Bishop’s Address of 1907

The Rt. Rev. C.K. Nelson
Savannah, Georgia
May 15, 1907


The Rt. Rev. Isaac Lea Nicholson, D. D., Bishop of Milwaukee, October the 29th, 1906.
The Rt. Rev. Samuel I. J. Schereschewsky, D.D., former Bishop of Shanghai, and translator
     of the Bible into the Wen-li and Mandarin dialect, October the 15th 1906.
The Rt. Rev. George Franklin Seymour, S. T. D., LL. D., Bishop of Springfield.
The Rev. Benjamin H. Hall, D. D., a Priest of this Diocese, March the 19th, 1907.
The Rev. James Robert Lacey, a Priest of this Diocese, March the 28th 1907.
Rev. John Fulton, D. D., LL. D., editor of the Church Stan­dard, and for many years
     former Rector of Trinity Church, Columbus, April 24, 1907.
Joseph William Roberts, Lay Reader and Catechist, De­cember 29, 1906.
Collects for All Saints’, 5th Burial.


Beloved, let us love one another, for everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God.

I adopt this exhortation from “the disciple whore Jesus loved” for the threefold value of its application.

First, that the world may believe.

Cleland Kinloch NelsonLove among brethren is the complete, the convincing, the divine argument which determines for the world the Faith which we profess. The subject of this love may not be only the attractive, the interesting, the congenial, the agreeable and the sympathetic, but men and women of opposite tem­perament and opinions and methods. We must adopt a higher ideal than to love those who love us; that is not the Master’s rule; that was not the Master’s practice. But if we love, with proper demonstration and ready service and benefit of prayer and sacrament, and charity in thought as well as in word, we prove our faith and win for Christ.

Let us therefore not entertain prejudice, but allay it in others. Let us have no contentions among ourselves, but labor as peacemakers. Let us do nothing by partiality, but everything in justice, in honor, in generosity. It is not so much breadth of view but largeness of heart that is the cry­ing need of our age, among Christians first.

Recall the Psalmist’s fine meditation: “I will run the way of Thy commandments, when Thou hast enlarged my heart.”

Next, the admonition is proper because we have in the purview of this assembly two especially tempting fields for dissension; a negro missionary episcopate, referred to our judgment, and the division—partition rather of the Diocese of Georgia.

We shall find need to keep ourselves well in check in de­liberating upon these questions. They both involve large and far-reaching issues. They are not for to-day, but for to­morrow, and to-morrow and the days thereafter.

Now let your communion—your fellowship in the Gospel be felt and manifest. Let your love be without dissimula­be kindly-affectioned in brotherly love, in honor preferring one another. Be sober, be courteous.

Thirdly, fifteen years of our married life must yield a pre­dominating influence for good or demonstrate its worthless­ness. God grant it may be the first. The fruit of righteous­ness is sown in peace by them that make peace.

In my last round of visits there have been many things be­side the labor involved and sense of personal weakness, and manifest progress to prove the passage of fifteen years since I came among you. I have confirmed many who were babes when I made my first series of official calls. Children of those days are married now. Many fathers and mothers are in silence and, we pray, at rest.

Through toil and painfulness and weariness; through per­ils by land and perils by water, and perils (not known of S. Paul) by rail, through distrust and detraction (I speak knowingly) and opposition, where there should have been cordial co-operation, God has spared me. Yes, and has rewarded patience and perseverance, and (I dare use the word) sacri­fice, with a united diocese and a position for the Church, of respect, of some faint echo of praise; of unsullied integrity; of faith in Her divine mission; of recognition of Her char­acter, aims and methods and of Her ability to make and keep men holy. And in this as you, Clergy and Laity, have been co-workers, ‘so you are co-partners. Together we have shared work and worship; together we enjoy the results achieved; and to God be all the glory.

The administration of the Diocese the past year, while less burdensome in cares and provision of means, has been more complex by reason of the many changes by removal of the Clergy. But I am happy to report that but three parishes are without rectors, and three groups of missions unsupplied with the services of a resident priest. Columbus, however, has been most fortunate in retaining the services of our be­loved brother, the Rev. H. Baldwin Dean. Thomasville, which promptly filled the vacancy created by the removal to Augusta of the Rev. G. Sherwood Whitney, was soon called upon to mourn the loss of a lovely priest, the Rev. J. Rob­ert Lacey, and to relinquish, for a time, its hopes and great promise.

S. Jude’s and S. Andrew’s, Brunswick, are cared for by the Rev. D Watson Winn, known and esteemed of you all, whom I have appointed Archdeacon of Brunswick. Wash­ington, and attached missions, fell vacant in April. I have not yet been able to secure a suitable incumbent for Cedar­town and Cave Spring. Meanwhile a church has been erected at College Park, a suburb of Atlanta, and services are regu­larly supplied by our Cathedral Staff; and a mission has been opened at Belfast, in the old Sunbury district of Bryan Coun­ty. The Chapel of S. Andrew’s, Cypress Mills, near Bruns­wick, is practically completed. At Cuthbert one of our old S. Philip’s boys and his wife, a true partner, have built lit­erally with their own hands an attractive church; and S. Luke’s,Atlanta, has risen nobler and grander than ever and challenges your admiration for beauty of architecture and the splendid spirit of her people.

Of parish improvements and encouraging incidents the record is rich and varied.

Our Mother Parish of Christ Church, this city, has re­vived her vigor and is in many ways indicating, the perpetuity of her youth.

S. Paul’s Church which owes its origin and a long course of fostering care to the rector of S. John’s, feeling cramped in her old quarters, has made rapid progress in the erection of a handsome church on a most satisfactory site.

All Saints’, Atlanta, our latest parish, formed and perfected in the marvelously short space of three years, has comforted me by taking the lead in giving the Easter Offering for the General Missions of the Church, and is an object lesson of enthusiastic zeal to her sister churches in the Diocese. In addition to meeting all the diocesan obligations, for City Missions $450, the apportionment for General Missions, $500, the assessment for Diocesan Missions, $535, this congrega­tion under the spell of the noblest of impulses, the mission­ary spirit, hasgiven $1,252 for the Missionary Thank Offering, and has already set out for the new fiscal year to pay one-third of the Bishop’s appeal for the Cathedral Missions, the support of a candidate for Holy Orders, and the main­tenance of two missionaries, one in Georgia and one in the foreign field. I have been hoping and praying for such an instance for fifteen years. Let no one say that prayers are not granted or be weary in well-doing with so apparent and praiseworthy results of working and waiting.

S. Paul’s Albany, animated by something of the same un­selfishness, gave the whole of its Easter Offering for mis­sions and deserves our cordial commendation. There are others ossibly which have done the same. When every church, large and small, in the Diocese of Georgia, agrees to apply its Resurrection Gift for the extension of the Re­deemer’s Kingdom, I shall no longer have to beg for Dio­cesan Missions, parish finance will be simplified by more abundant resources and an era of spiritual prosperity will have begun, because of practical faith in the heavenly doc­trine of the Son of Man “whoso loseth his life for my salve shall save it unto life eternal.”

Pray God that we shall engage in the blessed contest, for this goal of high endeavor, a distinction of which any parish may justly be proud.

Christ Church, Augusta, which has passed through a year of great depression, finds in the new Vicar-designate a priest who appreciates the call of humanity and has both capacity and consecration for a field of great interest.

Emmanuel, Athens, has signalized the year by the erection of a charming rectory, most becoming to the blessed family which occupies it, and hence suitable for any which may come after. Late be the coming!

And as I take a survey of the parishes and missions which I have visited within the year it would be a grateful task to recount the splendid service for Christ and His church done month by month and day by day through the length and breadth of our great mission field by our devoted, patient and earnest Clergy with the sturdy churchmen whom they are teaching and gathering about them for the high privilege of service.

I shall arouse no unholy jealousy by specially commending the work of Benedict, Turner, Cassil, Whitney, DeBelle, Hudgins and Perry among our older clergy, and Northrop, French, Hamilton, Wragg, Day and Thomas among our younger residents; while Phillips; Langston, Frazer, Gordon and Boykin have already made a mark, which time will deep­en, for self-renunciation and conquering faith.

So would I read in your ears the names of men and wo­men whose homes I love, whose children are dear to me, and from whom I would grieve to be parted.

Hence you can well understand that while I have not al­tered my conviction as to the desirability of partition of the Diocese and its feasability, when you mention sentiment as one of the determining factors in the settlement, I contend for the first place in the list of those who have deep-seated sentiments on this question; the sentiment of a man who loves his people and knows who love him; whose blood, warm with the delight of his work, courses rapidly in follow­ing, as the symbols of progress of the great message, our four great rivers from the mountains to the sea.

By the maturing of the policy on my life, taken fifteen years ago, the Diocese is relieved of the payment of about $500 which was contained in our annual budget. I would suggest that as the sum is no longer needed for that pur­pose, the policy being fully paid up, you might apply that sum to the specific purpose of education for the ministry of the Church and thus give me one full scholarship with a small margin of increment so that I may be able to educate one young man for the Church.

Of instant importance is a subject which I am glad to find mooted in several of our Sister Dioceses, the increase of the stipends of the Clergy.

It is quite true that the expenses of our Laity has increased greatly within the past ten years to about 33 1-3 per cent. or more, but it is true with rare exceptions that the wealth of our laymen has also increased, and it is vastly easier for a man to meet the added cost of living who has one or more means of adding to his income than for a Clergyman whose living is limited to a single source.

I sincerely hope that all our parishes will give this matter the attention which it deserves, and make an earnest effort to relieve the pressure which is felt by most of our faithful clergy. They have not complained, nor have they asked for an increase in consideration of the cost of food and serv­ice of all kinds; but it must be obvious that the man of a family who could live on $800 and a house ten years ago, finds it exceedingly difficult to do so to-day, and not with­out more sacrifices than he ought to be asked to endure; and in their behalf I make this most earnest request for their re­lief.

Your Board of Missions will, I am sure, be glad to lake such a step for its stipendaries if you place in their hands the means to accomplish that end have already revised our list of stipendaries of the Geor­gia Mission Fund and with the co-operation of my co-Trustee, the Rector of Christ Church, Frederica, I have taken into account the increased cost of living necessitated by mod­ern conditions.

For the third time I direct your attention to the move­ment known as the Missionary Thank Offering, the united gift of the men of all of our Dioceses, to be made at the Gen­eral Convention in 1907 as an act appropriate to the Three Hundredth Anniversary of the beginnings of the Church in America, and a grateful recognition of every Church family, expressed through its head and representative, of the good­ness and benefits of Providence conferred upon us through His Church, coupled with our desire to extend the Redeem­er’s Kingdom. The time is very short and it is my sincere hope that Georgia, one of the original colonies, though one of the late Dioceses, will not be behind in the acceptance of this privilege and the performance of this duty.

Another event of great importance to us is the Commemo­ration of the Founding of the University of the South, in which the first Bishop of Georgia took so active and enthusiastic a part. The Georgia Churchman must be obtuse and unsympathetic indeed who is not proud of this institution, whose name and fame are synonymous with sound learning, thorough scholarship, and splendid sacrifice. Sewanee is the recipient of many benefactions from men and women out­side of the Southern States, but her life, her growth, her ul­timate success depend upon the cordial appreciation and gen­erous interest of the Church in our Southland. I know of no home interests more worthy of our prayers and our la­bors than this nursery of truth and knowledge from which the Church derives such an estimable benefit.

It is difficult for some of us to avoid the association of ideas born of particular circumstances.

The call of S. Matthias to the Apostolate, the first and only man elected by the original college, the purpose under­lying his selection and the peculiar obligation of fidelity, which rested upon him are matters which have haunted my conscience since the autumn of 1891, when a committee of the Convention of the Diocese of Georgia waited upon me to announce that I had been chosen to preside over the Church in this great missionary State.

Accustomed as I was to the belief that the Holy Spirit presides in the councils of men of prayer in the Church and controls their votes, even in spite of human schemes and irregular methods, I was compelled to know with myself why I should not obey the call.

When I did so and the Feast of S. Matthias’ was selected for my consecration I found great comfort in the lessons drawn from this appointment.

Although, as S. Peter testifies in his speech, this man as well as Joseph Barsabas had been in association with the Apostles from the beginning he was, as far as the record goes, a man of no special prominence, and was put forward as one of two to be chosen to be a witness of the Resurrec­tion of Jesus Christ along with the eleven; and the particu­lar qualification borne in mind was plainly that in which Judas was so fearfully lacking—fidelity to Christ who had given him His confidence and called him to a position of great honor.

To witness to the Resurrection, to demonstrate fidelity to his Master—these obviously furnish abundant motive to any man who has offered himself for the work of the Holy Min­istry.

Whatever failures I have made, how many mistakes so ever my work will show (I can see some, you more and God most of all), I am not conscious of doing less than proclaim the truth of the Resurrection and I have striven to be faith­ful to my Master, and by no word, act or implication ever to deny Him, or subordinate His business to anything else whatsoever. And from the depths of my being I thank God that the people have accepted my testimony. In token of which blessed result I do not know a Diocese in which cer­tainty concerning the Faith of the Gospel so completely pre­vails. Not only is there no heresy among us, nor suspicion of unbelief, but loyalty to the Church’s standards is our habitual atmosphere. Suppression of individualism has re­sulted in the exercise of proper liberty and a condition of harmonious co-operation such as would send joy to the heart of many a bishop not so fortunately circumstanced.

In fifteen years we have not had an ecclesiastical trial nor a deposition. If there be any root of bitterness among us, if there be any heart-burnings or discontent anywhere, I am too blind or too ignorant to perceive them, but I do not credit the existence of any such obstacles to our progress.

Pray God this state of peace and unity, of fidelity and honor, may ever be ours to enjoy.

I have determined not to burden you to-day with statistics of progress, or lamentations over our shortcoming, but in­tend to utter a warning of evil tendencies about us and to exhort you to walk warily that you fall not victims to the materialism of our day, nor be disturbed in your precious heritage of faith by occasional exhibitions of human con­ceit which substitutes man’s conclusions for that revelation upon which alone we can depend in things supernatural.

The drift of such conclusions has ever been first to mini­mize any knowledge which cannot be weighed in the scales of the human intellect and then finally to exclude from human thought all that is above or beyond common experience.

Materialism and its Effects.

Whatever be your share, be it large or small, in earthly possessions, independently of poverty or riches surrounding us, and in no special relation to the distribution of wealth, it cannot, I think, for a moment be questioned that there was never a time in our experience, I doubt if there were in modern civilization, when the exponent of the value of ma­terial things held such undisputed supremacy over all human considerations; when acquisition ruled the acts, the words, the thoughts of so vast a multitude; when every sentiment, principle, dream and vision was held subject to modifica­tion by having or not having, when getting and holding was dearer than virtue, friends and happiness; when human life itself was so utterly subordinated to money.

To one who can without covetousness watch the course of affairs and does not share the avaricious spirit it is simply pitiable to witness the groveling scuffle for gain, the make­shifts for honesty, the transparent excuses for wrong-doing; the mean subterfuges, the petty indirection; the concealment, the exactions practiced for the purpose of a little self-ag­grandizement.

The first step is to place law above honor, the next to evade the law and the last to defy the law and trust to the power of money to free the criminal. That only is wrong which is punishable by human law, and the law itself has neither majesty nor respect that it should be obeyed when self-interest is involved.

There is an obvious effect in the prevalence of such a low state of morals as is here described, and not overdrawn as an expression of the attitude of thousands of our countrymen.

It is to dilute the nature of all sin, and to deaden the con­science whose primary function is to pass upon the char­acter of an act between right and wrong.

For be it ever remembered that the meaning of a moral command is not to create right and wrong, not to describe them in terms of reward or penalty, but to set virtue and vice clearly before the conscience, which, if not prostituted, is capable of discernment and of recognizing good or evil wherever found.

“There is a phenomenon of sapping and undermining in book, magazine and even pulpit, of the idea of sin; the de­caying sense of estrangement between offender and his God is unmistakably general in the present day.” “Renunciation is denounced as ascetic and unnatural. The pursuit of pleas­ure and indulgence is taught as a duty to oneself. Salvation means merely adaptation to one’s environment.”

“The higher man of to-day, says a modern writer (Sir Oliver Lodge), is not worrying about his sins at all. His mis­sion is to be up and doing. Original sin is non-existent.”

Practices are admitted into social life which we were taught to be associated with drunkards, gamblers and harlots. Jests lacking in decency and reverence arc accepted for humor. Girls and boys in their teens relish the daily report dished up by a progressive press, which records facts without note or comment.

The Police Gazette and Town Topics may as well go out of business for they occupy no exclusive field. The trend of current literature is banal, unmoral and descriptive of the worst that is in human nature put into actual practice with­out condemnation or criticism.

We do not expect or demand that the press turn its at­tention to moral disquisitions, but the bulk of the stories, novelettes and books of recent years neither have any basis in morals nor encourage virtues, but are laudations of ma­terial conditions, except where business interests make it worth while to attract the morals of a capitalist or a corpora­tion.

Now the Church in the person of her clergy and laity has a distinct mission to perform at this juncture, which cannot be delegated.

We are to stand by action and speech for the obscured truth that sin is in its essence and in its minutest form abhorent to God and an indignity to our own nature. That virtue and vice are not made such by any human law, but rest upon the nature of God and His purpose for the wel­fare of mankind; that sin is to be resisted and virtue to be encouraged because one is wrong always and everywhere, and the other is right as long as human nature exists and as truly as God lives; that repentance and humility are as necessary to-day as ever they were; and that if the world is to be prospered and permanently blessed it must be through that remnant which labors for truth, purity, honesty, justice, charity and the kindred and allied virtues.

The other subject, with which I will deal but briefly, is the importance of preserving an undimmed faith in Christ which is nowhere better stated than in the second Article of Religion (B. C. P., p. 557), “The Son which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man’s nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin of her sub­stance; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and manhood were joined together in one per­son never to be divided, whereof is one Christ very God and very man.”

With this compare the Creeds, the Preface for Christmas Day, the Te Deum, the Church Catechism, and reassure­ yourselves by familiar acquaintance with the truth as re­vealed in Holy Scripture and witnessed by the Church.

Then in the discussions and statements which are sure to occur in the use of that freedom for which the Church does indeed stand, but which by some may be as it has been abus­ed to the great injury of her members, you will have nothing to fear because you can give to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you.