Bishop’s Address of 1905

Given by the Rt. Rev. Cleland Kinloch Nelson
in Macon, Georgia on May 17, 1905



The Rt. Rev. FREDERIC DAN HUNTINGTON, D.D., LL.D. L.H.D., Bishop of Central New York, July 11, 1904,
The RT. Rev. WILLIAM EDWARD MCLAREN, D.D., D.C.L.,, LL.D., Bishop of Chicago, Sunday, February 19, 1905,
The Rt. Rev. ALFRED AUGUSTIN WATSON, D.D., Bishop of East Carolina, Good Friday, April 21, 1905.
The Rev. ROBB WHITE, Rector of Christ Church, Savannah, March 27, 1905.
SISTER KATHARINE, Deaconess in charge of the Appleton Church Home, Macon, March 2, 1905.
Rev. SHADRACH KERR, Priest of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, Thomasville, January 9, 1905.


By the death of the Rev. Robb White the Diocese lost one of her oldest clergy in point of canonical residence, and a prominent figure in ranks passed from work to rest. His record is one of patience and fidelity. His love and loyalty were of the first order. His life is an illustration of what may be accomplished by the exercise of a determined will combined with high purposes.

Setting out with great physical disabilities, he rose superior to them in a most active and successful ministry. The dominant traits of the man were courage and truth; with these he: combined a ready sympathy, which made him a beloved pastor, and a habitual cheerfulness that deceived others as to his real condition and made his presence welcome wherever he went.

I shall miss him for his honesty, his candor and his invariable cordiality and courtesy, which made our intercourse very sweet.

He rests in peace, in full faith of his Saviour to whom his devotion was a precious reality, and in the well-grounded hope of a blessed immortality.

The death of Sister Katharine brought a sense of bereavement, not only to the members of her Order and to the inmates of the Home, but to a very large circle of friends, whose interest and sympathy she had secured by her self-sacrificing devotion to humanity, in the persons of the children which had been placed in her care.

Delicate and refined by nature and culture, she imparted an air of sweetness and peace to all about her, and developed in those committed to her care a high sense, of fidelity to duty, coupled with noble ideals for any sphere of life in which they should take their place.

Of the two hundred girls, who have been cared for in the Home since its establishment in 1870, it is safe to say that the moulding forces of character proceeded, most largely from Sister Katharine.

Sister Katharine followed, in the care of the Home, the first Deaconess, Sister Margaret, a woman of marked character and ability. Taking up the work of her capable predecessor, she perpetuated her skill and aptness in management and added to it, out of the wealth and devotion of her own heart and life.

In loving and hopeful expectation of her future blessedness, we commend her to the care of the Savior whom she loved and joyfully served.

The Rev. S. Kerr, the late rector of Good Shepherd Church, Thomasville, Ga., died January 9th, and was buried January 12th. The deceased was born June 4, 1833, in the British West Indies.

He was classically educated in his native city and England. As a scholar, educator and Churchman, he easily stood in the front rank of our clergy.

In embracing this single opportunity of the year to address you in one body assembled, it is my privilege to review the progress of this fraction of the Kingdom which we are sworn to uphold in loyalty to the Head, in harmony with one another, in charity deep and true to the world, which in its totality is His, though it may not even know Him, and ours in all things in which we can make it really His.

I am perpetually and painfully conscious of the inadequacy of any one man’s best works to the demand, even with such encouragement and support as you furnish, and not for my sake, but for the greater advancement of the Lord’s work and worship, I look forward hopefully to the time when I shall be joined by another who can and will hear an equal share of the responsibilities which now are mine. We have no occasion to be ashamed of the results accomplished with our small means and large territory, but one who is sensitive to conditions requiring the aid of the Church—her order, her system and her reasonable tolerance—is stimulated beyond human strength to press on with the work.

Recounting some of our more important improvements, we note first of all the payment of all indebtedness upon the beautiful church in Rome and its consecration on January 15th of this year. The priest and the people who carried out this difficult project amid great discouragements and heavy losses deserve our highest admiration and cordial congratulations.

We spoke last year of the Consecration of our Cathedral, for which we have recently secured a Dean thoroughly equipped for his task, upon which he has entered with great cheerfulness and hopefulness. His worth to the Diocese is only exceeded by the comfort and pleasure which his presence affords me.

S. Marks’, Brunswick, has indicated its renewed vitality by purchasing a pipe organ of suitable size and rich tone and by the formation of a vested choir of men and boys.

The Church of the Good Shepherd, Augusta, which has. been carrying a debt for some years has liquidated the whole of it.

S. Paul’s, Macon, is equipped with it new and excellent organ, and has a very hearty and churchly secvice.

Calvary Church, Americus, has paid off all indebtedness of every kind and has made some appropriate and much-needed improvements.

S. George’s, Griffin, has altered the building for the accommodation of a fine organ, has added a vestry and paid for them.

S. Paul’s, Savannah, has made excellent progress under its new Rector, and contemplates all change to a more favorable location and the erection of a permanent structure with the generous gift of the late Mrs. J. H. M. Clinch, of Savannah.

At Gainesville there are many marks of improvement. The Chancel is greatly beautified and all choir (vested) has been installed.

The Church of the Incarnation, Atlanta, with commendable perseverance through great obstacles has attacked its debt with renewed earnestness, and is reviving its strength.

All Saints’ Church, Atlanta, has raised it stone Church to the wall-plate and is meeting payments as it progresses.

Epiphany, Atlanta, in combination with S. Timothy’s, Kirkwood, claims the undivided attention of one priest, and Holy Comforter and S. Andrew’s another, and the outlook in both these sections is encouraging.

We have moved from Sylvania the Church consecrated under the title of All Saints’ and have set it up, with a small indebtedness, at Barnesville where it is needed and will, we believe, be appreciated.

A new Church of moderate proportions has been erected at Jesup and the Mission organized under the title of S. Paul.

A charming Church of the Spanish Mission style has been built at Waycross and the little frame building has been torn away. On the morrow of the Feast of SS. Philip and James we consecrated the new building.

Stone is on the ground for a permanent Church at Elberton. A Church for the colored people is started at S. Mary’s. Two lots have been secured in the new colony of S. George in Clinch county, and one in Marietta.

A prosperous Mission has been organized at Cuthbert with communicants of a number and character to insure success.

Mission Stations have been opened at Blue Ridge and Norcross with encouraging prospects, and tentative work has been done by one of our candidates at Winder, Lawrenceville and ‘Commerce.

I shall not be so particular as to detail discouragements, which, however, are not numerous.

I feel bound to report that Ascension Church, Cartersville, is in so imperfect a state of organization, having neither elected a Vestry nor a Rector in many years, that it should be remitted to the position of an organized Mission under Article XI of the Constitution, in order that its affairs may he administered with a degree of satisfaction that does not now exist. Since our last meeting the Diocese has been enriched by the receipt of the bequests of Mrs. E. L. W. Clinch, of Savannah, in amount of nearly $160,000.00, of which the beneficiaries, in equal portions, are the Episcopal Orphans’ Home of Chatham County; S. Paul’s Church, Savannah; the Widows and Orphans’ Fund of the Diocese; and Diocesan Missions of Georgia, the Bishop of Georgia, Trustee.

I feel that the last of these bequests is a special commendation of our work, in which the devisor ever manifested the greatest interest as year by year I related to her our hopes, our aims and our encouragement,

Our investments are secured partly by a mortgage and partly in excellent and central property, with a good tenant. For the greater convenience of administration no division was made between the two Trustees, but I share as Trustee equally with the Corporation the income from the property apportioned to us by the executors of Mrs. Clinch’s estate.

The Corporation will probably go more into detail, and less need he expected of me in this place and connection.


In addition to certain canonical amendments of which notice has been served by Rev. Tray Beatty, Chancellor Miller and myself, there will be offered for the consideration of the Convention ( 1 ) a report of a special Committee on Education and (2) a report on the place of meeting of the Convention.

I may be pardoned, I trust, for expressing an opinion as to the importance of a well-digested report upon a subject which nearly concerns the responsibility of the Church in these parts. The discussion of the main question has been postponed from year to year, long enough to complete a common-school course, but we have failed to hear a voice raised in support of an attempt to accomplish for the Church what every denomination in Georgia has long brought to some degree of perfection.

I confess to utter inability to account for the apathy toward this matter, although I tested it pretty thoroughly in an experience almost solitary and alone, for more than ten years.

A resolution of the last Convention, offered by our Dean, purported to carry the sense of that Convention that the Bishop hold an annual Conference of the Clergy of the Diocese; but as no provision was made for the expenses of the Clergy who, if called, should consider it their duty as well as privilege to come, I have failed to perceive my duty in the resolution and have not called the Conference. If it still be your opinion that such a Conference is desirable, it is mine I assure you, then it is necessary to look to the business side of it, which, in a Diocese of such distances, is a consideration.

Of matters eminently practical I commend to your earnest and careful attention a memorial to be presented to this body by a Committee of a Conference over which I presided on May 3.

It is obvious that the negro clergy and laity entitled to seats and votes in this house are aware of a tension which we have happily undergone without any immediate consequences of evil.

They realize, I am sure, that their modesty has been rewarded by the courtesy of their white brethren, and they appreciate, as they have told me, the difficult and delicate position of your Chairman. We can not complain of obtrusiveness, and they see that no efforts have been made to thrust them out. The segregation felt to be necessary in churches and schools: has come into the conventions of several dioceses and has been completed by the formation of convocations which have not met the necessities of the case.

They come to you now by a Committee and ask permission to meet as a Council of Colored Churchmen with power to legislate for themselves in co-ordination with this Convention in matters which are not fundamental to the unity of the Church.

They do not wish to organize a separate Church, to create a sector to sever themselves from your interest and sympathy, but to do what they believe can be better accomplished under the impetus of free and full discussion of their own people coming together under proper rules; and yet, if you please, to conserve their privileges as members of this body, and not to be evicted from their relationship and connection with the whole Church.

It is my conviction that an opportunity is presented to you of dealing in a statesmanlike and yet considerate and conservative manner with a question that involves perils, and can not be dismissed with a wave of the hand.

I am of the opinion that the time has not arrived, if it ever will come, when it is either necessary or wise to resume the appointment of racial Bishops acting in the same territory which did exist in but did not outlive apostolic days.

But there does not appear to me any risk or valid reason against two separate assemblies, meeting, it may be, at different dates and places, presided over by one and the same Bishop, who is thus the connecting bond between two departments of one and the same Diocese.

Permit me to refer you to. a Scriptural incident somewhat apposite to the existing status; Genesis 13, 8 and 9: “And Abraham said unto Lot, let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, * * * * for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself I pray thee from me: If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.” You will recall that the object of this compact was to maintain peace and happy relations between the patriarch and his nephew. The observable differences are that with us there has been no open rupture, nor expressed dissatisfaction and the application comes from the younger and not from the elder. The unfortunate denouement was in no sense the result of the compact, and is not for a moment to be anticipated.

I wish to direct your attention to the confusion and detriment to the Diocese and the inaccuracy effected by the application of our peculiar Canon XXIII, in reference to Communicants. The object of the Canon is clear, viz., to arrive at a basis for the purpose of assessment. The result is to exclude from their proper position as Communicants from ten to twenty-five percent of those who have neither been excommunicated nor definitely transferred, and hence are entitled to, be retained on the roll of Communicants of our Parishes and Missions. The difference in our report last year in consequence of this order was in one Parish alone about three hundred (300). With the exception of the small per capita tax for Convention expenses, which would be no burden to any one, we have no use for the Canon, as we base our assessment chiefly upon current expenses. I trust therefore, that you will give a two-thirds vote, in accordance with Canon XXXIV, Section 2, to drop Canon XXIII from our Diocesan laws.


The awakening of the Church to her privileges in the matter of the extension of the Kingdom took definite shape in a resolution adopted by the Board of Missions in Boston on October 20, 1904:
“That the Board of Missions affectionately recommends to Dioceses and Missionary Districts that they send through the Deputies to the next General Convention an extra offering for missions, to be presented at the opening service as a special recognition of thankfulness to Almighty God for the blessings He has vouchsafed to this Church during the three hundred years since it has been planted in Jamestown.”

A Central Committee appointed to carry this proposition into effect requests that I have a District Committee of eight (8) members, who shall in turn push the work along certain suggested lines. I have appointed a body of gentlemen who are alive to the realities and possibilities of the situation, and I have requested them to begin their efforts forthwith. My object in bringing the subject before you is that you may each consider the relation of your duty to your ability in the great cause of the Master’s Missions, and may extend to others notice of this united effort on the part of the Church to fulfil her primary obligation and if possible inspire them with enthusiasm in the most glorious service of the King of kings.

There is reason that we should respond more nobly than many others to the call for a deeper consecration and more bountiful sacrifices in the patient succor afforded this Diocese for many years by the Board of Missions, and its continuance to aid us in carrying the Gospel among the millions of negroes in Georgia, who are beginning to appreciate that the Church is the greatest power for their real permanent elevation.

But the word of command of the Head of the Church is the. authority and His promise the incentive to enter into possession of the heathen lands and imperfectly Christianized people that they may be brought unto His loving rule of peace and life more abundant.

In concluding these remarks, which are far from exhaustive either of the subjects or of my thoughts thereupon, I ask you to observe that both the number of my visits, my mileage and my official acts have varied but little from year to year.

Since October, 1903, I have devoted all but fifteen or twenty-days to the occupations of my office.

With the doubling of the number of Church stations and a Communicant roll increasing in nearly the same ratio, there has come upon the Bishop in office a volume of business of which no one is fully cognizant except himself.

Had we one hundred Parishes and fifty Missions the fulfilment of the task would be comparatively light, but under existing conditions one man is, compelled to administer the affairs, temporal as well as spiritual, of more than one hundred churches. Being fortunate in having a very intelligent, quick and faithful clerk, I am able to discharge this mass of work by a perpetual grinding of the mill during the few days of the week falling between visits. Wanting a coadjutor or an affirmation of our need and ability to make two Dioceses out of this imperial territory, I have fallen back upon the alternative of making visits strictly for official acts, and not as General Missionary or merely “to get around” once a year.

Observation and experience have convinced me that no arrangement of agent, Archdeacon or Coadjutor will ever satisfy the demands among these people who are most amenable when brought into direct touch with the authoritative head of affairs. but do not heed an intermediary. When, therefore, you proceed to secure additional Episcopal oversight and administration as well as ministration, there is but one way to effect that is, by division, upon which question my mind has: undergone no change as to either its wisdom or practicability. A modus vivendi is open to you in the use of the entire amount yearly contributed for Diocesan Missions (with the consent, of course, of those who pledge it) than which no better application could be made in the interest of Diocesan Missions while the three several trusts, for this same purpose, with specific gifts, can be relied upon for salaries of clergy and teachers. In ten years, this course would be abundantly justified by both the spiritual and financial results of what is simply the principle of concentration of effort.

I really know none but purely sentimental reasons that prevent division of the Diocese, and it seems inconceivable that even the strength of a very noble sentiment should be allowed to interpose between us and the growth and success of the Church.

I refer the following memoranda to your Committee, if appointed ; the divisional line should, in my opinion, follow the north and west line of Columbia, McDuffie, Glascock, Washington, Wilkinson, Twiggs, Pulaski, Dooly, Sumter, Webster and Stewart.

The expenses may he estimated at $5,000 for each, of the two Dioceses. The income may be found as follows:

Northwest.                 Southeast.
From Permanent Fund ………..     $ 900.00      $ 900.00
Assessments as per report of Finance
Committee of 1904 ………….     2,508.00      2,499.00
Eight thousand Communicants at 15
cents per capita as indicated in
Canon 22. . ……………………………… 600.00                  600.00
From pledges for Diocesan Missions
in the two sections respectively …. 1,868.00                     1,355.00
__________        __________
$5,876.00                 $5,354.00
Georgia Mission Fund                                                           5,000.00
Clinch Fund and others …………     3,700.00
Other funds to be equally divided.

Brethren, I commend you in your deliberations to the guidance of the Eternal Spirit of our God, and earnestly beseech you to do nothing through partiality or from any less commendable motive than to promote, as far as lies in your capacities and opportunities, the advancement of the Kingdom of our blessed Lord in this present world and time, both in its extension for the good of others and in its intensive effect in the largeness of our hearts, the illumination of our minds and the greater perfection of our lives, which have been dedicated to him.