William Howard MelishIn the Crucible

William Howard Melish

W.E.B. DuBois, a neighbor of William Howard Melish's Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn Heights (NY), writes in his Autobiography (1968):

"Howard Melish is one of the few Christian clergymen for whom I have the highest respect. Honest and conscientious, believing sincerely in much of the Christian dogma, which I reject, but working honestly and without hypocrisy, for the guidance of the young, for the uplift of the poor and ignorant, and for the betterment of his city and his country, he has been driven from his work and his career ruined by a vindictive bishop of his church, with no effective protest from most of the Christian ministry and membership or of the people of the United States. The Melish case is perhaps at once the most typical and frightening illustration of present American religion and my reaction. Here is a young man of ideal character, of impeccable morals; a hard worker, especially among the poor and unfortunate, with fine family relations. His father had helped build one of the most popular Episcopal churches in the better part of Brooklyn. He himself had married a well-educated woman, and had three sons in school. The community about it was changing from well-to-do people of English and Dutch descent, to white-collar and laboring folk of Italian, Negro and Puerto Rican extraction. Trinity church, under the Melishes, adapted itself to changing needs, and invited neighborhood membership. It was not a large church, but it was doing the best work among the young and foreign-born of any institution in Brooklyn.

"The young rector took one step for which the bishop, most of his fellow clergymen and the well-to-do community, with its business interests, pilloried him. He joined and became an official of the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship. He was accused immediately of favoring communism, and to appease criticism he gave up his official position in this organization, but refused to resign his membership. Allegedly for this reason the bishop, most of the clergy and the well-to-do community proceeded to force him out of the church. The real reason behind their fight was anger because a rich, white, "respectable" church was being surrendered to workers and Negroes. It became a renewed battle between Episcopal authority and democratic rule. That his parish wanted to retain Melish as rector was unquestionable. Through the use of technicalities in the canon law and in accord with the decision of [Roman] Catholic judges who believed in Episcopal power, Howard Melish lost his church, had his life work ruined, the church itself closed, and its local influence ended. There was vigorous protest against this by a few devoted colleagues, many of them Jews and liberals. But the great mass of the Episcopal church membership was silent and did nothing."

The "heavy" in the case was the Bishop of Long Island, the Rt. Rev. James P. DeWolfe, an Anglo-Catholic with a very high sense of his own episcopal importance. As a friend has written, "My Catholic sympathies would naturally have been with him, but his harrying of the Melishes made him an unlovely character." As Melish was of a very "low-church" persuasion, the bishop appeared to be making it a "Catholic" vs. "Protestant" issue as well as a political one. But as Melish points out in his Strength for Struggle, "One can see . . how much more difficult the situation was made for the bishop when nearly a score of men from the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church rose to our defense and shared in the maintaining of the services. They acted so unobtrusively that our own people were surprised beyond words when they were told of the personal attitudes and customs of these ministers when in their own parishes." The English Anglican Socialist, Stanley Evans, became one of his strongest and most dependable supporters.

Howard Melish went on to work with Carl and Ann Braden in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, where he continued to suffer attacks on his character by the likes of Jesse Helms.


The Ship's Prow
from Strength for Struggle; Christian social witness in the crucible of these times, by William Howard Melish. New York, Bromwell Pr., 1953

In his epic of the old whaling days, "Moby Dick," Herman Melville says that there stood in New Bedford a little church, called "The Whaleman's Chapel," to which, he tells us, most of the old whaling-men paid a visit before setting out on their long and hazardous voyages. The chaplain, known to everyone as "Father" Mapple, had himself been a harpooneer on a whaling-ship in his younger days.

Melville takes us into the chapel on a rainy Sunday night. The white walls were covered with countless tablets commemorating sailors who had been lost at sea. In the old-fashioned high-walled box-pews, the widely scattered congregation seemed small and bedraggled. The door opened and accompanied by a gust of dampness Father Mapple strode in. He removed his great coat, hung it on a peg, and moved up the aisle.

As in many New England meeting-houses, the pulpit was a high wooden structure of imposing proportions, and, since space was at a premium in the little chapel, the usual pulpit staircase had been dispensed with. In its stead, Father Mapple, true to his nautical background, had constructed a pilot's ladder out of two red-worsted man-ropes with mahogany rungs. Taking these in his hands, and looking reverently upwards, the chaplain slowly swung himself aloft, hand over hand, into the pulpit, drawing the rope-ladder Up after him into his lofty crow's nest. By this act of physical isolation, commented the novelist, he symbolized his withdrawal from worldly ties and connections. The front of the pulpit was shaped like the prow of a ship with an open Bible resting upon a wooden scroll, fashioned like a ship's fiddle-headed beak, where the yard-arm formed with the bowsprit an out-thrust cross. Wrote Melville:

". ..what could be more full of meaning? -- for the pulpit is ever this earth's foremost part; all the rest comes in the rear; the pulpit leads the world... Yes, the world's a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow."
As members of the Anglican Communion, you and I think of the function and responsibility of the Church and its Ministry in a little broader and more inclusive fashion than this old Nineteenth Century Bible-centered Protestant conception of the pulpit. On first thought, we may even be repelled a little by the isolation of the preacher in his Biblical eyrie with its other-worldly symbols, but then, as we think further about it, we begin to see two things that are essential to the deeper meanings which Melville has read into this description. Father Mapple was himself of the same world of whaling ships and dangerous voyages as his congregation, and the symbols with which he surrounded himself, the Jacob's Ladder, the prow of the ship, the cross-shaped bowsprit, however strange to us who are landlubbers, were all of them part and parcel of the real world of that whaling community.

The men who would visit that chapel before sailing for the Indian Ocean or the China Sea knew that in a few months, in little boats with eggshell sides, they would come to grips with the mighty sperm-whale, whose flukes in an instant could crush them to death, where there was no other defense than the coolness of a man's mind, the accuracy of a lance-thrust, the agileness and dexterity of a steersman's oar, and the faithful cooperation of team-mates in a desperate and dangerous enterprise. The women who sat in those high box-pews that rainy night knew the long drawn-out agony of waiting in faith, the burden of maintaining homes and rearing children in the absence of helpmates, the brutal possibility of no return at all with the denial even of that placid requiem which sings its Nunc Dimittis,

"Home is the sailor,
home from the sea,
And the hunter
home from the hill."
Whatever the limitations in form and content of the worship within "The Whaleman's Chapel" under Father Mapple's direction, his religion as transmitted to his people and shared by them had something elemental to it. It touched them where they lived. It dealt with the things they were up against. The men who had shared its inspiration, when the great tests of skill and endurance and loyalty came, were stronger and surer, more disciplined and self-possessed by virtue of it. The women, whose requirements of life while less dramatic and colorful than those of the men were actually more rigorous and demanding, could stand life's gaff the better with the new spirit nourished in their breasts and the faith awakened in their eyes by the Word of Life spoken from that pulpit with its open Scriptures and its cross-shaped fiddle-beak pointing through the storm. So Ishmael concluded that rainy night as he heard the preacher's moving voice eloquently crying:
"Oh, shipmates. ..delight, top-gallant delight is to him, whom all the waves of the billows of the seas. ..can never shake from this sure keel of the ages."
Today the old whaling world of New Bedford, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and Sag Harbor is no more. Our world is no longer the world of Ishmael in its outward details, but our needs, in essence, are the same. We require, each in our own way, the knowledge of the Word of Life that will chart our course and carry us safely through our trials and dangers. The Church that would serve this function must have for its ministers men who are identified with the life of their people, who to some degree have experienced something of their daily tasks and crushing problems, who are familiar with the great issues of the day that arouse their anxieties and fears and also call forth their greatness. They cannot be men limited to petty routines and trivial pious duties but men who to some degree have entered into the agony and the full glory of human living under God. Only such can fulfill the function which Melville ascribed to Father Mapple in that little community by the sea, when he likened the world to a ship on a passage outward-bound with the pulpit as its prow.

The idea has become widespread in our day that we are faced with only two choices -- on the one hand, we can turn to a religion that puts its faith in God as One not of this world, loyalty to which is quite separate from the problems and issues of this life; on the other hand, we can place our confidence in the human struggle for the social betterment of the world and its people, dismissing religion as a thing of slight importance and no relevance.

I had a letter the other day from a minister, a man of my own generation, who has spoken from this pulpit and has, to some degree, I think, been influenced by us here towards entering the Christian Ministry. He has been successful professionally and has gone from one good position to another until today he enjoys the rectorship of one of the fine old liberal parishes of the East. Yet this letter reveals what seems to me a deep and enervating cynicism towards life. I would paraphrase its contents in some such words as these: "The world is utterly evil. I can see no hope for it. There is nothing left in men's hands but belief in a personal God. To preach this individual ministry is the only satisfaction that remains."

It seems to me, as I read the New Testament, that this is to miss the deep faith in the Creator-and-Sustainer-God-and-Father-of-us-all that was shared and taught by Jesus Christ. Ours is a Christian Hope both for this life and for the life to come. As I go back to the New Testament record of Christ's words and ministry, and as I think on the symbolic meaning of a recreation of the Christian Faith as made explicit in that Calvinistic "Whaleman's Chapel" under Father Mapple's preaching, it seems to me we are faced by no such clearly cut either-or choice but are confronted with a both-and appeal. Was it not the belief of Jesus Christ, and the consciousness of the early Church, that the transformation of life in this world and the awakening to the fact of a larger world of God's eternity were one and the same thing? "I am come," said Christ, "that you might have life, and have it more abundantly." He meant life here and now. He also meant life to come. The two are inseparable. As men believe, they will have life. As men live, they will have faith.

In his poem, "Night On The Prairies," Walt Whitman, that passionate lover of life, cries:

"I was thinking the day most splendid till I saw what the
not-day exhibited,
I was thinking this globe enough till there sprang out so
noiseless around me myriads of other globes."
Struck with the miracle of conscious, sentient life able to behold and enjoy and possess the created universe, the poet proclaims the basic miracle:
"The whole theory of the universe is directed unerringly to one single individual -- namely to you."
The individual consciousness is not a trivial thing. It is a creation of infinite worth, an expression of that towards which the whole natural process is groaning in travail;
"I swear 1 think there is nothing but immortality."
He sees the bewildering mixture of good and bad in the human scene but the longer view has taken possession of him and filled him with confidence that life, for all its contradictions, has its destiny and purpose:
"Roaming in thought over the universe, 1 saw the little
that is Good steadily hastening towards immortality,
And the vast that is Evil 1 saw hastening to merge itself
and become lost and dead."
Christ believed that faith in God discloses this world of ours to have a larger setting and a freer atmosphere. We are something more than creatures of earth and bits of dust; we are, he said, sons of light and the heirs of creation, if so be that we do the will of our heavenly Father. Such a living faith, he was confident, would transform life for us all.

Our worship today is not centered as Father Mapple's Calvinistic training focused it exclusively upon the preacher and the book with its message of salvation. We have our pulpit, our lectern and our Scriptures. But we prefer to make the central act of worship the humble gathering of different people of all kinds and estates in life, each with his problems, his troubles, his anxieties, his hopes; the kneeling together as a believing company in the presence of the Lord God disclosed in Jesus Christ; and the sharing of a sacrament. ..the bread and wine of life. ..with its promise of transformation. ..newness of life. ..for you and for me ...now and forever. ..through the fact of God in Christ ...through the truth of immortality. We come here to be different -- not to be the same as when we came.

In the Epistle for the Second Sunday in Advent, St. Paul speaks of the transforming power of hope. He salutes the Scriptures, because, he says, they were written "that you and I might have hope." "May God grant," he continues, "that you be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus"; that is, that you and I through our worship may become in our sensitivity and in our activity within human society not what we were but what Christ is, and would have us to be. "Wherefore receive one another," he writes, ''as Christ received us, to the glory of God." And he ends with that most moving of all benedictions which we, of all others, like to use in this parish. "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit."

Is there anything that you and I need more? Is there anything that our society needs more? than just this. ..hope through the power of God's spirit. ..to go forward with joy and inner conviction. ..to do the tasks that press upon us? And to learn to live one with another in Christ Jesus to the glory of God?

In his old-fashioned simple seaman's way, Father Mapple had hold of an eternal truth. The world is a ship in passage, and the voyage is not circumscribed but outward bound towards God. As he said, "It is not a voyage complete." Let us look to the prow of our ship, where we are headed, that our course may be true, and our hand on the wheel steady, as we seek to meet surely each shift of the wind, knowing that transforming hope that is available to us through the power of God in Jesus Christ.

"Oh, shipmates. ..delight, top-gallant delight is to him, whom all the waves of the billows of the seas. ..can never shake from the sure keel of the ages."

-- December 5, 1948


The Shadow of Fear

Many good people in the churches are honestly bewildered when we speak of the suppression of freedom in the United States today. Because they are not personally conscious of any limitation, they find it difficult to accept that anyone else may be subjected to silencing or intimidation. A shrewd analyst of the political scene recently said to me, "People who have never indulged in an unconventional or unorthodox thought will be absolutely unable to understand what is now taking place. It is only as you step out of line at some point and openly express some variant or criticism of the accepted and official formulas that you learn the incredible things that are happening throughout the nation."

Perhaps I am peculiarly conscious of this problem and sympathetic with those affected by it because of my own experience with both silencing and intimidation. I know how it injures the spirit and threatens one's status and security.

During World War II such views as mine on international relations and peace in the post-war world were being cultivated and given Administration endorsement. I found myself in consequence in much demand as a speaker and lecturer, appearing on more than five hundred platforms, including some under War Department sponsorship, and twice was asked to participate in the Inationwide debates held on the Town Hall of the Air before audiences numbering many millions. With the promulgation of the "Truman Doctrine" and the launching of the "Cold War" such views became objects of disfavor and before long were officially branded "subversive" by the arbitrary fiat of an Attorney-General amid much publicity. Invitations to speak practically ceased. A curtain of silence descended.

That was not all. The moment one had an opportunity to break through this iron ring, this is the kind of thing that would happen. An Episcopal minister in a rural New Jersey town called me by telephone. "I have admired your work from a distance," he said. "I have talked to my people along similar lines. I would deem it a privilege if you would accept an invitation to speak at our annual parish dinner. We are only a poor, struggling country mission. We can offer you nothing but a friendly hearing."

When I accepted, he announced my coming to his congregation at the next Sunday's service. The following Monday morning, to his bewilderment and dismay, when he turned on the radio to listen to the news, he heard the local commentator devote the greater part of a fifteen-minute broadcast to a vicious attack upon him for inviting a "dangerous subversive" into that part of New Jersey. As authority for this allegation, the radio speaker cited a privately-financed news-letter called Counter-Attack. He concluded with a challenge to all patriotic Americans to stay away from the meeting and to do what they could to have it called off.

Face to face for the first time in his life with overt intimidation, the minister acted with wisdom and courage. Knowing that his Men's Club was to meet at the church that evening, he resolved to put the matter squarely up to them as to what he should do. He told them that before inviting me in the first place, he had called the bishop of the diocese and obtained his approval and consent. He informed the men that he had no knowledge of the source of the attack or how the announcement at the church service had been made known to the radio station. He had good reason to believe that the accusations that were broadcast were both irresponsible and untrue.

The men discussed the problem for more than two hours. They decided that a genuine issue of free speech was involved. Their minister had issued the invitation in good faith and they stood under obligation to defend both him and their church from external attack. They would come themselves to the dinner to hear the speaker fairly and judge for themselves as to the worth of whatever I might say. If anyone did not wish to attend, he could stay home with his family. When thebishop was informed of this decision of the Men's Club, he went out of his way to alter his engagements and volunteered to come and introduce me at the dinner -- a most gracious and generous offer which the minister gladly accepted. The minister wrote all these facts to me in detail. He gave me the privilege of withdrawing but concluded, "Though I cannot guarantee that there will be no picketing or other trouble, I still sincerely hope you will come." When I arrived that evening, I found the basement of the little rural church crowded with diners. When I was introduced by the bishop I spoke on the theme of . . . "The Ship's Prow." At the conclusion, the minister said to me, "That is precisely the kind of teaching I have been trying to give my people ever since I came here," and the elderly chairman of the Mission Committee came up and shook my hand warmly and said, "This was not what we were led to expect. I liked what you said."

It was then that I learned how all of this started -- the characteristic pattern for most of the incidents of suppression and intimidation across the country in smaller communities. A local small-businessman, ardently involved in the Americanization Committee of a veterans' organization, who set himself up as the arbiter and censor of the community's righteousness, had been in church the morning the minister made his announcement. It was this man who had telephoned the radio commentator and put in his hands the issue of Counter-Attack with its libelous information. A single member of that congregation had deliberately instigated and incited an attack that could have disrupted the church and community and resulted in the expulsion of that minister. Had not the minister acted with wisdom and courage in the way he did, the consequences might have been disastrous.

The noteworthy thing about this particular episode was the emergence of decent, democratic instincts on the part of these Christian people, once they were provided the opportunity to face an issue in Town Meeting fashion where they could express their real convictions. In that small community an important skirmish in the campaign to maintain a free America was carried out successfully and the enemy defeated.

The shadow of fear that is being cast across the nation is the work of a calculating few who have learned the power of the newspapers, the radio and television, and have liaison with small super-patriotic units across the land, willing to do their work. To gain their ends they are prepared to infect and contaminate whole communities. The only way to counter and eliminate this poison is for every community to do with equal wisdom and courage what this one community did on this occasion -- act forthrightly and together in the spirit of the American democratic tradition and the prophetic tradition of the Christian Church.


Fulfilling Our Mission

Of all the services in the course of the entire year, this Watch Night Communion Service has a character all its own. It is not concerned with numbers. It makes no outward show. It elects to be informal and intimate, taking literally the great promise of Jesus: "Wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." It is predicated on the belief that we men and women who are conscious of our sonship to God our Father, no matter what the outward circumstances of our world may be, have the responsibility of ordering our own lives in the light of his will, and in accord with the character of his coming kingdom.

For this we have our Lord's own words. "Be not anxious," said he to his disciples, "for all those things about which the rest of the world so concerns and worries itself -- food, clothing, security, -- but seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and these things will be provided." The very fact of our presence here in this church, kneeling before the altar and about to share the sacrament that Christ has given us as a memorial of himself and a witness to his kingdom, when we might be out doing so many of the things that our fellows are doing tonight, serves to point up the distinction between ourselves as Christians and our world. In our herts, knowing the burden of the times, we prefer to enter such a year as lies ahead with some form of dedication.

"What shall I do to be saved?" said a young man to Jesus. He replied, "Sell what thou hast, and give it to the poor." Jesus changed the young man's self-centered question from "shall I do to be saved?" -- a wholly individual concentration upon himself and the salvation of his own soul -- into a larger question: "What can one do to help others?" Jesus taught that we find ourselves as we give ourselves in the service of God's kingdom. That is the burden of the Sermon on the Mount that we have just read together tonight. If you and I would be saved, it may very well be that our personal salvation will take place as we try to yield ourselves into God's hands as instruments for the salvation of our fellows. And what opportunities are given to all of us, surrounded as we are by countless people -- insecure, rootless, bewildered, anxious, distraught -- to contribute to them the basic gift of faith in God and faith in the laws of his kingdom of truth and righteousness! Writes Una W. Harsen:

Let faith be firm. The times are insecure
And God's great purpose is not always plain;
Signs are confused, man's destiny obscure
And loss, it seems, will ever balance gain.
Then nourish faith and in its nurture find
The will to walk the road the Master trod
And, tutored by the kinship with his mind,
Fulfill our mission in the scheme of God.
I think of three things that, were Christ here tonight in person to tutor us, he might very well commend.

The first is the will to peace.

When St. Paul reflected on the mind of Christ, he wrote to his contemporaries, "Insofar as it is possible, seek peace among all men." Today, peace is called by many evil names: appeasement, trickery, sedition. But peace is really something quite different: when difficulties ensue, or tensions come -- whether it be between individuals, or nations, or halves of the world -- to seek peace is not to be uncritical in one's judgments or to lower one's standards but simply to understand that once an open clash takes place with a resort to all-out violence, then all possibility of discussion, of mediation, of compromise, of change of mind, of education, of development, of progress -- ceases. The sword supplants the mind, the conscience and the heart.

In our day when weapons of mass destruction exist that can pulverize cities and destroy whole cultures, anything that postpones the clash from which there can be no return, becomes a virtue. In the words of the old adage, "While there is life, there is hope." Let us seek, and urge our fellows to seek, that peace which gives time for intelligent men to sit down together and find the things that make for their mutual future.


The second is the will to truth.

"I am the truth," said Jesus. "Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Every one of us knows that we are living our lives amid a vast barrage of accusation and evasion and mishandling of the facts of our time. It is not important for us tonight to assess whether anyone person, or anyone side in the international conflict, or on the domestic scene, is more guilty than another. The fact is that we are all caught in a vast spider web of missrepresentation, half-truth and downright untruth.

The meaning of the word "prejudice" is to pre-judge; that is, to make a decision and to act upon it before one has correctly assessed the true facts. We are all guilty of prejudice. If our need in the world today is for anyone thing, it is for a greater respect for the truth. We must all learn to detect and see through the easy lie, the convenient label, the deliberate propaganda. Said Jesus, "Let your yea be yea, and your nay be nay." Pause before you accept any allegation in the world today as Gospel; try to keep the simple facts of life in front of you; and when you feel certain of the truth, have the courage to act quietly and consistently in conformity with what you believe is the truth. This is loyalty to Christ who said, "I am the truth."


And the third is the will to brotherhood.

Jesus taught that God is our father, and that all men are brothers. It is difficult at this moment to believe this truth of religion, and it may even be costly, when Chinese stand on one side of a no man's land and Americans on the other; and where Russians weigh what the outcome of the impending contest could mean in terms of their national and international interests.

And yet, if the truth of Christ has any meaning at all, it is that this is still God's world; with him it is one world, undivided: that potentially it is equipped to provide for the needs of all his children; and that God, the creator, is not helpless to fulfill the intentions of his creation. "I have come," said Jesus, "that you may have life, and have it more abundantly." Were those words addressed simply to Americans, or were they addressed to a1l men? Said he, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself."

We cannot nationalize Jesus Christ, or constrict the kingdom of God into the image of anyone nation or people. Yet, knowing this, are we willing to work quietly at the spread of the will to brotherhood that is implied in our Christian Faith? Every one of us knows that the good things of life could be shared more equitably and fully than they are today. We do not increase the standard of living one whit for ourselves, or for the Chinese, or for the Russians, or for any one else, by the dumping of millions of tons of explosive upon a tiny peninsula of Asia like blasted, fire-blackened Korea. There is an essential absurdity and immorality involved in the present political struggle of our world that the simplest individual can often see more clearly than the political manipulator in high places. Can we quietly affirm the return to intelligence, whereby the energies of the nations can be transferred from the destruction of the good things of the earth to their sharing and expansion?


Jesus used a double-edged figure of speech. He said to his followers, "You are the salt of the earth." Salt has two aspects. It is a. preservative, and it is a seasoning agent. Would that we Christians today could perform more adequately Just these two functions, nothing else! It would be quite sufficient.

Could the spirit be demonstrated among us: of self-restraint, loyalty to the simple truth, confidence in the possibility of peaceful settlement, faith in the essential decencies of life as being the common possession and hope of all men -- would it not help to prevent the ultimate catastrophe and preserve time...time...time to work out our salvation with fear and trembling? And then from this function of preservation could our loyalty to the spirit of Christ move on to sweeten and season our world with a renewed taste for the things that make for God's reign and rule? Then would begin to come to us that re-orientation that we all so desperately need.

It is my belief, and I give it to you for what it is worth, that our salvation will not necessarily come through the men at the top, but through the increasing pressure of the men and women below -- in the streets, in the shops, on the farms, in the pews -- who will rise up and declare, "The thing that matters is the cultivation of life, not the cultivation of death; let us be done with this false structure of values; let us get back to the true business of living...living together...living harmoniously for the good of all."

The early Christians were much less concerned with what the lligher-ups did than with what they themselves did. They were determined to live the life of the kingdom, and they went resolutely about it. What happened? Others were impressed. Others took heart. Others copied. And the result: the brotherhood of the early Church took over and displaced the empty pomp and circumstance and hate and militarism of the tremendous Roman Empire. It was a fantastic accomplishment, but it is a fact of history. We have seen it repeated in our own generation in the person of a Gandhi. It can, and will happen again, because God is God, and his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.

So it is tonight that we greet the mid-century in this atomic era not with whistles and high-balls and all the escapist hurrah of an unsettled era but gathering here in church, asking, in the words of our poem, that we may

". ..nourish faith and in its nurture find
The will to walk the road the Master trod;
And, tutored by the kinship with his mind,
Fulfill our mission in the scheme of God."

-- December 31, 1950


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