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The American Church in Europe: A Letter to William Bacon Stevens.

By J. P. Tustin.

From the Church Journal and Messenger, December 24, 1874.

Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2008


To the Rt. Rev. W. Bacon Stevens, D. D., LL. D.,
Bishop in charge of European Chaplaincies;

No. 6 Eugen Strasse
Stuttgart, Germany

Oct. 29, 1874

RT. REV. AND DEAR SIR: American Churchmen must be under great obligation to the Rev. W. Chauncy Langdon, for his series of letters addressed to you, on the European Responsibilities of the American Church. It is to be hoped that those letters have been copied into other Church papers; and that they may be reproduced in pamphlet form, for circulation in England, and in those many places on the Continent where English and American Churchmen live, or visit together.

I do not advocate or oppose Mr. Langdon's proposal for the appointment of an American Bishop for European Chaplaincies. Whether the time has come for this project, or not, the subject needs to be thoroughly ventilated. I now wish to supplement Mr. Langdon's reasonings with a statement of facts which I have taken great pains to ascertain; and to express some opinions formed from personal acquaintance with the Continent of Europe, from Spain to Russia, and from the Baltic to the Mediterranean. I have by me the names of the places and persons in connection with the English Church service, in all parts of Europe outside of Great Britain. Ample documents on the subject have recently been furnished to me by the Bishop of London. Condensing all these data, the English Continental chaplaincies may be classified as follows:

First, Embassies of Legation, supported by the British Government, 5.
Second, Consular chaplains, partly supported by the British Government, 18.
Third, Licensed to officiate for British residents on the Continent, but not connected with embassies, legations or consulates, 74.

Of the last mentioned, there are in connection with the Colonial and Continental Church Society, 22.
In connection with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, 13.
In addition to the above, there are churches in Paris 2, in Rome 2, and in Brussels 3-7; in all 139.

All of the foregoing are under jurisdiction of the Bishop of London except a few in Spain, Portugal, Lower Italy, the Lower Danube, and the Greek Islands, which are under charge of the Bishop of Gibraltar, who has in addition, churches and chaplaincies to the number of 33.

Of these last under the Bishop of Gibraltar, there are connected with the Colonial and Continental Church Society, 8; and in connection with the Propagation Society, 3.

In the above enumeration are not embraced places along the southern or eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

Total of fully organized permanent chaplaincies under the Bishops of London and Gibraltar, 172.

Fourth, There are many stations or chaplaincies occupied during a portion of the year frequented by English and Americans, such as Switzerland, the baths, mountain towns, in many instances during a considerable part of the year.

Of these, in connection with the Colonial and Continental Church Society, there are 61.

Of the same kind in connection with the Propagation Society, there are 30, ninety-one in all, and making 263 Anglo-Continental chaplaincies. There are however various stations or chaplaincies for a part of the year, under the superintendence of the Bishop of Gibraltar, similar to those under the Bishop of London, but which are not enumerated among any of the foregoing.

The few embassy chaplaincies (five) and the consular (eighteen) heretofore receiving grants by the Government, to British Church establishments in foreign countries, under the Consular Act of A. D. 1825, will all terminate at the end of the year 1874, the grants being wholly withdrawn. All the chaplaincies in Continental Europe except those under the charge of the Bishop of Gibraltar; and all other, such as in South America, China, and regions where no Anglican Bishop has jurisdiction, are under the superintendence of the Bishop of London. But there are many other places on the Continent where English Church service is performed without any definite organization, or designated chaplains.

Now, against these 263 Continental chaplaincies, of which 172 are for the whole year, and 91 for a part of the year, our American Church has in Europe six chaplaincies, of which one if not two may be needed for only a part of the year. So far as one can see, the ground is occupied in nearly every place in Europe, where English speaking Christians are likely to be found.

American Churchmen, I think, may well agree with the feelings of the Bishop of London, lately expressed to me, and many others of the English Church with whom I have conferred, that the Church of England and the American Episcopal Church should work together in the organization and maintenance of these foreign chaplaincies; not only because it is a waste of men and money to supply two chapels where one is sufficient for the members of both Churches; but because it would be worth more than can be readily estimated to the cause of truth, to show to those who believe Protestants to be but a chaos of sects, that although the Atlantic rolls between us, we are one in Faith, discipline, and worship.

Can American Churchmen complain that every continental town in Europe is supplied by the English Church? Should we not rather rejoice that Europe is spotted and dotted all over with these hundreds of witness of the Anglican Church?

But there is another side. Mr. Langdon has done a good work, if his able exposition is felt, as it should be, alike in America and in Europe. One effect at any rate should follow. The Bishop of London and the two noble Societies which partly support the Continental Chaplaincies, might readily appoint clergymen of the American Church in some of those places where English and American Churchmen reside or visit, and especially where Americans outnumber the English, which is the case with some of the University towns, and other educational centres in Germany.

As the matter now stands, no Anglo-American clergyman would wish to intrude upon any existing parish or field faithfully served by an English clergyman. Of course there is no danger of such intrusion in such cities as Paris, Rome, Florence, and Dresden; nor of such visiting centres as Geneva and Nice. I know of but four cities in the German Empire where there could be any justification for the formation of a second chaplaincy for English-speaking Churchmen. But not one of these gives more than a very meager support to the clergyman in charge.

It is humiliating to know how small are the contributions at the offertory in every place I have seen, except in Paris, Rome, and Florence. Young ladies at school and young men in the University towns have use for all their means; and travellers generally, however much they spend upon themselves, know how to use the small coin of the country when the collection is taken.

The Continental chaplaincies, poorly supported as most of them are, cannot be too highly estimated, by the Americans as well as by the English. Hundreds of Americans, never accustomed to the Episcopal Church in their own country, when brought into contact with it here, receive those impressions which result in their becoming members of our Church upon their return home. And this happens under all the disadvantages which make the English Church appear invidious to Americans, and sometimes even to American Churchmen. The full English morning service has no less than nine separate prayers for the sovereign, the royal family, and the Government of the country; and the Lord's Prayer five or six times. While staying in England, an American feels that the frequent prayers for royalty and the Government is all well enough; but on the Continent, the same repetition jars on the feelings of Americans, although by authority of the Bishop of London, all Continental chaplains are now directed to offer one prayer for the President of the United States and our Government.

It will be a happy result of Mr. Langdon's discussion, if some arrangement can be made for joint action of these two branches of the Anglican Church, on more clearly recognized grounds than those now existing.

If any American clergyman wishes to reside and officiate in a Continental city, I would venture to suggest that he shall make application through Bishop Stevens, to the Bishop of London, the Bishop of Gibraltar, or the managers of the Continental Church Society, or the Propagation Society, or, if he should find a place not preoccupied by the English Church, let him apply to the proper authority at home for commission to work; and I venture to suggest, that English Churchmen will be as considerate in not intruding, as some of us, who have had long and intimate acquaintance with the English Church on the Continent, feel in regard to dividing the meager patronage of the most of their chaplaincies. At another time, I may suggest some of the practical measures growing out of the interest now awakened in regard to Continental European chaplaincies.

Yours very respectfully,


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