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Alfred Williams Anthbny

Kinds and Kindliness

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Anthony, Alfred Williams,

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Kinds and Kindliness



Interdenominational Problems


Chairman of the Commission on State and Local

Federations of the Federal Council of the

Churches of Christ in America,

Secretary of the Interdenominational
Commission of Maine.


Lewiston, Maine



The following pages were prepared as the basis of
an address to be given at the Eighth Annual Meet-
ing of the Home Missions Council, which was held
in New York City, January 12, 13 and 14, 1915, and
are printed in the Eeport of that Council.

The subject-matter has been presented by me in
varying forms, both oral and printed, on platforms
from Maine to Oregon, and in pamphlets of the
Interdenominational Commission of Maine and of
the Federal Council of Churches. My sufficient
apology for repetition is what seems to me the
necessity of giving ''precept upon precept; line upon
line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little",
until in some form these fundamental definitions and
underlying principles of cooperation become common
property. I alone am responsible for the printing
of these statements in the present form.

It is a useful service to promote an understanding
of terms and of the fields of action; it is a greater
to put into practice the principles of Christian
comity and cooperation. They who do the latter,
with kindliness and grace, become incarnations of
the spirit of Christ.


Lewiston, Maine.

Copies for distribution may be had gratuitously.


Federations Function in Four Different Spheres.

First. — In the national sphere, wherein the units
are national, denominational organizations, the
functioning is strictly interdenominational, national,
and of world reach. Creeds are undisturbed, in-
dividual convictions unaffected, and the relationship
and activities of the local church influenced remotely
and indirectly, if at all.

Second. — In State Federations, wherein the con-
stituent units are fragments of denominations,
organized as state bodies under the denominational
name, the functioning naturally is co-ordinated with
the functioning of the state denominational bodies
themselves, and these are largely home missionary in
character. The state denominational bodies organ-
ize churches, receive churches into fellowship, aid
weak churches, and conduct campaigns of education
and inspiration common to the entire membership of
churches; while they occasionally represent the
entire membership of their churches in appeals to
outside or unecclesiastical bodies, as for example the
Legislature, in seeking permissive acts or statutes
for common welfare. The state federation there-
fore, finds its natural sphere of activity in the
domain of comity, that is, in establishing right
relations between state denominational bodies as
they conduct their home mission enterprises. Since,
however, nearly all denominations carry on their
home mission work, not only through the state
organizations, but with larger resources and farther
reaching plans, through a national society or a
national board, the full expression of a state federa-
tion calls for the coincident co-operation of both
the state denominational body and the national
society or board of home missions. In this latter
direction state federations have as yet scarcely
moved. In Colorado the only federation is a Council

of the officers representing the state bodies and also
closely in touch with the national bodies. In Utah
in Februar}', 1914, a plan was outlined putting for the
first time a state federation fully in touch with both
the state and the national home mission bodies of
the different denominations. Whether, however, the
state federation reaches to the national home
mission bodies, or not, the subjects of its considera-
tion and service are chiefly of the following forms:
Shall one church withdraw for the sake of another?
Shall two or more churches in the same community
combine? Shall denominational agents confer in
order that they may not conflict in carrying out
their plans? Shall the separate denominations
assume peculiar responsibility for special classes or
specific communities? Shall courtesy and considera-
tion prevail between denominations and their agents
such as should obtain between Christian gentlemen?
Shall combination and co-operation take the place of
competition and strife?

Third. — In cities and large villages the function
of a federation is partly ecclesiastical and partly
sociological, ecclesiastical when it arranges parish
boundaries, censuses and surveys, when it conducts
union campaigns of evangelism and of reform, when
it establishes institutes of instruction, either for
teacher training or for vacation Bible Schools, when
it plans for united or accordant movements into the
slums, or into the suburbs; it is sociological when it
undertakes to bring a united Christian and church
conscience to bear upon the problems of poverty,
crime, the social evil, education, law and order, tene-
ment housing, the wage earner and his welfare.
All of these objects have entered into the program
of city federations. These entail a sphere of activ-
ity and of functioning distinct from that of the
federation in the national or state sense of the term.

Fourth. — In the local community, the small vil-
lage, the hamlet, or the rural community as such,
the function of federation is to deal more largely
with the individual, at least with the individual in
the small groups of the small church and the small
neighborhood. Here the main problem is, how may

men and women, under the influence of inherited
customs and traditions, with the bias of long con-
tinued practice and habits, and with the narrow
vision of those whose experience is monotonous and
observation scant, how can such people, preserving
their individuality, combine in common worship and
common service?

In this last sphere is the function of federation
most important. Unless wasteful strife, bigoted
pigheadedness, and the bitter dogmatic denuncia-
tion, which sadly characterized some small communi-
ties a few years ago, can terminate, much of the talk
respecting federation is vapid and meaningless.
The real test of the substance of our dreams is the
practical application of the principle in the small
community. Is the practical application possible?

The. answer is, Yes.

In the first place churches and Christians in local
communities have actually combined. They have
combined in one of these four different forms of
church: (1) The Denominational Church. In many
cases members of different denominations have will-
ingly enrolled themselves under the standard of an-
other denomination for the sake of uniting all
Christians in a given community for common tasks
and common worship. The denominational church
thus established by the surrender of some for the
sake of all has been proven the best type of feder-
ated church. The federation of Christians in their
own hearts has no superior. In some states, notably
Maine, a plan of reciprocity, first proposed about
ten years ago, has made this surrender and this^
merging of interests easier because an effort has:
been made to give to the denomination surrendering
a church or a name in one community, an equal or
similar advantage in another community; and have
the denomination which gains in one place yield in
another. This "give and take," this reciprocal
exchange, establishes a sense of fair play, of equity
and justice which makes the task easier for all con-
cerned. Those who surrender do so the more readily
when they realize that by their sacrifice members of
their own order gain in some other community.

Denominational leaders and agents more readily
yield advantage at one spot since they acquire ad-
vantage at another; and denominational statistics,
the bete noire and bugbear of spiritual reform, re-
ceive compensations in gains to offset losses.

(2) The Multi-Denominational Church, or the
Federated Church, has been tested in many com-
munities all across the continent, notably in Massa-
chusetts. This is a union of two or more ecclesi-
astical organizations under one pastor, usually in one
meeting house, as one congregation, with common
local functions but with separate denominational
associations and allegiances. This form of federa-
tion withdraws nothing from denominational rosters,
loses none of the advantages of denominational
organization, oversight, and missionary enterprises;
yet consolidates the Christians of the community for
all local church purposes.

(3) The Interdenominational Church, or the
Church of Federated Christians, exists in some
places where the conditions of residence or the
sentiments of the people prevent either the Denomi-
national Church or the Multi-Denominational
Church. In the Inter-Denominational Church in-
dividuals, without severing membership in churches
elsewhere, combine for local church purposes. It
may be that they are residing for but a short period
within the community. It may be that there are
but a few of each faith and creed, too few for a
local organization, and yet too tenacious of convic-
tions and customs for compromise and surrender, or
possibly too far apart to find, at the outset at least,
common meeting ground. This form of church, how-
ever, lacks denominational leadership and affiliation
with the outside organized forms of Christianity.

(4) The ''Union Church" in our present cate-
gory may properly be classified as the Un-Denomi-
uational Church. This is purely a local church,
sustaining no denominational connection. Such a
church as this has been tried in many communities
for a long term of years; and in almost every in-
stance has been found unsatisfactory. Nine serious
charges can be brought against it: (a) It lacks

associational fellowship; (b) it lacks outside super-
vision; (c) it lacks an adequate source of ministerial
supply; (d) it has no approved literature, and helps
create none; (e) it has no connection with religious
education in a responsible way, by helping to sup-
port academies, colleges, theological schools, and
seminaries; (f) it carries on no Home Mission work
for the Immigrants, the Indian, the Negroes, or for
the pioneer and needy settlements of the country;
(g) it has no wide vision of world tasks and the
extension of the Kingdom of Christ amongst all
nations; (h) ordinarily it lacks an adequate system
of truth; many denominational churches may fail to
receive instruction of any large and comprehensive
character, but the Union Church necessarily fails of
it; and (i) in experience the Union Church has
proven to be, unfortunately too many times, a
church of discord and dissention. These are serious
charges, and so nearly true are they that well-
wishers of a community no longer advise the estab-
lishment of a Union Church; but seek rather the
formation of one of the previously described types
of churches, preferably the Denominational, if not
that then the Multi-Denominational or Federated-
Church, and if not that then the Inter-Denomina-
tional Church, rather than the Union Church; but
the Union Church is better than no form of local
federation whatever.

It is of the utmost importance that denominational
leaders, from the highest national councils down to
the lowest local stewardship, should recognize the
fact that federation does not involve the disregard
of denominational standards and denominational
organizations. On the contrary, federation from top
to bottom honors denominationalism, advocates the
maintenance of denominational organizations, and
fidelity to denominational standards. Denomina-
tionalism within the scope of federation is just as
possible as is the right of private judgment within
the membership of a single church. Federation
rests upon as sound a religious philosophy as does
Protestantism. Only a papist insistence upon inflex-
ible conformity and unvarying iteration precludes
the federation of Christians and the federation of
Christian churches. Denominational leaders must

recognize the fact that federation in its logical out-
come and in its practical application, while calling
for concession, surrender, and even sacrifice, yet
entails at the same time fair play, advantageous
gains, and favorable opportunities. It has in it the
principles of justice which underly all genuine ex-
pressions of courtesy and comity.

So far as the individual Christian is concerned
federation does him no injustice, even when by its
application he severs connection with the denomina-
tion of his choice, and becomes connected with a
denomination which would not be his primary pref-
erence. For all churches exercise in reality common
social functions. These common social functions
are: (1) the church is a social center of acquaint-
ance and friendship, where the human touch pre-
vails; (2) the church is a great educational institu-
tion in which the proclamation of truth, the explana-
tion of principles of life, and the inculcation of
personal duties are constant themes; (3) the church
is a place of worship, where the deepest and most
profound emotions are stirred in the sense of awe,
and in expressions of adoration and praise; and (4)
the church is the means of ministry and service in
the community, the place where Christians combine
in united good-will and good deeds. These several
functions are the common functions of all churches,
of whatever denomination.

Why then should men stand apart? Must they
because of reasons unchanging and irreconcilable?
The causes which keep men apart in different com-
munions appear fundamental in character; but are
not so far-reaching as at first appears. They are:
(1) difference in temperament; and by temperament
is meant those qualities of mind and heart with
which men are born; but these undergo changes in
process of time; (2) differences in tastes; and by
tastes one means, of course, the results of cultiva-
tion, education, and habits; all of these, inasmuch as
they have grown, are capable of alteration; (3)
dift'erences in opinions, shading off into convictions,
doctrines, and creeds; all of these at bottom, and at
best, are but opinions, interpretations of Scripture
and of revelation in all of its forms; and these, too,
if vital, are subject to change; and (4) personal


pride, for at root that tenacity, with which people
hold to their sect, to their traditions, to their places
and their positions, is but that self-complacency and
self-assurance which is j^roperly called pride.

These four distinctions do keep Christians apart,
but they are not final nor fatal. Men can worship
together and work together and be members of one
organization, even though they have different tem-
peraments, have cultivated different tastes, and
entertain widely differing opinions. Will they fore-
go their pride? Within a single denomination, in-
deed within a single church, there may be as great
differences of opinion as exist between the central
convictions of denominations themselves. Each
denomination has its right wing, and its left wing;
its liberals and its conservatists. We do not need
to be alike in order to be in one organization. A
federation calls for scarcely larger charity than a
single church may demand. And this is true of
federations as of churches — fraternity, intimacy of
contact, co-operation in service, produce confidence,
kindness, and a kind of conformity; for the law of
assimilation operates; and unlikes approximate each
other in the domain of friendly tolerance.

In promoting federations of any kind or descrip-
tion several kindly cautions must not be overlooked:

1. Good feeling, above all else, must be preserved.
How can the spirit of justice, and of courtesy, and
kindness prevail, if irritation has been produced,
animosity aroused, and ill will engendered. An
ideal thing or condition must not be urgently in-
sisted upon, if the insistanee becomes offensive to
any. No good thing is worth while if obtained by a
domineering personality, who disregards either the
rights or the feeling of others. Dismiss your Pope
and the Northeast wind, if you are seeking to pro-
mote a federation; and introduce your Christian
gentleman and the sunshine of the balmy isles!

2. It is never wise to look for the full fruit first.
The federation should begin at the beginning; and
the beginning of each federation is close to the
actual conditions just as they are. A conference, an
occasional gathering, a friendly cup of tea, an


exchange of pulpits, courtesy and acquaintance are
beginnings enough, if hitherto they have been lack-
ing. The spirit of grace must have expression, the
spirit of Christ must win its place in human hearts.
Men must be sweet-spirited, affable, approachable,
at least tolerant. He who deems himself alone per-
fect and thinks his own church the sole possessor of
all the oracles of God has the task of beginning with
himself, to bring himself into harmony with the
other sons of God, if he would promote good-will and
concord amongst the disciples of Christ.

3. It is unwise to begin with an elaborate pro-
gram, perchance in imitation of some other federa-
tion which has outlined an ideal plan. One thing,
or a few things, in which all, or even a majority,
can agree, is better than a multitude of things how-
ever perfect ideally they may be, if they be too
numerous for unanimity of sentiment and concentra-
tion of purpose. Too many enterprises, although
worthy each of itself, entail too many committees,
too cumbersome an organization and frequently too
much expense, for the numbers and the degree of
interest involved. Then a failure follows which
could have been foretold by a wise prophet, and
should have been avoided by a wise leader.

4. It is not right to trespass upon the domain of
organizations already existing, even though they be
}>artially dormant and to many unsatisfactory. It is
a wise rule for a federation never to do what some
other agency is doing, or will do, for the federation
should not spring into life for the sake of combating
some other organization, or entering into competi-
tion with it. Its characteristic function is to co-
ordinate, not to coerce, not to suppress, the activities
of other bodies. It must be larger in mind and
genius, more charitable in spirit than all others.
It should stimulate activity, prevent conflict and
clashing and substitute for competition co-operation.

5. One cannot say too plainly, nor too often, that
the chief virtue is patience — Christian patience.
We must wait for the slowest person in the pro-
cession, if we are to maintain unity and promote the
spirit of harmonious co-operation. What gain is


there if the head of the column unites with the head
of another column, and there be a break midway in
the line of march? What advantage is there to have
the leaders of four groups of men combine, when
the followers remain in their four camps, and the
union results simply in the creation of a fifth camp?
What profit is there in cutting off all the men of
vision and broad charity from their followers, who
need their sympathy, their oversight, and their care?
Is federation abroad desirable if there be lack of
unison at home? There is grave danger to-day lest
our Federal Council be an organization of a few
without the intelligent understanding and support
of the great denominations behind their representa.
tives. There is danger lest in our state federations
there be a few men of each denomination, broad and
charitable themselves, who have broken company with
their own fellows and associates. There is danger,
indeed, lest in a local community a few of the chosen
spirits find fellowship together while the sum total
of worshippers and adherents upon the church is not
increased. We must be patient; we must move
slowly; we must bring up the rear and gather in the
stragglers. It is no disgrace, if one denomination
finds itself handicapped with laggards more than
another. Patience must persevere, charity should
never fail.



Kinds and kindliness of co-operation

Princeton Theological Setninary-Speer Library

; 1 1012 00052 2260



Online LibraryAlfred Williams AnthonyKinds and kindliness of co-operation. Interdenominational problems .. → online text (page 1 of 1)