Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Post-Assembly Conference

The Kane Republican | May 1934
Jesse Halsey | 1934

The tumult and the shouting dies, the Bishops and Elders depart and we are left in our solitude to take up our parish duties. What is the aftermath of the assembly for our churches and for us? Twenty odd of our ministers were gathered for breakfast and talked it over

To a couple of the older men it was a reminder of old times, for once upon a time not far remote this Presbytery was given to controversies, as it is now given to hospitality. The fire-works of the Assembly reminded us of the heresy and other trials here endured (and in a measure enjoyed, by the fathers, I verily believe). No doubt there were those in this Assembly who felt that the main business of the Church is the discussion of doctrinal issues—but such are in a minority. It is becoming evident that the Church is setting herself foreword to the Lord’s business and, that within a wide latitude, Christian men of good-will in Presbyterian circles must subordinate their jealous dogmatisms to their Lord and His work. Within tow decades this Presbytery has moved in that direction very vigorously and thoroughly—may it be a prophesy for the whole church.

Most of us feel that “social action,” though it looks good in print and will have a fair share in the minutes was not very near the heart of the Assembly. With the Naval maneuvers in full swing there is at least one commissioner who regrets that he spoke no word in protest, (and this commissioner has no over weaning confidence in resolutions). “The centre of interest in our denomination is “institutional rather than passional”—one man put it thus.”

Everyone spoke of the Moderator. How he towered above the situation; fair and firm; dignified and forceful; adequate always. (I should use quotation marks, for these were actual comments.) No piousity but real spiritual quality in all he siaid and did. He deserved the office and now, more than ever, he deserves the thanks fof his church.

Dr. Covert’s sermon was highly appreciated—“would that the Assembly had lived up to its spirit.” Dr. Speer’s ovation drew hearty approval. The curious attack on him (of all people); the wholesome reaction throughout the Church toward The Cause and its Senior Secretary; we talked about these things.

“A blood letting process, but necessary,” “two Assemblies have known just what they wanted to do,” “it had to be done.” Only one out of twenty felt that another year of “grace and conference” should have been allowed the “Machenites,” and this one was our arch-liberal who wants all shades of opinion and conviction sheltered within the fold. Most of us within the year have been converted to the necessity of the constitutional process, taking its course.

Our churches have profited by the Popular meetings, they have suffered by the newspaper publicity. Every missionary and secretarial address of presentation was an asset, some of the debates a liability. Old time politicians who looked in, have (half a dozen of them) said to the writer, in one form or another, “You could show us things”; “the church has nothing on us”; “your Moderator ought to be Speaker of the House.”

“We are glad they came”; “we are glad they are going out of Ohio next year”—our feelings are mixed, as must be those of every sincere Christian and Churchman—the distortion, the lack of perspective—these things trouble us all, but beneath and beyond the flotsam and jetsam is the steady tide and its set is forward.

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