previous next

Protestant Episcopal Convention in the Confederate States--Final action upon changing its name.

The following is a brief synopsis of the debate which ensued in the Protestant Episcopal Convention of the South, now in session at Columbia, S. C., upon the propriety of changing the name of the Church, notice of which was made in our paper of yesterday:

Rev. Dr. Wilmer moved, that on the question now before the House, no member speak longer than ten minutes nor more than twice, and that this vote be given by one o'clock.

Judge Phelan, of Alabama, took the floor. He had never been satisfied with the word Protestant. A name should be descriptive, Protestant expressed nothing. Faith, ministry, and worship constituted the church.--Protestant has nothing to do with either. It had some historic interest and he had a respect for it for that reason. But he had no such feeling for it as applied to a multitude of discordant sects, some of which even denied the doctrine of Trinity. He thought it time that the Church should take itself out of the number of sects designated by this objectionable term. He was not in favor of the amendment substituting "Reformed Catholic." Reform could not in any just sense be predicated of Catholicity. It was an essential note of the Church, and it would be as well to talk of reformed sun or moon, as Reformed Catholic. He was content with the title of Episcopal Church.

Bishop Eliott found a sufficient reason for adhering to the word Protestant in the fact that in faith we protest against the decrees of the Council of Trent, in worship against the Mass and the in vocation of Saints, and in discipline against the supremacy of the Pope.--The current of theological writings in England recognized the Protestant Churches of the Continent as such, although they might be imperfect.

Rev. Mr. Pinckney was willing to concede the evils associated with the term Protestant, but thought the word Catholic associated with still greater in popular estimation. It is impossible for us to correct the popular apprehension of this word. In the popular mind it is equivalent to Romanism, and just as full of evil as Protestantism.

Bishop Jones was sure that Virginia would not have sent delegates if she had thought this subject was to be discussed. They had no power to act in the matter. We are met here not to make radical changes, but to consult harmony, and to repair the evils of a disjointed state as soon as possible. As to the term Protestant, it is positive, and indicates a positive faith and worship. Why should it be changed? The on us probandi rests upon those who wish to effect it. The outcry against the term Protestant commenced in a little clique in Oxford, that tried to deprotestantize the world. He did not like to follow their lead. He feared that if the name be changed, it would be the beginning of divisions, and lead to disintegration to a greater or less extent.

Bishop Atkinson considered the choice to be between Protestant and Reformed. Reformed expressed a fact, Protestant a spirit, and one that he could not approve of. Emerson, Beecher, Parker, Strauss, etc., were all Protestants, yet Emerson believed the leaves of the forest were God. The term, besides denoting unrest, doubt, denial and unbelief, was indefinite, and inexpressive of anything good. He like the word Catholic, because it indicates the continuity of the Church of Christ. The state of religious feeling in Geneva, Holland, and elsewhere in Europe, among the sects called Protestant, was not such as to recommend the name, except where the influence of the English Church was felt, and produced a better sentiment.

Bishop Gregg agreed with the Bishop of North Carolina entirely as to the facts, but thought it wholly inexpedient to make any change. The question for them to determine was, what is wise and prudent under the circumstances. It was purely a question of expediency. He thought the fact that the word Protestant is abused no reason for throwing it overboard, but rather one for retaining and restoring it. The best words are subject to abuse; the name of the Saviour has been abused. He though a conclusive argument against the amendment was the feeling which it had excited in the Convention. That feeling was but the forerunner of still greater and wider divisions in the Church itself, in case the change be made. It would be an awkward thing, too, for us to change our name, and the Church in the United States to continue the old one.

Rev. Dr. Crane, Bishops Otey and Johns Rev. Mr. Peterkin, Rev. Mr. Williams, Rev. Mr. Trapier, and Mr. Fairbanks continued the discussion and entered into explanations. The question was ordered to be taken by yeas and nays, on striking out from the first article of the proposed Constitution, as submitted by the committee, the words "Protestant Episcopal," and inserting "Reformed Catholic."

The Secretary reported the vote as follows:

Of the Bishops, ayes 3, noes 6; of the Clergy, ayes 2 noes 7; of the Laity, five dioceses voted no--one divided — so the motion was lost.

Judge Phelan moved to strike out the first section, and insert, "The Church shall be called the Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America." The resolution was lost. Bishops, ayes 2, noes 7; Clergy, ayes 2, noes 7; Laity, ayes 1, noes 4; divided 1.

Bishop Elliott moved to amend the first article, so as to make it read "This Church, retaining the name of Protestant Episcopal, shall be known as The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America, "the motion was carried. Bishops, ayes 6, noes 8, Clergy, ayes 7, noes 2, Lalty, ayes 4, noes 1; divided 1.

Rev. Dr. Wilmer though the first article just adopted one rendered necessary by circumstances; but not so as to the others. He would now move to recommit the matter into the hands of the committee. He wished the issue to be between the old Constitution and the one proposed by the committee.

Bishop Elliott explained that the difference between the old Constitution and the substitute offered by the committee was more in form and arrangement, than substance. The novelty mainly consisted in the introduction of provinces. Adjourned.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (4)
North Carolina (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Geneva (Switzerland) (1)
Columbia (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Alabama (Alabama, United States) (1)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Wilmer (2)
Phelan (2)
Emerson (2)
Charles Elliott (2)
Williams (1)
Trapier (1)
Strauss (1)
Pinckney (1)
Peterkin (1)
George W. Parker (1)
Jones (1)
Holland (1)
Gregg (1)
Fairbanks (1)
Eliott (1)
Crane (1)
Beecher (1)
Atkinson (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: