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Abstract of the Proceedings of a Convention of the Diocess of Delaware, held in Christ Church, Dover, on Saturday, June 7th, and Monday, June 9th, 1823.
THE Convention was composed of two presbyters, and eleven lay delegates, representing eight congregations, The Rev. Ralph Williston was appointed president, and Thomas Clayton secretary.
The convention having organized in the morning, adjourned till the afternoon, when evening prayer was read by the Rev. Ralph Williston, rector of Trinity church, Wilmington, and a sermon preached by the Rev. Daniel Higbee, minister of St. Paul's church, Georgetown; St. George's chapel; St. Peter's church, Lewes; Prince George's church; Christ church, Laurel; and St. John's church.
The parochial reports furnish the following aggregate:-Baptisms (adults 4, children 7, not specified 35) 46marriages 12-funerals 7-communi
From the treasurer's account it appears that the receipts, the past year, were $28, and the expenses $7 5; and that there is now in his hands $38 3.
Thirty-two dollars were received in contributions from several churches. The following appointments were made:
Standing Committee:-The Rev. Ralph Williston, the Rev. Daniel Higbee, Kensey Johns, and John Rumsey.
Delegates to the General Convention: The Rev. Ralph Williston, the Rev. Daniel Higbee, the Rev. Robert Clay, Nicholas Ridgely, Kensey Johns, and Daniel Rodney.
The Rev. Mr. Williston, of the standing committee, made the following report :
The standing committee, to whom was referred the subject of the missions of this diocess, and who were authorized to apply to the Domestic and Fo reign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, for the purpose of obtaining aid in supplying this diocess with one or more missionaries, submit the following report:
That having made application to the executive committee of said society, they were informed that two hundred dollars had been appropriated in aid of missions in this diocess; but subjected to the condition, that this diocess form an auxiliary society to their society; which being done, the above sum of two hundred dollars will be at our disposal, in the employment of a missionary or missionaries.
We were also informed, that any money collected by ourselves would not be diverted from the use of this diocess, so long as it may be needed therein; but, on the contrary, that, what they had already appropriated to our use might be considered as only an earnest of what they would do for us, as soon as we shall have shown a disposition to help ourselves, by forming. said auxiliary society.
Your committee therefore beg leave to recommend the adoption of a constitution for the formation of an auxiliary society, prepared by the special committee appointed for that and other purposes.
The Constitution of the Missionary Society of the Diocess of Delaware, Auxiliary to the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
Article I.-The object of this society is to employ and support missionaries, and to supply with Christian ordinances 29
such places within the diocess as may be destitute of a regular ministry; and the surplus, if any, funds shall be transmitted to the parent society, to be applied to domestic missions.
Art. II. This society shall be composed of such of the members of this convention, clerical and laical, and of such other persons as shall contribute one dollar by subscription annually, to the objects of this institution; and of such as shall contribute at once thirty dollars, which contribution shall constitute them members for life. Members who pay fifty dollars on subscribing shall be denominated patrons of the society.
Art. III.-The society shall meet annually at the place in which this convention shall hold its session. The time of meeting shall be on the day next before the session of the convention, at ten o'clock a. m. at which time a sermon shall be preached, and a collection made in aid of the funds of the
society and also on the day next following the third Tuesday in January in each year, at such place as shall be determined on at the annual meeting of the society. The preacher to be appointed by the president.
Art. IV. The president of the convention shall, ex officio, be president of the society. There shall also be two vice presidents, one corresponding secretary, one recording secretary, one treasurer, and seven directors, who shall be chosen by ballot at each annual meeting of the society.
Art. V. The directors, together with the president and vice-presidents, secretaries and treasurer, and patrons of the society, who shall, ex officio, be directors, shall compose a body to be denominated the board of directors, who shall meet annually at the place where the society meet, and as soon as may be after the meeting of the society; five members of this board shall be necessary to form a quorum. The meetings of the board of directors shall always be opened with prayer.
Art. VI. At the annual meetings, all missionary stations, and appropriations of money, and all laws necessary for their own government, and for conducting the affairs of the missions, shall
be made by the board of directors. Special meetings may be called by the president as often as may be necessary to carry into effect the resolutions adopted at the annual meetings of the board. At which special meetings, three members, including the president, shall be a quorum to transact business.
Art. VII.-The treasurer shall receive all contributions which shall be made to the society, and enter them in detail, and present a statement of his accounts annually, or oftener if requir ed, to the board of directors. He shall not pay money unless on an order from the board, signed by the president.
Art. VIII-The board of directors shall, at every meeting of the society, present a detailed report of their proceedings; which, if approved and adopted by the society, shall (as soon as may be) be presented, by their president, to the parent society, as the report of the society.
Art. IX.-The present convention shall elect, by ballot, the officers provided for by the fourth article of this act, till the first stated meeting of the society: and the first meeting of the board of directors shall take place at Dover, on the third Wednesday in October next.
Art. X.-This convention may, at any time in future, alter or amend the foregoing constitution.
Which, on motion, was adopted;
And the following persons were elected officers of the society, viz.—
Vice-presidents, the Rev. Daniel Higbee, John Cummins; corresponding secretary, Nicholas Ridgely; recording secretary, Joshua Gordon Brinckle; treasurer, Kensey Johns; directors, Samuel Paynter, Charles M. Cullen, Outten Davis, William Dunning, James Booth, jun. Henry M. Ridgely, Dr. John Brinckle.
The Rev. Mr. Williston submitted the following address, which was concurred in by the convention, viz.— To the Members of the Protestant Epis copal Church in Delaware.
feelings of the sincerest gratitude to wards the Author of all good, announce to you the formation of a missionary society, auxiliary to the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church, whose first object is to employ missionaries among you, and furnish you with the ordinances and sacraments of our church. Henceforth our diocess will not be a stranger to that great and all-import-, ant association, whose object is to aid in evangelizing the whole human family. Our diocess has become auxiliary to that institution with great eagerness. And it is hoped that our opulent families will duly feel that they cannot make a better use of their money than, by generous donations, to contribute to wards the promulgation of the holy gospel, and due administration of the holy sacraments. Our destitute congregations will hail the missionaries whom you shall send them, and thank you for the benefit. Our youth, taught by them daily, to love and fear God, to love public order and religious institutions, to reverence the holy sacraments, to honour their parents, and to practise every Christian virtue, will, rising up, call you blessed. Our churches will be repaired, our congregations enlarged, and a more ardent attachment to the institutions of our venerable church be the happy result of your bounty. This is a primary object of the parent society. That society has nothing in view but the glory of God, and the promulgation of that light of the glorious gospel, the beneficial rays of which the divine Saviour intended for the enlightening of all nations.
pily been formed by us, on the point of communicating it again to many branch societies within this diocess.
We feel it our duty, brethren, to acknowledge how useful the parent society is disposed to be unto this diocess. Already has she manifested her will towards us-and we regard her liberal appropriation as a pledge of affection; but, above all, as a glorious monument of that pure and ardent zeal which has found means to reproduce and multiply religious ordinances amongst us. And with what cordiality will she not hail the rising society; with what gratitude will she not receive the first report of our success; and with what zeal will she not answer to our call for aid, by acknowledging it as the common centre of operations for this diocess, and by supporting it by her donations? Surely we cannot in vain have made mention of these proofs of zeal for so good a cause. She who has afforded them will repeat them, and every one of us shall feel, that, being a member of this society, he must strive with all his might to increase its blessed influence.
Let us not wait for results; but let us study to produce them. Let us not consider our brethren in faith, our friends, as less inclined than ourselves to take a lively interest in the re-edification of our apostolic church in this diocess, and to march in concert with us towards our great object-this object you all know is to do good to our desolate Zion, by employing missionaries among us.
Nothing can more powerfully engage us to do so, than the services which we We have cordially united with her are capable of rendering to our destiin her laudable work, in order to assist tute congregations. Scattered, as they each other by counsel, mutual support, are, over the surface of the state, too and fraternal communications. Hay seldom edified by the preaching of our ing nothing in view but the glory of clergy, who, notwithstanding their arGod, and the edification of his church, dent zeal, can only visit their far disseif we embrace the means of centralizing minated congregations at great interour operations, it is merely in order, by vals of time, our brethren have the labouring with one consent, to labour greater need of zealous missionaries. more effectually. The impulse, once That the zeal of our members may be given, communicates itself from the one fostered, their religious feelings deepto the other. And we bless God for ened, their morals preserved in their having received it, for enabling us to purity, and that Christian faith and impart it to our brethren, and to behold practice may be nourished and increasthis auxiliary society, which has so hap-ed in the hearts and lives of all: abun
dantly to supply the means by which, under the divine blessing, these re sults may be obtained, is a duty we owe to God and his church; is a right which nothing should cause us to renounce. No, nothing ought to hinder any one episcopalian in the employment he would wish to make of his time, and of his fortune, in order to obtain such noble results.
This appeal is made to all episcopalians who sincerely desire the prosperity of our church. Every one is expected to do his duty. The object is most noble and excellent. It is intimately connected with the glory of God, and the happiness of man. La bours for this object may justly be expected to result in extensive and essential benefits.
condition; which, though it cannot sustain, and does not pretend to comparison with that of kindred institutions of older date and more extensive means; yet can furnish enough to encourage the sanguine and cheer the desponding in the simple fact, that the preaching of the Gospel has been supported through the whole year with considerable effect, where it was so seldom heard before, that it conveyed "good news" in almost the full meaning of the words.
But though some of our fears have not been verified, neither heve all our hopes been realized. The number of our members, the consideration of primary importance, as the source from which all our means of usefulness, under God, must proceed, has increased, but not in the proportion we would wish to see; not in the proportion which the stability, conferred by time on all institutions valuable in their nature and object, and the opportunity afforded by it, of discerning and appreciating as it deserves the happy tendency of our most humble efforts, might justify our expectation. Forty names have been added to our list within the last year. It is regretted that self love, united with piety, in the consideration of the beneficial effects of such exertions as constitute the business of our society, not
only on their subjects, but on their authors, has not swelled the number. The committee earnestly suggest the propriety of frequent and zealous, though discreet conversation on the subject of the society, where there is likelihood of obtaining accessions to its means of usefulness. With the addition of these forty new members, and the subtraction of seven who have left us within the same period, the number now in the society is 266. Some of those who have left us, have left us for another world. It was death, no diminution of zeal for the interests of the society that called them away from it. Among these, we have to lament an excellent lady, (Mrs. M. C. Gregory,) whose loss is felt by the whole community. After giving to the cause of religion and charity the support of her purse, her example, her personal exertions and her prayers, she is gone to receive her reward from him, whose cause it was her chief business and de
light to serve. We trust, that grateful and affectionate recollection will lead to imitation of her beneficence; and while we lament the loss of her general example as a Christian, may we endeavour to supply the place of her active zeal as a member of this society.
The committee are reminded by this subject to record, and they do it with unmingled pleasure and approbation, a donation by Master William A. Clarkson, of twenty dollars in the name of his father, William Clarkson, Esq. and likewise an acceptable donation of prayer books by Mrs. Dehon.
As a means of extending a knowledge of the society, and giving opportunity to the exercise of much latent benevolence that must exist every where throughout the state, and only waits for an appeal to be made, which will make itself heard, and a subject to be presented, of whose propriety there cannot be a doubt in the religious mind, to expand itself into active and useful exertion; three agents have been appointed in the city, and one or more in each of the country parishes, to obtain subscriptions in aid of the society. It is not yet known, with what effect this measure has been attended in many of the parishes, but the few from which intelligence has been received, furnish flattering accounts of their success.
Another measure which promises to be productive of much benefit to the society, inasmuch as it will remove in a great degree, the inconvenience occasioned by the difficult attendance of members at anniversary meetings of the society, is a resolution to alter the time of holding the anniversary, so as to bring it within the week of the convention of the church. Among other advantages of this arrangement, will be the facility afforded to the collection of arrearages. This is a subject to which the most serious attention of the members is requested. Unless the gratuitous labours of the treasurer are lightened in reward for his services by punctuality of payment, and even when convenient by a considerate anticipation of his applications, the supplies of the fund are stopped, and we can do nothing. Without a fund, the society is an empty name. It may be proper to observe
here, that the resolution providing for the increase of the fund by means of an annual sermon, has been complied with last year, in St. Michael's and St. Philip's churches, and collections taken up in aid of the society.
With respect to the main object of the society, the establishment of missions in places destitute of religious instruction, the committee have to report, that though their theatre of actual operation has not been extended, it has been for some time contemplated doing so, and several resolutions passed on the subject; and that the prospect of the mission at St. Augustine, the only point at present occupied, have become more encouraging than they were announced to be in the last annual report. The pestilence which almost paralized the efforts of the Rev. Mr. Fowler, the society's missionary at that place, passed away, and the abiding influence it has left on the spirit of its survivers is probably favourable to the dissemination of religious truths, and the preva lence of religious feeling: though at the same time, it must be said, its ravages have almost destroyed the means of adding much to the compensation which the missionary receives from the society. But still death, and poverty, and removal from the place, have by no means extinguished the hope of building up there the walls of Zion.
After the period of the Rev. Mr. Fowler's first engagement had expired, in consequence of information received from St. Augustine, he accepted an invitation of the society, March 6th, to return for six months. Accounts furnished by a gentleman directly from Florida, and a certificate from five respectable gentlemen there, afterwards occasioned an extension of his engagement for three, and again for three months. It testified that it was their opinion, the Rev. Mr. Fowler would be able to realize a small sum annually from the congregation there; that his exertions and deportment as a missionary, were highly approved of, and that it was their anxious wish, and, they believed, the wish of the protestants in general, that divine service should be continued. Accordingly, it was the general and earnest wish of the society, to continue