Project Canterbury




William H. Hare,



A Convocation of Clergy and Laity




MAY 29, 1891.


Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2010

To all to whom these Presents may come, Greeting in the Lord!

I, John Williams, D. D., by Divine permission Bishop of the Diocese of Connecticut, in the United States of America, and Presiding Bishop of the House of Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States aforesaid, do hereby certify and declare:

That at a canonical meeting of the said House of Bishops, held in the City of New York, on the fourth day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred, and ninety-one, the Right Reverend William Hobart Hare, D. D., Bishop of the Missionary Jurisdiction of South Dakota, was unanimously elected to proceed, at as early a day as may be possible, to the Empire of Japan, as the fully accredited representative of the said House, in all matters and for all purposes which may arise; and, in especial, to exercise such charge and oversight of the Missionary Jurisdiction of Yedo, now vacant by the resignation of the late Bishop thereof, as may be practicable; he acting provisionally until a Bishop shall be elected and consecrated for the said Jurisdiction, or until he may choose to resign his commission.

And I do further, in the name of the House of Bishops, commend the Right Reverend the Bishop of South Dakota, so appointed and sent out, to all to whom these presents shall come; and especially to the Standing Committee, the Reverend Clergy, and the Laity of the Missionary Jurisdiction of Yedo, to whom he is sent, in the character and for the purposes before rehearsed; invoking upon him and them the protection, blessing and guidance of Almighty God, the ever Blessed and adorable Trinity!

In testimony of all which I have hereunto set my hand, and caused my official seal to be affixed, at Middletown, in the State and Diocese of Connecticut, and in the United States aforesaid, this fourteenth day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-one, and in the fortieth year of my Consecration.




My dear Brethren of The Clergy and Laity:

THE object which the House of Bishops had in mind in requesting me to proceed to Japan as their representative was twofold:

1st, that the Episcopal Office in its fulness might be exercised among you, and

2nd, that a Bishop just come from the meeting of the House of Bishops might appear among you and tell you face to face of the profound interest of the Fathers of the Church in the work of the Church in Japan, their affectionate sympathy in your labour of love, and their earnest desire to further it in every way proper to their office.

I came to you without an hour's unnecessary delay. The words of St. Paul when he was about to visit the Roman Christians were often in my mind as I journeyed toward Japan, "I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift to the end ye may be established;" and I have earnestly hoped that, helped by your prayers, I might in some humble measure adopt also the other words of the Apostle to the same Roman Christians: "I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ."

In the name of the Bishops of the American Church I now solemnly give you Apostolic salutation--

"Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ."


I should be very unthoughtful, if, being a new comer, I did not go back in imagination to the early days of this mission and view face to face the difficulties and trials which must have weighed down the first missionaries and the formidable obstacles which must have risen up before the first converts. The presence to day of my brother, Bishop Williams, who for more than thirty years has labored in this field, this noble Church edifice, this intelligent assembly, the Congregations which have been gathered, our Communicants, our Catechists, the Clergy who have been ordained, the five candidates who are to be ordained on Sunday next, all bear eloquent testimony to the labours "in season and out of season" of those who have been engaged in the mission, and I and all who come later and take part in this work will repeat often the words of our Lord--"One soweth and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours."


The object of our assembling is not to pass authoritative resolutions, much less to enact laws--The Synod alone has authority to make laws for the Nippon Seikokwai (the Japanese Church), and, so far as the American Mission is concerned, the laws which govern it are made by the authorities of the Church in the United States which established it and which in a great degree supports it. Our object, while in one sense less than legislative, is in another sense more than legislative. We have come together to develope spirit and life and love and unity and to search for practical wisdom in the doing of our work.

I have had the great privilege of receiving communications from intelligent Japanese and of having many conferences with them and with the Clergy. I have tried to weigh well the facts which have been presented, and the opinions which have been expressed, and I am not without hope that what I may say will [2/3] on the whole be acceptable generally and tend to unity of mind and action. I believe I can assure you that what I am about to address to you expresses the mind of my brethren of the clergy generally.


The number of the clergy and catechists gathered here is very inspiring, and it is a great encouragement that we have with us some of our brethren who are engaged in the secular business of life. The practical wisdom of such persons has its own special place and value in a deliberative body and it is because this is so that I have recommended that congregations should not choose theological students or catechists as their representatives.


It is agreed on all hands that the mission is capable of doing better work than it has yet done, and that our Divinity School and other Institutions may be made more efficient in their internal operation and more impressive to the outside world; but it is believed that some of those who have criticised them most harshly have not adequately considered the embarrassments which have hampered past action. The very impatience with the present status of affairs will, however, prove a valuable force in our endeavour towards improvement, if it keep itself within reason and allow itself to be prudently used.


I believe that the relation of the Bishop and the clergy and the people, and the relations of the foreign and the native members of the Church should be those of mutual respect, mutual confidence and mutual generosity, and that in common counsels we shall reach the best wisdom. Animated by this conviction, I issued the call which has assembled here this impressive array of earnest and intelligent men, representatives [3/4] of many different localities, of varied interests, and doubtless of many diverse phases of thought and feeling.

While I am of course in duty bound to bear in mind the fact that the Board of Managers makes its appropriations annually and would withdraw them from any part of the work, did the administration of it not meet with its approval, I feel that the people should more and more participate in the management of our schools and other institutions and the mission generally, and in avowing this I believe I express the mind of the Board at home and of the clergy here.

In such a meeting as this there is of course large room for suspicion and heartburning, particularly as neither the Japanese nor the foreigners perfectly understand the language of the other, its idioms and those subtile modifications of phrases and delicate turns of expression by which mental action can put itself in the guise rather of suggestions than assertions and of requests than demands. But our heart is one, our aim is one, and mutual respect and brotherly love will abound and due respect will be paid to all rightful authority, and therefore I feel sure that, without either undertaking to enact laws or to pass authoritative resolutions, we can, by a careful study of the conditions and by patient comparison of opinions, reach conclusions which will put the Mission increasingly in accord with the wishes of the people and will direct its future more in the line which their judgments approve, and that thus our Churches, like those named in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, will have "Rest and be edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, will be multiplied."


But let us not deceive ourselves. There are stubborn facts and fundamental principles to be encountered. It is easy to express fine sentiments. It is easy to spin theories of cooperation. Yet as a matter of fact, actual life is a great descent from the realm of airy ideas. It is made up of incongruities, and uncongenialities and inequalities--of duties to be done as [4/5] well as rights to be enjoyed, of annoyances to be borne as well as privileges to be exercised. Inconvenient facts meet us everywhere. Every plan of improvement, will require able men for its execution, and money for its support. Where shall we find them? Manifestly then we must compel ourselves to turn from speculations which have cut loose from things as they really are and fit ourselves in with sober ugly facts. We must leave theories as to how things should be done for the practical question how they can be done. We must descend from the heights of fancy to the arena of real everyday life.

Equality and graduated overseership.--But besides stubborn facts there are certain fundamental principles to be reckoned with and acted on. For instance, this principle that all life, whether in the family, in society, in common work, or in the nation, is based upon a common equality modified by a graduated overseership.

The equality lies in the sacred personality of each individual soul and is the basis of St. Peter's noble maxim, "Honor all men," and should lead in all intercourse of life to that mutual deference which Christianity so highly commends.

The graduated overseership arises from the differences of natural relation (as of parent and child, teacher and pupil), from the qualities which make men differ from one another, and from the necessity of order and government.

We see this graduated overseership running up in family life from servants to children, to mother, to father, and in the nation from lower officials to the higher. There is a hierarchy, a graduated overseership, even in the angelic world. We read of angels and archangels, principalities and powers. All the universe is thus ordered, for God is the Lord of hosts, the universe being represented in this language as not a crowd, but a marshalled array.

A like graduated overseership has always been characteristic of the Church. A glance at New Testament history reveals to us the seventy; above them the Apostles; and over all the Son of man. Later, the departing Head of the Church sent the [5/6] Apostles forth even as the Father had sent Him, and then again a graduated overseership appeared. The supreme oversight which was at first in the hands of the Apostles was gradually parcelled out and committed to Bishops, and through them to Presbyters and Deacons, and so universally was this the case that, as the historian Gibbon remarks, "No church without a Bishop," has been a fact as well as a maxim since the time of Irenaeus, Irenaeus having been, it will be remembered, a disciple of Polycarp, and Polycarp of St. John.

But if graduated overseership is a characteristic feature of the Church, then all cannot be leaders and teachers, all cannot be advisers and counsellors. A characteristic feature of the Church must be a loyal, willing, conciliatory, plastic spirit. It is required by our principles. It is essential also to the peace and welfare of the body. I mean a disposition in each to fall into rank, preserve order and do his duty in his own place. We must cultivate, on the one hand, the spirit and habit which makes pupils willing to be under their teachers, students to be directed by their professors, catechists Bible-women and other helpers and people to be guided by their clergy; and we must cultivate, on the other hand, the spirit and habit of mind which leads those who are in authority to remember that they are called to bear rule over men, not over children; that Ministers are themselves in and of the body; that they cannot be lords over God's heritage; and that government rises highest when it expresses, not so much the personal mind and will of the ruler, but the best thought and feeling of the Church.

Source of authority.--Now let us face another fundamental principle. It is the source of authority in the Church.

Our Lord did not consider it His mission here on earth merely to sow broadcast great truths and noble sentiments, leaving them to grow up under the general providence of God. On the contrary He established a Church to be the guardian and the propagator of what He Himself had taught. We listen to His words and hear Him say He would build a Church. We examine history and find that He did build it. We look about [6/7] us in the world and find that it exists to-day. It is a fact that it exists. It is just as much a fact that He was the Author of it. And He was the Author of it immediately and directly. The mode in which He chose to establish His Church was not that of depending on man's natural tendency toward social union and organization, expecting that thus a sacred society would be formed and officers appointed for it. On the contrary He Himself trained and appointed officers for it, and He Himself sent these officers out to win and gather in the people. Wherever these officers went, they themselves handed over to others in due time the commission which they themselves had received, that these others, each in his proper measure, might share it with them and succeed them in it. Thus from one to another this commission has been transmitted until the Church is preparing now to entrust it in its fulness to the people of this land.

But while thus insisting upon the divine origin of the ministerial commission, we are to observe that the persons to whom this commission was given belonged to no one family, much less to a caste, but were of the people; that the ranks of the ministry were to be replenished from the people with the approbation of the people; nor are we by any means to forget that the Church in general is a divinely inspired body and has a right to make laws to prevent abuse in the exercise of the ministerial commission, nor that Christ's ministers are to be like Himself, patient, meek, and approachable, and loving and self-forgetful, the people's "Servants for Jesus' sake." And we should recognize and insist upon the fact that the people in all ordinary cases have the right of selecting the men to whom the sacred commission shall be given, and of preventing that a minister shall be set over them as their pastor or continued in his place who is in their deliberate judgment an unacceptable man.

[* A resort to the Laity for their concurrence as a condition precedent to definite action of the clergy is required in almost every important step in ecclesiastical procedure by the Canons of the Nippon Seikokwai.

The Laity sit and vote with the Clergy in the law-making body, the Synod. The Laity are represented on the Bishop's Council of Advice or Standing Committee. [7/8] Every man who applies for admission as a candidate for Holy Orders is required to present testimonials signed by Lay men. When the candidate has completed his studies he must again go back to the Laity and secure their testimony that he is a person fit for ordination. And not until all these antecedent requirements are passed in review by the Standing Committee, composed of Laymen as well as Clergymen, may the Bishop proceed to ordain.]

Moreover this also is an important truth, viz, that where a body of intelligent believers have been gathered, nothing should be taught as truth except with appeal to their own minds and consciences, no important step should be taken without their concurrence. Christ has made them "Kings and priests unto God." They may not be ignored. And yet it will be perceived that it inheres in the office of ministers, specially those of the higher orders, that they should be organizers, and teachers, and rulers, and stewards of sacraments, and directors of the worship of the assembled believers, and that due willingness to be taught and led and ministered to in holy things must be one of the duties of a Christian.

Would not many mistakes have been escaped in the past, will not many occasions of division be prevented in the future, if these facts be kept carefully in mind?

Other Practical Consequences of our System.--According to this system, it will be perceived that it is not possible that either the clergy or the people should be independent of the other. The minister exists for the purpose of serving the flock. A minister who will not do this loses the reason of his existence. The flock has the need and the right to be served by a minister.

All persons who have been baptized into the Nippon Seikokwai, or who have been received into it in any other way, were thereby brought into direct relation to the Pastors of the Church and to some one Bishop as their Chief Pastor, and it is their right and their duty to have that relation maintained. On removal to a new home, it is their right and their duty to make their presence known to the most accessible clergyman and through him to the nearest congregation and to receive Christian help and fellowship; and, should any one happen to live in a district in which the Nippon Seikokwai has not established services, he should make his spiritual needs known to the [8/9] Bishop either directly by letter or through the most accessible clergyman.

Visitation.--From the oversight which belongs to the clergy, especially the Bishop, follows the right and duty of visitation, i. e., the going about among the Churches and 'setting in order the things that are wanting.'

A visitation is different from a visit. A visit may be one of mere curiosity or of friendship. He who makes the visit may be but the guest of him to whom he makes it. But a visitation implies a looking into, and searching out, the acts of those who are the subjects of visitation. A visit is made at the host's request and at a time which the host determines. A visitation is made at the option of the visitor and at any time whether regular or extraordinary, when for any reason the visitor thinks it called for. The questions which would be impertinent on a visit, those very questions are not only pertinent but essential on a visitation.

This right and duty of visitation are asserted for the clergy not at all because some of them are foreigners, not because they represent a Society which contributes at present to the support of the Church in Japan. This right and duty appertain to ministers because of their office. They appertain to every native Presbyter, they will belong to the native Bishops when they shall be raised up. They apply not only to missionary Congregations, but to every self-supporting congregation. And they extend to all members of the Church whether Japanese or foreigners.

[* These ideas of what a Visitation consists in are all well-rehearsed in one of the Canons of the Episcopal Church in the United States. I quote it not as though this Canon is in force in the Nippon Seikokwai, but because it is a Canon of a Church in which the Japanese have a peculiar interest and because it presents clearly in detail the principle on which I have been dwelling. The Canon reads as follows--

"Every Bishop shall visit the Churches within his Diocese for the purpose of Examining the state of the Church, inspecting the behavior of his clergy, administering the apostolic rite of Confirmation, ministering the word, and, if he thinks fit, administering the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper to the people committed to his charge."]

As the Bishop exercises oversight in his sphere, so do the Presbyters in the spheres assigned to them; and it is their duty [9/10] to make frequent visitations of the Catechists and people under their charge for the purpose of preaching, of correction, of consolation and of administration of Sacraments.

In organizing a congregation, it is therefore to be remembered that a congregation is organized not for the purpose of throwing off the care of the clergy, but for the very purpose of providing the better for the enjoyment of their ministrations, and that nothing could be more fatal than that in a fit of impatience any body of Christian people should separate themselves from the stewards, or ministers, by whom the Head of the Church has willed to dispense His gifts.

Of course it is perceived that every people will naturally wish that men of their own blood should, as soon as possible, be put over them in the Lord and no effort should be spared to raise up a Japanese Ministry.


No feature of the Church in Japan has called forth from me more admiration than the noble band of Catechists who have been raised up and sent into the field. God cheer and bless them in their work, attended as it is by so many difficulties and discouragements.

They do not belong to the orders of the ministry. They are the helpers of the ministers. They are not authorized to exercise the full functions of pastors. But when duly licensed, there is a noble field for their endeavors, and I beg for them from the people all loving sympathy and support.


Nothing is more to be regretted, as it seems to me, than that the Treaty requirements of early days and a concatenation of circumstances in later years have led to the erection of our most important buildings and to the establishment of our chief centres within the limits of what are known as the Concessions.

This condition of things must tend to build up a wall of [10/11] partition between the foreign missionaries and the people of the country and to make the Church an exotic.

The evil cannot be remedied in a day. Nor can we afford to throw away buildings in which large amounts of money are invested. We must, as our first duty, make the best use of what we have as it is and where it is, remembering that, after all, it is not our buildings nor their location so much as our heart and life which are most potent for good or evil. Haste to pull down valuable work which has been built up in order to develop enterprizes elsewhere, will only provoke the finger of scorn and lead to the remark "these men began to build and were not able to finish." But I am convinced that it is the duty of the Church to get our new work out among the people, in close contact with them and with their life and thought, and what influence I have will be used towards the accomplishment of this end, and with this in view I am seeking legal counsel.


The question must arise in every thoughtful Christian mind whether our branch of the Catholic Church is fitted for work among the people of Japan. I firmly believe that it is; but not the Church in the guise in which, as it seems to me, some of her converts are disposed to present her, ashamed to lift her head and boldly assert her claims; robbed of her Church seasons, despoiled of her beautiful garments, reduced from her supernatural origin to a thing of man's device, her ministers regarded as mere teachers and no larger as "ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God"; her sacraments degraded to mere signs. Such a Church will give very little offence in any quarter, I am aware; and very little blessing too. A policy which surrenders everything can end only in ignominy. Respect was never secured by servility; nor a battle ever won by cowardice.

We are bound by a sacred tie to all who name the name of Christ, both theirs and ours, and nothing can be more contrary to our religion nor more inexpedient practically than envyings [11/12] and disputes among Christian people. Let us bear with and love each other. But the Episcopal Church has its distinct calling and we must have a right self-confidence. We should give liberty to all and should have no hesitation in claiming it for ourselves. Influences from the ultra-Protestant world which in some quarters in Japan have perhaps overborne us in the past should be resisted and we should boldly, though generously, hold aloft apostolic faith and apostolic order, bearing the double witness against extremes on both sides of us which has been historically our calling.

If we be regarded as having come here with other religious bodies that each may make its contribution to a new religion and Church for Japan, why should we present our special contribution so highly diluted as some would make it? And if we have come on a nobler errand, hoping that our Branch of the Church, rich in apostolic faith and order, yet capable of adjustment in its current opinions and in its administration to the needs of different times and places, may prove the source from which the people of this land shall eventually derive their permanent Church life and the type according to whose assential form they will develope it, then we should present our Church, not despoiled, nor deformed, nor halting, nor uncertain, but in the glory of her holy confidence and her strength.

It is one thing surely to ask a fair chance to present our Church as in her fullness she is, and quite another thing to try to impose upon all the adoption of all her minor characteristics. One may advocate the former course and utterly disapprove of the latter.


Let us never in the midst of the business of the Church lose sight of the fact that there is such a mistake as that of being very busy with the affairs of the Kingdom of heaven and yet of possessing very little personal knowledge of the King; nor let us forget in trying to fit our work in with the conditions in which we find ourselves that the supreme need of men everywhere, whatever [12/13] may be their superficial desires, is just that need which certain Greeks expressed, as we are told in St. John's Gospel, "Sir, we would see Jesus." I feel sure that the highest conviction of us all is, however much passing things may for a time divert us, that the supreme desire and effort of a Christian should be to fix his own full gaze, and to fix the gaze of others, upon Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man.

But it is the real essential Christ that the Japanese need to know. Christ, not as though the nature which He assumed were merely an oriental or merely an occidental nature, but a human nature. Christ as uniting in Himself the Common properties of humanity; Christ, not a Son of a man, but the Son of man. And Christ not as Englishmen or Americans find that they can appropriate Him, but Christ as the Japanese mind can appropriate Him--Christ seen by the Japanese from their own point of view: but yet one and the same Christ for all; Christ as the Catholic Church presents Him; Christ, "The brightness of God's glory, and the express image of his person;" Christ "manifested in the flesh," and "obedient unto death," Christ "raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father;" Christ "set at His right hand as the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body;" and Christ in the Church and by means of the Church filling the earth with His gifts of grace.

I have in this address dwelt at length upon the Church and our relative rights and duties in it because I believe that, while He who is over all things works when and where and how He will, yet His teachings, and the teachings of Apostles, and the experience of ages all unite in showing that it is by His body, the Church, that the glory and grace of Christ are best conveyed to men and best handed down from generation to generation.

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