The Church and the World, 1889

Review and Herald, November 12, 1889, page 7


THE professed church of today is greatly troubled over the question how the people can be drawn and attracted to its communion. Failing in the ordinary methods, there seems to be a general letting down of the standards in favor of fun and amusements. The following article from the Detroit Free Press of Oct. 12, 1889, speaks for itself:—

“At the recent convention of the Universalists, held at the Church of Our Father, several papers of great liberality of scope and reason were discussed. None attracted more attention than that read by Mrs. E. C. Skinner, in which she advocated the union, under the Church patronage, of all sorts of innocent social contrivances, such as the bowling-alley, the billiard table, and all the rest. These, she argued, would in nowise interfere with devotional exercises, but, on the other hand, would bring many to church who otherwise would remain away. Following are a series of interesting opinions given by ministers of the city on the topic:—

“Rev. Lee S. McCollester: ‘I certainly indorse Mrs. Skinner’s paper as read at the convention. I think she is on the right track.’

“Rev. Howard D.uffleld: ‘I cannot but indorse the general idea. I think, however, that there may be some question as to the propriety of uniting all these various means of pleasure Under one roof. We indorse anything that has a tendency to ennoble sport or recreation. Mrs. Skinner’s idea is very much the same as is now practiced by the T. M. C. A. gymnasium supporters.’

“Rabbi Grossmann: ‘I am opposed to anything that will destroy the integrity of the home. I am opposed to anything that increases church attendance at the expense of theology. I am opposed to any artifices, clap-trap, or side issues in connection with religion. Just as soon as you begin bolstering up a creed or sect with this or that allurement or enticement, it is at once manifest that all is not well with the heart of the religion itself. I would have devotion as broad and far-reaching as the light of day, but I would not stoop to the inauguration of such petty social frivolities as are referred to in the paper read by Mrs. Skinner. . . .’

“Rev. J. T. Plunket: ‘Our fathers were too severe in the matter of amusements. All harmless and innocent sports or pastimes have their place. But if some people think that by introducing the bowling-alley and billiard table under the church roof, anything can be accomplished for the unregenerate or unconverted, I fail to grasp the situation.’

“Rev. Reed Stuart: ‘It appears to me that the view of Mrs. Skinner is the one now advocated by all liberal people. Personally, I think it is a move in the right direction.’

“Dr. C. R. Henderson: ‘I favor some such evolution as is referred to. Innocent pleasure for the young should be provided for by the Church.’

“Rev. Wm. H. Davis: ‘It is a movement that is bound to come. I heartily favor it. While I hesitate over the propriety of uniting all these things under one roof, there is no question in my mind as to their great importance. What we cannot have about a church we ought not to have anywhere.’

“Dr. Wallace Radcliffe; ‘While the introduction of innocent amusements is part of the Church duty, that function devolves more upon a church in a country district than in a city. Introduced in the city, the results are too often harmful or wrong.’

“Rev. Dr. Z. Grenell: ‘A church may surround itself with any innocent amusements in the line of true church work. What is the object of a church or of religion? But the line of amusements referred to—billiards, pool tables, card-playing, theatricals, dancing, and all the rest—seems very much to me like something decidedly out of the realm of church duty. If, I say, you get a man to go to a temperance lecture by offering him a free glass of beer, you defeat your purpose.’

“Rev. R. O. Cooper: ‘Under certain restrictions, I heartily favor the idea embodied in Mrs. Skinner’s paper. She is up to the times. A church-house, uniting innocent amusements, is all right. Let any church rich enough to support one, by all means maintain the same.’

“Bishop Foley: ‘We regard our church as the house of God. I have not read the paper you refer to. There is a time for praying and a time for playing. People should be drawn toward the church to hear the word of God. No, it is all monstrously wrong.’


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