To those persons recently come from Foreign Countries, or residing in the interior of the Diocese of New-York, who, from having been members of the Church of England and Ireland, or of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, or the Protestant Episcopal Church of America, desire to keep up their connection with the Church, and to enjoy her privileges, so far as may be possible, although for the present living at a distance from any Clergyman, or place of worship of the Church:--
It has occurred to me that, among the strangers recently landed on our shores, there must be many Christian people anxious to find the Church which, in their native country, they loved and worshipped in; and also that, among the remote settlements in the interior of the Diocese, there must be many scattered families, many individuals, who, though far removed from the regular ministrations of the Church, would yet find great comfort and strength in knowing that they were remembered by the Church, and might be in some way visited at times by her ministers, or at least might hold communication with them.
To all such this Pastoral Letter is addressed by your Bishop. If you are recently come to the country, you should lose no time in making yourself known to a Clergyman of the Church, if there be one within your reach, and attending his services. This step more than any other will conduce to your welfare, temporal and spiritual, and that of your families, in this new country of your adoption.
But when you find yourself at a distance from the Church, if your place of residence were known to the nearest Clergyman of that Church, it might be sometimes in his power to visit you--to baptize your children--to administer the Holy Communion to those who desire to receive it--to offer counsel and consolation in times of sickness and affliction--to suggest measures for the spiritual instruction and improvement of the young--and to leave with you useful tracts or books of instruction and devotion. And in the intervals between his visits, or when unable to visit you, he might at times have it in his power to forward to you useful information concerning the Church, and to unite with you in fixing upon certain days when you might bring your children to his Church for Holy Baptism, or come yourselves with the certainty of finding the Holy Communion.
By these means, though living at a distance from the Church of your affections, you would still have the comfort of feeling that you were numbered among her children--that you were partakers of her benefits--that in her minister you had a friend and a counsellor; and, with your Bible and your Prayer Book for daily use in your families and in your closets, you would have light and comfort and a blessing in your houses, however dark and cheerless things might be in the world around you: Christ, your Saviour, would be your strength in life--your hope and joy in death.
I would, therefore, earnestly recommend you to send information to the nearest Clergyman of the Church (the names of some of whom you will find annexed) as to your place of residence, and the number and state of your family, &c. If you reside a very long distance from any Clergyman of the Episcopal Church, your information may be sent directly to me, and I will see that your wishes are attended to, so far as may be possible. Fervently praying that the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, may be upon you, and remain with you for ever,
I remain affectionately yours,
Provisional Bishop of New-York.
33 WEST 24TH STREET, N. Y.