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ST. AIDAN'S COLLEGE. INTERESTING FUNCTION. THE DEARTH OF CLERGY. [By OUR OWN REPORTER.] On Thursday a gathering of representative clergy and laity in the dioceses of Chester and Liverpool took place at St. Aidan's Theological College, Birkenhead, on the occasion of a luncheon by means of which function it is hoped to stimulate interest in the important work of tnis institution and secure more liberal pecuniary support in order to combat the difficulty of the dearth of candidates for the ministry. On all hands the keenest anxiety is being felt concerning the dearth of candidates for ordination, which is regarded as a crisis. It appears, however, that there are many men, otherwise clearly qualified for the ministry, who are debarred from offering themselves for training on financial grounds alone. In connection with St Aidan's College alone there are good grounds for believing that the ministry of the Church is annually losing many valuable men for lack of the necessary funds to enable the college authorities to receive them for training at reduced charges. In other religious bodies, such as Presbyterians, Wesleyans, and the Church of Rome, candidates for the ministry are usually provided with the means for their train- ing if they are not themselves able to afford the expense. It is not generally known that at St. Aidan's College a fund called the Students' Exhi- bition Fund has been established to meet this need, with a twofold object. The first is to pro- vide exhibitions to be awarded by competition, on the result of the Bishops' Entrance Examina- tion. By this means the number of men entering the college can generally be increased, and in particular the entry of the better-qualified be se- cured. The second object is to make grants in aid, to be assigned at the discretion of the college authorities. By this means, men qualified for the work of the ministry, but unable to meet the en- tire expenses of the college course, can receive such assistance as each case requires. To further these objects the council make a twofold appeai- (1) for donations with a view to raising a capital sum of £10,000, so as to secure the foundation of competitive exhibitions; (2) for annual subscrip- tions to provide grants in aid according to need. Mr. E. W. Bird (chairman of the council) pre- sided at the luncheon, and a large gathering in- cluded the Bishop of Chester (Visitor at the Col- lege), the Bishop of Liverpool, Archdeacon Mad- den, Canon S. Cooper Scott (Chester), Canon Symonds, Canon Hodgins, Canon Armour, Canon Honeyburne, Canon D. Thompson, Canon Weatherhead, Canon Tyrer, Canon Rob- son, the Rev. Dr Cogswell, Bishop noyston, the Kevs. W. L. Paige-Cox, C. Hylton Stewart, W. E. Torr, H. B. Blogg and T. H. May, the Mayor of Birkenhead (Mr. G. S. Hazlehurst), the Mayor of Chester (Mr. J. G. Frost), General Mocatta (Chester), Professor Gom- mer, Colonel Stitt, Messrs. C. Gatehouse, W. H. Churton (Chester), J. T. Golder (Chester), O. J. Bushell, J. P. Hargreaves, C. J. Procter, G. A. Solly, T. W. Tetley, J. R. Ward and J. Calder, and the principal of the college (the Rev. Arthur Tait, M.A.) and the vice-prinoipal (the Rev. F. S. G. Warman, M.A.). The Chairman, in introducing the Bishop of Liverpool, referred to the great dearth' experi- enced for many years of candidates for the minis- try, and its effect upon tho theological oolleges throughout the country. The numbers of students attending those colleges had been going down, and St. Aidan's had not escaped the de- clension. When the Archbishop of Sydney (then Dr. Smith) was appointed principal of the college, the institution was full, and the numbers rose as high as eighty. During his time there was a gradual decrease, and when he left the numbers had gono down to about fifty. His successor (Mr. Elmer Harding) was helpless to prevent the num- her still going down, though no one oou!d have been more devoted to the college and its interests than he—(hear, hear)--and when he left there were only about 25 students in the college. Of that number some were finishing their course, and in consequence only seven or eight old students re- mained to greet Mr. Tait, the new principal. In spite of that position, Mr. Tait commenced his first n term in October last with fourteen students, and by dint of energy he had now 27 students. (Ap- p ause.) It was pleasing to know that Mr. Tait's former parishioners at Eastbourne not only shewed their appreciation of him, on his leaving, in a very substantial form, but had also taken a great interest in the college, and had raised among them a fund of over JE:70 to be applied in helping capable and earnest students who were unable for one reason or another to complete their studies. (Hear, hear.) In addition to that effort, an old student of the college, whose name he was not allowed to disclose, had generously offered to de- fray the cost of that luncheon. (Applause.) It was hoped that that influential gathering would be the means of making the college more widely known and bringing friends to it. The Bishop of Liverpool, in proposing the toast "Prosperity to St. Aidan's," remarked that he had no official connection with the college, except to perform the duty of appointing four clerical mem- bers of the council. He had, however, the greatest pleasure in moving the toast for two reasons. First, because the diocese of Liverpool was only separated from St. Aidan's by the broad waters of the Mersey, and because in days gone by they owed a great deal to the clergy who had been trained in that place. Secondly, because some thirty years ago it was his lot to be placed in very much the same position as their new principal— to find himself in charge of a theological establish- ment which had to bo filled somehow with candi- dates for the ministry. As Bishop of Liverpool during the last two years lie had learned two r lessons-first, that there was a serious lack of candidates for ordination. He reckoned that in the diocese of Liverpool they required at least thirty young men every year to be ordained, who had not been ordained. In other words, they had only two-thirds of the number of candidates for ordination which the great diooese of Liverpool needed, and one-third of the curacies lacking curates had to go without. He learned that there was no lack of men wishing to take orders. During last year he received no less than fifty applications, most of which came from men who, though thoroughly sincere in their desire to take orders, had not the qualifications of ruling and instruct- ing which a clergyman required. He was sure ho j would be expressing the opinion of the clertrv and laity present when he said that a bishop ought not, even at a time when candidates were sorely needed, to lower the standard of qualifications. (Hear, hear.) There never was a time when they needed to have well-qualified men for ordination more than at the present. These two things had struck him during the last two years-the comparatively small number of qualified men who were coming forward for ordination, and the very large number of sincere but unqualified men who desired to take holy orders. He was sorry to say that fewer and fewer rich men were- taking orders every year. He thought if they were to appeal to the wealthy churches in the dioceses of Chester and Liverpool to choose godly and qualified young men from their midst, and send them to St. Aidan's, and year by year subscribe towards the cost of their college course, they would obtain not only men, but means to defray the expenses of their mainten- ance in college. It was a great law of God that the ministry was not confined to one class of the community, and when we found, as we did, among the poorer classes men who had at once the desire and the fitness, it was the duty of the Church to come forward and supply the third need, and to give them the opportunity. Some of the most useful men in the Church of England to-day wero men who would never have been able to take orders had it not been for some generous friend or some exhibition such as this; and if in the future they desired the Church of England to keep her hold upon the people, they must be content to search out men who were fit for the work. and tn put their hands in their pockets and support those men at the university or the theological college. He did not hesitate to say that no Church did less to pay her ministers and to train her candi- dates for holy orders than the Church of England. (Hear, hear.) When he heard what their Noncon- formist and Roman Catholic friends were doing, he could not help sometimes being ashamed, but he could not he'p thinking that their slackness was dne more to ignorance than anything else, and that the laity did not realise the state of things. He was sure that English Church laymen were always equal to the occasion, and when they heard of a real case of need, when they saw it was absolutely necessary for money to be sup- plied to maintain the Church in her present state of efficiency, the money required would be forth- COn1I1H!. The Bishop of Chester, in responding to the toast, said he was indebted to the college for a certain number of men who had come into the diocese. During the thirteen years he had been Bishop of Chester, he had ordained ten men from that college, and some of them had been exceed- ingly helpful. A great help had been rendered to the diocese by the general tone, learning and readiness to help in every good work which was found among the clergy who were at the head of the institution. What was the real function of St. Aidan's College with reference to the ministry of the Church of England? That was obviously the first question to ask before they went on to dwell upon what the Bishop of Liverpool had so clearly and powerfully put before them. He supposed they would agree it was the best thing for all who were going to be ministers in the Church of England to go, if they could, through a university course, and they would give precedence to the- universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Those uni- versities had a very valuable appendage in the unattached or non-collegiate system, which supple- mented some of the advantages of the collegiate system it did not possess by great advantages, both social and religious. He thought it was possible that. in the future St. Aidan's College might take a very valuable and fundamental part in connec- tion with the growth of the university—as he sup- posed it soon would be—of Liverpool. (Hear, hpar.) There were certain subjects in connection with theology which cou'd be perfectly well taught in what was termed an undenominational university—taught by men who had a single eye to the truth. Lectures on such subjects, however, would require to be supplemented by colleges be- longing to different denominations, and St. Aidan's, in connection with the University of Liverpool, would supply that devotional amistanoq upon denominational subjects. He was certain the college could be trusted not to be carried on upon anything like partisan lines. The Church of Eng- land did comparatively little towards the education of those who proposed to be its ministers, and he agreed that to a great extent they must feel ashamed upon that subject when they observed what was done by other religious bodies. On the other hand, let them be fair to themselves. The reason the Church of England did less in this respect than other religious bodies was, perhaps, partly because the Church of England had been able to draw upon m,bat he might call self- supporting classes of the ministry. Long might that be so. But it was decreasingly so. In former days there were comparatively few occupations which were considered to be open to the sons of gentlemen, but now, happily, the number of em- ployments in which educated gentlemen could take was almost legion. That was one of the results of Christianity leavening society. At the same time, it brought a drawback: they had fewer men of wealth and high education to enter the Church. Therefore, there was an increasing demand for such exhibitions as those proposed at St. Aidan's, and he hoped that one of the good resu!ts that would come of the present dearth of ministers was that the laity would realise their responsibiii- ties more than they had done hitherto. He did not see any prospect, humanely speaking, of their being able to provide for the future religious needs of such a country as England unless the well- chosen ministers of the Church of England—a small but influential body-were more and more supported by the co-operation of the laity who were not merely content to give, but who were also willing to act up to their position. The Principal of the College proposed the health of the old students, coupling with the toast the name of one of the oldest students, the Rev. J. G. Haworth. The Rev. J. G. Haworth, in responding, inti- mated that he would give the committee £ 1,000 towards the £ 10,000 required to be raised, if they would raise tho other 9,000. If, as an alterna- tive, they preferred to adopt a yearly subscription scheme, he would give £100 as soon as they had a subscription list of JE500 a year. The health of the Chairman was drunk, on the proposition of the Mayor of Birkenhead, and the Chairman's response concluded the proceedings,



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