ST. THOMAS'S PARISH
Rev. E. CLOWES CHORLEY, D. D.
Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2012
"Walk about Sion, and go round about her:
and tell the towers thereof.
Mark well her bulwarks, and set up her house:
that ye may tell them that come after."
Psalm xlviii. 11,12.
THE CENTENNIAL OF ST. THOMAS'S PARISH,
MY task this morning is to weave together the varied strands of the history of a parish which has borne its stedfast witness to the Faith of the Gospel and to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the American Church for the long period of One hundred years.
Fortunately, the Minutes of the Vestry have been carefully preserved from the beginning. They unfold a fascinating story of light and shade; of beginnings small as a grain of mustard seed; of financial difficulties strangely foreign to the Saint Thomas's of today. A story of strong loyalties, and of the prophetic vision of men who twice dared to build their parish church in the fields. Above all, it is a story of a parish which has found its life in losing it, and which has played a noble part in strengthening the stakes and lengthening the cords of the Kingdom of God in the United States of America and the regions beyond.
 The one hundred years of Saint Thomas's covers the major period of the history of the American Church since the War of the Revolution. We adopted our Constitution and issued our own Book of Common Prayer just thirty-four years before this parish was incorporated.
The General Theological Seminary was in its infancy having returned to New York after its exile at New Haven for two years. [* The first building (East) of the Seminary, standing in an apple orchard, was occupied in 1827.] Its resident professor was the Rev. Dr. Samuel H. Turner distinguished equally for his great learning and his hatred of Gregorian chants.
The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society had been organized two years, but no domestic missionaries were sent out until 1825, and five years more elapsed before the going forth of the first foreign missionary.
In 1823 there were ten bishops and sixteen dioceses, including the Eastern Diocese which embraced the five States of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Maine. William White, in the 36th year of his episcopate, was Presiding Bishop; [4/5] Alexander Veits Griswold, that stalwart Evangelical, cared for the Eastern Diocese; John Henry Hobart had jurisdiction over the entire State of New York; Richard Channing Moore was sweeping like a flame of fire through Virginia; Philander Chase was evangelizing Ohio and planning for Kenyon College; Thomas Church Brownell was building on the Seabury foundation in Connecticut; James Kemp, the first Suffragan Bishop of the American Church, had succeeded Claggett in Maryland; John Croes, a soldier of the Revolution, was the first Bishop of New Jersey, and Nathaniel Bowen, former Rector of Grace Church, in this city, was Bishop of South Carolina. The year of the founding of St. Thomas's witnessed the consecration of that militant and unconventional churchman, John Stark Ravenscroft, as first Bishop of North Carolina.
At the General Convention of 1823 the House of Bishops was comfortably accommodated in the Vestry room of St. Peter's, Philadelphia; forty clergymen and twenty-four laymen made up the House of Deputies, among the latter being Francis Scott Key, author of The Star Spangled Banner.
 In the State of New York there were 127 congregations, 4,722 communicants and 89 clergymen. The missionary work was carried on under the auspices of the Committee for the Propagation of the Gospel in the State of New York. This committee employed 21 missionaries at a stipend of $125 per annum from the central fund. Outside the city of New York there were the old colonial parishes on Long Island and in Westchester County; one parish in Brooklyn under the care of Henry Ustice Onderdonk, future Bishop of Pennsylvania; one on Staten Island—old St. Andrew's; two in Putnam County. Dutchess County had churches in Poughkeepsie, Fishkill, Hyde Park and Tivoli. On the west side of the Hudson River were the parishes at Newburgh, Goshen, New Windsor and Monticello. To the north was Christ Church, Hudson; and St. Peter's, Albany, with 175 communicants. Henry Anthon had charge of Trinity, Utica, and there were 40 communicants at St. Luke's, Rochester. Buffalo, and 'parts adjacent'—a familiar phrase in the early Convention Journals—was listed as a 'missionary station'.
One hundred years ago New York City had a population of 160,000 people. [6/7] Broadway and the Bowery were the leading thoroughfares and stage coaches ran hourly to the villages of Harlem, Yorkville, Chelsea and Manhattanville.
The frame building of the second Trinity Church stood at the head of Wall Street, and associated with it were St. Paul's and St. John's Chapels. St. George's, Beekman Street, had been rebuilt after the fire of 1814, and the French Church stood at the corner of Pine and Nassau Streets. Grace Church occupied the southwest corner of Rector Street and Broadway, with Christ Church, Anthony Street, not far away. Zion Church stood in Mott Street; and St. Philip's, the church for colored folk, in Collect Street. Old St. Mark's was on the Bowery and St. Stephen's at the corner of Broome and Chrystie Streets. St. Luke's had been recently built in Hudson Street.
Away uptown, 'where some gentlemen had country seats along the East River', St. James' Church had been erected in Hamilton Square, at Lexington Avenue and Sixty-ninth Street. St. Michael's was in the village of Bloomingdale, and on December 18, 1823, the parish of St. Mary's in the village of Manhattanville, was incorporated.
 The New York clergy formed a notable group. The noblest Roman of them all, John Henry Hobart, added to the episcopal care of all the churches, the rectorship of Trinity parish and a professorship in the General Theological Seminary. His assistants in Trinity parish were Benjamin Tredwell Onderdonk, afterwards fourth Bishop of New York; John F. Schroeder, and William Berrian, later for 32 years rector of Trinity; Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright, afterwards Provisional Bishop of New York, was rector of Grace Church; Dr. Milnor, who had passed from Congress to the Church, was rector of St. George's; Rev. William Harriss, was President of Columbia, and John M'Vickar, professor of the same College; Charles P. McIlwaine, afterwards Bishop of Ohio, was chaplain at West Point, and Alonzo Potter, in Deacon's Orders, father of Henry Codman Potter of blessed memory, and future Bishop of Pennsylvania, was a Professor at Union College. Henry J. Whitehouse, who succeeded Chase in Illinois, was a Deacon residing in the City, and Manton Eastburn, who was to follow Griswold as Bishop of Massachusetts, was officiating in Christ Church. [8/9] George Washington Doane, second Bishop of New Jersey, who later first introduced John Keble's Christian Year to America, was a student in the Seminary and William B. Whittingham, afterwards Bishop of Maryland, and the pioneer 'catholic' of the American Church, was a candidate for Orders.
Such was the background of Saint Thomas's parish. In the fall of the year 1823 a group of men interested in the establishment of a new parish in the upper part of the city engaged a room at No. 440 Broome Street for divine worship. The first service was held on Sunday evening, October 12 and was conducted by the Rev. Dr. Wainwright of Grace Church, nearly all of the clergy of the city being present. The sermon was preached by the Rev. Cornelius Roosevelt Duffle from Psalm 87.2., 'The Lord loveth the gates of Zion, more than all the dwellings of Jacob.' The necessary legal papers were acknowledged before Judge John J. Irving of the Court of Common Pleas on January 9, 1824. From that time forward services were held regularly on Sundays and occasionally on Thursday evenings.
The venture was a success, and on December 4th it was resolved to proceed with the incorporation of a new parish. [9/10] On Christmas Day, 1823, the incorporation was effected under the name and style of Saint Thomas's Church in the City and County of New York. Wardens and Vestrymen were elected the same day as follows:
Isaac Lawrence. Thomas M. Huntington.
David Hadden, William Beach Lawrence, John J. Lambert, Charles King,
Murray Hoffman, Richard Oakley, John Duer and William B. Astor.
[* Isaac Lawrence and John J. Lambert had been prominent members of St. George's Chapel.]
Under date of January 8, 1824, Thomas N. Stanford, the New York church publisher and an intimate friend of Bishop Hobart's, wrote, "Mr. Duffle's people have organized by the name of St. Thomas's, and a most efficient and respectable Vestry have been chosen. I attend his Sunday evening lectures with great pleasure and profit. He is a most beautiful and accomplished writer."
Early in 1824 steps were taken to build a church, 'to ascertain the best mode of raising money and to consider regulations respecting the sale of pews'. On February 17, the Rev. Cornelius Roosevelt Duffle was elected first rector of the parish.
 Four days later the Rev. Dr. Benjamin T. Onderdonk wrote Bishop Hobart, then in Europe, "Duffle made a beginning at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway, last Sunday evening. It was a very full congregation; and everybody seems to think his prospects are very promising".
After careful consideration lots were purchased at the corner of Broadway and Houston Street. The choice of such a location was a venture of faith. It was far removed from the population. The residential section centered around City Hall Park and St. John's Park. Houston Street was surrounded by large open spaces dotted with big trees, and it was freely predicted that no congregation could be gathered so far uptown.
It was not easy to find the money for the new church and the lots were mortgaged heavily. The Vestry also took advantage of the rural surroundings to lay out a churchyard and they opened a subscription for the sale of family vaults 9 x 11 at the rate of $225 each.
The corner-stone was laid on Thursday afternoon, July 27, 1824. In the absence in England of Bishop Hobart, Bishop White officiated, [11/12] assisted by the Bishops of Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey. It is recorded that there was 'a very respectable concourse of attentive spectators ranged on the surrounding banks'. In 1824 the parish reported 23 communicants, and the following year, 45.
The consecration of the church took place on the morning of Thursday, February 23, 1826, the service being conducted by Bishop Hobart. The Evening Post noted that 'the building is 62 feet in width, and 113 in length, the latter dimension being the same as that of St. Paul's and Grace Churches'.
Four days later, in accordance with the invariable custom of that time, the pews were sold by public auction—half the purchase money payable in cash and the residue in six months at six per cent interest. The sale produced $21,475.
Bishop Hobart held the first confirmation in October. Among the 26 candidates was Horatio Potter, then a student in the Seminary, and afterwards Bishop of New York. In 1826 there were 106 communicants and about 150 families. The first contributions of the parish to the diocesan funds amounted to $96.02.
 On August 27, 1827, the parish suffered the loss of Mr. Duffle who died, universally regretted, after a brief illness. On March 6, 1828, the Rev. George Upfold, M.D., former rector of St. Luke's, was instituted rector of St. Thomas's by Bishop Hobart who preached from the words, 'The Man of God'. The sermon was printed at the request of the Vestry.
In 1829 Dr. Upfold reported 170 communicants; the organization of a female Sunday School and of a female Missionary Association.
In 1831 the parish found itself with a debt on the building of $30,000 and a floating debt of over $3,000. In the extremity an appeal was made to Trinity parish which immediately responded with a loan of $20,000, to which more was added later. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that in the early days of the Nineteenth century Trinity parish was the nursing mother not only of all the city parishes, but also of the parishes throughout the diocese reaching to the north and western boundaries of the State. The strongest argument urged against the creation of the diocese of Western New York was that it would be impossible to maintain the work of the Church there without the aid of Trinity parish.
 In 1831 Dr. Upfold resigned and removed to Trinity Church, Pittsburgh, where, after a ministry of 18 years, he succeeded Bishop Kemper in the diocese of Indiana. Left without a minister, the parish was in a critical condition. Indications of a change in the character of the population were not lacking, and Saint Thomas's was reported as 'far from prosperous.' The Church of the Ascension had been established in Canal Street in 1827; St. Clement's Church was opened in 1830, and the congregation of Saint Thomas's was declining. Many pews were unsold and few were rented. Added to all this, the church was still burdened with a heavy debt.
The Vestry turned to the Rev. Francis Lister Hawks, then rector of St. Stephen's Church, and called him as rector. Although young in the ministry, Dr. Hawks was the most prominent presbyter in the American Church and was in the prime of his power. His advent in the parish saved the day. Crowds flocked to hear him to such an extent that it became imperative to build galleries giving four hundred additional sittings. 63 were presented in his first confirmation class and his weekly Bible Class numbered well over one hundred. He gave especial attention to the Sunday School [14/15] of which he was the superintendent, and catechized the children in church every Saturday morning. The Charity Infant School was open daily. There were 1388 children and 78 teachers in the Wooster Street School and 80 in the school for colored children. In three years Dr. Hawks baptized 407 children, most of whom were from the Sunday Schools.
St. Thomas's Hall, Flushing, was established by him as a school for American boys, but collapsed in the financial panic of 1843 leaving Dr. Hawks to shoulder the heavy loss. "I had expected," he wrote to the Vestry, "to lay my bones beneath the chancel of Saint Thomas's, but God seemed to me to order otherwise," and he determined to remove to Mississippi. The Vestry urged in vain the withdrawal of his resignation and assured him of the 'unfeigned esteem and regard' they felt for him 'as a clergyman, a christian and a gentleman'.
On December 29, 1843, the Rev. Dr. Henry J. Whitehouse, of St. Luke's, Rochester, was elected rector. Shortly after he entered on his work extensive alterations were made to the church at a cost of $14,000. With the removal of Dr. Hawks the congregation had again declined and for a time the rector received as a stipend what remained after [15/16] the payment of current expenses. Just when the difficulties were most acute, the church was destroyed by fire on the morning of Sunday, March 2, 1851. Nothing was left but the walls. Pending rebuilding, services were held in the Dutch Reformed Church at Greene and Houston Streets.
There was a strong sentiment for removal uptown, but an offer of $13,000 from Mr. Gerard Stuyvesant on condition that the church was rebuilt on the old site prevailed.
During the re-building of the Church Dr. Whitehouse was elected Assistant Bishop of Illinois and was consecrated in St. George's Church, New York, on November 20, 1851.
Two days prior to the opening of the second church The Evening Post chronicled the public sale of pews, most of which fetched a premium. The choice pews were on the right and left of the desk for one of which Mr. Rhinelander paid $520. The entire pews were valued at over $67,000, and the annual rental was $5,429.
On Saturday morning, April 3, 1852, the church was solemnly consecrated to the worship of Almighty God, by Carlton Chase, Bishop of New Hampshire. [16/17] The sermon was preached by the Rev. Francis Vinton, rector of Grace Church, Brooklyn. A somewhat elaborate description of the service appeared in The New York Herald on April 4th. It strikingly illustrates the difficulties of the average newspaper reporter when he finds himself in unfamiliar ecclesiastical surroundings. In recording the names of the clergy present in the procession, he adds,—I quote the exact words—'and about twenty other clergymen, attired in their surplices, and ten unattired'. Nor is this all. He closes his account by saying, "The consecrating bishop, assisted by Drs. Haight and Vinton, administered the Holy Communion, and thus this interesting affair was terminated".
The vacant rectorship was filled by the election of the Rev. Dr. Edmund Neville, rector of Christ Church, New Orleans. Dr. Neville was a commanding preacher and drew large congregations transient in character. He resigned in 1856 to return to his former parish at Taunton, Massachusetts.
Calls were successively presented to the Rev. Dr. George Cummins of Washington, and Rev. W. B. Nicholson of Cincinnati—both of whom later seceded to the Reformed Episcopal body—but were declined. [17/18] In 1857 Rev. Dr. William Ferdinand Morgan of Norwich, Conn., was elected rector and entered upon a ministry of thirty-one years.
Dr. Morgan has left upon record the fact that when he was elected "the excellent gentlemen who invited me to this position, were candid enough to say to me, that the parish was moribund—ready to die". Some measure of prosperity returned. The attendance, though fluctuating and measurably transient, was uniformly large.
It was evident, however, that the church must move further uptown. The neighborhood had become the 'tenderloin' of New York and the whole section was "seized for amusement and shameful vice". Crime ran riot. The families of the parish had moved away. There was no Sunday School building and no endowment. Other parishes had been established to the north, Grace Church had moved from Rector Street to its present location, and Dr. Hawks, who had returned to New York, was crowding Calvary Church. Under these circumstances the Vestry offered the property for sale. There was much criticism. An editorial in The Church Journal characterized the sale of a church twice solemnly consecrated as 'a disgrace to all concerned'. [18/19] But William Ferdinand Morgan was the last man to be moved by the denunciations of a man even as able as John Henry Hopkins.
The closing service in the old church was held on Sunday morning, April 29, 1866, when Dr. Morgan preached on the words, "For here we have no continuing city". It was a fitting close to the chapter of forty years on Broadway, and an equally fitting prelude to the potential glory of the church to be.
Lots were purchased at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-third Street—a location then in the fields. Richard Upjohn was chosen architect of the new church. For one year the congregation of Saint Thomas's united with that of Grace Church, and in the absence abroad of the venerable Dr. Taylor, Dr. Morgan assumed charge of both parishes.
The first service, held within the nave of the new church, was on Easter Sunday, April 21, 1867, and later the services were transferred to the Church of The Resurrection, then in 47th Street.
The corner-stone was laid on October 14, 1868, by the Bishop of the diocese, [19/20] Horatio Potter, assisted by the Bishops of Tennessee, Colorado and Minnesota.
The church was opened for divine worship on Thursday, October 6, 1870. Among those taking part in the service were Bishops Horatio Potter, Talbot and Littlejohn, together with Dr. Morgan Dix and Dr. Price, the venerable rector of St. Stephen's. Dr. Morgan preached.
Three years later the Fiftieth anniversary of the parish was celebrated when Bishop Odenheimer of New Jersey preached the sermon.
In Lent of 1883 a debt of $60,000 remained on the church. The whole amount was subscribed by Palm Sunday and on Tuesday, May 15, 1883, the church was consecrated by the Bishop of Maine, acting for the diocesan. The sermon was preached by Bishop William Bacon Stevens of Pennsylvania from the words, "Honor and majesty are before Him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary."
In 1888 Dr. Morgan asked for an associate rector to pave the way for his retirement from active service. A committee went to Providence to hear the Rev. Dr. David H. Greer, and reported favorably. On being consulted, a high ecclesiastic described Dr. Greer as [20/21] a talented preacher, but questioned whether 'his churchmanship and theology was in harmony with the traditions of Saint Thomas's'. Dr. Greer was, however, chosen, but preferred to accept his election to St. Bartholomew's. At this juncture Bishop Henry C. Potter expressed his willingness to make St. Thomas's Church the Pro-Cathedral of the Diocese, but Dr. Morgan was reluctant to surrender the independence of the Parish and the project fell through. The choice fell upon the Rev. Dr. John Wesley Brown, who came to the work with large experiences gained in Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo.
Dr. Morgan then tendered his resignation. He preached on Sunday morning, May 6th, and on the 19th, rested from his labors.
During the latter period of his ministry Dr. Brown was handicapped by serious illness and died on November 10, 1900.
On May 6, 1901, the Reverend Doctor Ernest Milmore Stires of Grace Church, Chicago, was elected rector. For reasons not necessary to discuss, the parish was passing through a trying period in its history and many well informed churchmen in New York had grave doubts as to its future. Without a breach of fitting [21/22] reserve it may now be said that it was the condition of the parish which alone induced the present rector to accept the call. The result need not be detailed—it is read and known of all men.
Four years later the noble church was destroyed by fire. With unfaltering courage and faith both rector and Vestry faced the situation. Within sixty days the congregation was worshipping in a temporary Chapel erected amid the ruins.
Then came the question of removal—to be, or not to be. Business was encroaching all around; the line of least resistance was to follow the residential section of the city, but, happily, the temptation was resisted.
The decision was reached to rebuild on what Bishop Greer afterwards described 'as one of the most strategic and commanding situations in the City'. The subsequent history is familiar to you all. The plans of Messrs. Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson were accepted, and on November 21, 1911, the corner stone was laid by Bishop Greer.
During the General Convention of 1913 a service of Benediction was held in the new church. Among the speakers was [22/23] Bishop Tuttle who, as a student at Columbia, sixty years before, well remembered the old church on Broadway. The church was consecrated by Bishop Greer on Tuesday in Easter week, April 25, 1916.
Within the proper limits of time it is possible to say but little of the Rectors of this parish. They have all been notable men. [* It is a matter for great regret that the limitations of time for the delivery of this address rendered it impossible to speak of the great service rendered to the parish by the Assistant Ministers, notably the late Bishop Frederick Courtney whose Sunday afternoon sermons drew great crowds of young people to St. Thomas's.]
Cornelius Roosevelt Duffle was a graduate of Columbia where he had as a classmate Benjamin T. Onderdonk. Brought up in the Baptist persuasion, his first knowledge of the Church was in hearing the Burial Office read. Baptized in manhood in St. John's Chapel, he was elected a member of the Vestry of Trinity parish and was a prominent merchant of the City. In mature life he turned to the ministry and was ordered Deacon at the age of thirty-four. For a little over three years he served as Rector of Saint Thomas's with singular fidelity. On Sunday, August 5, 1827, he delivered what was described as 'a moving sermon' on the words, "Here we have no continuing city; but we seek one to come", [23/24] after which he administered the Holy Communion. During the week illness intervened. Onderdonk, his most intimate friend, describes his last moments: "in a holy, calm and triumphant state of mind, he waited for the decisive moment. It arrived; and in the evening of Monday, August 20th, he entered into his rest. He was buried beneath the chancel.
His successor was George Upfold. Of English birth, he was brought to Albany at the age of six and graduated from Union College. He then took up the study of medicine and graduated at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of this City. After practicing medicine for a while in Albany, he determined to enter the ministry and studied under Bishop Hobart, by whom he was ordered Deacon in 1818. Two years later he became first rector of St. Luke's, Hudson Street, and combined with it the position of Assistant in Trinity parish. On leaving St. Thomas's he went to Trinity, Pittsburgh, then the only parish in Pennsylvania west of the Alleghanies. When the vast missionary district assigned to Jackson Kemper in 1835 was broken up, Dr. Upfold was elected first Bishop of Indiana where for twenty-three years he was known throughout the State as [24/25] 'Uncle George'. He died at Indianapolis on August 26, 1872, in the seventy-sixth year of his age.
Francis Lister Hawks, third rector of Saint Thomas's, was a native of North Carolina, and a brother of the first Bishop of Missouri. He combined the practice of law with membership in the State Legislature and then studied for the ministry under William Mercer Green, afterward first Bishop of Mississippi. After brief ministries in New Haven and Philadelphia he came to New York in 1831 as rector of St. Stephen's, and when he migrated to St. Thomas's most of his congregation followed him. Dr. Hawks was a man of commanding ability and amazing versatility. He was a preacher of extraordinary force and fervor; a poet of no mean order; author, editor, an educator and the great historian of the American Church. Three times he declined an election to the episcopate and he was the foremost debater in the General Convention. During his five years ministry in New Orleans he became the first President of the University of Louisiana and in 1849 returned to New York as rector of the Church of the Mediator which shortly afterwards was merged with Calvary Church. His memorable ministry of thirteen years at [25/26] Calvary was brought to an abrupt end by the Civil War. Dr. Hawks was a southerner and a convinced believer in State's rights. Fearless in the expression of his views, he was the first to recognize that he could not carry his northern congregation with him and he removed to Christ Church, Baltimore. As soon as the War was over his friends in New York clamored for his return and the parish of the Chapel of the Saviour was organized of which he became rector. He laid the corner stone on September 41 1866, and died twenty-two days later.
His successor at Saint Thomas's was the Rev. Dr. Henry J. Whitehouse of St. Luke's, Rochester, and a member of an old New York family. His episcopate in Illinois was a notable one. There it fell to his lot to enforce the discipline of the Church in the celebrated Cheney case, and though bitterly assailed in many quarters, he discharged the painful and distasteful duty unflinchingly. Bishop Whitehouse was an accomplished linguist, a fine classical scholar and an excellent administrator. He was one of the moving spirits in the calling of the first Lambeth Conference and was selected to preach the opening sermon. In the last year of his life he added to his heavy responsibilities the oversight of [26/27] the vacant diocese of Wisconsin, but the burden was too great for his strength. He died in Chicago on August 10, 1874, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn.
William Ferdinand Morgan was born in Hartford, Conn., in 1817, and graduated from the General Theological Seminary in the class of 1840. After a ministry of thirteen years at Norwich, Conn., he removed to Saint Thomas's where he remained for thirty-one years. He was described by Bishop Henry C. Potter as 'a preacher of rare and persuasive eloquence . . . a pastor and friend of singular tenderness and constancy; in the councils of the Church, a man of eminent wisdom, courtesy and fidelity to every obligation great and small.' . . . 'In him were blended a clear and serene faith, a sure and stedfast hope, and a large and loving charity'. Dr. Morgan, who is remembered as 'a dignified and courtly gentleman of the old school', was greatly beloved within and without his parish. Perhaps he is most fittingly described in the inscription a grateful parish placed on the pedestal of his memorial bust: "A Godly and Well learned Divine; an eloquent and persuasive preacher; a wise and large-hearted Friend and Pastor".
 John Wesley Brown was born in Baltimore in 1837 and in early manhood was a Civil Engineer. For five years he was in the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church and then read for Holy Orders under Bishop Whittingham. His ministry in the Church was spent in large cities like Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo. Of him his successor in the rectorship said, "No man ever had more loyal friends; no man could hope to excel him in sympathy, in devotion, in Christian manhood. At a critical time, and under difficult conditions, he was faithful, even unto death".
Of Ernest Milmore Stires, the present rector of this parish, it is difficult to speak in his presence. He is a son of Virginia by birth, education and ordination, and has the proud distinction of graduating from the Virginia Theological Seminary which was established the year this parish was incorporated. Under his inspiring leadership Saint Thomas's has gone from strength to strength. His zeal for the missionary work of the Church is in part an heritage from the Virginia Seminary and in part the product of twenty years membership in the old Board of Missions and later of the National Council. As a trustee of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, [28/29] and especially as chairman of the Fabric Committee, he has rendered invaluable service. His freedom from anything approaching the party spirit has endeared him to his brethren in the ministry, and he is a recognized leader in the General Convention. With malice toward none, and charity toward all he has gone in and out amongst us for two and twenty years, respected, trusted, loved by all sorts and conditions of men.
This parish has made four outstanding contributions to the American Church during these hundred years:
1—Here art has ever been made the handmaid of religion.
This parish has built four churches. Each one has been characterized by architectural distinction of the highest order. When, in 1824, the Vestry of Saint Thomas's first met to determine the plans of the church, the record of the Minutes is very significant: it was duly resolved —I quote the words—"that the order of the proposed Church be Gothic". It was a striking departure from the type of ecclesiastical architecture prevailing in the Churches in this city. Trinity, Grace, Christ, St. Michael's and St. James' were plain, unadorned frame buildings; the remaining parish churches were Colonial. [29/30] To St. Thomas's belongs the distinction of inaugurating the Gothic type, and as the New York Mirror of 1826 said, "this church exhibits the best specimen of the gothic style of architecture in the city of New York".
When the first church was built on this site it was truly described by The Evening Post as 'a notable addition to the church architecture of America'. At its opening Dr. Morgan paid fitting tribute to the consecrated genius of Richard Upjohn who was not only a great architect, but also a devout churchman. He wrought into that building all the wealth of his genius. It was a fitting crown to a great career.
The dominant consideration in the selection of designs for the present church was that it "should be nothing less than a revival of Gothic architecture in America". The result is a parish church of arresting beauty. A sermon in stone.
And all this not for mere beauty's sake. Preaching the first sermon in the temporary chapel in 1867, Dr. Morgan said of the church-to-be:
"I would enrich such a building, and adorn it with goodly stones, and bring to it the costliest gifts; but not merely for man's approval, or to inflate his pride; but because our best gifts belong [30/31] to God; because we have no right to offer Him of that which costs us nothing; because we deserve rebuke when we dwell in ceiled houses and make his courts poor and contemptible."
The same high motive has governed the liturgical services of this church and especially the music. The long ministry at the organ—for it was a true ministry —of George William Warren set a tradition from which this parish has never deviated—the tradition of the surpassing dignity and fine restraint of the Anglican service at its best. Here has been worship in 'the beauty of holiness', and here has been proved the truth of Horace Bushnell's saying: "You cannot worship long in the beauty of holiness without realizing the holiness of beauty".
2—A further contribution of Saint Thomas's has been its stedfast witness to the Faith of the Gospel and the teaching of the Church.
And this from the beginning until now. In the corner stone of the first church (I quote from the record) was laid
A BIBLE, in token that this church is built on the truth as revealed by God;
A PRAYER-BOOK, as a testimony that this church is built on a pure faith and spiritual worship;
PASTORAL LETTERS of the House of Bishops, and CHARGES of the Bishop of this diocese, in acknowledgment of the apostolic ministry on which this church is built.
 Here, for one hundred years, the pure word of God has been preached; here have been ministered the doctrine, sacraments and discipline of Christ 'as this Church hath received the same'. These hundred years have witnessed the birth of modern science, the development of biblical criticism, the rise of ecclesiastical parties from the Tractarians to the Modernists. The ministers of this parish have been godly and well-learned men; men familiar with the best thought of their day; men sensitive to that Spirit who leads to all the truth, and they have been loyal to the Faith once delivered to the Saints. They have kept that which was committed unto them. They have been great preachers with a keen sense of the supreme value of the sacraments. They have lived in kindly association with their brethren of other communions without undervaluing their own apostolic ministry. The two volumes of sermons published after Mr. Duffie's death and the two published by Dr. Stires are far different in outward phrase, but they are one in the expression of that truth revealed by Jesus Christ through the Eternal Spirit.
 Duffle and Upfold were high churchmen—not in the loose sense in which we use that term today—but high churchmen as Hobart defined it in his celebrated Charge to this diocese in 1826: "an eminent degree of attachment to the essential characteristics of the Church, and zeal for their advancement". Francis Lister Hawks learned his theology at the feet of Ravenscroft, himself a disciple of Hobart, and when challenged for his teaching he "took his stand on the Doctrines of the Cross and the distinctive character of the Church", and added, "To the maintenance of these principles we have consecrated all we had; for these be the principles, expressed in the words of our good old father, and teacher and friend, Bishop Ravenscroft. It was in his school we learned our churchmanship."
Preaching in 1870 Dr. Morgan spoke of this pulpit as a place where 'the truth as it is in Jesus is strictly adhered to and proclaimed', and Dr. Brown was true to the tradition.
If, in these later years there has been added the evangelical fervor which has been Virginia's priceless contribution to the American Church; if the emphasis has been laid on the social implications of the Gospel, there has been no lessening [33/34] of the degree of attachment to the essential characteristics of the Church, and most certainly no lack of zeal for their advancement. For one hundred years Saint Thomas's has stood, as John Henry Hobart stood, for EVANGELICAL TRUTH AND APOSTOLIC ORDER.
3—The third notable contribution of this parish has been its mission work.
If you have ever read the early Journals of this diocese you may have noticed that the word used most frequently to describe the various congregations was 'respectable'. They were eminently so. Merchants, professional men; prosperous tradesmen; the descendants of colonial families—but always 'respectable'. There were Charity Schools for the poor. Within the city proper, pews were owned as pieces of real estate, or if not so owned, were rented. There was no place in any parish church for the artisan or the clerk. No free pews. In 1831 the City Mission Society was founded to provide 'free sittings in mission churches', and in the same year St. Mary's, in the village of Manhattanville, was made a free church.
Mission work was begun in 1851 on the East Side by Dr. Tyng of St. George's, [34/35] but Saint Thomas's established the first mission chapel of a parish church in this city. St. George's followed one year later.
With the aid of the Rev. Ralph Hoyt, Dr. Morgan visited from house to house that part of his parish situated from the Bowery to Wooster Street and from Bleecker to Grand Streets. Even then—in 1857—there was a large foreign population and it was estimated that within that area there were twenty thousand people living in rear tenements, cellars and garrets.
The following year he rented the church building at the corner of Prince and Thompson Streets which had formerly been occupied by the Church of the Annunciation before its removal to Fourteenth Street. Under the name of the Free Chapel of Saint Thomas's Church it was opened for divine service on May 3, 1858, with Mr. Hoyt in charge. He was later followed by the Rev. Frederick Sill. Trinity parish provided the annual rental charges and St. Thomas's the running expenses. In 1864 it was organized as the parish of St. Ambrose.
Meanwhile Mr. Hoyt had organized the parish of the Good Shepherd described as 'a poor parish subsidized by Trinity'. It was poor indeed. Beginning in a room [35/36] over a saloon in Market Street, it moved to Mott Street and eventually secured land in East 54th Street. Some day the story of Ralph Hoyt will be told. He was a hero. With an income never exceeding $200 he lived at Fort Lee, because, as he wrote, "we can raise corn and potatoes to help to eke out a subsistence, and what we cannot pay for, we can do without". The corner stone of the chapel in 54th Street was laid in 1855 by Dr. Berrian. Three years later, just as the building was finished, it was totally destroyed in a great storm. Undaunted, Mr. Hoyt erected a shack within the ruins and carried on services. In 1864 he described the chapel as 'a frontier garrison, situated in an uninviting neighborhood, almost surrounded by breweries; the population mostly transients and foreigners'. Four years later the work was taken over as a Mission Chapel of St. Thomas's—taken over, be it noted at a time when the parish itself was without a church and facing a large expenditure for its own building. After the lease expired, land was purchased in East 60th Street and St. Thomas's Chapel was consecrated on December 21, 1872. A new Chapel was built in 1895. In the course of the years there has been added the Halsey Day Nursery, the Summer Home, [36/37] St. Thomas's House, the Deaconess House.
This parish is commonly described in the press as 'wealthy and fashionable'. It is both. But it is a parish which, as it has grown in wealth, has developed a keen sense of responsibility for the religious and social welfare of the people within the parish who dwell on the East Side. That work has been fostered by the Saint Thomas's Association from its beginning until now. It is not merely that the Vestry makes an appropriation of $40,000 a year—that is a small matter—it is that on the East Side the men and women of Saint Thomas's find and embrace the opportunity for personal Christian Social Service.
4—Last of all, and greatest of all, this parish has made a notable contribution to the extension of the Kingdom of God.
It began under the ministry of Dr. Hawks; it has been developed to an extraordinary degree under the ministry of Dr. Stires.
In his first preface to the Year Book issued shortly after he became rector in 1901 Dr. Stires wrote these prophetic words:
 "The mission of St. Thomas's is to help us save ourselves by saving others; to regard all our successes, our influence, our money, as worth nothing in themselves, but worth much when devoted to helping humanity."
That ideal has been kept steadily in view. Nothing human is foreign to the interest of this parish. The sense of stewardship is steadily growing. The last Year Book reports an expenditure of about $46,000 for the parish church, and over $231,000, or five times as much, given to work outside, and the end is not yet. The glory of this parish is not in its magnificent church with its fretted roof and long drawn aisles; not in the dignity and beauty of its services; not in its social prestige; the supreme distinction of this parish is that it has seen the vision
Of the whole round earth
Bound by gold chains to the feet of God
and to make that vision real it has given not merely its money, but itself.