Project Canterbury


By Robert Machray

From The General Synod of the Church of England in the Dominion of Canada: Journal of Proceedings of the Third Session, London, Ont.: A. Talbot & Company, 1902, pages 3-11.

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Retired Bishop of Malaita, 2011


To the General Synod of the Church of England in Canada by Robert, Archbishop of Rupert’s Land, Primate of All Canada, Prelate of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, Etc.

Most Reverend Father, Right Reverend Fathers, Reverend Brethren, and Brethren:

I cannot tell you with what concern I find myself unable to be with you, but my medical advisers have decided that in my present condition travelling is out of the question, and indeed, in any case, I am too ill to take any part in the deliberations of the Synod. It is a most grevious disappointment to me not to be able to join in the discussion of the grave questions for the future of our Church that must come before you. But the will of God be done. He does all well. I can only pray that the General Synod may have in the guidance of the Holy Spirit wisdom from above, and that all its deliberations and resolutions may be for the furtherance of the cause of Christ and the extension of the usefulness of the Church.

 [4] Six years have passed since the last General Synod. If the General Synod is, with any efficiency, to guide the work of the Church, its meetings must be much more frequent. Others find it necessary that their supreme deliberative bodies meet yearly, and seem to find no difficulty in this. Surely three years should be the extreme limit of interval between our Synods. The power was indeed given me to call an earlier meeting, but I did not consider that this power was vested in me with a view to my acting on my personal opinion, but as the representative of the Church if from the application of Synods, Bishops or others, there seemed a wide-spread desire for a special meeting. As the expression of such a desire only reached me from two or three individual members I did not feel I was warranted on my own responsibility in convoking the Synod--which entails such a heavy cost on the Dioceses.

The six years have left their mark on the Church. We miss the aged Metropolitan of Canada who was then with us. His great ability and clearness of view were very evident to all who came in contact with him. In his long and energetic Episcopate, till sickness laid hold of him, he was privileged to see a great advance both in his own Diocese and the Church generally. He has been succeeded as Metropolitan by the aged and beloved Bishop of Montreal. We also miss Bishop Sullivan, of Algoma. He gave his eminent gifts to the Church in the large and poor Missionary Diocese when he could have occupied one of greater prominence and influence. We welcome the present Bishops of Algoma and Ontario, and the Coadjutor Bishop of Montreal. Further, the Church has once more seen a happy extension of the Episcopate. As we welcomed last Synod the Bishop and Diocese of Ottawa, so we now welcome the Bishop and Diocese of Keewatin. Another Diocese has also been formed, the Diocese of Kootenay, though it remains for the present under the Bishop of New Westminster. As great development may be looked for in those new Dioceses, their formation promises to be of great benefit to the Church in its great work.

I think, perhaps, I may be allowed to say that I could not quite understand how the General Synod had received in the Constitution of the Province of Canada the recognition and authority which I believe that Province intended. I have not been able to consider the action of the late Provincial Synod of Canada, but I gladly recognize the utmost desire to do everything necessary, and I trust the arrangements made are thoroughly satisfactory. At the same time the change is so great [4/5] in introducing into the established Provincial systems of Canada and Rupert’s Land a new and Supreme Synod that I cannot but think it might still be wise to appoint a strong legal Committee to examine the relations of the General Synod with the Provincial systems of Canada and Rupert's Land and the extra-Provincial Dioceses, and report whether any further action is in any case necessary.

The Church in Canada has created a Primate of All Canada to preside over the whole Church. Certain definite duties are assigned to him in the Constitution and Resolutions of the General Synod; but otherwise the position of the Primate is rather indefinite. There are Bishops and others who seem to expect the Primate to take a very leading part in the general administration of the whole Church; but I cannot but feel that anything of the kind would be an interference with the high and well established position of the Metropolitans. I have nothing to propose on the subject. I have no desire to magnify my office, and if the Synod has no clear views on the subject it may be better for the present to leave the matter in its indeterminate position. But I cannot but mention what I think a very anomalous position for one holding the high position in the Church of the Dominion that the name Primate of All Canada suggests. When the General Synod of Australia was formed it passed an ordinance that in the case of extra-Provincial Dioceses the Bishops should be consecrated by the Primate, and only in England with the Primate's consent. According to the Constitution of the Australian General Synod this ordinance would only apply to Dioceses which accepted it, but I believe it was universally accepted, and apparently without any objection from the Archbishop of Canterbury. But after the formation of our General Synod the late Archbishop of Canterbury expressed his desire to continue Metropolitan of the Columbian Dioceses and to consecrate the Bishops. I contented myself with saying that I thought the Australian course most consistent with the consolidation of the Church in Canada. But the new Diocese of Kootenay provides in its Constitution for the consecration of its Bishop, if no Province has been formed, by the Primate of All Canada. I have received no authority from the General Synod of Canada to act in such a way. I think it is desirable for a Committee to be appointed to consider this whole question.

By far the most important question before the General Synod is the establishment of a Missionary Society for the whole Dominion. In the view of the West this has from the [5/6] first transcended every other in importance, and was a main cause for the desire for the consolidation of the Church. That was but natural. Great communities are rising up there, and the members of our Church that are entering and being scattered so sparsely over the vast regions of settlement are altogether unequal to the supplying themselves with the means of grace through the ministrations of the Church they love. They see great Missionary Societies supported by the whole strength of other bodies occupying the fields, and enthusiastic for the maintenance and extension of their special interests; but the action of the Church has been weak beyond expression, and any appreciable help from the East only brought out by spasmodic appeals from the needy Dioceses. The scheme passed by the last General Synod was rendered inoperative. There seems much misunderstanding about it. The Western Division of the Mission Committee appointed by the General Synod in 1893 did indeed at one time propose that like others we should have only one grand Missionary Society from the Atlantic to the Pacific. There was no intention to touch any of the accumulated funds of the various Dioceses, but simply to merge the Diocesan efforts for Missions in one Dominion effort. I had little doubt myself that with the enlarged view and the elevated aim this would have given, the response everywhere would have been more worthy of our Church. I should myself have been perfectly willing for a provision that every Diocese should first receive back for its own missions from its offerings the average of its contributions for them. But the Eastern Division did not see its way to enter upon this venture of faith, and the West at once acquiesced in its decision. There was nothing then of this "pooling," as it has been called, in the scheme of the last General Synod. The Diocesan efforts for Missions were to go on as before. The scheme merely extended to the whole Dominion the Domestic and Foreign Society of the Province of Canada. The only changes were that any Diocese might have help for missions in it, and that statistics were requested from all. If a Diocese did not need any help, it need not have applied, and in that case its statistics would have been unnecessary. The collapse of the scheme was a great disappointment to the West. At the suggestion of the Bishop of Ottawa I have, to expedite business, prepared the Canon which you have received. It simply introduces into the scheme of the last General Synod the amendments required by the Provincial Synod of Canada while somewhat simplifying it. But the mere passing of such a [6/7] Canon will do little. It is hopeless to expect any adequate result unless adequate means are used. Economy is well, but may be carried too far. I believe there will be no worthy result unless an able and genial Secretary, a good man of business and effective in bringing out support, is secured. Arrangements are made in the scheme for deputations. Much will depend upon the energy and business ability with which this is done. There will be at length an open door for appeals over the Church. This may put an end to the old local appeals, but, if so, there should be a generous effort to avoid in any case diminution of help--a strong and united effort to bring out a loyal observance of the Canon. It is with no small satisfaction that I can say that both the English Societies, which assist the Colonies, at length feel the needs of the West. The S. P. G. has realized that it is not wise in the very critical condition of the vast country being settled to continue its policy of reduction to North-West and Western Canada, and the Colonial and Continental Church Society is making vigorous efforts to secure for us larger aid. I hope that Canada will recognize that a special duty lies on it to help these young communities in the Dominion, and will make a great advance in its contributions.

In speaking of the Missionary Society, I have hitherto had chiefly in view the call upon the Church from the rising up of great communities in the West; but the call on the Church on account of the native Indian tribes in the Province of Rupert's Laud, and the Indian and heathen population in British Columbia, is also most pressing and exacting. The Missions for these Indians have hitherto been mainly carried on by the C. M. S. They are very extensive. The yearly expenditure on them by the Society has been little short of $100,000. Though the Indians are few, they are scattered in handfuls over a Continent. They are themselves practically helpless. An inordinate number of Agents is necessary. The conditions arising from the long and severe winter, and the absence of markets or regular communication make the support of the Missions most costly. The work will chiefly be the maintenance of existing Missions. In the southern Dioceses other religious bodies are at work. There may, however, be still some call for extension in the Dioceses in which no other Protestant Body has Missions. It is then a very grave matter that the C. M. S. has formulated a policy of immediate and steady reduction and ultimate withdrawal. The Society has not yet decided upon the future administration of its funds, but the policy itself is not likely to be greatly changed. [7/8] The expenditure of the Society may be divided into two parts. First, there is a Block Grant to each Diocese which covers missionaries accepted in local connection, catechists, building, repairs, travelling and similar expenses. Secondly, there are the stipends and allowances to the European Agents sent from England. The Society for some years has been making reductions in the Block Grants of Rupert's Land and Saskatchewan. The Diocese of Rupert's Land, for example, receives this year only eleven-twentieths of its original Block Grant. There have also been reductions at least in Moosonee. But now the Society is proposing to extend its reductions to all the Dioceses of Rupert's Land, and the Diocese of Caledonia. It proposes to wipe out all the Block Grants in twelve and a-half years, and whenever a European Missionary retires to add to the Block Grant £100 subject to similar reduction, instead of sending a successor. The Block Grants of the Province of Rupert’s Land may be put at $25,000 a year. It is proposed to withdraw about $2,000 of this yearly. I need add nothing to impress on you the gravity of the position. It calls for much thought and self denial. All help will have to be welcomed and utilized. It is known that the C. M. S. has many friends in Canada sympathizing with it and working on its lines. It will be the duty of the Church to do all that is necessary to bring this body into helpful and harmonious action with the Missionary Society of the Church. One further point I would mention: the C. M. S. at present provides the salaries of the Bishops of Caledonia, Athabasca, Mackenzie River and Selkirk. Its policy contemplates its relief gradually and ultimately from these payments. For example, if either of the Dioceses of Athabasca and Mackenzie River were vacant it would only continue the salary for one Bishop. I regret this in view of the proper superintendence of the Missions, but it is practicable as far as merely episcopal duties are concerned. By and by the Society will expect to be relieved of the other Bishopric. To meet this corning condition the Bishop of Mackenzie River has commenced an effort for the endowment of that Diocese. The S. P. C. K. and the S. P. G. have with their usual kindness voted grants in aid of £1,000 each on the usual conditions. I commend this important effort to the generous help of Canadian churchmen.

There is still a third division of the work of the Missionary Society. If I say little about it the reason simply is that the pressure of existing conditions has made me speak at such length on the other divisions. But I recognize most fully the [8/9] first duty of Foreign Missions and the blessing we may expect in our home operations if we remember our Lord's command, and take an earnest part in the work for the heathen abroad. The experience of the Church testifies that those who are moved by the need of the heathen will be the first to exert themselves for the needs of those about them.

Next in importance to the establishment of a vigorous Missionary Society for the Dominion is the maintenance in efficiency of our Colleges. Our Theological Colleges are necessary for the supply of the clergymen we need. Means will be of little avail if the men are wanting, and experience has shown that we can only have the men by ourselves encouraging and educating promising candidates for the Ministry. Besides, I think there can be no question that the Clergy who are trained amid the conditions of their future work, are most likely to prove effective and acceptable. The Church is here again at a great disadvantage when it is compared with other Bodies. There is no united effort over the Church to bring out help for our Colleges. There are no doubt to some extent Diocesan efforts, but I believe they are generally weak and unworthy. I may be allowed to illustrate by St. John's College--the College I have endeavoured to build up in Winnipeg--how we feel this. The Colleges of the Presbyterian and Wesleyan Churches in Winnipeg are yearly largely assisted by their respective Bodies, and there is from this not only the immediate help from a share of the general collection of the Denomination, but the Colleges, being brought prominently before the Church, receive many special gifts. St. John's College has no such assistance. I trust the Synod will not fail to deal practically with this matter. I may say that a measure of outside help is for my own College a vital necessity, not only for its efficiency, but almost for its existence. Any disaster to it would inflict the gravest injury on the Church.

There is a third subject connected with our organization as a Church on which I feel very deeply. It is the want of any provision, as extensive as the Church, for the support of Beneficiary Funds, such as a Clergy Widows' and Orphans' Fund and a Superannuation Fund. Here again we compare most unfavourbly with other Bodies. There are Funds in the various Dioceses, but they vary so greatly in their ability to help that it seems for the time impracticable to have single Funds covering the Dominion. Still I think it might be well to have this in view. The funds in the Diocese in the best condition might be taken as the unit, and it might he calculated what would be [9/10] required to bring up others to the same standard. And in the meantime the action of the Synod of Niagara, in offering to other Dioceses complete reciprocity might, as recommended by the Conference on the subject in Toronto, be followed by the Dioceses generally. The salaries of our Clergy are in, I fear, a large majority of cases so small that it is impossible to make adequate provision for the future. This is very far from being merely a subject in which the Clergy alone are interested. It is emphatically a question for our Laity, if they are to keep in our country our effective Clergy, and if, as Clergy get on in years, and their powers fail, they are to be replaced in time by effective men.

I have touched on these questions that seem to me of primary importance in the organization of our Church if it is to meet the needs of our people. On their satisfactory settlement must depend the ability of our Church to do its duty in affording and extending it ministrations. Until this is secured the Church will never be at liberty to enter as it should on the grave questions of the day that affect the religious character and godliness of our nation. There is much to call out thought and anxiety. Many things combine to draw men from former habits of family prayer and public worship and to lessen the sense of the sanctity of the Lord's Day, but on these depends vital religion. Intemperance no doubt continues to be an extensive evil, and demands the most earnest effort to remove as far as possible temptations to excess and encourage habits of moderation. But the immoderate abandonment of so many to all kinds of amusement and luxurious and extravagant living for their means are doing even more to sap the foundations of honest social life. The Church should in these matters give no uncertain sound. Its own members are largely culpable. And we may be sure if these tendencies are not checked there will be neither the will nor the ability for the observance of what is due to God and to men. There is, in addition, the grave question of the upbringing of the young in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In the circumstances of our modern life it is hopeless to look for this unless there is religious instruction in the day school. The teaching of the Bible and of the main truths of our faith is of such vital importance for the country that I trust the Church will not only press for it, but endeavour as far as possible by a conciliatory attitude to secure the support of the other great Protestant Bodies. We must not insist on all we should like. Enough if we can secure what will give a full and satisfactory knowledge of the main facts and teaching of the Word of God.

[11] With these remarks I close. You have my fervent prayers that God may overrule for His Glory all you do. May God bless our dear Church and make it a great blessing in the land, not only for our own people, but for the whole country.

God be with you. Amen.

Primate of All Canada.

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