Bishop’s Address of 1948

Bishop’s Address of 1948
Given by the Rt. Rev. Middleton Stuart Barnwell

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.

We are met for the One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Annual Convention of the Church in the Diocese of Georgia. The only parish without a rector at this moment is Grace Church, Waycross, from which Mr. Charles Wyatt-Brown has gone to accept a rectorship in Texas. The Rev. William S. Brace of Edgefield, S. C. has accepted a call to Waycross and takes over May 15th. Provision has been made for services to be carried on until then without interruption, so that the life of the parish will so far as we can see, flow along smoothly. We shall miss Mr. Wyatt-Brown, but we welcome Mr. Brace, and under him we feel the work done by his predecessor will continue. The Rev. Mr. Bethea of Christ Church, Frederica, has been ill in a Brunswick Hospital, and prayers are being offered at this convention for his early recovery. St. Andrew’s, Darien, is applying to this Convention for re-admission as a parish, and we are now looking for a man to fill that place.

While the Mission Field is not expanding, (and some expansion is greatly needed) in those places where we are at work satisfactory progress is being made. In Valdosta we are about ready to sign the contract for the new Church and Parish House. St. Paul’s, Jesup, is in the same favorable position. We are repairing and modernizing the rectory at St. Marys, Camden County, and while that field has been worked from Grace Church, Waycross, and will continue to be for a while longer, the time is not far off when we should have a resident minister there. We need a man in Bainbridge, which is being looked after now by the Rev. Saxton Wolfe, but Mr. Wolfe should be relieved of it and it should be combined with Blakely as formerly, and a new man should he placed there. We expect to do this as soon as Mr. Harcourt Waller finishes his work at the Seminary. At present Blakely is being cared for by the Rev. William Baxter out of Americus, as are also other nearby mission points. We need a man in the Savannah area. It is, of course, impossible to supply all of these points with our present missionary income, and it is also a fact that the missionaries at work in the well-established fields are almost without exception in need of additional facilities for carrying on their work. It is my deep conviction that we can do very little to build up strong work in any center without a resident minister and a usable parish house and a rectory, in addition to the church building itself. It is very definitely not enough to have a priest go forty miles even once a week to hold services in the evening, and then return to his place of residence. In such case the children drift to larger churches with their little friends, and in most cases this is the beginning of the alienation of a family; always, except in most exceptional cases.

These things are true, and a resident minister in a weak mission which can pay little on his salary is a heavy drain on our missionary resources, and this is why our men are located in those places which are able to pay substantially toward the minister’s stipend. Frankly I see no hope of filling these vacancies in the near future without a large increase in missionary giving, and for this I am reluctant to ask, unless this, or some future convention, can give me assurances in this respect.

In gifts to missions we are just about up to the average of the whole church, but this is ridiculously low. In Georgia we are averaging about ten cents a week per communicant. This may seem small, but it works out at fifty cents a week for one income producer who has a wife and three confirmed children. These are some facts which we must take into consideration.

There is, of course, another approach. We have a missionary budget of $40,500.00. Of this, $4,500 comes from the income of the Georgia Mission Fund, an endowment for missions left many years ago by the Rev. A. P. Dodge. Our people are giving about $35,000.

The other approach is that we consider a change in the distribution of our fund. I was looking over the Journal for 1917-31 years ago. We have fewer missionaries in the field than we had then, for various reasons. One is that we were at work in several lumber developments where the operators belonged to us. The lumber was exhausted and the communicants moved away, and small Cracker farmers came in who were already Baptist or Nazarenes or Church of God people among whom we have never made much headway, and gradually these missions have been closed; such places as Pineora, Meldrim, Belfast and others. St. Mary’s passed through this stage, but is coming to life again with the advent of a paper mill and the leadership of the manager of the mill who is, fortunately for us, devoted Churchman.

We had this same condition when I was in Idaho; mining towns where the ore became exhausted and our people moved away and Basque sheep-herders came in, all of whom were Roman Catholics. This is something we have met in every mission field in the country where we had a town or settlement dependent on the production of raw materials. Raw materials became exhausted and the town died.

Most of these missionaries—all of them so far I can detect from the old records—were frightfully underpaid, their salaries often as low as $900.00 a year. But here is the interesting thing and it may be vital; our total budget in those days was about $17,000.00 or less, and practically all of it was spent on Diocesan Missions. Today we are spending almost exactly the same amount on Diocesan Missions, and our budget is over $40,000.00.

We have developed a more expensive form of diocesan organization, and calls from the outside have been increasing at such a rate that every year’s increase in giving has been eaten up, and in spite of greatly increased giving, we are spending on our diocesan missions almost exactly what we did 31 years ago.

We have added a Department of Christian Education at $3,300 a year; Department of Promotion at $1,800 a year; and Executive Council expense at $1,900 a year, making our entire diocesan expense only $7,000 more than it was in 1917, but we have added $1,000 for Sewanee; $450 for Fort Valley College Center, (and it ought to be more); $300 for Bishop Payne Divinity School, (and it ought to be much more); $360 for the Provincial Synod, (and this will be $500 next year); $10,500 for the National Council; and $4,500 for World Relief.

I am not willing personally to accept responsibility for cutting any of these gifts, for every one is tremendously important, but we have got to do one of two things: If we are to develop our strength in the local mission field, we have got to raise more money for our own needs, or divert some of this money we are spending on other things to our mission work; and failing to do either, we shall rock along with important mission points undeveloped.

And we have got to do something else. The Executive Council has authorized me to borrow eight thousand dollars to meet a greater sum which has been subscribed by local people for a parish house in Jesup, without which this fine mission under a fine man cannot grow; and it has accepted a gift of $12,500 and a loan of $12,500 from the Board of Officers of the Diocese to match more than $25,000 raised by the people in Valdosta for their new Church and parish house.

In a pinch, we can take care of these necessary loans by setting aside a certain portion of our annual income for that purpose, but this of course will delay still further any additional salary money for an increased missionary staff.

It is very easy for various people over the diocese to criticize the Bishop and Executive Council for not developing this or that mission point, and people in half a dozen places think they are being overlooked. But no one is being overlooked. Our dollars are stretching as far as they will go.

We are making progress in Georgia. If I had time merely to list the new buildings and the improved buildings, and others planned, for which the money is available you would see that progress has been made, but slowly. This is because we have been unselfish, and spent our added income almost entirely on other less fortunate fields.

But I think the time has come when we should undertake to put a clergyman in every strategic point in the diocese, and give him something to work with. A mission just does not grow with occasional visits from a non-resident clergyman, and which remains closed for two weeks or even one between Sunday night services.

The other churches are working too hard and the competition is too severe. We know it in Georgia because we have tried it. There are many places where we have followed this program for fifty years, and are no stronger, or are even weaker than we were. The Roman Catholics are beginning a million dollar campaign here in Georgia, and we have more people, and far more well-to-do people, than they have. Their campaign of course, covers the whole state and we have but half of it, but I do not want a million dollars nor half of it. If I could get fifty or seventy-five thousand, we could buy one or two strategic pieces of land which we are going to need, and help our loyal people solve their own building problems. We need a campaign for cash, or we need to add at least $5,000 a year to our missionary giving to be earmarked for building purposes.

Such a small program waits on one thing only: and that is the determined will of this convention to see it through. I can name you half a dozen laymen right in this convention who could head such a movement and bring it to a successful conclusion—if he had the whole-hearted cooperation of the rest of us.

I desire to commend the efforts which some of our devoted laymen are making to quicken the interest of the men of the Church. I would especially mention Mr. S. A. Setze who has struggled for the past few years to develop this interest, and Mr. Fred Pember who has at my request been helping Mr. Setze until such time as the laymen of the diocese in session choose some one to be a permanent head of the laymen’s movement.

I also wish to thank most earnestly Mr. William Robertson of Savannah for the work he has done in going around the diocese at great inconvenience to himself and spreading the laymen’s gospel. As editor of the Savannah Morning News, he is a very busy man, and we owe to him a debt of gratitude.

At the request of the laymen’s meeting some time ago in Albany; I have set tonight aside as Laymen’s Night. We have as speaker a representative of the National Department of Promotion and the head of our Laymen’s Movement in the Province. They will tell us what we ought to do—if anything—in the way of organization, and they will certainly set before us some worth-while objectives. I have done nothing about this meeting except to arrange it at your request. What you may do is, of course, entirely up to you.

The Church Pension Fund began operations in 1917. Previous to this the sum of seven and one-half million dollars had been raised to get it started, and to take care of the accrued liabilities of the clergymen then at work. When the Fund began operations in 1917 the parishes and missions of the Church began to pay in their pension premiums to the Fund, and these premiums amounted to seven and one-half per cent of the clergyman’s salary, and this was continued up until two, years ago when the premium was raised to ten per cent.

This increase the whole Church accepted as the necessary result of low rates on investments by the Pension Fund, and of the necessity of paying beneficiaries such benefits as were promised when the Fund was started. These things are true of the Church as a whole, but not of the Diocese of Georgia.

In this Diocese the parishes and missions have never paid their premiums though the rest of the Church did. Some fourteen years before the Fund was started, a benevolent lady left a building on the corner of Whitaker and Broughton Streets in Savannah to the Trustees of the widows and Orphans Fund of the diocese. This brought in considerable rental. Widows and Orphans of the clergy were scarce at the time the Pension Fund started. It was decided that the benevolent lady, long since deceased, should pay half of the pension premiums of the Diocese. This half amounted in 1917 to $1,800.

Sometime later, a date which I have not checked up on, a decision was made by the convention that the Clinch Building rental should. -pay three-fourths of this pension premium, which arrangement has continued down to this present year, and the $1,800 which the building rental paid in 1917 has risen until now the annual payments approximate $7,500.

Now this point should be borne in mind, especially by the laymen who have always lived in Georgia and whose whole experience has been with the benevolent Georgia system, that the pension premiums for the clergy, all over the Church except in the Diocese of Georgia is a part of the operating expense of the Church, and comes under the head of local Current Expenses just the same as clergy salaries or the light and heat bill. It is so considered and so dealt with in every diocese of the Church except this diocese.

We have been fortunate in that a large part of our obligation has been carried for us for the past thirty-one years by a good woman who died about forty-four years ago. Pension premiums are a part of normal parish operating expense, and Mrs. Clinch did not leave her estate for this purpose, and we should not continue to use it so.

The parishes of the Church in the Diocese of Georgia are as well off as the parishes of the rest of the Church, and if the parishes in South Carolina and Atlanta and Alabama and Florida are capable of carrying this pension expense, so are we. And as a matter of further fact, your Corporation, or Board of Officers, which handles the Clinch Building rentals, has exhausted its resources and depleted its reserve in grants to various legitimate diocesan needs, to the point where it is no longer able to carry this pension item which is, of right, chargeable to Parish Current Expense.

At its last meeting a motion was unanimously passed that this whole practice be discontinued, and that the pension charge be paid in full by the parishes and missions in Georgia as they are in the rest of the Church throughout the world, and as they have been paid throughout the world for the past thirty-one years.

There is no reason why Mrs. Clinch should continue to pay our current expenses, nor is there any reason why we cannot do what the rest of the Church has been doing through these past years.

This action by the Board of Officers is of course not retroactive, and will not affect your budgets for the present year. But next year in making up your budget, you should add ten per cent to your clergyman’s salary for pension premium, and adopt a parish budget and make your Every Member Canvass on this basis.

The Lambeth Conference is a meeting of all bishops of the Anglican Church. They come from all over the world. It is supposed to meet in London under the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury every ten years, but the last meeting was in 1930. An eight year delay was caused by one war, and we are trying to get it in now before another one begins.

These meetings are of great importance to our Church, as they give us a chance to evaluate the work of the Church over the whole world, to study each other’s problems, which, as near as is humbly possible, represents the mind of the Church. It is as near a successor to the ancient General Church Councils as our own part of Christ’s divided Church is able to achieve.

I am going to represent the Diocese of Georgia, and I have been asked to preach the sermon at a special service to be held to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, an English missionary movement which assisted General Oglethorpe in the religious life of the new Colony of Georgia.

Last winter I discovered that some of my good friends were raising money by personal subscriptions to send me across. As soon as I found it out I asked them not to do it, and the next day I received a check for $550.00 which had come in in small amounts from a great number of People who are, of course, unknown to me.

I appreciate this thoughtful kindness more than I can say, but I had and still have the feeling that attendance at this Council is part of a bishop’s job, and that if the diocese wishes to be represented the cost should come out of Convention funds. To do this will not cost anyone anything sufficient for notice, for our present council assessments already provide for a small margin over and above normal expenses to meet just such contingencies.

I therefore suggest that this convention instruct its treasurer to include in its future budgets a small sum each year which will accumulate through the next decade, and which will provide for the trip of your next bishop to Lambeth as a normal part of diocesan expense. It is a part of the church’s life in which he is bound to share. I hope, that no one will think of this trip I am going to make as wholly a vacation. There will of course be change and many interesting contacts, but attendance at this council means about six weeks of concentrated study and committee work day after day for nearly six weeks. I shall have a few weeks for rest after the council ends and before the S. P. C. K. service, after which I shall most happily take the first steamer for home. I shall be away about three months.

No convention address is complete without a statement on the State of the World, and my statement is that the world is in pretty bad shape, full of imperfections upon which Christ has not been brought to bear.

There human imperfections are not peculiar to one people, or state, or nation. They are common to us all. We have fought two wars against Germany, and one against Japan, because they had such confidence in their own way of life that at all hazards they were willing to press it upon the rest of the world. That had to be stopped and I am sure that we were right in helping to stop it, for a large part of the world wanted nothing of the totalitarian way of life to which they were unalterably committed.

Their concept of life, in which they firmly believed, was the result of their past history for hundreds or thousands of years; it was their inherited pattern of life with Germany under changing outward form, but totalitarian at heart. They could see life no other way, and they felt that it was their compelling duty to give it to the rest of the world.

What a wonderful thing for the world it would have been if the Germans had been content to live their own life in their own way, without trying to force their way on us! Insofar as it was good, we would in time have freely chosen it. We would have rejected it at those points where it did not meet the particular problems which we face.

What a wonderful thing it would be for the world if the Russians would not try to ram their own concept of life down our throats at the point of a bayonet! Their own concept of life has come out of their own bitter experience for many centuries under the rule of the Tsars, some of whom were, personally, kindly men but who were invariably surrounded by Grand Dukes and lesser dukes who kept their people tied to the land and ground into the dust. The rebellion in 1917 was long overdue, and in their peculiar brand of political organization, the Russians now believe they have found the answer to life for all people. In this, of course, they are as blind as it is possible to be, for our needs are different from theirs! Our problems are different; our inherited patterns of life are not the same, and we see life through different eyes.

What a wonderful thing it is for the world that England is not trying to force her own brand of Socialism on the rest of the world! This thing in England has developed out of the English life and character and history, and it is her own way of meeting the particular problems with which she is confronted. If it solves her problems, England will, I am sure, be satisfied; and will be content to sit back and enjoy this solution, and to let other nations solve their own problems in their own way.

In this respect England is setting an example which the rest of the world would do well to follow, for any other course leads to war, as we have seen with Germany and Japan, as we have seen again and again in the past history of the world and as we shall see again when conflicting philosophies of life are forced upon any people whose historical background, whose standards of education and whose inherited patterns of life are at variance with the particular cure prescribed.

With the passage of time, and with patience, and with sympathy, and with perfect freedom of choice, different peoples in different places, with different past experiences will work out their own problems.

The one great mistake is when any powerful nation undertakes to force its own philosophy of life on other people who are not ready for it. Such an attempt is bound to fail because with bombs and bullets you can kill men but not ideas. And for every martyr to a cause, ten rise up to take his place. As the ancient Christians used to say, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” This is one of the obvious truths which any study of history reveals.

If there is any nation whose ideas you hate, the only way to defeat those ideas is to have better ones. If there is any way of life suggested of which you do not approve, the only way to victory is to show to the world a way which works more perfectly for the welfare and happiness of mankind.

Fundamentally, men and women are the same in every land. They want homes and love and comfort, and happy families around them. These loves are basic and in the long run will motivate life, and the people who show to the world the way to have these things will win. A hundred years ago Emerson wrote that “if you can preach a better sermon or build a better mousetrap, though you build your home in the wilderness, the world will beat a path to your door.”

Show to the world a better way of life and the world will crowd to your doorstep, for as Jesus said, the “world wants life and wants it more abundantly.”

I have spoken of some terrible things that would happen if other people tried to force their philosophy of life upon us. Would it be any less terrible if we tried to force our way of life upon them?

Our own outlook on life is different from that of the nations of Europe because our history is different. Most of the countries of Europe were empires long since exhausted before our country was born. By free enterprise, with boundless horizons, in a century and a half we have developed and in part exploited a vast continent. While the prairies yet stretched ahead of us for thousands of miles, Europe was contending with overcrowded slums. Naturally we think that OUR way of life is the way for all the world, but the old world is different, with different problems, and many of the people there have come to see the necessity for a far more regimented way of life than we contemplate.

In a few more hundred years—for life moves more swiftly now—in a few more hundred years or less, we shall be where they are now. Who knows what our point of view will be, or what will be the American way of life? In the last fleeting thirty years I have already seen Federal regimentation of free enterprise increase, so it seems to me, alarmingly. It is due, I believe, to the disappearance of limitless horizons, and to the absolute necessity for forcibly correlating people within the limits of a more constricted way of life. How far will we go along this way in another few hundred years?

Today we call for more controls bearing on the freedom of coal miners. Let us remember when we think of this, that Europe has travelled along this way long before us. The state of the present day world? It is a world in conflict, and the basic conflict is in the world of ideas. You do not add force to an idea by putting a gun in its hand. Fighting tells who is the strongest, but it does not tell who is the wiser. We have the strength and the self-assurance of youth, but it sometimes occurs to me that Europe may have the weakness and the wisdom of old age.

I am not sure of this, but I am sure of one thing: it is not going to do our cause any good to kill off a lot of Russians, nor is it going to do their cause any good to kill off a lot of us. When the war is ended and the nations are bankrupt and cities are ruins, and the ships are at the bottom of the sea, and the young men are dead, the old competing philosophies will spring to new life, watered with the blood of martyrs, and so it will ever be until we all are dead, or have learned to live in the understanding love of Jesus Christ.

Communism? Socialism? Capitalism? Free Enterprise? A Planned Economy? Democracy? Totalitarianism? The American Way of Life, which includes Bilbo and Long and Al Capone as well as Lincoln and Lee and Washington! I do not know enough about these things to speak concerning them with authority. But I do know that man alone is a self-important and self-opinionated sinner, and that none of these systems is any good whatever unless Christ reigns in human hearts.

There must be some good in all of them, or they would not have so many friends, and there must be some evil in all of them, or they would not have so many enemies. I could easily make a case either for or against them all, and that is exactly what the politicians and propagandists are doing today, depending on whose axe they have to grind.

But that is not enough for a Christian. He has got to dig beneath these conflicting claims, and underneath them all he finds an empty human heart and a darkened human soul hunting desperately for certainty and for light and for truth. And love, if he only knew it! Without these things we all are in darkness. And with these things we walk in the light. These things are in Christ, and nowhere else. I know only one thing about this chaotic world, and that is this: that Christ is its way and its truth and its life.

So what? There was once a great Teacher who said some very wise and wonderful things. The world did not think very much of Him at the time, for He disturbed the “status quo” and they took Him out and killed Him. But some of the things He said have lived: He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.” He said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven”. “Love your enemies. Bless them that curse you. Do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you, that ye may be the children of your Father.” “Seek ye the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”

These are the things which the Great Teacher said, and we wrote those sayings in a book. We treasure the book. But we do not the things He said do.

You may not be able to change the world. But you can change yourself, and that is a good beginning. You can come to Church and worship God and pray for your enemies and you can pray for ourselves that we all may have that great thing which Solomon prayed for—an understanding heart. Nothing will take its place and that is what we must all have, if we are ever to have peace among the diverse nations of the earth.

Now I suppose that someone is thinking in his heart that I am an “appeaser”. Or a pro-Russian—or at least far to the left. I do not know just what is meant by being an “appeaser”. Does it mean “buying peace at a price”? That is a poor way to get it, but if it is the only way in which it can be had, I am in favor of it, but reluctantly; for its seems to me that the twenty thousand million dollars which we are going to spend is a pretty high price to pay for it, with no real assurance that it can be had even for that.

Personally, I do not think we can buy peace, though if the rest of the country is willing, I am willing to try. I am reconciled to it by the thought of the human misery it will help to relieve, and some peace may come as a by-product of this.

Or does “appeasement” mean the sacrificing of principle for the sake of political expediency? Well, that is one thing I am not willing to do, for the basic principle of Christian life is that love is stronger than hatred—stronger even than death—and as your bishop I would be false to you and to God if I said otherwise.

If you think I am pro-Russian, you are mistaken. I hate the things they do, and many of the things they stand for. If you think I am far to the left, or to the left at all you are mistaken.

Successful business men build our schools, hospitals and churches, pay my salary, send me to England to attend the Lambeth Conference, and give me the very home in which I live. I would be an ungrateful fool if I did not believe in the “American Way” of life for America and free enterprise, whatever those things may mean, for they have been most kind to me.

It is because I want these things to continue that I am pleading for a more tolerant and sympathetic understanding of other people by ALL people.

This is the only way to peace. You can’t buy peace with war. We have tried it again and again, and the present state of the world proclaims our failure.

This is the only way to peace. You can’t buy Peace with war.

We have tried it again and again, and the present state of the world proclaims our failure.

Nor am I a pacifist. I could take the high moral ground and say War is contrary to the mind of Christ (which I believe it to be) and you would say I am an impractical dreamer. But I take a practical stand—with both feet on the ground; living and working through the generosity of men who have made financial success of their lives under the American system, and I am against war because war does not pay; it destroys the wealth of the world and so it prepares the soil in which communism flourishes. War will destroy the American Way of life which we fight to save.

See how far two wars have brought the world toward communism. Give us one more and Europe will be completely gone, and our own economic system be shattered, and it may be even our own cities in ruins.

What then? I think the people will rise up and say that the old system has failed them, and communism will engulf us all as it has the distressed and despairing people of Eastern Europe today.

Why don’t we try Christ’s teachings in the field of human relationships? It is the one important field of life. Our law is still the law of the jungle. And all that jungle law can bring is death.

Nothing that I may say is going to change our country’s foreign policy nor Russia’s. If these two nations proceed to open combat, we shall go with our own, of course, come what may.

We may not be able to make this world fit to live in, but we can make ourselves fit to live in the world, and this we can do by getting rid of hatred, and fear which causes it. If we could only get rid of fear—which rules all the world today!

Well, we can. We can revive our faith in a living God, who holds even the Russians in the hollow of his hand. Holding fast to faith in God, we can walk through this world’s uncertainty with the sure confidence of men whose affections are set upon those things which are above.