Project Canterbury

Twenty-one Years in S. George's Mission

By Charles Fuge Lowder

London: Rivingtons, 1877.

Chapter XIV. Finances. Needs. Clergy House.

IT is a cause of great thankfulness that the works thus described have been carried on by the Mission during the last twenty-one years. It was at first a question whether the Society of the Holy Cross might hope to raise a sum of £100 a year for the support of a Mission Priest. Not including grants from Societies like the Bishop's Fund, the Church Building, Additional Curates, National, Church Penitentiary Societies, &c., the sum raised by the Mission exceeds £40,000, or an average of £2,000 a year. With the exception of a donation of £1,000 for the Church, one of equal amount for the site, one of £500 for the Church, a legacy of £500 for Mission purposes, two subscriptions of £100 a year, and a few other contributions of one or two hundred pounds, this amount has been collected in small sums and with great difficulty. In the time of cholera a letter in the Times was the means of raising [192/193] £1,000 in a week, and a total of £2,000. In times of special distress a sum of £500 has been raised. The friends, however, of the Mission will remember that most of the yearly Reports have dwelt rather dismally on the great deficiency of funds. The opening of the House of Mercy involved a debt which at one time amounted to £1,300; a like sum remained after the Consecration of S. Peter's, and frequently a deficiency of two or three hundred pounds has remained at the end of the year.

This has often been a heavy burden and a great cause of anxiety, though by God's blessing on humble and trustful perseverance, the difficulty was generally surmounted. In the case of the House of Mercy indeed, the difficulty of raising the necessary funds eventually led to the closing of the Institution; and such was also the case with the Convalescent Home, and partially so with the Working Men's Club. But it is a cause of great thankfulness that the other works have in the face of very great difficulties been sustained. It is not in a work like this, as in many other charities, where a Committee or Council has removed the responsibility from the shoulders of those who carry on the work. With the exception of the Building Committee of S. Peter's Church and Schools, the Superior has been [193/194] obliged to raise all the funds himself, without the aid of any paid agency for collecting money. While this has secured the employment of all the funds raised for the object for which they were intended, it has pressed very heavily on the attention and time of one who would have gladly devoted all his thoughts to his work. He has indeed been kindly assisted by a friend whose name appears as auditor of the Mission accounts from the year 1858, and during many years by another, who devoted much time and care to the preparing as well as the auditing of the accounts. Still, the labour of keeping them, the writing of the Reports, and making appeals, fell mainly upon the Superior of the Mission, and was never found by him to be a very grateful task.

He does not now dwell upon this as a matter of complaint, but that he may be spared this anxiety for the time to come. He has received many compliments as a successful beggar; he certainly is not so now. Of late years the ordinary income from subscriptions has been much reduced, and it is with difficulty that the Schools and other charities are maintained. Many works, either necessary or desirable for the full development of the Church or the organization of the parish, remain to be carried out; and it is mainly with the hope [194/195] of accomplishing this object that he undertook to compile the present history.

This chapter then may well be concluded by an account of those works yet required for the full accomplishment of our plans.

The Clergy House.--A plot of ground has been secured at a cost of £950, which would suffice for a Clergy House and a Home for the Sisters. Grants of £500 from the Ecclesiastical Commission and of £100 from the Bishop of London's Fund pay for the portion (two-thirds) required for the Clergy House; about £250 is still required for the remainder.

For the building £1,500 is assigned by the Ecclesiastical Commission, and at least £1,500 more is needed for the Clergy House. It must be remembered that the Clergy have lived for the last twenty-one years in hired houses, at more or less inconvenience to themselves and the parish, and that there is now an opportunity of providing an effectual remedy. No estimate has yet been made for a Convent or Home for the Sisters, but it would probably amount to £1,800 or £2,000.

S. Peter's Church is still incomplete, and it would require more than £3,000 to extend it to its proposed length and build a spire. Among less costly additions to the interior are a reredos (£360); stained-glass [195/196] windows--the east or rose window' £360, and others from £50 to £150; a rood-screen, and the carvings of the capitals and frescoes. The organ might be completed for £300, and it would then be a first-rate instrument.

Teachers' Houses are much needed, and a Creche would be a very desirable institution. Mr. Linklater's Reports explain the needs of S. Agatha's Mission.

Is it too much to hope that the same generous liberality, which enabled S. George's Mission to raise such large sums in former days, may enable it to complete its machinery, and. that the Vicar of S. Peter's may be permitted, before he is removed from his post, either by failing strength or death, to witness the full accomplishment of the objects to which his life and health have been devoted?

It is true, and he gladly acknowledges it, that many kindred works which have sprung up since the foundation of this Mission, and are now being carried on in the same spirit, need the fostering care which was once bestowed on this; yet surely it is well to encourage the promoters of such works by showing that the liberality of Church people is not fitful and uncertain, but as stedfast as it is generous, and that what it has helped to commence it will aid also in carrying on to the crowning of the edifice. Let us pray that God may put [196/197] it into the hearts of some, both willing and able, to assist in completing one or more of these objects.

But this, as all the future, is in God's hands. For the past there is nothing but the deepest gratitude for the mercies and blessings which have surrounded and accompanied this work. That it should have survived its early trials, overcome such bitter prejudice won the hearts and affections of the careless and indifferent, and maintained itself in the love of so many faithful souls, this is a real joy and happiness. Clouds and darkness still encompass the Ark of the Church; but the cloud is God's presence, as persecution is a sign of His blessing. Under the guidance of the cloud His Church still advances on her pilgrimage through the wilderness of this world. Let her children still hold up holy hands in prayer and intercession, and we must not for one moment doubt that her enemies will still be overthrown. When the hour of triumph comes, as come it surely will, is it presumptuous to hope that as S. George's Mission has borne its share in the struggle, so S. Peter's and her children may rejoice in the victory?

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