REVEREND FATHERS IN CHRIST, AND DEAR BRETHREN OF THE LAITY:
IN His dear Name Who makes us one in Himself, we again bid you welcome to your Cathedral, and ask His guidance on your counsels. May the same spirit of brotherly charity which has hitherto so marked our Diocese, be with us, and make us of one mind in the Lord's house. Not that we can all have the same opinions, even on theological subjects, or form the same judgments about matters of policy, but we all can be of one mind in regard to the Church's faith and of one heart in seeking its progress, so that our minor and personal differences shall only the more energetically call forth that charity which knits us by its victories more closely one to another.
It is with a heart full of gratitude and wonder that we look upon the progress that has been made during these past nine years of our Episcopate, and, under God, we owe it to the intelligent support given us by the Laity, and the trustful loyalty of those Clergy, who have rallied around us and remained at their posts and followed us as their Spiritual General.
There are in the world, dear brethren, as you well know, centers of influence and opportunities of advance. Centers there have ever been, where the scepter of power has been enthroned, opportunities which, seized, lead on to victories. Opportunity, it has been said, waits beside us with bandaged eyes and winged feet. Her eyes are bandaged, for men ofttimes fail to discern her; her feet are winged, for she so speedily takes her flight. Centers of influence, opportunities for victory, the intelligent and resolute discern and make their own. What a central force in the progress of humanity is the Anglo-Saxon Race becoming! How vast is the prospect which opens before the statesmen of America and England by the moral alliance of the two nations. One in their common principles of civil and Religious liberty, in government by Congress or Parliament, in their systems of justice and common law, they lead in the way of humanity's progress.
Not less stimulating to Churchmen must appear the destiny of the Anglican Church; so conservative in faith yet so progressive in action, so full of resources and opportunities of doing good. All lovers of Christ can find within her the fullest stores of grace for their own spiritual advancement and a field rich with promise for the exercise of every gift. In the forward movement in which the Anglican Communion is now engaged, we know our American branch with its eighty Bishops has no unimportant duty to fulfil; and here in our own country we must recognize the fact that the center of influence is gravitating to the west.
We need not try to impress upon you, of the Laity or the Clergy, the importance of Wisconsin's position in these central western states. She is celebrating to-day her Jubilee. She has a wonderful record for her fifty years of Statehood. It is commonplace to remark upon her growing material prospects, her great natural resources, her many advantages, her educational institutions, increasing culture, progressive yet conservative spirit. No one can live in the West without feeling the immense reserve forces for future progress which are yet dormant within her. Here we have a center of influence and opportunity of successful Church work such as is not surpassed in any portion of our land. We stand here in this Central West and in Wisconsin, at the very center of the Nation's heart, and the life-beat of political, educational, and religious influence will one day make its pulsations felt, from the Alleghanies to the Rockies.
It is the conviction, dear brethren of the Clergy, that the importance of your work was not to be measured by the respective boundaries of your several Parishes, that has upheld you in the midst of your arduous labors in hidden and comparatively obscure positions. We are expressing to you an old and familiar thought, but which has become almost a battle-cry amongst us: "Give we ourselves to God, and God through us can move the world." What Archimedes said, that "any place would do, it mattered not where, provided he had one, and he could with his lever move the world," applies to spiritual things.
What cannot a Bishop with a united body of Clergy and Laity with him, do for the Church! Let us labor together in heart, and mind, and soul, to make this Diocese solidly one for the Church's faith and practise, and so develop the spiritual life among us that Christian hearts, as they see our united love, zeal, and devotion, will say the Lord indeed is in the midst of you, and will go with you.
The work during the year divides itself naturally into three divisions. Immediately after the Council last year I left, in obedience to the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, for England, to attend the Lambeth Conference. The day before sailing from New York, I preached and confirmed in the Church of St. Edward the Martyr.
From the latter part of June, when I arrived, to the end of July, I was in London in attendance on the Conference. While there preached at All Saints' Church, St. Cuthbert's, St. Alban's, and St. Margaret's, East Grinsted, and subsequently at Ryde, and Worcester Cathedral.
The results of the Conference you have had in the published report and in the Encyclical letter. It is needless now for me to dwell upon them. One could not but be impressed with the unanimity which pervaded this gathering of Bishops from all parts of the world. All the resolutions which it passed were adopted by very large majorities, and in many cases nemine contradicente. There could not be a more forcible demonstration of the truth that the Church on earth does not need the monarchical power of a Pope to bind it together, but that it can be one in doctrine and practise and fellowship and work in loving concord under the guidance of the Holy Ghost.
Not the least result of the Conference has been the drawing together of the Clergy of all classes of opinion, in a better understanding of one another's position, and in a more orderly and loyal subordination of the Clergy to their fathers in God. It was a natural outcome of the tremendous progress and spirit of adaptation within the Church, to our present needs, that during the past twenty years there should be some irregularity in the introduction of new services and modes of work. If in the endeavors for human progress, we all agree that much ought to be pardoned to the spirit of liberty, much more in the revival of Church life must be much condoned to the spirit of reverence and zeal. But now it is becoming more generally recognized that the "jus liturgicum," or right to put forth services in addition to those of the Book of Common Prayer, belongs inherently to the Episcopate. And now that most of the Bishops, giving up their own private individual opinions, and recognizing it as their duty to be governed in the matters of doctrine and ritual and in all their utterances by the solidarity of the Episcopate, the Clergy are being found more ready to obey them as their fathers in God. If the Bishops do not listen to the voice of the whole Church and be obedient, they cannot and have no right to expect that their Clergy should be obedient to them. But now they are beginning to do this. It is thus one fruit of the Conference that the hearts of the fathers are being turned to the children, and the hearts of the children turned more obediently to their fathers in God.
Another great result of the Conference has been the recognition of the Religious Life as a distinct vocation coming from God, a life found in the New Testament and having a recognized place in the Church. It is a matter of devout congratulation accepted by all Churchmen, high and low, that there are now more consecrated religious women in the Anglican Church than there were at the time of the Reformation. Here, too, as the principles which underlie the Religious life are now being more fully understood by all Churchmen, the relation of the Religious Orders to the Bishops are being better defined. It is not in the province of the Bishop to change the Constitution or Rule, or to govern the interior affairs of a Community. His place is that of a visitor, to see that the rule given by the Founder and adopted by the Community and approved by the Church, by some Committee representing the Bishop, is carried out. He has a right to an inspection of the accounts of the Religious House, in order that he may see that the money given is applied to the objects designated, and so can commend the institution to the charity of the faithful. He licenses the Chaplain and gives, either himself or by his delegated authority, the Habit to novices at their "clothing," and he accepts and seals their vows at their profession. In the wisdom of the Church it has been thought best that these vows now should be simple vows, which, according to Canon law, establishes the professed in a true, Religious state, but are not what are technically called solemn vows, which deprive the taker of the power of making wills and are without any possibility of release on the part of the Community and the Bishop. It is a matter of congratulation for all interested in the Religious Life, to know that now all the leading Religious Orders in America and in England are working in loyal accord with the Episcopate. It is a vital gain for the Catholic movement that the Religious Life is now recognized and formally sanctioned by the Church.
The third great outcome of the Lambeth Conference, and the greatest, we believe to have been the missionary spirit which it engendered. The Church seemed to be kindled anew with Pentecostal energy. May its divine impulse reach us here in our Diocese, great with hope because great with trials, and lead us to renew our self-consecration, and kindle a fire in all our hearts for the advance of Christ's Kingdom.
The second division of my yearly work extends from my return from England and the resumption of my labors at the Cathedral, to the 25th of January, the Feast of St. Paul. It was a great gratification to me, on my return from England, to be received with the public service and welcome that I was, at the Cathedral.
During the past year, as I have before noticed, in consequence of a diminution of the Clerical staff at the Cathedral, I have had to give a larger portion of my time than usual to its care. It has not been without its anxiety and its strain upon myself, but it will be a gratification to the Diocese to know that the work here is being consolidated, the debt that has been upon it for many years is gradually diminishing, and I look forward confidently within a year to see the greater part of its liabilities entirely removed; and there never was a more united feeling, and the future prospect of the Cathedral is bright with hope.
It was during this portion of my yearly work that I visited Oneida and preached at the funeral of the old Chief, Skenandoah. Something of which you may well feel proud and take a growing interest in, is the fact that we have in our Diocese the oldest Indian Mission belonging to the Church in America.
During my Episcopate the work there has gradually developed. The Mission House, which was in a somewhat dilapidated condition when I came, has been thoroughly renovated and enlarged. A hospital has been built, and now under the present Missionary is in active operation, with a resident nurse and under the care of a local physician. The farm belonging to the Mission has been improved by building a suitable barn, and so worked under the direction of a practical farmer as to be an object lesson to the Indians, and the beginning of a creamery has been made. The Sisters of the Holy Nativity have, at their own expense, built a house at the Mission, and support it themselves, and are assisting the Missionary in administering to the spiritual needs of the Indians.
In the development of the Diocesan work I have adhered to a previously formed plan, and now having built a number of new Churches, a number of Guild houses and Rectories, before making any further efforts in the way of Church extension, my desire is to see that the Clergy of the Diocese should receive a better and more substantial support. Our Church has practically parted with the old system of pew rents, and has adopted what is called the system of "free sittings," trusting her support to the conscientious duty of the Laity in setting apart a fixed portion of their income yearly for the support of the Lord's work. The "free Church system," as it is called, has some advantages and many disadvantages. In large cities where there are many Churches, it weakens Parochial ties. Also persons do not feel the obligation of attending Church with the same regularity as when they have a family pew. Besides Congregations where the sittings are free are more restless, critical, and migratory. Moreover the obligation of supporting the Missionary cause ofttimes suffers, because all the offertory is needed for the support of the Parish. Furthermore, while the obligation of setting apart a portion of one's income is conscientiously recognized by a few, a larger number regard their Church contribution as a mere matter of charity, and give as little as they respectably can.
The free Church system is the ideal one, and that it is based upon a correct principle, we do not question. It would be impossible now to revert to the older system of pew rents, but if our Church is to become established and our people enjoy the blessing of a learned, devout Clergy, whose homes shall be centers of social and spiritual influence; if the Laity are to enjoy the blessing of settled and long pastorates, they must make better provision for the support of the Clergy. Two things the Laity should realize: the duty first of all to set apart a certain portion of their income yearly for God's service, and then to regulate the scale of their expenditures upon what is left. God, dear brethren, owns us and all that we possess; and it is only by making a generous offering to God of what we have that we can rightly enjoy the blessings that our remaining means afford. First give to God, and the rest you may enjoy.
The second thing is this: A free Church system which is right in principle needs, in our Diocese, if we are to have the blessings of a pious, learned, settled pastorate, endowments. May I not here publicly ask the Clergy to point out to the Laity in their respective Parishes, the duty of leaving in their wills something for the support of their own Parish Church. No matter how little, let all do something. Let each person leave something to the Trustees of the Diocese, or to their own Vestry if they see fit, a sum the yearly income of which shall be appropriated to the support of the Clergymen of their own Parish. It would cost but little if the Laity would insure their lives, for but one or two hundred dollars for this purpose. If this were done, it would not be very long before in every Parish there would be, as there are now in some few, a small endowment, which, added to what the people could give, would afford to the Clergy a comfortable support. It is impossible for a Clergyman to do his duty when pinched by poverty or laboring under the harassment of debt. If we want to secure to our Diocese a body of able and learned, zealous men, we must as a rule give them better salaries than they now receive. Do you realize, dear brethren, that there are only three congregations in this Diocese that pay their Clergyman $1000 a year? One Clergyman I know has but $200. If you ask how he can be supported, I must tell you he gains his support as St. Paul did --- by labor on the farm with his own hands. I have known Clergymen in this Diocese who have not had fresh meat on their table for six weeks at a time. Of one who, in order to give what he thought was necessaries to a sick wife, went for a long time on a single meal a day. Of another, who, with his wife and children, sat down for over a week to a fare of potatoes and bread.
These, you may say, are exceptional cases. That is true. But leaving out the Church at Oshkosh, the average of our Clergy's salaries is under $700. Now it is my belief, and I am uttering no vain boast, that we have as intelligent, able, devout set of Clergy in this Diocese of Fond du Lac as is to be found in any Diocese of the same extent in any part of the country. They are giving themselves to the work here because they know it is the Master's work. They are willing to be hidden and obscure. They are content with the gospel wages. They do not seek for great Parishes. They are not looking for great outward results. They know, however, they are laying foundations. They are doing a work here in this central portion of our country which they believe, under God, will in due time have its influence far beyond the limits of the state.
They are singularly united together in their acceptance in its fulness of the Catholic faith, the Church's teaching. They work in loving loyalty to their Bishop and in consecrated devotion and zeal for their Lord.
They feel as many of the Laity also do, that among the many causes which are now stirring men's hearts to their very depths, there is no one greater or more urgent than the cause of our Master, and Lord and King.
What I would like to see done by the aid of those within and without the Diocese, is the formation of some general sustentation Clergy Fund, the income of which might be appropriated by the Board of Missions, or some other body appointed specially for that purpose, to supplement the incomes of our Clergy.
You will pardon me, dear brethren, if I depart somewhat from my usual custom of severely confining my remarks to our own humble sphere of work and the duties which lie respectively before us as Bishop, Priests, and people. A nation which for a generation has enjoyed the blessings of peace has found it its duty to engage in war. We may thank God that now it is not, as before, in civil strife that we are engaged. We may humbly believe that under God one result shall be the better uniting together the North and South and West in an indestructible nationality. While we humbly ask God not to visit our national sins upon us, which we deeply deplore and for which we repent, we may trustingly ask Him to guide and bless our efforts in behalf of humanity and the enfranchisement of the oppressed. We have little sympathy with those who are ever prating of the horrors of war and do not realize the horrors of peace. Both peace and war have their dangers and temptations, and both may be blessings. Next to the Christian Priest there is no higher, more honorable calling than that of a Christian soldier. The mark of self-sacrifice is upon each. The true Priest preaches from the pulpit of a Cross. The soldier bearing his hiked cross-formed sword, takes his life in his hand. The enjoyment of peace, it might almost be said, is only justifiable when it rests upon noble warfare undertaken at the call of duty, and should not be contentedly rested in for its own blessings alone, but ever coupled with the necessary national duty that peace is the time to prepare for war. If, dear brethren, a national war rightly undertaken binds our hearts as citizens more closely together, shall not the greater contest for Christ and his kingdom dissipate our prejudices, uproot our differences, and melt our hearts and wills into oneness of affection and action for Christ's dear sake? Let not our enthusiasm and love for the Stars and Stripes be deeper and more intense than our love and self-sacrifice for the Cross and Jesus Christ. The war between Good and Evil, between the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness, which began when angel cohorts clashed together, and the voice of Michael, the Archangel, rang out "Who like unto God"; the eternal contest that has ever been waged between the Kingdom of Christ and His Church, and the Kingdom of this world and Satan, we believe must be drawing to its final crisis, and that it will not be long ere Satan's host shall be conquered, and evil and sin, like the uncanny things of darkness, shall flee away, and Christ the King, in all the splendor of his ascension glory, shall reveal Himself the victor on the battle field. In this war we are all enlisted, and "There is no discharge," the prophet says, "in this war." Let our trials and failures only kindle greater enthusiasms.
Let us all remember, that while in the natural order the law of success seems to be the survival of the fittest, in the warfare between the evil and the good, success almost always waits on the sacrifice of the best. You of the Clergy who have been called to labor in fields apparently obscure, take heart and courage. Leave life or death, sickness or health, personal failure or success, to God. Give yourselves up to Him generously, not asking Him to help you do your work, but yield yourselves up submissively, that He may do His work through you.
Here, dear brethren, I close. Bu-t let me, ere I conclude, read to you the words of one of your number now gathered into rest. We all of us at times feel the burden of our work; our hearts, sometimes, like that of the prophet, sink; we are tempted to be weary of the strife and battle, and we cannot but feel the attacks with which we are assaulted. One who for many years lived here in this Diocese, and did a true work for God, was the Rev. Mr. Goodnough, Missionary to the Oneida Indians for thirty-five years. I could not but be helped and refreshed by the words of this good man which I read a few days ago. He had just completed, after many disappointments, the stone edifice in which the Indians worship. Listen, brethren, to his words. Take them home, and may they be blessed. May they come to you wafted from Heaven's heights and bring refreshment and godly cheer to your souls. Thus he wrote in his report:
"The stone Church has been completed. This work has occupied our thoughts and our energies for the half of a generation. We feel deeply thankful to God for His gracious goodness to us in permitting us to behold this solid structure standing here, a witness of His loving kindness towards us, His unworthy servants. We are truly thankful to our Father in God, Who has so gently borne with our infirmities and failings, and so wisely led us on, step by step, and has so faithfully taught us to work on in patience and peace, leaving results to Him Who knows how and when to reward his poorest and most obscure servants. We heartily thank all those beloved children of our Heavenly Father who have aided us with their money and their prayers, without whose aid it would likely have been impossible for us to have built this house. We have it in our hearts also, to thank those who have felt it to be their duty to oppose and hinder our work of building this Church, because the harder labor their hindrances imposed upon us has made it all the more dear to us, and awakened a zeal and a trust in and for God in our hearts which can now never be quenched by any devices of the evil one."
May this spirit, dear brethren, be yours and mine.