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Third: The Commission is also sending, through the St. Andrew's Brotherhood, strong laymen who, as secretaries of the Y. M. C. A., place the emphasis of their work upon the Church boys and men-looking them up, bringing them into the religious life of the camp, corresponding with parents, doing everything in their power to be helpful. Thus there is brought into the camp a personal voluntary service which is human and without the limitations of the military system. These voluntary chaplains are, of course, in camp by the invitation of the Commandant.
Fourth: A great camp, which is really little less than a great city of men, is within three months built up beside a little country parish. The rector is swamped with his responsibility. Hence it is the duty of the War Commission to reinforce him by helping the Bishop to place a second man there, or in other ways.
Fifth Through a central office and a system of card cataloguing the War Commission hopes to keep parents and friends in touch with their sons and husbands in the service.
Sixth: In sending Bishop McCormick to France the War Commission is organizing upon the other side for such helpful service as the conditions open. It requires no imagination to suggest in how many ways Bishop McCormick and his helpers can keep the boys and men who are jeopardizing their lives for us, in sympathetic touch with their homes. This war is testing out the Church and unless we enable the men and boys of the Church to feel that in their hours of stress and danger they have the support of the Church, the grave question will arise as to what relations they will have to the Church when they return home.
In all of these plans it has been the purpose of the War Commission to encourage local effort as much as possible. It would be as impossible for the Commission to have under its supervision all the war work of the Church in this country as it would be for the Board of Missions to have under its supervision all of the diocesan missions of the country. The War Commission, therefore, confines itself to such general work and to such reinforcement of diocesan efforts where needed, as the circumstances demand.
The Call of the Laity.
BY THE RIGHT REVEREND CHARLES FISKE, D.D.
AT is a layman? We have been satisfied, too often, with a merely negative definition. The layman is a Churchman who is not in holy orders. That implies a good many other assumptions, all introduced by a not. Not a clergyman; therefore not specially called and chosen; not supposed to be living a specially consecrated life; not having a priest's responsibility; not expected to do certain things; not engaged actively in the service of the Church; not finding his chief joy and obligation in any work distinctly religious. Always it is assumed that some sharply drawn line quite naturally separates those who are in holy orders and those who are not; and the layman's life is therefore a lower one, his duties lighter, his path easier, his responsibility less clearly defined.
The editor of The American Church Monthly asks me to tell how we may develop a better laity. To plunge at once in medias res, the absolute requisite to the development of a stronger, more active and more influential lay membership is that we shall make the layman understand his real vocation and value. A writer in The Commonwealth, some years ago, pointed out that the laos were the whole people of God, the elect race, the royal priesthood, the holy nation. The laos were the whole elect race, the kletos the special charge allotted to any worker within the holy nation. In other words, so splendid and sacred a distinction was it to be within the people of God that no later distinctions within the Body were anything like as important.
That is the first point we need to emphasize. Religion is not the business of the man in holy orders to such an extent that the layman may leave to the clergy the real work of the Church while he concerns himself wholly and, as he imagines, necessarily, with secular things.
The error of the past has been that in emphasizing the need of the ministerial priesthood we have failed to show that it is the expression of the priesthood of the whole Body. The clergy
are representative of the corporate priesthood of all believers. They have a special function as ministers of the Word and Sacraments, but as such they are organs of the Body, the arm of the Church. As in our bodies different members have different offices, so in Christ's Body the Church. The Christian priesthood is not a caste or a class; the ideal of its ministry is not a class ideal. Clergyman and layman are alike members of the Body, each with his own office and work, each responsible for the advancement of the Kingdom.
Our tendency has been to proceed, perhaps unconsciously and unintentionally, on an opposite theory, so that religion and theology are supposed to be entirely an affair of the man in orders and gradually the whole work of the Church has been left in increasing measure to the clergy. The layman either knew nothing about it and lost interest, or did not understand the methods by which it was done and became utterly indifferent, or positively disapproved and grumbled or rebelled. He came to feel that the only thing that was expected of him, the only thing he was ever really called upon to do, was to supply the funds by which the work was carried on. Having done that (if perchance he did do it), he stepped aside and shunted all the responsibility to other shoulders, save in one or two instances where he came to feel that his gifts of money entitled him to a mild dictatorship in parochial affairs. Usually, however, there are few "lay popes." The general effect of the system is rather that clergy and people live in different worlds. The priest does not understand the layman's task, does not know his temptations, cannot enter into his thought. The layman cannot fathom the clerical mind. The clergyman is tempted to divorce doctrine from life; the layman to divorce life from doctrine. Meanwhile the life of the Church languishes and thought of the Church stagnates. In time, the original error has borne fruit in a false conception of clerical and lay ideals. The two standards of life are supposed to be entirely different, their conceptions of service as wide apart as the poles; the duty of discipleship is forgotten, and the clerical calling becomes a class by itself, with the terrible possibility that it may degenerate into
something purely official and professional; while the laity (all the rest of the Church) face the equally serious possibility that their religion may become formal and conventional, a mere nonchalant acceptance of truth, their faith and practice resting on authority alone, without experience, their individual obligation lost in a loose corporate idea. All of which sounds trite, commonplace and academic, of course. But as plain matter of fact it is vitally important and highly practical.
What has been the attitude of the clergy, for example, as to vestries, diocesan organizations, synods, even the general convention; especially, what has been the attitude of the clergy of the Catholic school? Half the parish troubles with which a Bishop's life is burdened come from the failure of the clergy to see in the vestry system not an evil to be bemoaned but splendid possibilities of service to be developed. A large proportion of the remaining half come from the criticisms of laymen who have never begun to do their own duty. ("The Church should do this" and "the Church should do that"-forgetful that the Church is not the clergy alone, nor a vague entity of some sort, but you and I and Smith and Brown and Jones.) Here we may take a leaf out of the Presbyterian book. Whatever of error may be faulted in the Presbyterian's system and however unscriptural and uncatholic may be its distinction of teaching and ruling elders (laymen holding eldership as an administrative office) did not the error spring out of a reaction from a fatally false conception of the ministry which emptied the work of the layman till there was left only a bit of negative nothingness? In revulsion against the degradation of lay membership, the Presbyterians have created an office, contrary to the apostolic rule, but at least giving the center around which has gathered a splendid body of lay people, with a keen sense of responsibility and a generous interest and activity in all good works. Laymen have their clearly marked duties in connection with congregational affairs: their work of administration in poor relief, giving them a knowledge of parochial life impossible with us, where meagre communion alms are administered by the rector alone; their privilege of consultation and
advice in the reception of converts into membership; even their measure of authority in matters of discipline.
Or, take the Methodists. The very soul of their system lay in the assumption of the responsibility by the lay people, who were class leaders, teachers, lay preachers-charged with the work of Church extension, concerned particularly with the instruction and training of new members, given distinct responsibility for the evangelization of their particular bit of the world, and called to "come out and be separate" in a consecrated life, with a book of discipline that set before them a very high, even though mistakenly puritanical standard of holiness.
Why not learn some of these lessons from the past, and earnestly endeavor to restore to the layman his place and importance -particularly, as we have had, all along, the correct theory in our own ecclesiastical system, with possibilities of co-operation such as no other system affords? We might begin with the vestry and make use of it in the development of a lay strength that shall make of each parish, not a field only, but a force; and compel the parson to become a captain of industry as well as a spiritual chaplain, the head of an energetic band of workers to whom he gives, as prophet, the inspiration for service, for whom, as a priest, he pleads the perpetual sacrifice and to whom he ministers grace that they may be strong to serve? Let the vestryman know that he counts for something. With him as a beginning, let all the lay strength of the parish be enrolled in service. Not only give the men something to do, but let them do it and do it in their own way, without interference or over guidance. The real reason why more men do not work is because we insist upon keeping them subordinate and even when we assign them tasks make the assignment with a proviso, as if we feared to trust them or really did not expect them to secure results. The vestry should be made an advisory board; gradually responsibility should be thrust upon them. There should be committees on church extension; investigation and report of possible forward work; the organization of parochial hospitality committees and educational enterprises; committees for parochial canvass, not for money, but for men; fellowship cam