Project Canterbury

The Life and Work of the Most Reverend John Medley, D.D.,
First Bishop of Fredericton and Metropolitan of Canada

By William Quintard Ketchum
Rector of St. Andrews, N.B.

Saint John, N.B.: McMillan, 1893.

Chapter V. Earnest Desire for a Bishop--The Colonial Bishopric Fund--Diocese of Fredericton Endowed

EVIDENTLY, as we have seen, the Church in New Brunswick was being aroused to a sense of her position and obligations. Still there was a great want--the want of a Bishop, the need of Episcopal supervision and control. This had long been keenly felt by prominent churchmen. We find the following editorial note in the St. John Courier, March 20th, 1824:

By London papers, we observe with satisfaction that two Bishops have been appointed to Sees in the West Indies. We would have been happy to learn that a like measure had been pursued with reference to New Brunswick, which for nearly twenty years has not been visited by a Bishop.

We presume not to say where the neglect originates, but we shall be happy to hear that an application has been made to the proper authorities for a separation of the Ecclesiastical establishment of this Province from Nova Scotia, and we pray that a Bishop may be sent to us.

From a letter in a subsequent number of the same paper we subjoin the following extracts:

It had long been a matter of astonishment that the interests of the Church in this quarter could have been so long neglected before the appointment of the present Bishop of Nova Scotia (Bishop Stanser) took place. We then confidently expected to reap the benefit of his ministrations. From the effect of a serious illness, this worthy prelate, soon after his consecration, was obliged to return to England, where he will most probably end his days. ........

The tedious and expensive journey to Quebec, which candidates for the ministry are compelled to undertake to receive Holy Orders, is one of the many inconveniences which might be mentioned. With reference to the above communication, the editor of the Courier remarks:

With our correspondent, we sincerely regret the cause that keeps the Bishop from his charge, and we also deeply lament its effects; but it is not alone because an individual occasionally suffers the inconvenience of travelling to Quebec for ordination, it is also because every member of the Church (clerical as well as laity) is affected by the absence of their spiritual head. It must be a melancholy reflection to every one reared in the Church, and feeling for her interest, to think that from such a cause as the above, the sacred rite of confirmation should be virtually abolished in this Province. This pure Apostolic institution, which elsewhere is the indispensably necessary step for admission to holy communion, is dispensed with, not from choice, it is true, but from sad necessity. It is therefore a matter of congratulation to all true sons of the Church that there is a, prospect of their hopes being realized. If a Bishop is to be appointed for New Brunswick, with such powers in Nova Scotia during the absence of its Bishop, he ought to reside in this Province. We say this, having understood that it was very probable the Bishop of New Brunswick, if one should be appointed, would reside in Nova Scotia. If such be the case, a more proper time than the present cannot be for the Clergy, the Vestries, and all the members of the Church of England in the Province, to unite with one accord in petitioning His Most Gracious Majesty to appoint a resident Bishop to this his loyal colony of New Brunswick.[The resignation of Bishop Stanser a few months later, and the consecration of Bishop John Inglis, caused the movement in favor of a division in the Diocese to remain in abeyance.]

It would appear from the foregoing extracts that Bishop Charles Inglis failed to visit New Brunswick during the last eleven years of his episcopate, probably on account of age and infirmities.

In his first charge to his clergy (delivered at Halifax, August, 1829; at Bermuda, May, 1830; and at Fredericton, August, 1830), Bishop John Inglis says many of the remote portions of his Diocese had never been visited by a Bishop. "More than sixty churches, scattered over an immense space, were unconsecrated, and nearly 7,000 persons were waiting for confirmation."

It is of the deepest interest, to mark the origin of that movement which effected so deeply the whole Colonial Church--the establishment of the Colonial Bishopric Fund. Surely it was a noble scheme, calling for large gifts and generous offerings. We can see in it the answer to those prayers and heartfelt longings, to which we have referred.

The S.P.G. report, 1840, says:

In a printed letter, addressed by the Bishop of London to the Archbishop of Canterbury, his Lordship proposed the following plan:

1. That a fund should be formed by voluntary contributions for the endowment of Bishoprics in the Colonies and distant dependencies of the British Crown.

2. That the fund should be held in trust, and administered by the Archbishop and Bishops of the English Church.

3. That, as a general principle, grants should be made for the endowment of Bishoprics, to meet a certain proportion of the whole amount required for such endowment, raised in the colonies themselves.

4. That the money set apart from the fund for the endowment of a Bishopric, should be laid out at the earliest opportunity, in the purchase of land within the colony.

5. That contributions may be made specifically for the endowment of particular Bishoprics.

This proposition was received with the liveliest satisfaction, both by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. The sums of £5,000 and of £10,000 were voted by these institutions respectively, for the purpose of laying the foundation of the proposed fund, and the Christian public will rejoice to hear that the immediate establishment of Episcopal Sees in New Brunswick and New Zealand may be confidently expected.

The following statement is found in the report of the S.P.G. for the year 1841:

The most striking feature in the occurrences of the past year, as they respect the progress of Christianity abroad, is the formation of a fund for the endowment of additional Bishoprics in the colonies.

At a meeting of the Archbishops and Bishops the plan above given was cordially agreed upon. We find New Brunswick named as the third on the list of the new Dioceses proposed. Among the officers of the Association, the name of W. E. Gladstone is given as one of the treasurers. The following minute was adopted at the meeting concerning the establishment of new Colonial Dioceses:

For the attainment of these most desired objects, a sum of money will be required, large as to its actual amount, but small when compared with the means which this country possesses, by the bounty of Divine Providence, for advancing the glory of God and the welfare of mankind. Under a deep feeling of the sacredness and importance of this great work, and in the hope that Almighty God would graciously dispose the hearts of his servants to a corresponding measure of liberality, we earnestly commend it to the good will, the assistance and the prayers of all the members of the Church.

In a letter to the S.P.G. from the Bishop of Nova Scotia (1842), published in the report for 1843, he writes:

...My anxiety for the accomplishment of the benevolent intention of erecting a new See in New Brunswick increases with my growing consciousness that more labour is required than any individual can perform. It is also increased by a conviction that the circumstances of the times are peculiarly calculated to insure, by the Divine blessing, the full benefit of such creation.... The greatest encouragement is offered for perseverance in all those exertions which may be necessary for the accomplishment of so important and happy a work.

Sir William Colebrooke, the Governor at that time, officially reported that "a difficulty is experienced in obtaining clergymen for several parishes, in which the Church congregations have, in consequence, been dispersed."

From the S.P.G. report for 1843, above alluded to, we quote the following extract, taken from the minutes passed at a subsequent meeting of the Archbishops and Bishops:

The important colony of New Brunswick, equal in extent to one-half of England, and rapidly increasing in population, has been too long without a resident Chief Pastor. The time, however, seems at length to have arrived for the supply of this deficiency, so long felt and acknowledged. As a proof of the interest excited in. New Brunswick, it may be stated that the Governor, Sir William Colebrooke, has officially expressed his opinion in favour of such a measure. The Chief Justice, [Honorable Ward Chipman] the Solicitor General, [Honorable George Frederick Street] and other leading persons in the colony, are exerting themselves to raise a fund towards the endowment.

The sum at that time raised in New Brunswick amounted to £2,150--more was expected. The minute continues:

Having taken these matters into our serious consideration, and looking at the great importance and urgency of the case, we have determined to appropriate a large portion of the fund at our disposal, namely, the sum of £20,000, toward the endowment of a Bishopric in New Brunswick.

We must not conclude this statement of our proceedings and plans without expressing our thankfulness to Almighty God for the success He has been graciously pleased thus far to vouchsafe to this first systematic endeavour to impart the full blessings of the Church to the colonies of this great Empire, and beseeching Him to dispose the hearts of His people to carry on to its full completion a work undertaken for the furtherance of His glory in the extension of the kingdom of His ever Blessed Son.

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