100 Years Ago: Refugees, Prohibition, and 22 Minute Sermons

TLC’s April 8, 1922 cover article displayed “A Prayer for Armenia,” printed by request of Near East Relief, an ecumenical agency incorporated by Congress in 1919 that ultimately coordinated $117 million of assistance to refugees from the Armenian Genocide. Turkish troops were then engaged in a large-scale invasion of Armenia that would ultimately result in the death of 100,000 Armenians and the displacement of another 100,000 across the Middle East. Several articles in the issue mentioned TLC’s own appeal for Near East Relief ($288.84 was received the previous week), and services for Armenian Orthodox refugees hosted by Episcopal churches.

A Prayer for Armenia

Almighty God, who by thy grace hast not only called us out of darkness into light, but hast called us into the blessed service of intercession; we come to thee with one accord on behalf of the people of Armenia. We pray that thou thyself wilt undertake their cause, and with great might succour them. We remember the many thousands who, rather than deny thy name, have suffered torture and death; and we give thee thanks for all who have by thy grace endure and are now in thy presence; and we ask thee for those who remain in the fiery trial of their prolonged agony, that thou wilt stand by them and strengthen them and grant them a clearer vision of thee and deliverance from their sufferings. Send them what they need for their material wants. Protect the fatherless and widows. Remember the orphans still without home or shelter. Bless the children in the orphanages whom thou hast committed to our care. Give wisdom to all who are seeking to help the Armenians in any way, whether spiritually, politically, or materially. Give courage and a spirit of responsibility to our statesmen. Deliver our country and all who are called Christian from blood-guiltiness, through apathy or fear….

Celebrates for Armenians

On a recent Sunday morning Bishop [James DeWolf] Perry celebrated the Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer at the Armenian Catholic Apostolic Church in Providence, [Rhode Island] vested after the Armenian manner and with considerable ceremonial. The large church was packed with a devout congregation. The Armenian priest and his people desire to come into as close contact as possible under existing conditions with the bishop of the diocese.

The Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited the production, transport, and sale of intoxicating beverages, had gone into effect on January 17, 1920, after being ratified by 46 of the 48 states. By late 1920, public opinion had largely turned against it, and Bishop Thomas Frank Gailor of Tennessee, then president of the National Council (the predecessor body to Executive Council), had recently declared the amendment a failure, a cause of significant controversy. A Lenten sermon by a New York bishop dealt acknowledged the criticism while urging obedience to the law. The Eighteenth Amendment was eventually repealed in 1933.

Bishop Ferris and the 18th Amendment

The Rt. Rev. D.L. Ferris, Suffragan Bishop of Western New York, in the course of a sermon preached in the Cathedral of All Saints, Albany, during the Union Lenten Services stated,

“The contest of David and Goliath represents the perennial struggle between the forces of good and evil in our own hearts, in society, in the nation, and in the world. The weapon which David chose is representative also of the weapon which we must use in this struggle.

The stone used by David represents patriotism. He loved his country and his people, he respected its laws, believed in their destiny, and supported their traditions.  We too are called upon as citizens of a republic which represents God’s greatest experiment in popular government, to stand by our laws, support our institutions, and uphold our constitution.

The Constitution of the United States is, in my judgment, next to the Bible itself, the greatest human document that was ever written. Into that constitution has been written the 18th Amendment.

You and I may differ about the value of sumptuary laws. There may be a difference of opinion about the way in which this amendment was placed in the constitution, but there can be no two opinions among Christian people about one thing, and that is our duty to obey the laws of our land.

What right have we to flout, break, and sneer at one amendment, and expect the ignorant from other shores to keep the rest? The citizens who today are keeping that law are those who depend on their daily wage, while those who deliberately break the law are the men and women who by education, position, and influence we naturally look to for moral leadership.

Other brief news items focused on liturgical recommendations from a council of vestrymen from St. Louis, and rebuilding work on the mission on Wisconsin’s Oneida Reservation. We also include a few of the more interesting notices on the two-and-half pages of classified ads.

Twenty-Two Minutes For A Sermon

Twenty-two minutes is long enough for a sermon, was the decision of the Associated Vestries of St. Louis, at a mass meeting last week at Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, Mo. The question of length of sermons was raised after complaints had come from many vestrymen that their rectors preached too long, and as a membership campaign is to begin in St. Louis directly after Easter as a testimonial to [Presiding] Bishop [Daniel] Tuttle, it was decided to ask the clergy to preach shorter sermons so that, as one man put it “newcomers would not be discouraged on their first day at church.” Slips of paper were passed around and each vestryman put what he thought was a good sermon on it, and then they were averaged, with twenty-two minutes as the result.

The clergy attend the meetings of the Associated Vestries but have no vote, and a number of them sat quite calmly through the discussion of their sermons, and took the good natured digs in good part, but they did applaud heartily when the Rev. J.J. Wilkins, D.D., acting dean of the cathedral, rose and in the course of his brief remarks, said that he approved of shorter sermons, but would like to ask how many of the vestrymen made a faithful practice of hearing sermons of any length regularly. Thereupon, a motion was passed unanimously, that the Associated Vestries go on record as urging all members to attend the services in their parishes without fail and to discharge their canonical duties to the best of their ability.

Oneida Mission Work

A report of the work at the Oneida Indian Mission in the Diocese of Fond du Lac, indicates that normal activities have been resumed after the disastrous fire of 1920. The missionary, the Rev. William Watson, reports that more than one hundred friends sent about $1,900 for the support of missionary work among the fifteen hundred Oneidas, and the rebuilding of the church is well under way.

The mission staff consists of the missionary, three sisters, two mission school teachers, one of whom is an Indian; while a farmer, an interpreter, and a sexton, all of them Indians, are also employed. The equipment of the mission consists of the Grafton parish hall, two rooms for the accommodation of fifty children of the mission school, a hospital building (not, however in operation); a house for the sisters; a mission house for the missionary and his family; and a burial ground. The services are generally well attended, and on special occasions, the Oneidas come in great numbers.

Long distances, however, seriously interfere with ordinary attendance. On many Sunday afternoons, the missionary has services in the more distant homes on the reservation, obtaining an interpreter usually from among the members of the congregation. The Oneidas are very poor, and during the last year, it was necessary to supply clothing to 228 families and to 98 individual adults. Gifts were also sent to a considerable number of children and young people who are away at Indian schools, and altogether some degree of physical service has been rendered to more than 1,000 people.

The restoration of the church has cost $19,000, and repairs to other buildings $3,000. The present needs are for the completion of the church building and its furnishings. The church has been wired for electric lighting in the hope that a power plant might be erected. Some funds are already on hand for that purpose. Among other present needs are an assistant to the missionary and means to maintain him; a Ford for the use of the missionary and the sisters; and a light one-horse phaeton for visiting in places where a Ford could not be used; a lighting system for the buildings; a motion picture outfit to be installed in Grafton parish hall, a pipe organ, and other fittings for the church.


This is a letter of caution to the clergy regarding an oriental who calls himself Deacon W.S. George and claims to represent a bishop of the Chaldean Church in Mesopotamia, which bishop, he says, now resides on North Dearborn Ave., Chicago. He is soliciting funds for the relief of Mesopotamian Christians, and carries letters with signatures of several American bishops and a number of clergymen, which seem to be genuine.

There is a genuine Mesopotamian who is a student here at the University of Georgia. This student speaks six languages of the East, and says George can speak none except a little Arabic. After long questioning, he says, George admitted that he was not a deacon and represented nobody; that he was an ex-soldier in the British army and had taken up this as the easy way to make a living. He offered the student money to keep quiet about him, but the student refused. George left town on the next train.

A.G. Richards, Athens, Ga.
Positions Offered

Wanted: Married Priest in the thirties, moderate Churchman, for good parish in growing northwestern town. Must be good preacher and good mixer. Salary, $2,000 and good rectory.

Diocesan Boarding and Day School, Midwest. Strong (not extreme) Churchwoman. Disciplinarian. Execution. Also several teachers same type. Correspondence for interview. Confidential.

Positions Wanted

Priest – 41, married, no family, desires a parish, good preacher, sound Churchman, excellent executive ability. Strong point — work with men. Ex army chaplain. Excellent references.

A Churchwoman, college graduate, English teacher, desires employment which will enable her to see the Passion Play, can qualify as secretary, governess, or traveling companion.


Have You Ever Walked The Streets Of A Great City Friendless?

All night mission, 8 Bowery, conducts a coffee stand between hours of 2 and 4 a.m. on the Bowery daily. Hot coffee and food served free to the Army of Unemployed who walk the streets homeless, friendless, and penniless. Thousands helped through hours just before dawn, by words of cheer from Christian men. Food given in the name of Christ, “Not willing that any should perish” 2 Peter 2. Contributions may be sent to Living Church or to Dudley Tyng Upjohn, City Hall Station, Box  81, New York City.

Will Some Congregation now discarding the old Hymnal send by post copies of Hutchins in good condition for use in teaching our Chinese divinity students? Address: Rev. L.R. Ridgeley, Dean of the Theological School, American Church Mission, Shanghai, China.


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