Bishop’s Address of 1888

The Rt. Rev. John Watrous Beckwith
Second Bishop of Georgia

Brethren of the Clergy and Laity:

March 15, 1887—I ordained Mr. Allard Barnwell, Deacon, in St. Luke’s Cathedral Church, Atlanta. The candidate was presented by Rev. R S. Barrett, who also preached the sermon.

March 19—I said the marriage service in St. Luke’s, Atlanta.

June 5—I held morning service, assisted by the Rector, Rev. Byron Holley, confirmed six persons, and administered the Holy Communion, in St. Philip’s, Atlanta.

June 9—I gave letter dimissory to Rev. C. C. Leman, to the Diocese of Indiana.

June 19—I held morning service, confirmed one and made an address in St. Philip’s, Atlanta.

June 25—I accepted the letter dimissory of Rev. Freeman \V. Dunn—colored Deacon—from the Diocese of North Carolina.

July 25—I gave letter dimissory to Rev. Charles C. Randolph to the Diocese of Virginia.

August 21—The Rt. Rev. E. G. Weed, Bishop of Florida, held service and confirmed nineteen in Christ Church, Macon. He also confirmed two in private.

The Rt. Rev. C. T. Quintard, Bishop of Tennessee, confirmed for Christ Church seventeen, for St. John’s Mission thirteen, for St Barnabas’ Mission three, in Christ Church Macon one, St. Paul’s one.

September 18—I preached in St. Mary’s, Bryanston Square, York Street, London. England.

October 30—I held service in my tent in “Safed,” in Galilee, Palestine.

October 30—I received letter dimissory of M. T. Turner, from Mission District, Diocese of Northern Texas.

November 6—I held service in my tent in Nablous (Ancient Shechem), in Samaria, Palestine.

November 13—I held service, assisted by Rev. Messrs. Kelk and Jamal, preached and administered the Holy Communion in Christ Church, on Mt. Zion, in the city of Jerusalem. This flourishing church belongs to the English Mission to the Jews.

November 20—I administered the Holy Communion in the same church, and listened to an admirable sermon from the Rev. Mr. Jamal, a native Syrian missionary.

December 4—I attended service in the English Church in Cairo, Egypt.

December 18—I attended service in the English Church in Naples, Italy.

December 25—Christmas Day—I attended morning service in the English Church m Rome, Italy.

January 1, 1888 — I attended service in St. Paul’s—the American Church in Rome.

January S—I took part with the Rector, Rev. Dr. Nevin, in the services in St. Paul’s Church, Rome.

January 15—I attended service m the English Church in Florence, Italy.

January 29—I attended service in the American Church in Dresden, Saxony.

February 5—I took part in the services with the Rector, Rev. Dr. Morgan, in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Paris. France.

February 12—I held service, assisted by the Rector, preached and confirmed twelve persons in the same church.

February 15—Ash Wednesday—I held service, assisted by the Rector, and made in address in the same church.

February 19—I took part, with the Rector, in the morning service in the same church, and in the evening I presided at the service held by Pere Hyacinth in the Rue Arras, and had the great happiness of hearing this devoted priest and distinguished orator.

February 26—I again held service, assisted by the Rector, and preached in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Paris.

February 28—I held evening service, assisted by the Rector, and made an address and confirmed six persons in the same church.

March 11—I delivered an address to the workingmen in St. Stephen’s Hall, attached to St. Stephen’s Church, Westminster, London. This splendid establishment owes its existence to the liberality of Lady Burdett Coutts.

March 18-—I attended service in the English Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland.

March 25th—I received the Holy Communion at the early service in St. Paul’s, and attended morning service in the Temple Church, London.

April 1—Easter Day—I administered the Holy Communion at sea, on board the German steamer “Emo.”

April 8—1 preached in St. Thomas’ Church, New York City.

April 15—I held morning service, assisted by the Rector, Rev. W. Dudley Powers, and Rev. Mr. Winchester, confirmed twenty-four persons, and made an address in St Paul’s, Macon. In the afternoon I held service, assisted by Rev. Mr. Kimball, the Missionary in charge, and Rev. Mr. Winchester, confirmed twelve and made an address in the flourishing mission of St. Barnabas, and in the evening I held service, assisted by the Rector, Rev. Mr. Winchester, and the other clergy of the city, confirmed twenty, nine and made an address in Christ Church, in the same city.

April I6—I held evening service, assisted by Rev. Allard Barnwell, confirmed nineteen, and made an address in St. Luke’s, Hawkinsville.

April 17—I held morning service and made an address in the same church. I am thankful to state that this little parish, which has bravely endured so many disappointments, has at last secured the services of a missionary whose zeal and devotion are already reaping such rich fruits of his labors.

April 18—I baptized in private one child in Atlanta.

April 22—I hold an early service, assisted by the Rector, Rev. Chas. H. Strong, confirmed twenty-six and administered the Holy Communion in St. John’s Church. I held morning service, assisted by the Rector Rev. Thomas Boone, made an address and confirmed eighteen in Christ Church. In the afternoon 1 held service, assisted by the Rector, Rev. Mr. Andrew, and Rev. H. K. Rees, confirmed five colored persons and made an address in St. Stephen’s Church. In the evening I held service, assisted by Rev. Messrs. Strong, Boone, Roes, Andrew, and the Rev. Geo. Lincoln, of the Diocese of Ohio, and made an address in St. John’s Church, Savannah.

April 21—I received and accepted the letter dimissory of the Rev. H.J. Broadwell, of the Diocese of Albany.

April 2o—I gave a letter dimissory to Rev. Ed. Ransford to the Diocese of New Jersey.

April 27—I gave a letter dimissory to Rev. R. W. Anderson to the Missionary jurisdiction of Northern Texas.

April 29—I held morning service, assisted by the Rector, Rev. Mr. Hudgins, confirmed four, and made an address in St. Peter’s, Rome. In the evening I made an address in the same Church.

May 2—I baptized in private one child in Athens. The evening of the same day I held service, assisted by the Rector, Rev. Mr. Davis, confirmed eight, and made an address in Emmanuel Church, Athens.

May 3—I bold evening service, assisted by the Rector, Rev. Mr. Broadwell, confirmed thirteen, and made an address in St. Stephen’s, Milledgeville.

May 4—I received and accepted the letter dimissory, of Rev. George P. Hebbard from the Diocese of Newark.

May 5—I give letter dimissory to Rev. Henry Dunlap to Missionary jurisdiction of Colorado.

May 6—I held morning service, assisted by the Rector, Rev. Byron Holly, confirmed forty and made an address in St. Philip’s, Atlanta. In the evening I held service, assisted by the Priest in charge and Rev. Mr. Holley and Rev. Mr. Prentiss, confirmed thirty-eight, and made an address in St. Luke’s Cathedral Church, Atlanta.

April 8—I gave my consent to the establishing a mission at Grovetown, near Augusta.

April 12—Received letter dimissory of Rev. Augustus Prentiss, of the Diocese of Indiana.

April 13—Held morning service, assisted by the Rector, Rev. Mr. Edwards, confirmed seven, and made an address and administered the Holy Communion in the Church of the Good Shepherd, Summerville. In the afternoon hold service, assisted by the Rector, Rev. Mr. Gass, confirmed ten, and made an address in the Church of the Atonement, Augusta. In the evening held service, assisted by the Rector, Rev. C.C. Williams and Rev. Messrs. Gass and Dye, confirmed twenty-six, and made an address in N. Paul’s, Augusta.

April 14—Held evening service, assisted by Rev. Mr. Edwards; confirmed eight and made an address at Christ Church, Augusta.

The following confirmations, in addition to those already mentioned, are reported to me by the Rt. Rev., the Bishop of Florida;

December 6, 1887—St. Mary’s Satilla river ……2
December 7—Upper Mill, Satilla river …………1
December 7—Lower Mill, Satilla river ………..2
December 8—Hamilton, St. Simon’s Island ……1
December 8—St. Ignatius, St. Simons Island ….1
December 9—Christ Church, Frederica…………1
December 9—St. Andrew’s, Darien …………….4
December 10—St. Cyprian’s Darien, (Colored) ..2
December 11—St. Mary’s, Brunswick ………….4
December 11—St. Athanasius, Brunswick, (Colored) ……8
December 12—Waycross, administered the Holy Communion
December 12—Blackshear ………………………..5
December 13—Valdosta, consecrated a Church
December 15—Ogechee Mission (Colored) ……….. 6
December 15—Preached in St. Augustine’s Mission, Savannah……………
December 16—Sylvania, confirmed ………………………..7
December 17—Sylvania, consecrated the Church
December 18—Preached in St. Stephen’s, Savannah
February 15, 1888—In the Church of the Mediator Washington, confirmed… 2

When I became aware last summer that, in the providence of God, it was necessary that I should go away, and that I could not return until many months had passed, I ventured to write to the Bishop of Florida and ask him if it were possible to give to this Diocese so much of his time and labor as he could spare from his own work. I knew that, this was an imposition, but I trusted to his friendship for his former Bishop and to his abounding energies, and felt sure that what could be done would be done. The above statement shows that I neither underestimated his kindness nor overestimated his ability. In making this public record of my gratitude, I am somewhat disposed to complain that my Rt. Rev. Brother only visited one of the larger Parishes of the Diocese. While I rejoice that the Missions had the benefit of his visits, yet my indebtedness to him would have been greatly increased had he not deprived the great congregations of the large Parishes of the desired pleasure and profit of hearing him preach. We, who have known the Bishop of Florida for years, feel that the course which he pursued was in no wise necessary to his reputation, and we would lovingly ask that in future when he favors us with his presence he will do the greatest good by ministering, at least to some extent, to the greatest number. For myself personally, I wish to place on record this declaration of my grateful thanks to my Rt. Rev. Brother for the good he has done the Diocese and the kindness he has shown to me.

During my absence from America I learned of the untimely death of the Rt. Rev. R. W. B. Elliott, Bishop of the Missionary Jurisdiction of Western Texas. This death seems to have cast a gloom over the entire American Church. Bishop Elliott possessed those rare charms of mind and manner which attract attention everywhere and win the hearts of all men. Rarely have I overseen such a combination of gentleness and firmness, of abounding courage and utter self-abnegation. He was not only a Christian Bishop, but in its highest sense a Christian soldier. He not only did his duty because it was his duty, but for that very reason he loved his duty, and his love stirred his enthusiasm, and his enthusiasm made self-sacrifice and suffering a happiness. He was a Priest of the Diocese of Georgia until he was called upon to assume the responsibilities and endure the cares and trials of the Episcopate. He understood perfectly the axiom that he only can govern others who has learned to govern himself, and consequently his loyalty to the appointed authority of the Church never wavered. You can imagine the love which a Bishop would feel for a clergyman so true and manly, and you can understand the grief with which I heard of his death. To the good and faithful servant the Master said: “Well done.” He bade the wearied commander “rest,” and to his humble, faithful, loving follower there came the sweet message: “Friend, come up higher.”

In our own Diocese death has been sadly busy. The news of the death of Judge Samuel Hall, like that of the death of Bishop Elliott, came to me while far away from home. Our strong men are falling all about us—those of us who have passed a half century of life are becoming very isolated. A Bishop’s life, at best, is a lonely one; he passes from place to place, and thus the many friendships which gladden the life of the Parish Priest are denied him. When, then, death enters the little circle of those whose love and counsel have cheered his solitary way, he feels it with a keenness which, fortunately for them, can hardly be experienced by other men. Judge Hall, as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, had received the highest honor which the State can bestow upon the legal profession. His history on the Bench shows that the State had simply given to high character and commanding abilities the reward of merit. Those of us who knew him in this Convention and as trustee of the University of the South will long remember his amiability and kind, genial manners; while I, as his Bishop, can never forget his warmhearted affection as my friend and his wisdom as a patient and sympathizing adviser. Would that this sad recital might now be closed ; but, even during the few weeks since my return to the Diocese, another of my friends has passed away, and the Diocese laments the death of the Rev. W. C. Williams, D. D. For several years his health had been such that he could not serve the Church, yet his death was a shock to all who knew him well, and the announcement of it will stir many memories connected with his pure and humble life. His entire ministry was spent in this Diocese. When I came to Georgia, now twenty years ago, he was Rector of St. Peter’s. Rome. There he remained until he came to Atlanta, to renew the life and help lay, broad and deep, the foundations of what is now St. Luke’s Cathedral Church. For many years President of the Standing Committee, Trustee of the University of the South, Examining Chaplain and Delegate to the General Convention, Dr. Williams was ever prominent in all Diocesan work. As a Parish Priest, no man could have been more faithful—he was the friend of the high and low, the rich and poor. Like his blessed Master, he went about doing good. He gave alms of his goods, and never turned his face away from any poor man. He endeavored, honestly, to be true and just in all his dealings, and to hurt nobody by word or deed, lie was an Israelite, indeed, in whom there was no guile. Dr. Williams possessed good learning and an astonishing memory; he was an acknowledged authority in all matters touching Canon Law and the history of this Diocese, and I can recall with a sad pleasure the encounters upon this floor between the lamented Colonel Whittle and himself. These devoted friends were nearly always antagonistic in this Convention. The stubborn accuracy of the Doctor’s memory would irritate the impulsive lawyer, and the debate would wax warm as the impetuous argument of the one attacked the persisted recollection of the other; nor could peace be restored until argument and memory had, by consent, submitted to the final resort to the written law and the testimony. They are now in Paradise, and we who remain are working still, in hope that in the Master’s good time we may meet them and others there and with them see the King in His glory.

During the past year the Appleton Church Home has received from the Parishes if $182.71, from a lady in Savannah $100, from a lady in Delaware $4—making a total of $286.71, as against $476.48 last year. This is surely a bad showing, if it indicates the interest felt by this Diocese in the only institution it, as a Diocese, has to care for the orphan girls within its limits. In my report one year since to this Convention, I said: “I have strong hope that we may during the ensuing year dispose of a portion of the property belonging to the Home, and thus increase its endowment.” I desire now to say that arrangements to this effect have so far progressed, that I believe I will be able at the next Convention, if my life be spared, to state to you that the Appleton Home will thenceforth take care of itself, and relieve the Diocese from further collections. Meanwhile—i.e., during the year now beginning—I beg the Diocese to help me in our present difficulties. You have, by Canon, made it obligatory upon the Parishes to take a collection for the Home on every Whitsunday. Next Sunday is Whitsunday. Now, will you do me the favor to bear in mind the following statement? First. At this time the Church Home has not money enough to meet its current expenses. Second. I have been compelled to go in bank and raise the amount necessary for said expenses. Third. This is due to the fact that the Parishes last year gave the Home, as above stated, only $286.71, instead of if $476.48. Fourth. With God’s help, I expect at our next Convention to state to the Diocese that the Appleton Church Home can take care of itself and relieve the Diocese of further collections. Now, therefore, I do make this earnest appeal to every clergyman and layman present, and, through them, to every congregation and Mission in the Diocese, viz.: In one year, by God’s help, I will relieve you of all future trouble about the Church Home. Now, we are in great need. Three devoted sisters have for years given their lives to this work without money and without price. Nearly thirty orphan girls are now in the Home; we need the money to meet their daily expenses; the Convention has set apart next Sunday for a collection for their benefit. I do earnestly entreat you to come to our rescue and make this, probably your last collection, a generous one. Can you not send me, from the entire Diocese, some $800 or $1,000? I have only asked assistance in the past because we needed it; the moment we can do without your help, I will notify you I confidently expect that this will be my last appeal to you, and I, therefore, beg you—as our present necessities are great—to make an extraordinary effort and bridge us over our present troubles.

It hardly seems necessary to say anything upon the subject of Diocesan Missions. You will be called upon to consider them in open Convention. I can only say that unless something is done, some plan suggested by which the hearty co-operation of the Parishes can be obtained, and their liberal support secured, our Missions in the villages and small towns will gradually weaken and die out, and our Missionary work be confined to the cities and such places as can be reached by the city clergy. My hope is that you will take time—all the time needed—to investigate the subject thoroughly. Let the Convention deliberately decide either that it has or has not a duty in this matter. If you believe that you have no duty, then let the subject be dismissed for ever, and let the work cease; if you are convinced that you have a duty, then suggest some plan which will be just towards all, adopt that plan, call upon the Parishes to act under it, and urge them in this matter to be not Congregationalists, but Churchmen—parts of one body—and if one or more of the members of that one body suffer, let all the other members unite, lovingly and earnestly, to impart of their life and strength to those that are weak and sickly. I feel that appeals made to this Convention by me are of but little avail. Few persons read the journals, and when the Convention adjourns but few remember the appeal. That which is determined by you to be best, the clergy and laity must take home with them and publicly and privately impress upon the congregations. In other words, your interest in this matter must be real, and it must last, and you must work for it, or else our Missions must fail. I do believe, my dear brethren, that you are responsible to God for this work. I believe that if you neglect it, we will forfeit His blessing. We seem to think that the enlargement and beautifying of our Parochial Churches, the payment of expensive choirs, and the salaries of the Rectors are about the sum total of our obligations; out of this idea grows naturally another, viz: That the success of Church work depends upon the beauty of the Church, the attractiveness of the choir and the personal popularity of the Rector. The logical result of this utterly ungodly system is that when, owing to any cause, the Rector loses his popularity, the rental of the pews decreases, the income of the Parish diminishes, the Rector is subjected to the starving process, the choir cannot be maintained, and the Parish weakens and sickens; men become disheartened, then begin to fall away and go elsewhere to have their love of fine preaching or of music gratified, and God’s work seems well nigh to perishing. This result is a perfectly logical one. Work done in the Church in such a spirit has never been God’s work! The Parish has been managed like a theatre and an opera house. The star has disappeared, the orchestra has failed, and the curious crowd can no longer be gratified and seats will not sell. Just so, the popular preacher has ceased to be popular the operatic choir can no longer be engaged, the attractions have ceased, the pews will not rent and the people who come to be amused seek their pleasures elsewhere. If God’s work is to be done by us in this Diocese, we must get rid of this worldly system. Under such system the Church has never had, and can never have, permanent success. hero worship may be all right in things political for our own respect and admiration to the great leaders in a nation’s history, but hero worship in the Church is man-worship in the house of God, and this is but an amiable form of idolatry, which must be offensive to God, who, being in His Holy Temple, will not endure that preacher or choir shall share with Him the devotion which belongeth only to Himself. Our people should be taught, for the sake of their own salvation and their influence upon others, to worship God with their substance, with their souls and bodies; that, as the Church is His Holy Temple, they come there to meet him, not to criticise a preacher or be thrilled by solos and duets. They should be taught that as the Blessed Master died for them, so He died for all men, that human effort and human influence are among His chief agencies in carrying to others the good news of their redemption, and, therefore, upon their efforts depends in large measure the success of the Church’s mission to the world. They should be taught that he who giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord, and that God has given to His people this loving promise: “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” The Church should be loved by us because she is God’s agent—His witness. He has himself called her His body, and in her keeping are the oracles of God. Her mission on earth is to preach the Gospel to every creature, and there is no greater duty, no higher privilege, than to bless our fellow man by giving liberally as God has prospered us, that earnest men may carry His messages of peace and His promises of mercy to a world perishing in wickedness and sin. Infidelity and the views which accompany it are growing apace in the world. Men are losing faith in God and Christ—then in governments, then in each other; and so the times are ripening for the harvest of anarchy, licentiousness and death. We may well fear to meet the Saviour, who died to save the world from these, if our love of self or personal comfort or aggrandizement, our pride in handsome buildings, our dreamy enjoyment of languishing music, or our hunger after the excitements of rounded periods and startling oratory, shall cause us to forget or neglect our poorer brethren, who have neither our privileges nor our opportunities, and who, day after day, are becoming the victims of a worldliness—an unbelief and spiritual despair—from which, under God, our generosity could save them. I do not ask you to neglect to beautify your churches, to have good music or good preaching. I would have you faithfully to look after this mint, anise and cummin, but I also tag you, for your own and the sake of your brethren in the world, not to omit the weightier matters of the law—judgment, mercy and faith.

During the past year, as you know, I have been compelled to go abroad. Circumstances involving the interests of other people caused me to delay for nearly a month my return. Thankful as I was that the Blessed Master permitted me to go, yet I constantly felt that the disarrangement in the work of the Parishes, caused by the Bishop’s absence, must be both a trial and annoyance to you. Your unmurmuring patience, my dear brethren, was not merely an evidence of your courtesy, but of your kindly sympathy. I knew that you believed that I would return so soon as I could, and this consciousness of your confidence, while it made me anxious to see you again, relieved me of a care which otherwise would have proved a hard one. God has given back to me very much of my physical strength and health, and whatever darkness may hang over my inner life, so long as I have health and strength, I will have the requisites for the Master’s work and His Church; and this work, with His gracious permission, I trust to do. I account it a sacred privilege to live and labor with and for those who, in more trials than one, have strengthened me by their sympathy and encouraged me by their approbation. The utter worthlesness of life to him who in this life only hath hope, has been forced into my convictions by an experience more terrible, I think, than the pangs of death. There is no joy that remaineth, no peace that endureth, to him who sacrificeth duty to pleasure, profit or public opinion. There comes a time to us all when the world’s deity—public opinion—no longer able to use us, turns away from or abuses us; when pleasure palls upon the taste and profits become profitless on account of their inability to heal a wound or soothe a grief. In such hours the past can give no happiness unless it contains the record of duty performed, and the future can offer no hope that is not based upon an enduring faith in Him who has promised the crown of life to those who are faithful unto death. With such convictions, it seems to me, we who are members of Christ’s body, the Church, and stewards of His mysteries, should go forth to our labors while it is yet day, for the night cometh when no man can work.

Trusting that the future may be filled with blessings to you and to those you love, believe me, Yours in Christ,

Bishop of Georgia.