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THE SOLIDARITY OF CONGREGATIONAL
REV. ALEXANDER LEWIS, KANSAS CITY, MO.
So much of my thinking has been done in molds of from thirty to forty minutes that I find myself considerably embarrassed when asked to give an address“ of about ten minutes.” The only thing I have been able to do in the past under such circumstances is to prepare the longer address and then divide it into two or three parts according to the exigencies of the case. As the result of this, I have found myself sometimes with an introduction and no conclusion, or perhaps with an introduction and conclusion and no middle. Much that I would like to say on this occasion, such as to sing the praises of a fellowship which has held a great denomination intact for a century, cannot even be condensed into the time allowed; it must be deliberately omitted, that I may touch briefly two failures in the fellowship of modern Congregationalism. If this single sentence of introduction seems to some a waste of time with so few minutes at my disposal, they must remember that it takes as long to warm up for a one-hundred-yard dash as for a mile heat, and that even the aeroplane must have a little run along the ground before it can fly.
“ The Solidarity of Congregational Fellowship": For solidity, for dignity, for splendid idealism, this theme cannot be surpassed. Its evident source reminds me of a story. Two Jersey City Irishmen were discussing the relative virtues of the Jersey and Irish mosquitoes. Pat insisted that there were no mosquitoes in all the world like the Jersey brand. Mike was equally emphatic that they were no larger or more savage than those to be found in Ireland. Whereupon Pat offered to bet Mike a dollar that he could not lie on his face and expose his bare back for one-half hour to the Jersey pests. Mike accepted the wager and Pat took out his watch to keep time on the test. For twenty minutes Mike made a heroic and successful fight, and, as the half hour began to draw to its close, Pat became fearful of losing his money, so he removed the crystal of his watch and focused the sun's rays between Mike's shoulder blades. This was more than poor Mike could endure and, unable to stand it longer, he called out,“ Pat, would ye mind shooing that fellow off from between me shoulders, I recognize him — he is from Ireland."
Fathers and brethren, in all seriousness, the moment this subject was placed in my hand I recognized it as from Boston. Had a committee of western men arranged the program, this subject would have read “The Isolation of Congregational Fellowship," or, “The Need of Transplanting the Congregational Fellowship of New England” to the West and the Northwest and the greatest West of them all, – for it is the only West we have in the technical sense of the word, — the great Southwest. Missouri and Massachusetts have about the same population, with this difference, that Missouri's is scattered over a territory more than eight times as large as that of Massachusetts. In Massachusetts with its much smaller territory and no larger population there are 588 Congregational churches, with a membership of 123,000, while Missouri has but 72 Congregational churches with a membership of but 10,000. In Massachusetts I never went more than ten miles to attend a local association, while in Missouri I have traveled more than one hundred miles to attend such a meeting. Do you not see that Congregational fellowship in New England and in the West is a very different thing? Can you not see why some of us feel that these National Societies have been culpably neglectful of their opportunities in not bringing to the great Southwest, long before this, the fellowship of their annual gatherings? Will there not continue to be a deficit in their annual receipts if they continue to neglect new fields? We reap not only what we sow, but where we sow. Two years ago the Baptists went to Oklahoma City, and the Presbyterians came to Kansas City, while last year the latter went to Denver.
From Kansas City to the Rockies is 600 miles. From Kansas City to the Gulf is 600 miles. In this square which contains about one seventh of the entire territory of the United States are to be found as flourishing cities, as rich mines, as fertile fields, as noble a people, as exist anywhere in the world; and, more than all this, this section is growing and will continue to grow for the next quarter of a century by leaps and bounds. Every home-seekers' day there are from two to four thousand people pass through Kansas City to take up their residence in this Southwest territory. And they are not, as a rule, men and women from foreign shores, but the sons and daughters of New England, New York, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Many of them are from Congregational homes, and we ought to follow them to see that these people, surrounded with all the temptations of a new country, are kept for Christ and his Church. Our best opportunity for this work is already passed, but there is a great one still waiting, if, instead of talking " fellowship" under the shadow of Bunker Hill, we begin to practice it on the prairies and in the cities of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
So much for Congregational fellowship as a New England product which, for the life of New England as well as for the life of the country, needs transplanting. Now a word as to its inadequacy when left to itself. Fellowship has been our denominational “shibboleth " for a century. We all believe in it. We all want more of it. It is a splendid ideal. There is no more beautiful and inspiring truth to contemplate than this,
fellowship, fraternity, brotherhood. But when it comes to equipping a church or a denomination for work in this poor, sinning world and facing the great problems of our modern cities, fellowship is too ideal, too ethereal, to take hold and, in and of itself, grip. It needs something to give it backbone — to make it efficient, vital, effective. Therefore not a few in our part of the world have come to feel that, while it is not necessary to sacrifice one whit of our splendid fellowship or glorious independency, the time has come for a stronger denominational center, for a closer denominational organization. The adoption of the Apportionment Plan, the getting into line with the Laymen's Missionary Movement (the most consummate piece of military organization this country has ever seen) are steps in the right direction. Our denomination has been fairly effective in small towns, suburban sections, and cities of the second class numerically, but it has absolutely failed to master the situation in our largest cities. You can count on one hand the churches of the first grade that are found in cities of the first grade. To cope with modern city problems we need the united front of a strong denominational organization. To have this, we must place
more authority in this National Council. All other organizations of the denomination must be made subservient to and auxiliaries of this central power, this supreme source of Congregational authority. This need not destroy our fellowship or our independency, but merely adds a third descriptive term to the circle of our efficiency, — Fellowship, Independency, Unity.
THE SOLIDARITY OF OUR CONGREGATIONAL
REV. FREDERICK LYNCH, NEW YORK, N. Y.
Any one who has much to do with denominations outside our own and the Baptists will have observed that the universal feeling is that there is no solidarity in Congregationalism. But there is a great deal. Sometimes I think there is as much as there is in some of the highly organized ecclesiastical systems, at least of a desirable kind. However this may be, I want to look forward and see the possibility of increasing solidarity, rather than discuss its present status. On one thing we are all agreed, and that is that there has been a growth of denominational consciousness in the last twenty-five years. Along what line shall our unique and efficient solidarity, our oneness as a denomination, our power as a united body to do great things, come?
It will not come in episcopal organization. We may give more power to the moderator, but there is not the slightest probability of his becoming an archbishop or a cardinal for at least a century. There is no sign of the National Council ever having power to force its will or decisions upon all the churches. There is no sign of the home missionary secretaries in our states becoming bishops except in the very beautiful sense of being a father to all the churches, as your Massachusetts secretary has been. Our solidarity will not come in ecclesiastical organization, although I believe that will grow.
It will not come in our standing as a denomination for any one theological attitude, liberal or conservative, or for any one interpretation of the Bible. That solidarity, if it ever existed, has gone forever. Even the Vatican, head of the greatest solidarity this world knows, finds itself sorely troubled at its recent inability to speak for the whole Roman Catholic Church on theology and Biblical criticism. Many protest at each infallible syllabus, and each syllabus is now called forth by a refusal of a growing body to abide by the last one. If this Con