Page images

that no insuperable difficulties may be encountered. If there is not, we believe that such co-operation as we have outlined, would redound to the honor of Christ and the strengthening of His Church both here and elsewhere. In His name, your servants and brethren,

LEON D. BLISS Lenox, 12 Dec., 1914.


Bishop Davies cordially responded to our expression of our readiness to enter into the desired conference; and after his return from absence abroad, at his invitation Dr. Smyth and Professor Williston Walker met with him at his residence in Springfield on Feb. 25th. After due consideration it seemed to us that some larger consultation was desirable in view of the far-reaching nature of the issues involved. The following correspondence will explain the steps which have been taken by mutual consent to secure studious and thorough consideration of these important questions in further irenical conferences of representatives of both communions.


The proposition from Lenox is so far reaching in its effect, and involves, in my opinion, such serious conflict with the Canon Law of the Episcopal Church, that any immediate action on it, other than conference and deliberation, seems to me impossible.

If the Commission on Faith and Order of the Episcopal Church would discuss the underlying principles with your Commission on Unity, I should be happy to have it so, and have so written to Dr. Manning. Believe me, Sir, with regard, sincerely yours,

Thos. F. DAVIES,

Bishop of Western Massachusetts February 26, 1915.



[ocr errors]

DEAR BRETHREN: In behalf of the Committee on Unity of the National Council of the Congregational Churches we would submit for your consideration the accompanying papers: - 1. A Letter addressed to the Right Rev. Thos. F. Davies, Bishop of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, and to the Rev. Dr. Newman Smyth. 2. A Letter from the Right Rev. Bishop Thos. F. Davies, D.D., to Dr. Newman Smyth.

As requested by the two ministers in Lenox, Mass., we held a conference with Bishop Davies at Springfield, Mass., on February 25th. We agreed on our part to the proposal stated in his letter to Dr. Smyth that we shall take up in conference with your Commission the underlying questions involved in the proposals of the Lenox clergymen. We are of the opinion that a concrete case such as this, presents a favorable opportunity for thorough and deliberate consultation with one another concerning the important principles involved. We deem it in order for us to do so, since the resolution. of our National Council, by which our Committee was originally appointed, authorized us to consider “any overtures from the Episcopal Church”; and that resolution was referred by your General Convention to the Commission on the World Conference.

We realize that the determination of the questions thus presented, involving as it does a special relationship between the Congregational Church and the Episcopal Church, is distinct from the matter primarily entrusted to the Commission; but at the same time their determination has an important bearing upon the promotion of the World Conference.

We therefore request the Commission to see that these proposals are laid before such Commission or other body of the Episcopal Church as is properly authorized to consider them; it being our earnest desire that so important and significant a matter shall receive on the part of the Commission the sympathetic official consideration which we can assure you it will receive from ours.

[ocr errors]

As a preliminary basis for such conference and deliberation allow us to present the following observations.

1. The question immediately raised by the Lenox ministers may be distinguished from questions which may follow from it and which may require further deliberation, but which are not directly or necessarily involved in its determination.

2. The primary question directly presented in this case concerns the nature and the extent of the ministerial standing that may be given by the respective Churches and accepted by their ministers in common work and worship.

3. This relates directly to the services of prayer and preaching in the respective Churches.

4. This again is related primarily to the prophetic office, so called, of the Christian ministry, as distinguished from the priestly function as well as the administrative authority of the ministry.

5. The present proposals go further and require more definitive determination than a purely co-operative relation of Churches in and through their joint participation in an external organization, such as is presented by the Federal Council of Churches.

6. To the extent in which this proposed ministerial service within the Church and not merely external to it, is allowed, it would require such validation as this; viz., with due regard to the scruples of both, the participation, so far as defined, of the Congregational minister in the service of the Episcopal Church should be made regular, as exercised with due ecclesiastical sanction; and likewise the participation of the Episcopal minister should be similarly recognized and validated in the Congregational Church; and furthermore this should be effected on the basis of some agreement acceptable and honorable to both.

7. Should such common practice of Christianity to this extent be brought about, it would not of itself determine, but it would leave open other outstanding problems, such as the sacramental functions of the Christian ministry, or the distinctive relations and offices of the clergymen, each in his own ecclesiastical body.

[ocr errors]

8. Neither would it involve any change in the Ordinal of the Episcopal Church, or in the usual procedure of the Congregational Churches, for the education and the induction of ministers into their several charges. Whatever additional legislation or changes it might require in the canons of the Episcopal Church, or corresponding authorization in the usages of the Congregational Churches, would remain to be determined by each in an orderly manner.

If there should thus be gained through conference an acceptable agreement concerning the questions thus immediately presented in the Lenox proposals, it would undoubtedly be a first step toward the unity which now on all sides is desired; and it might prove a good foundation for further irenic and mutually beneficial reconsideration of the further differences now existing between us.

For the sake of the coming of Christianity throughout the world in these latter days, we seek for such conference in the prayer and hope that thereby we may be better enabled to conserve all the spiritual values, as well as the manifold powers of service, which should be comprehended in the catholicity of the Church of God.

Signed by


RAYMOND CALKINS It seemed advisable to the Episcopal Commission on the World Conference, as well as to us, that this concrete case, which is typical of many others, should be referred for special consideration to their standing Commission on Christian Unity. We have received in response the following very acceptable letter from the Rt. Rev. Ethelbert Talbot, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem, Penn.


July 10, 1915. MY DEAR DR. SMYTH: – As you know, the Commission on World Conference recently referred to the Episcopal Commission on Christian Unity the Lenox Proposals submitted by you and Dr. Walker. On behalf of the last named Commission I beg leave to acknowledge that this most interesting and important matter is now officially before us and will receive our careful consideration as soon as it proves feasible to convene the Commission!" In the meantime a member of the Commission is at my request preparing the matter for our study by stating the canonical and other questions to which the proposals give rise, in order that they may be intelligently and sympathetically considered. I am hopeful that the presentation in such excellent spirit of a concrete case of co-operation may help us to avoid some of the dangers and difficulties which attend the discussion of purely abstract unity propositions.

Faithfully yours,

Chairman, Commission on Christian Unity

It is our purpose to enter into these conferences during the coming season. We deem it desirable that the results of our consultations shall be ready for publication before the meeting next year of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, and for us to report subsequently to our next National Council two years from now. While these matters are pending the Committee ask for the continued confidence and patient support of their Congregational brethren in the ministry and throughout our churches. We feel well assured that any discussion which may be occasioned by the present publication of these Lenox proposals, will prove helpful to the Committee in charge of these negotiations, as it is now the universally expressed desire on all sides to conduct such discussion in the spirit of conference in hope of the future, and no more in the spirit of controversy in recollection of causes of strife which are passing away.

The impossibility of a meeting of the entire Committee prior to the meeting of this Council, prevents us from presenting in this report any resolutions for the consideration of the Council, which possibly at a later hour the Committee may deem it desirable to offer for your consideration.

The Congregational Churches of this country throughout their history have ever held their passion for liberty in the

« PreviousContinue »