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Chapel services, G.
letter, McIlvaine, Bedell, church
Bedell, Bishop, "Letter to C. P. McIlvaine" (1864). Charles Pettit McIlvaine Letters. 82.
Private + Confidential
Do not mention the subject or contents of this to any one; by no means to Clements.
You will remember my brief allusion to Gambier Parish affairs, when you were here. It is evident that Br: Newton has no clear ideas of his position in reference to the Institutions; nor, as it seems, his responsibility for ministrations to the students. The Parish is put forth constantly as the main thing to be attended to. [E.G.] he considers the little Sunday school as practically of more consequence than the College students + others; for on 2d Sund: in month he preaches a sermon distinctively to “children” and deprives the students of their regular appt services.
In our Catalogue, under the head “Religious Exercises” it is stated that the students are required to attend service twice on Sunday. This pledge cheers + assures the heart of every pious parent. But Br: Newton, without consulting the faculty, + contrary to the President’s remonstration, attend the custom, by apptg. this ^ afternoon ^ service “for children” instead of the ^ regular evening ^ service for students. The Pres: properly refused to require attendance, because ti had not been custom, because this service was not suited to the students, + because it would have caused an outbreak among the students — a thing by all means to be avoided.
On the question of suitableness, I have attended twice. They are good “children’s sermons”; but the style of delivery, hymns sung, a general effect, are such, as could not fail of being distasteful to college students generally.
The results are these.
Theol: students + others, who go out to Missions in the afternoon, have only one service + sermon. Other students rarely attend ^ “children’s church” ^ — perhaps six or eight from the college. The rest, have only one service + sermon on that day. The students generally, (irreligious especially,) have no supervision on that day, from 12 noon ^ on ^ Sunday, until 7 next morning, Monday. For there are no College prayers on Sunday afternoon. Of course, they can go to Mt Vernon, or elsewhere, or engage in what secularities, (or worse,) they please.
I think parents would be shocked to know, that, even once a month, such things were allowed.
Now, the thing to be done, is, to restore the regular evening service on that day. There is no necessity for breaking up the children’s church. I should be sorry for that. But, if Br: Newton is not strong enough for three sermons, there are PResbyters enough on the hill to relieve him once a month.
It seems to me that it should be restored distinctly on the ground that it is a college requirement; + the Chaplain ^ is ^ expected to provide for it, by the terms of his appointment + support.
It seems to me to fall under the Law which gives to you supervision of religious culture in ^ the ^ Institutions, and to the faculty the duty of regulations therefore. In these relations the Chaplain is an officer of faculty, responsible to them + to the President, + acting by their advice + his. The position is not anomalous. I suppose all chaplains so act. The complication arises from his being also Rector of an outside (inside, all-sided) Parish. But the view above later is plain + legal, + is that which I understand you to take. If any ^ further ^ enactment is necessary the Trustees had better settle it, for all time.
On this subject Br Newton + I have not exchanged a word. He arrived in Sept:, I in January. The change had been made when I reached here, + trouble had arisen. As I am not ultimate authority, I referred the President to you. As you here expected speedily, it was delayed until your visit. When ^ subsequently ^ you wrote me that you had written to Brother Newton, I took for granted all was settled. But was greatly disappointed, on the Sunday after your letter, to hear the same notice for omitting evening services. The President also was astonished, for he evidently expected that your letter would settle the difficulty.
In two weeks from next Sunday, ^ 2d Sund: in March, ^ another of these occasions will arrive. And soon after, the students will go home for Easter vacation. I think we ^ (you + I) ^ both will feel mortified, if they tell their parents, that religious services have been diminished, that they go scot free once a month from Sund: noon until Mond: morning, + that Chapel is closed on Sunday night once a month, although frequently a Bishop, + always half a dozen Presbyters, are sitting idly + silently at home.
It is less important, but indicative of the general idea of the Children’s Church, that, on that occasion, every body, students + all in the body of the Church, are put out of their pews to give seats to the children. Evidently then, it is not such a service as the Trustees contemplate for the departments under their care.
This arrangement is necessary + wise for “children’s church”; but it shows that it is not a substitute for our regular service for students. The same sort of misconception has led to another difficulty. Brother Newton considers himself as Rector. Consequently he claims (to me) that he has the entire disposal of Rosse Chapel, except on the one occasion which is excepted by law, Commencement Day: + ^ he ^ more than intimated an intention, hereafter, to close it against excercises on Feb: 22, + ^ against such ^ a meeting (to subscribe for the draft) as we held after the usual services on that evening. In other words that he is the sole Judge of propriety, + source of permission for, opening the Rosse Chapel, except on Commencement Day.
The difficulty originated thus. The Pres: + students visited me to preside + conduct the religious exercises, as they have always done, for the five years that I have been present. And as I suppose was proper, seeing that, as your representative, I ought to be treated as you would expect to be were you present. I saw immediately on entering the Chapel that Br: Newton was annoyed by this. He afterwards implied as much. But further; the President had not thought it necessary to consult him about using the Chapel for these exercises, or about the order of them, inasmuch as they are matters of custom, and have always been left to the students under the President’s direction.
Brother Newton was annoyed by this.
But, shortly previous to the meeting, while the Pres: was with me, Mr. Neff called to ask whether we would object to holding a meeting “after the benediction,” for the purpose of avoiding the draft? He explained, that 10 [16?] men had been obtained + we needed only 2 more at a cost of $250. And that this would free all the students of all schools + the faculties. (Charley, by the way contrary to your expectation was enrolled here). Both the PRes: + I thought the plan a good one ^ + the object to be attained very important. ^ It was carried out successfully. The money was raised, + the college township is free of both calls.
But Br: Newton was annoyed that he was not consulted; + attacked me in a very unseemly manner afterwards, for “having asserted, as if I had a right ^ (which he entirely denied) ^ + having ignored him!
No doubt, it would have been courteous ^ in Mr Neff ^ to have consulted him about this extra meeting, because it was something outside of the usual customs. But that it was necessary I entertain no idea. I did not assume to exercise any authority in the matter; supposing that the President had full authority over the building on that evening.
Unfortunately, Mr. Neff ^ in his speech ^ mentioned my assent, ^ as well as that of the President, ^ although I had requested him to say nothing about me, and although I took the precaution to leave the platform, when Mr Neff went on it to present the draft matter.
My opinion is; that, while courtesy may + ought to lead to consultation with the chaplain on such occasions, his consent is not necessary. He has no Rectorial rights over Rosse Chapel, ^ unless by tacit consent of Trustees. ^ When needed by the authorities — Seminary or College — for proper academical purposes, they have a right to use it, as “property of the Institution.” And that the Bishop, in the place of the Trustees, is the Judge, if any doubt should arise.
On this point, I want your opinion + advice. The above is the explanation which I made to Brother Newton. I do not think he was satisfied. And certainly I do not want to do him an injustice, nor to stand in a false position.
My judgement would be, that, if the Trustees have parted with the right of employing their own college chapel for proper purposes, they had better resume the right as soon as possible. And that in case of doubt as to the use, ^ on any special occasions ^ the Trustees, or their representative, must hold the decision in his hand. If there be no ultimate authority, where so many Institutions are collected, and so many varied interests cluster, there will be room for interminable quarrelling. Unless the chaplain feels bound to act by advice of the President, and if necessary to submit to the faculties, in matters relating to the college + Sem: + Grammar School: Unless the Institutions have a right to use one Hall for proper purposes, except on hours of apptd service: and unless, in all these relations the Trustees (and their Representatives) are ultimate — I see continued bickering, contention, + entire want of a quiet habitual system of religious culture + custom.
I enclose a letter received from my old friend, a Warden at West Chester Pa., the Parish I once held, + from which Brother Newton comes.
It is funny, smart, photographical; I wish we had recd it at an earlier date. It is wonderfully accurate as deliveration of character; studious, over-working, sensitive, suspicious, exacting, earnestly pious, evangelical, [crotechy? [sic]] in theological opinions, but a remarkable analyst of Scripture, + conscientious. You will be very much amused with the description, and very much enlightened as to the man. Perhaps it may help as to the manner of approaching him.
Return it, if you please.
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