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ST. ASAPH DIOCESAN I CLERGY…

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ST. ASAPH DIOCESAN I CLERGY SUSTENTATION FUND ) MEETING OF THE RURAL DEANERY AT RHYL. SPEECHES BY MR P. P. PENNANT AND THE HON. L. A. BRODRICK. A meeting of Churchpeople residing within the Rural Deanery of St. Asaph was held in the Church House, Rhyl, on Tuesday after- noon, for the purpose of considering the best means of giving support to the above fund by proper organisation throughout the deanery. Mr P P Pennant (president of the deanery) occupied the chair, and was supported by the Dean of St. Asaph, the Hon. L A Brodrick and the Vicar of Rhyl (Rev T Lloyd). The Bishop of St Asaph had promised to attend, but it was announced that his lordship had been summoned to Lambeth by the Archbishop of Canterbury on undoubtedly important busi- ness. There was a moderate attendance of clergy and laymen. The proceedings having been opened with prayer by the Vicar. The Chairman said it was originally intended that this meeting should have been held no less than three years ago. When the St. Asaph Diocesan Clergy Sustentation Fund was tirst founded, a meeting of the St. Asaph Rural Deanery was held at the Bishop's Palace, and at that meeting it was announced that shortly afterwards another meeting in connection with the fund would be held at Rhyl. Just about that time, however, war broke out in South Africa, and it was felt by those connected with the fund that it was undesirable at that moment to hold the intended meeting at Rhyl. The war went on and on for a much longer time than was ever expected. Consequently men's and women's minds wore diverted from home subjects. Their pockets also were drained by collections and subscriptions for different societies connected with the war, and during that period it was felt undesirable to put forward the claims of the institution they repre- sented that afternoon. Now. however, peace had been proclaimed, and the people were able to turn their minds again to home affairs. Accordingly the time had arrived for this long deferred meeting to take place. The Chairman having explained the origin of the fund, also its object, went on to point out what was the relation of the St Asaph Diocesan Clergy Sustentation Fund to the parent I society, the Queen A ictoria Clergy Fund, which was established in the year of her late Majesty's diamond jubilee. The diocesan society, he said, collected what funds it thought proper and sent to the head office a contribution of one-tifth of the amount collected, in return for which the parent society made a block grant to the diocesan society, making no stipulation as to how it should be distributed except on the general principles on which the Queen Victoria Clergy Fund was founded. At the present time almost all the dioceses in England and Wales were affiliated with the parent clergy fund. Last year the diocese of Chester joined, making 33 out of the 35 dioceses in existence, and leaving two still outside the fold, for what reason he did not know. As regards the diocese of St. Asaph they received from the parent society a block grant which very much Exceeded the Amount they Sent up, the reason being that besides these contribu- tions of one-fifth from various dioceses there was a large number of subscriptions to the Queen Victoria Clergy Fund, also that some of the wealthy dioceses—as was the case with Manchester not long aero—did not ask for any block grant in return for their contributions. Referring to a summary of the operations of of the affiliated diocesan societies, he pointed out that the amount of a recent block grant to this diocese was £400, which was more than double the amount (one-fifth of £)Û2, that being the sum raised in that particular year) sent to the parent society. That in itself illustrated the kind of work which the Queen Victoria Clergy Fund was doing, and which they desired to promote still further. But, he asked, was £!H)2 an adequate sum for a diocese of this character to contribute to so worthy an object as the Clergy Sustentation Fund ? He must say he thought it was not. He was not going to say any blame attached to the diocese for rot having made this fund larger, for it was unquestionably true that during almost the whole time since this fund was started in their midst their minds had been diverted in the direction of South Africa. It had not been a time for founding and making a success of any new society. But now that the case was different, he thought the present afforded a good opportunity for putting the fund on a firm and real foundation. People, when they heard the case, would, he was sure, agree that if any society was deserving of support it was the one they were considering that after- noon. Good organisation throughout the diocese was Do very desirable thing, but some- thing more than that was wanted—they must see that the fund itself was actively adminis- tered. That, therefore, was an appeal to them, and he would be disappointed if they separated that afternoon before they made their organisation such that it might be felt in every parish in the deanery (applause). The Hon L A Brodrick, in the course of a vigorous explanatory address on the working of the fund and the needs it was meant to meet, said he was fully aware that in order to appeal for funds the most complete justification was demanded from those who made that appeal. The activities of Church life were now many-sided and far-reaching, and it required them to make out an overwhelming case if they were to meet with any response to any fresh demand upon Church people in this diocese or elsewhere. He was persuaded, however, that such a. case not only could be made out buo already existed and merely demanded their attention and care, in the fund now before them They wanted to put it on a wide and perma- nent basis, and to do that they must give publicity to the urgency of the case. What was the state of affairs ? Compared with 25 years ago there had been a great Falling off in the Value of Tithes in this diocese, from which nine tenths of the incomes of the beneficed clergy were derived. In fact the falling off amounted in that period to no less a sum than £28,000. That meant that an incumbent who 25 years ago was receiving £200 as his annual stipend was now in receipt of only £120 a year. That was a broad fact, which he commended to their earnest consideration. If the laity would for a moment picture to themselves what it meant, he thought they would find no difficulty in persuading themselves that the case demanded instant attention. He would also have them mark how this decrease in the value of the tithes had occurred. Had it happened by some sudden stroke of fortune in one year, the whole condi- tion would have been so volcanic and the catastrophe so great that in some degree it would have brought its own remedy. But the insidious character of the fall was shown by the fact that it had crept on little by little, year after year. The income of the incumbent had declined so gradually, but to keep up appearances he h&d hoped each succeeding year during the past 25 years that the bottom had been touched and that a revulsion was sure to follow. In this, however, his hopes had been disappointed. The result had been that his children were taken away from school at an earlier age than otherwise would have been the case the annual holiday, which did so much to refresh the par- son and give him renewed strength for the arduous labours he was called upon to undertake and which year by year were becoming more and more exacting, had been curtailed books which were to the clergyman what ammunition was to the soldier, had only been provided at the cost of keen personal sacrifice, but, most important of all, this gradual reduction of his income had produced a constant and never- ceasing financial anxiety as to how ends were to be made to meet. Bearing in mind what all this meant, he thought they would agree at once that a smashing case had been made out for this fund already, and that they would 1 reproach themselves that the necessity had not I been attended to before. Continuing, he commended personal appeal as one of tbe cardinal factors in the situation, and trusted that there would be a system of organisation in each parish. They wanted to establish the fund on a popular basis, and were as anxious for the shillings and half-crowns of parishioners as for the contributions of those who were blessed with a larger share of this world's goods, for individually small contributions in the aggregate sometimes reached to an amount far beyond the aggregate of the larger subscrip- tions. In a neighbouring rural deanery they had had an instance of a most munificent gift to this fund, which afforded an Example worthy of Imitation by persons in this and other rural deaneries in the diocese, who he trusted would each- Churchmen and Churchwomen—give according to their income. He advocated a system of canvassing for funds in every parish, for, said he, there are some people who never give to causes ot this kind just because they have not been asked. As a further instance of the real necessity for assisting the fund, he said he knew of one church in the diocese that had been raised from a sad state of inactivity to a state of high efficiency, yet the stipend of the incumbent was only £97 a year. That was a scandal which ought not to last, but should be redressed at the earliest opportunity, for it should be their business as laymen to see that the clergy had a living wage, and £200 a year was not at all extravagant. But to do that they wanted a fund of a year, to meet the falling tithes, for it had to be borne in mind that half the livings in the diocese were under £200 a year, and 15 were under £100 a year. Surely then they had an object worth striving for, yet last year only £1,200 was available. He trusted as a result of the appeal they were now making that before January 31st next their efforts would enormously outshine those of previous years (applause). The Dean of St Asaph thoroughly endorsed what he termed the admirable speeches of both the Chairman and Mr Brodrick, and he hoped earnestly that what they had heard from them would at once be put into practice (applause). The Chairman thought the first important step now would be to secure for the society a secretary in every parish in the deanery. Rhyl already had a most efficient secretary in Mr F J Gamlin, and he trusted the other parishes would follow that example.—-The other parishes were then called over, Mrs Morgan (Caegwyn) being nominated as secretary for Tremeirchion, Miss Enyon (Hylas) for Rhudd- lan, and Mr H A Cleaver for St Asaph; under- takings being given to secure secretaries for the parishes of Bodelwyddan, Cwm, Dyserth, Gwaenysgor, Meliden, Newmarket, and Pres- tatyn. Mr F J Gamlin proposed a resolution pledging the meeting to promote the-fund and to establish at once a proper organisation throughout every parish in the deanery in furtherance of that object. He assured his hearers that the movement had his warmest sympathy, and he thou^it it ought to com- mend itself to the most favourable considera- tion of all Church people. As laymen looked to the clergy for spiritual guidance, it was incumbent upon those who had the means at their disposal that they should come forward and support the fund. In Rhyl there was no difficulty with respect to funds for religious objects, and he believed that in regard to this particular object the parishioners would con- tinue to be as generous as in the past (applause). Mr G A Taverner having seconded, the reso- lution was carried unanimously. The Chairman remarked that it now remained for them to see that organisation was perfected in every parish, and he urged the desirability of a collection being made in the different churches at least once a year on behalf of the fund. The meeting terminated with a hearty vote of thanks to the speakers, on the motion of the Rev Thomas Lloyd, seconded by the Rev C E Boucher, of Frolesworth, Leicestershire. Before the audience dispersed it was announced that Mr S Perks had promised a subscription of JE5 to the fund.

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