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Being wholly unofficial so far as the executive system is concerned, and without ambitions in that direction, the writer nevertheless has followed the movement from the first with the intense interest of one who has seen some ideas long entertained by himself and others, put to the test of practice, and has seen them work. I feel confident that those who have made the most serious charges against the Church's system, do not thoroughly understand its spirit, aim and method. I have therefore tried, in two articles to deal: First, with the charge of unsound finance, under the caption of Fr. Haydn's phrase, "In the hands of Promoters." The other charge, that of substituting human expedient for Divine prompting, I shall try to meet with an article under the caption, "Mending the Net," in allusion to Fr. Haydn's quotation, "They sacrifice to their net, and burn incense to their drag." The first will take up more in detail certain financial inaccuracies underlying the first general criticism; the second will go more into the historic background and significance of this new stage in the life of the American Church.
IN THE HANDS OF PROMOTERS.
"The Church is in the hands of promoters, and we must learn, what the business world has learned, to be wary of the visions and promises of promoters. They have their uses; they are able to arouse enthusiasm; they are temperamentally unsuited to the administration of funds."
I select this passage from the article by the Rev. Theodore Haydn in the April Church Monthly entitled "Seeing the Wheels Go Round," because they seem to me fairly to express and summarize certain recent criticisms of the Church's financial policy, as initiated by the General Convention at Detroit, and administered by the Presiding
Bishop and Council. These criticisms were first given serious public expression (so far as the writer knows) in a letter (made public without its author's consent before it was sent to its destination) addressed to the Presiding Bishop by the Bishop-Coadjutor of Central New York; and were followed up by more detailed criticisms by Fr. Haydn. A careful reading of Bishop Fiske's letter and of Fr. Haydn's article will show that the object was not merely to correct mistakes made by officials, but to expose what the critics evidently believed to be fatal defects in the executive system itself. In Bishop Fiske's letter this condemnation of the executive system is implied rather than expressed, in the fact that he included the cost of the departments of Religious Education, Social Service and Publicity, under the head of "overhead charges"; and that, on the basis of this classification, he described the 1921 budget appropriations for these items as "appallingly disproportionate" to the total amount hoped for. If these departments can justify their cost only by increasing the total amount available for missions, then they might be regarded as too expensive; but if they are doing a work in itself worth supporting, then extravagance cannot be proved merely by the fact that at least one-fifth of the total budget is devoted to these objects.
The only assumption upon which Bishop Fiske's charge of extravagance could seem tenable is that the cost of the departments of Religious Education, Social Service and Publicity is sheer waste, unless it increases revenue for missions. And this general view, seemingly implicit in Bishop Fiske's letter, becomes explicit in Fr. Haydn's article. We are not only in the hands of promoters, but the whole scheme which the Church has adopted is unsafe and untrustworthy. "We have sat startled and amazed, or listless and inert, while they have adroitly pushed their
programs through conventions" says Fr. Haydn, thereby intimating that the whole Executive Organization was "put over" on the Church by "unsafe" people while the "reliable" leaders of the Church were napping. The real motive of the N. W. C. movement, the driving power of the executive machinery of the Church, is a curious mixture of worldly adroitness in group-psychology, and childish glee in seeing the "wheels go round." The methods were slavishly borrowed from the Presbyterians and Methodists, and tend inevitably toward absolute Vaticanism. Bishops and priests, hearty prelates and sonorous rectors of large city parishes are being transformed into piping and chittering marionettes, pulled hither and yon by strings manipulated from chairs in the 281 Fourth Avenue offices. In the Golden Age not long ago "the parish priest used to have freedom of initiative; he was prophet, priest and king in his parish, answerable solely to his bishop" (when he was not, it may be added, studying the ecclesiastical eccentricities of social and financial leaders in his parish, and avoiding conflict with them). "Now there is an endeavor to standardize him" (by giving him substantial moral and material support in his efforts to correct parochialism, and vindicate the claims of the whole Church upon the local parish).
Fundamentally, it seems to me the Bishop's letter and the priest's article, are based on a misconception of the object of the Nation-Wide Campaign, and of the considerations which led General Convention to create the Executive agency of the Presiding Bishop and Council, with its departments. The professed object of the whole movement and its official embodiment, is, "to inform the mind and awaken the conscience." The criticisms we are considering do not seem to take this profession at its face value. They do not judge the movement by these criteria. They
do not say that the movement fails to give needed information to Church-folk who need and desire it; nor do they charge that there has been a general failure on the part of the movement to awaken the consciences of Church people. If they had asserted that important information about the Church's tasks was being withheld, that the most pertinent and challenging truths were not being published and told, it would have been a grave charge. Or, if they had said that there were few signs of awakened conscience in the parishes and Dioceses reached by the movement, it would have been a very serious criticism. The critics do not in the least object to Church-folk being informed of how many million unshepherded Episcopalians are in the West Indies, or about the drift into irreligion of foreign populations in our country; nor do they say that too much or too little is being said about unbelief in College circles, and the loss to the Church through drift of population. Nor are we told that information on the conditions with which the Church has to deal, was unconvincingly presented in the campaigns, and the bulletins and other publications, so that the facts were accepted too stolidly and complacently by most Church people reached by the movement. Between the lines of the criticisms, we seem to find it assumed that something really has happened in the American Church; that somewhere there is new machinery, and that it has not been allowed to rust.
The assumption behind these criticisms is, that the movement and the Church's system must be looked upon as an elaborate scheme for meeting past deficits, and getting funds to support merely the foreign and domestic missions already established. Behind this assumption seems to be a conception of the Church's work, which it would not be fair to credit the critics themselves with habitually entertaining. Of course they know, and they must
habitually act on the truth that the Church is not supported by money, nor by people gifted in finance at all. It is supported by people who have consecrated their time and their career to God in the work of the Church. It is supported by the clergy, and by those who help the clergy do what the Church is doing, in prayer, in extending Christian knowledge, and in service to God and man. The crisis of the Church in the world has nothing to do with the number of "ministers" who are taking up secular occupations, as though the Church must compete with the world in "wage scales," or "lose out." A priest with a real vocation would keep on supporting the Church and offering the Holy Sacrifice, in life and at the altar, whether or not he had to earn his living with his hands or in an insurance agency. The vitality of the Church depends on the fact that there is a good proportion of priests who would continue to support the Church with consecrated service, whether the Church gave them a living salary or not. Imagine somebody trying to prove that race-suicide and the decay of the maternal instinct will overtake us unless husbands combine to give liberal pocket allowances to their wives! The permanence of the mother-instinct depends on the persistence of faith and reverence toward the dignity of human nature; the permanence of the priesthood depends upon faith and adoration toward the mystery of the Incarnation and its implications. On the rock of that faith, Christ built His Church.
And in spite of the ease with which its method can be misrepresented and misunderstood, the N. W. C. movement is built upon no other foundation than the foundation of the Church. Its whole basis has been that it is faith in Christ and consecration to Christ, that supports the Church; and that the rank and file of Church membership, once they are informed of the superhuman task that