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Origin and Outline History of "The Mexican Branch of the Catholic Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ Militant upon Earth."

[New York:] no publisher, c. 1877.

Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2009

FOR the better understanding of the origin and progress of the evangelical work in Mexico, and its relations to the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, the following statement is made.

Some time before the year 1869 a religious movement looking towards a greater liberty of conscience, a purer worship, and a better church organization, commenced in Mexico. This movement was led by, and was under the control of former members of the Romish communion.

During 1868 a representative of this movement came to the United States, and made an earnest appeal to the Christians of this land for sympathy and co-operation.

The Rev. Dr. Riley, then residing in New York City, and actively engaged in church work, responding to this request, left for Mexico to render such aid as he could, and was assisted by the American and Foreign Christian Union, an association which had become interested in the religious movement in Mexico, receiving aid for the work from them, but bearing his own expenses, and without salary. He was also promptly and essentially aided by the American, and the British and Foreign Bible Societies, and by many individuals in this country.

The work rapidly progressed in Mexico, and was in due time organized under the name of "The Church of Jesus in Mexico." A deep interest in behalf of this work was awakened in this country, and an organization was formed called "The Mexican Missionary Association," having for its object the aiding and establishing of this enterprise. Within a brief period more than $30,000 were raised to purchase the large church of San Francisco, together with its commodious chapel and adjacent property. This gave at once to the struggling church a commanding importance and influence among the people, [1/2] and was of the greatest value in the future prosecution of the work. Soon after this the Rev. Dr. Riley purchased the Church of St. Joseph, a very valuable and commodious building situated in another part of the City of Mexico, about a mile distant from the Church of San Francisco. At both of these places services were commenced, and thus two most important centres of operation were established.

The Mexican Missionary Association retained charge of the work from 1870 to 1873, when it was transferred to the American Church Missionary Society. This transfer took place at the instance of the Mexican Missionary Association, as well as at the particular request of the principal contributors, and of Dr. Riley, the object being to secure a more certain support, and to give greater stability to the work.

In accepting this trust, the Executive Committee of the American Church Missionary Society adopted the following resolution: "Resolved, that in assuming charge of Mission work in Mexico it is the purpose of this Society to aid the Church of Jesus in Mexico to establish itself according to its express desire and intention as a Mexican Protestant Episcopal Church."

In discharge of this trust, that the aid needed might be secured, the Executive Committee immediately voted an appropriation of $10,000 in gold per annum, and offered all the resources of the Society to obtain interest in and offerings for the work, requesting Rev. Dr. Riley to remain for a time in this country to present it before the churches.

These efforts have been continued to the present time, and with the aid of the ladies and other friends have enabled the Society to pay for Mexico the following amounts:

From April, 1873 to Sept. 30, 1873, six months $10,253.52
From Oct. 1, 1873 to Sept. 30, 1874, ................. $14,430.32
From Oct. 1, 1874 to Sept. 30, 1875, ................. $13,078.97
From Oct. 1, 1875 to Sept. 30, 1876, ................. $23,419.35
From Oct. 1, 1876 to Mar. 31, 1877, six months $14,410.18
Total ............$75,592.34

In 1874 the authorities of the Church of Jesus transmitted through the American Church Missionary Society to the House of Bishops a petition asking the sympathy and co-operation of that venerable body in their effort to establish themselves as an independent branch of the Church of Christ, and that to this end the Episcopate might be conferred upon two persons whom they had selected and chosen for that high office. This petition was most kindly received [2/3] and entertained by the House of Bishops; and in response thereto a commission consisting of seven bishops was created to whom the subject was referred for further consideration.

At the instance of this commission the Bishop of Delaware visited Mexico early in 1875. By the request of the Bishop, and under the appointment of the Executive Committee of the American Church Missionary Society, the Rev. Dr. Dyer accompanied him.

While in Mexico the work was carefully examined into, and a most favorable impression was received. Before leaving, the bishop held two ordinations at which seven persons were admitted to the Diaconate and afterward to the Priesthood. He also administered confirmation on three occasions.

Upon his return Bishop Lee made a report of his visit to the commission, and subsequently the commission made a report to a special meeting of the House of Bishops.

The report of the commission was accepted, and, after much consideration, the House of Bishops resolved to continue the commission and empowered it to examine and report upon the evidence of election and testimonials of qualification of the person or persons presented to the Presiding Bishop who is then to take order, under the constitution of our church, for the consecration of the persons so recommended.

Immediately after this action on the part of the bishops the commission entered into a covenant with the Mexican Church, promising the nursing care of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States to that Church, and such aid as might be needed in perfecting its Liturgy and general organization, so that the Episcopate might be conferred. Measures are now in progress which, it is believed, will at no distant day result in the complete establishment of the Mexican Church as a distinct and independent branch of the Church of Christ.

From the foregoing statement it will be seen that the work in Mexico has hitherto for the most part been carried on first by the Mexican Missionary Association, and afterward by the American Church Missionary Society in connection with Dr. Riley and his co-laborers in Mexico.

More recently the ladies have organized "The Mexican League."

The distinct object and purpose from the beginning have been not the establishment of a Mission of our Church, but rather the establishment of a Mexican Episcopal Church.

[4] The action of the House of Bishops has been particularly gratifying to those who have been for so many years laboring for this object. By this action the Church in Mexico has been brought into the most tender and sacred relations to our Church, and claims and should receive the sympathy and full-hearted support of all its members.

The work in Mexico thus far shows about the following results:

There are over seventy congregations, served by six ordained clergymen (one having died of those ordained by Bishop Lee), and by numbers of lay readers and evangelists. The number of communicants is estimated at over 3,000, the number of attendants at the services is over 6,000.

The property in the hands of Trustees approved by the American Church Missionary Society, and held for the benefit of the Mexican Church, consists of the large Church of San Francisco with its chapel and adjacent grounds, and the Church of St. Joseph.

This property is valued at One Hundred Thousand Dollars, and could not be replaced for more than a million of dollars, having been purchased at a low price as the confiscated property of the convents.

That full effect may be given to that provision of the Covenant in which our Church promises her "nursing care" to the Mexican Church, the American Church Missionary Society has prepared, with the advice and consent of the Cathedral Chapter, which has administrative direction of all the congregations of the Mexican Church, a schedule of the necessary expenses for the current year, and receives from the Treasurer of the Chapter stated accounts of all expenditures.

It should be clearly understood that contributions for this object can be made through any of our Church organizations, which will be applied under the schedule above named, and may be deposited with George D. Morgan, Treasurer, No. 3 Bible House, New York, or with Messrs. Brown Bros. & Co., No. 59 Wall Street, New York, as the donors may prefer.

ALFRED LEE, Bishop of Delaware.
H. DYER, Corresponding Secretary of the Am. Ch. M. So.
H. CHAUNCEY RILEY, Bishop-Elect of the Mexican Church.

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