THE ORGAN OF THE YOUNG COMMUNICANTS' CLUB
OF ST ANN'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
West 18th Street near Fifth Avenue
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.--[Ecclesiastes xii: vii.]
On the first Lord's Day of the New Year, a well-tried, Christian veteran gently left his earthly tabernacle and passed on to the mysteries which lie beyond the veil. The dust is returning to the earth in the burial-place of his illustrious kindred, and the spirit is communing more closely with the Creator in the new life of indescribable purity and glory. This distinguished Father in God, for more than thirty-two years the Bishop of this large and influential Diocese, illustrated very remarkably in his earthly pilgrimage of nearly eighty-five years the truth of the context. He remembered his Creator in the days of his youth. He perceived the supernatural characteristics of the glory revealed to mankind in the Gospel of the God-man Jesus Christ, and put his faith in the Wonderful Being who not only showed this power over the laws of physical life, but also made known to the descendants of the first Adam how they could become partakers of the divine nature through mystical, sacramental union with Him self, the second Adam. Bishop Potter in early life responded to the call which came to him from God the Holy Ghost, and in due time was admitted to holy orders in the Church which was founded in Jerusalem by the Apostles, Jesus Christ Himself being the head corner-stone; the Church which has had from that time to the present an unbroken historical existence under various popular titles. Bishop Potter having embraced the church idea in all its richness and fulness, sympathized with the earnest movement which took shape some 45 years ago and has produced such wonderful results in quickening the spiritual life of the church, bringing out the true notes of genuine Catholicity, showing the people how to worship God as well as to listen to the teachings of the ministers of Christ, and setting forth the transcendent importance of being joined to Christ in His own most holy Sacraments.
Knowing that the wonderful system of the Book of Common Prayer was in harmony with the Book of God, he devoted all his energies towards making this system a living reality. In his impressive instructions to the confirmation classes, he always coupled the growth of the spiritual life with the faithful use of all the privileges of the Church of Christ, especially the reception of the Holy Communion. This great Bishop, great because he always conscientiously acted upon principle, was not, however, extravagant in any of his views. He did not attempt to explain holy mysteries. He did not sit in harsh judgment on those who differed from him. With all his earnestness as a churchman he was eminently a conservative man of peace. He acted upon the apostolic injunctions so graphically set forth in the Epistle for this day's services. Would that all the Bishops and other clergy as well as the laity would move forward on the line which he marked out for himself! for thus would organic unity the sooner come to heal and bless all who bear the Christian name.
The relations between my Father in God and myself have been peculiarly close. When he was consecrated I was one of the youngest of the clergy of the Diocese, and now I am one of the oldest. He has been with my family and myself at a baptism, a wedding and a funeral, having confirmed all our children excepting the one taken as an infant to his rest. He has seen St. Ann's grow from a handful of people to one of the most active and numerous parishes of the city. He has held about thirty confirmations in St. Ann's, and laid his hands in solemn blessing upon upwards of 1100 persons, several hundred being deaf-mutes. He founded the Sisterhood of the Good Shepherd in this church in April, 1869. He organized the Church Mission to Deaf-mutes in this church and became its first and thus far its only President in October, 1872. He has done much to place church work among deaf-mutes in its present remarkable position.
I am sure he has made on us all an impression which will never be effaced, and we may well pray that we may follow him as he followed Christ, that when earth to earth is said over our mortal remains, we may be with him in closer communion with God, in a clearer understanding of the ministrations of angels, and the employments of the Redeemed in the place of safe-keeping.
Let us pray that the mantle of this Apostolic prophet, this gospel seer, this devout man, may fall upon his successor, and that God will bless him in all the duties of his high and responsible office. What a rich legacy is the life and character of the departed Bishop to his surviving children, and all others who were near and dear to him. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.