MEMORIAL TO CONVOCATION TO REPEAL OF DIVORCE ACTS----PETITIONS TO PARLIAMENT----REFUSAL OF LORD PENZANCE TO ENFORCE FORMER MONITIONS TO MR. BELL COX----CLERGY DISCIPLINE----STATEMENT OF CANONICAL PRINCIPLES----COUNTER-STATEMENT OF CHURCH ASSOCIATION----REJOINDER OF E.C.U.----STRONG FEELING IN THE CONVOCATION OF YORK----CLERGY DISCIPLINE BILL COMMITTEE (E. C. U.)--OPPOSITION TO PARLIAMENTARY INITIATION----PETITIONS TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS----PETITIONS TO CONVOCATION----CIRCULAR LETTER OF E. C. U. COMMITTEE----CANON PASSED PRIOR TO THIRD READING OF BILL IN COMMONS----THE CLERGY DISCIPLINE (IMMORALITY) BILL (1892) PASSED BY PARLIAMENT----PROPOSED REPEAL CHURCH DISCIPLINE (1840) AND P. W. R. ACT (1874)----DIVORCE ACTS----THE COUNCIL AND THE NEW CRITICISM--EDUCATIONAL WORK COMMITTEE----THE UNION AND Lux Mundi--DIVINE SERVICE----MEMORIAL TO THE EPISCOPATE----DEATH OF CANON PERRY----THANK-OFFERING TO REV. S. F. GREEN.
IN accordance with the resolution passed at the Annual Meeting on June 9, 1891, the President and Council drew up the following Memorial to Convocation on the subject of the Divorce Acts, praying for their total repeal. The Memorial, which was presented to Convocation at its February session, 1892, was in the following terms:--
To the Most Reverend the Archbishop and the Right Reverend the Bishops, and to the Reverend the Clergy, of the Province of Canterbury [or York] in Convocation assembled.
THE HUMBLE MEMORIAL OF THE COUNCIL OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH UNION Sheweth--
That the English Canon Law admits only of separation a mensa et thoro, and, in certain cases, a declaration of the nullity of marriage, which had been null and void ab initio.
That the tendency of the civil authority since the seventeenth century to regard marriage as a civil contract only, and therefore dissoluble, culminated in 1857 in the enactment of the Statute 20 and 21 Vict., c. 75, which established divorce a vinculo as part the civil law.
That the law of the laud is thus in direct conflict with the Canon Law of the English Church.
Your Petitioners therefore pray your Right Reverend [or Reverend] House in your wisdom to take such steps in the premises as may best serve to secure obedience to the said Canon Law. And your Petitioners, &c.,
(Signed) HALIFAX, President.
(On behalf of the Council of the E.C.U.)
This Memorial was presented in the Province of Canterbury by the Bishop of London in the Upper Housie and by the Bishop of Reading in the Lower House; in the Province of York by the Bishop of Chester in the Upper House, and by the Rev. C. N. Gray, Vicar of Helmsley, in the Lower House.
The following Petition to both Houses of Parliament was circulated for general signature, and in a few weeks had received 23,000 signatures:--
That we, the undersigned, members of the Church of England, desire to represent to your Right Honourable [or Honourable] House the serious injury to the morals of the country resulting from the existence of the Divorce Court constituted under the Act of 1857.
We therefore earnestly pray your Right Honourable [or Honourable] House, either by the Repeal of that Act, or by such other measures as your wisdom may deem expedient, to remedy what is at present a cause of scandal to the whole country.
After repeated adjournments, Lord Penzance gave judgment in York Minster on January 14, 1892, on the application of Mr. Hates for enforcement against Mr. Bell Cox of the two admonitions, bearing date respectively December 31, 1885, and June 7, 1886. His Lordship declined to grant the application, on the ground that "it is nearly five years since these proceedings resulted in a decree of suspension. If the coercive authority of this Court is to be further invoked against Mr. Cox by reason of his conduct in October, 1890, it ought, I think, to be done by means of a fresh suit under the Bishop's sanction, and the present application must be refused."
The attention of the Church in general, and of the Union in particular, was mainly concentrated during the prorogation of Parliament upon the subject of Clergy Discipline, with reference to which it was announced that another Bill would be introduced by the Archbishop of Canterbury early in the ensuing session. The question of procedure was dealt with at the First Ordinary Meeting on December 8, 3891, when the following resolutions were adopted:--
(1) Moved by the Rev. G. Bayfield Roberts (on behalf of the Council), and seconded by the Rev. T. B. Dover--
That, in the opinion of this Union, all changes of procedure in cases of criminous clerks should be dealt with by Canon under Royal Licence; and, further, that any attempt to proceed by Act of Parliament only would be contrary to the Constitution in Church and State
(2) That a copy of the above resolution be sent forthwith to every member of the Convocation of Canterbury and York, to the Prime Minister and the First Lord of the Treasury, and to the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, M.P.
In view of the imminent introduction of the Bill, the President and Council had instructed the Canon Law Committee to draft a Statement of Canonical Principles bearing on the legislative and executive powers of the Church. This Statement having been adopted by the President and Council, was formally issued on December 15, 1891. It ran in the following terms:--
STATEMENT OF CANONICAL PRINCIPLES CONCERNING CLERGY DISCIPLINE. Issued by direction of the Council of the English Church Union.
1. The Catholic Church is a divinely-constituted Society, the visible Kingdom of Christ upon earth, possessed of an inherent power of ruling and governing its subjects in spiritual matter?
2. This power resides by succession in the Episcopate, acting synodically and in other canonical manner, and in the Episcopate alone;
3. This power is not limited to doctrine, but embraces positive discipline;
4. This power, having been originally and immediately delegated to the Apostles by our Lord Jesus Christ, is of Divine right;
5. The Church, by its own inherent authority, has power make laws, to administer laws, and to enforce the observance of its laws in the spiritual domain--in other words, it possesses legislative, executive, and judicial powers;
6. The sanctions and penalties of the Church are, strictly speaking, purely spiritual;
7. The law administered is the Canon Law, winch binds intrinsically in conscience;
8. Procedure, legislative and judicial, is expressly provided for by the Canon Law;
9. Spiritual causes must be concluded in spiritual courts;
10. The State, being jure divino the guardian of civil rights, is by consequence bound, upon complaint made, to ascertain whether justice has been done to an incriminated clerk;
11. The appeal tanquam ab abusu, subject to the principle laid down in No. 9, may be legitimately made to the State;
12. Statute Law touching Ecclesiastical matters is "mere temporal," and consists only of rules laid down by the State for the conduct of the civil power in dealing with such temporal rights as come in contact with spiritual duties;
13. Any so-called Ecclesiastical Court, constituted by Act of Parliament only possesses no spiritual jurisdiction, and consequently all its proceedings are spiritually null and void;
14. The so-called Ecclesiastical Courts, as now existing in England, are not Courts Christian the authority of which in spiritual matters can be conscientiously recognised, inasmuch as the procedure established by the Church Discipline Act of 1840 is "mere temporal," and constituted by authority of Parliament only--the said Act, moreover, having paralysed the action of the canonical Courts Christian by a specific prohibitory clause;
15. None but a Bishop has power to suspend, deprive, or depose a Clerk;
16. No provision for ipso facto voidance of an office or benefice can operate without the declaratory sentence of the Bishop in the spiritual court;
17. Any scheme for the alteration or regulation of procedure in the matter of discipline must be embodied in Canons enacted by Convocation, and such action of Convocation should precede any Parliamentary action needed to give civil sanction to the Canons;
18. No resolutions of Convocation expressing approval of a Bill in Parliament purporting to regulate Clergy Discipline can give spiritual authority to such Bill if it becomes law, nor can such resolution be equivalent to Canons.
15ft December, 1891.
One result of this agitation was the appointment of a Joint Committee of the two Houses of the Convocation of Canterbury to consider, in union with a similar committee of the Convocation of York, what alterations were needed in the Canons of the Church.
The Statement of Canonical Principles was severely criticised, although in a most friendly spirit, in certain articles in the Record on February 26 and March 11, 1892, signed by the well-known initials "L. T. D." (Chancellor Dibdin). Many of the criticisms were based upon the misapprehension that the E. C. U. was aiming at the exemption of the clergy from the temporal jurisdiction of the ordinary criminal courts of the realm. This misapprehension was formally corrected by the publication in the press, by direction of the Council, of a Report signed by the members of the Clergy Discipline Bill Committee of E. C. U., viz., G. Bayfield Roberts, E. G. Wood, W. Crouch, T. A. Lacey, and T. Outram Marshall, In it the Committee especially expressed their acquiescence in the statement of ". T. D.," that "All these [so. Monition, Suspension, Deprivation, Degradation, Excommunication1 are called spiritual censures, and the authority to inflict them is what is meant by spiritual jurisdiction. It is certainly in agreement with the teaching of the Church of England that this jurisdiction can neither be conferred, nor modified, nor taken away by the State, but is purely spiritual."
A "counter Statement" was issued by the Church Association, which exhibited an even more profound ignorance of elementary and universally accepted Church principles than--if that were possible--of Canon Law. To this the E. C. U. published a final "Rejoinder"; but it is said that a further reply was subsequently promulgated by the Church Association.
In the February session of the Lower House of the Convocation of York some indignation was expressed at the way in which the House had been treated by the introduction of the Bill into Parliament before it had been considered by Convocation. The Prolocutor stated, "with very considerable regret," that the Bill, which had been read a first time on the previous Tuesday evening, was still "regarded as a confidential document." He had reminded the President on the previous day that a most distinct pledge had been given by Archbishop Thomson, that no Bill on the subject of Clergy Discipline should be read a second time in the House of Lords without being previously laid before that Convocation. This statement the Prolocutor made with reference to the fact that the Bill was put down for its second reading on that day week, and that Convocation would not meet again until April 26.
The Bill was pushed on through the House of Lords with great rapidity; but from all parts of the country accounts were received of resolutions passed at ruri-decanal Chapters and Conferences, urging that procedure should be by the enactment of Canons in Convocation first, and by Bill in Parliament, sanctioning and confirming such Canons, afterwards. Meanwhile, the Clergy Discipline Bill Committee had drafted a set of Canons and a Bill relating to Clergy Discipline, with a preface pointing out what was the canonical and constitutional manner of carrying out any necessary changes without interference with the spiritual rights of the Church, or violation of the constitutional relations of Church and State. Copies of the Draft Bill and Canons were at once sent, by order of the Council, to all clerical members of E. C. U., to the officers of Branches and District Unions, to the Bishops and members of Convocation, and to other persons, as "A Report presented by a Committee of the Council, and issued by the Council to the Members of E. C. U. for consideration." It being obvious by this time that the Bill (which had been taken up as a Government measure and read a first time in the House of Commons on March 24, 1892), would be relentlessly pushed through with a total disregard of the rights of the Church, the Council resolved that the following motion should be submitted to the Second Ordinary Meeting on March 22,1892. It was accordingly moved on behalf of the Council by Mr. F. C. Holiday, and seconded by Mr. R. B. Prosser:--
That this meeting, while desiring a stringent exercise of spiritual discipline against criminous and immoral clerks, pledges itself to resist the progress of the Clergy Discipline Bill or any measure which professes to confer spiritual powers by authority of Parliament.
Sir Walter Phillimore (who presided in the absence of Lord Halifax, who was detained on the Continent) in his opening address said that "the Archbishop had fallen into that common error of the episcopate for the whole of this century of endeavouring to get at a good result without caring very much for principles"; that "the Council did regret that, in spite of all remonstrances, the Archbishop should persist in adopting a mode of procedure which would strain very considerably the consciences of many of the clergy and laity"; and that "it was because the present Bill went so utterly upon a false principle that he urged that meeting to protest against it." Sir Walter then went on to say that he had been asked by the President to read a letter to the meeting, "which, if it was not carefully considered, might make it appear as if the President of the Union had not quite such a strong feeling on this matter as he (the Chairman) believed he had, or as the members generally had. He thought that he was right in saying that the secret of the matter lay in this, that the President had not seen the full details of the present Bill." The gist of the President's letter lay in the following statement:--
The Episcopate has been in communication with the Government on the subject, and the Bill which has been framed and introduced is the result of those communications. There may be defects in it; in principle, fault may be found with some of its clauses, and even with the manner of its introduction; but granting all this, I cannot see that there is any reason why the Union should appear to put itself into opposition to a measure, the object of which it approves, and which has the sanction of the Episcopate, on account of difficulties, which are difficulties in theory rather than practical objections to the Bill now before Parliament.
The Chairman, however, doubted whether the President was not "assuming, rather than knowing for certain, that the whole Episcopate was in favour of it." Eventually, the resolution was unanimously adopted. With the view of carrying out this resolution, the Clergy Discipline Bill Committee, having received further powers from the Council, entered into confidential communication with persons of eminence, whilst the following Petition was circulated for signature and largely signed:--
That a Bill is now before your Honourable House entitled the Clergy Discipline (Immorality) Bill.
That the said Bill deals with deprivation of cure of souls.
That cure of souls is a spiritual matter.
That therefore your Petitioners most humbly represent to your Honourable House that the matter of clergy discipline should first he treated of, in accordance with precedent, by the spiritual authority of Canons made by the Convocations of the Archbishops, Bishops, and clergy under licence from the Crown, and that subsequently a Statute should be enacted by the authority of Parliament to give legal effect to the said Canons, so far as the same may be needed.
Your Petitioners therefore most humbly pray your Honourable House not to pass the said Bill.
The following Memorials to Convocation were also largely signed:--
To the Most Reverend the Archbishop and the Right Reverend, the Bishops of the Province of Canterbury.
THE HUMBLE PETITION OF THE UNDERSIGNED CLERGY OF THE PROVINCE OF CANTERBURY Sheweth--
That the Lower House of this Province did in 1869 and in 1874, in response to enquiry addressed thereunto by your Lordship's House, resolve that the matter of clergy discipline should be provided for by Canons enacted under licence from the Crown, and that efforts should be made to obtain the repeal of the Church Discipline Act 3 and 4 Vict., c. 86.
That a Bill is now before Parliament entitled the "Clergy Discipline (Immorality) Bill," which provides for clergy discipline, including deprivation of cure of souls by authority of Parliament alone, and re-enacts large portions of the said Statute.
That such a Bill is an invasion of the rights and spiritual independence of the Church.
That your Petitioners would desire that the recommendations of the Lower House above referred to should be carried out.
That your Petitioners therefore pray your Right Reverend House to withhold any approval of the said Bill, and to endeavour to procure its rejection by Parliament.
To the Reverend the Clergy of the Lower House of the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury, Sheweth--
That a Bill is now before Parliament entitled the Clergy Discipline (Immorality) Bill.
That this Bill deals with the spiritual discipline of the clergy. That your Venerable House in 1869 and in 1874 resolved that the said matter ought to be treated of by Canons enacted by Convocation under licence from the Crown.
That the introduction of this Bill into Parliament before such Canons have been passed is a violation of the spiritual independence and rights of the Church.
That your Petitioners therefore humbly request your Reverend House not to support the said Bill, but to enact Canons as aforesaid.
Somewhat similar Petitions were prepared to the two Houses of the Convocation of York, but owing to the date of the session at York it was found to be impossible to circulate them in time.
The Committee also addressed a letter to the members of both Houses of the Convocation of Canterbury, respectfully submitting some criticisms on the form of Canon, provisionally adopted by the Convocation of York, and asking for certain alterations with the view of making it quite clear that deprivation of cure of souls can only be effected by the Bishop acting under the authority of the Church. It was urged that to "declare vacant" would be simply an announcement of an existing fact, and that thus the Bishop's declaration would not take away the spiritual office, but would amount to an admission that the cure of souls had been taken away by Act of Parliament. It was further urged that under no circumstances could the "cure of souls" be said to be "vacant," inasmuch as the cure of souls in the whole diocese is, and always remains, in the Bishop as chief pastor of the diocese.
Meanwhile, the Convocation of Canterbury in great haste drafted a Canon just before the third reading of the Bill in the House of Commons, in order apparently that their action might (seem to) precede the civil enactment of the State. In spite of the opposition of the Bishops of Gloucester and Bristol (Ellicott), and Chichester (Durnford), and the urgent entreaty addressed by the Bishop of Wakefield (Walsham How, Convocation of York) to the Convocation of Canterbury, for time to reconsider the terms of the Canon, it was hastily enacted in the following form:--
If any beneficed priest shall, by reason of any crime or immorality proved against him. become legally disqualified from holding a preferment, it shall be the duty of the Bishop of the diocese wherein his benefice is situate to declare, without further trial, the benefice, with cure of souls (if any), vacant; and if it should not be so declared vacant within twenty-one days, it shall be declared vacant by the Archbishop of the province, or under his authority.
The Bill itself received the Royal assent on June 27, 1892.
As an instance of the unseemly hurry with which so grave a spiritual matter was treated, it may be pointed out that the Royal licence to make a Canon reached York on Tuesday, June 14. The final stage in passing the Bill in the House of Lords was fixed for Thursday, June 16, and the Convocation was therefore hastily summoned to meet on the Thursday, because, as the Archbishop of York stated, "it was desirable that the Canon should be finally promulgated before the final stage of the passing of the Clergy Discipline Bill, which was to take place in the House of Lords that night." Only the Bishop of Durham besides the President was present of the Upper House; whilst the Lower was represented by the Prolocutor, the Dean of York, the Archdeacon of the East Riding, and ten or a dozen proctors of the clergy. The energetic action of the Council and of the E. C. U. generally might thus have seemed to have issued in failure; but the agitation raised was by no means in vain. It promoted a thorough enquiry into the canonical and constitutional principles of legislation in spiritual matters; its effect was marked in the debates in the Convocation of York; it secured a very general acquiescence in the principles set forth; and it is admitted that should further legislation take place, so discredited a method as that adopted in the case of the Clergy Discipline Bill must be carefully avoided. U may just be pointed out that the Canon only covers one part of the Bill, and that the remainder has never received any synodical sanction whatever. It stands solely upon the authority of the civil power, and is therefore one more instance of the successful application by the State of that principle of Erastianism which Churchmen are always ready verbally to denounce, but to which they have been only too ready in the past supinely to submit, provided sufficient pressure be applied. This charge, however, cannot be laid against the B. C. U., whose unfaltering adherence to principle would probably have secured better immediate results but for the action of the "Young Wales" party in Parliament, whose reckless and insensate obstruction of the Bill prevented amendments being moved, by influential members of Parliament, which would have gone far to remove some of the gravest faults in the Bill. The resolution respecting the Clergy Discipline Bill, which was passed at the First Ordinary Meeting on December 8, 1891, has been already cited.
At the Second Ordinary Meeting at the Parish Room of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Stroud Green, on March 22, 1892, besides another resolution respecting the Clergy Discipline Bill already cited, the following resolution was adopted:--
Moved (on behalf of the Council) by the Rev. G. Bayfield Roberts, and seconded by the Rev. T. A. Lacey--
That, in the opinion of the Union, the time has come for active steps to be taken to obtain the repeal of the Church Discipline Act of 1840, and of the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874, with a view to the restoration to the Episcopate of the free exorcise of its judicial powers; and the President and Council are hereby requested to take measures to promote such repeal.
At the Third Ordinary Meeting held at the Westminster Palace Hotel on April 26, 1892, the following resolution was adopted:--
Moved by Rev. W. Crouch, seconded by Rev. Dr. Belcher:--
(l) That this meeting of the E. C. U., recognising the great injury to family life and to the morals of the country which has resulted from the various Divorce Acts passed during the last thirty-five years in violation of the Law of God as to the indissolubility of the marriage bond--declared in Holy Scripture, and set forth in tin1 Book of Common Prayer--calls on the members and associates of the Union to make a vigorous and united effort to arouse the conscience of the country on the subject, both by procuring signatures to the Petition to Parliament for the repeal of those Acts, and by such other means as may be within their power.
(a) That all the members of the Union, and Churchmen generally be urged to use their influence with their representatives in Parliament:
(a) To procure the repeal of at least those clauses in the Divorce Acts which require the parochial clergy either to perform the service themselves, or allow the churches to be used for the marriage (so-called) of a divorced person whose real husband or wife is still living;
(b) To resist the passing of a Bill introduced by Mr. Hunter and others for extending still further the grounds for divorce.
On May 11, 1892, at a Special Meeting of the Council, summoned under Rule 71, at which fifty-nine members were present, Archdeacon Denison moved, and the Rev. Berdmore Compton seconded, the following resolution:--
Whereas it is a first and a main object of the English Church Union to defend and maintain unimpaired the Doctrine of the Church of England against all attacks from Rationalism from within
And whereas the Integrity and Divine Authority of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and the perfectness of our Lord's Knowledge in respect of those Scriptures, are so attacked by the (so-called) "New Criticism," and the Doctrine of the Church of England is therein and thereby impaired;
The Council of the English Church Union hereby records its protest against all denial of the Integrity and Divine Authority of the Scriptures aforesaid; and against all affirmation that the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ in respect thereof was a limited knowledge.
The Rev. Edmund G. Wood thought it better to deal directly with the Book, entitled Lux Mundi, instead of passing a resolution about "the Higher Criticism." He therefore moved as an amendment:--
To omit all after the word "within," in order to insert "In the opinion of the Council it is matter of regret that Statements rash and of a nature to unsettle unlearned people in regard to the authority of Holy Scripture and the Person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ have been made in the Book called Lux Mundi. The Council, in recording this opinion, disclaims any intention of calling in question in any way the personal orthodoxy of any one of the writers."
After a long discussion, the amendment of the Rev. E. G. Wood was lost by four votes to fifty-one.
After a long discussion, Mr. Shaw Stewart moved, and the Rev. Canon Bristow seconded, the following amendment:--
The President and Council are of opinion that the questions which are supposed to be raised by the "New Criticism" are not such as can be discussed under present circumstances with advantage by such a body as the Union.
This amendment was carried by thirty-six votes to fourteen, and subsequently, as a substantive Motion, by twenty-three votes to fourteen. In consequence of this vote, Archdeacon Denison withdrew from the Union.
The Educational Work Committee having reported that the study of Church principles might be promoted by means of examinations, with certificates and prizes, the President and Council authorized them to carry out their scheme, and to spend a sum not exceeding £50 in prizes and certificates. The Branches were subsequently consulted on the subject, and, after consideration of the replies received, it was resolved that any prizes given should be in the form of books, and that instead of offering a limited number of prizes for competition, three classes of certificates--"Excellent," "Good," and "Satisfactory"--should be issued, and that; a present of a book should be given to all who obtained the highest form of certificate, thus encouraging candidates not to compete against one another for a prize, but to try to attain to a certain standard of excellence.
The appeal of the Church Association to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council against the decision of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Lincoln case was heard on June 10, 11, 12,15,16, and July 2, 3, 7, 8, 1891, before the Lord Chancellor (Halsbury), Lord Hobhouse, the Master of the Rolls (Esher), Lord Herschell, Lord Hannen, Sir Richard Couch, Lord Shand, and Lord Field. The Assessors were the Bishops of Lichfield (Maclagan), Chichester (Durnford), and St. David's (Jones). The counsel for the Church Association were Sir Horace Davey, Q.C., M.P., Dr. Tristram, Q.C., and Mr. Danckwerts; the Bishop of Lincoln was not represented by counsel, and from first to last took no notice of the proceedings. Judgment was reserved.
At the Annual Meeting at Prince's Hall, Piccadilly, on June 14, 1892, the President, referring to the Clergy Discipline Bill, said:--
There has been no real difference of opinion amongst us; such difference as there has been hag merely had to do with the application of the principle upon which every member of the Union is absolutely agreed, and is determined to fight to the very last--the inherent and indefeasible right of the Church to the exercise within her own sphere of her own spiritual authority.
Upon the motion that the Annual Report "be received," the Rev. H. R. Baker moved as an amendment:--
To omit the words "be received," in order to insert the words "be referred back" to the Council, in order that they may reconsider the last paragraph beginning "The President and Council feel."
Mr. Baker objected that so important a matter as the resignation of the Senior Vice-President (Archdeacon Denison), in consequence of the decision of the Council to take no action in the matter of Lux Mundi, should have been passed over in silence. He also condemned the "attitude of distinct neutrality" adopted by the Council in respect of the Higher Criticism. The amendment was negatived by a large majority.
The President, in reply to Mr. Baker, said:--
On behalf of the Council, I would say that the Council has never at any period, much less during the past year, refused to defend the Canonical Scriptures; and it has never assumed au attitude of neutrality in regard to the New Criticism. It has simply declined to entertain a subject which the Convocation of Canterbury, the Synod of the clergy of this Province, has declined to entertain previously.
In his Annual Address, delivered at the beginning of the Meeting, the President had already referred to the subject in the following terms:--
Theological statements, if erroneous, can only be met in one of two ways--either by authority, as when the Church condemns, or argumentatively, as when they are refuted..... The Council of the Union has certainly no authority to condemn, and however competent individual Members of that body may be to discuss theology, neither the Council of the Union, nor the Union at large, are bodies adapted for the discussion of intricate and confessedly difficult questions of pure theology.
The following resolutions were adopted:--
Moved by the Rev. A. H. Ward (St. Raphael's. Bristol), and seconded by the Rev. Dr. Batterson (a priest of the American Church)--
That a Memorial be addressed to the members of the Episcopate and to the Synods of both Provinces begging them to take steps--(1) To ensure that the Holy Eucharist be celebrated at least on every Sunday and saints' day in every parochial church or chapel having a cure of souls attached to it.
(2) To secure an earlier hour than 11 o'clock on Sundays for Divine service, and to discourage all arrangements which have the effect of substituting Mattins for the great act of Christian Worship.
(3) To provide, in all places where it is practicable, for two celebrations of Holy Communion on Sunday--one to be said not later than 8 o'clock a.m., the second to be sung not later than 10.30 or 11, after Mattins have been previously said, or sung, in order that opportunity may be given to all to attend public worship on Sundays.
(4) To make provision that in all cathedral and collegiate churches there be a daily Celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
(5) To provide, as far as possible, in all parochial churches and chapels having cure of souls attached to them, where the Holy Eucharist can only be celebrated once on Sundays and saints' days, that such Celebration be not later than 9 or 0.30, in order to facilitate the observance of the, universal custom of the Church that Holy Communion be received fasting.
The Rev. Canon T. W. Perry, Vicar of Ardleigh, a Tice-President of the Society, and one of its earliest and most devoted members, died on the Feast of St. Barnabas, July 11th, 1891. The President and Council gladly agreed to co-operate with the Committee of the Essex (North) D. U. in raising the funds for the memorial of him, which had been decided on as most appropriate--viz., the completion of the decoration of the chancel of St. Mary the Virgin, Ardleigh--and commended the object to the support of the Union at large.
The sum of £1,200 was given by members of the Union to build the chancel of the new church at Charlton-in-Dover as a thank-offering for the witness to the Church's rights and liberties borne by the Rev. S. F. Green, the Vicar, at St. John's, Miles Platting, and in Lancaster Gaol.
During the year 3,108 persons joined the Union bringing up the total to 33,760. The Sussex District Union was dissolved, and two new District Unions, one for Brighton and Mid-Sussex, and the other for West Sussex, formed in its stead, and five new Local Branches were formed. Total--District Unions, 62; Branches 368.