THE CLERICAL AND LAY MEMBERS OF THE CONVENTION:
Through the loving kindness of our Adorable Saviour, I am enabled once more to meet you, and with undiminished interest and affection.
The Sec. II, of the 15th Canon, Title I. of the Canons of the General Convention, requires that "at every annual Convention the Bishop shall deliver an Address, stating the affairs of the Diocese since the last meeting of the Convention; the names of the Churches which he visited; the number of persons confirmed; the names of those who have been received as Candidates for Orders, and of those who have been ordained, suspended or degraded; the changes by death, removal, or others, which have taken place among the clergy; and, in general, all matters tending to throw light on the affairs of the Diocese."
In compliance with this injunction, I beg leave to make the following statements. And as my Address, last year, was long, I will now be as brief as a sense of duty permits:
My Confirmations have been as follows, viz: At Trinity Church, Milwaukee, 15; Appleton, on two occasions, 13; Menasha, 7; Fox Lake, 3; Elkhorn, 1; Beloit, 7; Madison, on two occasions, 19; Boardman, 4; Huntingdon, 1; Wagon Landing, 2; Osceola, 1; S. Paul's, Milwaukee, on two occasions, 30; Lancaster, at two Confirmations, 17; Racine College, at two Confirmations, 24; Watertown, 11; Beaver Dam, 2; La Crosse, 9; Black River Falls, 5; Oneida, 19; Green Bay, 9; Nashotah, 27; Prairie du Chien, 3; Cedarsburg, 12; Kenosha, at two Confirmations, 10; [3/4] Oconomowoc, at two Confirmations, 18; Berlin, 12; Christ Church, Milwaukee, 10; Lisbon (Sussex), 14; Pine Lake, 9; Delafield, at two Confirmations, 12; S. John's, Milwaukee, 11; Portage, 8; Eau Claire, 10; Mineral Point, 7; Platteville, at two Confirmations, 17; Oshkosh, 17; Ripon, 14; Mission of Rev. Mr. Shaw, in the suburbs of Racine, 16; Geneva, 9; in all 49 Confirmations, and 435 Confirmed.
In addition to the places now mentioned, I have visited Waukesha, Mauston, S. James', Milwaukee, Sparta, and Fond du Lac.
I have been called upon to transfer the following clergymen from this Diocese, viz:
The Rev. R. G. Quennell, to New York; the Rev. William Charles, to Michigan; the Rev. Colin C. Tate, Deacon, to Indiana; the Rev. Samuel G. Callahan, to Missouri; the Rev. Geo. B. Engle, to Indiana; the Rev. C. W. Kelley, to Minnesota; the Rev. Charles V. Kelly, D.D., to Illinois; the Rev. William Brittain, to Ohio; the Rev. William D. Christian, to Mississippi; the Rev. William C. Pope, to Minnesota; the Rev. Geo. B. Eastman, to Michigan; the Rev. G. M. Skinner, to Western New York; the Rev. James L. Maxwell, to New Jersey.
The following clergymen have been received into the Diocese by Letters Dimissory:
The Rev. Charles J. Hendley, from Illinois; the Rev. Edward C. Porter, from Illinois; the Rev. D. Brayton Lyon, from Michigan; the Rev. Thomas Dooley, from Michigan; the Rev. William Hommann, from Pennsylvania; the Rev. John H. Babcock, from Minnesota; the Rev. Joseph Wood, from Missouri; the Rev. Charles N. Spalding, Deacon, from Pittsburg; the Rev. Charles Thorp, Deacon, from Quebec; the Rev. Edward Seymour, from Michigan.
During August I was called to the sad duty of attending the funeral of the Rev. Dr. Passmore, a most estimable and useful Presbyter, who was highly honored as a Professor at Racine College, and as Rector of the Church at Elkhorn was truly faithful and beloved.
 I have also to record the death of the able and eloquent Rev. James C. Richmond, who, although he had not resided in the Diocese for some years past, had never been transferred from it. His death was awfully sudden, for it is generally believed that he was murdered by a ruffian.
The Rev. Stephen C. Millett has lately departed this life. He was with us at an early day, and had borne his full share of pioneer work and privations. He was earnest, instructive and faithful in his ministrations. For some years past he was seldom able to officiate in consequence of disease.
The Ordinations have been: To the Diaconate, 2, viz: Mr. Robert G. Hinsdale, in S. Paul's, Milwaukee, on the 12th of August; Mr. Jerome A. Davenport, at Fond du Lac, December 9th. Mr. Davenport is now Missionary at Fox Lake.
To the Priesthood, 5, viz: Rev. Wm. E. Wright, (now Missionary at Beaver Dam), in S. John's, Milwaukee, on the 1st of November; Rev. Francis Moore, at Lancaster, in his own Mission, on the 13th of December; Rev. John Bennett, Minister at Sussex, (Lisbon), in his own Church, on the 7th of April; Rev. Edmond C. Laughlin, of the Diocese of Mississippi, ordained by me at the request of Bishop Green, and Rev. Robert G. Hinsdale, now a Professor at Racine College, at Nashotah on the 2d of June.
The Rev. Ebenezer Williams having resigned the Ministry, I have solemnly deposed him therefrom.
The Candidates for the Ministry in the Diocese, are 10 in number, viz: Charles R. Brainard, John Lloyd Taylor, Wilber Richmond Tillinghurst, George Wallace, Edward B. Spalding, Chester Adams, William Griffis, George G. Smith, F. R. Girard, Harvey W. Milligan, M.D. Several other persons are soon to become such.
On the 9th of July I laid the Corner Stone of S. Luke's Church, Racine, on which occasion the address was delivered by our beloved brother, the late Dr. Passmore. The President, officers, and students of the College were present, and greatly contributed to the solemnities of the day.
 Soon after the adjournment of our last Convention, that is, one the 21st of June, I consecrated the neat chapel of the Holy Innocents, which had been erected at Pine Lake through the untiring efforts especially of the late Rev. John G. L. Fryer, while he was a student at Nashotah.
The event most interesting to you, and in which I pray and believe you may always have reason to rejoice, is the Consecration of the Rev. William E. Armitage, D.D., as Assistant Bishop of this Diocese. This event took place at Detroit, in the very Church from which he was called by your vote, and where his ministry had been remarkably blessed. Never was there a more free election. Neither he nor I had anything to do with it. In complying with your request he has made many sacrifices. It is now your situation as will prove not only your high estimate of his worth, and of the loving zeal and energy with which he has entered upon his work, but also your determination that he shall not, in the slightest degree, be harassed by pecuniary difficulties. Upon this subject, as you well know, I could speak with no little feeling: but I wish the past to be forgotten; and as an additional proof, if one is necessary, that from the first I sought not yours, but you and your spiritual welfare, I hereby relinquish, from the first of this month, half the salary you last voted me.
Under a deep sense of my responsibility to the Great Head of the Church, I will neither abandoned nor suspend the labors of my sacred office (in which I still delight) while health is graciously bestowed upon me. It is my desire, however, that the clergy and parishes and Missionary stations, as well as all our schools, should look mainly to Bishop Armitage for advice and assistance. Before we assemble again, I trust he will have made a most thorough visitation of the whole Diocese. In the meanwhile I will cheerfully, at the request of any one of you, give a Sunday to any place or church where my services may be desires.
I must not fail to mention that at the Consecration of Dr. Armitage, I was assisted by my Rt. Rev. Brethren, Bishops McCoskry, [6/7] Lee (of Iowa), Whipple, Coxe, Talbot, Clarkson, Kerfoot and Cummins, with the Bishop of Huron, C.W. Many of you likewise, brethren, were present, and we can all, I am sure, gratefully testify to the unbounded hospitality we received while in that comparatively ancient city.
You must have noticed the frequent changes that have taken place. Unless made for very good causes, they are injurious to both parties. Some of our parishes have been seriously harmed, and some promising Missionary stations all but destroyed by the sudden departure of a clergyman. The fault (when fault there is), so far as I can judge, seems oftentimes to be equally divided between the clergy and the laity. Brethren! we all alike in this matter have a duty pressing on us, a noble work before us, in which the eternal salvation of immortal souls is involved; a work which God will undoubtedly bless if we are faithful and untiring. Let the clergy seek, through God's grace, to become even more earnest, more persevering, more confident of success. Let the laity grow more considerate for trifling failings in their rectors, more self-sacrifices, more generous, both of their means and of their own time and personal labors for Christ's cause; then, with God's blessing, and only then, the Church of our Adorable Saviour will be firmly established in every part of the State.
As far as I know, the parishes at Fond du Lac and Portage are now vacant, and I have reason to believe that those at LaCrosse and Madison are so likewise. Missionaries are needed and wanted at Horicon, Juneau, Jefferson, Fort Atkinson, Butte des Morts, Menasha, Neenah, Prescott, Wausau, and many other places. Surely, if any people are called upon to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into the harvest, we are that people.
Yet, with all this, there are many signs of encouragement which I would with pleasure point out, did I not fear I might fatigue you. The Missionary spirit, thank God, is increasing, while the efforts of not a few to train up the lambs of the flock in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, merit our deepest gratitude, and should receive our heartiest co-operation.
 Called to New York last October, to assist in the election of a Missionary Bishop for Idaho, I had the privilege of attending one or more meetings of the Board of Missions, and likewise a meeting of the Society for the Increase of the Ministry; institutions most richly deserving your generous contributions.
The Convocations are continued with gratifying evidences of usefulness; and, connected with them, have been several encouraging Missionary meetings, in which I hope my brethren of the laity will take an increasing interest.
I have only further to report that I have baptized some children, and married two couples. The ministerial acts are properly recorded in the parishes where performed. I have frequently catechized and addressed the children of Sunday and other schools, and have occasionally, when requested, attended to other parochial duties.
All other necessary statistics you will learn from the Address of the Assistant Bishop, and from the Parochial Reports.
In conclude with the assurance that I shall ever cherish the deepest interest in the welfare and growth of the Diocese, and with the earnest prayer that the Holy Ghost may guide, enlighten and sanctify you in your present work as a Council of the Church.
ADDRESS OF THE ASSISTANT BISHOP
RIGHT REVEREND FATHER,
BRETHREN OF THE CLERGY AND LAITY:
My consecration to the office to which you caked me so unexpectedly at your last Convention, took place on Thursday, December 6th, in S. John's Church, Detroit, among my beloved parishioners, whom it was no light grief to leave. Our own Bishop, and no less than nine others, including the Bishop of Huron, C.W., united with him in the act of consecration--a number almost without precedent. As the event is important in our Diocesan history, I append a copy of the official "Letters of Consecration," to which the ten Bishops affixed their signatures and seals.
At the request of the Bishop of Michigan, one of innumerable instances of his consideration for me, my first Episcopal act was the confirmation of my own last class of thirty candidates, in S. John's Church, Detroit, December 23d, the 4th Sunday in Advent.
My first official act in Wisconsin was the confirmation of seven persons, in S. James' Church, Milwaukee, on Sunday morning, January 6th, the Festival of the Epiphany. The presence of the venerable Bishop was his public welcome to me, which I felt the more because of his hearty kindness in all our private intercourse. No one could wish for a reception more cordial than has been extended to me by all, from the Bishop to the little children.
My first duty was, to make myself acquainted with the clergy, parishes, and institutions of the Diocese; and by the Bishops appointment, I began to visit them severally for this purpose, [9/10] apart from the performance of Episcopal duties, unless they were specially required. In view of the fact that my report is supplementary, and that my knowledge of the Diocese is still so imperfect, I prefer to give merely the dates of my visitations, and official acts, without comments.
My first visits to the churches of Milwaukee took place as follows; S. James', January 6th; S. Paul's, Jan. 13th, A.M., Trinity, same day, P.M.; S. John's, Jan. 27th, A.M.; Christ Church, Feb. 17th, P.M. In each instance, save the last, I addressed the children of the parish, besides preaching to the congregation.
I have visited S. Sylvanus' Church, Nashotah, January 20th; the mission at Summit, the same day; S. Paul's Church, Watertown, Feb. 1st and 2d; S. Paul's, Fond du Lac, Sunday, Feb. 3d, when I had the pleasure of opening the beautiful church; Trinity, Oshkosh, Feb. 4th and 5th; S. Stephen's, Menasha, Feb. 6th; Neenah, Feb. 7th; Grace Church, Appleton, Feb. 8th; S. John's, Portage, Feb. 10th and 11th; Zion, Oconomowoc, Feb. 12th; S. Luke's, Racine, Feb. 24th; Holy Communion, Geneva, Feb. 26th and 27th; Trinity, Mineral Point, March 27th; Trinity, Platteville, March 21st; Christ Church, Green Bay, April 5th, 6th and 7th; Christ Church, Janesville, May 15th; Trinity Church, Janesville, May 16th; S. Matthias', Waukesha, May 17th; Grace, Oakfield, May 27th; S. Paul's, Horicon, May 28th; Christ Church, Fox Lake, May 29th; Grace, Ripon, May 30th; Trinity, Berlin, May 31st. A personal sorrow prevented my completion of this round before Convention; but I propose to resume it at once.
In the course of these visitations, I confirmed in S. James', Milwaukee, 20, 13 of them on the 5th of May, at the second confirmation; in Grace Church, Appleton, 5, one of them a minister of the Methodist denomination, who is now a candidate for Holy Orders; in Christ Church, Green Bay, 6; in Christ Church, Janesville, 16; in Trinity Church, Janesville, 28, half of them from [10/11] the parish school; in Grace Church, Oakfield, 2; in Christ Church, Fox Lake, 1; in Trinity, Berlin, 1;--in all, 79.
On the second Sunday in Lent, March 17th, at the request of the Bishop of Quebec, in whose Diocese he had been a candidate I admitted Mr. Charles Thorp to the Holy Order of Deacon. Being at once transferred to this Diocese, he has assisted the Rev. Mr. Wilkinson in his parish school, and shared with him missionary services at Horicon, Oak Creek and Greenfield.
I preached and took part in the discussions of two clerical convocations; one at Madison, February 22d to 24th; the other at Beaver Dam, April 1st to 3d; and preached the opening sermon of a third, at Kenosha, May 21st. As clerical gatherings, these occasions have not been unprofitable for the clergy present, and to the parishes chosen for the meetings. But I believe that no present advantage would be risked, and that we may gain much in the thoroughness of our missionary work, by returning to the plan of our Canon XVI, and dividing the Diocese into Convocations. The division fixed by the Canon may, perhaps, be improved, as it should relate rather to lines of travel than geographical neighborhood. I shall have occasion, presently, however, to revert to this subject.
In every visitation, when it was possible, I have catechized and addressed the children; and I request that the opportunity of so doing may always be afforded me. At Delafield, Appleton, Mineral Point, Green Bay, Janesville, Ripon, and S. James', Milwaukee, I rejoiced to find well ordered parish schools. Other parishes have them, and one or two more will soon have them. While I fear the additional burden for the clergy, in the lack of teachers trained for this special work, I can hardly find language to express my sense of their importance to the Church and to the next generation.
The Bishop having assigned to me the oversight of the institutions for education in the Diocese, they have occupied not a little of my time and thoughts. To begin with the youngest, I met the trustees of Kemper Hall, Kenosha, January 15th, and two [11/12] subsequent visits have confirmed my first impressions. The school is haunted and hindered by an unfortunate past; but its fine grounds and buildings are a solid possession, and when the demand is so great for education of girls near our homes, it ought not to fail of final success. The present principal is struggling on with great determination, and if once the tide begins to turn in its favor, the school will no doubt became all that its projectors hoped. For the sake of the principle involved, I may be allowed to state an objection to the provision of the charter which makes not only the Rector, but the Wardens and Vestrymen of S. Matthew's Church, ex officio Trustees of Kemper Hall. I believe it is never safe for the officers of a parish, as such, to be charged with the management of a distinct institution or interest. If they have occasion, let the parishioners elect directly for the other purpose; but to give men two offices of trust by one election, is exposing each trust in turn to injury.
I have visited the Oconomowoc Seminary three times, and met the Trustees, May 9th. It is an excellent church school, worthy to be commended to all parents who desire to give their daughters thorough instruction under sound Christian influences. The buildings it occupies are both insufficient and unworthy, and it was therefore a great satisfaction to hear that the citizens of the town, with a little help from others, designed to pay off all indebtedness on the property, and that the Trustees would then proceed to erect a wing of the permanent building. I wish they might be authorized to erect the whole, at once; for the need is very pressing. When this Seminary shall be well house, and Kemper Hall well filled, there will be no reason for sending our daughters out of the State for education. In behalf of both schools, Brethren, I appeal to you for your co-operation with their Trustees and Teachers. Clergymen and Laymen both may some times do them service, if they will learn to think of them as Diocesan, to be preferred because they are so, because their prosperity will add to the unity and strength of the Diocese.
Racine College I have visited several times, meeting the [12/13] Trustees January 9th, and on two occasions devoting two or three days to informing myself concerning its management and discipline. The Rector, whose gift of influencing boys I knew in our Seminary days, gave me every facility, and explained all the details of his very successful work. It differs in many respects from our usual Colleges--and few of us can hold the type so dear that we are unwilling to have it departed from--and some features have provoked criticism. Some of this, relating to the discipline of the older students, will no doubt cease when the new "Taylor Hall," to be built this summer, with a part of the legacy of Mrs. Taylor, of Racine, shall enable the Rector to separate the college from the grammar school. As to the rest, while some is entitled to respect, the most is of that thoughtless kind which attends any new mode of conducting what everybody supposes he understands. And this is receiving its answer in the growth of the college, and the character of its graduates. I beg all who take exceptions to anything in its management, first, to assure themselves that they are rightly informed, which seems to be seldom the case; and secondly, to consider that in such a work the Rector's individuality and experience have a right to assert themselves. I believe that the students of Racine College are more likely to be rooted and grounded in the pure faith and practice of the Church, than is possible in most institutions of our country. While I might order some things differently, perhaps, if I were the Rector, I am not the Rector, nor could I do his work as well. He is mindful of his responsibility, and is discharging it in the fear of GOD. I am not unmindful of mine in commending Racine College to the confidence and pride of the Diocese, as well as to its prayers and hopes.
The Theological Seminary at Nashotah--and the same should be said of Racine College,--is not Diocesan, although all its faculty are Presbyters of this Diocese, and it is within our limits. I am under obligation, therefore, to the President, for his kindness in giving me the most full and confidential information concerning its affairs; which neither Bishop nor Convocation has [13/14] the right to require. I examined the books and accounts, and can vouch for the minute care and economy with which the "Daily Bread" has been expended through all these years. Few men could have borne so peculiar a financial burden so long; but though Dr. Cole is still able to bear it, I venture to express my earnest hope that the Trustees will take immediate steps to secure a permanent endowment. The Diocese is most fortunate in having so admirable a school for its candidates for Holy Orders, within its bounds; and not less in its silent influence, and in the studies and labors of its able faculty. Indeed the work of two bodies of professors, at Nashotah and Racine, devoted to the pursuit and inculcation of sound learning, is an element of strength for the Diocese, which we shall measure more justly every year.
And now this review of our schools, from the parochial to the theological, leads me to the suggestion of one need, which the subject illustrates--an increase of the feeling of membership one with another in the Diocese, of an esprit-du-corps among parishes, clergy, and laity, which will make the common Diocese and its interests a living bond between them. Doubtless our immense Dioceses are unfavorable to this feeling, but while we are looking forward to the division of our own, and as a step towards its happy accomplishment, we should be strengthening all our existing bonds, and multiplying them, and moving forward as one body. We cannot afford to build up parishes for their own sake, simply, or to admit local and narrow policies which do not consult the good of the whole Diocese. In education, for instance, we should expect the scattered parochial schools to feed Racine, Oconomowoc, Kenosha; then Racine will feed Nashotah; and Nashotah will increase the Holy Ministry. And any one can see that as such personal histories multiply, the mutual interests of the Diocese will be increased, and its members will become conscious and thoughtful of each other. And so all our institutions, plans, agencies, with their success or failure, should be the concern of us all--not only of the nearest and strongest parishes, but of the little flocks which feel themselves isolated; not only of [14/15] the officers or committees specially charged with them, but of every member of the Church. You will all agree with me as to the soundness of all this in theory. If you will think of it, you will also assent to its mastering importance to our growth in the state. I trust therefore for your kind consideration of certain means to this good end, which we can put in force if we please.
It was not the least attraction to your Diocese to know that the "see-principle," in regard to Episcopal work, was expected to be put into operation. By common consent, Milwaukee was to be made the See of the Diocese of Wisconsin, and my residence was virtually fixed in this city by the offers and resolutions which followed my election in your last Convention. Accordingly, in our earliest consultations, the Bishop assigned to me the organization of Church work in this city, with reference to its Diocesan relations. Much of my time has been given, and must still be given, to the effort to strengthen the Church in this centre. Some things are very much against us--the great preponderance of foreign population; the fact that so much of the state is tributary to Chicago rather than to Milwaukee; the unusual geographical divisions of the city, attended with traditional feelings and habits, which make it like three or four distinct towns; the absence of fine houses of worship, fit to stand among its private residences, and consequently, a people, in most directions liberal enough, not accustomed to seeing money freely bestowed for the honor of GOD among them. Our parishes were six in number, though Trinity Church, and the Church of the Atonement, were felt to have been unsuccessful experiments, and the Mission of Christ Church had a doubtful future before it, in spite of the self-denying resolution of its Rector. S. Paul's, S. John's, and S. James', strong and flourishing, were nevertheless distinct, from their situations chiefly, and were little felt by one another. The union of the Church of the Atonement and Trinity Church was effected early in the winter, but their efforts seemed still to be unsuccessful. The need of a second parish for the three wards on this East side of the river was so evident, that, early in May, I accepted the conveyance of [15/16] the building of Trinity Church, and re-opened it under the name of All Saints' Church, with the hope of gathering a congregation which will soon be able to move to a proper site. For the present there is no parochial organization, nor am I in haste to form one. I hope to have one or more clergymen with me in this work before long, and shall not allow it to interfere with my duties to the Diocese; but I beg your consideration of the fact, that if, by GOD'S blessing, it helps to strengthen the Church in this city, it is likewise work for the Diocese. I know not where, in the whole state, there is a better field for an Associate Mission than in the midst of the more than twenty-five thousand souls for whom S. Paul's is our only provision. The Rector, Wardens, and Vestrymen of S. Paul's have given their cordial consent to this undertaking, have named a boundary line for their own parochial work, which was altogether satisfactory; and on the 12th of May, the 3d Sunday after Easter, the churchmen of the three wards met in the Mother Church, and I was afforded the chance to explain to them at length what we designed to do. S. James' is already at work on a fine building, whose erection will mark an era in our city, and will enlarge its ability to do our work in its important neighborhood. S. John's continues its former history of zealous labor, and widening usefulness. Christ Church has still a doubtful future, and may need to be removed to a more favorable site; but as it is, is helping us not a little. As for S. Paul's, we are in it and know it; and we do not forget its liberal gifts, and the earnestness of its Rector and many of its people, in the complaint, that they will keep us waiting so long to be called to rejoice over its new house of glory and beauty.
Now the union of these parishes must be a constant aim, both for their own sake, and for that of the Diocese. The growth of institutions among them sustained by all in common, and their co-operation in personal service of one kind and another, must be the means. As the first step, the Milwaukee Church Union was formed, February 18th, an organization of the men of the various parishes, so simple as to admit of being gradually shaped by [16/17] experience. A general meeting of the churchmen and women of the city is held monthly, after due preparation first by an Executive Committee, at which information and discussion on matters of common interest, make two hours profitable for much good. Each kind of work, as it is taken up, is entrusted to a Standing Committee, elected every six months, which reports progress at each monthly meeting. I mention this to show that the churchmen of Milwaukee contemplate active exertions to make the see a reality, as far as it rests on them; and also to invite the interest of their brethren elsewhere, and their presence at the monthly meetings whenever they can give it. The first enterprise of the Union has been the establishment of Depository of Church Books, Tracts, &c.; not merely for convenience, but as a centre of the manifold influences of the Press, as the necessary commencement of what I hope will prove a patient and determined effort to use the Press in the Church's work. A circular, lately issued by the Committee of the Church Union, copies of which will be furnished you, will save my pursuing the subject now; but I ask a place for it in your deliberations, in order that the possibilities of this neglected agent in church work may be thoroughly understood by the Diocese.
It will be among the advantages of this Book Store, that it will open a sort of Diocesan office, where information may be obtained, records preserved, and the entire business of the Diocese be centred. Designing to move cautiously, and feeling that the adaptation of the see principle to the circumstances of the American Church must be at first experimental, I think we may record at this Convention that the experiment is progressing hopefully among us. And I commend it, Brethren, to your hearty co-operation, believing that its thorough success will tell upon the entire Diocese.
But here rises again the great difficulty that our Diocese is too large; and the consequent necessity, until we can divide it, of some distribution of its work about minor centres. We may have in Milwaukee, accurate maps and full reports of a certain field which the Church is called to occupy, but we cannot consult and [17/18] provide for that field, as well, or as economically, as they can who live near it and know it for themselves. The Bishop's visits must be brief, and at long intervals; and he is very likely to see an exceptional interest when he makes them. I very earnestly recommend return to the principles of Canon XVI., and the distribution of the Diocese into convenient Convocations. Let the missionary work of so much territory be entrusted to a Convocation of the clergy stationed within it, acting under the Bishop, and in counsel with him and the Board of Missions of the Diocese. The Bishop could meet with them in general, and in his absence, and for the sake of the work during the intervals, a Dean--since that title seems to be growing into use for the office--might be appointed, who should preside at meetings and be responsible to the Bishop for the oversight of whatever is undertaken. If this officer could be the head of an Associate Mission at the chief place of the region; or being the Rector of its strongest parish, could have with him two or three itinerants going out to stations and visiting from house to house; if at the central point, we could have the Church schools, impossible in every little parish, perhaps in time a Church Home, or other institutions to make a strong centre for the feeble flocks scattered around it--I believe we would work more efficiently than we can ever dream of doing, while our parishes have no more actual bond, than receiving the visits of the same Bishop, paying dues into the same treasury, and sending delegates to the same convention. As before remarked, our present Convocations are profitable. But they cannot be less so--since each meeting of the District Convocations will be open to all the clergy, and will be likely to draw as many from a distance as they now do--they cannot be less profitable because they must discuss the wants of a certain field and the means of supplying them. I forbear to discuss the details, for and against this plan; but, leaving it to your decision, I must remind you that some of the most important divisions of other Dioceses have grown out of, and have followed the lines of Convocations like those proposed in the Canon.
On other subject you must permit me to press upon you--the inadequate and declining number of the clergy. From the usual [18/19] side on which it is approached, I have only to urge upon you, Brethren, the duty of fervent prayer to "the LORD of the harvest that He would send forth laborers into His harvest"; and the kindred duty of seeking recruits for the Holy Ministry, especially among those who are still in training for their life-work. Cease not, my Brethren of the clergy, both in your public and private monitions and exhortations, to press upon parents the privilege of devoting their sons to the LORD'S work, and upon the boys, as well as the young men, the dignity of the sacred office, and the rewards promised to its faithful discharge. But since urgency of this kind does not yet fill our scanty ranks, we must consider what we are to do in the scarcity of clergy. All our theories and customs are based upon the expectation of clerical labor, wherever the Church is or is to be. And we can find no equivalent for it, because it is an agency appointed of GOD. Our remedy cannot lie in substitution for it: but first in reducing our demands for it, so that others may enjoy it likewise; and secondly, in methodical, trained, if not yet organized, lay co-operation. Many a little flock rejoices in a pastor of its own, who ministers the word and sacraments week after week to a very few souls. The church must be open, and the service performed, twice every Sunday, though perhaps not half the congregation are regular in attendance; while, a few miles off, another group of brethren are not called to worship, and all around are souls to be sought and saved. Now if we had the men, each parish and station should have its own pastor; but we have not the men, and we must appeal to the laity for their unselfish consideration of that fact. They must regard not what they would like but what they can have--what the Church's just economy of clerical labor ought to give them. One clerical service a Sunday, while not as good as two, is still far better than none. No earnest soul need starve upon it. And hundreds of earnest souls, scattered through the West--nay, even here in our own Diocese, I have heard it more than once already--would count that a rich provision, but they cannot have it. My Brethren, we simply cannot afford to indulge the expectations of former years. We must make the most of our clergy. How, it would be a matter [19/20] for the Convocations to arrange. The members, so many in number, having so many stations to occupy, can tell, themselves, how much they can undertake, here or there; can arrange for a weekly service in this place, a fortnightly service in that, and so on; and then can make more or less provision for the intervals.
Here we touch on the need of lay-co-operation. Instances are known to most of us, of services maintained by lay-reading, to the great comfort and edification of a little flock without a shepherd. I am sure that the Bishop will gladly license any suitable person who will thus lead the worship of a little company in his own house or neighborhood--and that it will be an acceptable service to the LORD. But it seems to me that Lay-Reading would find its appropriate place in filling the intervals of clerical services. Wherever a man can be found willing and qualified for this mode of helping the Church, it is worth while to ask the Bishop to license him. Then, if some care be taken to inform and prepare him, and if real living sermons, short and plain, be put into his hands, one for each service specially, that it may be a fresh proof of interest in the little flock, the people can be kept together, and their worship and instruction can be continuous. And, still farther, an intelligent layman can do much in supplementing the occasional clerical visit, by maintaining a Sunday School, or a Bible Class, which will gather the people for some observance of the Holy day. I believe that many a rural congregation might be kept alive, and even grow and win souls to Christ, by some such union of occasional clerical services, with lay-reading, and lay Sunday School management, under proper oversight. It would not be impossible to give these lay-helpers a partial training, or at least an insight into some good Sunday School work, either at the Church centre of the district, or in the see of the Diocese. Observe that these are only expedients, experiments if you will, to meet the condition in which the scarcity of clergy places us. I would not yield one jot or tittle of doctrine or principle, or risk either by laxity of administration. But with this great field, and with so few to till it; besides praying to the LORD to send forth laborers, as He bade us, we are surely right in pressing into His [20/21] service all lawful agencies, though they be but temporary substitutes for His ordained ministry.
My Brethren, it is easier to plan than to execute: but it is not impossible to execute what we have planned wisely and in the fear of GOD. So let us plan and consider while we are here together; honestly, purely, unselfishly, as by the inspiration of Him, who as at this time was poured out upon the Church. And when we separate, let us go forth in His strength to work wherever He has placed us, for ourselves, for one another, for parish, Diocese, Church, and for the dear LORD from whom all proceed, for whom all must prepare.