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(title page) History of the Afro-American Group of the Episcopal Church
George F. Bragg, D. D.,
319 p., ill.
1425 McCulloh Street, Baltimore, Maryland
Church Advocate Press
BX5979 .B7 (Rare Book Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-CH
digitization project, Documenting the American South.
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THE AUTHOR AND TWO OF HIS MINISTERIAL SONS
The author's beloved mother, in Paradise, his wife and
daughters, and all of the noble men and women, black
and white, living and departed, who in anywise
have aided him in his contention for a "Square
Deal" toward the Negro People
in the Church
THIS VOLUME IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED
the Church; Richard Allen's account of "the disturbance" and the result.
parish strongly endowed during the long and prosperous rectorship of Rev. Dr. H. L. Philips. Abundant in all good works.
the policy of restriction and friction; the Negro question in diocesan assemblies; Negro priests memorialize General Convention; the Suffragan and Missionary Episcopate; the undecided question of "status;" the action of the General Convention of 1916.
THE AUTHOR feels that the difficulties and hard conditions under which the present volume is brought to birth should be known. Our ministry has been of a laborious and exacting character. Believing thoroughly in self-support we have been thrown completely upon the love of our people, who, although both loving and loyal, by reason of their poverty have not been able to vouchsafe a support with sufficient margin to cover such outside ministries, to our group, as the times seem to require. What we have been enabled to do for others, both in the community and elsewhere, required the greatest economy, self-sacrifice and incessant labor. We are happy because of the service we have been privileged to render under such circumstances. With this in mind, we humbly beg our friends to be merciful as they note the shortcomings of our story. However, we feel that with all the imperfections of the work, a distinct contribution has been made in the field of Church literature.
We desire in this public manner to express our grateful thanks and appreciation to the Bishop of Mississippi, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Bratton, for his loving co-operation and help in connection with this work.
We not only sincerely thank Mr. Edward P. Morris, a communicant of our parish, and a Virginia young man, for the conspicuous part taken by him in connection with this volume, but we feel particularly honored in being able to
have one of our own group, presented by us for Confirmation, linotype the matter of the book, and also prepare the forms for the press; and all this at a considerable saving to us.
And in the same connection, we must express our appreciation and thanks for the helpfulness of Mr. William H. Knox, printer, also a communicant of St. James, Baltimore, and a graduate of St. Paul School, Lawrenceville, where he learnt his trade.
The frontispiece is a picture of the author, the Rev. C. R. Dawson, Cumberland, Md., and Rev. Gustave H. Caution, assistant to us, by the appointment of his Bishop. In their infancy each of them laid in the author's arms, when they received their Christian names. On June 3, 1922 the author presented them both for ordination--Mr. Caution to the diaconate, and Mr. Dawson to the priesthood.
RICHARD ALLEN BISHOP WHITE ABSALOM JONES
THE RT. REV. THEODORE DUBOSE BRATTON, D. D. LL. D.
BISHOP OF MISSISSIPPI
THE AUTHOR of this valuable book, whose introduction I have been accorded the honor to write, is the Historiographer of the Afro-American Episcopal Church. For many years he has been the repository of the records of his people, and to him have gone those seeking authentic information. As editor and essayist during thirty years past, his own publications of current history have become sources, in large measure, of this labor of love for his people and his Church. The book is written out of the fullness of mature years and vast experience. To singular facility for gathering exact facts have been added Dr. Bragg's love of his Church and of his people, and the enthusiasm of the historian who loves facts but loves still more the life which lived them. The book is the story of the Church of the Incarnation in American Negro Life, and of its fruits, an entransingly interesting story to every Churchman who loves to watch what the Lord God is doing among the sons of men.
With the conclusions and deductions there may not be unanimity among readers; for all alike the story will be illuminating and fascinating as the faithful record of growth and progress which is God's doing and marvellous in our eyes.
To the student of history reverence for the past is founded upon the assurance of God's hand busy in shaping ends, and the proof of it in the sure progress of nations and races
which have put their trust in Him. Each past is the foundation of its future, and, however faulty, may be trusted because God is able to bind the broken.
The author has not hesitated to count the rents in the foundations of the Zion whose towers he tells, while reverently grateful for the beauties which distinguished her turrets and joyfully confident of the stability and security of God's holy city, as opening her gates more and more widely she welcomes the races of men.
Through the wide open gates the Negro has entered and has become a builder together with God. The task of the stand and bearers is very great, very sacred and encompassed with difficulties; but it is supremely the task of the Negro, for which God's grace is sufficient--the ability to plan and to execute, to organize and to administer the affairs of Church has been demonstrated. The task of the leaders is to lift up, to edify, to encourage and to regenerate by God's grace, the great mass of their backward people; but it is supremely their task. What is needed from white friends and co-members of the Church is the ability to recognize the transforming, regenerating power of grace working in the great Negro race, and the ready sympathy to help on the upbuilding, by honoring the strong, balanced, spiritual characters raised up by God to be the leaders and examples of their people. It is thus that peoples grow in grace as they grow in age.
It is for this that Dr. Bragg's book, in every chapter, is in unconscious appeal.
God bless the book and its message to the Church, to the faithful of both races in the bonds of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
Theodore DuBose Bratton
When the Church of England came to America, it sought to embrace all of the people, without respect to race. Despite the difficulties and unfavorable conditions the very early records of parish churches disclose the fact that babes of African descent were brought to Holy Baptism and incorporated into the Church of Christ. The children of the slaves or servant class, were diligently instructed in the Church Catechism, and, at the proper time, brought to the Bishop for Confirmation. That is, after the Church in this country had received the Episcopate. But it must be remembered that the Episcopate was not obtained until the year 1787. The English Society for the propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts manifested a special interest in providing for the religious instruction of the slave population in the American colonies. The white population in these colonies were not all of the same class or quality. Nor were the more numerous elements especially friendly to the Church of England and her method of presentation of the Gospel. Under such circumstances it was not at all strange that there was widespread indifference with respect to the religious training of the slave population. And, then, at the first, there was a general feeling that Baptism operated in converting the slave into a free man. Until the consciences of many were satisfied that Baptism did not destroy the relation of master and slave, but little progress was made in the conversion of the
slaves to Christianity. All along there were those whose tender consciences suffered no change in this matter, and gradually, many manumissions ensued. By degrees, owing largely to this conviction, there came into being an ever increasing class of "free Negroes." A number of very sincere white Christians in their last will and testament set free forever their slaves. Then, in the North, following the Revolutionary War, there was a general, or gradual, emancipation of slaves. It is from this period that formal organizations among the colored people date. From then on to the Civil War, the record of organized Church life among the people of African descent is confined almost exclusively to the Northern States, where the largest number of "free Negroes" resided. In the South the religious instruction of the colored people was carried on under varying forms. Usually the black people of a particular plantation who attended any religious instruction gave in their adhesion to the same religious faith of their masters. In a number of the white churches there was always "the Negro gallery" for the slaves. In some places where the slaves were exceedingly numerous special chapels were erected for them in which they were diligently gathered and instructed. Uniformly white ministers were placed over these chapels. But, simultaneously with these special chapels, and "the Negro gallery" in white churches, there came into being an "invisible" institution among the slaves, which, to them, was the real thing, despite their formal attendance upon the ministrations of white ministers. This institution was the native Negro Church, the great conservator of religious fervor and zeal among the black people of the South. This institution produced the famous "ante-bellum" Negro preacher, the celebrated spiritual songs of the slaves, as well as those beautiful characters known in the old Southern dialect as "the
uncles" and "the mammies." However, altogether, "the Great House" possibly, was the chief civilizer and Christianizer of the black man. But in this connection it must be borne in mind that the blacks reached by "the Great House" were but a fractional part of the great masses. As a rule, the occupants of the mansion house were people of much refinement, education and tenderness. The "great house," with its elegantly furnished rooms and equipment was constantly the scene of the display of the highest intellectual and social life of the country. Attached to this institution were any number of servants, such as cooks, porters, valets, maids and other attendants. These lived constantly in the midst of the life of "the great house," and, reflecting the same, were transformed into its likeness. Many of them were the constant attendants of those they served, at balls, theatres, hunting parties, lectures, and, in fact, wherever the people of the great house were, by their sides and at their command were, their black men and women. Their shared in the worship of family prayers and listened to the reading of the Scriptures, and the comments made thereon. They were attentive listeners as they waited in the spacious dining room upon distinguished judges, statesmen and others. And, in many ways, their contact with the great house was to them a university training.
On the other hand the great masses of the black race on plantations, in hard out-door life, were constantly in contact with and lived in the life of the "overseer class," and "the poor whites," and reflecting that low coarse and vulgar life, were likewise transformed into its image. After the Civil War the religious life of the colored people of the South assumed a new setting. Rather, the "invisible" Negro Church
which had existed all along, became "visible" and began to adjust itself to the changed situation of affairs.
The foregoing observations with respect to the religious life, in general, of the colored people are most helpful, as throwing light upon the situation when we come to narrate the specific effort of the Church in Church extension among the race.
Possibly we can more fully appreciate many of the difficulties in this particuular field if we ever keep in mind that ours is the only one of the great representative religious bodies of this country, which, from first to last, has sought to maintain a comprehensive unity, embracing all sections of the country as well as all races.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson, in his admirable book, "The History of the Negro Church," (1922), gives an account of a very early effort in South Carolina, which we reproduce as there given:
"The first successful worker in this field was the Rev. Samuel Thomas of Goose Creek Parish in the colony of South Carolina. The records show that he was thus engaged as early as 1695 and that ten years later he reported twenty black communicants, who, with several others, well understood the English language. By 1705 he had brought under his instruction as many as one thousand slaves, 'many of whom,' said he, 'could read the Bible distinctly and great numbers of them were engaged in learning the Scriptures.'" When these blacks approached the Communion Table, however, some white persons seriously objected, inquiring whether it was possible that slaves should go to heaven anyway. But having the co-operation of a number of liberal slaveholders in that section, and working in collaboration with Mrs. Haig, Mrs. Edwards and the Rev. E. Taylor, who Baptized a number of them, the missionaries in that colony prepared the way for the Christianization of the Negro slaves. Becoming interested in the thorough indoctrination of these slaves, Mr. Taylor planned for their instruction, encouraging the slave holders to teach the blacks at least to
the extent of learning the Lord's Prayer. Manifesting such interest in these unfortunate blacks, their friends easily induced them to attend church in such large numbers that they could not be accomodated. "So far as the missionaries were permitted," says one, "they did all that was possible for their evangelization, and while so many professed Christians among the whites were luke-warm, it pleased God to raise to Himself devout servants among the heathen, whose faithfulness was commended by the masters themselves." In some of the congregations the Negroes constituted one-half of the Communicants. This interest in evangelizing the Negroes was extended into other parts. In 1723 Rev. Mr. Guy, of St. Andrew's Parish, had among his Communicants a slave, "a sensible Negro who can read and write, and come to church, a catechumen under probation for Baptism, which he desires."
A new stage in the progress of this movement was reached in 1743 when there was established at Charleston, S. C., a special school to train Negroes for participation in this missionary work. This school was opened by Commissary Garden and placed in charge of Harry and Andrew, two young men of color, who had been thoroughly instructed in the rudiments of education and in the doctrines of the Church. It not only served as the training school for missionary workers, but directed its attention also to the special needs of adults who studied therein during the evenings. From this school there were sent out from year to year numbers of youths to undertake this work in various parts of the colony of South Carolina. After having accomplished so much good for about a generation, however, the school was, in 1763, closed for various reasons, one of them being that one of the instructors died and the other proved inefficient."
Such is the interesting story as related by Dr. Woodson.
In the colony of Maryland, as far back as 1761, the Rev. Thomas Bacon, a clergyman of the Church of England, inaugurated a free school for black children in Frederick county. And even long before this date the same clergyman had inaugurated a school in Talbot county, for the poorer classes of both races. Some years ago in a published essay commenting on this early venture, Mr. Lawrence C. Worth, the assistant of the Enoch Pratt Library, as well as historiographer of the diocese of Maryland, said:
"Mr. Bacon had set an example in the Province in regard to the Christian education of Negro slaves, which was not generally to be followed by either clergy or laity for many generations. It was probably his work among the Negroes which led to the project of founding a sort of manual training industrial school for poor children. In a subscription paper circulated in 1750, he remarks upon the profaneness and debauchery, idleness and immorality--especially among the poorer sort in this province, and asks for yearly subscriptions 'for setting up a charity working school in the Parish of St. Peter's, Talbot county, for maintaining and teaching poor children to read, write and account, and instructing them in the knowledge and practice of the Christian Religion as taught in the Church of England.'
"A few months later he had received from a goodly, list of subscribers, among them the Proprietary and Lady Baltimore, Cecelius Calvert and Bishop Wilson, a sufficient fund for the running expenses, and in the course of a few years his subscriptions permitted the purchase of one hundred acres of land, and the erection of a suitable brick home and school. Thus, in the year 1755, and for many thereafter, Talbot county, boasted a fine charity school; but, thirty
years later, when Bacon and nearly all of the original trustees were dead, it was turned over to the county for use as a poorhouse. The institution seems to have been born before its time, so far as Maryland was concerned."
Hawks, the Church historian, in writing of the Maryland Diocesan Convention of 1819, says:--"parochial lending libraries were recommended to the parishes, and the religious instruction of the blacks became an object of interest. The present assistant Bishop of Virginia, (Johns) then a presbyter, presented to the Convention a number of copies of a work he had caused to be published, designed for the instruction of the Negroes. These were thankfully received and the benevolent effort to colonize the free people of color in Africa, with their own consent, then making by the American Colonization Society, received the hearty approbation of the Convention."
The rector of St. John's Church, Washington, D. C., in 1824, in making his annual report to the Convention, said: "A class of colored people has been formed, amounting to about forty, who manifest an earnest desire to learn to read, and to unite in the forms of worship established by our venerable Church."
In the journal of 1824, Maryland Convention, the rector of Trinity Parish, Charles county, says: "The black communicants present the most interesting appearance in their great devotion and regular attendance on Divine worship." In that same report one white Baptism is given against twenty-six blacks who received the same sacrament."
All of the Southern Bishops manifested the most tender care towards this portion of their Episcopal duty. Bishop Whittingham, Maryland, was particularly conspicuous and
zealous in the matter. He constantly came into the closest possible personal touch with the slaves, and, directly, and personally, instructed them himself. Indicating the seriousness of his studies in the matter after the close of the Civil War, when plans and methods for this work were being discussed, writing to the Bishop of South Carolina, he said in part: "Long before the Civil War I had been driven to meditate upon it, (the Missionary Episcopate) by conviction that the blacks in my own diocese could not be efficiently provided for on our present scheme."
Bishop Stephen Elliott, of Georgia, was a native of South Carolina. Before becoming the Bishop of Georgia he had most affectionately and devotedly labored among the Negroes of his native State. In his very first Convention address as Bishop, 1841, he reviews at great length the subject of the religious care of the black people. He began with this significant paragraph: "The religious instruction of our domestics and of the Negroes upon plantations, is a subject that never should be passed over in the address of a Southern Bishop." Six years later in his Convention address of 1847, he was particularly gracious in his treatment of the same subject. In part he said: "During the last week I visited the mission upon the north side of the great Ogeechee river, under the charge of the Rev. William C. Williams. A neat country church has been erected by some of the planters of that side of the river, which was sufficiently completed for services, but not for Consecration. I officiated in it on Sunday the 18th of April, when eight candidates were presented for Confirmation, the first fruits of the labors of their earnest missionary. Mr. Williams is pursuing the only plan which will be of any service with this class of our population, identifying himself with their spiritual condition and going in
and out among them as their pastor and guide. The impression is that the Negroes are averse from the services of our Church. It is a great mistake except so far as that aversion may have arisen from ignorance or neglect. Let a clergyman of the Episcopal Church settle anywhere in the midst of them and make himself comprehended among them and minister at their sick beds, and be with them in their moments of temptation and affliction, and prove himself their friend and teacher, and very soon will they welcome him to their hearts with the same true affection with which they now cling to those who now labor among them. It is my earnest hope that our Episcopal planters will take this matter into consideration and make arrangements for the employment of missionaries of their own Church, so that masters and servants may worship together in unity of spirit and in the bond of peace. It would tend very much to strengthen the relation of masters and slaves by bringing into action the highest and holiest feelings of our common natures. There should be much less danger of inhumanity on the one side, or of insubordination on the other, between parties who knelt upon the Lord's Day around the same Table, and were partakers of the same Communion."
THE SLAVE GALLERY
The ordinary reader, who is not well-informed is more than apt to look upon the "slave gallery" in one aspect only. Quite likely such may regard that particular kind of provision for the slaves as a manifestation of prejudice, pure and simple. But surely such a superficial observation would not be indicative of a desire to express the truth.
When one recalls the actual condition of the people brought hither from the barbarism of their native land, their ignorance and general unpreparedness in every particular
for an intelligent participation in public worship, and, with abundant doubt entertained with respect to their capacity to assimilate and incorporate ideas, the slave gallery was a most convenient testing and proving ground for the unexplored ignorance thus brought close enough for experiment. Said Thomas Jefferson, "Man is an imitative animal. This quality is the germ of all education in him. From his cradle to his grave he is learning to do what he sees others do." If, in the ordinary work-day-life the slave was steadily learning through such a process, certainly his spiritual powers and religious aspirations needed the same treatment, and this he certainly received through the agency of the slave gallery. Here he was brought into constant contact with the best in that line, and the provision made for his reception of the same was strictly in keeping with that made for his acquirement of worldly knowledge and skill. The fact is the experiment proved a complete success; for, out of the slave gallery came enlightenment, conversions, and Negro churches. Out of these came awakened powers and ambitions for group-leadership. It accounts largely for the wonderful progress made by the freedmen immediately following the Civil War. For it was not the field hand, or the quarter-Negro who became the leader and group preacher, but rather the Negro from "the slave gallery," who by his contact with the best expressions of religion, and his closer association with the best of the whites, had sufficiently incorporated such ideas as to reflect the same, and inwardly grow through a continuous outward reflection of what he had received. Thus "the invisible institution" became a mighty visible force.
But the remarkable powers of the Negro were discovered long before the Revolutionary War, as witnessed by a letter addressed to a member of the Virginia General Assembly in 1801 by the Hon. Judge Tucker, and quoted in the history
of the late Dr. Booker T. Washington. In quoting this letter Dr. Washington says: "It seems to me to describe in a remarkable way the process and the method by which the Negro masses have advanced slowly but steadily before emancipation, more rapidly but not less steadily since." This letter is, in part, as follows:
"There is often a progress in human affairs which may, indeed, be retarded, but which nothing can arrest. Moving with slow and silent steps, it is marked only by comparing distant periods. The causes which produce it are either so minute as to be invisible, or, if perceived, are too numerous and complicated to be subject to human control. Of such a sort is the advancement of knowledge among the Negroes of this country. It is so striking as to be obvious to a man of most ordinary observation. Every year adds to the number of those who can read and write; and he who has made any proficiency in letters becomes a little centre of instruction to others.
"This increase of knowledge is the principal agency in evolving the spirit we have to fear. . . . . . . In our infant country, where population and wealth increase with unexampled rapidity, the progress of liberal knowledge is proportionately great. In this vast march of the mind the blacks who are far behind us, may be supposed to advance at a pace equal to our own; but, sir, the fact is they are likely to advance faster, the growth and multiplication of our towns tend in a thousand ways to enlighten and inform them. The very nature of our government, which leads us to recur perpetually to the discussion of natural rights, favors speculation and inquiry. By way of marking the prodigious change which a few years had made among this class of men, compare
the late conspiracy with the revolt under Lord Dunmore. In one case a few solitary individuals flocked to that standard under which they were sure to find protection; in the other, they, in a body, of their own accord, combined a plan for asserting their claims and rest their safety on success alone. The difference is, then they sought freedom merely as a good; now they also claim it as a right. This comparison speaks better than volumes for the change I insist on.
"But Sir, this change is progressive. A little while ago their minds were enveloped in darkest ignorance; now the dawn of knowledge is faintly perceived and warns us of approaching day. Of the multitude of causes which tend to enlighten the blacks I know not one whose operation we can materially check. Here, then, is the true picture of our situation. Nor can we make it less hideous by shutting our eyes to it. These, our hewers of wood and drawers of water, possess the physical power to do us mischief, and are invited to do it by motives which self-love dictates and reason justifies. Our sole security consists then, in their ignorance of this power and of their means of using it--a security which we have lately found was not to be relied upon, and which, small as it now is, every day diminishes."
It is interesting to note that scarcely had the American Church been organized, following the close of the Revolutionary War, when it began immediately to interpret the Catholicity of the Church by creating Negro congregations, and ordaining black men to its Priesthood; when by the ordination of a Negro priest, and creation of a Negro parish, it declared racial organizations to be consistent with the Catholicity of the Church. Within nine years from the consecration of our first Presiding Bishop, Bishop White, in Lambeth Chapel, England, in 1787, our first colored Episcopal parish, in the city of Philadelphia was in successful operation with a membership of over four hundred persons, and a man of the black race had been ordained by Bishop White as the pastor of this congregation.
In that early day through exceptional and remarkable characters of African descent, the shadows of a series of brilliant events were given forth to the world. Necessarily, such characters were few; but, then, it must be remembered that with all of the advantages of the white race there was not a multitude of such exceptional characters among them. With the serious disadvantages and handicaps of the mass of the black race in America, it is, indeed, remarkable that there should arise such conspicuous and able characters among them.
In all candor, however, it should be noted that the disadvantages and handicaps at this particular epoch in the life of the black man were not so much from without as from within; for, in a sense, his exterior disadvantages were nothing in comparison with those which fell upon him in later years. At that time, so early from barbarism, the greatest of all handicaps, it is remarkable indeed that any notable examples of intuitive adaptability should reflect themselves. The very fact that they did would seem to indicate that outward disadvantages, after all, were not very formidable.
Just about the time we are considering, Benjamin Banneker, of Maryland, of the African race, had already become a famous and noted character because of his scientific knowledge, issuing in the stated publication of an almanac which was reckoned as an authority, throughout the country. The distinguished Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, at that time Secretary of State, in expressing his thanks and appreciation for a copy of the above mentioned publication, wrote Banneker as follows:
"Sir--I thank you sincerely for your letter and the almanac it contained. Nobody wishes more than I do to see such proofs as you exhibit that Nature has given to our black brethren talents equal to those of the other colors of men, and that the appearance of the want of them is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence both in Africa and America."
A still more remarkable example is that of Phyllis Wheatley, of Boston, Mass. Phyllis was born in Africa, and, when only a girl of six or seven years old, fresh from paganism, with other African slaves she was brought to Boston
and sold into slavery. She was purchased in the Boston "slave market" by a cultivated gentleman, a Mr. Wheatley, and adopted into his family. All her schooling and education were received within the atmosphere of that cultivated home. She became one of America's earliest poets. Her volume was dedicated to the Right Honorable, the Countess of Hunington, July 12, 1773. Without any assistance from school education, and by only what she was taught in the family, she, in sixteen month's time from her arrival, attained the English language, to which she was an utter stranger before, to such a degree, as to read the most difficult parts of the Sacred Writings, to the great astonishment of all who heard her. The publisher of Miss Wheatley's poems, in a note in the book, says:
"As it has been repeatedly suggested to the publisher by persons who have seen the manuscript, that numbers would be ready to suspect they were not really the writings of Phyllis, he has procured the following attestation from the most respectable characters in Boston, that none might have the least ground for disputing their origin."
Then follow the names of eighteen of Massachusett's most distinguished citizens, among whom are His Excellency, Thomas Hutchinson, Governor of the Commonwealth; the Hon. Andrew Oliver, Lieutenant Governor; and "John Hancock," all of whom subscribed to the following statement:
"We, whose names are underwritten do assure the world that the poems specified in the following pages, were (as we verily believe) written by Phyllis,
a young Negro girl, who was but a few years since brought an uncultivated barbarian from Africa, and has ever since been, and now is, under the disadvantage of serving as a slave in a family of this town. She has been examined by some of the best judges, and is thought qualified to write them."
General George Washington, our first President, and father of the country, under date of February 2, 1776, acknowledging the receipt of a "poem" dedicated to him, wrote Miss Wheatley as follows:
"I thank you most sincerely for your polite notice of me in the elegant lines you inclosed, and, however undeserving I may be of such enconium and panygeric, the style and manner exhibit a striking proof of your poetical talents, and as a tribute justly due to you, I would have published the poem had I not been apprehensive that, whilst I only meant to give to the world this new instance of your genius I might have incurred the imputation of vanity."
In relating these kind and generous expressions of Washington and Jefferson, the author is not unmindful of the fact that both of them were Churchmen and Virginians. And the author considers it one of the pleasures of his life in this place to bear witness to the fact that the same class of Virginians represented by Washington and Jefferson, have, invariably, sustained in their attitude toward the black man the same noble courtesy and generosity of spirit. Since six years of age the author has continuously and most intimately lived in the life of the same class of white men, and
every remembrance of the graciousness and helpfulness of such contact is like sweet fragrance which fills the air.
AN ELECTIVE AFFINITY
As a gradual emancipation commenced in the Northern States, following the Revolutionary War, the select class of Negroes who obtained their freedom set about to organize for their moral welfare and the preservation of the peculiar impress which differentiated them from the great mass of uncultivated people of African descent. Soon there were centers of "free African societies" in Boston, Newport, New York, Philadelphia and elsewhere. Invariably, the men of such societies sought as close alliance as possible with the men of quality of the white race with whom they had been associated before freedom came to them. Eventually it was because of this bond that a group of people of African descent, worshipping with the white Methodists, when humiliated and treated amiss, turned to the Episcopal Church as a city of refuge. And thus did the first colored Episcopal congregation in this country and the first black man ordained to her ministry come into being.
St. Thomas African Church, Philadelphia being the very first organization of its kind in this country and exerting a wonderful influence on the subsequent religious life of the race, it is important that the details leading to its final establishment be given at some length.
The distinguished black man, Richard Allen, who became the founder and first Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in a manuscript left by him, and written for him by his son, very minutely tells of the circumstances which finally led to "the parting of the ways," and the eventuation of "the free African society" into an Episcopal Church.
The "manuscript" from which we quote was written a
number of years after the establishment of St. Thomas Church, and, thus it is that throughout Allen refers to "Rev." Absalom Jones. At the time of the early events narrated, Jones, of course, had not been ordained. But at the time of the writing of the manuscript he had long been in Orders. A portion of the manuscript reads as follows:
THE ALLEN MANUSCRIPT
"I saw the necessity of erecting a place of worship for the colored people . I proposed it to the most respectable people of color in the city, but here I met with opposition. I had but three colored brethren who united with me in erecting a place of worship--the Rev. Absalom Jones, William White and Darius Jinnings. These united with me as soon as it became public and known by the elder who was stationed in the city. The Rev. C. B. opposed the plan, and would not submit to any argument we might raise; but he was shortly removed from the charge. The Rev. Mr. W. took the charge and the Rev. L. G.--Mr. W., was much opposed to an African Church, and used very degrading and insulting language to us to try to prevent us from going on. We all belonged to St. George's Church--Rev. Absalom Jones, William White and Darius Jinnings. We felt ourselves much cramped; but my dear Lord was with us, and we believed that if it was His will, the work would go on, and that we would be able to succeed in building the house of the Lord. We established prayer meetings and meetings of exhortation, and the Lord blessed our endeavors and many souls were awakened; but the elder soon forbid us holding any such meetings. We viewed the forlorn state of our colored brethren and saw that they were destitute of a place of worship. They were considered as a nuisance. A number of us usually sat on seats placed around the wall and on Sabbath morning we went to church, and the sexton stood
at the door and told us to go in the gallery. He told us to go and we would see where to sit. We expected to take the seats over the ones we formerly occupied below, not knowing any better. We took those seats. Meeting had begun and they were nearly done singing, and just as we got to the seats the elder said: "Let us pray." We had not been long on our knees before I heard considerable scuffling and loud talking. I raised my head up and saw one of the trustees, H--M--having hold of the Rev. Absalom Jones pulling him off his knees and saying, "You must get up; you must not kneel here." Mr. Jones replied, "Wait until prayer is over." Mr. H. M. said, "No, you must get up now, or I will call for aid and force you away." Mr. Jones said, "Wait until prayer is over, and I will get up and trouble you no more." With that he beckoned to one of the other trustees, Mr. L--S--to come to his assistance. He came and went to William White to pull him up. By this time prayer was over, and we all went out of the church in a body and they were no more plagued by us in the church. . . . . . . . . Notwithstanding we had subscribed largely towards furnishing St. George's Church, in building the gallery, and laying new floors; and just as the house was made comfortable, we were turned out from enjoying the comforts of worshipping therein.
"We then hired a store-room and held worship by ourselves. Here we were pursued with threats of being disowned and read out of meeting, if we did contrive to worship in the place we had hired; but we believed that the Lord would be our friend. We got subscription papers out to raise money to build the house of the Lord. By this time we had waited on Dr. Rush and Mr. Robert Ralston and told them of our distressing situation. We considered it a blessing that the Lord had put it into our hearts to wait upon these gentlemen.
They pitied our situation and subscribed largely towards the Church, and were very friendly towards us and advised us how to go on. We appointed Mr. Ralston our treasurer. Dr. Rush did much for us in public by his influence. I hope the names of Dr. Benjamin Rush and Mr. Ralston will never be forgotten among us. They were the first gentlemen who espoused the cause of the oppressed, and aided us in building the house of the Lord for the poor Africans to worship in. Here was the beginning and rise of the first African Church in America. But the elder of the Methodist Church still pursued us. Mr. I--M--called upon us and told us that if we did not erase our names from the subscription paper and give up the paper we would be publicly turnd out of meeting. We asked him if we had violated any rules of discipline by so doing. He replied, "I have the charge given me by the Conference, and unless you submit I will read you publicly out of meeting." We told him that we were willing to abide by the discipline of the Methodist Church, 'and if you will show us where we have violated any law of discipline of the Methodist Church, we will submit, and if there is no rule violated in the discipline, we will proceed on.' He replied, 'we will read you out.' We told him that if he turned us out contrary to the discipline we should seek further redress. We told him we were dragged off our knees in St. George's Church, and treated worse than heathen, and we were determined to seek out for ourselves, the Lord being our helper. He told us that we were not Methodists, and left us. Finding we would go on and raise money to build the church, he called upon us again and wished to see us altogether. We met him. He told us that he wished us well, and that he was a friend to us, and used many arguments to convince us that we were wrong in building a church. We told him that we had no place of
worship and we did not mean to go to St. George's any more as we were treated so scandalously in the presence of all the congregation present, 'and if you deny us your name, you can not seal up the Scriptures from us and deny us a name in heaven. We believe heaven is free to all who worship in spirit and in truth.' And he said: 'So you are determined to go on.' We told him, 'Yes, God being our helper.' He replied, 'We will disown you all from the Methodist connection.' . . . . . We went out with our subscription paper and met with great success. We had no reason to complain of the liberality of the citizens..
"The first day the Rev. Absalom Jones and myself went out we collected three hundred and sixty dollars. This was the greatest day collection that we met with. We appointed a committee to look out for a lot--the Rev. Absalom Jones, William Gray, William Wicher and myself. We pitched upon a lot at the corner of Lombard and Sixth streets. They authorized me to go and agree for it. I did accordingly. The lot belonged to Mr. Mark Wilcox. We entered into articles of agreement for the lot. Afterwards the committee found a lot on Fifth street in a more commodious part of the city which we bought; and the first lot they threw upon my hands and wished me to give it up. I told them they had authorized me to agree for the lot, and they were all satisfied with the agreement I had made, and I thought that it was hard that they should throw it upon my hands. I told them I would sooner keep it myself than to forfeit the agreement I had made. And so I did. We bore much persecution from many of the Methodist connection, but we have reason to be thankful to Almighty God, who was our deliverer. The day was appointed to go and dig the cellar. I arose early in the morning and addressed the throne of grace, praying that the Lord would bless our endeavors. Having by this
time, two or three teams of my own, . . . as I was the first proposer of the African Church, I put the first spade into the ground to dig the cellar for the same. This was the first African Church or meeting house that was erected in the United States of America. We intended it for the African preaching house or church; but finding that the elder stationed in the city was such an opposer to our proceeding of erecting a place of worship, though the principal part of the directors of this church belonged to the Methodist connection, and that he would neither preach for us nor have anything to do with us, we held an election to know what religious denomination we should unite with. At the election it was determined. There were two in favor of the Methodists, the Rev. Absalom Jones and myself, and a large majority in favor of the Church of England. This majority carried. Notwithstanding we had been so violently persecuted by the elders, we were in favor of being attached to the Methodist connection, for I was confident there was no religious sect, or denomination, that would suit the capacity of the colored people as well as the Methodists, for the plain and simple Gospel suits best for any people, for the unlearned can understand, and the learned are sure to understand; and the reason that the Methodists are so successful in the awakening and conversion of the colored people, is the plain doctrine and having a good discipline. But in many cases the preachers would act to please their own fancy, without discipline, until some of them became tyrants, and more especially to the colored people. They would turn them out of society, giving them no trial, for the smallest offense, perhaps only hearsay. They would frequently in meeting the class impeach some of the members of whom they had heard an ill-report and turn them out, saying 'I have heard thus and thus of you, and you are no more a member of society,'
without witnesses on either side. This had been frequently done, notwithstanding that in the first rise and progress in Delaware State and elsewhere, the colored people were their greatest support, for there were but few of us free. The slaves would toil in their little patches many a night until midnight to raise their little truck to sell to get something to support them, more than their white masters gave them, and we used often to divide our little support among the white preachers of the Gospel. This was once a quarter. It was in the time of the Revolutionary War between Great Britain and the United States."
Following the incident in St. George's Church, Philadelphia, the group of people of African descent who had practically been ejected therefrom, got together and on the 12th day of April, 1787, organized the "Free African Society." Finally this society resolved itself into an "African Church" and later the African Church became St. Thomas Episcopal Church. The story of "The Free African Society" is exceedingly interesting for it furnishes us with the records and doings of the first organized body of people of African descent in this country.
How did this first group of emancipated black people set about to use their freedom? Did they set to work to conserve and improve the morals of their people and cultivate their religious life, or, were they carried away with an extravagant sense of their own importance? Because of the mistreatment they had received from one group of white persons did they rashly run to the conclusion that all white persons were their enemies, or, did they wisely discriminate and carefully seek to ally themselves with the best white people of the community? The records of this venerable and ancient society of black people make unmistakably clear their profound solicitude and deep concern for the moral advance and spiritual interests of the race with whom they were identified.
Naturally, we ask the question, how was it possible, at that early day for any group of Negroes to become possessed
of sufficient general knowledge and education requisite for launching even so modest an institution? How was it possible for them to become the pioneers along a line hitherto unexplored by any of their kind? It will be well for us to remember that from the very earliest times, in America, as few as they may have been, there was a class of truly Christian and sympathetic white persons who were unwearied in their devotion to the welfare of the black people. They kindly touched their lives and freely imparted to them every help they could whereby both their mental and moral condition would be affected for good. When, therefore, the first emancipations took place in Pennsylvania, the group of black people thus set free, were ambitious to conserve and improve the good things they had already received. The very name "Free African Society" indicated a separation from the other Africans who were not free. This separation was necessary and it was for the highest good of those yet detained in slavery, as well as for those who had gained their freedom. They would thus become worthy exemplars to the black race yet in bonds. It would beget hope on their part. It would strengthen the hands and hearts of the benevolently disposed whites to do all that was in their power to hasten the time when the fetters would be lifted from all black slaves, and all would be free men.
The people called Quakers and Episcopalians were especially interested in helping to make "the Free African Society" all that it ought to be. Under such circumstances the society started out upon an untried venture and they were much encouraged and helped by the reflection that they could turn at any moment for guidance and help, not simply to white friends, but to the very best and holiest of the white race within their midst. And, even at this late day, the
worthy example of our honored forbears in this particular commends itself to our most serious consideration.
The initial effort was in the direction of a benevolent and moral reform association. Through appropriate committees they concerned themselves with every phase of the life of the black people. And, soon, they were in correspondence with similar groups of African people in Boston, Newport, R. I.; New York, and elsewhere, and the epistles which passed between these several African societies reveal the most beautiful moral and religious aspiration. Anything like a spirit of retaliation or a disposition to irritate the whites, was foreign to such communications. In the calm deliberations of this little society of "free Africans," there was a constantly growing sentiment removing them further and further from the wild and noisy excitement of the Methodists of those times. The Quaker and Episcopal influences which had environed them in their early struggles were daily captivating them. It is, indeed, most inspiring to note that African people just emerging from "the house of bondage" in the very first organization constituted by them should enact:"No man shall live with any woman as man and wife without she is lawfully his wife, and his certificate must be delivered to the clerk to be put on record."
Early in the life of the Society there appears a case which indicated its firmness in the matter of discipline.
It reads thus: Whereas, Samuel S., one of the members of the Free African Society, held in Philadelphia, for the benefit of the sick, has so shamefully deviated from our known rules, hath often, unnecessarily, left his tender wife and child, and kept company with a common woman, sometimes
quarrelling, fighting and swearing, for which he hath been long and tenderly treated with, but he has not forsaken his shameful practices, we therefore, disown the said Samuel S.. from being a member of our society till he condemns the same in life and conversation, which is our desire for him."
Indicative of the society's desire to welcome the aid of sympathetic white friends in the conduct of its affairs, in the original articles of its constitution is the following:
"We unanimously agree to choose Joseph Clarke to be our Clerk and Treasurer: and whenever another shall succeed him, it is always understood that one of the people called Quakers, belonging to one of the three monthly meetings in Philadelphia, is to be chosen to act as Clerk and Treasurer of this useful institution."
In one of the epistles from this society to the Boston society is this wise and judicious advice:
"It affords us matter of satisfaction to find that you are united with us in laboring in the same vineyard, we seriously hope to the honor of God and the benefit of mankind. . . . . . Let none be discouraged however low their station among men may be, for we find in Holy Writ that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but that one who has on the shield of faith shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight. Here is encouragement for us of the African race. The Scriptures declare that God is no respector of persons. We beseech you, therefore, in much brotherly love, to lay aside all superfluity of naughtiness, especially
gaming and feasting; a shameful practice that we, as a people, are particularly guilty of. While we are feasting and dancing many of our complexion are starving under cruel bondage; and it is this practice of ours that enable our enemies to declare that we are not fit for freedom; and at the same time this imprudent conduct stops the mouths of our real friends who would ardently plead our cause. Let us, therefore, dear brethren, learn to be wise by fearing the Lord, and show that we have a good understanding by forsaking our foolish practices."
Towards the latter part of the year 1792, the Society resolved itself into a Church organization, the style of the corporation being, "The Elders and Deacons of the African Church." From that time on the body was chiefly concerned in arranging for the erection of a church building. The edifice was occupied for the first time and solemnly dedicated on July 17th, 1794. The clergy of nearly every denomination in the city of Philadelphia, as well as many of the most representative citizens were present at the opening of "The African Church." Carved on white marble in a conspicuous part of the front of the building were these words: "The people that walked in darkness hath seen a great light"--Isaiah ix:2.
The preacher upon the occasion took the same words for his text. Near the close of this most excellent discourse by the Rev. Dr. Magaw, occur these words:
"On the right improvement of your present advantages depends, perhaps, the fate of your brethren in bondage in every part of the world. Strengthen
the hands of your friends everywhere by your pure and unexceptional conduct. This will be to 'let your light shine' in favor of the multitudes yet covered with darkness. This will be encouraging the deliverance of those who are bound."
Thus far, "the African Church" was unconnected with any of the various religious bodies. However, very soon thereafter, the people of the "African Church" determined to unite themselves and their church building with the Episcopal Church, and, the official document declaring such purpose is dated August 12, 1794. But, before doing so, they specified three conditions, which were agreed to by the authorities of the Episcopal Church, viz: They should be received as a body, already organized; they should have guaranteed to them local independence and self-control of their affairs, forever; and, lastly, that one of their number should be licensed as their "Lay Reader," and, if found fit, ordained as their minister.
The preamble of the historic document declaring their purpose reads as follows:
"Whereas, a few of our race did in the name and fear of God, associate for the purpose of advancing our friends in a true knowledge of God, of true religion, and the ways and means to restore our long lost race to the dignity of men and of Christians," and, continues the preamble, "God in mercy and wisdom has exceeded our most sanguine wishes, in blessing our undertaking, and has opened the hearts of our white brethren to assist in our undertaking. . . . . Having seen the dawn of the Gospel day, we are zealously concerned for the gathering together our race into the sheepfold of the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. . . . . For all of the above purposes
it is needful that we enter into and forthwith establish some orderly Christian-like government of former usage in the Church of Christ; and, being desirous to avoid all appearance of evil, by self-conceitedness, or an intent to promote or establish any new human device among us. . . . . . Now be it known to all the world and in all ages thereof, that we, the founders and trustees of said house, did on Tuesday, the 12th day of August, in the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four, resolve and decree to resign and conform ourselves to the Protestant Episcopal Church of North America, and we dedicate ourselves to God, imploring His protection; and our house to the memory of St. Thomas, the Apostle, to be henceforth known and called St. Thomas African Episcopal Church of Philadelphia; to be governed by us and our successors as follows."
Definite action was taken upon the part of the authorities of the Episcopal Church as evidenced from the following, from the official record:
"Philadelphia, September 9, 1794. At a meeting of the Council of Advice and Standing Committee of the Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Pennsylvania, in the Bishop's House. Present, the Right Reverend Bishop White and a quorum of the members. The Bishop laid before the Council the Constitution ofthe African Church of Philadelphia, a congregation of the people of color, who having erected a building for the public worship of God, do now in consequence of free and mature deliberation, propose and request to be associated with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States; and in particular to commit all their ecclessiastical affairs to the rule and authority of
the Bishop and Church in this State of Pennsylvania. The Bishop and Council are pleased with the application made as above, and are willing to accept the terms.
"Resolved and declared, therefore, that as soon as the Trustees or Deputies of the said congregation, being duly authorized, shall sign the Act of Association of the said church in this State, they shall be entitled to all the privileges of the other congregations of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
"Agreed that Dr. Samuel Magaw and Dr. Robert Blackwell be a committee to meet the Trustees or Deputies of the African Church, and see them ratify the Act of Association.
"Extract from the Minutes,
"A member of the Council"
On Sunday, October 12, 1794, the Rev. Dr. Blackwell appeared in the pulpit of St. Thomas Church and formally and fully announced the reception of this congregation into the communion of the Episcopal Church.
Shortly thereafter the congregation, through the Trustees, sent in a petition, and request for the ordination of Absalom Jones as their minister. A portion of this petition reads as follows:
"With due deference to your wisdom, we presume to present to you our well-beloved brother, Absalom Jones, a man of good report, of Godly conversation and zealously engaged in promoting religion and virtue among us as a candidate for the above purpose. And in consideration of the utility of having such a person clothed with authority to
visit the sick, attend funerals, administer the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, reproving, exhorting and following the wandering and careless to bring them into the sheepfold of Christ, and in view of the reverence and respect in which he is held by the generality of our color, and of his zeal for the prosperity of the Church, and his assiduity in doing good for men; we therefore humbly hope that his want of the literary qualifications required by the Church, may, under our circumstances, be dispensed with." Signed in behalf and by appointment of the congregation of St. Thomas Church, William Gray, William White, William Gardner, Henry Stewart, Trustees.
The above petition was duly considered by the Bishop and Standing Committee, and action taken as indicated from the following:
"An address or letter to the Bishop and clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, written in very respectful and affectionate terms, from the trustees and other representatives of the congregation of the African Church, now called St. Thomas Church of Philadelphia, was laid before the Council, communicated through the hands of the Bishop, representing among other things, that it would be expedient to have among themselves a pious and duly qualified man of color to discharge the functions of a minister, and recommending for the said purpose Absalom Jones, a man of good report and Godly conversation. Whereupon, the Council being heartily disposed to favor the address and application as above, and entirely satisfied as far as to them doth appear, of the moral and religious character of the person recommended, do agree in opinion and respectfully advice that the most regular mode of proceeding for the Bishop to give his sanction and approbation to Absalom Jones to
officiate as a Reader of Divine Service etc., in the said church, and a candidate for Deacon's Orders, till the meeting of the Convention of the Church in this State, which will be in the month of May next. The Seventh Canon, ratified in General Convention, requiring with regard to the learning of those to be ordained that the requisition of an acquaintance with Latin and Greek is only to be dispensed with by two-thirds of the Convention of the State to which the candidate belongs, and for good causes moving thereunto; the recommendation to the Bishop to effect the foregoing, to have the signature of the names of a majority of such convention.
Extract from the book of Minutes,
"A member of the Council and Secretary"
The convention which assembled in Christ Church, Philadelphia. June, 2, 1795, acted favorably in these premises, as the following witnesseth:
"It was moved and seconded that the knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages, in the examination for Holy Orders of Absalom Jones, a black man, belonging to the African Church of St. Thomas in this city, be dispensed with agreeably to the canon in such cases made and provided. Resolved that the same be granted, provided, it is not to be understood to entitle the African Church to send a clergyman or deputies to the Convention or to interfere with the general government of the Episcopal Church, this condition being made in consideration of their peculiar circumstances at present.
Absalom Jones was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop White in St. Thomas Church, August 6th, 1795. But, prior to his ordination the Bishop first explained the nature of the "condition" in the dispensing vote of the Convention; and secondly, exacted a pledge of the Trustees with respect to the support of the man to be ordained.
Inasmuch as the temporary "condition" referred to in later years was oft quoted in defense of the continued exclusion of St. Thomas Church from representation in the Diocesan Convention, it will not be amiss in this place to refer to "an interpretation" of that "condition" by the "minority" of the committee of the Convention of 1850, appointed to consider the application of St. Thomas parish.
The majority of the committee "would gladly see this whole matter laid permanently and quietly at rest by a decisive and expressive vote of the Convention, where fifty years of universal acquiessence has placed it." It therefore, offered the following resolution:
"Resolved, That it is inexpedient to repeal the Eighth Revised Regulation, and that the committee be discharged from further consideration of the subject."
Happily, there was a "minority" on that committee, and they were not of the same mind as the majority. So the "minority" presented its side, and, from their most inspiring report the following is taken:
". . . . . . The undersigned, while granting the Trustees of St. Thomas Church did agree to the restrictions referred to, can not see why such assent should prevent the present authorities of that church from seeking a removal of a provision which the congregation have found by experience to
be burdensome and injurious to their interests. The said restriction was imposed and agreed to, let it be remembered, not according to the records cited at the time of receiving the Church of St. Thomas into the fellowship with the Church in the diocese, but nearly a year afterwards, when the question of the dispensation of certain literary qualifications in the person selected for their minister came before the Convention, 'this condition being made in consideration of their peculiar circumstances at present.'
"The restriction and the agreement to it are, therefore, in the opinion of the undersigned, not to be viewed in the light of an original compact contemporaneous with the existence of the Church of St. Thomas as a part of the Church in the diocese. The agreement they yielded to, the restriction, in their peculiar exigency, by no means interferes with the right of the congregation to petition now for a repeal of the prohibition which their present 'peculiar circumstances' may render highly oppressive and detrimental to their prosperity.
"But what were the peculiar circumstances to which the restriction passed in 1795 refers? The words 'at present' ought in charity, to be strictly limited. The Reverend Absalom Jones, the first minister of St. Thomas Church, though very deficient in literary qualifications for the ministry, was a 'man of good report and Godly conversation.' He was held in great reverence and esteem by the colored people of our city. Zealous for the prosperity of the Church, and unwearied in doing good, he was especially beloved in consequence of his devotion to the sick and dying at the time of the prevalence of that awful scourge, the yellow fever. Administering to the bodily as well as spiritual wants of many poor sufferers, and soothing the last moments of many departing souls among his people, he became greatly endeared
to the colored race. Hence, when they formed a congregation in order that they might worship God according to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of their choice, they fixed their hearts upon having their kind friend and helper for their minister.
"He who had already won his way to their hearts by labors and sacrifices of Christian love that no one can hear of without emotion, must be the shepherd of their souls in Christ Jesus. So that they would succeed in this, their darling wish, they were content to submit to inconvenience and to loss; for him their friend and brother, bound so closely to their hearts by the sympathy of past afflictions, they were ready to be placed for the time being in a position of inferiority. They were fully sensible that he did not possess the literary qualifications requisite for the ministry, but they knew and loved his self-sacrificing spirit, and consistently religious life. When, therefore, the great difficulty in the way of his ordination was removed by the dispensing vote of the Convention, the condition on which, in this case, the dispensation was agreed to, the congregation of St. Thomas had succeeded in their great desire. In their feebleness they surrendered to the far stronger power, the right which the Church had already given them, in order that their little flock might be watched and ministered to by a shepherd whom they loved. The undersigned earnestly submit whether, after the expiration of so many years, advantage should be taken of the concession which the petitioners yielded in their then peculiar exigency? More than a half century has passed away since the adoption of the restriction, which, they now respectfully ask may be removed. Their present pastor, has, it is believed, far superior literary qualifications to the Rev. Absalom Jones, having passed a very creditable examination for the diaconate and priesthood before the Rt. Reverend
Bishop Onderdonk of this city.
"The very wording of the restriction referred to, viewed in connection with the facts above stated, shows that both parties, the Convention on the one hand, and the Trustees of St. Thomas Church on the other, thought of it only as a temporary proviso, and that it would be rescinded when the 'peculiar circumstances' spoken of should cease. It is believed by the undersigned that the 'peculiar circumstances' of the church of the petitioners at that time have in a great measure changed; that special peculiarity aimed at in the restriction has ceased, from the fact above stated, with regard to their present minister of the parish. . . . . The undersigned submit that the Eighth Revised Regulation be rescinded on principle. No test of admission should be adopted here which is at variance with the precepts of our Redeemer, and with the practice of the Church in the Apostolic times--and the undersigned would ask whether the said regulation be not inconsistent with both? . . . . . It may well be asked if it be consistent with the declaration of the great Apostle to the Gentiles, 'if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend,' thus to wound the feelings and to interfere with the peace and prosperity of a company of brethren. They can not be expected long to reconcile the inconsistency of their pastor being fit to preach the word of God and to administer His Holy Sacraments and yet incapable of having any part in the Councils of the Church. Can we reasonably look for their advancement and improvement in knowledge and virtue while we continue to give ground for attacks upon their position, and thus help to lessen their self-respect? It seems also to the undersigned, well worthy of consideration, whether the repeal of the Eighth Revised Regulation would not tend to produce peace in our own Convention? It is believed
that many of the members of this body are conscientiously opposed to it. It is an offence to them, and they would rejoice to see it rescinded."
St. Thomas did not win its fight at that time. The vote of the clergy was 44 to 42. But the controversy went on, and in the Convention of 1862 or 1863, the regulation was rescinded and St. Thomas Church admitted into union with the Convention. The two clergymen on the minority side championing the cause of our group were the Rev. Messrs. Henry E. Montgomery and G. Emlen Hare.
The same year of the ordination of Absalom Jones, 1795, the names of persons recorded as members of St. Thomas aggregate 427. The first election of vestrymen was held in the church, March 28, 1796, and the following persons were chosen as the very first church officers of any congregation of persons of African descent in the United States: John Exeter, William Gray, wardens; William Coleman, secretary; John Emory, clerk of the church; Charles Bunkan, Ishmael Robins, Charles Golding, William Colston, James Dexter, Peter Mercer, Alexander James, Henry Stewart, Samuel Jackson, Robert Turner, Joseph Williams, William Thomas, Rutland Moore, James Forten, Kent Burry, Jacob Gibbs, John Church.
In 1804 the vestry established a day school for the instruction of the youth. Each member of the Educational Society thereby called into existence was required to contribute an annual sum of one dollar. The board of trustees continued to carry on the school up to the year 1816; beyond which time no minute of the proceedings appear. A fact worthy of note in connection with the school is the expense of instructing ten male scholars was provided out of trust funds coming through Rev. Dr. Bray, the English commissary.
Rev. Mr. Douglass says with respect to this school, "It appears that the vestry finally gave up the control of the school and placed it in the hands of Solomon Clarkson (one of its members) who also for a considerable number of years afterwards, was paid from the same charity for the tuition of the aforesaid number of scholars. Besides, there was a female school taught by Madam Hand in the Northern Liberties, supported from the same source."
Watson's Annals, 2nd volume, page 263, ed. of 1854, has this interesting note concerning the above mentioned charity: "This ancient charity originated with the Rev. Dr. Bray, American missionary, the Bishop of London and Mr. D'Alone, secretary to King William. In 1774 the ground rents of a large lot in this city were set apart for the payment of the expenses of two schools for blacks, one for each sex, to be educated gratuitously. 'The Associates' in England are perpetual; and from their appointments, three of our citizens, Churchmen, constantly serve the schools as directors and governors. Those lately in service were Wm. Meredith, Thos. Hale and James S. Smith, Esquires."
Says the author of the Annals of St. Thomas: "For the last fifteen years, at least, this charity has been turned in some other direction. It has been ascertained that ever since the suspension of the school here, the net sum of nine hundred dollars, arising from said ground rents, has been forwarded to London annually. We have been in communication with 'The Associates' in England, through their secretary respecting the ground taken for suspending said schools, and have recently received in replication a polite note, from which is taken the following extract: 'The trust to which you allude is for the support of schools in British America. The Associates have always been advised that the term 'British America' is to be construed as comprising
the territory now known by that name, and not the territory which was so considered prior to the peace of 1783, and that it is their duty to apply the trust accordingly."'
In 1809, through a legacy left by Wm. Bradford, Esq., in the hands of Bishop White and Dr. Benjamin Rush, St. Thomas Church became the possessor of a "parsonage," situated in Powell street, between Fifth and Sixth streets and Pine and Spruce streets.
The people of St. Thomas were active leaders in the general improvement of the people of African descent in that early day. One such enterprise was "The African Society for the Suppression of Vice and Immorality."
A number of them petitioned Chief justice Tilghman for his approbation, and having secured the same, they procured other indorsements from some of the most conspicuous characters in America at that time. The petition to Chief Justice Tilghman reads as follows:
"A number of the free people of color have associated themselves in a society by the name, title and description of the African Society for the Suppression of Vice and Immorality among the people of our own race. They have for a long time viewed with painful anxiety the multiplied evils that have occurred and do daily occur, for the want of such advice and instruction as they feel desirous of giving, by visiting some of the more dissipated parts of the city, and suburbs, on proper occasions, and using such persuasive measures as may be best calculated to produce reformation of manners among them. They, therefore, solicit your Honor's approbation and concurrence in behalf of the society."
"JOHN TRUSTY, Chairman"
The Chief Justice in his indorsement said: "I have read the articles of the African Association and approve of them. The object is highly commendable, and there is reason to hope that the association may produce very beneficial effects."
Benjamin Franklin said: "I have also read the articles of the African Association, and heartily concur with the Chief Justice in the opinion above expressed."
Jacob Rush said: "Every rational plan to reform the people of color will always have my approbation. The effort now proposed to be made, by means of religious instruction and conversation, at seasonable time, has, therefore, my cordial wishes for its success."
With respect to Absalom Jones, the first black man raised to the dignity of a priest (he was priested by Bishop White in 1804), the Rev. William Douglass, a successor says:
"He was born a slave; his young ideas, therefore, were never taught how to shoot forth their rays of intellectual light and beauty. He had arrived at manhood before he was initiated into the first branches of a common school education. He became somewhat proficient in these by dint of self-application, during intervals from his secular labors. By industry, frugality and economy previous to his entering the ministry, he had accumulated some means which he invested in real estate . He was the owner of several neat dwellings, the value of which we have not ascertained. A day school was taught by him while he pursued a course of preparation for the ministry, and also for sometime after he entered upon its duties and responsibilities. When he took charge of the church he was in the 49th year of his age."
The following narrative is from the original manuscript written by himself:
"I, Absalom Jones, was born in Sussex, Del., on the 6th of November, 1746. I was small when my master took me from the field to wait and attend on him in the house; and being very fond of learning, I was careful to save the pennies that were given to me by the ladies and gentlemen from time to time. I soon bought myself a primer, and begged to be taught by anybody that I found able and willing to give me the least instruction. Soon after this, I was able to purchase a spelling book; for as my money increased I supplied myself with books, among others, a Testament . For, fondness for books gave me little or no time for the amusements that took up the leisure hours of my companions. By this course I became singular and escaped many evils, and also saved my money.
"In the year 1762 my mother, five brothers and a sister were sold, and I was brought to the city of Philadelphia with my master. My employment in this city was to wait in the store, pack up and carry out goods. In this situation I had an opportunity with the clerk to get copies set for me; so that I was soon able to write to my mother and brothers with my own hand. My spelling is bad for want of proper schooling. In the year 1766 I asked my master the liberty of going one-quarter to night school, which he granted. In that quarter, I learned addition, troy weight, subtraction, apothecaries' weight, practical multiplication, practical division and reduction.
"In the year 1770 I married a wife who was a slave. I soon after proposed to purchase her freedom. To this her mistress agreed for the sum of forty pounds. Not having the money in hand I got an appeal drawn and John Thomas, my father-in-law, and I, called upon some of the principal Friends of this city. From some we borrowed and from others we received donations. In this way we soon raised
thirty pounds of the money, her mistress, Sarah King, for giving the balance of ten pounds. By this time, my master's family was increased, and I was much hurried in my servitude. However I took a house and for seven years made it my business to work until twelve or one o'clock at night to assist my wife in obtaining a livelihood, and to pay the money that was borrowed to purchase her freedom. This being fully accomplished and having a little money in hand, I made application to my master in the year 1778 to purchase my own freedom; but, as this was not granted, I fortunately met with a small house and lot of ground, to be sold for one hundred and fifty pounds Continental money. Having laid by some hard money, I sold it for continental and purchased the lot. My desire for freedom increased as I knew that while I was a slave my house and lot might be taken as the property of my master. This induced me to make many applications to him for liberty to purchase my freedom; and on the first of October, 1784, he generously gave me a manumission. I have ever since continued in his service at good wages, and I still find it my duty both late and early to be industrious to improve the little estate that a kind Providence has put in my hands. Since my freedom I have built a couple of small houses on the same lot which now let for twenty-two pounds a year."
In reporting the death of Absalom Jones to the Convention of Pennsylvania 1818, Bishop White said of him: "I do not record the event without a tender recollection of his eminent virtues, and of his pastoral fidelity."
Upon his tomb in the old churchyard where his remains were buried was inscribed the following: "To the memory of the Rev. Absalom Jones, who, born a slave, and becoming possessed of freedom by good conduct, and rendered respectable by a course of virtuous industry, was principally instrumental
in founding the African Church of St. Thomas, in which he was the first pastor; and after discharging the duties of the ministry faithfully during twenty-two years, he departed this life, February 13, 1818, aged 71 years 3 months and 3 days."
The Rev. William Douglass, who assumed the charge of St. Thomas in September 1834 in his history of that parish, issued in 1862, says:
"I would have you to mark well the following language used by the founders of this church: 'Being desirous,' they say, 'of avoiding all apearance of evil by self-conceitedness, or an intent to promote or establish any new human device, they entered into, and established an orderly Christianlike government and order of former usage in the Church of Christ.' They desired nothing more nor less than to become a branch of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church; 'in which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments duly administered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that are of necessity are requisite to the same.' For this exhibition of practical wisdom on their part, we should rejoice and be thankful. It is not the boast of St. Thomas that the mass of our people has hitherto been won to her standard. Yet it can not be successfully denied that she has exerted a powerful influence for good among other denominations of her brethren since organized into religious bodies. Whatever of taste, order and intelligence be now discovered among the various colored churches here, may in a great degree be traced to the stimulating influence of St. Thomas.
She stood alone at one time in favor of the education of the ministry and people. But a favorable change is now universally taking place. She was once spoken of in disparaging terms on account of her care for cleanliness and decency in the house of worship, her carpeted aisles, her pews and organ. But now she is closely imitated in all these respects. I repeat that it is not our boast that the mass have flocked to our Zion. The time has not yet arrived. It should be remembered that though our people are rapidly improving, they are not yet fully developed. Our sober, rational and inimitable devotional service, the Lessons, Epistles and Gospels statedly read, are what they actually need in order to raise them to the dignity of intelligent Christians; but, they are not as yet generally prepared to appreciate them, owing to their early pre-possessions. But the day is at hand when from previous intellectual training the rising generation will be fully competent and every way disposed to investigate matters closely. They will no longer be governed, as too many of their elders are now, by superstitious notions, false premises and illogical conclusions. They will become honest and candid searchers after the truth. Then, the time will have arrived for St. Thomas to arise in her strength and make an aggressive movement--to challenge her brethren of other names to compare notes with her in regard to the basis of their ecclessiastical structures."
Mr. Douglass in the introduction of his Annals thus accounts for the Methodistic attraction:
"As Methodism addressed itself chiefly to the feelings and affections--which are always strongest among undisciplined minds--the great majority gave their adherence to that system. Another cause of the success of this denomination in gathering into their folds more of the colored population than any other, may be ascribed to their itinerancy. This class of ministers, at the time referred to, made no pretentions to literary qualifications, and being despised and persecuted as religious enthusiasts, their sympathies naturally turned towards the lowly, who, like themselves, were of small estimate in the sight of worldly greatness."
The enemies of the Episcopal Church of our own group have industriously sought to create the impression, especially as pertains to the far South, that sympathetic feeling did not exist between the black and white members of the Episcopal household during the days before the Civil War. In South Carolina the sympathetic feeling was so genuine and productive that there were as many colored as white communicants. Illustrating somewhat the type of the white South Carolina clergy, we introduce at this point the story of the procuring of a white South Carolinian as rector of St. Thomas Church, Philadelphia.
During the summer of 1826, the Rev. P. Van Pelt, a white priest in charge of one of the most important white parishes in the diocese of South Carolina, visited the city of Philadelphia. During his stay there he frequently officiated for the people of St. Thomas, with much satisfaction and benefit. The people of this African Church had become so thoroughly carried away by reason of his most acceptable ministrations, that 'ere his return to South Carolina, the
vestry of St. Thomas extended him a hearty and unanimous invitation to become the rector of the parish. Bishop White, Dr. Abercrombie and others of the clergy, knowing the desire of the congregation to secure his services, and believing that such would be productive of much good, strongly urged Mr. Van Pelt to accept the call. At length, regarding it as a duty, he accepted the call; but owing to previous engagements at the South, did not enter upon his duties as rector until June 1827. In 1830 Mr. Van Pelt was appointed secretary of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society in New York, as well as editor of its periodical. With respect to the departure of Mr. Van Pelt Mr. Douglass says:
"On the eve of separating, the congregation, as a testimony of their affectionate regard, presented him, in addition to other substantial memorials, a large and beautiful silver pitcher. Mr. Van Pelt was a young gentleman of very prepossessing appearance, fine talents and oratorical powers of a high order. During the three years of his ministrations he was very successful through the divine blessing upon his labors, in promoting true and vital godliness among the people of his charge. In 1829, he presented to Bishop White 44 persons for Confirmation. The Sunday School rapidly grew in its dimensions, and greatly flourished. Its fame spread among the colored people of other denominations, from among whom large accessions were made to the school, they having at that time no Sunday Schools of their own. An organ, for the first time was introduced into the church at his suggestion. Mr. Van Pelt, evidently, made an indelible impression upon the congregation of St. Thomas.
The elder members of that time have since departed this life; but, I never knew them speak of the days referred to unless in the most glowing terms, as pleasing reminescenses of the past. And I feel confident that it is not possible now for me to introduce into the pulpit a clergyman more acceptable to our hearers--excepting our venerable and beloved Bishop--than the Rev. P. Van Pelt, D. D."
At the time of the publication of the "Annals," 1862, the Rev. Dr. Van Pelt, while still secretary of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Church, was also professor of oriental languages in the Theological Department of Burlington College, N. J.
The Rev. Dr. Van Pelt was followed in the rectorship of St. Thomas, by another white clergyman, Rev. J. M. Douglass. On the 17th of September, 1834, the Rev. William Douglass, ordained in Maryland during the preceeding June, took charge of St. Thomas, where he remained until his death in 1862.
The case of Dr. Van Pelt is deserving of special emphasis. It is in itself an interpretation of race relations between the better class of colored and white persons of that period North and South. Note that this is the first instance on record where a vestry of a colored congregation invited a white clergyman to become regularly settled over them as the rector of their parish. The man who was called and who accepted was at the time rector of a white congregation in the State and diocese of South Carolina. That Dr. Van Pelt was an ordinary young white man is sufficiently contradicted by the avidity with which the authorities of the Missionary
Society of the Church sought and obtained his services three years thereafter. The incident is important as it illustrates the contention that all along from the very beginning the high-class white people of education and good breeding, despite the institution of slavery, exercised the most sympathetic and helpful attachment towards the black people.
Any number of the most radical and outspoken friends of the black man have been men born and reared on the soil of South Carolina. We cannot forbear in giving another instance of such devotion. The Rev. Dr. John H. Elliott, some time rector of the Church of the Ascension, Washington, D. C., and one of the national figures in the Episcopal Church, a South Carolinian by birth, at the time of the great controversy over the admission of St. Marks, Charleston, in union with the South Carolina Convention in 1876, was the leader of that section of the committee which recommended the unconditional admission of the colored parish. In his memorable speech upon the floor of the Convention in defense of his contention, among other things, he said:
"That it is our interest, no less than our duty before God to do what we can to elevate this race to win them over to the side of religion and order, to inspire them with confidence in our good will and sincerity, to wean them from their ignorant and self-constituted teachers, and to weaken the triple cord of religious, political, association and caste-feeling, by which they are now held in bondage, no good Christian, or sensible man will deny. Yet it is proposed to us to repel a large and influential colored congregation, of whose piety and respectability and sympathy with us there is no dispute, because we do not care to sit with them in the same Convention,
or allow them to have a voice, however humble, in the government of their own church, or because we can not bring ourselves to face certain unpleasant consequences which may, or may not, follow their introduction. Instead of joyfully taking them by the hand and welcoming them as our co-workers in bringing about a better state of feeling between the two races, we are asked to deepen the chasm already existing, to cut away the last bridge of communication by which we may reach a better understanding, and to convince them, once and forever, that where we have the power, we mean to wield it against every semblance of equality, even thought it be in the Church of Christ. We may do our best to put another face upon it, but this will be their reading of it, and they will find this construction sustained by the great majority of civilized men, even of our own race and color."
While St. Thomas Church, Philadelphia, is the first and oldest of colored Episcopal Churches in this country, yet, it must be remembered that the people of St. Thomas were brought up as "Methodists," and, in maturer life, in a body, conformed to the Church. Absalom Jones, the first pastor of this same congregation, was 49 years of age when ordained to the diaconate. On the other hand the people who first constituted St. Philips Church, New York, had been most carefully trained, and brought up in the worship and ways of the Church. The Rev. Peter Williams, the chief founder, and first pastor, was confirmed in the Church when a youth eighteen years of age, and for quite a while was assistant to the Catechist, having in charge the early training of the people.
Almost from the very beginning Trinity Parish, New York, maintained work among the colored people, and as this work grew in volume steps were taken to gradually prepare the colored group for the active work of a parish, and Church, under the guidance, as well as material assistance, of Trinity Church.
At the time of the founding of St. Philips, 1818, the total population of New York City was about 160,000--12,000 of whom were descendants of the African race. Only sixty colored persons were tax-payers, and only 16 were qualified to vote. Slavery, at that time, had not been entirely abolished, complete emancipation being effective in 1827.
As the work of instruction in connection with Trinity Parish invited increasing numbers, for more efficient care a room over a carpenter's shop on Cliff street, now Peck's slip, was secured, and fitted up with only such furniture as was absolutely needed. Sometimes services were held in the evenings, and when such was the case illumination was secured by candles fixed on square blocks and placed at intervals around the room.
A Mr. George Lorrillard, a wealthy New Yorker, being interested in the work, made a lease of a parcel of ground on Collect street, afterwards Center street, to the parish of St. Philips for 60 years, at an annual rental of $250, and at the expiration of this time the land should become the property of the Church. Thus a site for the church building was secured, an effort was now put forth towards the erection of an edifice. In this the congregation was assisted by Trinity Parish, and also by $2400 left through the will of Mr. Jacob Sherred, to aid the congregation in its work. The first building was a frame structure, 60-50. Bishop Hobart spoke in high praise of the new church and mentioned the important fact that the greater part of the work on the building was done by Negro mechanics, which, incidentally, tell of the industrial position of the race, even in that early day. The edifice had galleries on both sides and in front, and contained altogether 144 pews. Its cost was a little over $8,000. The building was solemnly consecrated on the 3rd of July, 1819. The first Baptism in the Church occurred on the 19th of the same month, the name of the child Christened being Samuel Saltus. On the 20th of October of the same year, 1819, the ordination of the Parish's faithful Lay Reader, Mr. Peter Williams, occurred. The Commercial Advertiser, the day following, with respect to the event, said: "Yesterday morning Mr. Peter Williams, Jr., was
admitted to the Holy Order of Deacons in St. Philips Church, by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Hobart. The new deacon is a person of color, who, being possessed of good natural parts, has much improved his intellectual faculties by intense study and application, and has written several little tracts, which abundantly show that with God there is no respect of persons. Mr. Williams of unexceptional morals, and his zeal in the cause of our blessed Redeemer is well known, and, it is devoutly to be hoped that he be a useful minister in the Christian Church, and of great service in propagating the Gospel among his African brethren."
The great joy which the people of St. Philips experienced was destined for a time to be overshadowed by a heavy affliction; for, on the evening of December 8, 1821, a fire broke out and the church was destroyed. Happily it was insured for its full value, and very soon another even more attractive was in course of erection. The second edifice was duly consecrated by Bishop Hobart, December 31, 1822. With this great triumph over difficulties, increased spiritual activity was manifested, which showed itself for several years in large classes presented for Confirmation. On May 7th, 1826, in St. Philips Church, Bishop Hobart Confirmed 115 persons, and in the year 1829, 48 were confirmed and in 1832, 70 received the laying on of hands. On July 10th, 1826, in St. Philips Church, the Rev. Peter Williams was advanced to the Priesthood.
Towards the beginning of the year 1840, the health of the Rev. Mr. Williams began to fail. On the evening of October 18, of the same year, he retired to his rest as usual at his residence, 68 Crosby street, but before the light of another day his spirit had fled. Bishop Onderdonk, who officiated at the funeral in St. Philips Church, remarked, before morning he awoke "not to the light of this world, but
to the glorious splendor of Paradise." A newspaper of that time, said: "The Rev. Peter Williams, Jr., son of Peter Williams, tobacconist, 53 Liberty street, was born in New York City." It was generally understood that Mr. Williams was more or less a protege of Bishop Hobart. In 1808 he delivered an oration on the African Slave Trade in which he strongly depicted its horrors. By some his claim to the authorship of this oration was doubted, deeming it above his capacity; but Bishop Moore, who understood all the facts in the case, publicly testified to the contrary, and his affidavit accompanied by others, was printed with the oration.
Rev. William Douglass, at that time rector of St. Thomas Church, Philadelphia, in a sermon the next month following his death to his own cengregation, said, of the late Mr. Williams: "He manifested a deep concern for the improvement, not only of the people of his charge, but for his brethren generally. Hence, he was fond of contributing his influence and pecuniary means towards supporting the various organized instrumentalities that had a tendency to elevate and improve the condition of his oppressed people. . . . . . . . . He was not conspicuous in such matters. For no man, perhaps, was less given to display, or aimed less at popular applause than he . If he could hide himself from personal gaze he seemed best pleased. . . . . . Did he see a promising youth who lacked nothing but the necessary advantages to enable him to reflect credit upon himself and people, in a moral and intellectual point of view, he was the man that would spare no pains to get such an one in a situation favorable to the development of his powers. He took delight in seeking out such cases. There is now a high school in the city of New York that owes its establishment to his untiring efforts."
Bishop Onderdonk, in his Convention address of 1841,
thus alludes to the late Rev. Peter Williams and the parish over which he had presided:
"This excellent brother, as you well know, being one of themselves, had been for many years the faithful, devoted and eminently useful pastor of a parish formed of Africans and their descendants. A better ordered parish the diocese does not possess. Mr. Williams added to sincere and enlightened piety, and a grade of talent and theological acquirements quite above mediocrity, great soundness of judgment and prudence in action, and a just appreciation, a sincere love and a consistent adoption of sound Church principles. Truly attached to his flock and cordially devoted to their best interests, he took heed unto them with a wise regard to what most concerned their duty and welfare in the life that now is, and their well-grounded Christian hope of that which is to come. He fed them with a faithful and true heart, and ruled them prudently with all his power."
Following the death of Mr. Williams, the parish was without a settled rector for quite a while. During this period a number of well-known white clergy were, at diverse times, the acting pastors. Among this number were: Rev. Messrs. Benjamin Evans, Donald Fraizer and Ralph Hoyt. Following Mr. Hoyt, the Rev. Samuel V. Berry, one of St. Phillips' own sons, acted as pastor for quite a while.
In 1845 the parish began its seven years' fight for admission into union with the Convention of New York. It was a long and interesting one. Dr. James McCune Smith and Mr. Alexander Elston were elected deputies to the Convention. The people of St. Philips, in showing their gratitude to their foremost friend and advocate, the Hon. John Jay, elected him for the second time as their representative in the diocesan Convention. Mr. Jay in declining a repetition of the honor paid the warmest tribute possible to the
parish. He said that never had he esteemed himself so highly honored than the previous year, when he answered "roll call" as the representative from that African parish.
For many years there was a celebrated and venerable character in connection with St. Philips Church; from its first days "Father John Peterson," who, as a pioneer educator, laid the intellectual foundations for scores of colored men, many of whom in later life attained national fame. He was an educator. But from the earliest days of the parish he had manifested an active interest in all of its affairs, and, the very year the Civil War closed, by Bishop Horatio Potter, he was admitted to the permanent diaconate. In this capacity he was of special value and service to the parish during vacancies in the rectorship. Father Peterson was active in making arrangements for the initial Conference of Church Workers which assembled in New York in 1883.
The parish of St. Philips has sent into the ministry quite a number of its own sons. Among those in the early ministry of the Church were Alexander Crummell, Hezekiah Green, who went to Africa; DeGrasse, who laid down his young life in the West Indies, and Samuel Vreeland Berry, a pioneer priest and teacher in the South following the close of the Civil War.
St. Philips possesses property in value of possibly more than a million of dollars. This is not because of the wealth of its people; for St. Philips is by no means a wealthy congregation. And especially during the present rectorship has it been built up from less than three hundred communicants to more than 2,500 from the poor and ordinary workers. Its wealth is easily explained when the wonderful growth of New York City is recalled. Besides its own immediate church property it had lots for burning purposes and other
small pieces of real estate. Being continually forced further up the island because of the increasing business area, the value of its holdings increased marvellously with every change in location it was bound to make. Then, again, upon the whole the parish has had good business management of its affairs. Especially is this true during the past well-nigh forty years.
For more than a period of one hundred years this parish has had only four rectors, and all of them have been descendants of the African race. Mention has already been made of the superior intellectual qualifications of the Rev. Peter Williams over men of his day. He was clearly a leader of his day and generation. In June 1859 the Rev. William Johnson Alston, a native of North Carolina, graduated from Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, and was ordained deacon by Bishop McIlvaine. For the next year or so Mr. Alston became the acting pastor of St. Philips. In 1862 he accepted the rectorship of St. Thomas, Philadelphia, but after a short while there he returned to St. Philips as the second rector of that parish where he remained until his death.
The Hon. John P. Green, Cleveland, Ohio, one of the distinguished leaders of the race in this country, also an ardent and staunch Churchman, in his most excellent autobiography published in 1919, notes some interesting data with respect to the early life and struggles of the Rev. Mr. Alston, which we give elsewhere in this volume. Mr. Green, a native of North Carolina, a resident of many years of Cleveland, is a former member of the Senate of that State.
The Rev. Mr. Alston was succeeded in the rectorship of St. Philips by the Rev. Joseph Sandford Atwell, a native of the West Indies.
Mr. Atwell first labored in Kentucky, then in Virginia; and from Virginia he went to Georgia. It was from the
rectorship of St. Stephens Church, Savannah, Ga., that he was called to St. Philips. He was a thoroughly educated man, receiving his literary training at Coddrington College in the West Indies, and his theological training in the Divinity Hall, Philadelphia, which eventuated into the present Philadelphia Divinity School. Mr. Atwell's rectorship did not last very long before his translation to the spirit world. But his short administration made a profound impression upon the community.
The fourth and present rector of St. Philips, the Rev. Hutchens C. Bishop, D. D., is a native of Maryland. His father and mother were united in holy matrimony by the Rev. William Douglass, a Maryland born man, as well as the first black man ordained to our ministry on Southern soil. Long before the Civil War the parents of the present rector of St. Philips were among the most conspicuous characters laboring together in the building up of St. James First African Church, Baltimore, at whose font Dr. Bishop received his Christian name. Later the older brothers and sisters of Dr. Bishop were among the pioneers from St. James who established the second congregation in that city, the Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin. It was in this new home that Hutchens C. Bishop was Confirmed and further instructed in Church principles. In due season he entered the General Theological Seminary, being the first colored student to be received and graduated.
Because of an unfortunate "ritualistic controversy," in which the parish with which he was identified was involved, he was transferred by Bishop Whittingharn to the diocese of Albany, and was ordained to the diaconate in the Albany Cathedral by Bishop William Croswell Doane of that diocese. The following year in the same place by the same Bishop he was advanced to the Priesthood. Laboring for a
while in Albany, Maryland, and South Carolina, he was finally called to the rectorship of St. Philips, assuming the charge January 1, 1886. From that time to the present the historic parish has sustained a phenomenal progress in every way under the wise, efficient and judicious administration of the Rev. Dr. Hutchens C. Bishop.
St. Thomas Church, Philadelphia, the first of all our colored Episcopal parishes, was really a congregation of colored Methodists conforming to the Episcopal Church. In the case of the second, St. Philips, New York, we have a group of colored persons under the wing of Trinity Church, duly instructed and prepared for the work of initiating a parish of the Episcopal Church among the people of African descent.
In that of St. James First African Church, Baltimore, we have something entirely different. The founding of St. James introduces our first great missionary hero of the black race. William Levington appears to have been born in the city of New York about the very year St. Thomas Church, Philadelphia, came into being. For nearly twenty-five years St. Thomas Church was a "living wonder" in all America. During all this period it existed as the only such congregation in the United States. When one recalls those early days with the undeveloped character of our country during the infant period of our republic, and the numerical weakness of the Episcopal Church among the whites, he can readily imagine the wonder and astonishment with which St. Thomas was viewed, a congregation of persons of African descent with a minister from their own group.
Under what circumstances Mr. Levington removed from New York to Philadelphia are not known. But, so far as
our investigation has gone, he was the first man ordained in St. Thomas Church since the ordination of Absalom Jones, the founder of that parish, in 1795, at which time Mr. Levington was an infant in the city of New York. And thus it came to past that the little African babe born in New York, after having received his priestly light from the shrine of Absalom Jones, was the first of his kind to penetrate the land where slavery reigned, and successfully plant the cross of Jesus Christ, in spirit, saying as he journeyed southward, "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling."
It is not to be wondered that we have almost no data at all with respect to the personal history of the Rev. Mr. Levington. He was a pilgrim in a strange land, sent by no missionary board, and with but little appreciation on the part of those he came to help. He left behind two "manuscripts," but of such a retiring nature was the man, neither one of these documents supply us with any personal particulars of the man, the hero of such remarkable accomplishment. The first of these documents relates the story of his coming to Baltimore, and of his final success in the erection of the edifice; while the second is a defense of his policy of admitting the slave population to the same spiritual equality in the Church as enjoyed by the free people of color.
From the first document we quote:
"It is right that the Christian public and the members of the Church, together with the rising generation, should know who or what gave rise to the establishment of St. James First African Protestant Episcopal Church, in Baltimore; for their information I note the following. I visited Baltimore soon after my ordination, March 14, 1824, and spent three or four weeks here, after which I returned to Philadelphia; and the Rev. Dr. Wyatt asked Mrs. L. Douton and Mr. Isaac Whipper if they thought that I could get up a school and be supported
here while trying to raise a church. They told him that I could, and each of them offered to board me six months; and after they had conversed with some of their friends about it they wished the doctor to write to Philadelphia for me, which with the cordial consent and approbation of the late Rt. Rev. and Venerable Bishop Kemp, he did immediately. I arrived in Baltimore on the 26th of May, of the same year--but so gloomy were the prospects that there was no place to be had to conduct divine worship and hold a school and but little exertion made. However, with blessings of the great Head of the Church, the 23rd of June, I got a place where I performed divine service and held a day and Sunday School, until the last of March, 1827, when we moved to the present church.
"Nine months after my arrival here there appeared to be no probability of establishing a church; so much so that Mrs. L. D. and Mr. I. W. withdrew from the concern. But be it remembered, that although Mrs. L. D. and Mr. I. W. withdrew from the concern, yet much respect is due them for their benevolent act toward the establishment of the present church. I owe much gratitude to the Rev. J. P. K. Henshaw for his individual influence and counsel in behalf of the Church, and for his eloquent sermon which he preached (Gen. 28:17) when the church was consecrated to the service of Almighty God--and also to S. Young, Esq., for his friendly counsel and individual influence, and may the names of R. Nelson and E. J. Coale, Esqs., ever be dear to those who worship in the church, and all who may hereafter worship in it; and all those who are and who shall be taught in it to read the Word of God; for it was by the solicitation of the above named gentlemen, that the lot of ground on which the church is erected was generously given by James Bosley, Esq., on the 19th day of April, 1825; and by their
further solicitation, a few days after, Peter Hoffman, John B. Morris and George Warner, Esqs., gave donations of fifty dollars each, and Mr. G. W. gave five thousand bricks; at which time they also kindly consented to superintend the building and appropriation of the funds contributed for erecting the church. I sincerely pray that the Divine Head of the Church will abundantly reward in this world and in the world to come everlasting life. And when I and the present worshippers in the said church shall cease to venerate their worthy names, having slept with our fathers, may those of our posterity, who may have knowledge of them as our worthy benefactors, venerate their names to the latest generation.
"Pastor of St. James F. A. P. E. Church."
Mr. Levington was a young man about thirty years of age, and he had thrust upon him in addition to the matter of gaining a support and the erection of a building, one of the knottiest problems that could have been presented. He had not taken upon himself the mission southward for the purpose of establishing a "chapel of ease," simply for free Negroes, but to help and benefit the entire race, bond and free. A portion of "the free colored people" were aggressively bent upon the exclusion of the slave population, and greatly aggravated the burdens of this black missionary by their persistent efforts in that direction. Manuscript No. 2, will give some idea of this controversy. It reads:
"We are asked by some persons why we have constituted our brethren members of the Church, and entitled them to vote, who are in bondage, who are above twenty-one years, and who comply with the requisites required by the constitution.
"First; we answer, the Apostle says whether bond or free ye are all one in Christ Jesus, for he that is called in the Lord being a servant, is the Lord's freeman. Of a truth God is no respector of persons; but in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. (Gal. 3-28; I Cor. 7:22; Acts 10:34-35).
"Secondly; the lot of ground was generously given by James Bosley, Esq., as a site for a church and school for the benefit of the African race forever, and the citizens of Baltimore, New York, Boston, Troy, Hartford, Albany, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, gave donations toward erecting the church, and Peter Hoffman, Esq., took a distinguished part in its erection without which, we believe, we should not have got one yet erected.
"Thirdly. In August, 1827, our late Rt. Rev. and Venerable Bishop Kemp, met with a number of us in the church, and told us that the great object in erecting the church was that both bond and free might serve God and prepare for another world; and above all people in the world he thought we ought to be the most united. Can a wise man with a feeling heart, suppose that we, some of whom have felt the yoke of bondage, should draw a line of separation? No, let the day be darkened forever on which we should do it? Have we all not one Father? Hath not one God created us? Why should we deal treacherously, every man against his brother? (Mal. 2:10). The Church is none other than the House of God, and this is the gate of Heaven. (Gen. 28:37).
"We charitably ask the Christian public shall we be partial in the House of God, and at the gate of Heaven become judges of evil thoughts. No, we will remember them that are in bonds as bound with them ourselves. (Heb. 13:3).
"Thus we, the vestrymen and minister of the said church, acquiesce with the Apostle and our late venerable Bishop,
whose unwearied labors, whose instructive example and holy admonitions may we never forget. William Levington, Thomas B. Rose, William Warrick, Philip Myers, Levin Brown, Henry Davis, Peter Dennis, Henry Johnson."
The estimated value of the lot upon which the church was built was $2,000. The modest edifice cost about $2,300, and the money was raised, mainly, through the personal solicitations of Mr. Levington. He made several trips north for that purpose. From his last report to the diocesan convention of 1834, it is revealed that a balance of $637.73 was still owing on the property. Rev. Dr. Joshua Peterkin, who followed Mr. Levington, paid off this indebtedness. In that last report, Mr. Levington says: "The rector would say that although the constitution of the church gives to those of his brethren who are in bondage the right of membership in the church, much dissatisfaction has prevailed among some of his free brethren; yet with the blessing of the Great Head of the Church, it has been happily and finally settled."
Although but a handful of people, comparatively speaking, St. James Church, with its day school, exerted a marvelous influence in the community. Its indirect influence being far greater than its direct impress upon the race. Many of the afterward active men and women of the race received their educational training under Mr. Levington. The wife of the late Bishop A. W. Wayman, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, as a girl, received her education in St. James Church under Mr. Levington. The same was true of the mother of Bishop Levi J. Coppin, (A. M. E. Bishop) an alumnus of our Episcopal Divinity School in Philadelphia. The same was true of William Douglass, the first colored man ordained to our ministry in Maryland. It was the presence of Levington in this city which discovered and brought into the Church such a useful man as the Rev. Mr.
Douglass, of whom Bishop Alonzo Potter said: "As a reader of the Liturgy he was unsurpassed." St. James has had an eventful history, and, although until the present rectorship it never had more than one hundred communicants at any one time, yet, the moral, spiritual and intellectual influence exerted has been entirely out of all proportion as contrasted with numbers. There were only two colored congregations in Baltimore at that time having colored pastors and control of their own local affairs. St. James was one of these, while Bethel A. M. E. Church was the other. Bethel abounded in numbers and ignorance. The Rev. Dr. D. A. Payne, "the great Negro apostle of education," later Bishop of the A. M. E. Church, came to Baltimore in 1843 to assume the charge of Bethel. In the next few years he erected a very beautiful church for that congregation. With respect to the past of that congregation, Bishop Payne alludes in the following paragraph: "On the 9th of July, 1848, this majestic temple of the Lord was consecrated with very interesting and imposing ceremonies. The day that witnessed the finish of the beautiful house of God also dated a new era in the history of the congregation worshipping in it. Up to that time they were regarded by the white community as the most ignorant, most indolent and most useless body of Christians in the city. Since then they have been commended as one of the most interesting and enterprising in it."
We do not believe that a more useful, educated Negro, than Bishop Daniel A. Payne has ever lived. And, yet, scarcely any of our great leaders have been more generally hated and persecuted than he. Everywhere, and upon all occasions he was militantly aggressive with his onslaughts on ignorance and "Baptized superstition," as he characterized it. He was, preeminently, not only learned, but a man of God, absolutely bold and fearless.
It was just about the time of Dr. Payne's advent in Baltimore that St. James Church gave birth to an institution for the benefit of the whole community, which proved the instrument of drawing together in a kind of brotherhood a large portion of the reputable and substantial colored men of the city. It was the organization of St. James Male Beneficial Society. The leader in this new enterprise was Harrison Holmes Webb, a native of Pennsylvania, who at that time was Lay Reader and teacher of the day school of St. James Church and a candidate for Holy Orders. Subsequently he was ordained both deacon and priest, and, after serving as the assistant minister, became the rector of the parish. His was the second ordination in the church, the Rev. Eli W. Stokes having been ordained there in October, 1843.
St. James Society proved the point of union for colored men of every denomination in the city who had at heart the well-being of the race, and the preservation of the highest and best ideals. This society not only cared for the sick, and buried the dead, but its regular meetings proved "a forum" where all the things which concerned the advancement of the racial group were discussed, and where its members were educated in parliamentary proceedure. Many of them not only became fluent in debate and powerful in argument, but thoroughly furnished in the knowledge of affairs generally. Following the death of Mr. Levington in 1836 the Rev. Joshua Peterkin, white, who was strongly inclined to go to Africa, as a missionary, changed his mind and came to St. James to save it from perishing. His ministry of only a few years was most fruitful and helpful. Dr. Peterkin was the honored father of Bishop Peterkin of West Virginia. Early in the forties the Rev. Mr. McJilton, in addition to his duties elsewhere, assumed the rectorship of St. James Church, wherein he continued for about sixteen years, having as his
lay assistant Mr. Harrison H. Webb, who after ordination became the assistant minister of the parish, and, in 1857, succeeded Mr. McJilton in the rectorship of the church. The administration of the Rev. Mr. McJilton was exceedingly fruitful. The congregation steadily advanced under him. Having duly prepared Mr. Webb, his assistant, in a most beautiful letter to the vestry, he tendered his resignation, and earnestly recommended the election of his assistant as his successor. The administration of the Rev. Mr. Webb as rector and teacher of the day school continued until the year 1872, when he resigned. It was during the latter part of this rectorship that some forty of the younger folk of St. James, under the leadership of Messrs. C. M. C. Mason and William H. Bishop, Jr., initiated St. Philips Mission in the newer and growing section of the city. The mission became quite thriving indeed, but Bishop Whittingham was indisposed to its continuance because of the weakening effect it exerted on St. James, and he endeavored to re-unite the two. But the young people were determined; so the mission formally disorganized itself, and, the week following, the same persons composing it were organized as a new missionary venture of Mt. Calvary Church, under the name of "the Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin," and, although numerically large, it has continued to this day as a mission chapel of Mt. Calvary Church.
St. James Church was much weakened by these removals so much so, that upon the application of the vestry to Rev. Dr. Hodges, rector of St. Pauls parish, the rector of St. Pauls assumed the charge of the spiritualities of the congregation, furnishing a priest from that parish as the regular pastor of St. James. This arrangement became effective from Advent, 1873, when the Rev. Isaac L. Nicholson (afterwards Bishop of Milwaukee) assumed the pastoral charge. The
era of St. Pauls' guardianship terminated with the 31st of December, 1888, when the Rev. B. W. Timothy, a colored priest, resigned the appointment made by the rector of St. Pauls. In the meantime the old edifice had been adjudged unsafe, the congregation temporarily meeting at Howard Chapel, (a Mission of Emmanuel Church) while a new location was sought. So weakened had the congregation become that at the request of the vestry Bishop Paret assumed full control of its affairs. During this unsettled period the Rev. Henry Tarrant, white, the Rev. William H. Wilson and the Rev. Francis John Clay Moran, white, Archdeacon of the Diocese for Colored Work, officiated. During the fall of 1890 the congregation was settled in East Baltimore in an edifice which was purchased by the Bishop on High street, which had formerly been a white Baptist Church. The Rev. John C. Anderson was placed in charge. Everything was so discouraging and the congregation dwindling away that Mr. Anderson did not remain a full year, but resigned while the Bishop was away in Europe, the Archdeacon supplying the vacancy until a settled minister could be secured. After an extraordinary effort Bishop Paret succeeded in securing the acceptance of the Rev. George F. Bragg, Jr., at that time rector of Grace Church, Norfolk, Va. The Rev. Mr. Bragg arrived in Baltimore to take charge of St. James Church on November 17th, 1891, and, on the Sunday next before Advent of that same year, officiated for the first time. His rectorship has continued to the present time.
The first edifice located at the juncture of North and Saratoga streets, was duly consecrated by Bishop Kemp on the 31st of March, 1827, the corner-stone having been laid on the 10th of October preceeding. At the consecration, the morning service was said by the Rev. Dr. Wyatt, rector of St. Pauls. Dr. Henshaw, rector of St. Peters Church, afterwards
the first Bishop of Rhode Island, preached the consecration sermon . With respect to this service Bishop Kemp said: "The congregation was large and devout, the responses were well made and the chanting and singing quite delightful."
The present edifice on Park avenue and Preston street, was erected during the year 1901, the cornerstone being laid on Sunday afternoon, June 22; the first service was held in the new church on the 10th of October of the same year.
St. James was organized as an independent parish and has continued such through all the days of its weakness. Its first rector and founder, Mr. Levington, had no fixed salary. The Rev. Harrison H. Webb received a very insignificant sum as salary, which was augmented from funds derived from school teaching. Up to the time the present rector took charge thirty-five dollars a month was the highest mark registered on pastoral support, and that for only one year. When the present rector took charge his entire support came through the Bishop. Not only has a new congregation and a new church edifice been called into existence, but the congregation, long since, has been advanced to complete self-support; in addition to contributing its full share to diocesan and general objects. During this period some four or five of its members have entered the Holy Ministry, and a charitable institution initiated by the rector, has become a regular diocesan affair, under the authority of the diocesan convention, with the Bishop as President, ex-officio.
On Saturday, June 3, 1922 at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Baltimore, the rector of St. James First African Church, had the pleasure and the privilege of presenting to
Bishop Murray for ordination, two young men whom he had held in his arms as babes and baptized--Mr. Gustave H. Caution, who was made deacon, and Rev. Cornelius R. Dawson who was advanced to the priesthood.
While Alexander Crummell was in Boston, preparing for the ministry, whose ordination took place in St. Pauls Cathedral, that city, an attempt to rear a colored congregation in Providence, R. I., was made by him. At that time Rhode Island was a part of the Eastern Diocese. After Dr. Crummell had given it up, this mission was served by two white clergymen, Rev. Messrs. Frank and Richmond. At the regular annual Convention of the Diocese of Rhode Island assembled in St. Stephens Church, Providence, in June, 1843, "Christ Church" was regularly admitted as a parish in union with the Convention. This simple fact is of historic interest, since such was the very first admission of colored laymen as delegates in any Diocesan Convention in this country. Four colored men attended that convention and took their seats as deputies from a parish made up of persons of African descent. The names of these men were James W. Johnson, Benjamin Barney, John M. Ray and George Head. Johnson and Ray were the wardens of the parish, and George Head was church clerk. As an interesting bit of history it is well to reproduce the words of one of the white clergy having charge of this parish. Said he, in submitting his annual report:
"This is the only colored church in New England, though there are several meeting-houses of
different sects in the city of Providence. The services, the church and the worshippers, present an appearance of order, neatness and regularity which are seldom equaled, and can hardly be surpassed. The organist is a colored girl under twenty years of age, and the music is excellent. It is hoped that all persons truly interested in the welfare of this portion of the people will attend the services when able, see for themselves, and assist this needy branch of our vine (which has just been received into our Convention) with their prayers and their substance."
During the following, month, August, Rhode Island had her first Bishop consecrated in the person of the Rev. Dr. Henshaw of Baltimore. In October of the same year, 1843, in Baltimore, in the little African church whose consecration sermon Dr. Henshaw had preached, a number of years before, the first ordination in that church occurred. It was that of Eli W. Stokes, (a friend of Dr. Henshaw) by Bishop Whittingham. Mr. Stokes very soon after his ordination went to New Haven, Conn., where he organized St. Lukes Church that city in June, 1844. Mr. Stokes only remained in New Haven a few years; but, in the meantime, he was advanced to the priesthood by Bishop Brownell in 1846. That same year he responded to a call from his old Baltimore friend, Bishop Henshaw, and accepted the rectorship of Christ Church, Providence. In his new charge Mr. Stokes worked diligently, but, with a few members. The debt upon the little church was a heavy burden. So he determined to make a pilgrimage to England for the purpose of soliciting funds to free the church of debt. The mention of this visit, and its success, is so pleasingly stated in the annual address
of the Bishop that we reproduce the same here.
Bishop Henshaw in his Convention address of 1849 says:
"At the time of the meeting of the last annual Convention, the Rev. Eli W. Stokes, rector of Christ Church in this city, was absent, in Europe, for the purpose of soliciting funds to liquidate the debt by which the parish has been embarassed ever since their house of worship was erected. In consequence of a certificate required by the laws of England, furnished by me, he was received with great kindness by the Archbishops, Bishops and Clergy of our Mother Church; and I am happy to inform you that his mission was crowned with entire success, and the liberal contributions which he received in that distant land have enabled the gentlemen holding the property in trust to make a satisfactory settlement with the mortgagees. The congregation is now free from debt, and our colored brethren have wisely made over their corporate property to the "Board of Commissioners for Church Building" with a view of security against embarassment and encumberance for the time to come. The Christian generosity with which our English brethren answered the appeal made to them in behalf of that feeble parish has been duly acknowledge in a letter addressed by me to His Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and through him, to the Church over which he so worthily presides."
The next year the Rev. Mr. Stokes accepted an appointment from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, and sailed for Liberia, West Africa, to labor in that field.
During the years following Christ Church made a desperate and earnest effort for existence, but the odds were too heavily against it, and, finally, it pased out of being. Its members became attached to St. Stephen's Church in the same city, and, within recollection of the present author, who, during the rectorship of Rev. Dr. Fiske, preached in St. Stephens, there were some eighty or one hundred colored communicants connected with that parish. In recent years under the patronage of Bishop Perry, a new separate colored congregation, the "Church of the Savior" has come into being, and is in a constantly growing and increasing condition. All of the Bishops of Rhode Island, Henshaw, Clarke, McVickar, and the present diocesan, have been particularly warm and devoted friends of the colored race.
On Sunday, October 1, 1843, in St. James First African Church, Baltimore, Bishop Whittingham admitted to the Order of Deacons, Eli Worthington Stokes. It was the first ordination of a colored man in that congregation and the second such within the diocese of Maryland. There was little opportunity for Mr. Stokes to exercise his ministry in the territory south. Thus, soon after his ordination he went to New England, settling in New Haven, Conn.
There were a number of colored persons attending the white churches in that city, and under the leadership of the Rev. Mr. Stokes they were gotten together and St. Lukes parish constituted, June 4, 1844, and the very next week following St. Lukes was admitted into union with the Diocesan Convention as a regular parish with representation in that body. The congregation worshipped regularly in a brick chapel belonging to Trinity Church. Nine years later it purchased its first church edifice on Park street which had been erected and used by a Baptist society. This building was reconstructed for the uses of the Church, but was never consecrated. The parish underwent many changes and experiences; sometimes it had lay, and at other times, clerical administrations.
In the spring of 1885 the congregation increased so rapidly under the rector, at that time the Rev. Alfred C. Brown, that it was deemed necessary to adopt measures to enlarge
the building, and a legacy left for the special purpose of adding a chancel encouraged the people to proceed in the work without delay. About six hundred dollars was raised among the people of the parish and with the assistance of many kind friends among the church people of New Haven, the work was pushed forward and completed at a cost of about two thousand dollars. On December 7th, of that same year St. Lukes was consecrated to the worship of Almighty God by the Rt. Rev. John Williams, Bishop of Connecticut, assisted by the clergy of the city and visiting brethren.
The parish has had nine rectors or settled clergymen. In 1856, the Rev. James Theodore Holly, afterwards the first Bishop of Haiti, assumed the rectorship, remaining there until 1861, when he headed a band of colonists settling in the republic of Haiti. Then followed the Rev. Samuel V. Berry of New York. Mr. Berry was succeeded by the Rev. William F. Floyd, M. D., a West Indian. Dr. Floyd was succeeded by another native of the West Indies, the Rev. Alfred C. Brown. The author was well and intimately acquainted with the Rev. Mr. Brown, and it is a genuine pleasure to state in this connection that Rev. Mr. Brown was one of the finest types of the "able Christian gentleman" that ever graced any ministry. He was universally beloved by all who knew him, and the late Bishop Dudley brought keen distress to the people of St. Lukes when he called Mr. Brown to take charge of the Church of the Merciful Savior, Louisville, Ky. Mr. Brown after laboring successfully in Louisville for a while returned to his native home in the West Indies and settled upon his farm. The Rev. William H. Morris, D. D., a native of Baltimore, but who had entered the Church from the Presbyterians, succeeded Mr. Brown at St. Lukes.
Strange as it may appear Dr. Morris never advanced to the priesthood, was one of the ablest men ever admitted to our ministry. But he seemed illy-fitted for pastoral work. He was an exceedingly "high" Churchman, and a bitter controversalist. Illustrating his fighting propensity, though only a deacon, he had charge of the important work in the diocese of Georgia, St. Stephens parish, Savannah. He instituted a number of innovations, among them the introduction of Eucharistic lights. The late Bishop Beckwith remonstrated with him. Dr. Morris replied to his Bishop's remonstrance with an argument embracing sixteen pages of fools-cap paper. He was a master in the use of cutting satire. The result of the controversy was his Bishop left him, ecclessiastically speaking, suspended between the heavens and the earth. He would give him no work; neither would he depose him. Finally his friend Bishop Turner of the African Methodist Church, gave him an "appointment," and for a number of years he sojourned among the Methodists. But he was just as much "unconquerable" among them as in the Church. He carried his "ritualism" among the Methodists and sought to make them conform until they "waxed fat and kicked." By some means he got back home again and breathed his last in full and loving communion with the Catholic Church.
At St. Lukes, New Haven, a white priest, Rev. Oliver S. Prescott served the people most acceptably for a long while. He was very greatly beloved by them all; for one of the special traditions which has ever characterized this parish is its unfeigned loyalty. In 1901 the Rev. Eugene L. Henderson, at that time in charge of St. Philips, Annapolis, was called to the rectorship. He did a great and important work. It was during his administration that the present handsome church was erected. Mr. Henderson resigning to accept the
Archdeaconship of the colored work in Georgia, the parish again became vacant, and the present earnest and most faithful rector, the Rev. Harry O. Bowles, then of Toledo, O., was called to the charge of the church and is still the incumbent. When the author of this volume first became acquainted with St. Lukes there were three laymen in that parish that greatly impressed him by reason of their generous devotion to the interests of the parish. One of the three was James W. Stewart, a prominent colored business man, caterer for Yale University, and at one time a member of the City Council; the other two were Charles H. Phillips and Moses T. Rice. Stewart and Philips were the town wardens, while Mr. Rice was the faithful treasurer of the parish.
St. Lukes has sent some valuable men into the Christian ministry. Other prominent and useful professional colored men attending Yale University were influenced to the Church through contact with St. Lukes Church during their college days. Among them was Charles E. Cummings, who, going West as a pioneer school teacher, entered the ministry of the Church and established St. Augustines Church, Kansas City, Mo. The Rev. Alonzo Johnson, a former vestryman of the parish, after preparation at King Hall, Washington, entered the ministry and took charge of St. Monicas Church, Hartford, Conn., which had been established by St. Lukes Church during the rectorship of Rev. Mr. Henderson.
Many years ago, Mr. William J. Heritage. removing to North Carolina, became quite a political factor in that State during the days the colored people were in politics. There was surely a time when the black people were in politics. And when they lived they lived in clover; but when they died, they died all over. Hence, it was while they "were in clover" that William J. Heritage was elected Register of Deeds of one of the counties in the eastern section of the
State. Some time afterwards Mr. Heritage entered the ministry of the Church laboring arduously in the diocese of East Carolina until a few years ago, while Dean of the Colored Convocation, he was retired on account of increasing age. The Rev. C. A. Nero, a priest late at work in the diocese of North Carolina, is another son of St. Lukes parish; so also is the Rev. W. Q. Rogers of Atlanta, Ga. The forbears of Dr. W. E. B. DuBois, the well-known author, and editor of The Crisis, were concerned with the founding of St. Lukes Church, and Dr. DuBois himself was Christened in St. Lukes.
The diocesan journal of the Convention of Pennsylvania, for the year 1852, has the following:
"The movement which resulted in the establishment of this church was made by a respectable gentleman, (Mr. Thomas A. Latimer) a layman of St. Pauls Church of this city, not longer than the 15th of February, 1846. Circumstances had made known to him that a large number of colored persons resided in the neighborhood of Bedford street, extremely poor and wretched as to physical comforts, and, if possible, more destitute of moral and spiritual advantages. His first effort was directed towards their spiritual improvement. He rented a room of suitable dimensions, gave information extensively that it would be open on every Sunday evening for Divine Worship, and invited the colored population to attend.
"For nearly three-fourths of the first year the mission was chiefly dependent for religious services on the rectors of some of the largest of our city churches.
"On the first of November, 1846, Rev. Edward C. Jones became connected with the mission, and Divine Worship was conducted by him statedly at a building on Bedford street called Temperance Hall.
"He also visited assiduously among the colored poor at their miserable habitations in the neighborhood. How long Mr. Jones continued his labors does not distinctly appear. In
less than six months, however, after he commenced the mission was deprived of his assistance and the burden of sustaining it was thrown back upon the gentleman with whom it had originated. He had recourse a second time to the parochial clergy who had before, at much personal inconvenience, generously bestowed their services. This was too onerous, both to them and to him, to be long maintained. In this state of difficulty he applied for counsel and assistance to the Bishop.
"By his exertions in a short time a church was duly organized. The gentleman who had begun and so zealously prosecuted this work of charity to this time, was invited to become a member of the vestry; but he declined his co-operation in this way. Eleven other gentlemen were then appointed . Notice of their appointment and of the establishment of the mission, in a manner which promised greater permanency and efficiency, namely, as an "Episcopal Free Mission Church" was given in one or more of the daily city newspapers on the 12th of April, 1847."
This parish seems to have been admitted at one Convention, then informally omitted from the regular list. And for more than a dozen years the subject of its admission was warmly debated in Convention. We have no mind to follow the discussion of the subject through the several Conventions. However, it should be noted that while the great body of the people composing the mission were of the colored race, the governing body, the vestry, were all white men of the highest standing in the city and diocese. From this viewpoint the fight was exceedingly interesting. The final scene in Convention when this matter was permanently settled, we shall record in the words of the late venerable Bishop of Central Pennsylvania, Rt. Rev. M. A. DeWolfe Howe, D. D., LL., D., in his Memoirs of the late Bishop Alonzo Potter. Says Bishop Howe:
"No individual who was present when the question was finally disposed of has forgotten or can ever forget Bishop Potter's explanation of the vote which he was about to cast. Few Bishops in the history of our Protestant Episcopal Church have been more backward than this calm, impartial man, to sway by authority or influence by the public delivery of his opinions the action of ecclessiastical bodies over which he presided. On most matters concerning which he thought it worth while to interpose, he did so in personal conversations with individual members before or during the recess of Convention, and his views reached the ears of the assembly not by his mouth, but through the lips of others to whom he had submitted them with such convincing force that they had adopted them as their own, and spontaneously spoke in their advocacy. This habitual reticence of the Bishop when exciting questions were on the carpet led some persons to impute to him an undue timidity and caution, a disposition for the sake of keeping favor with all men to shun committing himself for or against any. The customary restraint of his influence gave to it great power when he was moved to exert it. On the question of admitting to seats in the Convention representatives of the parish called 'The Church of the Crucifixion,' the worshippers of which were colored persons, no man could accuse him of repression or ambiguity. On that occasion and on others in which he saw that truth and justice were in danger of being compromised, he spoke with a freedom, decision and manliness, not often exhibited by those in high places. He was considerate
and tolerant to the last degree . . . . but when a crisis came and he must cast in his lot and bear his testimony or see 'truth fallen in the street,' and himself chargeable with blame-worthy reserve and caution, he came out with an enviable heroism, and astonished and electrified those who had esteemed him over-cautious.
"On the occasion referred to, the Bishop did not even request another to take the chair that he might offer his remarks from the floor of the Convention (a formality observed by a presiding officer when he would take part in the debates of a deliberative assembly) but from his elevated position, and in the gown of office, poured forth the honest and almost impassionate recoil of his soul from that measure of prejudice and injustice, that would not only deny to men of the proscribed race liberty to appear for themselves in the counsels of the Church, but also the privilege of being represented by men of the dominant race, though occupying the foremost rank in the social circle. The Bishop did not refrain from abjuring that peculiar type of Christian charity which would both hold the African in legal disability to confer with brethren in the household of Christ on matters of common interest--and also to repel from counsel any who with generous fraternity had braved the rebuke of the community and sought to do him good.
"The writer of this memento does not allege the parliamentary propriety of such an oration from the throne, still less the usage of the diocese from the chief seat of which it was uttered, in calling, when a vote by orders is had, the name of the Bishop before
instead of after the clergy; but he records it as a solitary instance in the Episcopate of Alonzo Potter in which an overwhelming sense of right moved him to an assertion of privilege, and a freedom and fervency of expression quite beyond his wont, and which would be dangerous as a precedent for men of more impetuous temper. Could that speech be recovered and spread upon these pages, though the majestic presence and commanding tone of the speaker were wanting, it would be recognized by all as a specimen of spontaneous, unpremeditated eloquence of which few orators in any department of forensic life are capable.
"The Bishop's course on this occasion was no doubt prompted by his interest in the race for whose moral elevation and welfare the Church in question was established. He had always had an instructive sympathy for men of low degree, and especially for those who were suffering the degradation of personal or ancestral bondage. His care for them had been manifested in his boyhood, at his brother's house in Philadelphia, and again in his ministry to colored people while a professor at Schenectady."--(See Howe's Memoirs p. 231 ).
After serving about six months in charge of St. Thomas Church, the Rev. Henry L. Phillips, D. D., ordained to the ministry by Bishop Stevens in 1875, was called by the white vestry to the charge of the parish of the Church of the Crucifixion. From a material viewpoint, or even a congregational point of view, there was little or nothing to the work when Henry L. Phillips, assumed the burden. It so happened that the present author, a very young man, not even ordained, paid a visit to Philadelphia, and he readily recalls
the scene in the old delapidated building on Eighth street, which greeted him. Here we first met with Rev. Dr. Philops in the early days of his ministry at the Church of the Crucifixion. What he wrought there during more than a third of a century, would make entertaining and helpful matter for an entire book. Besides the excellent buildings, church and parish house, and parish summer home, when he resigned and was made rector-emeritus, the endowment for the parish had already reached quite $25,000. When the present rector of the parish, Rev. Robert H. Tabb, coming immediately from Camden, N. J., was secured as the assistant minister of the parish, it was with the fixed purpose of becoming the rector of the parish upon the retirement of Dr. Phillips. Despite the changes of population, and other difficulties and hindrances, by reason of the strong foundation laid, and its endowment, the good work of social redemption and Christian edification among the poor is unfailingly carried on.
The presence in the city of Philadelphia of ten colored separate congregations, with an equal number of able and talented young colored priests ministering to the same, witness to the powerful and far reaching influence for good of Henry L. Phillips in that one community all these years.
"Parson" William C. Munroe, a colored Baptist minister of education and attractive manners, found his way to the Church, and on September 6, 1846, in St. Pauls Church, Detroit, Mich., he was made a deacon by Bishop McCrosky. "Parson" Monroe, in his day, was a great character in work among our racial group. Detroit was the terminus of colored people who had come hither from the South. Mr. Munroe was a teacher of some note, and also much interested in the "John Brown movement." It is said that he was the presiding officer of the John Brown Convention held in or near Detroit, previous to the raid at Harper's Ferry. Because of the Fugitive Slave Law, enacted in 1850, and the consequent scattering of the people, the mission that had been started suffered many checks, disappearing and then reappearing. In 1851 a neat chapel was furnished and a small congregation moved into it, feeling that they had made a good beginning. However, slave arrests and continual hunting around for such who had fled from the South, exerted a very disastrous effect upon the work. The public mind thus becoming unsettled, the majority of those identified with the mission, although not effected directly by the law, became restive and left the country. Mr. Munroe found himself at this time with only five families and only twenty persons as his stable adherents.
In 1855 Bishop Holly was ordained to the diaconate in
this church, and shortly afterwards left the country for a trip of inspection in the republic of Haiti. About 1859, Mr. Munroe also left the country for Liberia, West Africa, to engage in missionary work, and thus the work in Detroit went gradually down. Finally, in 1864 the property was sold, debts paid and the balance invested as "St. Matthew's Fund." The neuclus of a congregation was held together by Miss Margaret Scott, who, on leaving Detroit for Africa, committed her colored friends to the care of the city parishes. Baptisms and Confirmations of colored persons were administered in the white churches until a sufficiently large number of colored communicants could be organized.
In November, 1880, under a call issued by the Rev. Dr. Worthington, afterwards Bishop of Nebraska, then Dean of the Detroit Convocation, about twenty-five colored communicants assembled in St. Johns parish house with the new Bishop, the Rt. Rev. S. S. Harris, D. D., presiding. It was decided to secure a site for the new church. For two years services were held in a hall, the clergy of the city officiating until the Rev. G. Mott Williams, former Bishop of Marquette, took full charge. The church edifice was erected and consecrated in 1883. Mr. Williams carried on the work most successfully for several years. He left it to take up missionary work in the city. After a succession of white ministers which operated disadvantageously by relieving the colored people from a proper sense of their own responsibility and kept many of the colored people out of the Church, the wisdom of calling a colored man as rector became apparent and resulted in the change of policy, and the Rev. Charles H. Thompson, D. D., a man of scholarly attainments and purity of life, was called as first rector of the new church. He entered upon his duties April, 1890. Then it was that the real feature of parish work presented itself and the actual responsibility
of caring for an up-to-date church opened before the gaze of the people who had hitherto been assisted on every side. To Dr. Thompson may be attributed the difficult work of cementing the colored adherents of various white churches into a consolidated congregation, although few in number. His was an arduous task, and he left it after three years so well disposed toward the administration of a colored clergyman that the Church determined to call as good a colored man as could be found. Happily, the lot fell on the Rev. Joshua B. Massiah, a native of the West Indies, a graduate of the General Seminary, a man of culture, refinement, wide reading, deep spirituality, and in every way providentially fitted for the work. Mr. Massiah had previously visited England and preached by special invitation in the historic pulpit of St. Pauls Cathedral, an honor conferred on no other colored clergyman in the world. Father Massiah was one of the ablest clergymen in the diocese. His rectorship was characterized by an intense devotion to the work which required a rare degree of faith, persistency and personal self-denial. The parish was greatly built up. He enlarged the church, fitted up a beautiful chancel and altar, put in an excellent pipe organ and built a rectory and guild rooms adjoining the church. Resigning St. Matthews he entered upon the rectorship of St. Thomas, Chicago, in January, 1906. He was succeeded at St. Matthews by the Rev. Robert W. Bagnall of St. Andrews Church, Cleveland, Ohio. Mr. Bagnall continued until February, 1921, when he resigned to accept work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Father Bagnall advanced the interests of the parish very greatly, especially in increasing its list of communicants, and by becoming a decided influence and force in the community. After a short interval Father Bagnall was succeeded by the Rev. Everard
W. Daniel, the present rector, who, for a number of years, had been the senior curate of St. Philips Church, New York.
The Rev. John Albert Williams of Omaha, Neb., is a product of this parish. Once he was newsboy on the streets of Detroit. Bishop Worthington, at that time rector of one of the parishes of that city, became much interested in him. Following his ordination, more than a quarter of a century ago, he took charge of the work he has ever since successfully pastored. In addition he became one of the most prominent and influential clergymen of that diocese. For a number of years he filled most acceptably four distinct positions at the same time--secretary of the Diocesan Convention, editor of the diocesan paper, historiographer, and one of the examining chaplains. For a number of years past he has ably edited The Monitor, one of the ablest weekly publications in this country devoted to the interests of the colored race.
This congregation was instituted about the year 1856. The author has never been able to come in possession of the earliest records of St. Philips, Newark. During the eighties we remember distinctly the parish was served by the Rev. Joshua B. Massiah and the Rev. Thomas G. Harper. Later, and for a very long time, its rector was Father Reeve Hobbie, white, a native of Maryland, and a firm and affectionate friend of this author. Father Hobbie was one of the best white men that has ever pastored a colored congregation, and the people of St. Philips were perfectly devoted to him. Certainly he was one of the dearest friends we have ever had. In his very elegant home, for he was a man of some means, surrounded by his large and interesting family, we always felt completely at home on the number of occasions that we have been his guest. In 1894 Father Hobbie attended, for the first time, our Conference of Church Workers Among Colored People, held in St. Thomas Church, Philadelphia, in connection with the Centennial of that parish. When he saw that striking "procession" of all the clergy in their vestments he was perfectly intoxicated with delight, and it was then and there he decided, if possible, to secure a colored assistant, and, later, have his vestry elect him rector-emeritus, and elect the assistant to succeed him as rector. Accordingly he turned to us to name the man, but at the same time he imposed upon us one restriction. He cared not a whit
whether the man selected was bright or dark in complexion, but he must be one capable of sustaining as "advanced ritual" as obtained in any of our churches. We named the Rev. B. Wellington Paxton, then of Cairo, Ill., and he was secured and ultimately made rector of the parish.
Father Hobbie was a peculiar man. He claimed the right to choose his own friends, and he was discriminate in this matter irrespective of color. More than any other he compelled our respect for "advanced ritual" by reason of the utter sincerity and reality with which it was employed. In few places have we felt more completely at home than in St. Philips during the days of his incumbency, as well as in his own home. He thoroughly appreciated the fact that there existed great intellectual and social variety and differences within the colored group. Some years ago when one of our Church Conferences met in the city of Boston, we visited the old homestead of William Lloyd Garrison, the great Abolitionist, which then had become a Church institution for members of our racial group, and great was our joy to find among the Sisters of that institution a daughter of our dear and much-valued friend, Father Reeve Hobbie.
If we mistake not St. Philips, Buffalo, was established by the late Bishop Coxe in the year 1865. Like St. Philips, Newark, we have been unable to secure reliable data as to its founding and first days. The present rector of St. Philips, the Rev. E. Robert Bennett, is a son of St. James, Baltimore. Bishop Coxe and Bishop Wilmer of Alabama, may have differed widely with respect to civil government, but no two men were more at one in their sentiments toward their black brother than these two noble Bishops of our Church, one the symbol of all that was good in the old Southern life, and the other the highest expression of Northern life, in the good old days of the past. It was a rare privilege to know such men and enjoy their great esteem. It was in the year 1889 that Bishop Coxe received the author at the Episcopal residence in Buffalo with such warmth and affection that we can never forget the scene. We were then at Norfolk, in our first charge, and were visiting Buffalo in response to a "call" to St. Philips. As young as we were, we were in the midst of a controversial fight occasioned by an article of ours in The Church of Today on the Negro problem. The Bishop talked so lovingly to us, and was ready to do anything in his power to have us accept the call to Buffalo. Bishop Coxe was something of a fighter, and he was not without appreciation of the position which we sustained. We could not entertain the idea of seemingly running "under
fire." But, our greatest difficulty in accepting the call was going to Buffalo at that time was almost like going to an earthly heaven. There were but few colored people in that city, and personally, our cup would have been filled with delight. Somehow, we had it in our heart to give our life for the benefit of our racial group and we wanted to be in the midst of much of the rough material in order to bring out all the possibilities of our nature. However, the extreme loveliness of Bishop Coxe and the fact that Buffalo was the only city in this country which we had visited where the colored Episcopal Church was the largest ecclesiastical racial group, rendered it somewhat difficult for us to reach a decision.
We finally decided to remain in Norfolk.
A few years later a call to our liking came. It was to a hard and difficult field but in the midst of thousands of our racial group. So we came to Baltimore and here we are today.
Father Bennett, the present rector of St. Philips, has gotten a new property and very greatly built up the parish which was in a state of rapid decline.
The first agency instituted by the General Church, following the close of the Civil War on behalf of the work in the Southern States among the people recently emancipated, was "The Freedman's Commission." With respect to this effort in the General Convention of 1868, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Church reported as follows:
"The Freedman's Commission authorized by the General Convention and formally organized by the Board of Missions in 1865, presents a statement of its work during the three years past which will challenge your attention. It has received from all sources over $87,000, and at the close of the summer had 5,500 children under its nurturing care. What has been done by us in this field must be regarded rather as an evidence of our good will towards these emancipated millions of the South than a work commensurate with our responsibility or with the demands of the hour. We can claim no more than that we have tried to do something to educate a race suddenly elevated to political power and equality in the midst of their ignorance and inexperience. It is the conviction of your committee, after careful consideration of all the facts that while schools alone are valuable agents, they will not accomplish their full purpose nor realize the full intention of the Church unless they are connected
with permanent missionary work, and prosecuted under the supervision of the resident parochial clergy or of the duly appointed missionaries of the Church. Experience shows that the Negro will value the school only for the secular knowledge it imparts unless he be made to feel the Church working in and through the school as his spiritual guide as well as his temporal benefactor. The Church has no proper call to engage in the work of school teaching at all except as she can make it subserve her dominant purpose, viz: the gathering into her fold for religious instruction and discipline of those whom she teaches in her schools. The school and the mission, or the school and the parish should not, as a rule, have been disconnected. To the fact that they have been, that the commission confined itself to schools alone is due the feeble and superficial influence which the Church as such has thus far exerted over that race. The time has come when unless the commission can be brought to missionary subserve a strictly missionary use it may as well be abandoned as a work of the Church. . . . . . . The true order of the work is the mission first and then the school, the one the chief, the other the auxiliary. For this kind of work there is a demand which no words of your committee can adequately describe."
The result of this report was the adoption of this resolution:
"Resolved, That this House regarding with increasing solicitude the missionary work of the Church among the Freedmen, and deeply lamenting that so little has been done in this direction, make the following recommendations to the Board of Missions:
1st. That one or more missionaries be appointed to visit the freedmen in the Southern Dioceses who were formerly communicants of the Church, to examine their condition and to ascertain what can be done to revive their former attachment and relation to the Church.
2nd. That the schools established by the Freedmen's Commission be henceforth treated as more directly auxiliary to the missionary work, and that such as shall be organized hereafter be placed under the direct influence of the clergymen within whose parishes or missionary stations they may be established.
3rd. That every effort ought to be made at once to prepare colored men for the ministry, so that they may minister to their own people."
There are some other notes in diocesan reports, which are illuminating with respect to conditions at that time.
Bishop Young, of Florida, says: "It is deemed proper here to state, that in this, as in every Southern Diocese, there is an earnest desire, to the extent of our ability, which is unhappily very limited in comparison with the last need, to provide for the intellectual and spiritual necessities of the colored race. The last report on the State of the Church makes mention of some encouraging signs in this direction, so that no one who may feel so disposed in his heart, need be under apprehension in approaching the Bishop, the clergy, the people of the Church in Florida, and offering any aid, especially for the benefit of this particular people, an important part of the Church care."
Bishop Beckwith, of Georgia, says: "The number of communicants reported at the Convention of this diocese in 1866, indicates a falling off of more than six hundred. This large loss is due for the most part to the altered condition of the colored population of the State."
Bishop Atkinson, North Carolina, sounds a very encouraging note. He says: "The establishment of St. Augustine's Normal School at Raleigh, under the charge of the Rev. J. Brinton Smith, D. D., for the education of colored scholars of both sexes, who are to bind themselves to become teachers for a certain number of years, of the ignorant of their own race, promises to be of incalculable benefit to that class of our population who so much need the influence of religious education to enable them rightly to understand and enjoy the duties and privileges of freedom."
Bishop Davis, of South Carolina, says: "The number of communicants in the diocese has been much reduced by the loss of our colored members. In 1860 we had nearly three thousand colored communicants reported. Not three hundred were reported to the last Convention. In the condition of many of our parishes it is impossible to ascertain how many of the freedmen still adhere to the Church. Many have joined the Northern Methodists. Many have followed teachers of their own color; but if our services were revived in our suspended parishes, we might hope to rescue some of them from the fanatical and political preaching to which they are subjected. In one parish only have they adhered to the Church. Two congregations of colored worshippers have been gathered together, as in former days, to make their chapels resound with their hearty prayers and praise. But this is the only successful effort to win them back to our fold. These remarks apply to the freedmen. In the city of Charleston there is a self-supporting church of free colored members who have adhered steadily to the Episcopal Church, under the care of a white rector."
Bishop Atkinson says: "The efforts in this diocese for the spiritual improvement of the colored race are not as promising of good results as are desired by the friends of the freedmen. While in some few places they seem to appreciate the teachings and ministrations of the Church, in most cases they have separated themselves from the ministry of the Church, and given themselves to the guidance of ignorant teachers of their own race, who are leading them into the wildest excesses of delusion and fanaticism."
The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, in its report says: "There are now about forty teachers at the South, and twenty-two hundred children under its charge. It is the aim of the commission to make the schools it has established essentially Christian, and to incorporate them into parochial life. Instructed by the voice of the board, it would have gladly lent its aid to the Bishops of the Church in sustaining, on some adequate scale, a living, faithful pastorate for our colored population, but it has been beyond its power. The crying want of this people is spiritual ministration. They are left emphatically "as sheep without a shepherd," after falling a prey to irreligion and error, and sometimes, it is said, to the grossest forms of superstition. Does it not become this Church, which formerly did so much for their spiritual care and nurture, to interpose between them and the gulf into which they are in danger of plunging?"
In connection with this subject the following resolutions were presented and adopted:
"Resolved, That the work of missions among the colored people demands and deserves the hearty, united and systematic support of all the members of this Church. Resolved, That while abating in no respect the duty of Christian education, greater prominence be given to strictly missionary and pastoral labors among this class of our Southern population, whereby they may be saved from total loss to the Church, and from relapse into the grossest forms of superstition from which their fathers were rescued."
The same report has the following reference to the work in Africa:
"Upon the western coast of the continent of Africa, where, a half century ago, only darkness was visible, there is now a fringe of light. In a region once devoted to idolatry and cruelty, a Christian civilization has taken up its abode, and bearers of the Cross, in the true spirit of martyrs, have carried thither its blessings.
"It is somewhat disheartening that our faithful and self-sacrificing Bishop for Cape Palmas and parts adjacent, who temporarily sought relief from climate and toil by a return to his native land, is at length obliged to withdraw altogether from his foreign charge. It is dispiriting also at this point of time, to see but one white missionary of his former staff remaining at his post. Death or disease has taken away the rest. But a handful of Christian women, exiles from home for their Savior's sake, and twelve colored clergymen, Liberian or native, are diligently employed with a small band of catechist, in the interest of the mission. Nine churches and
seventeen stations, four hundred and fifty communicants, a thousand children under Christian instruction, a hospital, an orphan asylum, the Book of Common Prayer in the Grebo tongue, and a stated ministry of word and Sacraments in the midst of a region swarming with inhabitants, are the present palpable fruits of this Christian enterprise. It is proposed to establish interior stations near the highland country, by which tribes of a superior order will be brought under influence. The movement is prompted by the application of the natives. It should not fall to command the countenance and help of the Church. At a time when the missionaries of Mohammedan error are penetrating that country in every direction to make converts to the Crescent, ought not the followers of the world's true Prophet to rival them in zeal for the Cross of Christ?"
This is significant, from the Convention Journal of South Carolina, for the year 1871: "The Rev. E. L. Logan reports increased efforts among the poor whites in his parish, who are in a state of moral and spiritual darkness as deplorable as the heathen, worse off than the Negroes." He is of the opinion that the colored people can be won over by individuals, that his hopes of them coming over en masse have diminished with further experience."
The Freedman's Commission Schools in the South, were instrumental of great good to the black people. Particularly the one at Petersburg, Va., in charge of Misses Amanda Aiken, Sallie Coombs and Miriam. The formation of St. Stephen's Church, Petersburg, was under the guidance and direction of the ladies of this school. Two of their pupils who could neither read nor write at the beginning were, finally sent to Lincoln University, Pa., where, after graduation, they were fitted for the ministry of the Church, ordained, and gave forth magnificent records of service. These men were the Rev. Thomas W. Cain, who labored in Virginia and in the diocese of Texas. He twice represented the diocese of Texas in the General Convention of the Church, and lost his life, faithful at the post of duty in the great Galveston disaster. It is peculiarly interesting to note the following fact with respect to the Rev. Mr. Cain. Mr. Cain, although a man, at the end of the Civil War, could neither read nor write. His father was sexton of Grace Church. Petersburg, and one of the vestrymen of that church, employing Mr. Cain, Sr., as sexton, was Mr. S. M. Byrd. Later Mr. Byrd entered the ministry and became the leading clergyman in the diocese of Texas. In the history of missions we have this unusual picture of these two men sitting together in two successive General Conventions representing the diocese of Texas. One, of the very best Virginia blood
and highest social standing; the other a former illiterate slave whose father had been employed by the former.
From the influence and impress of this same Grace Church, Petersburg, went forth Peter Andrew Morgan. He labored in Philadelphia, New York, Brooklyn, Petersburg, and finally, New Orleans, where he entered into rest.
It was while Bishop Leonard, of Ohio, was a rector in Brooklyn, N. Y., in his early ministry that he began to take the first lessons in a life which has been most remarkable from that time to the present for its affectionate and constructive help in work among the colored race. It was Bishop Leonard who heartened and cheered Peter Andrew Morgan in those hard days of struggle in Brooklyn.
Besides the mission school work these Northern ladies filled with the true missionary spirit, entered the humble homes of many of the freedmen and greatly helped in the reconstruction of such homes, along the lines demanded by the new order of affairs. One of the most beautiful and really touching chapters in the record of these days, is that which pictures the heroism, bravery and unswerving devotion of these Northern white women. The same thing was true of the white women of the South of quality and breeding.
In the county of Brunswick, Virginia, in the very heart of "the black belt," during the latter part of the seventies and early eighties, Mrs. "Pattie" Buford, a cultivated Southern lady of refinement, gave up herself completely in ministering as an angel of mercy among the poorest of the poor of these black people, and by her wonderful devotion won the love and confidence of the colored people of that entire region. Through her influence a young colored man entered the Church who was destined to prove the most conspicuous constructive leader for his people of all our colored clergy
in his day and generation. This young man was James Solomon Russell of the adjoining county of Mecklenburg. At the time of the present writing, in addition to the St. Paul School, Lawrenceville, called into being by him, for well-nigh thirty years he has most acceptably filled the post of Archdeacon of the colored work in the diocese of Southern Virginia. Mrs. Buford founded a hospital and infirmary in the county of Brunswick for the needy colored people of that section. By her influence also an entire religious body of one Bishop, some twenty or more ministers and about 2,000 members professed themselves as ready and desirous to enter the Episcopal Church. By some means the movement miscarried; but the Bishop and a number of the ministers, actually entered the Church, and were prepared for the diaconate at the Bishop Payne Divinity School. As a further result of the feeling towards the Church thus created, large congregations of colored Episcopalians were soon formed in the counties where this religious body was principally situated.
In connection with the work of Rev. Giles B. Cooke, a former staff officer of General Robert E. Lee, as rector of St. Stephen's Church, Petersburg and principal of St. Stephens Normal School, were associated as teachers a number of white ladies of the best families of Virginia, such as the Misses Beckwith (sisters of the Bishop of Alabama), Misses Weddell, Mrs. Giles B. Cooke and others. There was also in or near Gordonsville, Va., a Mrs. Brent who also maintained in those days a most interesting work on behalf of Negroes. Any number of colored Sunday Schools in divers parts of Virginia were taught by native white teachers.
In Lunenburg county Mrs. M. M. Jennings, the mother of Mrs. Joseph S. Atwell, for many years on her own estate, maintained an exceedingly interesting educational and religious
work; while Mrs. Miles in Halifax county, pursued the same course. The Rev. Dr. George W. Dame, in addition to his clerical duties as rector of a parish in the city of Danville, for a time was superintendent of public education for Pittsylvania county; and, in this capacity, he was among the first to introduce colored teachers in the colored public schools of the State. These teachers, for the most part, were trained in St. Stephen's Normal School, Petersburg, Va. Mr. John H. M. Pollard was sent out from this school as a teacher in northern Virginia, and it was while thus engaged that he was privately prepared for the ministry by the Rev. William M. Dame, D. D., at that time rector of Christ Church, Alexandria, Va.
An extremely large colored Sunday School was being carried on in the city of Alexandria. Many such efforts as we have briefly alluded to were carried on under white influence in various sections of the South.
Of all names in connection with the rise of St. Stephens Church, Petersburg, that of the Rev. Dr. Alexander W. Weddell is first. While yet a layman he became their acknowledged leader and most affectionate champion.
It may not be generally known, but previous to the Civil War, all Negroes were not treated alike. There were different classes of Negroes then as exist today. Quite a number of the "elect" of the race enjoyed exceptional favors and privileges because of their calibre and many amiable qualities. In Charleston there were a considerable number who were respected communicants of white parishes and were treated with marked respect. The same thing existed in other parts of the South.
A Mr. James Bishop of Annapolis, Md., was a "pew" owner in St. Annes Church, that city, situated almost in the center of the building. Many years after the war this author while on a visit to Annapolis attending morning service at St. Annes Church, occupied a seat in the family pew with others of the Bishop family.
Senator John P. Green, of Cleveland, O., in his book, has this most interesting account with respect to his own father and Christ Church, New Berne, N. C. He says:
"Unquestionably my father possessed a great desire for literary attainments, and did his utmost to reach to some excellence along that line. This talent on his part was recognized during all his life. Men of learning and discrimination sought him in his store and engaged him in conversation to such an extent that much of his valuable time was lost in
this way, and even the Bishops of the Episcopal Church (of which he was a member)--Bishops Ives and Atkinson, respectively--always visited and conversed with him when they made their Episcopal visits to old Christ Church in that town.
"In this connection it may not be amiss to state that although born and reared a slave, and residing in a slave community, my daddy so deported himself as to merit and receive kind and courteous treatment from all. He owned and occupied with his family a pew in Christ Episcopal Church, which was the most wealthy and aristocratic congregation in that part of the State; while the other members, with two exceptions, sat in the galleries; and as proving how tenacious he was of what he conceived to be his rights, it may be stated that when the Rev. Dr. Buxton, (white) clergyman of the Episcopal Church, married him and my mother in Fayetteville, N. C., in 1837, and did not wear his clerical robe, he would not give him a bill which he carried in his vest pocket for him."
It should be stated just here that the elder Green at the age of twenty-one, when his apprenticeship was ended, was the proud possessor of one thousand dollars, which he had earned by doing extra work during his spare hours; with this money he purchased his own freedom and began business for himself as a merchant tailor.
But we have been writing of the few exceptional characters among the race. The great bulk of Episcopal Negroes received their spiritual ministrations through special agencies and chaplains. Hence, following the close of the Civil War, many of them broke away from such special ministrations and followed the leadership of men of their own race. This radical change of affairs constituted a sore trial and problem for the Southern Bishops who were minded to shepherd
both races in the one fold, and, at the same time fully recognize the change made in the civil relations of the people just emancipated. A few brief extracts from the early Convention addresses of Southern Bishops will clearly indicate their mind in not sanctioning any discrimination on account of race or color, and in extending the heartiest possible welcome to the freedmen. A careful reader of such addresses will not fail to be impressed with the deep sincerity and earnestness of the Bishops with respect to this matter.
1866. Bishop Smith, Kentucky:"I have had occasion to allude twice to St. Marks African Church on Green street--to the ordination of its minister, and the first Confirmation there. The mission and the high school connected with it, which was chartered by the Legislature last winter, without much encouragement by the clergy. . . . . . Almost remarkable have been the providences which brought the minister and the teacher here (Mr. and Mrs. Atwell) who are now carrying on the work so well and so successfully, and which have supplied from abroad the greater part of the means to sustain the enterprise, until such time as this Convention and this community shall be aroused to some just conception of the solemn responsibility which rests upon us to take care of this class of Christ's neglected poor among us under the sheltering wing of the Church we love so well."
1866. Bishop Atkinson, North Carolina:"When then, we ask ourselves whether we shall have colored ministers or not, we really ask ourselves whether we shall have ministers for the colored race or not. And is it to be endured that a Church which claims to be the Catholic and Apostolic Church in North Carolina shall systematically refuse to do anything for the religious welfare of one-third of the people of North Carolina? Shall we, like the
priest and Levite, see the wounded man lying half-dead and pass by on the other side and leave him to be ministered to by some hated Samaritan? This would be to confute our own pretensions, and it is to be remembered with regard to this subject, as with regard to schools, that the question is not whether there shall be colored ministers, but what sort of colored ministers there shall be. Colored ministers have been, are, and will be amongst us. Shall they be men taught in the Church, ruled by the Church, imparting the doctrines of the Church, or shall they be fanatics and political emissaries self-commissioned or sent by some foreign, and it may be, hostile society."
1867. Bishop Quintard, Tennessee:"Let us at once, dear brethren, prove to the world that we are fully alive to the physical and intellectual well-being of a people who were once ours in bonds, but are now our brethren in the blessed Gospel of the grace of God."
Tennessee Committee, of the same year: "It is exceedingly desirable not only to do all in our power to promote the general welfare of the freed people who dwell among us, but also to bring the youth and the adult population under the influence of the Church, and that steps should be taken at the earliest possible moment looking towards the education of the more intelligent for the sacred ministry in order that they may be qualified to do the Church's work among those of their color."
1868. Bishop Young, Florida: "I have thought much and anxiously on this subject, beloved brethren, since I assumed the responsibility of the episcopate of this diocese, and I can conceive of nothing so direct and hopeful in its results as to provide for the elementary education at least, of the better class of their present ministers; for their accepted religious teachers and guides they are and will continue to be. They are to their clans as chiefs to tribes, and whether they talk sense or nonsense, teach fetishism
or Christianity, advise them to pursue the evil or the good, they will heed their teaching and follow their guidance, for they thoroughly believe in them. To operate on the masses, therefore, we must direct their leaders. So settled are my convictions on this subject, that I am resolved, if the means can be had, to establish a school for this purpose. . . . . . Many churchmen, perhaps, would disapprove of such an undertaking, and wonder that so un-Churchly a scheme could be thought by the Bishop of Florida. But will such tell us of something better that can be done? For surely no Christian can maintain that it is better to do nothing."
1869. Bishop Johns, Virginia: "I must express my gratitude for the favorable circumstances under which this congregation (St. Stephens, Petersburg) commences its course, I trust of increased prosperity and usefulness. . . . . . This first complete organization of a congregation of this kind in this diocese commences with encouraging prospects. I trust that under God's blessing it will prove a safe and edifying example and pattern to be successfully followed by many others."
1873. Bishop Beckwith, Georgia:
"The population of this State is over one million; of this number four hundred thousand are colored people. Does the Church owe a duty to this people? If so, how can she best perform that duty? There is no difficulty as to the first question. The Church does owe them a duty. The second is full of difficulty. I do not propose to discuss it; my desire is to induce you to think of it. . . . . . Why should not the Church send a missionary Bishop to these four hundred thousand colored people?"
1873. Bishop Howe, South Carolina: "I find myself inclined to think at least from present observations and reflections, that if our Church is to do any work of moment among this people, it must be done by the Church at large. Let a Missionary
Jurisdiction be erected by the General Convention with express reference to these people, and let a missionary Bishop be consecrated who shall give his whole time and thought to this work; who, as the executive, not to a single diocese, but of the entire Church, shall organize congregations, provide them with Church schools and pastors, and in due time raise up from among the colored people themselves deacons and priests who shall be educated men, and competent to the work of the ministry. . . . . . It would seem as if the Church, even in lack of precedent, ought to be able to provide for our perplexity."
Of all the pioneer laborers in the educational field among the masses of ignorant colored people, before the Civil War, none deserve more hearty appreciation than Dr. Daniel Alexander Payne, Bishop John M. Brown, and the few others in the African Methodist Episcopal Church who labored so heroically in the face of almost incredible indifference and opposition, within the group itself.
An extract from Bishop Payne's early effort, and a clipping from the denominational organ of those times will give some idea of the inveterate opposition manifested towards education by many of the leaders in the African Methodist Church itself.
Dr. Payne, a Lutheran minister, and a man of great education, in 1842, was received "on trial" into the A. M. E. Church, by the Philadelphia Conference. He at once set to work to prepare a scheme of instruction for the ministry of his church, which was adopted by the Philadelphia Conference. That same year, 1844, the General Conference of the connection met in Pittsburgh, Pa., and he introduced before that body the same measure with what success will appear from the extract given in his own words:
"Upon this day the Rev. Daniel A. Payne introduced a resolution to institute a course of studies for the education of the ministry. As soon as read it was seconded, and, convinced as he was of the reasonableness and the utility of the measure, he thought that the majority of the Conference
looked at it in the same favorable light, and that it would be carried without much opposition; he, therefore, did not make any speech for the purpose of convincing his brethren of that utility and excellence which he believed was apparent to all.
"But in that he calculated without his hosts, for as soon as the Bishop had put the question to the house, the effect was like unto that which follows when a fire-brand is cast into a magazine of powder. With the greatest apparent indignation the resolution was voted down by a large and overwhelming majority, and the house adjourned amid great excitement. The next day, the fifth of the session, as soon as the house was opened, and first of all, Rev. A. D. Lewis, a brother of lofty stature, venerable apeaprance, dignified mien and delectable countenance, rose to his feet and called for a re-consideration of the rejected proposition. His motion was seconded and stated by the chair.
"This venerable man then advocated its claims and demonstrated its utility in a speech of uncommon eloquence and power. He addressed the understanding, the conscience, the passions of the audience, 'till it was bathed in tears, and from many a voice was heard the impassionate cry, 'give us the resolution; give us the resolution.' It was then put and carried without a dissenting voice."
Such a remarkable change of front and attitude wrought over night needs some explanation. The historian gives it as follows:
'It is also proper here to say that the indignation evinced outside of the General Conference by the intelligent laity, was equal to that excited inside among the prejudiced preachers. Between the rejection of the resolution in favor of education
on the 4th, and its re-consideration and adoption on the 5th, wherever the preachers went they were informed that if the proposition to educate the ministry of the African Methodist Episcopal Church were absolutely rejected, they would withdraw and organize an ecclessiastical establishment that would be in favor of such a measure."
The year preceeding, 1843, at the Baltimore Conference, Dr. Payne had engaged in a similar fight. He gives the following account of the same:
"An itinerant licentiate by the name of Adam S. Driver made application for the Orders of a Deacon, at the same time that the Quarterly Conference of Bethel, in Baltimore, petitioned the Annual Conference to ordain Brother Savage L. Hammonds and Thomas Hall, two local licentiates, to the same rank in the ministry. These three brethren were put in the hands of a committee, consisting of D. A. Payne, John Boggs and Thomas W. Henry, for nomination.
"The following statement will show what was the result of this examination. It also shows the first open conflict between the advocates of ministerial education and the defenders of an illiterate ministry:
"A majority of the committee was in favor of ordaining the three candidates. The minority was opposed to it. Therefore, two reports were made out and presented to the Conference. The reasons assigned by the majority were, in the case of one of the candidates, that a christening or a marriage might he desired when the elder in charge might be at one end of the circuit, and the minister, though upon the spot, would be unable to act; another reason given in another case was that though there was no special need for the brother in question, 'he might be ordained to gratify the Quarterly
Conference.' Respecting the third case, it was argued that should the brother be placed where a matrimonial ceremony was to be performed, he, if ordained, could serve, and being a poor man, it would greatly aid him as thereby he might make some money.
"But the minority report assigned one reason why they should not be ordained . It was that the candidates were all disqualified for the office because they had not the information required by the Discipline. The counter report produced quite an excitement, and one brother violently demanded whether we wanted a man to know how to read Hebrew, Greek and Latin before we would ordain him. In the speech that followed, education, and those who favored it, were denounced. In reply to this the minority arose and said that the remarks were altogether gratuitous, because the report said nothing at all about Greek, Latin or Hebrew, but was based simply upon two instruments, the Discipline and the Bible. The minority also maintained that every member of the Conference and therefore the whole Conference was most solemnly bound to heed the Discipline and the Bible. At the conclusion of these remarks, Bishop Brown called the attention of the Conference to the fact that he was placed in the chair not to carry out the opinions of any man or set of men, but to execute the Discipline to its very letter, and he also declared in a very decided and emphatic manner, that if the whole Conference voted for the ordination of the said brethren, in view of their disqualifications, he could not and would not ordain them. As a final result, the report of the minority was adopted."
It was in the year 1845, Rev. Mr. Hogarth, the General Book Steward, sent the following which was published in The A. M. E. Magazine, the official organ of the denomination:
"Thinking it will, perhaps, be gratifying to some to see some remarks from the book agent in each number of the magazine, on the condition of our people, as I learn it in traveling among them, I will here commence a series of short essays on that subject. First, their religious condition--and here in the outset I may justly say I have clearly seen the verification of that true remark, "like priest, like people;" as the priests are so will the people be. That we need an enlightened, educated ministry no one ought to deny. To give a case showing the necessity of this, permit me to say I attended a protracted meeting in a certain village where a considerable effort was made to get persons to come forward to be prayed for, but the effort proved unavailing. The minister in charge appointed a meeting for the next night--a general prayer meeting. After two or three prayers had been offered to the throne of grace, the brother again called for mourners, and none coming forward, he then called for one or more benches to be set out; that done, he said he would now take another tact on the devil, that he intended to defeat him that night.
"He then declared that the devil was in everybody in the house, and he intended to drive him out of them; that there was not one of them that had any religion whatever, therefore every member of the church must now come forward to the mourner's bench and get religion, for they had none. They were all going to hell.
"Some eight or nine of the poor creatures, affrighted at what their pastor said, came forward in great agony and distress--all professors of religion too--and after they had been down to the benches some time, they arose one after another, shouting and declaring that they had again got religion. I observed that the most sober and perhaps the most exemplary members of the church did not comply with
the earnest solicitations of their pastor, and he himself observing this said to them that did not come forward, that they must get religion again; they were all on the road to hell, local preachers, class-leaders, stewards and all. After all those who went forward had been converted again--I say again, for they professed to have had religion before--the pastor greatly exulted in the fact that he had defeated the devil by getting several converts and quietly dismissed the meeting.
"While sitting there and viewing and reflecting upon this whole transaction, my mind had never before been so deeply impressed with the great importance of an enlightened ministry. Our fathers who have gone before us, and those who still do the best they can, and for the great good they have done in organizing our church, getting it on a good basis, and giving things proper direction, deserve our gratitude and our thanks and our praise. But, O my God, what a work is yet to be done? Our fathers have only laid the foundation, and got the timber in part together, and have left us their sons, to erect the building. But more particularly to the religious condition of our people. In this State (Ohio) there are from twelve to sixteen thousand colored people. Of that number say twelve hundred are members of our church; of this number perhaps six out of ten can read the New Testament. The manner of worship in our churches here in the West is of a character similar to the state of education among the preachers and people, confused and disorderly, owing to the want of cultivated minds and manners. To this remark, however, there are some individual exceptions of persons who have a taste for more regularity and refinement in worship.
"But few of our people can read our hymn book correctly. This circumstance tends to introduce disorder and confusion
in our singing; the great majority, not being able to use our hymn-books, make fugue tunes for themselves, and these fuge tunes are always transcripts of low thoughts, ignorance and superstition, hence confusion in singing. Their language used in prayer also is also characteristic of their want of education, being almost always incorrect, and when it is, only by mere chance. And for the want of good language they can not express to the edification of the church, their own good thoughts, hence confusion in prayer."
Bishop Payne, in his history, commenting upon the above says:
"It is a gloomy picture of the religious condition, and had it been drawn by the hand of an enemy outside of our ministry, one might be led to look upon it as a caricature. But there are two reasons why it is worthy of our belief. It was sketched by our own accreditted book agent, who, in the course of his travels, felt it his right, duty and privilege to inform the readers of our church organ concerning the condition of our people in all the States which he visited; and scenes of this kind might be witnessed in many of our churches at a much later date in other States north of the Ohio as well as in the States south of it, and in the more enlightened regions of the East as well as in the West."
Those of our readers who are well informed with respect to "the Great Awakening," and the preaching of Jonathan Edwards, will have no difficulty in accounting for the source of many of the religious manifestations of the masses of the black race. All the more should we cherish the memories of that noble band of the "black elect," of whom the late Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne of the African Methodist
Episcopal Church, was the conspicuous leader. Few of us are able to sincerely appreciate the nobility of the high-class men of color who fought with all their might this white influence of "the Great Awakening" upon our group. Dr. McConnell in his history of the American Church says: "It would be an interesting study to trace the effect of the Great Awakening upon the Negro race in America. There is good reason to believe that their peculiar type of emotional religiousness, divorced from the sanctions of conscience, is due to this movement which for the first time brought within their reach a conception of Christianity which fitted itself to their peculiar race temperament. There does not seem to be any evidence of their characteristic type of religion previous to this time. Since then it has dominated them as a people."
Now the remarkable thing is this. This very condition of affairs made manifest the fact that a section of the black race, like the white race, had the power to withstand and successfully resist the influence of this "new cult" upon them. Closely following this period note the rise of Phyllis Wheatley and Benjamin Banneker. Note also the group of black people who left the Methodists and became Episcopalians. Note the number of real able black men produced by the two churches standing for the highest ideals, the Episcopal and the Presbyterian. From the Presbyterian side these names will suffice to carry the point: John Glouster, James W. C. Pennington, Henry Highland Garnett, and John Chavis. The latter, black as midnight, took all that Princeton could give him, and in the State of North Carolina became a celebrated educator of the white youth. The remarkable thing was positive evidence that the race could attain the noblest ideals, despite the background of barbarism, and a not always helpful white environment.
Nothing was further from the thoughts of the Bishops, clergy and Southern laity, immediately after the Civil War, than the introduction of a "color-line" in Church extension among the colored people. At first, despite the remarkable devotion of many of the most prominent whites, and their sympathetic touch with the colored people, it looked as if it were utterly impossible to impress a goodly number of the race with the deep sincerity of the Church in welcoming them. However, well-nigh into the second decade after the war, a marked change began to appear in the attitude of the colored people towards the Church; and this most favorable change proved the occasion for arousing the fears of the illiberal whites with respect to possible dangers in the social order of affairs which might obtain in the event that colored people came into the Church in large numbers.
The ecclessiastical politicians got busy. No infelicitous action upon the part of colored Churchmen had stimulated such fears. But, in all the Southern country the Episcopal Church was the only religious body of white men, setting an example of absolute equality in the family of Jesus Christ. And, although men like Richard Hooker Wilmer, Thomas Atkinson and others of their class, Southern to the core, defended this policy of absolutely ignoring the "color line," the storm of opposition arose.
Both Virginia and North Carolina had started off in the right direction. But, in South Carolina and Georgia, where
the Bishops and clergy were minded to pursue the same course, bitter opposition was manifested on the part of many of the laity. After waiting for a decade, in South Carolina, the issue was presented in the application of St. Marks Church, Charleston, to be admitted into union with the Diocesan Convention, as a regular and full-fledged parish. It aroused a storm of opposition and controversy extending over a number of years. The contagion reached the Diocesan Council of Virginia, and, after many years of earnest and determined discussion, certain limitations in the future, were placed upon Negro representation in the Diocesan Council. In the meantime the "Sewanee Conference," composed of Southern Bishops and leading white clergy and laity, was called to meet at Sewanee, Tenn., July 25, 1883, for the purpose of arriving at some definite policy of action in Church extension among the Negroes of the South.
Of course no Negroes, clergy or laity, were invited to participate in this conference. Whereupon the Rev. Dr. Alexander Crummell, rector of St. Lukes Church, Washington, and the senior Negro clergyman of the Church, called together the colored clergy and laity of the country to meet in the city of New York, during the fall of the same year for mutual conference with respect to the matter occupying the minds of the members of the Sewanee Conference.
The findings of the Sewanee Conference, with the exception of the dissenting vote of Bishop Wilmer, of Alabama, were unanimous. The "Sewanee Canon," expressive of the conclusions of that body, was presented to the General Convention meeting that same year in the city of Philadelphia.
In a few words the Sewanee plan authorized the segregation in any diocese of the colored people under the direction and authority of the diocesan, with such missionary organization as might be necessary for its purposes. The Negro
Conference of colored clergy and laity which asembled in New York City, the month previous to the assembling of the General Convention, presented a united front against the "Sewanee Canon," and appointed a committee to attend at the General Convention and exert every means in their power to encompass the defeat of the proposed Canon.
The Canon was adopted in the House of Bishops, but the House of Deputies refused to concur. So it was lost. But, that was not the end of the matter. It was rather but the beginning. In the meantime the work necessarily suffered during a period of discussion extending over a number of years. We do not mean to imply that the two things had any connection, yet it is a fact that just about this time a movement was obtaining throughout the Southern States by which the Constitutions of very many of the States were so altered as to admit of the "disfranchisement" of the great body of colored voters in that section of the country. It so happened that many Southern laymen who were prominent in State affairs were likewise prominent in the affairs of the Kingdom of God. Thus in a few years in a number of Southern dioceses, the proposed Sewanee legislation which failed in the national legislature of the Church, was incorporated into diocesan law. This action on the part of several Southern dioceses, effected a radical change of front and attitude upon the part of the Negro clergy and laity embraced in the Conference of Church Workers among Colored People.
This conference originated in an effort to prevent any "color-line " legislation. The conference desired that colored Churchmen should have identically the same status as others. When, in spite of all effort in that direction, it became manifest that colored Churchmen must choose between existing without any fixed status as an appendage to the
white church, or, have an independent being apart from the local white church, with union in the General Convention, the Conference unhesitatingly chose the latter course. But, before committing itself to the Missionary District plan, in a memorial sent to the General Convention of 1889, it requested of that body a definition of the status of colored Churchmen. There were two reports upon the memorial. The majority report, exceedingly kind and courteous, diplomatically evaded the point at issue. The minority report, championed by Phillips Brooks met the issue completely. By a very close vote the majority report prevailed, and, thus, the question of status, as yet, has not been satisfactorily settled.
Thereafter the Conference hesitated no longer. A fight for definite status was initiated. Finally, at the Conference of Church Workers held in St. Lukes Church, New Haven, Conn., September, 1903, a Commission of Fifteen was constituted to seek an audience with the Bishops in Southern dioceses, and, after mutually going over the situation, request said Bishops to originate the necessary legislation to be presented the General Convention, which would be satisfactory to both sides. Through the prompt courtesy of the late Bishop Dudley, then chairman of the House of Bishops, such meeting was held that same fall in the Church of the Ascension, Washington, D. C. The meeting and our reception by the Bishops was magnificent. They asked for further time for consideration of the matter. After six months, they met at Sewanee, and politely and kindly declined to accede to our request. After having been denied that "fatherly" help, which, in our perplexity, we craved, the Conference of Church Workers, meeting in St. Philips Church, Newark. N. J., September, 1904, the one hundredth anniversary of
the ordination of Absalom Jones to the priesthood, framed its own memorial, sending it to the General Convention, meeting in Boston the next month.
The legislation which we asked of General Convention was the adoption of the Canon prepared by the late Bishop Whittingham, of Maryland, at the request of Bishop W. B. W. Howe, of South Carolina, and others, in 1873. The only addition suggested by the Conference itself was the provision whereby the several diocesans, who might yield their territory for the Missionary District, should constitute a Council of Advice to the Missionary Bishop. At Boston the subject was discussed and a commission created to report upon the matter at the Richmond General Convention of 1907. At Richmond, under the leadership of the Bishop of Texas, a brave and heroic fight was made for the adoption of the measure. But it was defeated by the injection of the 'S'uffragan Episcopate," which was supposed to be sufficient to afford what was sought by the Missionary Episcopate.
In 1910, at Cincinnati, the Suffragan Bishop Legislation was completed, but from that date to the present, not a single advocate of its utility for work among Negroes has ventured to put it to the test.
At the General Convention of 1916, held in St. Louis, the Conference of Church Workers made its final and last effort in the direction of a definite status for colored Churchmen. Never was the cause more ably presented than as will appear in the report of the majority, in the journal of 1916. But the "minority" report won, and we again went down in defeat. The Bishops of North Carolina and Texas, together with the representative of the Conference of Church Workers conferred, and came to the conclusion that it would be the part of wisdom to "hold up" and give the friends of the
Suffragan plan a fair opportunity to demonstrate. In the meantime, that all our labor would not prove utterly in vain, between the Bishops above named and the Bishop of Arkansas, all of whom were staunch supporters of the Missionary District plan an effort might be made to make an interpretation of the utility of the Suffragan plan.
Thus far all that has been done has been accomplished through such source.
A section of the minority report, which was adopted at St. Louis, will clearly indicate the fundamental principle for which the Conference of Church Workers were fighting, as well as the subtleness of the opposition. It was a case where we were defeated by "extremes." Of course, those who were absolutely opposed to any "color-line" under any form were naturally against us. On the other hand, those who thought that we should be "restricted" in our rights, were also against us. The union of these two antagonistic forces apparently wrought our defeat. At any rate the extract from the minority report which follows would seem to indicate as much. The section reads:
"But apart from the principle involved, the plan of a Separate Racial Jurisdiction for Negroes in the South, if once put in operation, will in our opinion make it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to try the plan of a Suffragan Bishop as provided by the General Convention, if it shall be found expedient and possible in the future to do so. No race prefers to occupy a subordinate position, however necessary and beneficial such subordination may be considered under certain conditions. But when race development is once appealed to, and race ambition once excited, the Negro will
quite certainly aspire to equality with the white man in every particular. Many of them will, therefore, prefer a Bishop of their own race, with an independent jurisdiction separate from the white man, rather than a Suffragan Bishop, who, however well qualified for the Episcopate, would still be under the jurisdiction of the white Bishop. For this reason the plan of a Separate Racial District will make impracticable and futile any attempt on the part of a Southern Bishop or diocese to try any other plan."
Thus, our opponents, in stating their case, justify us in our contention, and almost confess in advance the certain failure of their own scheme. Colored Churchmen do not object to one Bishop and one Convention, in which all may share the same divine equality, without respect to race or color. Since white Churchmen are the ones who object to this arrangement, and demand a white Convention with a white Bishop, they should be willing to concede to their black brethren the same liberty and independence which they claim for themselves. But whether they concede it or not, we can not deny our own manhood by failing to contend for all the rights of man.
It would be a very great error for any to imagine that the Southern Bishops, as a whole, have been at all luke-warm in their endeavors to bring together in the one diocesan council, all races, clergy and laity. It was the "martyr-like" spirit" of a number of Southern Bishops in upholding the rights of the black man, in the one diocesan council, necessarily engendering a certain bitterness of feeling, which disposed the great body of colored clergy to memorialise the General Convention for the Racial District, as an alternative, so as
to render unnecessary the sufferings of the Southern Episcopate and pave the way for a lasting peace.
But one example we give: The Rev. J. H. M. Pollard had removed from the diocese of Virginia to the diocese of South Carolina. Bishop Howe, of that diocese, in making up the clerical roll of members of the Convention, naturally enough inserted the name of the Rev. J. H. M. Pollard. A vigorous fight followed with respect to the correctness of the list as furnished by the Bishop. The Bishop was sustained; and be it said to the eternal praise of the clergy, they stood unflinchingly by the Bishop. Bishop Howe plainly intimated that he would resign his office of Bishop rather than acquiesce in the disfranchisement of a priest because of his color. At the close of that remarkable Diocesan Convention of South Carolina in 1887, Bishop Howe expressed himself in part as follows:
"I will say a word or two before I go. This is the 97th Diocesan Convention that has been held during a period of nearly one hundred years, and I presume that within all these years there never has occurred what has taken place at this session--the withdrawal of a large number of those who represent their churches in this Convention. And it is worthy of remark that some of these are the oldest in the diocese. It is a matter of very great regret to me that such is the melancholy fact, but as I review the question I do not see how we could have acted otherwise than we have done. . . . . . It is not only the privilege but the right of the Bishop to visit every parish in his diocese, and, God helping me, unless the doors of the churches are locked against me, I shall visit them as usual whether they are or not in union with this Convention. But I trust that our brethren will reconsider their action and see whether it is sufficient ground for those old
parishes to go out because a colored clergyman, well learned, who has sat in a Convention in Virginia, is here."
Here was an actual condition. It matters not that it was a minority that was opposed to the recognition of equality in the Church of Jesus Christ. The feeling existed. The attitude of colored Churchmen found expression in the words of Abraham to Lot: "Let there be no strife between us, for we are brethren." And this attitude took definite shape in a memorial to the General Convention for "an alternative plan," Missionary Districts. So that by its employment the occasion for any future unpleasantness would be avoided. On this effort of peace and good-will, as well as the preservation of our own manhood and self-respect, we are willing to go down to posterity.
It is interesting to note just here that when Bishop Winchester of Arkansas, in his early ministry, was rector of St. Johns, Wytheville, Va., he invited the Rev. Mr. Pollard to preach in St. Johns Church on a Sunday morning. At that time Senator R. E. Withers, a member of the U. S. Senate, and judge Boulding of that city, were members of the vestry. Judge Boulding, who was present that particular Sunday morning, was so much pleased with the sermon of the Rev. Mr. Pollard that at the close of the service he presented him with a volume with his autograph as a souvenir of the occasion.
THE BALTIMORE CONFERENCE OF CHURCH WORKERS
No one agency, perhaps, has contributed more towards the growth of the Church among our racial group than the Conference of Church Workers among Colored People. The late Rev. Alexander Crummell, D. D. LL. D., rector and founder of St. Lukes Church, Washington, D. C., may very properly be considered as the father and founder of the Conference.
Following the meeting of the Sewanee Conference, the initial meeting of the colored clergy of the United States, at the call of Dr. Crummell, assembled in the Church of the Holy Communion, New York City, during the fall of 1883 .From that time to the present these Conferences have been regularly held. There was the omission of the one of 1891 which had been appointed to meet in Nashville, Tenn., because of the illness of the late Archdeacon Calbraith B. Perry, of Tennessee, upon whom the arrangements devolved. Until the year 1919 these meetings were held annually; but in 1919 at the Cleveland Conference a scheme of several Provincial Conferences was adopted for the two years between every third year, at which time the whole, General Conference would thereafter convene.
The second Conference was also held in the city of New York in 1884. In 1885 it was held in Richmond, Va. In 1886 it was held in St. Lukes Church, Washington, D. C.
This was the first Conference attended by the present author (then as a layman); and it was at this Conference that a new departure was inaugurated. Up to this time, it was strictly a "Negro Conference." That is, it only included Negro workers among the race. Possibly the occasion for instituting the change was the voluntary presence of two distinguished white clergymen in work among our people. The Conference was quick to express its pleasure and accord a hearty welcome by immediately making the change to "Church Workers Among Colored People." These two white clergymen were Rev. Dr. Calbraith B. Perry of St. Marys and Rev. George B. Johnson of St. James, Baltimore. And from that day to the present time all workers of orders of the ministry and laity have been accounted members of the body.
The most important action taken at this Conference was the adoption of a "memorial" to the General Convention which met the next month in Chicago, praying the appointment of a Church Commission for Work among the Colored People. The idea as well as the drafting of the paper was born of Rev. Dr. Perry. The memorial thus drafted was heartily and unanimously adopted by the Conference. The General Convention created the Commission. During the life of this Commission the work was very greatly advanced, and, although it had its defects, its abolition was not at the will of our Conference.
It would have been utterly impossible to have secured a better or more efficient chairman of that Commission than the illustrious Bishop Dudley, who, for so many years was its head and who gave himself without measure, and, in unwearied devotion to every interest which concerned the black man. Bishop Dudley thoroughly loved and thoroughly believed in the black man, and was always his ceaseless advocate
and defender. Upon the invitation of the Rev. Calbraith B. Perry, the 1887 Conference was held in St. Marys, Baltimore, at which time the author, a "groom' of but a day and yet a Deacon, was elected secretary of the Conference, with Rev. Dr. H. C. Bishop, of New York, chairman. From that time to the present, with the exception of about three years, the author has continued in office as secretary of the Conference of Church Workers, and has actually attended every session held since that day.
"The Church Advocate," edited by the secretary of the Conference, has been so intimately joined together with the Conference that it is hard to think of one without at the same time thinking of the other. By the joint work of the above mentioned "union" a number of things have been realized. After a season of rather prolonged education, representation of the group was secured upon the Commission through the appointment to that body of the late Rev. Dr. Alexander Crummell. And when death removed Dr. Crummell the elevation to the vacancy of Bishop Delany was realized.
King Hall, with the Rev. William Victor Tunnell, warden, was inaugurated in the city of Washington, as a theological seminary, under the auspices of the Church Commission and during the days of its continuance, it prepared and sent into the ministry a number of men who have made splendid records of service. King Hall was not closed in accordance with the judgement and wishes of the Conference of Church Workers among the group. In due season following the necessary campaign of education, colored priests were given the opportunity for supervisory and administrative work as Archdeacons.
The Conference of Church Workers have met in various of the country. As far South as Charleston, S. C.,
as far north as Boston, and as far west as Cleveland, Ohio. With rare exception, in every diocese where the Conference has convened, the diocesan has been present and extended every courtesy. Many have been the unusual courtesies extended by our white brethren, but we do not think that we err at all when it is declared that nowhere in the history of these conferences has greater consideration and courtesy been extended than in the diocese of Ohio, upon two ocasions, under the leadership and inspiration of the Rt. Rev. William A. Leonard, Bishop of Ohio, and his Co-Adjutor Bishop DuMulin. On both occasions the opening services under most pleasing auspices, took place in the Bishop's Cathedral with the support of the Cathedral choir, and no man could have been more gracious and solicitous, then the good Bishop of Ohio.
Bishop Leonard, from his youth, has been a steadfast "offender" along this line. In Brooklyn, in Washington, as well as in Cleveland, no work has been dearer to his heart than that among his colored brethren. And the author of this volume feels greatly honored in the fact that the Bishop of Ohio, covering almost the entire period of our ministry, has ever been one of our most devoted and affectionate friends. The knowledge of the sincerity of his friendship has wrought mightily in us in the midst of struggle and conflict.
Many have been the benefits of these annual conferences. They have interpreted to both races the black man at his best. Through these conferences the colored people have come to know and somewhat understand the purpose of the Episcopal Church. They have proved the means of introducing to each other our own colored laity and linking them together for constructive work. The Conference has furnished to our own colored clergy the opportunity for practice,
and imparted an ecclessiastical education which could not have been realized elsewhere. By means of it many of them "have found themselves," and have been inspired and rendered more hopeful in their difficult work. They have learnt to do by doing. Their entire life, social, intellectual and ecclesiastical has felt the invigorating influence of the forces inseparably connected with such meetings. And those who enjoy the privilege of membership in diocesan assemblies have been ennabled to carry into such relationships a training and a culture which otherwise would not have been possible.
Prof. Charles H. Boyer, a native of Maryland, and a graduate of Yale University, the dean of the collegiate department of St. Augustines School, has been connected with that institution for more than a quarter of a century. He is one of the strongest and ablest of the colored laity in this country. While this book was making ready for the press, we received a personal note from our friend Prof. Boyer, which, while not intended for public print, is worthy of such, showing as it does how such men are valued in the Church by the people of the white group. Says Prof. Boyer:
I have just returned from Wellesley College, Mass., where I had been conducting a mission study class on the Negro and the Church, at the Episcopal Church Conference. I had a very interesting class of twenty-one persons, including priests, theological students, teachers, social service workers, missionaries and some extra visitors at times; there was also one missionary from China and a young woman preparing to become a missionary to Liberia.
"It was a great experience to me. I won them all over completely to full sympathy with the Negro's side of the question, and received a rising vote of thanks from them at
the close of the last recitation, for the way I had taught them, and also received their assurance to pray and work for bringing the Negro into his full measure of American citizenship and Christian fellowship.
"Outside of the classroom too, I was accorded all the courtesies of the conference. In fact I was considered the guest of the conference while there."
AT THE CONSECRATION OF BISHOP DELANY
Among the Bishops who became most active in this work after the Civil War were Atkinson, Lyman, Johns, Whittle, Smith, , Quintard, Whittingham, Howe, Stevens and Young. At a later period were Dudley, Leonard of Ohio, Ranodlph, Cheshire, Paret, Kinsolving and Johnston of Texas. Among the clergy were Drs. Saul and Matlack of Philadelphia, Drs. Babbitt and A. Toomer Porter, of South Carolina, Rev. Dr. C. B. Perry of Maryland and Rev. Giles B. Cooke of Virginia. Later Drs. Smedes, Sutton and Hunter of St. Augustines School, Raleigh, N. C., and Archdeacon Joyner of South Carolina. A few of the distinguished laymen: the Stewarts of Richmond, Va., Mr. Joseph Bryan, Richmond, Va., Messrs. H. E. Pellew and Judge Bancroft Davis of Washington, D. C., Mr. John A. King of Long Island, Mrs. Loomis L. White of New York. Nor could by any possible means the names of Henry Codman Potter, Bishop of New York and Phillip Brooks, Bishop of Massachusetts, be omitted. It would be entirely out of the question to catalogue all of the names of such as were conspicuous in this work, and, hence, we have named but a few, with nearly all of whom the author enjoyed personal acquaintance.
Bishop Steven, of Pennsylvania, a Georgian by birth, was the first to make provision for the theological training of colored men in Philadelphia. Rev. Dr. R. C. Matlack, secretary of the Evangelical Educational Society, was foremost in providing scholarships for worthy candidates for the
ministry; and Rev. Dr. Saul of Philadelphia, with generous liberality, gave his means to aid the good work in various sections of the South. He was among the first to donate money for the purchase of permanent property for the Bishop Payne Divinity School at Petersburg, Va. During Mr. Pellew's connection with the Church Commission for work among colored people, he was almost continuously traveling over the country inspecting the work and quietly bestowing his means here and there to sustain the same. Rev. Drs. Porter and Babbitt in South Carolina wrought with sincere devotion and apostolic zeal. Rev. Calbraith B. Perry and Rev. Giles B. Cooke wrought as few, if any, white men have before or since. Archdeacon E. N. Joyner in South Carolina. labored for a long period in the midst of many obstacles, bravely and most successfully. Rev. Reeve Hobbie and Rev. John H. Townsend in the State of New Jersey, won the love and affection of colored people and performed magnificent constructive work.
Gen. Samuel C. Armstrong was not a communicant of the Episcopal Church, but, certainly, no one outside of the Church, exerted without any special design, a more helpful influence in its extension among the colored people of the country. General Armstrong was very dear to this author. By appointment of the Governor of Virginia the present author served as a trustee of that institution representing the Commonwealth of Virginia. He saw much of Gen. Armstrong, and we frequently communed together. Strange as it may appear, the General became very fond of us for the same reason that very many have not liked us so well. He greatly admired in us the disposition not only to do our own thinking, but the aggressiveness which we sustained in trying to convert others, to our convictions. Of all the letters
in the possession of the author he prizes none more highly than a very brief one from Gen. Armstrong, when, in going north on a certain errand, we requested a line of him. He wrote: "I know you, and have confidence in you." Those few words over the signature of Gen. S. C. Armstrong appealed to every noble impulse of our nature and inspired determination and purpose to "make good."
But we started out to remark concerning the unconscious influence of Gen. Armstrong on behalf of the extension of the Episcopal Church among the colored people. While Hampton has always been "undenominational," both its faculty and board of trustees have contained in abundance not only members of the Episcopal Church, but men and women of the highest and noblest type, creating an atmosphere in which the common and vulgar simply could not exist. The most helpful portions of the services from the Book of Common Prayer have all along constituted the normal daily devotions of the Hampton family, teachers and pupils. The life and atmosphere sustained at Hampton inspired such ideals as led many of its graduates in after life to unite with the Episcopal Church because the ideals presented by the Church seemed to agree more thoroughly with the Hampton life, the Hampton spirit and the Hampton atmosphere. Thus, Gen. Armstrong, with no design whatever to promote any particular sect or advance the interests of any religious body, interpreting his own vision, did unconsciously serve the best interest of true religion in helping on Church extension among the colored race.
A number of the best clergymen the Church has ever had and many of the most helpful laity in business and in professional life scattered all over the United States were once children of Samuel C. Armstrong.
James E. Thompson, who, as a youth and a young man, had been quite active in St. James Church, Baltimore, early in the seventies, removed to St. Louis, Mo., where, while pursuing secular work, manifested an earnest interest in doing missionary work. Finally he got together a little work known as the Mission of the Good Samaritan. He was made a deacon by Bishop Robertson and later a priest. Some few years after he removed to Chicago to undertake a similar work. As a result of his endeavor in that city, he became the founder of the present large and flourishing Church of St. Thomas with more than a thousand communicants.
In the meantime, having left St. Louis, he wrote to Baltimore and influenced Cassius M. C. Mason to remove to St. Louis. Mr. Mason was one of a very large family of Masons christened in old St. James, Baltimore. Richard Masons, the father of Cassius, was one of the most brilliant and active colored men of his generation in the city of Baltimore. He was a boot and shoe maker, and often did he remark to the present author of his having made boots or shoes for His Excellency President Tyler. He was an uncompromising Churchman. All of his family were steadfastly brought up in the Church. His son, Cassius, was elected a member of the vestry of St. James Church before he had attained his majority. He honorably and creditably served in every position open to a layman in the Church. As a young man he took the leading part, with other young people from
St. James in 1867 in establishing the present congregation of St. Mary the Virgin, Baltimore. At first the name of the new mission was St. Philip, but it was afterwards changed to its present title. Thus it was after such pioneer good work in the city of his birth, that the call came to him through a former communicant of St. James to go west. We shall not go into the details of his work in St. Louis. He took Orders in that diocese, founded All Saints Parish, St. Louis, and was its rector to the day of his death. Bishop Tuttle, his honored diocesan, on the day of his death, March 21, 1917, wrote the following his his diary:
"In the early morning of this day, Rev. C. M. C. Mason, rector of All Saints, St. Louis, died of pneumonia, after a short illness. A Godly man, a devoted pastor, the builder up of this parish into a strong self-supporting parish of five hundred communicants. The senior priest of the diocese the only one left who had been in steady service with me for the whole thirty years of my Missouri life. He was a wise counsellor for me and with me. I shall sorely miss him. God be thanked for his faithful life and abounding good work."
In his Convention address the same good Bishop alludes to Father Mason in this wise: "One of our clergy has fallen, the Rev. C. M. C. Mason. He was a remarkable leader to his congregation, and, indeed, to the colored people of the city. . . . . . Clear-headed and stout-hearted, wise in planning, energetic in executing, holy of life, he filled a sphere of great usefulness in which he was highly respected and deeply loved. We hardly know how we are to get on without him."
The character of Father Mason ought greatly to influence ambitious youth of our group who may become apprised of the almost insuperable difficulties which he over came. His young manhood was at a time prior to the many
schools and colleges now established for the benefit of the race. And, in addition to all this, like Moses, he was "slow of speech." Cassius Mason must have been endowed with extra-ordinary faith, with a stammering tongue and other handicaps, to leave the shoemaker's bench and set out for the priesthood. But, thus he did, and what he wrought interprets to us the marvellous mercy and goodness of God.
The name of James Solomon Russell is well-known and praised, throughout the whole Church, because of what God has wrought through his ministry and service. In the present case, we have a simple country lad going for a few years to the great Hampton Industrial School, and leaving before graduation to be "the first student" of what was to be a great Southern "School of the Prophets" for colored young men. With the little start he received at Hampton, and the training received at the theological school in Petersburg, in the midst of ceaseless missionary endeavor, by the help of God, he has given us a true and faithful interpretation of how well-made a "self-made" man can emerge, even in the midst of supreme difficulties and constant burden bearing. The churches he has brought into existence, the great school brought to birth and built up, and the righteous life he has led are all evidences of a wonderful and remarkable man who has wrought heroically and efficiently to the glory of God, and the amelioration of a suffering people. He has recently returned to this country from a most enjoyable visit to the Republic of Liberia.
Another notable example of the "self-educated" constructive leadership of the Negro Priesthood presents itself in the character of James Nelson Deaver. A young man having a fair high school education, a musician, and a general "hustler," having already accumulated a wife and three little children, was minded to endure "hardness" to the last
limit in order to attain the desire of his heart. Going out from St. James, Baltimore, to the backwoods of Maryland, he had his first taste of the hardships which awaited him; then to Florida, and from Florida to West Virginia, and, lastly, to Atlantic City, N. J., where he brought into being from its very birth, the self-sustaining congregation of St. Augustines Church. He too has vindicated the call which God gives to those who, without any fault on their part, find themselves without collegiate training.
Henry Mason Joseph, formerly a school master in the West Indies, came to this country and secured employment as a professor in St. Augustines School, Raleigh. He was an able and well-learned man, with all the marks of the rarest culture and refinement. He made an impress upon the whole community of Raleigh, colored and white, as few men before or since. Upon his resignation, the greatest pressure was brought to bear upon the part of the community at large, to have him reconsider his determination. While at St. Augustines he took Orders. He was ordained deacon in 1883 by Bishop Lyman and priest the next year by the same Bishop.
Among the "pioneer" men the name of Henry Stephen McDuffy looms large. He was one of "the first fruits" of the labors of Father Brady who planted St. Marks Church, Wilmington, N. C. Father Brady brought him into the Church and Baptized him. He was trained at St. Augustines. He travelled over the North and personally solicited the funds for the erection of the first church edifice of St. Josephs, Fayetteville, N. C., and, then, returning, with his own hands for the most part, erected the building. He wrought heroically in Asheville, where he built a most beautiful church, in Brooklyn, N. Y., and finally in his present field, St. Augustines, Philadelphia.
Primus Priss Alston was another of the pioneer clergymen
who laid strong foundations in connection with the work in Charlotte, N. C. his first and only work. Rev. Mr. Alston was ordained deacon in 1883 and priest in 1892 by Bishop Lyman. He was a "prince" as a financial solicitor. Extremely cautious and conservative he never failed to diligently care for his own personal interest while faithfully serving the Church.
Dr. Paulus Moort was an exceedingly interesting character. He came to this country from the West Indies early in life and spent much of his time in preparation. First at Petersburg, then at Raleigh, and finally at the Philadelphia Divinity School from which he graduated. He afterwards took a course in medicine. He was ordained deacon in 1882 by Bishop Lee, and later in the same year priest, by Bishop Stevens. He became rector of Trinity Church, Monrovia, Liberia, and was again in America in 1889 as the clerical deputy to the General Convention from the District of Liberia. He and the Rev. Thomas W. Cain of Texas, were the only Negro members of the House of Deputies of that General Convention. Bishop Ferguson sat in the House of Bishops. Upon a later visit to this country in the interest of his work he was stricken and died. His funeral took place from St. Thomas Church, Philadelphia, and Bishop Lloyd, at that time the head of the Missionary Society of the Church, was present and took part in the obsequies. His remains were laid away in a cemetery near the city of Philadelphia.
Much, indeed, would have to be written to give any adequate idea of the extreme value of the missionary and other labors of the Rev. Dr. Henry L. Phillips, the senior priest of our group and the Archdeacon for work in Pennsylvania. It so happens that he has resided in the city of Philadelphia for well-nigh a half century. This city has been the chief center of interest in the work among the race and Dr. Philips
by his intimate knowledge of men of wealth and influence and benevolent disposition, has rendered peculiar and most valuable service on behalf of the work throughout the entire country. With respect to his work and influence in the city of Philadelphia itself, the large Church constituency which we have, with ten or more colored congregations and clergy abundantly witnesseth.
J. J. N. Thompson, born in Jamaica, was ordained by Bishop Gregg of Texas early in the nineties. He did good work at Tyler in that State. In company with others, white, he passed the most creditable examination for ordination to the priesthood. He attended the regular morning service of the white parish church in a town of Texas, Bishop Kinsolving being present, and according to assignment, read the lessons. The event of a colored priest thus appearing in the chancel of a white church caused some local feeling, but the Bishop stood bravely behind and supported Father Thompson. Removing to Mobile, Ala., in a few years, he made, almost, if not entirely, a self-supporting parish of the mission of that place, which had existed as such for a number of years. Later, he removed to Brunswick, Ga., and repeated the same treatment, constituting St. Athanasius Church, Brunswick, a self-supporting parish. At the same time, he organized a new mission at Waycross, Ga.
August E. Jensen, from the Danish West Indies, one of the ablest young men sent out by King Hall, Washington, D. C., after good work in Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla., removed to Croom in the diocese of Washington, where he rendered exceptionally fine educational and religious work. In 1903 Bishop Scarborough invited him to Asbury Park, N. J., to "try his hand" with the little mission at that point. He could promise him only five hundred dollars a year. Father Jensen accepted. By the end of the year he had organized
the mission into a self-supporting parish, and was called as its first rector; and, at the same time upon the church lot, ground was broken for a rectory which was completed three months later. His health having failed, for a while, he resigned the rectorship. After a period of rest, he resumed work, and immediately planted a strong and vigorous mission in Trenton, the capital city of New Jersey.
Joshua Bowden Massiah, among the older and best educated of the clergy, served a number of points in the country. He was graduated from the General Theological Seminary, New York. After an unusually successful work in Detroit, he removed to Chicago where he procured a magnificent church edifice for St. Thomas Church, and from a few hundred communicants built it up to nearly one thousand. He enjoyed the distinction of being the only colored priest, who, by special invitation preached in St. Pauls Cathedral, London.
The Rev. William Victor Tunnell graduated from the General Theological Seminary, New York, in 1887, with the "first honors" of the class, he being the only colored person therein. He won the prize of a gold watch for extemporaneous speaking. After constituting the long struggling St. Augustines mission, Brooklyn, into a parish, he resigned to accept a professorship in history in his alma mater, Howard University, Washington, D. C. Some years later King Hall was established in the same city, and he was placed in charge as warden. When it became the policy of the Church to concentrate on one theological institution, King Hall was closed, and its students transferred to the Bishop Payne Divinity School, Petersburg, Va. Warden Tunnell returned to the professorship at Howard. In the meantime, he retained the pastoral care of St. Philips mission, Anacostia, D.
C. For a time he was a member of the Board of Education of the city of Washington.
John W. Perry, a pioneer clergyman in the diocese of North Carolina, spent his entire life in that one diocese, and in connection with the mission at Tarboro, where he not only did good work, but left behind a name and a character as a perpetual asset to the community in which he lived and died. He, as well as his wife, was educated at St. Augustines, Raleigh.
Many have been the charming and sweet characters of Southern white women who have wrought among and in our group as though there was no such thing as "race prejudice." However, that of Deaconess Mary Amanda Bechtler, a North Carolinian by birth, is worthy of special mention, and special honor. She gave her life in sweet ministries among the poor in connection with St. Marys Chapel, Washington, under the pastoral supervision of a Negro priest, a native of South Carolina, the Rev. Oscar L. Mitchell. Dr. Mackay-Smith (rector of St. Johns parish) "in the presence of Dr. Huntington, explained these circumstances to Miss Bechtler. Of course he expected her to decline the call. He put the question directly to her, and asked her how she felt about working under the direction of a colored man. Her reply was that if the man is a Christian and a gentleman his color made no difference to her. And Dr. Mackay-Smith by cross questioning could not get her to retract that statement. He left her without urging the call and asked her to consider the matter further. But her statement was final."
It was the good pleasure of this author to meet Deaconess Bechtler frequently and we thank God for every remembrance of such a true, pure and beautiful type of womanhood who, for Christ's sake, made herself perfectly at home with our group.
This is not the only instance of this character. But it is one of great significance. Quoting from the beautiful memorial volume in her memory: "Attention to kindred and relations as well as she loved them, was not allowed to interfere with a single engagement at her post of duty. Her dearest friends, even though they may have come from far, would have to wait until her appointment with the poorest Negro child had been kept. An appointment to her, even though it be a poor waif, was a sacred duty; and would be kept as conscientiously as if it had been with a prince or a State official. She was once asked in a somewhat sneering way: 'Do you worship where you work?' Her answer was: 'I never worship anywhere else.' And the fact is that unless out of town, she was never known to attend a service elsewhere at an hour when there was one at St. Marys. She made her Communion regularly at the altar where she worked, kneeling side by side with those among whom she labored."
Miss Bechtler was a Southern woman. Miss Ethel Roosevelt, was not only a Northern woman, but she was the daughter of the President of the United States, an occupant of the White House. Miss Roosevelt found it a joy and a pleasure to regularly fill her post as a Sunday School teacher in this same chapel, despite the fact that the priest in charge was a man of African descent.
It is a thing most difficult for the present generation of educated colored people to appreciate the deep sincerity of the best blood of Virginia immediately following the Civil War in helpfulness towards our group. Just a few years after the war, a young Virginian who had worn a Confederate jacket, had become a clergyman of the Church in Cincinnatti, Ohio. For several Sundays a colored woman of some refinement, with her daughters, had attended the
church of which the clergyman was rector, occupying the "free pews." This lady sent in a request to the vestry for the rental of a pew. The vestrymen seemed somewhat embarrassed. The young rector, vacating the chair, and begging to be excused, requested the senior warden to preside. As he left the room he expressed the wish that the vestry might find it convenient to let the lady have the pew; and, he added that in case they could not, they might consider his resignation as rector of the parish. The lady got the pew. That clergyman was none other than the good and brave Bishop of Texas, the Rt. Rev. Dr. George Herbert Kinsolving.
Some years after the war a young girl, a native of Lynchburg, Va., who was attending school in Philadelphia, and had become a devout member of the Episcopal Church, upon her return to her Virginia home, where there was no colored Episcopal Church, was unsuccessfully urged by one of the most influential white ladies of that community of the Episcopal Church to attend the white church and occupy a seat in the family pew.
In the "color question" debate which came before the Virginia Council, in days that are past, the Rev. Arthur S. Lloyd (now Bishop) and Rev. Dr. Carl E. Grammer, professor of Church History in the Virginia Seminary, both young men, made as radical speeches upon the floor of the Convention for the full and free admission of colored delegates as could have been possible by any man. Major Mann Page, a distinguished layman, living in the "black belt," who had politically suffered by reason of the ignorance and stupidity of black voters, in spite of the same, boldly registered his opposition to any "color line" in the Church of God. And we could name instance after instance of this sort. It was a difficult situation, and we must, in honor to this class of distinguished Virginians in whose life we have ever lived, say
that they valantly did the best they could, but the illiberal whites on the one side, and the unpreparedness of the colored on the other hand, severely handicapped them in the realization of the best wishes of their hearts. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
1. Absalom Jones, deacon in 1795 and priest in 1804. By Bishop White of Pennsylvania. Elsewhere particulars of the life of Mr. Jones have been given.
2. Peter Williams, deacon in 1819, priest in 1826. By Bishop Hobart.
3. William Levington, deacon in 1824, priest in 1828. By Bishop White of Pennsylvania. Mr. Levington would have been ordained to the priesthood in Maryland, but for the death of Bishop Kemp, occasioned by injuries received from an up-set of the stage coach, as he was returning from Philadelphia, whither he had gone to take part in the consecration of Bishop Onderdonk. At the request of the ecclesiastical authorities of Maryland, Bishop White advanced him to the priesthood. And because of the vacancy in the Maryland Episcopate, Bishop Onderdonk of Pennsylvania, officiated at the first Confirmation ever held in St. James Church, Baltimore.
4. James C. Ward, deacon in 1824. By Bishop White. Mr. Ward was a school teacher, and it does not appear that he was ever in pastoral work. He only lived a few years.
5. Jacob Oson, deacon in Christ Church, Hartford, Conn., February 15th, 1828, and priest the next day, February 16th. By Bishop Brownell. Mr. Oson, who had been a useful catechist and lay reader among our people in New Haven, had studied theology there under the Rev. Harry Croswell
and at the time of his ordination had been appointed a missionary to the field of Liberia, West Africa, by the Missionary Society of the General Convention. However, he did not reach Africa, inasmuch as he departed this life in this country before the appointed time of his sailing for his field of labor.
6. Gustavus V. Caesar, and Edward Jones, were ordained to the diaconate in 1830, by Bishop Brownell of Connecticut, for the African field. They reached Africa and there labored.
7. William Douglass, deacon, June 22, 1834. By Bishop Stone of Maryland. In recording this ordination, the first of its kind in Maryland, and anywhere else south of Pennsylvania, Bishop Stone says:
"On Sunday, 22nd, I preached in St. Stephens parish, Cecil county (Sassafras Neck), and admitted to the Order of Deacons, William Douglass, (a colored man), and in the afternoon of the same day I Confirmed three persons. Many persons who were present never before witnessed an ordination, and I am sure that the impression made upon their minds was favorable to the Church and her institutions. In the afternoon by previous arrangement, the church was given up to the colored people, and the Rev. Mr. Douglass preached to them an interesting sermon."
Mr. Douglass was ordained a priest in St. Thomas Church, Philadelphia, February 14, 1836, by Bishop H. U. Onderdonk. The Bishop records the impression made upon him as follows:
"On Sunday, February 14th, in St. Thomas (African) Church, Philadelphia, I admitted the
Rev. William Douglass, deacon, to the Holy Order of Priests. Mr. Douglass is a man of color; and I take the opportunity of recording my very favorable estimate of his highly respectable intellect, and most amiable qualities, which entirely relieved my mind, in his case, from the anxieties I had long felt in reference to this department of Episcopal duty. He ministers to a congregation at unity in itself, much attached to him, and improving, under his pastoral care, in the principles and duties of our common Christianity."
8. Isaiah G. DeGrasse. Bishop Onderdonk of New York, thus records this ordination: "Wednesday, July 11, 1838--In St. Philips Church, New York, admitted Isaiah G. DeGrasse, a young man of African extraction, whose examinations had evinced ample literary and theological attainments, to Deacon's Orders. Mr. DeGrasse was immediately appointed to the charge of the missionary station comprising the colored Episcopalians in the towns of Jamaica, Newton and Flushing, Queen's county."
In the Convention of 1841 the same Bishop reported the happy translation of Mr. DeGrasse, as follows:
"The Rev. Isaiah G. DeGrasse, Deacon, a young man of African extraction, who had entered ministry and prosecuted its duties with talents and ecquirements of a superior order, having removed to the West Indies, and made there an impression promising great future usefulness, was soon taken by a happy Christian death, to the account of his short stewardship."
9. Allexander Crummell, D. D., LL. D. On May 1, 1842, in St. Pauls Cathedral, Boston, Mass., Alexander
Crummell was ordained deacon by Bishop Griswold. He was ordained priest in Philadelphia in 1844, by Bishop Lee, of Delaware, acting for Pennsylvania. Dr. Crummell was baptized in, and was a parishoner of St. Philips Church, New York. He was a very bright youth, and when about twenty years of age was bold and courageous enough to apply to be received as a student in the General Theological Seminary. He had the strong backing and influence of Bishop George Washington Doane, of New Jersey, Dr. Whittingham, dean of the seminary, and the Honorable John Jay. But he failed to be admitted, and because of his persistency in the matter his name was dropped from the list as a candidate for Holy Orders. Whereupon, by the aid of his strong friends, he was admitted a candidate in the diocese of Massachusetts, attended the theological seminary in Boston, and, in due season, ordained to the ministry. Bishop Clarke, of Rhode Island, writing many years afterwards with respect to his examination for the diaconate, said:
"I remember that Dr. Croswell afterwards remarked to me, that no candidate for the ministry had ever passed through his hands who had given him more entire satisfaction."
Dr. Crummell's grandfather was an African king. Shortly after his ordination as priest, an unexpected opportunity came to him of still further pursunig his studies at the University of Cambridge, England. After having received his degree from that institution, he removed to Liberia, West Africa, where, in addition to ministerial labors, he became a professor in the College of Liberia. Some few years after the close of the Civil War he returned to this country and settling in the city of Washington, he founded St. Lukes Church at the National Capital. He was the author of a
number of books and tracts. A prominent and distinguished Presbyterian minister of Philadelphia, Dr. Matthew Anderson, said of him:
"No man was ever truer to his fellowman, and to the Negro, than was Dr. Crummell, and no man understood more thoroughly the mode of thought, the cast of mind, the aspirations and in the inward longings, than did he, and no man had greater love and admiration for his people, or greater confidence in their future, than he."
10. Eli Worthington Stokes. In St. James Church, Baltimore, October 1, 1843, Mr. Stokes was ordained deacon by Bishop Whittingham. He was ordained priest in 1846 in New Haven, Conn., by Bishop Brownell.
Mr. Stokes was deeply and fervently imbued with the missionary spirit. Reference, elsewhere, has been made to his founding of St. Lukes Church, New Haven, and of his work in Providence, R. I. Right here we want to say a word of the late Bishop Henshaw of Rhode Island, not only the warm friend of Mr. Stokes, but likewise of the colored race. Bishop Henshaw came to the Episcopate from the rectorship of St. Peters Church, Baltimore. In Baltimore he was the ever faithful friend of St. James First African Church . He delivered the sermon at the consecration of its first edifice. He officiated at the funeral of the Rev. Mr. Levington, the founder of the parish. Going from the South to the North, he carried with him a faithful and true heart for the black people in his new field of labor. The very first effort of Dr. Crummell had been in the city of Providence. Dr. Henshaw had only been a Bishop for about two months when he penned the words which we quote. In his journal is the following entry:
"Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, November 12th, (1843). I conducted Evening Prayer in Christ Church, Providence. It having been represented to me that the congregation of our colored brethren who occupy that neat and commodious edifice, were involved in a debt of about $2,000 for the building, I invited them to meet me on the following evening in the church for the purpose of suggesting a plan by which they might relieve themselves from their embarassment. The meeting was well attended, the plan proposed was received with approbation, and a subscription was made which was highly liberal, considering the pecuniary ability of the people. . . . . If they steadily persevere in the work, there is reason to hope that by the payment monthly of small sums which they can afford to spare, this people will be able, chiefly by their own contributions, to extinguish their debt with in the allotted period."
In 1846, Rev. Mr. Stokes in his first report to the Diocesan Convention of Rhode Island says:
"I commenced my labors in this parish, the 29th of May last past, and have continued the regular services of the Church three times on every Lord's Day, and on every Friday evening. I am encouraged by the prompt attendance of the congregation who are now anxious to liquidate the debt on their church edifice; and are willing to do all that is within their power to accomplish that laudable object; and from their prompt response to a call that I made on them, to contribute something
towards the payment on the debt on the church edifice, before the sitting of the Convention which resulted in the sum of $22.50, at only two collections. I feel so far encouraged as to recommend them to the sympathies of the diocese generally."
Mr. Stokes, after proving a true missionary to the end, laid down his life in Africa. From a correspondent in the "Spirit of Missions" under date of February 27, 1867, the following is taken: "His death will be greatly felt just now in our mission. He was a thorough-going, energetic, working old man. He died in the faith of the Gospel he had preached."
11. William C. Munroe. Mr. Munroe was ordained deacon in 1846 and priest in 1849 by Bishop McCrosky. Reference is made elsewhere to his work in Detroit. He removed to Africa where he labored and died.
12. Samuel Vreeland Berry. Mr. Berry was ordained deacon in 1846 in New York by Bishop Horatio Potter, and priest in 1849 by the same Bishop. Father Berry labored in the cities of New York, Buffalo and New Haven, Conn. After the Civil War, when Bishop Atkinson gave forth a generous invitation for clergy, colored and white, to come to his diocese and labor among the colored people, Father Berry was among the very first to respond. Going to Asheville, N. C., he labored long and earnestly, both in educational and pastoral work until worn out, he returned to his home in the north to die.
13. Harrison Holmes Webb. Mr. came to Baltimore early in the forties from Columbia, Pa., where he had been engaged in the lumber business. Connecting himself with St. James First African Church, in 1843, he was confirmed.
Very soon thereafter he became very active in the work, being appointed lay reader and teacher of the parish school. In 1847, with others, he organized St. James Male Beneficial Society, an institution in that early day which comprehended the most substantial and respectable colored men of that city. In 1853 he was ordained deacon by Bishop Whittingham and became the clerical assistant of the Rev. Mr. McJilton, the rector of the parish. In 1856 Bishop Whitehouse of Illinois, acting for the Bishop of Maryland, advanced him to the priesthood. Shortly afterwards, upon the withdrawal of Mr. McJilton, he succeeded him as rector of the parish. He continued therein until 1872, when, because of advancing old age, and infirmities, he resigned the rectorship. He entered into life eternal December 12, 1878.
14. James Theodore Holly, D. D., LL. D. Bishop Holly was born in Georgetown, District of Columbia, in 1829, of Maryland parentage. He was Christened and Confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church. He was taught the trade of a shoemaker. He was of that remarkable group of colored men about that time, who became thoroughly distinguished as "self-made." He worked at his trade in Brooklyn, New York, and from there he removed to Detroit, Mich., at which latter place, having arrived at manhood, he renounced Romanism and entered the communion of the Episcopal Church. He taught school, both in Buffalo and Detroit, and became a towering figure in the conventions of colored men held in the free States before the Civil War. He was ordained deacon in St. Matthews Church, Detroit, in 1855, by Bishop McCrosky. Soon thereafter he made a trip of inspection to the republic of Haiti, and upon his return the next year, he was ordained priest by the Bishop of Connecticut, and given the charge of St. Lukes Church, New Haven. Resigning the rectorship of this church in 1861, he headed a
BISHOP DEMBY BISHOP HOLLY BISHOP DELANY
band of colonists who settled in the republic of Haiti. Here he organized the Convocation of the Haitian Church, being elected its dean. In 1874, in the city of New York, he was consecrated the first Bishop of the Haitian Church. His death occurred in Port au Prince, Haiti, March 13, 1911. One writing from Haiti at the time said of the funeral:
"No one remembers seeing such a funeral. The President sent a company of his Guard of Honor, the Palace Band (the best in the West Indies) and four aids-de-camp. There were six magnificent wreaths and a profusion of boquets. The crowd that followed was immense--the side walks and balconies were crowded with people to see the funeral go by. The Mayor of the city sent to inquire through what streets the procession would go, and then sent to have those streets perfectly cleared. People have told us that after the funeral they could not find a piece of mourning in town; everywhere they were told that 'Bishop Holly had cleaned them out,' so great was the number of those who thought it their duty to take mourning for the Bishop. The funeral services began punctually at eight in the morning, and it was one o'clock when we were leaving the churchyard where his remains were buried. There were eleven clergymen in attendance."
On the occasion of Bishop Holly's one visit to Great Britain, to attend the Second Lambeth Conference, by invitation of the late Dean Stanley, he preached in Westminster Abbey on St. James Day, a most eloquent sermon, extracts from the peroration of which went the rounds of the English-speaking world:
"And now on the shores of old England, the cradle of that Anglo-Saxon Christianity by which I have been in part, at least, illuminated, standing
beneath the vaulted roof of this monumental pile redolent with the piety of bygone generations during so many ages; in the presence of the 'storied urn and animated bust' that hold the sacred ashes and commemorate the buried grandeur of so many illustrious personages, I catch a fresh inspiration and new impulse of the divine missionary spirit of our common Christianity; and here in the presence of God, of angels and of men, on this day sacred to the memory of an apostle whose blessed name was called over me at my baptism, and as I lift up my voice for the first and perhaps the last time in any of England's sainted shrines, I dedicate myself anew to the work of God, of the Gospel of Christ and the salvation of my fellow-men in the far distant isle of the Caribbean Sea that has become the chosen field of my special labors.
"O thou Saviour Christ, Son of the Living God who, when Thou wast spurned by the Jews of the race of Shem, and, who, when delivered up without a cause by the Romans of the race of Japheth, on the day of thy ignominous crucifixion, hadst Thy ponderous cross born to Golgotha's summit on the stalwart shoulders of Simon the Cyrenian of the race of Ham, I pray Thee, O precious Saviour, remember that forlorn, despised and rejected race whose son thus bore Thy cross when Thou shalt come in the power and majesty of thy eternal kingdom to distribute Thy crowns of everlasting glory. And give to me then, not a place at Thy right hand or at Thy left, but only the place of a gate-keeper at the entrance of the Holy City, the new Jersualem that I may behold my redeemed
brethren partakers with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of all the joys of Thy glorious and everlasting kingdom."
15. William Johnson Alston. Mr. Alston was born in Warrenton, N. C. A few years ago a distinguished friend of the present author, the Hon. John P. Green of Cleveland, Ohio, published an exceedingly interesting autobiography. Mr. Green, pushing on towards eighty years of age, is still vigorous and active, and as one of the wardens of St. Andrews Church, Cleveland, may be seen on any Sunday morning passing the contribution plate. He has been for a long while active in national affairs. Many years ago he was the first colored person ever elected a member of the Ohio Senate. During the administration of President McKinley he occupied the office of United States Stamp Agent at Washington. Mr. Green's father was a merchant tailor in the State of North Carolina well-nigh a century ago. The Rev. William J. Alston as a youth and a young man, served his apprenticeship under the elder Green. In his book Mr. John P. Green says: "For eight years he was under my father's eye and finished his apprenticeship--cum magna laude." Continuing at length, he says:
"'William,' as he was called, was for years bubbling over with animal spirits; he was rude, boisterous and untidy, and more than once had to be disciplined. It was the general opinion of William that he was a 'ne'er-do-well,' and that he could come to no good end. On one occasion he tied up his small wardrobe in a bandanna handkerchief and shipped to 'sail before the mast,' however he was intercepted by my father before the departure of the schooner, taken with his luggage back to his home, soundly 'flogged,' and given some wholesome advice for his government in the future.
"Shortly thereafter he was invited to participate in the
exercises of a singing society which held Sunday afternoon sessions. He accepted the invitation, became a regular and most interested member, and ultimately announced his intention to study theology for the Episcopal ministry. This resolution having been received with marked favor by his father, the late Oscar Alston of Raleigh, N. C., he was, in a way, matriculated in an institution at Chapel Hill, N. C., where he was prepared for college. After that he was graduated from Oberlin College in the later fifties; and, finally, at Gambier, Ohio, became a full-fledged priest in the Episcopal Church. In many years this true and tried servant of God, as rector of both St. Philips Church, New York and St. Thomas Church, Philadelphia, preached "Jesus Christ and Him crucified;" and his sweet exemplary life was a beacon light to many who perhaps otherwise would have been stranded and lost."
The following anecdote related by Rev. Mr. Alston to my dear mother in my presence goes far to prove the almost intolerable conditions which prevailed even in religious educational institutions in the United States prior to the Civil War.
"Being the only colored student at Kenyon Colege, prior to the abolition of slavery, Alston was the cynosure of all eyes; and, at times not a little at a loss for companionship and even association. To such an extent was this true that on one occasion while taking a stroll in the suburbs of the old college town he was confronted by a cow, who honoring him with a friendly stare, turned out of his way--gave him "gangway," as the vulgar expression of our day would have it. Delighted at the unusual recognition and courtesy shown him by the humble brute Alston saluted her and exclaimed: "Good morning Mrs. Cow." It goes without saying we had a hearty laugh over the incident.
"Another story related by him at the same time is recalled by the former. During a summer vacation while exerting himself to add to the contents of his meagre purse he shipped as a waiter on a steamer and went in search of some other remunerative employment. The older readers of this narrative will recall that during the latter part of the fifties the whole country was in the rip of a most trying panic, which made it almost impossible to procure remunerative labor at any price. William in that remote section, soon made this discovery; and, since the boat had gone and funds were extremely low, he was "open" to any job that presented itself. He soon found it in the shape of a small mountain of earth which had been formed by the excavation of a large hole, to be used as a cellar. The owner of this mountain offered to pay him the sum of thirty-five dollars and furnish him with a shovel and wheel-barrow if he would remove it. In a jiffy he accepted the proposition, and without delay, having "peeled" off his coat, disregarding his flaccid muscles and tender hands, he went to his task. At the end of two weeks he had finished the undertaking and received his compensation which he had in his pocket when the boat returned to convey him back to Cleveland."
Graduating from Gambier, Mr. Alston, that same year, 1859, was ordained deacon by Bishop McIlvaine of Ohio. In 1860 he was advanced to the priesthood by Bishop Horatio Potter of New York.
16. John Peterson. It is to be sincerely regretted that definite data with respect to such an exceedingly interesting and historical character as the late Rev. John Peterson has not been accessible to this author. Father Peterson, as he was affectionately called, was an old New Yorker, and his early life was contemporaneous with the rise of St. Philips Church. He was a school master. But along with his educational
work he took the most active interest in all of the affairs of St. Philips Church, and late in life he was ordained (June, 1865) to the perpetual diaconate by Bishop Horatio Potter. The late Hon. William F. Powell, former U. S. Minister in the republic of Haiti, a staunch Churchman, and a lifelong warm friend of the author, has often discoursed with us with respect to the period when he was a pupil of "Father Peterson" in New York, and of the various boys, pupils of that school, who, in after life became noted and distinguished for the service they rendered both public and private.
NOTE: Following the Consecration of Bishop John Payne, upon his return to Africa, he took with him a colored clergyman, Rev. Thomas A. Pinkney, from South Carolina. The record of Mr. Pinkney's ordination to the diaconate we have been unable to obtain. Later he was advanced to the priesthood in Africa by Bishop Payne. About the same period, a young colored man of Baltimore, G. W. Gibson, who had studied under Rev. Dr. H. V. D. Johns, rector of Emmanuel Church, Baltimore, removed to Africa where he was ordained and became one of the most influential of the clergy of that mission. Hezekiah W. Green, from St. Philips Church, New York, a colonist, was also ordained in Africa by Bishop Payne.
The Rt. Rev. Samuel David Ferguson, D. D., D. C. L., late Bishop of Liberia, was born in Charleston, S. C., in 1842. His mother was a Roman Catholic and his father a deacon in a Baptist Church. He was quite sick when an infant, and his mother took him to the Episcopal Bishop Gadsden, who, at the time, was in Charleston, and had the Bishop baptize him. When little Samuel was about six years of age his parents removed to Liberia taking him with them. The father very soon departed this life and the mother placed her little boy in the hands of Bishop John Payne. He, therefore, grew up in the mission settlement, became a worker, a teacher, and, finally a clergyman. On the feast of St. John the Baptist, in the city of New York in 1885, in Grace Church, he was duly consecrated a Bishop in the Church of God. Among the very first persons on whom he laid his hands in Holy Confirmation on his return to Africa was T. Momolu Gardiner, the present Bishop Suffragan of that District. But his first Episcopal act following his consecration was in the birth State of the man who had trained him, and whose successor he was. At the request of the late Bishop Whittle of Virginia, he administered Confirmation for the first time to a class of colored persons in the city of Norfolk. Va., connected with what was known at the time as the Church of the Holy Innocents, now Grace Church. At that time, the late Archdeacon Pollard was in charge of this congregation. As Bishop Ferguson was the very first
person of color who was a full member of the American House of Bishops, it is not altogether unwise to dwell somewhat at length upon the record which he made for the race. For the race was ever present with him in all of his acts; this he has repeatedly said to the author. In the first place, he conscientiously made it a point to be present and occupy his seat in the House of Bishops, and ever alert with respect to the transactions of that House.
In his attire and person he was immaculately neat and attractive. When he had anything to say it was always well done from every point of view. While he was never "obtrusive," yet he invariably claimed and exercised all his rights. He was uniformly treated with the same considerate courtesy and attention bestowed on other members of his order. He never once had Mrs. Ferguson accompany him to this country, although she frequently accompanied him in the countries of Europe. Bishop Ferguson was wise and sagacious, he was not willing to risk the possibility of the least discourtesy so far as his wife was concerned.
At the Cincinnatti General Convention he not only assisted with the celebration of the Holy Communion at the opening of that great body, but he was chairman of one of the important committees of the House of Bishops.. One of the prominent daily newspapers of Cincinnatti in writing up the opening session of the General Convention, had this to say:
"No more striking contrast, nothing more highly significant of the absolute democracy of the Episcopal Church could be conceived than that which was presented in the old cathedral. That there is no pride of race nor of wealth recognized by the Church was markedly demonstrated. In
BISHOP FERGUSON BISHOP PAYNE BISHOP GARDINER
the congregation, entering alone like any other worshipper and attracting far less attention than many of the others present, sat J. Pierpont Morgan, a lay delegate to the Convention and of no more account in its deliberations than the lowliest layman from the most remote missionary district.
When he attended the General Convention of 1907, held in Richmond, Va., one of the noblest and most generous-hearted of the Virginia laity, the late Joseph Bryan, made every provision for his comfort at his own expense. Mr. Bryan secured him the very best of accommodations at Miller's Hotel, a first-class establishment among colored people, and daily placed at the Bishop's disposal a carriage and a footman. Upon the part of "vulgar" white people some attempt was made to create a sensation because Bishop Ferguson accepted the invitation to Governor Swanson's reception. But the sensibilities of this particular element experienced an even greater shock when in the magnificent car of the late J. Pierpont Morgan, together with Bishop and Mrs. Potter and a number of other equally distinguished Churchmen and Churchwomen, the Bishop of Liberia was observed as the machine speeded its way up Grace street from the Capitol, conveying the party to a special dinner. Bishop Ferguson was a cultivated Christian gentleman, and he
nobly demeaned himself as though there was no such thing as color where people of such a type were assembled.
When he met with his brethren in 1907 at Asbury Park, he gave forth somewhat of a general summary of his work during his Episcopate up to that time, and, as a matter of permanent record we insert it here. He said in part:
"Now brethren, over in Africa we are laboring and when I was called to this responsible office, do you know the thing which troubled me most and is troubling me now? It is this: that I might make a failure of this great calling. I knew that I stood as a representative man and I prayed to Almighty God to enable me to succeed. I can not say that there has been any great success; but I can tell you, my friends, comparing the work with what it was when it pleased the Church to give a Negro Bishop to Africa, we have nothing to be ashamed of."
The Bishop then stated that since the last General Convention 1,217 persons have been baptized of whom 1,158 were from heathenism; 637 have been confirmed. The record during twenty-two years of the Bishop's episcopate, compared with the fifty years preceeding, is as follows:
Of the communicants over 65 per cent. are native Africans. There are now in the field twenty-seven clergymen, eleven of whom are natives; fifty-nine catechists and lay readers, thirty of whom are from heathenism. There are 2,246 Sunday School pupils, 1,943 day pupils and 577 boarding pupils.
The Bishop continued: "Since the last General Convention the contributions have been $20,338.93. The people are trying to help themselves more than ever; formerly when they wanted to build a church they wrote over here and begged money; now they are trying to do it themselves. May God Almighty bless you and bless this Conference; bless every effort you art putting forth and crown them with abundant success."
Looking back to the days when an heroic effort was made for Missionary Districts and Negro Bishops in this country, it will be heartening to all intelligent Negro Churchmen to know that none more thoroughly believed in the righteousness of that effort than the Bishop of Liberia, and the Bishop of Haiti.
John Payne was born in Westmoreland county, Virginia, in my African Cavalla home. Nay, brethren, there is now 23, 1874. On the 11th of July, 1851 in St. Paul's Church, Alexandria, Va., he was consecrated the first Bishop of our African Mission. The "Bishop Payne Divinity School," Petersburg, Va., is named in his honor.
Some little time before his consecration, speaking at his Alma Mater, the Theological Seminary of Virginia, among other things Dr. Payne said:
"I shall be excused, I am sure, for making some reference to my own, endeared as it is by the hallowed associations of some ten years of missionary toll and enjoyment. And, brethren, of it I can not say less than this: Much as I love this, our Antioch, I have found more than another Antioch in my African Cavalla home. Nay, brethren, there is now in this wide world, no place to me like that--my home."
(Day Dawn in Africa, 1858).
It was this godly man who gave to the Church Bishop Ferguson, who at the time of the above utterance was a boy of about eight or nine years of age. Worn out, and having come to the land of his birth to die, in his last report to the Missionary Society, he said : "Thirty-three years' connection with one of the most unhealthy portions of the globe has left me the wreck of a man. But I claim that in devoting myself to preaching among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches
of Christ, I was no fool. On the contrary, I did obey literally the command of my Lord. I did follow in the very footsteps of Apostles, Martyrs and Prophets."
When the author was a boy, the widow of Bishop Payne, longing for her "Cavalla home," brought comfort and peace to her weary soul, by voluntarily taking up missionary work in connection with St. Stephens, Petersburg. In the homes of the colored people of Petersburg she was ever a familiar and dear friend. She and the author's own grandmother were the dearest of friends. Upon the passing of the one who taught the author his letters, and at whose knees he learnt his Catechism, Mrs. Martha Payne, widow of Bishop Payne, communicated to The Spirit of Missions the following beautiful tribute. It was in the year 1891:
"Dear old Mrs. Caroline W. Bragg passed away on the 9th, and at the advanced age of eighty-five. When asked by someone how she felt when so near death, she answered firmly and sweetly: 'God's promises have been my support all my life, and now I can rest my heart entirely upon them and have peace,' and calmly she breathed her life out on her Saviour's breast. St. Stephens Church was crowded at her funeral with white and colored persons, many of our best ladies and gentlemen delighting to show their appreciation of a singularly holy life. The Rev. Dr. Gibson preached her funeral sermon, a most beautiful tribute to departed worth. All who heard it wished that they could deserve a tribute from such a man, and all felt that every word was true. We owe to her the colored Episcopal Church here; but what do we not owe her? Truly, a holy servant of God has passed away and may we be the better for such an illustration of God's grace among us."
Mrs. Martha Payne in Petersburg, spent her life among the colored group. That is to say, she worshipped and made
her communions in a colored church and gave all her time in visiting, helping and consoling the poor and needy among the colored group.
When the author, a mere boy, so to speak, removed to Norfolk, Va., to begin his work in the ministry, of all the white friends he made in that community none was more persistent in motherly contact and helpfulness than Mrs. Johns, the widow of the late Bishop Johns, of Virginia. These facts mentioned by us are of fundamental importance. The rising generation, colored and white, hardly realize the actual and true relations between the races, of people of quality, of that period. Our histories, like many newspapers, dwell only on the sensational. They omit the good while they publish that which irritates. Our testimony is firsthand. We record the things we know. From six years of age we have lived in and reflected the life we record. What we have given are but samples. The author, if the scope of the present work permitted, might go into details with respect to such an eminent character as Gen. R. L. Page, a commodore in the Confederate Navy.
No man took a profounder interest in the education and improvement of the colored race than did General Page. He was an elderly man while we were but a boy. Yet, both of us, by the Governor of the State of Virginia, had been appointed to represent the Commonwealth as trustees on the board of control of Hampton School. Often we would leave Norfolk for Hampton together and in the meetings, as elsewhere, there was nothing evident but the gentleness and kindliness obtaining between father and son. And such was true of Col. Walter H. Taylor, adjutant of the late Gen. Robert E. Lee.
The images of too many of these grand characters crowd in our memory. We can not mention them all, and thus,
we shall borrow language from our own learned Dr. Crummell, to express the tribute of our heart for them all.
In 1846, in the city of New York, Rev. Dr. Crummell delivered a magnificent eulogium on the life and character of Thomas Clarkson, of England. In noting, with Clarkson, some of the eminent co-workers in the same cause, Dr. Crummell said:
"A more ardent, devoted, unselfish set of men the world hath never seen. Such manifestations of philanthropy, such tokens of love, such displays of kindness to the lowly and the abject; have rarely been equalled amid all the histories of goodness which time hath ever recorded on her ample page. Their disinterestedness is equal to their other virtues. It is almost in vain we look among them for the intrusions of selfish purpose or vaunting ambition. Their exhibitons of self-sacrifice and of fearless hearty zeal, their demonstrations of brotherhood and equality, are really touching and subdueing. Honored and revered be these glorious men. They shed light upon our pathway in our day of darkness, and now as we are emergng from the gloom let us not forget their goodness."
The Right Reverend Edward Thomas Demby, D. D., Bishop Suffragan of Arkansas, with special episcopal oversight in the Province of the Southwest, was born in the State of Delaware, and raised in the city of Philadelphia. His literary training was received at Howard University, Washington, and Wilberforce University in Ohio. In 1894-96 he was Dean of Paul Quinn College, Texas. He was confirmed by Bishop Spaulding of Colorado, who transferred him to the diocese of Tennessee where he engaged in work, and where he was ordained both deacon and priest by Bishop Gailor. After working in Illinois, Missouri and Florida, he returned to Tennessee and was made Archdeacon of the colored work of that diocese. Dr. Demby is the author of several works among which are the following: "The Devotions of the Cross, and at the Holy Mass;" "A Bird's-Eye View of Exegetical Studies;" "The Writings of SS. Paul and James;" "The Holy Sacrament of the Altar and Penace;" "The Manual of the Guild of One More Soul." Elected Bishop Suffragan of Arkansas by the Council of that diocese, on the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, 1918, he was duly consecrated a Bishop in the Church of God, in All Saints Church, St. Louis, Mo.
The Rt. Rev. Henry B. Delany, D. D., Bishop Suffragan of North Carolina, many years ago, a young man, a Methodist of Churchly persuasion, came to St. Augustines School, Raleigh, from Florida to receive an education. So deficient was he that he could fit into none of the existing grades, and a grade had to be made for him. The atmosphere soon became very congenial to him and he was converted to the Church. While there in his early years he fell in love with one of the school girls; and eventually the couple were united in the bonds of Holy Matrimony. These two "children of St. Augustine" have practically spent their lives on the school grounds.
Mrs. Delany rapidly rose to important positions as teacher in the school and matron, which position she still holds, while Dr. Delany rapidly rose to important positions until he became its vice-principal. It was while ni such capacity that the Bishop of North Carolina, Rt. Rev. Dr. Cheshire, elevated him to the position of Archdeacon for the colored work in the diocese. November 21, 1918, he was duly consecrated Bishop Suffragan of North Carolina in the chapel of the institution where he had spent his life since early manhood.
The Rt. Rev. T. Momolu Gardiner, D. D., Bishop Suffragan of Liberia, was born in heathendom near Cape Mount, Liberia, West Africa, January 30, 1870. He passed through the mission schools of that missionary district. He was ordained deacon by the late Bishop Ferguson on the 30th of August, 1896 and priest by the same Bishop, April 22, 1906. Elected as Suffragan Missionary Bishop by the House of Bishops in St. Louis, in October, 1920, he was consecrated in the Church of the Incarnation, New York City, on Thursday, June 23, 1921, the occasion being the first visit that he had made to America.
Six Bishops, about fifty clergymen and a large congregation were present. His Excellency Charles Dunbar Burgess King, president of the Republic of Liberia, a Churchman, and his staff, came from Washington expressly to attend this service. The Presiding Bishop of the American Church officiated. The Bishop of Liberia preached the sermon. The attending presbyters were the Rev. Dr. Hutchens C. Bishop and the Rev. F. Wilcom Elligor. The Bishop of New York and the Bishop of New Jersey presented the Bishop-elect. Besides the Presiding Bishop the following named Bishops laid their hands upon the head of the elected Bishop: Gailor, Lloyd, Matthews, Overs and Manning.
In all parts of the country, especially in the North and West there are numbers of colored people communicants of white parishes, and there is no posible way to estimate the number of the same. Thus, the statistics here given pertain only to congregations composed exclusively of colored persons. By dioceses, the number of seperate colored congregations are given, and the total number of communicants reported from such congregations.
Thomas W. Cain was the first colored person to become a candidate for Holy Orders in the diocese of Virginia. He attended Lincoln University, from which he graduated. Peter A. Morgan, also from Virginia, after leaving Lincoln University, became a candidate for Holy Orders in the diocese of Pennsylvania. Mr. Cain taught for sometime before finally entering the ministry. In the meantime, John H. M. Pollard, who has gone to northern Virginia as a teacher, was privately prepared for deacon's orders and ordained with the class at the Virginia Seminary in 1878.
That same year in the county of Brunswick through the influence of Mrs. Pattie Buford, it appeared as if an entire organized body of colored people were about to enter the Church. It was absolutely certain that one young man, James S. Russell, an undergraduate of Hampton, was ready to enter upon a course of preparation for the holy ministry. To care for his training and any others which might be attracted, the trustees of the Virginia Theological School, upon the premises of the property of St. Stephens Church, Petersburg, the Rev. Giles B. Cooke being rector, in the fall of the year 1878 opened a branch school of the Virginia Theological Seminary, with the Rev. Thomas Spencer rector of St. Johns Church in charge. During the first year of the life of this institution there were six students. The Rev.
Mr. Pollard, deacon, who had become the assistant of the Rev. Giles B. Cooke, attended in preparation for his examination for the priesthood; Mr. T. W. Cain, then teaching in one of the departments of St. Stephens Normal School; Mr. James S. Russell and the present author, a boy of fifteen years of age. In addition to these Church people there were two other students: a Mr. Stinson, pastor of the C. M. E. Church and a Mr. C. D. Cooley, pastor of a Baptist congregation. During the years following many other students entered, a number of whom were former Zion Union preachers. The institution ceased as a branch school and became aseparate and distinct corporation. About the year 1890 the institution was almost at the point of death because of the effect of counciliar action in restricting the colored membership of that body. The Rev. John Wesley Johnson, now of New York, but then the first graduate of that institution and the pastor of St. Philips Church, Richmond, Va., in addition to his pastoral work, was appointed a professor in the institution. By his good and faithful work new students were brought in and a new chapter in the life of the seminary begun. The institution has sent forth many able men to fill the ranks of the ministry.
In the spring of 1882, just ordained as a deacon, Rev. James S. Russell, took up his residence in Lawrenceville, Va., as missionary to the colored people of that section. From the start both the church and school work sustained a most encouraging growth. It was at a time when financial help and sustenance depended wholly upon the personality of the worker to successfully present his mission before the charitably
inclined in the North. Dr. Russell met with amazing success in making friends for his work increasingly, as it expanded in many directions. Thus, about thirty-three years ago, with faith and hope the St. Paul Normal School began its existence under the wise guiding hand of the man who had created the conditions for its timely birth. In 1921 five hundred and seventy-seven students attended the institution. The school owns 1,596 acres of land and the entire plant is valued at $220,000.
St. Augustines is a continuing monument to that distinguished Virginia lawyer, Thomas Atkinson, who entered the ministry of the Church and became one of its most useful Bishops. Bishop Atkinson of North Carolina in 1865 in the presence of the devastation of the Civil War, was the first one in all the Southern country to come out bravely and persistently for the Christian education of the Negro, and to declare his purpose of founding an institution of learning for the consummation of that purpose. He reiterated the declaration that it was colored teachers and colored ministers for the colored race, or the colored race without teachers and ministers. He invited black and white men in orders in other parts of the country to come to his diocese and work among the colored people. In 1867 he founded St. Augustines School and the Rev. J. Brinton Smith of New Jersey became its first principal. He was succeeded by Dr. Smedes, Dr. Sutton and Dr. A. B. Hunter, the later retiring but a short while ago after twenty-five years of most successful and faithful labors. His successor is the present principal, the Rev. Edgar H. Goold.
The Fort Valley School was formally taken over as a Church school by the diocese of Atlanta in the year 1918. Since then the diocese has given liberally to its support. Six hundred and sixty-two students were enrolled in 1921. It is considered one of the very best industrial high schools for Negroes in the South. Mr. Henry A. Hunt is principal.
St. Athanasious, started as a mision school in 1884, developed into a high and training school, and in 1910 it was incorporated and has since grown steadily in size and efficiency until now it is a good secondary school, with domestic science, manual trainng and music departments. The principal is Mr. W. Augustine Perry, graduate of St. Augustine and of Yale University, also the son of the late Rev. John W. Perry of Tarborro, N. C. It had three hundred students in 1921.
This school was organized thirty years ago in a rented room with eight pupils. The pioneer work and foundation, largely due to the Rev. Mr. Van Hoose, white, a devoted deacon of the Church, and if we mistake not, at one time the mayor of the city. The active work was carried on for a long while by Mr. Auguste, a talented colored man from Jamaica, until the present principal, Rev. Charles Wesley Brooks of Maryland, was secured for the work. It had 253 students in 1921. Its property is valued at more than fifty
thousand dollars and the race has contributed more than twenty-five thousand dollars towards its support.
This institution which now in a sense gives way to the Okolona School, has an enrollment of 250 students and has done good work.
The 380 acres of land and buildings of the Okolona School are conservatively valued at $150,000. This school became a Church institution only during the past two years. Mr. Wallace A. Battle is the founder and president and Bishop Bratton is the honorary president.
Mrs. Laura Smith, a graduate of Fiske University, is the principal of this school, where there are about fifty girls. The property is valued at $20,000.
Within the past year this school was formally taken over by the diocese of Louisiana. It is admirably situated about a mile and a half from New Orleans. The founder and principal, Mrs. Frances Joseph Gaudet, in asking the Episcopal Church to take over her school in which she and her husband have labored for many years for the benefit of her race, did so with the conviction that only in this way could the school gain the highest measure of success.
This incorporation is composed exclusively of persons of the white race, and was organized in 1906, with a view of
directing and financially assisting the educational institutions of the Church for the colored race. All of the forementioned institutions are connected therewith; and the money officially given by the general Church is disbursed through the agency of the institute. At the present time an annual appropriation of $120,000 is made to the institute by the Presiding Bishop and Council. This appropriation covers nearly half of the present budgets of the schools. The remainder must be raised by special gifts and tuition fees.
This is a most admirable boarding school for girls, with a beautiful and attractive property in Germantown, Pa., and it is all the work of one Negro woman, Sister Lela Mary, trained by the All Saints Sisters, Baltimore. Its entire support is derived from fees and solicitations of Sister Lela, who is an energetic woman, and who is doing well a noble and self-sacrificing work.
S. Monicas Home for Sick Colored People, Boston, Mass. This institution is delightfully situated on the large area once occupied as the home of William Lloyd Garrison. The Sisters of St. Margaret are in charge.
The Home of the Homeless, 1327 Fitzwater street, Philadelphia, Pa. This is a temporary home for women and children where they receive Church teaching and are trained in household work.
The House of the Holy Child, 625 N. 43rd street, Philadelphia, Pa. This is an institution for children.
The House of St. Michael and All Angels, 611 N. 43rd street, Philadelphia, Pa. For the surgical treatment and the mental and religious instruction of crippled children of our group.
St. Marys Home for Boys, Baltimore, Maryland. This orphanage is under the auspices of the Sisters of All Saints.
S. Katharines Home for Little Girls, Baltimore, Md. This institution is under the care of All Saints Sisters.
The Maryland Home for Friendless Colored Children, 61-A Ellicott City, Md. A diocesan institution for the training of neglected boys. The Bishop of Maryland, president.
The Crummell Home for the Aged, Washington, D. C. Not yet in operation.
S. Agnes Hospital, Raleigh, N. C.
Good Samaritan Hospital, Charlotte, N. C.
St. Augustine and St. Martins, a congregation of more than four hundred communicants, located at 21 Lennox street, Boston, Mass., had its birth about the year 1885, on Anderson street, further down town. It was projected under the auspices of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, Bishop Hall, of Vermont, at that time being the Provincial of the order, manifesting a special interest in the work. It was here in connection with the work of this congregation that Bishop Charles H. Brent of Western New York began his early ministry.
One o fthe largest and most influential of all our congregation, St. Bartholomews, Cambridge, Mass., came into being, as a part of our group in the year 1908, in a very peculiar and interesting manner. St. Peters Church contained a very large number of colored communicants. Possibly a third of the entire communicant list were members of the colored group. In another section of the city there was a declining white congregation known as St. Bartholomews Chapel. In connection with St. Peters, under the leadership of a venerable colored communicant, John H. Brown, in days by gone, reared in St. James First African Church, Baltimore, there was a guild known as St. Andrews Society. The members of this guild concluded to withdraw their attendance from St. Peters and attend in a body the chapel of St.
Bartholomew. This they did, and very soon they came in such strong numbers that they actually took charge, the whites scattering to other congregations. Soon thereafter, the eloquent Rev. Dr. McGuire made his appearance in that vicinity and was put in charge of the work. Following Dr. McGuire came the present rector, Rev. Walter D. McClane, and the congregation now numbers 796 communicants.
Since that time St. Cyprians Mission, Berkley street, Boston, has come into existence. It has 170 communicants.
St. Monicas Mission, Hartford, Conn., was inaugurated some years ago by St. Lukes Church, New Haven, during the rectorship of the Rev. Eugene L. Henderson, and a former vestryman of that parish, Alonzo Johnson, taking Holy Orders, became the first pastor of the mission.
About a decade in the past a very talented Methodist clergyman, P. G. Moore-Brown, born in the West Indies, came into the Church through Bishop Perry, and, as a result, with the assistance of a number of colored communicants who preferred the ministrations of one of their own group, we have the present Church of the Saviour, Providence, R. I.
In 1898, Bishop Potter received into the Church, Rev. E. George Clifton, D. D., a minister from the A. M. E. Zion Church. The result of the effort of Dr. Clifton is St. Davids Church, numbering now some 724 communicants. Dr. Clifton has been the first and only pastor.
About the year 1904 the City Mission Society inaugurated an effort among the colored people in West 63rd street resulting in the work of St. Cyprians Church, and industrial settlement. The Rev. John W. Johnson of Virginia, was
called to the charge o fthis work and is still in charge. It reports 625 communicants.
A later venture of this same society is the Church of the Messiah with four hundred communicants in charge of Rev. M. N. Wilson, a clergyman from the diocese of Sierra Leone, Africa.
Other growing congregations in the diocese of New York have since made their advent. Such as St. Judes, the Crucifixion, St. Clements, Mt. Vernon and St. Simon the Cyrenian, New Rochelle.
In the diocese of Long Island the oldest and principal congregation is St. Augustines, Brooklyn, Rev. Dr. George Frazier Miller, rector. This congregation had been struggling for a long time and upon graduation and ordination in 1887, the Rev. William V. Tunnell was put in charge. Before resigning it in 1891 to accept a professorship in Howard University, Mr. Tunnell succeeded in securing a home for the work, and in having it incorporated as a self-supporting parish.
In more recent times St. Philips, Dean street Brooklyn, Rev. N. Peterson Boyd, D. D., minister in charge, with 335 communicants has been built up into a flourishing condition under its present energetic pastor. Then there is St. Barnabas Mission, Belmont street, Brooklyn, and St. Stephens Church, Jamaica, and one or two other small points in that diocese.
St. Philips, Syracuse, came into existence more than twenty-five years ago, chiefly through some communicants of the Church of the Crucifixion, Philadelphia, who had removed to that place. It has struggled along all these years, and, recently, through the special interest of Bishop Fiske and others, has entered upon a new and aggressive period of activity.
Mention elsewhere has been made of the one work in the diocese of Western New York.
The oldest organized work in the State of New Jersey, dating back as far as 1856, St. Philips, Newark, has been alluded to. In this particular church in 1904, the Conference of Church Workers met. No more interested persons who attended regularly its sessions there were than Bishop Lines and Rev. Dr. Alexander Mann, of Boston, but then of Orange, N. J. Dr. Mann had in his parish in Orange quite a respectable group of colored communicants. Bishop Lines, who had just come to the diocese, was filled with enthusiasm for the extension of this work. The organization of the Church of the Epiphany soon followed, and the very best fortune came to the work in the selection of the man to test the possibilities of the new endeavor. The present priest in charge, Rev. George Marshall Plaskett was selected for the task. Epiphany has already become a great missionary and inspiring force in the diocese of Newark. The parent church of the diocese being effected by this force planted the steadily advancing Church of the Incarnation in Jersey City. And, directly from the light that Epiphany reflected, we have a very large and flourishing congregation at Montclair, Trinity, with its 240 communicants. And at Paterson a magnificent plant, church and rectory, with Rev. Robert J. Johnson in charge of St. Aidan's Mission.
In the diocese of New Jersey our oldest effort is St. Augustines, Camden, established in 1886 by the Rev. J. H. Townsend, while rector of St. Johns that city. This mission is the successful survivor of many vicissitudes and seems to have put on new and vigorous life under its present energetic pastor, Rev. Robert A. Jackson, a Baltimore boy.
The second effort of the Rev. Townsend was destined to be crowned with very great success. Of Atlantic
City and St. Augustine we have already written. Mr. Townsend is a very meek and modest man, and he insists in giving all the credit to the one whose advice he strictly followed, and to the man whose leadership accomplished the good results. But this all the more magnifies the busy parish parson, who, in these two cities, in addition to his own work, found the time to work so splendidly for his colored brethren.
The success of the Atlantic City work directly inspired the successful work at Asbury Park. And the man who wrought at Asbury Park found the time and the opportunity to plant the mission at Red Bank; and, again, the success at Atlantic City stirred up the heart of the Rev. E. Vicars Stevenson of Plainfield, to put forth some effort in that city for the colored people, and, through discouragement, disappointment, and mistakes, St. Marks Mission, that city, is now a real energizing force. And then came the work at Elizabeth. And the same man who wrought well at Asbury Park has succeeded in establishing the work in Trenton, N. J.
Since early in the seventies Rev. Dr. Henry L. Phillips, a native of Jamaica, has been a resident of the city of Philadelphia. He has seen St. Thomas Church and the Church of the Crucifixion with a combined communicant list of about one hundred. A warm friend of Bishops Stevens and Whitaker, Drs. Matlack and Saul, and thoroughly and well known by all of the influential Churchmen of Philadelphia, he has constantly in diverse ways used his whole influence towards Church extension among the group in the diocese of Pennsylvania. In a true sense today he is the Archdeacon of the work begotten by himself. Since the period above mentioned the following congregations have come into being: St. Simon the Cyrenian, the largest congregation of the
group, reporting 735 communicants had its origin as a mission of the Church of the Crucifixion. The Chapel of St. Michael and All Angels was donated by a lady as a memorial for the use of the sisters and the colored crippled children of that institution. Later a regular congregation from the neighborhood was reared in connection with the chapel. The congregation had a most remarkable growth under the administration of Rev. J. D. Haredwood, and when a few years ago he resigned the work, some two hundred of the congregation followed him, and the independent parish of the Church of St. John the Divine was organized.
Under the fostering care of one of the Convocations, St. Augustines Church was initiated and very greatly built up by its present energetic pastor, Father McDuffy. The only colored congregation served by a white priest is St. Marys, Bainbridge street, under the fostering care of St. Marks Church. Then in another section of the city is the thriving Church of St. Monicas, under the pastoral care of the Rev. Richard Bright. The Philips Brooks Memorial Chapel, under the fostering care of Holy Trinity Church and immedaitely under the pastoral care of the Rev. Edgar C. Young is another flourishing work. Some years ago an industrial work and mothers' meeting were begun in Germantown, and now we have the splendid work of St. Barnabas, Germantown, under the able leadership of the Rev. Earnest S. Thomas, during the past fifteen years. Then there is the mission at Elmwood, Holy Cross Chapel. St. Marys Mission, Chester, and St. Cyril's Mission, Coatesville, Rev. E. E. Durant in charge.
Recently a new work has been organized in Erie. Pa., the first of its kind in that diocese. Some years ago the Rev. J. W. Livingston got together a few communicants and organized the mission of St. Augustine, Harrisburg, (now
the Church of the Holy Cross) in charge of the Rev. W. M. Parchment. From the very beginning Bishop Darlington took the most affectionate interest in the new mission, and has continued to this day to make it the object of his special solicitude. During the administration of the Rev. E. H. Oxley at Harrsburg, the second mission in the diocese was opened. This was the mission at Altoona, which is progressing and now has a minister of its own in the person of the Rev. E. A. Craig. The work in Pittsburgh was an old one, dating way back to the time of the Rev. William H. Wilson who went to Pittsburgh during the Episcopate of Bishop Kerfoot. But it was in a state of slow death when Bishop Whitehead procured the services of the Rev. Dr. Scott Wood who very greatly revived it and enlarged the work. His health breaking down he was forced to retire from active work, and was succeeded by the present pastor, Rev. Shelton H. Bishop, who has built it up to more than five hundred communicants. The name has been changed from St. Augustines to Holy Cross, and the location from Alleghany to Pittsburgh proper.
St. Matthews Mission, Wilmington, Del., organized by the late Bishop Coleman many years ago is still alive awaiting the right treatment which will constitute it a force and power in a community where it is very much needed.
In the diocese of Maryland there are five separate colored congregations. Reference has already been made to St. James. Numerically the largest congregation is St. Marys, a chapel of Mt. Calvary parish. St. Katharines is also a chapel of this same white parish. Both of these chapels are served by the clergy of Mt. Calvary parish. St. Philips, Cumberland, is in charge of the Rev. Cornelius R. Dawson. St. Philips Church, Annapolis, is to be placed under the care
of the author of this volume, and who is to have the assistance of the Rev. Gustave H. Caution.
In the diocese of Washington we have St. Lukes parish, Rev. Thomas J. Brown, rector; St. Marys, Rev. Oscar L. Mitchell, pastor, a chapel of St. Johns parish; Calvary Church and the Chapel of the Atonement under the care of the Rev. F. A. I. Bennett; St. Monica's, Rev. George A. Fisher, pastor, St. Philips, Anacostia, Rev. W. V. Tunnell in charge. A mission in connection with the Cathedral is in charge of the Rev. Mr. Douse. In Prince George's county and St. Mary's and Charles, there are two or three small missions under the oversight of the Rev. J. E. G. Small.
In the city of Washington the separate church movement was initiated by a group of colored communicants connected with the Church of the Epiphany, of which the Rev. Dr. Charles H. Hall was rector. Dr. Hall encouraged them and became active in the matter. He was joined by Rev. John Vaughan Lewis, rector of St. Johns Church. Through Dr. Hall the old chapel was donated by Secretary Stanton, and a parishioner of St. Johns donated the lot on 23rd street. The work being in St. Johns parish. Dr. Hail dropped out. In 1873 the Rev. Dr. Alexander Crummell took charge of the work, and it had a continuous growth. The following year, 1874, Dr. Crummell effected a regular canonical organization and a vestry was elected. A few years later St. Lukes Church was organized and Dr. Crummell, with the major portion of the people removed to the new site. From 1880 the work at St. Marys assumed the special aspect under St. Johns parish, of social-missionary work among the very poor of the neighborhood in which it was located.
In West Virginia we have three missions. The oldest, at
Charlestown, about thirty-five years of age, is in charge of the Rev. J. H. Hudson.
In Shepherdstown and at the capital, Charleston, is a small mission in each place.
As we travel southward the number of points increase and the number of communicants to the points decreases. We shall only mention the more important ones of some appreciable numerical strength.
The chief work in the diocese of Virginia is St. Philips, Richmond, Va., Rev. Junius L. Taylor, D. D., rector. It reports 178 communicants. During the past few years this congregation, after maintaining an existence ever since shortly after the Civil War, has become entirely self-sustaining under its capable and exceedingly energetic rector.
The mother church in Virginia, St. Stephens, Petersburg, Rev. Emmett E. Miller, has also become entirely self-sustaining. Grce Church, Norfolk, Va., Rev. J. D. Lee, rector, admitted as a mission church in 1888, has also become self-sustaining. St. James, Portsmouth, begun just before the author moved to Baltimore, thirty years ago, under the able leadership of its present rector, is rapidly approaching the point of complete self-support. The same thing can be said of St. Cyprians Church, Hampton. Va., Rev. E. H. Hamilton in charge.
In the State of North Carolina we have not a single congregation reporting as many is two hundred communicants. The oldest congregation is St. Cyprians, New Berne, established in 1866 by Bishop Atkinson. It reports 140 communicants. St. Ambrose, Raleigh (formerly St. Augustine) reports 148 communicants. In Wilmington, where St. Marks Church was established by the Rev. Mr. Brady in
1872, we have 161 communicants. And in Charlotte, where a very important educational work of the Church has been maintained for many years we have 115 communicants. Apart from these congregations mentioned, excluding the school chapel of St. Augustine's, Raleigh, reporting 136 communicants, less than one hundred communicants are reported from each of the other congregations in North Carolina. We had forgotten St. Matthias, Ashville, reporting 114.
In South Carolina we have two congregations reporting more than two hundred communicants each. St. Marks, an independent parish from its birth in 1866, reports 292. Calvary Church, presided over by Archdeacon Baskerville, established about 1847, as a slave chapel, reports 243. There are two others reporting more than one hundred, St. Lukes parish, Columbia, dating back to the seventies, reports 108. The Mission of the Redeemer, Pineville, reports 122.
In the diocese of Georgia there are three congregations reporting more than one hundred communicants each. The oldest work is the self-supporting parish of St. Stephens, Savannah, established in 1861, and now reports 190 communicants. The self-supporting parish of St. Athanasius, Brunswick, reports 220. St. Augustines Mission, Savannah, presided over by Archdeacon J. H. Brown, reports 120.
In the diocese of Atlanta the highest number of communicants reported is 49 by St. Matthias, Atlanta. St. Pauls in the same city reports 42.
In Florida St. Philips, Jacksonville, reports 237 communicants. None of the other missions in that diocese report as many as seventy-five.
In Southern Florida St. Agnes, Miami leads with 280; Coconut Grove, 212; St. James, Tampa, 159, and St. Patricks, West Palm Beach, 104.
In Alabama we have two works each reporting more
than one hundred communicants. At Mobile is the self-supporting Church of the Good Shepherd with 132 communicants, and at Birmingham St. Marks Church with 112 communicants.
In Mississippi our largest congregation is in Vicksburg, and reports only eighty-five communicants. In Louisiana we have St. Lukes Church, New Orleans, with 106 communicants. This congregation is nearly fifty years old. In Kentucky we have the Church of the Merciful Savior, Louisville, with two hundred communicants.
Of three very old works we have an added word. St. Cyprian's, New Berne, N. C., in years of the long ago, held within its membership a number of the more influential colored men of the State of North Carolina. We recall at this moment the late Isaac H. Smith, the Negro banker. The late Rev. Dr. Joseph C. Price, of the Zion connection, one of the most celebrated orators this country has produced, in early life was a member of the mission school of this congregation. Prof. John Wesley Cromwell in his "Negro in American History," records Rev. Thomas H. Battle with the following concerning Joseph Charles Price:
"It was in the year 1862 when I was superintendent of the Sunday School of St. Andrews Chapel that I was led by Providence on a bright Sunday morning to the church door. There I stood for several minutes and while standing there I saw a little black barefooted boy coming stepping along on the railroad track. When he got opposite the church door I halted him and invited him in the Sabbath School. He liked the services so well that he was constrained to come again. At last he joined the Sabbath School and became a punctual scholar. From his stern, yet pleasant looks, his nice behavior and other virtuous elements that were maintained
237 in him Sunday after Sunday he attracted my attention more than any other scholar. While other scholars would laugh at him because of his boldness of speech and his eagerness to answer the questions that were put forth. One Sunday in the midst of these abuses which he received, I was compelled to lay my hand on his head and exclaim these words: 'The day will come, my dear scholars, when this boy Price will shake the whole civilized world, and some of you will be glad to get a chance to black his boots.' Little did I think my prediction would come to pass so exact, but so it did."
The late Dr. Price was a warm and dear friend of the present author.
St. Marks congregation, Charleston, was constituted immediately after the Civil War of a number of the most capable and influential persons of our group. We recall C. C. Leslie the wholesale fish merchant, C. C. Birnie, occupying a most responsible position in the cotton exchange of the city, the Crafts and many others of similar public standing. The children of these people were sent to some of our best colleges. St. Marks was self-supporting from its very birth.
In Savannah, in St. Stephens Church, we had pretty much the same potential conditions as obtained in Charleston. More than thirty years ago we visited Savannah as the special guest of this parish, and at their expense. We were royally entertained by them. We have pointed out these facts in order to indicate the golden opportunity which the Church lost at that time in not putting into effect the Missionary District plan. At various points all through the South were groups of colored people connected with the Church such as the above. They needed a chance to draw out their own powers in laboring to bring the people of our group into the Church. Instead of being given that opportunity,
they were discouraged, disheartened and depressed through the agitations of the "color question" in diocesan assemblies. When we consider the eagerness of the black people of those times to rise and be somebody, it is not at all surprising that after fifty years we are so few in numbers in the Southern States, but the wonder is that we are still alive and heroically striving "to hold the fort." It takes unusual courage and moral stamina in the midst of advancing racial life for black men to hold on to "the white man's church," without any fixed "status "--merely tolerated.
When it is recalled how persistent our effort has been from the Civil War to the present times in providing mission schools throughout the South, the number of teachers employed, and the vast amounts expended, and in spite of it all note the smallness of the number of communicants reported, we have at least the comfort and the consolation that it all has resulted materially in the improvement of the life of the black people, athough we have profited but little in direct Church extension.
Such was inevitable under a system which failed to take note of the imperative requirements of the new trend of racial life. The colored people eagerly availed themselves of whatever educational opportunities that were presented. But with respect to their organized life as a body of Christians no organization could prevail among them which did not enter into their entire life, social, civil and intellectual. They wanted to rise. They had ambition to be everything that other people were. They may have been wrong, but from their point of view none but their own leaders could guide them to the haven where they would be.
The talented, earnest and sincere Bishop of South Carolina stated the situation in these words--said Bishop Guerry "No white man can work effectively or satisfactorily among
a race that he can not visit socially. A large part of a Bishop's influence and success comes through social contact with his people. How then can he represent a race or understand their needs unless he can enter their homes and come into personal contact with them?" And many years ago the venerable Bishop of Dallas said: "The only solution of this problem as yet presented which is at all likely to be useful is to found missionary districts among them and appoint missionary Bishops to take charge of them with the same rights and powers as all other missionary bishops enjoy."
In the diocese of Ohio we have three separate works. St. Andrews, Cleveland, reports 384 communicants. This is the oldest in the diocese, and its birth dates with the coming of the present Bishop to that see. It has a magnificent plant, and, if we mistake not, is a monument of the material liberality of Bishop Leonard to the glory of God and in loving memory of Mrs. Leonard.
The remaining congregations, one in Toledo and the other in Youngstown, report more than one hundred communicants each. The youngest of these, St. Augustines, Youngstown, a little more than half a score years ago, had its origin in a remarkable manner. A colored woman, a Mrs. Berry, of the Baptist persuasion, who had never been in an Episcopal Church, distressed by the irreligion of the race in that community, had a "vision" that an Episcopal Church was the one thing needed to better conditions. She followed this up by calling on the rector of St. Johns Church, that city, and urging him to come to the help of the Lord. The mission of St. Augustines soon followed.
Bishop Vincent of Southern Ohio has his monument of endeavor in the hadnsome edifice of St. Andrews, Cincinnati
with its 325 communicants. There are three other congregations in the diocese, all of them save one reporting more than one hundred communicants.
The only congregation we have in Indiana is St. Philips, Indianapolis with 68 communicants.
In the State of Illinois, our largest work is that of St. Thomas, Chicago, with 1160 communicants. At Evanston we have another congregation with less than one hundred communicants.
In the diocese of Springfield there are two missions, both of them reporting less than one hundred communicants. In the diocese of Quincy there are two very small missions.
In the diocese of Michigan we have St. Matthews Church with 550 communicants, and the recently organized mission of St. Cyprian pushing on towards one hundred communicants; and in Western Michigan, ,Grand Rapids, we have St. Philips Mission with seventy-two communicants.
In Minnesota we have St. Philips, St. Paul, with 125 communicants, and St. Thomas, Minneapolis, with less than one hundred communicants. In Iowa we have St. Mary the Virgin, Keokuk, with less than one hundred communicants. In Omaha, Nebraska we have the Church of St. Philip the Deacon, a monument to the liberality of the late Bishop Worthington, with 115 communicants. The late Bishop Millspaugh, while dean of the Cathedral, organized St. Philips.
In Colorado, at Denver, we have the Church of the Redeemer, with 149 communicants, and the Epiphany, Colorado Springs, with less than one hundred communicants.
In Kansas we have four missions, but no one of them reports as many as one hundred communicants. In Missouri we have the largest work within the Province, All Saints, St. Louis, with 412 communicants. In West Missouri we have St. Augustines, Kansas City, with one hundred and forty communicants, and St. Matthias, St. Joseph, with ten communicants. In Arkansas we have five congregations, the largest of which is St. Marys, Hot Springs, with 82 communicants. In Oklahoma we have three congregations, the largest being the Redeemer, Oklahoma City, with forty-eight communicants. In the diocese of Texas we have four congregations, St. Augustine, Galveston, being the largest with sixty-seven communicants. In the diocese of Dallas we have one congregation with eight communicants. In the diocese of West Texas we have one congregation with twenty-two communicants.
In the diocese of California we have one congregation with 186 communication, St. Augustines, Oakland. In the diocese of Los Angeles we have St. Phillips, Los Angeles, with 211 communicants. In the diocese of Oregon we have one congregation, St. Philips, Portland, with thirty-five communicants.
One way to realize the value of the seed planted by colored priests before the Civil War, is in tracing one-half of our present communicants in the entire country to their effort directly or indirectly. And when we have given full value to the consecrated and loving services of white priests among our group, the significant fact remains, despite their prestige, and the financial resources at their backing, that in all our
investigations we have not discovered one missionary effort initiated by them among colored people and brought to self-supporting efficiency. We simply make record of the fact.
The aggregate number of colored communicants reported by the colored congregations in the following cities amount to more than thirteen thousand: Boston, Brooklyn New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington. The work in all of these large centers was initiated by colored priests. Boston and Washington may need a qualifying word. The first "separate" colored congregation in Boston was initiated by Bishop Hall of Vermont, in 1885. But, really, this was the colored part of a white parish, St. John the Evangelist. The actual beginning of that springing from the race, was, and is, the large Church of St. Bartholomews, Cambridge,
In Washington shortly after the Civil War, colored communicants of the Church of the Epiphany initiated the "separate" congregation idea, and that idea was encouraged by Drs. Hall and J. Vaughan Lewis; but it was not until 1874, under the leading of Alexander Crummell that the group was canonically organized, a vestry elected and admitted into union with the Convention. When the parish migrated to the new site those who remained behind became, as they are today, a part of the family of St. Johns parish.
Now if you add to the aforementioned six cities four others, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Atlantic City, we have altogether more than sixteen thousand colored communicants reported from these ten cities. The work in Detroit was organized by a former colored Baptist preacher who came into the Church. In St. Louis, Chicago, and Atlantic City the organizer was one who had been a former communicant of St. James First African Church, Baltimore.
The white men who have wrought in this field for the most part, were of the highest culture and elevation of character.
They were devoted and sincere and their spiritual administrations were helpful in the extreme, and contributed towards substantial character-building. But the work of building up from within, into self-support and efficiency peculiarly associated with the constructive leadership of members of the group whose self-expression is attempted.
It is pertinent to ask the question: Whose fault is it that we have so few self-supporting congregations among our group?
At the very beginning, a group of colored people from the Methodists deliberately decided to become Episcopalians on three conditions. Although it was in the year 1794, and they had not very long enjoyed "freedom," yet they came not as beggars, but as self-respecting men. With the aid of philanthropic friends, they had already erected their own church edifice. They purposed to conform to the Episcopal Church and bring along their building onthe following conditions: 1st, They were to be received as an organized body of the African race; 2nd, they were to have guaranteed to them forever control of their own affairs; and, 3rdly one of their number, if found fit, was to be regularly ordained as their pastor. The conditions were accepted and St. Thomas African Church given every privilege accorded to other Episcopal congregations. Later, in order to secure the dispensing vote of the Convention, whereby their future pastor might be exempted from examinations in Greek and Latin, necessary for his ordination, they surrendered the privilege of representation in the Convention.
Previous to the ordination of Absalom Jones, in an interview between Bishop White and the trustees of St. Thomas Church, two distinct things were accomplished. First,
Bishop White made perfectly clear to the trustees the effect of the "condition" to which they had assented. They were satisfied on that score. Next, before ordaining Jones, Bishop White exacted a pledge of support for him.
They were an independent parish with local control of their affairs, and readily and cheerfully assumed the full responsibility of the support of their minister. For seventy-five years the same plan alone, obtained with all of the African congregations brought to birth. There were no missions; all were started as parishes with the responsibility of supporting their own ministers. Although it meant great self-sacrifice upon the part of the various groups, they never complained, and much magnificent constructive work, before the Civil War, was accomplished by these pioneer Negro parishes.
After the Civil War the same model was at first introduced in the Southern States in work among our group. Bishop Atkinson, who had been a rector in Baltimore, got the idea from St. James First African Church. In 1866 he had St. Cyprian's, New Berne, N. C., organized as an independent parish and admitted into union with the Convention. But the sentiment in North Carolina was far from being heartily with Bishop Atkinson, either on this particular matter or on his determination to ordain colored men to the ministry. It was not until 1873 that he ordained his first colored candidate.
In he Virginia Council of 1869, of which the late Rev. Joseph S. Atwell was a member, a determined effort was made, led by the Rev. Dr. C. J. Gibson, brother-in-law of Bishop Atkinson, for the admission of St. Stephens Church, Petersburg, Va., as a full-fledged parish. The discussion was long and animating, and the matter hotly contested. It was a real genuine fight. The application for admission was definite
and direct and had been guided by the Rev. Dr. Gibson, who, as chairman of the committee on new parishes, brought a unanimous recommendation favoring the immediate admission of the parish. The petition, signed by the rector and vestry of St. Stephens, after reciting all the necessary particulars, concluded: "therefore, respectfully pray your honorable body to receive us under your direction as a parish with all the rights and privileges of other parishes of the Diocese." The discussion of the matter occupied most of the time of that memorable Convention.
At last a kind of compromise prevailed, whereby colored clergymen were admitted to the council with full privileges, but St. Stephens was not admitted as a parish, but "taken under the care" of the council, and its interests cared for by the "standing committee on colored congregations." It had a very disastrous effect upon that congregation, and resulted in changing its whole course of appeal to the colored race. For Rev. Mr. Atwell had built it up with the most intelligent and influential class of our group, and was aiming to make large increase in the same direction. He was so discouraged at the turn of affairs that in a few years he left the diocese, accepting work in Georgia.
In Savannah, Ga., St. Stephens Church had been admitted into union with the Convention as a regular parish. Mr. Atwell was called to its rectorship and through the influence of the late Bishop Whittle of Virginia, and Bishop Whittle's brother, Col. Whittle, residing in Georgia, Mr. Atwell was well received and given a seat in the Convention of that diocese. In 1866 St. Marks, Charleston, had organized as a regular parish. After waiting for ten years it applied for admission into union with the Convention, but after long and stormy debates extending over some years, its application was rejected.
In the meantime there was a certain sentiment maturing in the North as well as in the South against the ordination of Negroes to the ministry. In the North there was a certain priest by name Rev. W. T. Webbe, who in his paper The Standard, argued earnestly and vigorously against the ordination of Negroes. In the South, there were not a few who maintained that such should not be permitted to go further than the diaconate. Out of this atmosphere a kind of sentiment gradually obtained in favor of the "dependent state," attaching colored congregations to white parishes, or placing them entirely under the supervision and direction of the Bishop without the status of parishes.
The aspiring, self-respecting and industrious element of our group were discouraged and disheartened. Thereafter, special attention was directed towards the very poor and least intelligent of our group, who more readily responded to the personal help and kindnesses of "Mr. Charlie" and "Miss Bessie." Thus, by constant reflection of such a system of "dependency" it has long since become the normal habit. Possibly, the most of our colored clergy, through long years of submission and dependence, almost unconsciously, are nailed down to such a system.
However, it is evident that we can hope for but little if any advance until a way is found whereby we can put our colored congregations on a permanent basis of self-support. If a clergyman, ministering to a comparatively small group of communicants, for years having received the major portion of his support through the Bishop, with only two or three hundred dollars coming directly from the people served by him, seriously attempts to apply himself in the matter, he will find great difficulty in reaching the conclusion that he can safely trust his entire financial support to his own people.
So accustomed to repose, heroic action becomes normally unnatural.
It seems to us that all diocesan mission churches not having the status of a parish, should be denied the right to elect a vestry. The Bishop of the diocese upon the nomination of his missionary, should annually appoint whatever vestry or business committee that may be required. Men who are members of all the secret orders and other Negro societies, so that they have little or no time to give to Church concerns are absolutely worthless as vestrymen. If the mission ever reaches the status of a parish it will be through the labors of the clergyman more than through anyone else. He has to do the thinking and planning. His own self-respect is at stake more than that of anyone in the mission; for, if he is not wholly lost to self-esteem he can not bear the idea of forever receiving the major portion of his support through his Bishop. Since, then, the Bishop rightly looks to him in this matter, he should be so placed as to be able to effect the desired result. He should have authority to make a selection of the men who are to be trained under him for vestrymn. Men, who being free of "entangling alliances" will delight in giving their time to Church concerns, and laboring together with the missionary in reaching independence and self-support. Year by year, by this method, the minister can leave off those who prove themselves inefficient, and substitute others in their places.
The whole membership of the mission should be divided up among the members of this board. Each one should keep in constant touch with the persons committed to his charge. The weekly meetings could be made of great account, not only in hearing the various reports, but for educational and spiritual purposes as well.
Under present conditions we believe the scheme suggested
is the best practical agency for the promotion of self-support among the members of our group. But the Bishop must thoroughly approve such plan, and the missionary or suffragan Bishop in charge must have the necessary force of character, broad experience, industry and persistency to put the thing across.
Here is a mission of two hundred communicants. Let us say the missionary in charge has selected the best and most active ten persons in his congregation, men and women, who are anxious and willing to serve. These names are forwarded to the Bishop, and, in due season, he sends to each a formal appointment, subject to revocation on his part. This "vestry," or business committee assembles with the missionary as presiding officer. The board organizes and plans its work. A district, consisting of twenty members, is given to each committeeman. He is to see and know each member of his group and labor to rightly educate them with respect to Church affairs. Each communicant who says: "Give us this day our daily bread," should be asked to give back to God a portion of that "daily bread." The contribution asked of each should cover all the needs of the work. Each one should be asked to pledge so much a day, for the work of the Church, including missions and other special needs. If by the diligent work and co-operation of such committee, an average of five cents a day per communicant was secured and paid into the treasury of the Lord, there would be a total sum of $3,600. If at first they did not quite reach the mark, another year they could do better, and so on until the desired amount is secured. The training that would come both to pastor and workers in following up such a simple plan would prove a great blessing in itself. Then again, the pastor could put in his best work in the weekly conferences with the committee, and through each committeeman he would directly and
more effectively touch the entire congregation on the practical and administrative part of the work. The success of the plan would eliminate from the chancel "begging" and "urging." It would render unnecessary the various entertainments for raising Church money, whereby the wicked one "raises the devil in the Church." The church building itself would more and more truly become the house of prayer. The rendition of the services and the preaching would become glorious and full of power, for, with the heavy burden of raising money lifted from the shoulders of the pastor, both body and soul would be free to proclaim with power the ever lasting Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The plan is not only simple but can be successfully worked by any man who loves God more than he loves anything else. But no plan can work itself. If the minister, in his heart, would rather remain a parasite he is thereby unfitted for working a plan which means the destruction of dependency. Our Lord says, "Ask, and ye shall receive." Any minister who asks of Him wisdom and grace to successfully operate such a simple plan for His glory, will certainly receive, that his joy may be full.
Often, in the past, the significant silence upon the part of large numbers of our Southern clergy, with respect to race affairs generally, but more especially with respect to policies of the Church, in work among our group, has been interpreted by colored leaders without, as a necessary enforced submission on their part demanded by the authorities of the white group with whom they are associated. A great many colored people seem to accept and believe this to be true.
In this matter we are not disposed to defend the colored clergy. The record they have made must give forth its own interpretation. But, so far as such attitude being forced upon them by the Bishops and other white persons in authority, we unqualifiedly deny. We have sustained an actual experience of more than thirty-five years in the ministry, and even before we entered the ministry we had the reputation of being outspoken and aggressive. We have continued such. In view of the same, our testimony on behalf of those with whom we have differed, and in some things, radically so, ought to have weight in this matter.
When the author left Virginia for Maryland in 1891, we do not believe that any colored clergyman of the Church up to that time laboring in that State had ever received more liberal financial support despite the fact of our aggressive and militant attitude.
Before taking charge in Norfolk, Va., Bishop Whittle wrote to each of the white rectors in that city commending the author and requesting from each rector a statement of his attitude towards the colored work. All of the replies were exceedingly pleasing. The vestries of two of the white parishes of that city pledged one half of the stipend upon which the author commenced work. The answers to Bishop Whittle's letters were all turned over by the Bishop to the author, and he now has them in possession.
Instead of trying to suppress, intimidate, restrain, or in any way interfere with the plans and policies of this author in promoting the work entrusted to him, directly the opposite attitude was sustained by the prominent white laity as well as by the clergy. Our friendship and intercourse was genuine and sincere. There was absolute mutual trust and co-operation. Whether in the Norfolk Convocation, or in those many informal gatherings in the study of Rev. Dr. Lloyd, in the midst of clouds of ascending smoke, there was the utmost freedom and cordiality. The author had his viewpoint upon all matters discussed, and the brethren will certainly bear us witness that there was no hesitancy upon our part in clearly stating our point of view.
As we now recall those early days of our ministry, and remember how graciously we were received and treated by many of the most prominent laymen of that city, we marvel at their spontaneous and whole-hearted generosity.
After we had erected Grace Church, we planned to build a rectory. The lumber merchant with whom we had dealt in the erection of the church said that without any further security than our word we could secure from him all the material desired. We called to see our warm and devoted friend, Col. Walter H. Taylor, who had acted as treasurer
of our church building fund. In substance, we requested that between the two, Major W. W. Old and himself, one would make a note for five hundred dollars, the other indorse the same, and the money thus secured turned over to him, as treasurer for disbursement in the erection of the rectory. The material being provided for on our own personal promise we needed the cash to pay the workmen. Col. Taylor readily consented. Only, he reminded us that we might die in the meantime or leave the diocese; and, thus some proper memoranda of the obligation should be noted. So he prepared a paper to which all the members of the vestry of Grace Church subscribed, simply recognizing the obligation as one to be paid . The rectory was built and the very last dollar on it, including the lumber bill, was fully paid within two months from its completion; although at the time it was commenced we knew not from what source the funds would be obtained.
The late Mr. Joseph Bryan of Richmond, Va., was one of the finest types of noblemen produced by Virginia. He was a rich man, and ever active in doing good, and every phase of the colored work experienced his helpfulness. He was a man of strong convictions and resolute in the expression of the same. He differed from us with respect to the method of racial adjustment in connection with the diocesan Convention. Occupying the floor of the Convention he pressed his side with all of his powers. We got the floor and most earnestly sought to break the force of what he had said. And this was more than once. And, yet, he ever remained as true and faithful a friend as ever we had in the State of Virginia. The very year we left Virginia for Maryland, seeing a splendid opportunity for a new work in Portsmouth, Va., we were bold enough to write to Mr. Bryan soliciting him to build the church outright as a memorial. His
prompt note of reply will give an intimation of the man. Writing us under date of June 27, 1891, he said: "I have yours of yesterday and must say that you present your case very strongly, and I feel encouraged to believe that the work you are engaged in will not suffer for want of ability in the workman. I can not at this time comply with your request, although the proposition is certainly a very tempting one, and as you say the investment would no doubt reap a rich reward, but I have lately had to decline a great many very tempting offers, though not of the same character, and this must share the same fate. Without making any promises in the matter, I feel a distinct interest in the work you propose and believe that the oportunity is a good one, and I shall be glad upon a more propitious occasion to render you some help."
A few months later we removed from the diocese, hence did not follow up the matter. However, in the difficult work we had undertaken in Maryland, he never failed to respond when we solicited his help.
Capt. J. Barron Hope, editor of the Norfolk Landmark, was certainly one of the great men of Virginia. In the Landmark of 1890, was this mention of the author's work: "Mr. Bragg is doing an excellent work here among his people and has the confidence of all our citizens. The influence going out from his parish to the people of his race in this city is very great and known to be most excellent in its character."
At the same period in a letter received from the late Gen. Samuel C. Armstrong, were these weighty words: "I know you and believe in you, and wish you every success."
We were the same individual then as now, only more impetuous then because of youth; and, yet, we never discerned the least disposition upon the part of the white people in
whose life we lived to humiliate, fetter or gag us with respect to any manly utterance as a Christian man and a gentleman.
The daily white newspaper of the town where we were brought up, in writing of our expected ordination to the diaconate, among other things said of us, "one of the most intelligent young colored men in this city, and one who enjoys in a large degree the respect and confidence of the community." And Col. R. P. Barham, the editor of that paper (it was in conenction with this paper we got our first lessons in journalism) was ever one of the most faithful friends the black people ever had in that section.
Some years ago one of the best and truest Bishops in the Southern States appointed a colored priest to supervisory work. A number of years afterwards this Bishop confessed to us that the man had proven far from being a success. He failed to relieve the Bishop of many minor things, not to mention others of weight. The man was genial, kind and well educated. But he was deficient in the knowledge of men, both black and white. In such an office it is not enough to know colored men; he must also know white men.
We had not been on our first work long before we had the services of the best physician in that city. It was not because we were financially able to command such services, but because we had become so well known among the highest class of white people in that community that this eminent physician was glad to display his interest in our labors by rendering profesional services to the members of our family free of all charge. On coming to Baltimore the Hon. Skipwith Wilmer placed at our disposal for our work any legal services (free of charge) of his firm . After his death the same was true of Judge Conway W. Sams and likewise of the Hon. George R. Gaither. If one reflects inanity and lack of ideas, whether black or white, he will reap according
to his own reflection. If our men have failed to take advantage of the friendliness of the best white people all around them and remain ciphers in activity and experience, it is their own fault. No one has kept them down but themselves.
During the present summer, 1922, the author was conversing with a colored priest laboring in the far South. He has charge of two missions, the combined strength of which is about sixty communicants. In the way of support he receives two thousand dollars a year and his house. He claims that the Bishop and the white people generally are just as nice and kind as they can be. Why is he not accomplishing greater results with such substantial support? There is but one answer. The system under which he operates tends to pauperize instead of developing self-respect. The fault is in the system.
Sixteen hundred dollars of his stipend comes through the Bishop, and only four hundred from the people served by him. As long as human nature is what it is, why should he not be content to "mark time," and hold on to a good thing as long as it lasts?
If it be true that a number of our colored clergy of the South have no views of their own, and are entirely submissive, and are inclined not to function in racial affairs, certainly, neither the white Bishops or white laity are responsible. Such attitude on their part is the direct and logical fruit of the system under which they operate.
Human nature is the same under a black skin as it is under a white covering. The colored clergyman who receives the major portion of his salary through the Bishop, who finds the Bishop rather sympathetic, and not over exacting, is not the man to enthuse over a new plan. He has his, and is satisfied. And, besides, he can enjoy more peace and quiet in dealing with the white Bishop than in dealing with
a colored vestry. Having a good thing why should he be anxious to give it up? Under the present system he simply can not "enthuse" over self-support. Nor is he going to do the least thing which, perchance, may effect the peaceful and happy relations already sustained.
He has reached his Alabama.
"They were, as a rule, studious, earnest, ambitious men, whose public conduct--as illustrated by Mr. Revels and Mr. Bruce in the Senate, and by Mr. Rapier, Mr. Lynch and Mr. Rainey in the House--would be honorable to any race. Coals of fire were heaped on the heads of all their enemies when the colored men in Congress heartily joined in removing the disabilities of those who had before been their oppressors, and who, with deep regret, be it said, have continued to treat them with injustice and ignominy; and so far as chivalry, magnanimity, charity, and Christian kindness were involved, the colored men appeared at an advantage."
--Twenty Years of Congress, by the Hon James G. Blaine, vol. ii. p. 515.
One of these five distinguished men of color, the Hon. John R. Lynch, of Chicago, still survives. Major Lynch is a Churchman. At one time he was Speaker of the House of Representatives of Mississippi. He was a member of Congress from that State for several terms. He is now a retired paymaster of the United States Army, and resides in Chicago.
Possibly Hon. Robert Brown Elliott of South Carolina, was the most learned and resourceful black man that ever occupied a seat in Congress. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, also a member of Congress at the time, was one of the ablest constitutional lawyers of his day. Gen. Butler paid the following
tribute to the black man. Followng him the next day in a speech on a certain pending bill he said:
"I should have considered more at length the constitutional argument, were it not for the exhaustive presentation by the gentleman from South Carolina, (Mr. Elliott) of the law, and the only law quoted against us in this case that has been cited, to wit, the Slaughter-House cases. He, with the true instinct of freedom, with a grasp of mind that shows him to be the peer of any man on this floor, be he who he may, has given the full strength and full power of that decision of the Supreme Court."
Blanche K. Bruce, who served the full term of six years as a United States Senator from the State of Mississippi, was born in Prince Edward county, Va. Two very brief extracts from one of Mr. Bruce's speeches in the United States Senate will reveal the spirit of colored public leaders in the days immediately following the close of the Civil War.
"I ask Senators to believe that no consideration of fear or personal danger has kept us quiet and forbearing under the provocations and wrongs that have so sorely tried our souls. But feeling kindly towards our white fellow-citizens, appreciating the good purposes and offices of the better classes, and, above all, abhorring war of races, we determined to wait until such time as an appeal to the good sense and justice of the American people could be made."
". . . . . . The unanimity with which the colored voters act with a party is not referable to any race prejudice on their part. On the contrary, they invite the political co-operation of their white brethren and vote as a unit because proscribed as such. They deprecate the establishment of the color-line by the opposition, not only because the act is unwise, but because it isolates them from the white men of the South and forces them, in sheer self-protection, and against
their inclinatoin to act seemingly upon the basis of a race prejudice that they neither respect nor entertain."
Doubtless what Senator Bruce said was generally true with respect to the South as a whole. But certainly there were exceptions. When the author was a lad about eighteen years of age, he began the publication of a weekly newspaper The Lancet. We still have the bound copies of that paper. Bearing on this very point, we give a clipping (which was reproduced in The Lancet) from the Petersburg, Va., Index-Appeal of February 19, 1883. Col. Barham, editorially, had this to say:
"We invite attention to an extract in another column from the organ of the colored people in this city--The Lancet. We are glad to record this evidence that the colored people are beginning to liberate themselves from the fetters of prejudice and passion, and to view party matters in their proper light. The Lancet, however, is mistaken when it assumes that the Democratic party has proscribed the Negro. The history of the party in this city contradicts the assumption. It must be remembered to the enduring credit of the Democratic party that it first threw down the barriers of the color-line in politics, and elected colored men to the Common Council, and appointed colored men on the police corps. The first vote the writer hereof ever cast for a Democratic ticket, on which was the name of a colored man, was beaten by the colored people themselves, who, rejecting the overtures made in good faith by the Democratic party, distinctively and defiantly and proscriptively drew the color-line, and arrayed themselves under the leadership of men who were aliens in blood, in sympathy and in interests with our people, and who simply used the colored voters for their own ends."
The same newspaper, in another issue, of the same period, said editorially:
"We have given our opinion as to the date at which a State Convention, if held at all, should be held, and have urged that the call for such Convention should be broad and comprehensive enough to admit by representation, and on terms of perfect equality, every man, white or black, Funder or Re-Adjuster, who was willing to work and vote for Democratic success in 1884."
Such liberality nearly forty years ago? But the Wade Hamptons and Lees are no more!
It is most pleasing to give forth this testimony for it was in connection with this same Index-Appeal, when only six years of age, that we started out as an errand boy for Captain J. Hampden Chamberlayne, at that time editor of the paper.
Some years ago the late Rev. Dr. Alexander Crummell, while rector of St. Lukes Church, Washington, founded the Negro Academy, of which he was the president during his life time. Many of the scholars, authors and real able men of the race constitute this organization. During the year 1898, not long before his death, Dr. Crummell delivered an able address pertinent to the very times in which we live, which we herewith present. Dr. Crummell said:
"Nothing is more natural than the anxieties of wronged and degraded people concerning the steps they should take to rise above their misfortunes and to elevate themselves. Thus it is that the colored people in meetings and conventions are constantly plied with the schemes their public speakers say will lift them up to higher levels.
1. (a) One prominent man will address an assemblage somewhat in this manner:
'The only way to destroy the prejudice against our race is to become rich. If you have money the white man will respect you. He cares more for the almighty dollar than anything else. Wealth then is the only thing by which we can overcome the caste-spirit. Therefore, I say, get money; for riches are our only salvation.'
(b) "Another speaker harrangues his audience in this manner:
'Brethren, education is the only way to overcome our difficulties. Send your children to school. Give them all
the learning you can. To this end you must practice great self-denial. Send them to college, and make them lawyers and doctors. Come out of the barbershops, the eating houses and the kitchens, and get into the professions; and thus you will command respect of the whites.' (c) "But now starts up your practical orator. His absorbing fad is labor; and his address is as follows: 'My friends, all this talk about learning, all this call for scholars, and lawyers and doctors for our poor people is nonsense. Industrialism is the solution of the whole Negro problem. The black man must learn to work. We must have manual labor schools for the race. We must till and farm, ply the hoe and rake, and thus, by productive labor overcome inferior conditions, and secure strength and influence.' (d) "We have another class of teachers who must not be passed over. Our political leaders form not a small element in the life of our people, and exert no petty influence. In fact, they are the most demonstrative of all classes; and they tell us most positively that 'in a democratic system, such as we are living under, no race can be respected unless it can get political influence, and hold office. Suffrage is the life of any people, and it is their right to share in the offices of the land. Our people can't be a people unless their leading men get positions, and take part in government.' 2. "Now, it would be folly to deny the importance of these expedients. For there is a real worth which the Almighty has put in money, in letters and learning, in political franchises, in labor and the fruits of labor. These are, without doubt, great agents and instruments in human civilization. "But I deny that either of them can gain for us that elevation which is our great and pressing want. For what
we need as a race is an elevation which does something more than improve our temporal circumstances, or, alters our material condition. We want the uplifting of our humanity. We must have the enlargement of our manhood. "Many a man and many peoples, laden with riches have gone down to swift destruction. In the midst of the grandest civilization many a nation has been eaten out with corruption and gone headlong to ruin. The proudest monarchies and the most boastful democracies, have alike gone down to grim disaster. 3. "There is no real elevation in any of these things. The history of the world shows that the true elevation of men comes from living forces. "But money is not a living force. Farms and property are not living forces; nor yet is culture of itself, nor political franchises. Those only are living forces which can uplift the souls of men to superiority--living forces, not simply acting upon the material conditions of life, but permeating their innermost being; and moulding the invisible, but mighty powers of the reason and the will. "Now, when men say that money and property will elevate our people, they state only a half truth; for wealth only helps to elevate the man. There must be some manhood precedent for the wealth to act upon. So too when they declare that learning or politics will lift up the race, they give us but a half truth. "These all are simply aids and assistances to something higher and nobler; which both goes before and reaches far beyond them. They are, rightly used, agencies to that real elevation which is essentially an inward and moral process. "Don't be deceived by half truths; for half truths lose, not seldom, the fine essence of real truth, and so becomes
thorough deceits. Half truths are oftimes prodigious errors. Half truths are frequently whole lies.
4. "What then is the mighty power which uplifts the fallen? It is Cowper who tells us,
'The only aramanthine flower is Virtue;
The only lasting treasure, Truth.'
"But what does the poet mean by these simple but beautiful lines? He means that for man, for societies, for races, for nations, the one living and abiding thing is character.
"Character is an internal quality; and it works from within, outward, by force of nature and divine succours; and it uses anything and all things, visible and invisible, for the growth and greatness of the souls of men, and for the up-building of society. It seizes upon money and property, upon learning and power, as instruments of its own purposes; and even if these agencies should fail, character abides, a living and a lasting thing.
"It is character which is the great condition of life; character is the spring of all lawful ambitions and the stimulant to all rightful aspirations; character is the criterion of mental growth; character is the motive power of enterprise and the basis of credit; character is the root of discipline and self-restraint; character is the consummate flower of true religion; and the crowning glory of civilization.
3. "I am asked, perchance, for a more definite meaning of this word character. My answer is in the words of the Apostle, St. Paul: 'Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.' These are the elements of character.
"All this equally applicable to a man or a community; for, (a) If a man is not truthful and honorable, just and pure; he is not a man of character. If a family in a neighborhood, father, mother, girls and sons, are truthless and dishonorable, unjust and impure, no one can regard them as people of character. Just so too with a community, with a nation, with a race. If it is destitute of these grand qualities, whatever else it may be, whatever else it may have, if it is devoid of character, failure for it is a certainty."
The author having had over thirty-five years of active ministerial life, with some little success, feels that it is permitted him to venture a word of advice with respect to future plans, or policies for work in Church extension among the colored people.
The regular diocesan system should obtain. But, in order to strengthen it and promote the most harmonious relations, there should be a temporary alternative plan which may be employed instead of the normal system. The administrative and supreme authority of this plan, (under the House of Bishops) should be the diocesan Bishops concerned, together with the Missionary Bishop, the native head of the group. Under no circumstances should this vital part of the Missionary District plan be dispensed with. Absolute harmony and cooperation are indispensable. Any right-minded Negro Bishop capable of leading and performing constructive work would rejoice in having the diocesan Bishops share in the work to such an extent. In fact, we do not see how he could hope to attain large success in any other way.
Booker Washington was the honored principal of Tuskegee; but he had a wise and able board of directors. General Samuel C. Armstrong was the head of the Hampton Institute, but he had one of the ablest corps of men in this country to uphold him. General Armstrong studied so thoroughly
well the various projects he had in mind, and made such a clear analysis of them, that when presenting them before the board he seldom failed to carry through a single plan.
The same thing would be true in the matter now under consideration if there were an Advisory Board with power, and a real constructive Negro as Missionary Bishop. But such a Bshop must be chosen with respect to real ability, and not chiefly because he is "a good and safe Negro."
The vestry system as applied to our work, in most cases, has proven worse than a failure. It needs remedying. A training in the work must be given to most of the men which they did not and could not receive at the seminaries. Many practical agencies should be introduced and vigorously pushed. All such, and more, are possible in a Missionary District with a Negro Bishop, having the supervision and cooperation of the diocesan Bishops within his district.
The fight has never been to get from under the white Bishops. It has always been the other way. The fight has been to rid the work of the dominance of diocesan Conventions, and place the Bishops in actual control, and thus, have a genuine Episcopal Church among Negroes, and not one Episcopal in name but congregational in practice.
The late Dr. Booker T. Washington, was in thorough sympathy with the Missionary District plan as applied to our Church. In his "Story of the Negro," Dr. Washington says:
"In my opinion, there is no other place in which the Negro race can to better advantage begin to learn the lessons of self-direction and self-control than in the Negro Church. I say this for the reason that in spite of the fact that other interests have from time to time found shelter there, the chief aim of the Negro Church, as of other branches of the Christian Church, has been to teach its members the fundamental
things of life and create in them a desire and enthusiasm for a higher and better existence here and hereafter. More than that, the struggle of the masses of the people to support these churches and to purify their own social life, making it clean and wholesome, is itself a kind of moral discipline and one that Negroes need quite as much as other people. In fact, I doubt if there is any other way in which the lessons that Christianity is seeking everywhere to enforce, could be brought home to the masses of the Negro people in so thorough-going a way as through their own societies, controlled and directed by the members of their own race."
There never was a more glorious day destined for any group of people than that awaiting the black race, the world over. That which men believe utterly impossible will be fulfilled. It is the voice from on high declaring to the black race, 'Though ye have lain among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove: that is covered with silver wings and her feathers like gold." The "wings of a dove" bring to us the sure truth of escape, while the "silver" and "gold" imply prosperity and felicity. In the darkest hour of our sojourn in the American house of bondage 'among the pots,' did the Almighty interpret this vision through our fellows, who, making their escape, in their own personalites foreshadow the high destiny of their group. In the glorious future for which the black race is being prepared its dominant note will be as expressed in these immortal words of Toussant L'Ouverture in his French prison, on the eve of his death:
"Therefore may we hope that in this race will the spirit of Christianity appear more fully than it has yet shown itself among the proud whites; show itself in its gentleness, its fidelity, its disinteredness and its simple trust. The proud whites may scorn this hope, and point to the ignorance and passions of my people, and say, 'Is this your exhibition of the
spirit of the Gospel?' But not for this will we give up this hope. This ignorance, these passions are natural to all men, and are in us aggravated and protracted by our slavery. Remove them by the discipline and stimulus of freedom, begun in obedience to God and fidelity to all men, and there remains the love that embraces all; the meek faith that can bear to be betrayed, but is ashamed to doubt; the generosity that can forgive severe offenses--and seven times renewed; the simple, open, joyous spirit which marks such as are of the Kingdom of Heaven."
It was that little American boy whom God raised up from "among the pots" as utterly destitute and without hope as has ever characterized any human being, Frederick Douglass, who, in his person, revealed the true destiny of the black man in giving the highest possible interpretation to the Law of Love, for the benefit of the whole human brotherhood. In an address delivered by Mr. Douglass in December, 1890, among other things, he said:
"I have seen dark hours in my life, and I have seen the darkness gradually disappearing, and the light gradually increasing. One by one, I have seen the obstacles removed, errors corrected, prejudices softened, proscriptions relinquished, and my people advancing in all the elements that make up the sum of general welfare. I remember that God reigns in eternity and that, whatever delays, disappointments and discouragements may come, truth, justice, liberty and humanity will prevail."
Long before the Civil War, when Mr. Douglass was in the field striking hard blows against slavery, in imitation of the white clergy who used to preach to the slaves from the text, "Servants, Obey Your Masters," he attracted unusual attention by his solid thrusts in that direction. By many literary critics this special effort was pronounced the best
piece of satire in the English language. A few years before the death of Mr. Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, visited him in home at Anacostia., Md. Quoting Mrs. Stanton: "I asked him if he ever had the sermon printed. He said 'No.' Could you reproduce it, said I. He said, 'No; I could not bring back the old feeling if I tried, and I would not if I could. The blessings of liberty I have so long enjoyed, and the many tender friendships I have with the Saxon race on both sides of the ocean, have taught me such sweet lessons of forgiveness that the painful memories of my early days are almost obliterated, and I would not recall them."
And, when Douglass thus spoke, he portrayed the whole black race that shall be when Christianity has wrought a complete transformation.
NOTE: In the list of Ordinations "d." is for deacon and "p" is for priest. The date of ordination to the priesthood of several is not given for we failed to find records of the same in the official list of the General Convention.
On page 208, the second line of the sketch should read: "January 9, 1815. He entered into rest eternal, October"
The author will forever hold in special honor and reverence the memory of the late Rt. Rev. Dr. William Paret, Bishop of Maryland. We hoped to have begun our ministry in the diocese of Maryland, and had been recommended most strongly, indeed, by the late Bishop Whittle of Virginia. We had made arrangements to that end; and lo, we were denied that privilege because Bishop Paret would not consent to our coming into his diocese. He had been mislead. He had been impressed by one from whom he sought knowledge of us that we were a "mischief maker." Many years afterwards, when the Bishop had reason for believing that the extent of our "mischief making," was nothing other than a resolute courage in expressing our own convictions, he put forth strenuous and earnest efforts to have us acept work in his diocese. The sincerity of his change of mind evinced itself in the unusual fact of assuming our entire support and that at a rate of several hundred dollars beyond any allowance he had hitherto made to that work.
And, although the good Bishop radically differed from us with respect to our great contention, in adjustment of the Historic Episcopate, we always, to the end, remained the warmest and closest friends. Most frequently did the Bishop take counsel with us with respect to various aspects of the colored work. Before the creation of the diocese of Washington, he had about decided, while permitting us to retain
our rectorship, to appoint us his Archdeacon for the colored work. But the diocese being divided, and the volume of colored work being in the diocese of Washington, the plan did not obtain. We understood most thoroughly the opposition of Bishop Paret to the scheme of racial Bishops. It was absolutely and entirely a matter of principle. Between the Suffragan Episcopate and the Missionary he never once hesitated to express a preference for the Missionary. But he was against both, for he thoroughly believed in a diocesan Convention without any "color line" and he had both the courage and the vigor to maintain his position.
Possibly no other Bishop in the American Church, from its birth until now, enjoyed the distinction of meeting in friendly conference all the Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishop Paret readily and cheerfully acted upon our suggestion, and we had the high privilege of bearing his gracious invitaton to our warm friend, the late Bishop Turner, then Senior Bishop of his church. We accompanied them to the Episcopal Residence and presented each to the Bishop of Maryland. Sometime afterwards in The Spirit of Missions for May, 1897, Bishop Paret gave forth an account of that meeting, and the impressions made upon him. It was not, however, the General Conference meeting at that time, but simply the annual meeting of the Bishops of that church. Here is what Bishop Paret said about the African Methodists:
"Some two years ago the General Conference of the body known as the African Methodist Episcopal Church was holding its triennial session in the city of Baltimore. Although I wanted much to learn what their organization and their work were, important duties of my own made it impossible for me to be present at their sessions; but I sent a note to
their presiding officer, Bishop Turner, asking an opportunity to become acquainted, and he named a time when their Bishops would call upon me. They came to my house, seven in number, and we had a very pleasant and profitable interview of some two hours' duration.
"I was soon convinced that these were strong men--men fitted to be leaders, and really leading strongly and wisely. Some, I am sure, were thoroughly educated, whether all were I cannot say; but if not, natural qualities and experience had been well used. Their presiding Bishop, Turner, began the conversation by telling me that he learned his first Latin and Greek, and his love for the Church which he had never lost in the very room where we were sitting, from the lips of Bishop Whittingham, and the whole conversation proved clearly on the part of almost all the seven, a kindly and loving appreciation of our own national branch of the Church, and a readiness for kindly relations with it.
"I cannot give details, because I counted much of what was said on both sides confidential. They talked freely and fully on all points, begging me to ask questions, and when any special point was raised, Bishop Turner immediately referred it to the one whom he thought specially fitted to answer. The extent of their work, their organization, their financial methods, their ordinations, the training and education of their candidates, the powers and duties of their Bishops, their methods of worship, the morality and spiritual character of their people, their educational institutions--all these were explained.
"The African Methodist Episcopal Church is a powerful body. It numbers more communicants in the United States than our own National Church, and has many more who have received its ordinations; and it has its missions in Africa, and at other points, beyond the national limts. Its organization
is strong, wise (humanly speaking), and efficient. The Bshops being few in number (but eleven or twelve, I think, when their number is full), have each a district as large as six or seven of our dioceses, which they are able to administer by the effective help of the presiding elders, and their oversight seems very thorough and strong. As they tell it, they have many preachers and exhorters, unordained and with imperfect qualifications, lay preachers; but they claim to hold a high standard of preparation for their priesthood, and to keep men relentlessly in their diaconate until they are fully qualified. They set forth a liturgy nearly following Wesley's Prayer Book, and they are pushing its use in congregations as they find the people fitted for it. Their educational system is remarkable. They keep up not only schools and high schools; but each Episcopal district is expected to have its college or university, and some of them, like the Wilberforce College, in Ohio, are well equipped and effective; and to sustain these, besides one dollar a year which they request from each member for the general expenses of the church they require from each, as a duty, one dollar for their educational work. Of course, they do not receive it from all of their six or seven hundred thousand, but they gave me to understand that at least half of them do contribute. And this leads to that wonderful fact that this great organization of colored people is entirely self-supporting, receiving no money help at all from the whites.
"In comparing their great work and results among the colored people with ours, so puny, humanly speaking, in comparison, I asked whether they could see any reason for the difference, and their answer was that we were pauperizing those to whom we ministered, while they were building up their Christian self-respect. They asserted that there was no need that we should keep up such continual missionary
support, that was wise and well to use missionary money freely on opening new fields and fresh enterprises, but that every new congregation should be, from the beginning, pushed rapidly into self-support and helping others. They ridiculed the idea that the Negroes, even the poorest, could not give. They had proved the contrary thoroughly.
"I am sure that in this they have touched one of our great defects; but it is easier to see it than to find and apply the remedy. As a result of the interview, I am wishing and praying, more and more, that in some way by God's good providence a path might be opened for closer understanding and kindly co-operation between that strong Christian body and ourselves. Can it ever be?
"WILIAM PARET, "Bishop of Maryland."
They accept practically our whole system doctrine and all, adapted to racial needs. But, with respect to the manhood of the black man, they hold to that as tenaciously as did Henry Winter Davis to the Union. And on their behalf, in this matter, we might well apply the spirit dominating Henry Wnter Davis, when on the floor of the National Congress he eloquently said:
"If we must fall, let our last hours be stained with no weakness; if we must fall, let us stand amid the crash of the falling republic and be buried in its ruins, so that history may take note that men lived in the middle of the nineteenth century worthy of a better fate, but chastised by God for the sins of their forefathers. Let the ruins of the republic remain to testify to the latest generations our greatness and our heroism. And let Liberty, crownless and childless, sit upon the ruins, crying aloud with a sad wail to the nations of
the world: 'I nursed and brought up children and they have rebelled against me.' "
When men point sneeringly at the African Methodist Episcopal Church it is because of thorough ignorance of its rise and history. It should not be judged from the standpoint of the ideals to which it has not yet attained; nor by comparing it with the oldest and ablest expressions of organized church life. Rather must it be judged by better productions, remembering always the extreme depths of ignorance in which it was born. Any number of the best men the race has produced, born under other ecclessiastical environments, were drawn to the help of this organization by the mute appeal of the ignorant masses for help. And by the exhibition of genuine self-sacrifice such pioneer colored men, under the blessing of God, succeeded in bringing light out of darkness. Bishop Payne came to African Methodism from the Lutheran Church; Bishop Tanner from the Presbyterian Church, and Bishop John Albert Johnson from the Church of England. The real educated men of this denomination have wrought victories for high Christian ideals that can hardly be appreciated by the white Church who are ignorant of race life at first hand. With our intimate knowledge of African Methodism, and its leaders, we have not the least doubt in the world that whenever the Episcopal Church is sincerely disposed in that direction, there will be no great difficulty in the way of church unity and complete fellowship with this great body contending for one vital principle which under no circumstances will it surrender or compromise. That is the full and complete recognition of the manhood of the black man.
It would be utterly impossible for self-respecting men to do otherwise.
"Since my last annual address I have purchased a desirable lot of ground and have built a rectory and church (now used for a day school and Sunday School also). A colored layman is licensed to lay read, with privilege of exhorting. A lady from Virginia is in charge of the day school. The moneys expended in building and conducting the work here came from abroad. The Rev. J. S. Johnston (now the retired Bishop of West Texas) without whose earnest cooperation I could not have begun this work, has had charge of the disbursements of all the funds expended in the erection of the buildings, etc. . . . . . I feel that this is my last new work on earth. If it be of God, and I do not doubt it, it will in due time be established; if it is not of God, it will and should fall.
"I am glad to spend my last days for the benefit of a race whose elevation or continued degeneration, must affect the future of this, our Southern country, for generations to come.
"These people have by toil and sweat redeemed this Southern land from the wilderness; they nursed and tended us in our childhood; and today we are indebted to their industry for whatever great degree of agricultural prosperity we enjoy. They are with us for weal or woe, and it is our bounden duty, no less than our interest, to do all within our power to promote their temporal and spiritual welfare.
"For myself I can truly say, that if I ever have done much for him (the Negro) he has likewise done much for me from my childhood up to this hour. Some of my earliest lessons of faith and child-like trust have been taught me by his lips and life. From him I learned first that 'the thunder,' which
caused my timid heart to throb, was the voice of the Great Father and that 'the air around me was the great sea of His infinite love.' Never have words of wisdom come to me from Christ with more power and permanence of impression than when He has spoken to me through this oft-despised man. May my place in heaven be as well assured as that of some of these friends of my childhood.
"And to my mind, this is of all realizations of Christ as the power of God and the wisdom of God, the most sublime and beautiful--the unity in their several gradations of all orders and degrees of men in the body of the dear Lord; where mutual love doth reign; where mutual helpfulness prevails; where the superior wisdom and riches bestowed on the one part of the body continually flow forth to relieve the poverty and ignorance of the other, to flow back in returns of a blessedness beyond all the gifts of human intelligence. Oh, this is the great need of the Church, and of the State. That we could have more of the mind of Christ. This would be the resolver of all doubts,the clew to all labyrinths, the grand Catholicon for all distempers, the universal solvent, the great indissoluble bond of unity, peace and concord."--From the Convention address (1884) of Bishop Richard Hooker Wilmer.
"It introduced, needlessly, as I thought, the objectionable feature of class legislation. It is proposed to set off missionary organizations for th colored people, not on the ground of their incapacity and ignorance, but upon the ground of color. I say 'not on the ground of incapacity or ignorance,' for it is notorious that there are multitudes of white people in some of our States who, as it regards intelligence, education and manners, are not superior to the colored population
and are quite inferior to that class of colored people who are prepared to enter the communion of this Church. If then a separate missionary organization be desirable for any of our people on the ground of their incapacity and ignorance--and that point is the one now to be determined--why is it not equally desirable for people of all colors?
"Why then introduce the word 'colored,' except to draw in Church legislation the color-line and thus bring into operation a caste and class legislation--a hitherto unknown feature in Church legislation? This was, as I thought, the un-Catholic feature in the canon. For my own part, I saw no sufficient reason for any special legislation, and proposed to the Conference a resolution which embodies the sentiments of this present address. The resolution was as follows:
" 'Resolved, That in the judgment of the Bishops and other clergy and of the laity assembled to consider the relation of the Church to the colored population, it would be contrary to the mind of Christ, inconsistent with true Catholicity and detrimental to the best interest of all concerned, to provide any separate and independent organization or legislation for the peoples embraced wthin the communion of the Church.'
" 'Contrary to the mind of Christ," because containing the element of 'partiality' and 'respect of persons' in His Church which He purchased with His most precious blood. Christ was, when 'made man,' the manifestation to Universal Humanity of the Divine Fatherhood. In His body, the Church, there was to be no recognition of race, color, condition or estate. Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free, were one in Him through His Incarnation. Thus, through Him, Our Lord, there was one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, above all, through all and in them all. " 'Inconsistent with true Catholicity,' because it legislated
invidiously for a class, and thus introduced the element of caste into a 'Kingdom which is not of this world.'
" 'Detrimental to the interests of all concerned,' because it tends to throw off the one part, the least wise and capable, to themselves, thus depriving them of the fulness of privileges granted to others, and also depriving the other part of the body of the benefits which flow from the exercise of the graces of condescension and sympathy which can only find full scope in integral unity and union."--(1883) Bishop Wilmer in his dissent from the findings of the Sewanee Conference.
In the General Convention of 1889, the Rev. Dr. Phillips Brooks, a clerical deputy from the diocese of Massachusetts, addressing the House of Deputies, said:
"I call attention to the fact that this is a motion to substitute one report for another report, and therefore it is upon this report as well as upon the resolutions that I desire to speak. I can easily say why it was considered not merely desirable but absolutely necessary that the minority report should be presented. The points are these, which indicate a distinct inadequacy in the report of the majority as to the condition of things with which we find ourselves confronted.
"In the first place, the report of the majority does not distinctly and cordially recognize the right and the necessity of the petition made to them, the condition of things that make such action justifiable. On the contrary it implies throughout that it is an entirely unnecessary appeal, and that the Church stands clear already on this question. The minority do not think so.
"In the next place the report of the majority appeals to the history of the Church, but the majority absolutely decline to carry forward the historical statement in the first place into the statement of a distinct proposition, and in the second place, into a declaration of what ought to be done.
"Now, it is because the Church does not stand clear upon this question, because the colored clergy have their right to doubt, because any man of color would have most profound reasons for doubting, as to whether he could occupy a position in which a priest or man could respect himself, and it is upon that that the minority asks this Convention to say in the first place, that there is good ground for the asking of this question, and secondly it is not simply all historical fact upon which we may rest, but that there should be a clear statement of the principle that in this branch of the Church of Christ, as throughout all the Church of Christ, no distinction whatever, whatsoever or wheresoever of race or color, and therefore as a distinct and necessary consequence of that, the principle is nothing if it is not a declaration of legislation of whatever kind, in whatever place, that is based on race or color, is contrary to the spirit of Christ.
"We ask the acceptance of this report and these resolutions, first because they are true. It is impossible--it is impossible for us to waive the facing of this question whether the resolutions are true or not. If they are true let the Church be brave enough, bold enough to vote for them.
"While I am willing to let consequences take care of themselves, I do with all my heart think that the best policy of the Church is in line with the profoundest duty of the Church. We can not appeal to the colored race until we have given a clear and distinct answer on this question. We stand paralyzed before the Negro race. If I were of that
race I would never, as a Negro, enter into the ministry of this Church until that question was answered.
"It seems to me the Church can answer the question clearly and adequately in no better terms than those embraced in the first, second and third of those resolutions. I believe that our missions to the colored people will be paralyzed unless we are able to make some clear statement, for it is impossible to appeal to the race unless we have first given them a clear and distinct answer.
"But it is not in view of the consequences, disastrous as they may be, but it is in view of the essential righteousness of the thing, in view of the frankness and manliness with which a Convention like this should answer such a question as is put before them. Yea or nay is the answer demanded by this question and is just the answer that is given by the resolutions of the minority: Are they true, or are they not true? If they are true, say so; if they are not so, then say they are not so.
"It is impossible for this Convention to reject those resolutions for any reason which will not carry to the world at large any other reason that the belief that those statements are not true.
"We, of the minority, believe with all our hearts that they are true; and therefore we purpose to vote for them, and we believe it to be our duty to present them to this Convention.
"I do not know how other churches in this country, I do not ask how other Christian bodies are standing on this question. I do not care to consult their records. I know that the color line has again and again presented itself as a difficult question among them. I do not care to compare church with church. But I do care for the Church of our
love that she shall establish herself as the leader of men's consciences, that she shall be brave and true and fearless. I dare to look forward to the time when in the ministry of Christ in our Church, above all others, there shall be no line drawn simply to mark the color of men's skins, to incapacitate men for functions of the ministry, with all the rights and responsibilities whatever attached to them, without reference to the race to which they belong."
At the 19th annual meeting of the Conference of Church Workers Among Colored People, held in St. Lukes Church, New Haven, Conn., September 15th, 1903, a Commission of Fifteen was created to seek an interview with the Bishops in Southern dioceses with respect to the adjustment of the Historic Episcopate to the needs of the colored race. Through the kindness and courtesy of the late Bishop Dudley of Kentucky, chairman of the Commission for Work Among Colored People, an audience was secured in the city of Washington at the Pro-Cathedral on Monday, October 26, 1903. Bishop Dudley presided in this conference and the Rev. Geo. F. Bragg, Jr., D. D., and the Rev. Prof. J. W. Johnson of the Bishop Payne Divinity School, Petersburg, Va., were selected by the Conference Commission to be their spokesmen. Bishops from the following dioceses and jurisdictions were present: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Lexington, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia (Bishop Coadjutor) and the jurisdiction of Southern Florida.
The members of the Conference Commission present were: Rev. Messrs. Bragg, Bishop, Miller, H. L. Phillips, Waller, Tunnell, E. R. Bennett, Johnson and Archdeacon
Pollard. Laity: Messrs. Dr. J. C. Norwood, R. R. Horner, Walker W. Lewis and Solomon DcCourcey.
"Venerable Fathers in God:
"We desire, first of all, to tender you our sincere thanks for your prompt and ready response to the invitation of the Conference of Church Workers Among the Colored People, to meet in friendly conference with representatives from that body, with respect to matters pertaining to a branch of the Church's missionary work in which you, as well as ourselves, are profoundly interested. There are grave and serious difficulties which interpose and hinder the advancement of the Kingdom of God among the colored people, and if we shall seem, in this address, to confine ourselves wholly to one of these disadvantages, it is because, in our judgment, the removal of the same carries with it the solution of most of the remaining ones.
"Those of us who work in the South, or have worked in the Southern States, can and do most cheerfully testify to the unfailing kindness, love, gentleness, and deep interest in this work which have characterized many of our white brethren. The peculiar conditions which militate so stubbornly against any great advance of the Church among the colored race are to be sought from other causes rather than from any lack of interest on their part. While the members of our own race sustain the profoundest respect, good-will, and appreciation for the dominant race, yet such are our racial idiosyncrasies and past ecclesiastical education, that we find it increasingly difficult to adjust ourselves, ecclesiastically, to the seeming demands of our white neighbors and brethren.
"It is far from our purpose to condemn or indulge in unkindly criticism. We desire simply to state the fact. As at present constituted, it would seem utterly impossible for
the colored clergy and laity to receive equal and impartial treatment and consideration in the several diocesan Conventions. As a result, much is said and done which hinders rather than advances the cause of our Lord. We are supremely desirous that peace, friendship and love should mutually obtain between us; and in furtherance of such a laudable end, to the glory of Almighty God and the salvation of all souls, we are led to ask of you your good offices in securing such additional canonical legislation as will remove us from the humiliating and undignified position in which we find ourselves in the Church.
The Historic Episcopate does not touch us as closely and as helpfully as the needs of the great body of our people demand. This is not so much because our Diocesan Bishops are indisposed to do their utmost in this particular, but rather because the civic and social condition obtaining between the two races renders it dfficult for them to do so. Diocesan convocations for colored people, subject to the control of diocesan conventions, as established in several dioceses, do not meet the requirements of the situation and have not been fruitful of satisfactory results. They greatly aggravate conditions already distressing. Too often it is the case that prominent laymen in our diocesan conventions are also prominent in civic conventions which do not so lovingly deal with the civil concerns of the colored race. Our people do not believe that the men who minimize their civic rights and privileges can safely be trusted to advance the human side of their spiritual interests.
"In view of the present exigencies, and pre-eminently, as a measure of peace and good-will, on both sides, it is our calm and deliberate judgment, the result of many years of patient observation, study and prayer, that the prosecution of our work in the Southern States, among the colored people,
should be placed more directly under the general Church. We believe that there should be missionary jurisdictions extending through two or more dioceses, with a Bishop at the head of each, drawn from the same race represented by the clergy and people among whom he is to labor. Thus, we would respectfully, but most earnestly, ask of the General Convention, through you, our Right Reverend Fathers:
"The adoption of a canon, not mandatory, but permissive, embracing the following general features:
(a) "That it shall be lawful for the General Convention, upon the request of two or more Diocesan Bishops contiguously situated to constitute into a missionary jurisdiction their territory, as pertaining to the colored race.
(b) "The Diocesan Bishops within the bounds of each missionary jurisdiction thus constituted to compose an Advisory Council for work among colored people in such territory.
(c) Such jurisdictions to be absolutely independent of diocesan conventions, and represented in the General Convention as that body may prescribe.
(d) "Any jurisdiction constituted under this canon to be altered, re-arranged, or terminated at the will of the General Convention.
"Such in brief outline are the salient points of the adaptation of the Historic Episcopate to the needs of the Afro-American people."* * * *
"We are animated with but one single purpose, and that is to see our beloved Church take hold of our race and carry to them the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as received and taught by this Church. A cruel injustice is done to a faithful body of missionary workers in our field when it is made to appear that our persistent and earnest efforts in this
direction are inspired by an unholy ambition to seek exalted positions for the leaders in this movement. The present want of a general system of action in this missionary department of the Church's work makes our labor more strenuous and difficult, keeps self-respecting people out of the Church, and makes it harder to get suitable and sufficient candidates for Holy Orders.
"We utterly abhor and repudiate any insinuation that what we ask is the first important step in the creation of an African Church apart and separate from our present American Church. Separate jurisdictions and conventions do not imply separate and distinct churches. We are in the one Church by virtue of Holy Baptism; and the Episcopate, whether diocesan or missionary, constitutes the visible expression of the unity of all the parts in the one Catholic Church of Christ.
"And now, Right Reverend Fathers in God, we rest our case with you. We are most anxious that you should have the benefit of any additional light or information which any of us can impart, and it will be a pleasure on our part to respond to any questions which may suggest themselves to you in connection with this subject. We have endeavored to place before you the main facts, and a general outline of the legislation which we deem necessary for the successful and aggressive prosecution of the work among our race by the Church in which we have the honor of claiming sonship.
Extracts from the Majority Report at the General Convention held in St. Louis, in 1916:
". . . . . We are not unmindful of posible grave consequences
of such establishment, which we have endeavored reasonably to anticipate.
"First among these consequences is the violation of the principle of Diocesan Unity, by the establishment of a separate jurisdiction in the territorial diocese. While it may seriously be questioned whether a territorial diocese is indeed a principle of the Church in every age of her history prevalent, it is certainly true that the division of man into racial families has prevailed and persisted since the dawn of history; and equally true that while the territorial diocese is clearly man-made, the division into races is God-made. In our belief, in providing ecclessiastical organiaztion for the development and education of the races of men, it would seem far wiser to adhere closely to the establishment of God's nature than to those of man's artifice. No one of us can look to the end and discover God's purpose for the separate races of man, but no one who has had any experience of the races, but knows that each has racial characteristics and differentiations which must be reckoned with whenever the races come into relation with one another. We are persuaded that the radical differences between the Negro and the Anglo-Saxon, of which the color is neither the gravest or the greatest, constitute sufficient reason for departing from the custom (not the principle) of territorial division, long revered, but seriously inapplicable to the harmony of the two, as well as to the normal development of each. In our view, it is consistent wtih God's appointment that the racial family be recognized as such, and consistent with our own unfailing method of practical administration in the Church. Wherever the Negroes have turned to the Church in sufficient numbers to warrant it, congregations of their own race have been organized by our authority. Wherever priests of their race could be found to minister to them, they have been settled by
us as the heads of the ecclessiastical race families. We respctfully but boldly urge the consideration that in presenting their memorial for the establishment of racial districts, the Negro race has logically and consistently interpreted not only the necessary conclusion from God's creation, but the natural result of our ecclessiastical training. Viewed from their viewpoint their request is a natural one. Viewed from the vantage of Church practice, it is a natural outcome of her consistent proceedure. Viewed from the vantage of the law of racial life, it is natural that the Church should thus conform herself to God's law, which she can not change, rather than to ecclessiastical law, which may be changed and modified when conformity to that which is higher is desired.
" . . . . . . . When we have helped the Negro to the achievement of racial self sufficiency, which is born of accomplishment, to self-mastery, which follows moral victory, and to pride of race, which is only possible when these victories have been gained, we shall have fixed within him the passion for social integrity, which is as justly natural as is that for racial reproduction. Separation of races is greatly misinterpreted, if it is not recognized to be the first necessary step towards the achievement of those ends. This is fully recognized by the Negro leaders of the South. It is difficult to conceive how anyone can imagine that a race can be honored by repression, or helped to self-expression by the practical destruction of its racial identity. If the sympathy of the white race is to be gained at such cost, the price is too dear. Happily, this is not necessary, for in proportion as the racial representative is truly and faithfully the representative of his race, does he both merit and receive the sympathy which helps, and the respect which honors and elevates.
". . . . . . . We have not forgotten that in her constitution the Church has provided for the election of Suffragan
Bishops, who may be racial. But although this provision has existed for six years, it has not been found desirable for the Negro race, though its confessedly designed purpose was, at first proposed to provide spiritual leadership for them. The door of opportunity is still open for its use. Those who believe that it will not meet the case, respectfully ask that a like permission be given to them to use the proposed constitutional provision for the missionary jurisdiction upon racial lines. We ask only for the same permission to use this expedient, which has been granted to use, the expedient of the Suffragan.
"The proposed amendment is not mandatory. It does not require the proposed organization. It does not infringe upon the diocesan rights nor force the unwilling assent of the Diocesan Bishops, or the Negroes themselves. It permits organization where desirable and practicable. It may be many years before a full complement of Negro Bishops is either needed or may be provided. But while the amendment will not be mandatory, neither is it prohibitive, as our constitution practically is as it now stands. Does anyone suppose that an American diocese will ever set a Negro or an Asiatic or an Indian as Bishop over the diocesan family? And if Negro and Asiatic are to be, perhaps, more and more become, constituent parts of American dioceses, can anyone suppose that this does not mean restriction and prohibition of the free, full exercise of ecclessiastical franchise and liberty? Can anyone maintain that for them the birth into the Church is birth into the 'liberty of the sons of God?' It is quite true that the races have a Bishop, the Diocesan Bishop, of the white race. But is there one who does not confess his inability to be the Bishop of another race in the sense and in the power that he is Bishop of his own race? And does not
this deprive the races of men of Christian rights and blessings, which the blessed Incarnate Christ came to bestow?
". . . . . . We affirm that it is not an effort to solve a problem, it is distinctly an effort to do justice to a great race of God's people. It is an effort to afford to that race, brought into our midst through no wish of theirs, every means of self-development. We confidently believe that if there be any solution of the problem, it will be revealed only when we have fulfilled our duty doing justly by a race who cannot command it."
"Now I submit the point at issue really is: Where shall the point of contact be? As it stands at the present time it does not take place in the parishes. There are colored parishes and there are white parishes. There is no rule to prevent intermingling, and there ought not to be. But as a matter of fact a division exists in the smallest unit, which is the parish. Now we have attempted to bring about the union in the diocese, and that attempt is the cause of all this trouble. It seems to me perfectly consistent with the theory of equality that the point of contact between the races should take place in this (the General) Convention, rather than in the diocesan convention, and that apart from economical usage there is no reason at all why there should not be an organization of colored men with their own Bishops, as well as their own presbyters, the Bishops of which organizations should have seats in the House of Bishops, and Deputies from the congregations should have seats with equal rights in this house with deputies from the white congregations.
--From the speech of the Honorable Seth Low, in the General Convention of 1889.
"The men who favored a racial jurisdiction favored it not as a fad, or as a fancy, or merely as the first of many methods, but they favored it because they believed it was right and the only right thing for the Church to do, and that the Church never would prosper in its Negro work until that right thing was done. They believed the duty of the Church was to give the Negro a square deal in the Church, whether he got it anywhere else in the world or not; to set before him an open door of hope and to make him understand that the Church of the Living God recognized no social, or political, or racial difference whatsoever, and that in the Church every human being stood on the same footing as every other human being."
--The Rev. Dr. William Meade Clarke, late editor of The Southern Churchman, on the eve of his translation.