Project Canterbury


Sermon preached by

The Right Reverend William T. Manning, D.D.


Bishop of New York


All Souls Church

St. Nicholas Ave. and 114th St.

New York



Sunday, October Twenty-third




Transcribed by Wayne Kempton 2007

[3] The situation now existing in this parish is an unusual one and it is on account of that situation that I am here today, as your Bishop, to make an official visitation to the Parish. I am not here to assert my rights as Bishop, though these are quite clear.

I am here to uphold the rights of your Rector, the Reverend Rollin Dodd, and to give him my full support in his right and Christian purpose to make this Church a centre of spiritual ministration to all the people of this neighbourhood who wish to attend its services without distinction of race or colour.

Until a few years ago this community and the congregation of this Church was one almost entirely of white people. In recent years however the community has changed more and more to a community of colored people until at the present time the great majority are of the colored race and many of them are members of our own Church who wish to attend the services here at All Souls and have in fact been attending the services.

I am informed that there are at the present time more than two hundred and fifty coloured families living in this immediate neighbourhood who belong to the Episcopal Church and who look to All Souls Church for spiritual ministrations.

The Sunday School of the Parish has an enro1lment of two hundred and fifteen children of whom only twenty-five are white, and twenty of the twenty-seven teachers in the Sunday School are coloured. Of the white people still on the parish list a large majority no longer live in this neighbourhood and many of them in fact live at great distances from this Church.

[4] The Rector of the Parish holds that it is his duty, and the duty of the Parish, to minister to the people who now live in this neighbourhood and to admit them all to the services and ministrations of the Church. In this the Rector is supported by four members of the Vestry and opposed by seven. Three of the four vestrymen who support the Rector, among them the Senior Warden of the Parish, live here in the neighbourhood. Of the seven who oppose the Rector and demand that the coloured people shall be excluded, only two live in this region, the other five live, one in the Bronx, one in Astoria, one on Washington Heights, one in Manhattanville, and one on the lower east side of the city on Thirtieth Street.

Of the white people still belonging to the congregation, very many, I am, glad to say, support the Rector in the stand he has taken.

My judgment, as Bishop of the Diocese, is that it is the plain duty of All Souls' Church to minister to the people of the community, white and coloured alike, and that the Rector has taken the only position that he could take as a faithful Minister of the Church of God.

I have conferred with both the Rector and the Vestry, and Bishop Gilbert, at my request, has had many conferences with them, but the trouble has still continued.

Those members of the Vestry who oppose the Rector have, I am sorry to say, taken action which is quite unwarranted and indefensible. They have proceeded to obstruct the work of the Rector, they have demanded his resignation, they have subjected him to many indignities going so far as to lock him out of the Church, and without making any provision for religious services [4/5] have summarily closed the Church for repairs apparently with the purpose of preventing the Rector from continuing his policy of admitting coloured people to the services. This action is not only uncanonical and illegal; it is contrary to the central principles of our Religion.

As to the legality of it the Rector of a Parish in this Church has the right to the keys of the Church, and to the full and free use and control of the Church at all times for the purposes of his office, and the Vestry may not deprive him of those rights. Canon 21 of our General Convention says:

I. (i) The control of the worship and the spiritual jurisdiction of the Parish, are vested in the Rector, subject to the Rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer, the Canons of the Church, and the godly counsel of the Bishop.

(ii) For the purposes of his office and for the full and free discharge of all functions and duties pertaining thereto, the Rector shall, at all times, be entitled to the use and control of the Church and Parish buildings with the appurtenances and furniture thereof.

Nothing could be plainer than that.

This law of our Church is in accord with our own State Law and has been fully confirmed by the decisions of our Courts.

I beg the members of the Vestry of this Parish who are opposing the Rector to reconsider their position, and to be more wisely and rightly guided for the future. [5/6] I ask you all to be patient and considerate in this difficult situation which I hope will now end, to show a true Christian spirit, and to go on quietly and faithfully in your life and work in the Church.

And I assure you that your Rector will be upheld in the position he has taken, and maintained in his rights as a Priest of this Church and in the discharge of those high responsibilities which his office requires of him and which the Church has laid upon him.

Your Rector is standing for one of the great foundation principles of the Church of God and I honour him for the position that he has taken.

In these days of World Crisis when we are in the midst of movements social and racial, the results of which none can foresee, we must stand, more than ever before, for that Divine vision of the Holy, Catholic Church, that great visible Family of Christ in all the world, which St. Paul sees and holds up before us in his Epistles, in which there is to be neither Jew nor Greek, Barbarian nor Scythian, Bond nor Free, for all are to be one in Christ Jesus.

It is the realization of this New Testament, Divinely given, ideal of the Church of God, which is needed to draw all races together in love and fellowship, to sweep out the spirit of hate and fear, to banish War, and to draw us into one great Brotherhood of Christ throughout the whole world.

And having said this I request, and as Bishop I instruct, that this Church shall be kept open for service, that the Rector shall at all times have free access to it, and that services shall be held at such times as the Rector shall direct.

[7] Note: In view of certain statements which have been made, it seems right to say here that the endowment fund of about $131,000.00, upon which this work depends largely for its support, was not given by the members of this parish.

This endowment fund, in its entirety, was a gift to this parish to aid it in its work, made during the administration of Bishop Henry C. Potter. This parish was then known as the Parish of the Archangel. The endowment fund was a part of the proceeds of the sale of the Anthon Memorial, All Souls' Church, situated at the corner of Madison Avenue and 66th Street, which was in no way connected with this parish. The name of the Church of the Archangel was changed to All Souls' Church at the time this gift was made. The members of this present All Souls' Parish did not create and have not contributed anything to this fund.

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