Sermon by the Rt. Rev. H. C. Potter, D.D., LL.D.,
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. Gallaudet
Address by the Rev. Dr. Edward H. Krans
Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2011
[Transcriber's note: In 1897 the parishes of St. Matthew’s Church and St. Ann’s Church for Deaf-Mutes were consolidated into one parish under the name of St. Matthew’s; in 1943 the relationship was severed and St. Ann’s became a Mission of the Diocese of New York.]
Bishop Potter Sermon
AT THE CONSECRATION OF ST. ANN'S CHURCH FOR DEAF MUTES,
DECEMBER 26, 1898.
"And Jacob rose up early in the morning and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it."—Gen. 28, 18.
"And He found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
"And when he had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables."—St. John 2,14, 15.
I suppose if we were to go to Egypt, or Syria, or Arabia, and find an Arab Sheik, [4/5] who had lived in a hair cloth tent and got his living by agriculture and had very little knowledge of God, he would resemble Jacob. In Jacob's dream God comes to him and reveals Himself. He sees the ladder let down from Heaven to earth. He sees the Angels ascending and descending. He realizes that God is interested in him, and so, in the morning, he does not get up and simply make his fire to cook his food. He takes the stone that had been his pillow and sets it up for a column and pours oil upon it, and thus consecrated it, making it differ from other stones. He said, "Surely this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven." He calls it God's house. And that, so far as we know, was the first Church.
And so we build Churches; but we do not stop at building them. What is the meaning of all that we have done this morning? We have been taking this Church away from the people who built it, from my friend Mr. True, who designed and erected it; from the Vestry of St. Matthew's Church, from everybody. It is not their house; it is not my house; it is not Dr. Gallaudets house. It is God's house. That is the meaning of the consecration. I cannot come up here and sleep, make my bed and bring my family to live. I cannot sell beef and shoes and clothing here. It is not a place for business. It must not come here. When it does, what happens?
We hear what in the Gospel for this morning? The only time that Jesus ever lifted His hand against a human being was when He made a whip of small cords and drove them all out of the temple, to shew you and me that one of the worst things a man can do is to profane the house of God. And so the man who sold doves and changed money and so opened a shop in one end of the Church, turned the house of God into a store. That was the one thing that made Him angry.
There are a good many people who do not see any good in such a service as this. But we are so made that we need to have some words, some sacred, solemn act that takes the Church away from us and gives it to God.
Furthermore, have you ever thought of the comfort of it? What is the difference between a Church and a house? Could I not have the sacrament at home? Could I not baptize my children at home? Look at this chancel and at these windows. Do they remind you of a dining room, a kitchen or a bed room? When we come into the Church the sacred place helps us to put away secular thoughts.
My dear friends, nothing ought to be more precious to you than this Church. God has seen fit to deny to you a sense that He has given to us. There is no organ here. There is no choir here. The service must speak to you through the eye. It must be such as will take your minds up to God. The Jew who came into the temple and saw the incense rising knew that his prayers, like the incense, went up to God.
I trust, dear friends, that you will keep in mind these things. I concur with every word that my friend and brother, Dr. Gallaudet, has said about this work. I cannot say this morning what I would say, as I should have to send him out of the Church. It must be very encouraging for him to see the work of St. Ann's Church in its development taking on precisely this form. I believe it is most wise and timely. I recognize the value of an organization, which is for both deaf mutes and hearing people. But I believe the time has come when you should have your own Church to worship in, in the language of signs. St. Matthew's Church is and will be kind to you, but here is your own Church for your own people. And I congratulate you, my dear friend and brother, upon the completion of this work. It is a great thing for you to be able to see this fruition of the work of your hands. I, being an impatient man, marvel that you have been so long-suffering and have had so much courage. I rejoice with you that God has at last given St. Ann's for Deaf Mutes a Church of its own and a minister of its own.
God bless these brethren who have come from all parts of the country—the far West, and the North and the South. May God make every deaf mute in this congregation sensible of what he owes to others, and may he strive to bring them to a knowledge of the Church, and so, by loving service, to build up a spiritual household. May God have you all in His holy keeping until the day shall come when the string of your tongues shall be loosed and when, among the ransomed of all ages, you shall cry out, "Glory and honor and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb."
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. Gallaudet
AT THE OPENING SERVICE OF
ST. ANN'S CHURCH FOR DEAF MUTES,
DEC. 4, 1898.
"Speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."—Acts 1, 3.
We learn from these words of St. Luke, the first historian of the Christian Church, that our blessed Lord passed much of the time between His Resurrection and Ascension, in teaching His Apostles how to found the Kingdom He was about to establish. On the Day of Pentecost, under the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles began the great work committed to them, and, in Jerusalem, received a large number of penitent believers, by Baptism, into the Kingdom of God. This kingdom, this church of Jesus Christ with its divinely appointed ministry, its life giving sacraments, its other positive institutions, and clearly defined, simple creed, has been preserved through many vicissitudes to the present day. We believe that our Book of Common Prayer, gathering up the truths of the Bible, sets forth clearly the characteristics of this spiritual kingdom.
We are thankful therefore to-day that St. Ann's Church for Deaf Mutes is included in the great historic church of Christ. Let us, dear brethren, be faithful to the trust committed to us, and strive with God's help, to make this church instrumental in leading many deaf mutes to Christ in His appointed way. As the years move on we shall see more clearly that it was a gracious providential ordering which led the old parishes of St. Ann's and St. Matthew's to form the new St. Matthew's Church, pledged to build and support St. Ann's Church for Deaf Mutes. The rector and vestry of St. Matthew's have been faithful to the important mission they assumed, and today, we hold our solemn first service in this well-appointed, attractive church, soon to be solemnly consecrated to the worship of Almighty God. As the years move on, our good friends in St. Matthew's will understand better, and become more interested in the work which they have established here, and in due time they will place in front of this church the parish house in which great things will be accomplished to promote the welfare of deaf mutes.
In order to become intelligent, devoted members of the Church of Christ, deaf mutes must be educated. We, therefore, express our grateful appreciation of the labors of all who are connected with the institutions of our country, wondering at the results which have been achieved by various methods since my beloved father established the first school in Hartford in 1817. Old St. Ann's Church, begun in 1851, endeavored to accomplish its mission. Its earnest parishioners who could hear and speak, entered heartily into its special labor of love and exerted an influence in our whole community which led to a better knowledge of deaf mutes, and the methods of promoting their welfare. St. Ann's Church opened the way for the incorporation of "The Church Mission to Deaf Mutes" in 1872, the society which pioneered various missions to deaf mutes throughout the country and established a home for the aged and infirm deaf mutes of the State of New York. Thus we get glimpses of the church work among deaf mutes and the results which have followed directly and indirectly with God's blessing from the seed corn planted by St. Ann's, forty-six years ago. We trust that all our old friends will take a new and abiding interest in this new St. Ann's Church for Deaf Mutes, and do all in their power to make it strong and useful to the glory of God, and the highest good of his deaf children.
I heartily thank God for the friendship of those who have gathered around me from time to time, and in various associations holding up my hands and praying for blessings. May the peace which passes understanding be theirs forever.
I have been greatly helped for many years by the co-operation of my friend and brother in the ministry, the Rev. Edward H. Krans, LL.D. As associate rector of St. Ann's he worked hard to maintain the parish life while I was often absent in other cities trying to establish religious services for deaf mutes. Step by step he consulted me as the consolidation plan was perfected under the guidance of the Bishop and standing committee of the Diocese of New York, and a judge of the Supreme Court. I know Dr. Krans will always be found a faithful friend of deaf mutes, with special interest in the progress of St. Ann's Church for Deaf Mutes, improving his opportunities to speak of it to new people in St. Matthew's Church.
I am very thankful that the Rev. John Chamberlain, D.D., is to be my official co-worker in this church. From the day I laid the corner stone, I was prevented from seeing the building, till week before last, my illness was so severe. Dr. Chamberlain kindly took the oversight and reported to me from time to time. For more than 25 years, he has testified his love for deaf mutes. He has acquired an effective use of the sign language and is well fitted to develop the details of the life which is to be perfected in this church. I am sure he will be a great comfort and help to me as I pass on to the end of my earthly pilgrimage.
Dear friends, let us try to realize today, what a power in the world, is the kingdom of God, the church of Christ, and that it is our privilege to be a part of this divine organization. When the precepts of its founder are universally appreciated and acted upon, spiritual storms will cease; the waves of discord will be smoothed down, wars will be no more; the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, will be recognized, and universal peace and joy will prevail.
What a special privilege for us to know that the founder of the kingdom of God once cured a deaf and dumb man. May our spiritual ears be ever open to the gracious word now spoken by Him as He reigns in Heaven, Ephphatha.
Address by the Rev. Dr. Edward H. Krans
AT THE OPENING SERVICE OF
ST. ANN'S CHURCH FOR DEAF MUTES,
DEC. 4, 1898.
This is the season of Advent. We are thinking of Christmas Day, the day of Judgment; of death and Heaven. These are great, blessed or awful themes. But we may not dwell on them to-day, for another subject of much importance and of deep interest to all present is in our minds.
This is the first service in the new St. Ann's Church for Deaf Mutes. When we look back a year or so it almost seems that we are dreaming.
Is it possible, we all feel like asking, that we are here in a bright new church, soon to be consecrated as a place of worship for the exclusive use of deaf mutes of this second greatest city in the world?
But we are not dreaming. It is even so.
Look about you on these walls, these pews, this altar; on heaven's light coming down as from the Father of lights through the window overhead, as though to make his Gospel plainer to those who shall gather here. See here about us the fruit of many prayers and labors through many years.
See, too, in this fair house of worship the visible result of Providential leading, clearly and wondrously attested through many months of anxious effort. I believe God would have defeated this result after all the prayer for direction that has been made to Him, if He had not approved it.
We recall to-day the Bible Class in old St. Stephen's, the chapel in Washington Square, the hall in Second Avenue, the church in Eighteenth Street, and our sojourn after leaving there.
We think of the choice which had to be then made between remaining down town in a business, or mission section, struggling with debt and mortgage, or coming up; between keeping by ourselves or uniting with some other parish; between buying a church already built, or building a new one; between going on permanently, as had been done for years, two congregations under one roof, as in Eighteenth Street, the deaf-mutes having their service in the afternoon and having use of rooms one evening or so a week, the hearing and speaking people having the use of them at other times; or if Providence should open the way, having two churches, one which the hearing and speaking people might attend, and one for deaf mutes, in which neither need be crowded, and in which each might be quite free to grow and spread.
In God's great mercy, and in almost direct answer, as we think, to many prayers and long and patient effort to ascertain his will, the way so opened. We hoped for one church. He has given us two.
We desired a good place to plant the new St. Ann's, and he has led us to one of the fairest spots in this great city, quite near the school-home for many years of so many adult deaf-mutes; and he has led us to one almost as fair, quite as attractive, between the Hudson and the Park, as a home for any of our hearing and speaking friends who will share it with us.
Abundant measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over has thus been given us. And for it all we, today, are thankful. For it "We praise Thee, O God: We acknowledge Thee to be the Lord."
I congratulate the Rev. Dr. Gallaudet on the fulfilment of his hopes and wishes in living to see a "St. Ann's Church for Deaf Mutes in the City of New York," built and free from debt, and soon to be consecrated and so full of promise to the deaf mutes in future. I congratulate him upon living to be its first Pastor and Vicar as he is to-day.
I congratulate the deaf mutes upon their entrance upon larger and fuller religious and social privileges as they now do.
I congratulate the Rev. Dr. Chamberlain, who, I trust will be long interested in the new St. Ann's, upon having the Church so near his pleasant home. We have worked together in harmony and good will for years, and it adds to the pleasure with which I look forward to what remains of life to be able to cherish the hope that until one of us is called away we may be co-workers in some sense still.
The best has been done that could be done in the past since St. Ann's was founded, but who must not see standing on these Washington Heights, in this new Church on this dark December afternoon greater promise for the future.
I take all the responsibility here to-day for any part I have had in laboring as I have tried to do for years to place St. Ann's Church on a sure foundation so that its future need not be in doubt or jeopardy, and to help bring about the time when "the Church Mission to Deaf Mutes" might have all the field outside the Parish for the development of its important work. That time, I believe, today has come, and, if so, God be forever praised for bringing it. I take all the responsibility for any part I have had in leading the parish, in the place providentially assigned me in it, through a critical stage of its history.
And now, my dear deaf mute friends, a few words about the future. And first may I not urge you to learn to know and love more and more this dear old Church of ours with its history reaching back through the Church in England to the first Whitsunday and to the Ascension of our Lord; this old Church with its venerable Liturgy, its hymns and collects, its Book of Communion Prayer, written and fixed, and so helpful to deaf mutes; with its choice services for so many occasions.
Again, be workers in this Church. Do all you can to help it and to extend its influences.
We get interested in, and grow to love more, what we work for. And all will find something here to work for and to do.
Be careful, too, to put the religious before the social and the secular. All this social life is pleasant and proper in its place, but the first use and object of this house of God is to preach and hear the gospel, to minister and receive the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and that of the Holy Communion, and the laying on of hands in Confirmation; to bestow and receive the marriage blessing, and to say the burial service over the bodies of loved ones.
May I not urge you to trust and follow those who will be your providential pastors and leaders here. They may make some mistakes, for they are human, but the chances are they will do more for you, and be more interested in you than anyone else, and will prove, on the whole, far the best guides, leaders and friends you may expect to have. I think it has been so through the past, even to this passing hour. Your patience may be sometimes tried. That of the people was in Moses' day. They even chose other leaders whom they called gods. But they returned to Moses later, and he led them to the promised land.
And may I not, in concluding, ask you to cultivate in all ways that you may the most friendly and kindly feeling towards the good people of St. Matthew's, as I promise you they will do well toward you. We are now one parish—one family. Our interests are the same. Any prosperity that may come to St. Matthew's will be reflected here in St. Ann's. Let us all then live as brethren should, in peace and good will, praying one for another. And may God ever bless, even years after the last of us is gathered to the fathers, those who shall assemble here, and the services and work which we begin to-day.