The Congregational Reconstruction -- By: Henry A. Stimson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 068:270 (Apr 1911)
Article: The Congregational Reconstruction
Author: Henry A. Stimson

The Congregational Reconstruction

Henry A. Stimson, D.D.

For some time there has been a growing unrest among the Congregational churches of the United States as to the relation of their great Missionary Societies to the churches, and as to the possibilities of the National Council. This has expressed itself from time to time both in the triennial meetings of the Council, and in the annual meetings of the Societies that have been moved to make rather frequent changes in their forms of organization. Recognizing that this unrest has justification, the Council has appointed various committees to consider different phases of the question, but up to its meeting last autumn in Boston nothing very definite was done. At that meeting the Council formally adopted the Brotherhood Movement, and the work of a somewhat sporadic Apportionment Committee which had so far advanced as to secure approval, and become a clear necessity. Having taken these two important steps, in administration, with the manifest purpose of developing the work and of becoming more emphatically an administrative body than it had been in the past, the Council proceeded to create a Commission of Nineteen under the following charter: “In view of the conflict of opinion re-

garding changes in the methods of national administration which this Council should adopt, your Committee on Polity recommends that the Council appoint a carefully chosen Commission on Polity of not less than fifteen members, empowered to consider the questions on which this Council is in doubt; to develop a consistent scheme of national activity; to test its conclusions, if necessary, by a referendum to the churches, and to submit to the next Council a constitution and by-laws which shall adequately express the will of the denomination.”

The appointment of this Commission has quickened interest in the questions under discussion, and has lifted the whole matter into what may be called the realm of “practical politics.” It must now’ be considered with the seriousness of questions upon the deciding of which large interests are at stake. It is therefore very desirable to clear the field if possible for a wide and intelligent discussion among the churches, to remove misunderstandings and to get the facts clearly before the minds of all.

Already we hear the protesting term, “Presbyterianizing,” as in other relations we have heard “Episcopalianizing.” It is desirable to show in a word the entire inappropriateness of both these terms whenever applied to our Congregational affairs. The essential fact in all forms of pure Episcopal organization is the theory that the priest or the minister creates the church; while with all non-episcopal churches the ...

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