow me to explain the facts of the case, which the Bishop so strangely travesties.

I assert, therefore, fearlessly, that the Anglo-Catholic party of the Scottish Church have always felt the deepest sympathy for the Highland congregations. Scarcely had the penal laws been repealed, when my grandfather, Sir William Forbes, bore the whole expense of translating and printing the first edition of the Gaelic Prayer Book; and when he found that the Scotch Communion Office was not contained in the volume, as he had intended it should be, he had it also translated and printed separately. Those who value the Prayer Book as a devotional manual will have no difficulty in seeing what a boon it must have been to the Gaelic congregations to have this help in their worship of God.

I shall pass over the grants from the Episcopal Fund, of which my father was the leading manager for nearly half a century, during a period when sympathy with these poor people was much less fashionable than it is now, and which was then the instrument of the Anglo-Catholic or moderate and old-fashioned High Church party, and supported by them. These grants were given, both to increase the small stipends of the clergy, and also to support schools; an evidence of which may be seen in the reports of our present Church Society, which, under the agreement which the trustees of the Episcopal Fund made with it, has had to give larger sums to the Gaelic schools than to those elsewhere. There was, besides, the Gaelic Episcopal Society, the precursor of the present Canonical Society, which also was of great use during that time of general torpor.

When the wave of the Oxford movement reached Scotland, I myself was beginning to take part in Church matters, and one of the first objects to which my attention was directed was the state of the Gaelic Episcopalians. Amongst other plans, I may mention the Gaelic Tract Society, which I organized, with a committee embracing almost all the leading Episcopalians connected with the Highlands, as well as several of the more active supporters of the Church movement at Edinburgh, by whom (as residing on the spot) its management was practically carried on, as to choice of matter for translation. In spite of great difficulties, owing, no doubt, in part to my own unfitness for the office of secretary, but in part also, I must add, to the apathy and unmanageableness of some of my clerical correspondents in the north, we for several years printed and circulated every month a little tract in Gaelic. Nothing was printed without episcopal sanction, and the publications were such as no sound Churchman could object to—sermons by the good Bishop Wilson of Sodor and Man, tracts by Mr. Gresley, tales by Mr. Monro of Harroweald, etc. In fact, it was very [236/237] similar to the plan which I afterwards carried out at Burntisland, for six years, in the Gospel Messenger. But after a while I was obliged to give it up; and I must plainly assert that one main reason was Bishop Ewing’s own indifference and opposition. His sentiments about the Gaelic congregations then were very different from those he now expresses; and I fear that, possibly, other motives connected with the opposition of some to the manner of his election to the bishopric, rendered him unwilling to allow his people to be aided through our hands. At least, it is difficult otherwise to account for the fact, that he who now complains of our not having helped our Highland brethren, then used the authority of his office to prevent us from doing so when we were both ready and willing, and, without alleging a single error or objectionable passage in any of our publications, formally prohibited me from sending any of them into his diocese; so that I had to go before the Episcopal Synod to request their mediation in the matter, and their help to disabuse the Bishop of the fears he expressed; and although this was kindly and promptly granted, I had shortly after to wind up the Society’s affairs.

But our efforts were not confined to endeavouring to supply the Highlanders with sound and healthy religious reading, important though that was. During the potato famine, considerable help was sent through private hands, to be distributed by the clergy among the members of our own communion, who, it was feared, might occasionally fare rather badly if left to the exclusive charge of the general committees, who would mainly consist of Presbyterians. At the same time a plan was started for supplying relief to the people by giving work, which it was thought would be better than mere alms-giving. It was proposed to build at once several chapels or chapel schools in different parts of the Highlands—much the same plan, in short, which Lady Alice Ewing is now carrying out after the lapse of nearly thirty years. The plan fell to the ground through the apathy of some of the Gaelic clergy at the time; almost the only result of it being, that such help was given as enabled the chapel at Duror to be built. But the great want of the Gaelic districts of our Church was that of labourers. My father was always so unwilling to refer to his own works of charity that I can give no details as to what he did himself, or induced others to do, before I was able to take part in the correspondence. But at the period I am speaking of, one of our clergy, at his request, looked out two young men to be prepared for holy orders, for one of whom he got a grant from the Rosse Fund, while he himself paid all the expenses of the education of the other. About the same time, he paid for the training of three young women to be schoolmistresses; and though it ultimately turned out that they were not qualified for working in the Highlands, it does not detract from the merit of his good work that he was duped about it.

And now I come to a still more painful part of my vindication. I need not say that in Scotland the principles of AngloCatholicism, as held by men like the Bowdlers, Sir James Park, Mr. Stevens, Dr. Hook, and Mr. Keble in his earlier days, show themselves in a deep veneration for the Scotch Communion Office. Now, to this, Bishop Ewing (like his predecessor, Bishop Low) entertained a strong dislike, and he used his whole influence, and all the authority connected with his office, to suppress it and keep it away, however willing or even anxious the congregation might be to use it. In the case already referred to,—that at Duror,—the money we had given was returned to us. In another case, which I will not name, advantage was taken of over-confidence in the honour of the recipients, and the money was retained, although it was known by all that it had been given on a distinctly different understanding. Under these circumstances, it was of course impossible for us to continue to offer pecuniary aid.

I will not enter into the question whether a man has a right to accept the office of bishop in a Church when he means to identify himself with one party in it so exclusively. But I do protest against the injustice of first preventing a body of men from carrying out their most solemn convictions, and then taunting them for not having acted.

I am sorry to have had to re-awaken old stories, which had much better have been forgotten, but it is necessary that the Church should know the truth as to this matter. I can only express my astonishment at the shortness of the Bishop’s memory. I do not say that Anglo-Catholics in Scotland did all that they should or might have done, but from the facts I have given, it will be seen that they did not limit their efforts or sympathies as the Bishop states. Something was done in every department; and I believe it was mainly owing to these efforts that the Gaelic congregations continued to exist through the episcopate of Bishop Low, whose appointment I must not scruple to call a most unfortunate one. The respect with which my father was regarded in the Highlands was by no means confined to Episcopalians; but if some of the elder generation had still been alive, such as Archdeacon Mackenzie or Mrs. Fyvie, I suspect they would have given an account of the past history of our Church in the north very different from that of the Bishop of Argyll, who seems to wish to be regarded as its first benefactor. So far from this being the case, I will say that, had he, when first consecrated, taken up his present line about the Gaelic Episcopalians, these congregations might have been preserved, and even multiplied. But now I fear that cannot be, owing to hiB long neglect of them, before he discovered that they could form the subject of picturesque speeches at London House. And to this must be added his real want of sympathy with the national characteristics of the Celtic race, which is the greatest possible barrier to exercising a beneficial influence over a people.

I now leave it to your readers to form their own opinion as to the Bishop’s unprovoked attack after the lapse of so many years, and after the success of his efforts to suppress and destroy the canonical authority of the Scotch Communion Office has led to the growth among us of that ritualism which he must surely dislike quite as much. I trust there may before long be a turn in the tide, and that men may come back from all three extremes—Geneva, Borne, and Germany—to the old paths of primitive truth.

G. H. Forbes,
Incumbent of S. Serf’s.
Burntisland, October 1872.

From The Scottish Guardian, November 8, 1872, pp. 236-237.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Sir,—In the presence of the grievous scandal caused by a Bishop applying to a creed of the Church an epithet which I could not allow my pen to repeat, except in drawing up a formal presentment against him, it may seem out of place to write of any mere personal topic, but the Bishop of Argyll’s treatment of my letter is so very strange—in the case of any other person I should say so disingenuous—that I must ask you to let me make a few remarks upon it.

Let me begin by assuring the Bishop that I never meant to say that he had made a personal attack upon me. No one who knows his kindliness of disposition would suppose so. But it is equally true that words have often a meaning which they were not intended by the speaker to convey, and such has been the case in the present instance.

This, however, is a mere trifle, nor will I discuss with the Bishop why he should not class me with those who call themselves Anglo-Catholics. It is the title which, by common consent, has been given for many years to those with whose opinions I sympathise, in so far as they are Catholics in their veneration for the primitive Church, and their dislike of the principles of the Reformation; and also Anglicans, in their loyalty to the particular branch of the Church in which they are placed, and in their dislike to the novelties by which Rome has so sadly changed our common faith.’ It is to the Bishop’s comments on the aid rendered to the Highlanders by what is commonly called the Anglo-Catholic party that I wish to call your readers’ attention.

He first says that the Incumbent of Duror accepted a sum of £150 towards the erection of a church, coupled with the introduction of a Scotch Communion Office. ‘It could not be so introduced, and the money was returned.’ The Bishop does not explain that the sole reason why, after it had actually been introduced (for such was the case) it was given up, was because he himself threw the whole weight of his personal and official influence into the scale against it. But what he goes on to say is still more surprising.

‘Probably other assistance of a similar character would have been obtained; but that which was wanted was aid for the ordinary needs of an ordinary flock,—additional clergy, schools and schoolmasters, and better maintenance for those we had, who ministered under extreme difficulties midst a very interesting but impoverished people.’

Any one who read this sentence would suppose that the case of Duror was the only instance I had alleged of aid offered to the Highland Episcopalians by the AngloCatholic party. Yet any one who looked at my letter for a moment must see that I assert that every description of aid ‘for the ordinary needs of an ordinary flock’ had been more or less supplied. The training of clergy and schoolmasters, the supplementing their stipends, the supplying them with a vernacular edition of the Prayer Book and Liturgy, the providing them with sound religious reading, to say nothing of actual alms in a time of dearth, what else could have ljeen needed, and what are we to say of the Bishop’s treatment of the facts mentioned in my letter, when he simply ignores what I say? More especially when I showed that, in the case of the Gaelic Tract Society, it was himself who formally prohibited us from endeavouring to supply one of ‘the ordinary needs of an ordinary flock,’ without alleging a single fault in any of its publications?

I leave the matter to the judgment of your readers, and shall not return to it again.

G. H. Forbes.

January 8, 1873.

P.S.—I regret that owing to illness this letter has been considerably delayed.

From The Scottish Guardian, January 11, 1873, p. 53.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dr. Muhlenberg’s Boy Choir (1904)

To the Editor of The Living Church:

IN your paper of July 23d, information is asked as to the history of boy choirs in the United States.

I believe that the first boy choir was that of the Holy Communion, New York City, under the charge of the Rev. Wm. A. Muhlenberg, D.D.

In May or June, 1846, the boys, of whom I was one, attending St. Paul’s School (Dr. Muhlenberg’s), College Point, Long Island, attended in a body, the opening service of the completed Church of the Holy Communion, the music being rendered by a choir of boys. Lunch was served for us at the choir house, two dwellings thrown into one, on Twentieth Street, near Seventh Avenue. The church having been built, according to the request in the will of the founder, Mr. Rodgers, in a poor district of the city. Dr. Muhlenberg, in order to be certain of his choir, which must at that time necessarily be drawn from the poor families of the neighborhood, had gathered some twenty or thirty boys in this choir house, where they were, at the expense of the Doctor’s sister, lodged, fed, clothed, and, I think, received a common school education, the Doctor living with them; the Sunday School room and residence in the rear of the church not having been built at that time.

After that time, until I came to the Pacific Coast, in 1860, when in New York, I frequently attended the service at the Holy Communion. The choir was not vested, neither was the service choral. At first the “upper choir” sat in the organ gallery, the “lower choir” in the south transept. Later, when the keyboard of the organ was placed on the main floor, near the pulpit, the “upper choir” sat around it. I never understood the distinction between the “upper” and “lower” choirs excepting that to be in the upper choir was considered a special honor.

Dr. Muhlenberg, in 1847, published the Pointed Psalter, containing the Canticles, Psalter, and other musical portions of the service, properly pointed for chanting, with a large number of Gregorian and other chants. In the preface to this book he wrote a defense of the introduction of a boy choir claiming that the female voice, from its richness, caused the congregation to listen, instead of worshipping, while that of the boys simply led and induced all to join in the service.

Dr. Muhlenberg was, at least in those days, opposed to the singing of the Creed or any portion of the service which partook of the character of prayer, but he always chanted the Psalter at the Evening Prayer; announcing the number of the tune before each psalm.

Yours respectfully,

Wm. A. M. Van Bokkelen.

San Francisco, Calif.

From The Living Church, September 3, 1904, p. 622.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

An Earlier American Church Union (1936)

An Earlier American Church Union

By Clinton Rogers Woodruff

No place: no publisher, c. 1936.

WE ARE TO HAVE another American Church Union in the American Church. I use the word “another” advisedly, because we have had at least two others before the one announced in THE LIVING CHURCH of June 6, 1936, as continuing, developing, and broadening the Anglo-Catholic Congress. One ACU was listed in the Church Almanac for the late 60s and early 70s of the past century. In 1869 the president was the Rev. Dr. W. F. Morgan; in the Almanac of 1871, Dr. Floyd Jones; the last appearance in the Almanac is in that for 1874 when the presidency was described by a blank.

In 1908 another ACU was organized as a result of the widespread discussion and agitation of the disconcerting Canon 19 (now 23).

The second American Church Union sprang from a little gathering of priests and laymen, met to consider the forming of an organization for the maintenance and defense of the Faith. The English Church Union was then just 50 years old. It had done such a noble work in fighting the battles of the Mother Church, and had been so brilliantly successful in upholding her principles, that it was thought at first that a branch of this Union might render efficient services in this country. But a study of the literature sent over by its secretary quickly showed this to be inadvisable. The problems which confronted the Church of England were widely different from our own. Disestablishment, disendowment, parochial schools, the Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Bill, did not concern us as practical problems, and on the other hand, from many of the dangers which beset us the Church of England was happily free.

Moreover, the English Church Union was too closely identified with a particular party to serve the purpose the founders of the ACU had in mind, namely, to set up a Prayer Book standard to which men of every school of thought could rally, if they accepted the Prayer Book teaching, ex animo, and in the natural sense. Accordingly, while the ACU had the same general purpose as its English namesake, to “defend and maintain unimpaired the doctrine and discipline of the Church,” the work and methods of the two societies ran on parallel, rather than identical, lines.

The aims of the ACU were positive. The first was to spread abroad the knowledge of the Church’s principles, and especially of those doctrines and practices which at the time seemed rather in danger of being forgotten or obscured. Of course, it may be said that this was the duty of the Church at large. This fact, however, did not render the establishment of a Union of this sort any less useful. Efficient work in special lines within the Church is rendered by various societies, brotherhoods, and guilds for devotional and philanthropic purposes. It was pointed out in particular, we have a great missionary organization with numerous auxiliaries for the proclamation of the Gospel, so there might wisely be a corresponding society, equally general, having for its aim the development of the Faith in all its fulness among those who already profess it; matching with its idea of intension the missionary idea of extension.

The second aim of the ACU was equally important: to defend the Church’s Faith against the assaults of heresy. No previous age has been without false teachers, and it would be strange indeed if ours constituted the first exception. On the contrary it is easy to see why our dangers are in all probability greater than those of the past. The rapid progress of science, the popularization of knowledge, the social changes resulting from invention and travel give to the spirit of the age an impatience of antiquity and a love of novelty that challenges rudely the Church’s ancient claims. Those who sincerely desire to have religious thought keep abreast of the time have not always escaped the pitfalls of error. There is no need to impugn the motives of these teachers, since error is destructive whether it proceed from the head or the heart. There is, however, imperative need to meet modern error with a bold and confident restatement of the Faith once for all delivered to the saints. Although “truth is mighty and must prevail, it does not follow on that account that the Faith will take care of itself,” the Union proclaimed, “it will not now. We must earnestly contend, if it is to be preserved among us.” This is the duty of the Church at large, but what is every man’s business is apt to be left undone.

The average priest or layman, reading in the public prints the exploiting of strange and erroneous opinions within the Church, grumbles a little, and—does nothing. Very likely he has neither the time, nor the ability, nor the opportunity to discuss the issue, with the all too frequent result that error is not even challenged. It was here that the ACU thought it might do a useful work, by a public appeal to the standards of the Church. As when through the selfishness or indifference of citizens the laws are left unenforced or administered in the interests of graft or crime, a handful of men animated by public spirit bind themselves into a civic association to insist that these laws shall be observed, so the ACU, in one respect at least, was a Church law enforcement movement.

IT WILL be seen from what has been said that the spirit of the American Church Union was far from one of pessimism. Never for one instant did it fancy that the gates of Hell were prevailing against the Church of Christ. On the contrary, its attitude was one of hopefulness and confidence. Believing that for the past 18 centuries the Church had kept unimpaired her Faith, her Bible, her ministry, her sacraments, believing that these have demonstrated their righteousness and helpfulness through these ages, the American Church Union sought to afford the means of overcoming such difficulties and therefore regarded their preservation as of prime importance.

In the choice of the particular principles which it advocated, the ACU was guided by what it conceived to be the Church’s practical needs. Others might be in themselves of greater importance; those selected seemed in greater danger of becoming obscured. The ACU maintained:

(1) That the Protestant Episcopal Church is an integral part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

(2) That the Church’s Creeds are to be interpreted and believed as held by the undivided Church.

(3) That, as declared in the preface to the Ordinal, the ministry of the Church has been from the Apostles’ time, threefold; and those only are to execute the functions of this ministry in this Church who have had episcopal consecration or ordination.

(4) That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are divinely inspired.

(5) That the Church’s Sacraments derive from Christ vital power to confer grace by the operation of the Holy Spirit.

(6) That the marriage tie is indissoluble, as is set forth in the Church’s form of Solemnization of Matrimony.

(7) That persons unconfirmed by a bishop, who are known to be neither ready nor desirous to receive Confirmation, ought not to be admitted to the Holy Communion, nor enrolled as communicants of the Church.

The methods adopted by the ACU were twofold. The first, spiritual, by the use of prayer and preaching. These, though more important, need no comment. Of the second, the material means, a few words may be said. As opportunity was afforded and as means permitted, tracts were published bearing upon the Union’s principles. The Union aimed however at being more than a tract repository. While the tracts were at the disposal of all who chose to purchase them at a low figure, it endeavored by a free use of the mails to place them in the hands of individuals where they seemed likely to be most needed and to do the most good.

[These were issued in large quantities, especially in non-Catholic territory. In the series were: The American Church Union: Its Origin, Organization, Aims, Principles, Methods, and Work, by the Rev. Elliot White; Canon Nineteen: What It Is, How We Got It, and How It Works; Union or Unity? by the Very Rev. Dr. Frank L. Vernon, Dean of St. Luke’s Cathedral, Portland, Me.; Protestant Episcopal, An Appreciation, by F. C. Morehouse; Unity and the Change of Name, by the Rev. M. M. Benton; Why Protestant, by the Rev. G. Woolsey Hodge; The Reconciliation of the Schools of Thought, by Dean Vernon; Why Not Our True Name? by W. A. Buchanan; What Is a Catholic? by the Rev. Elliot White; Confirmation, by the Rev. Louis T. Scofield. There were sundry doctrinal leaflets and sermons and sundry pamphlets, one of which dealt in a comprehensive way with the Change of Name controversy.]

FROM THIS survey of the organization, purpose, and principles of the Union one can gain a fair idea of what the Union aimed to do and did do “for the maintenance and defense, of the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Church.”

From the very beginning of the movement, the Rev. Elliot White, then rector of Grace Church, Newark, and later rector of St. Mark’s Church, Philadelphia, and Dean of the Cathedral at Fond du Lac, was the devoted, effective, and efficient secretary. The writer had the honor to be president. For a full decade the Union earnestly sought to carry on, and as was said in one of its letters to its members written toward the end of its career: “The American Church Union was organized at a period of great unrest in the Church incident to the effort to use Canon 19 as a means of opening the pulpit of the Church and betraying the stewardship reposed in her. We are persuaded that the ACU played a helpful part in bringing about a solution of that distressing problem.”

During the discussion about the question of the change of name the Union again played an interesting part in bringing men of divers views and activities into cooperation toward a definite end. Its activities in this connection were most interesting and useful. At some future time I hope to tell the story involving, as it did, a Church-wide correspondence with our bishops of that period and prominent lay and clerical leaders.

In its decennial letter to its members the Union declared that the problems revolving around the Canon 19 discussion might be regarded as settled, certainly for this generation.

Those revolving around the discussion of the change of the name had temporarily been laid aside. In fact the Union had done little active work since the preceding General Convention, partly because of the fact that the secretary, having been called to a new and much more difficult work, had not been able to devote the time and attention he previously did. Moreover, there was a feeling it was just as wise to stand aside for a while and study the situation rather than rush forward without a well-formulated policy. As a result of the consideration which had been given to the whole problem during this period of inactivity, the officers submitted to the members of the Union for their thoughtful and prayerful consideration the following suggestions:

The American Church Union should definitely endeavor to bring into closer affiliation and more harmonious cooperation the various societies and organizations now existing for the propagation of the Catholic Faith. This suggestion does not involve the discontinuance of the separate management of these several organizations for they should continue to exist unfettered, but each should be represented in the Council of the American Catholic Union and that body should serve as a means of making the work of each organization familiar to those in the others and of bringing all into harmony in a definite forward movement.

The ACU should be prepared at all times to stand by sound Churchmen, whether bishops or priests, in difficulties. In the past those who have fought a good fight for the Faith have all too frequently done it single-handed. Those who are valiantly fighting for the cause should be made to feel that they have the whole body of the Faithful back of them. The American Church Union should promote the welfare of Church schools and colleges.

Public popular lectures and meetings to discuss Church policies should be organized at appropriate times and places and lecturers and preachers secured.

Certain abuses in the Church should be consistently and persistently attacked—e.g., the abuse of the vestry system; candidating for vacant cures; and the entrenchments of latitudinarianism in Church order and doctrine.

There should be a systematic effort made to secure for the Holy Eucharist its proper place in the services of the Church as the chief act of worship.

To bring the Catholic parishes into touch with the social movement and to show thoroughly that this movement cannot succeed without the religion of the Incarnation and Sacraments. It was not possible to undertake all of these activities at the same time. Nevertheless, these suggestions represented a program toward which Churchmen could and should work.

This was a program of far reaching significance and is as pertinent and as much needed now as it was then. No doubt the new ACU will adopt it as a part of its splendid program. There was one feature of the work of the earlier Union that the new one plans to follow and that is the throwing open of its doors and its board of management to the laity. The great influence of the English Church Union is in large measure due to the active participation of laymen, whose ministry has up to the present been largely overlooked by the present generation of Catholic clergy.

Late in the second decade of the present century, the officers of the Union felt that a new society could do the work more effectively; and so it took steps to wind up its affairs and pass on the light to a new body, which was christened the Churchman’s Alliance. The continuity of the work was for the time being effected by the selection of the Union’s president as the presiding officer, but he was, on account of the pressure of other duties, unable to continue in that office for any considerable length of time. That body, however, did not survive for many years, although it succeeded in interesting a number of active men who have since made substantial contributions to the Catholic cause in the Church. We wish its successor a longer and equally successful career.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized