CHAPTER XIV: THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND IN NEW ZEALAND.
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THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND IN NEW ZEALAND.
AMONGST the various religious bodies in New Zealand, the Church of England occupies a prominent position. Even in the mother-country, where the Church is "by law established," and to whose support all are called upon to contribute, there are not a few who, though dissenting from her doctrines, recognise in the Church of England a mighty instrument of good--"a Church dispersing throughout the kingdom educated men, commissioned to teach the truths which relate to the duties and destinies of men; to promote peace and good-will, to relieve distress, to comfort affliction, and to discountenance vice." It will be fortunate for the Colony, therefore, if--without Church Rates or Tithes; without levying a tax upon the substance, or doing violence to the conscience of any man--the members of the Church of England in New Zealand shall be so efficiently organized that wherever a small community are gathered together, some provision may be made for their religious worship and Christian instruction: that in every Settlement, as it springs up, provision shall be made for
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the erection of a Christian temple, and for the maintenance of a Christian minister; and that each may have "not only its parochial or district pastor, but its chief pastor to watch over, and guide, and direct the whole."
Of the European population of the Colony, about one-half, and considerably more than half of the professing Christians amongst the Native Race, are members of the Church; and of the one hundred and forty Ministers of various religious denominations now stationed in the Colony, not less than seventy are registered as Ministers of the Church of England. Of the seventy clergymen of the Church, twenty-two were ordained by the Bishop of New Zealand: ten of them having been originally sent out by the Church Missionary Society in the character of catechists. Two of the clerical body are of the aboriginal Native Race.
LIST OF "OFFICIATING MINISTERS," 1858.
United Church of England and Ireland... 70
Roman Catholic Church...... 21
Wesleyan Methodist Society...... 19
Free Church of Scotland...... 14
Congregational Independents...... 4
Baptists. ..... 3
Primitive Methodist Society...... 3
Presbyterian Congregations ..... 2
Lutheran Church ....... 2
Church of Scotland....... 1
Hebrew Congregation..... 1
Like all other religious denominations in New Zealand, the Church of England is independent of, and receives no aid from the Colonial State: the
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funds required for its support are derived from a variety of sources. Towards the maintenance of the Clergy in the English Settlements, a grant has every year been made, since the foundation of the Colony, by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts; but this is a source of income which cannot be regarded as permanent. Real property in the immediate neighbourhood of Auckland, of the value of upwards of 20,000l., and which some years hence will yield a fair annual income, is held by the Bishop of New Zealand in trust for Collegiate and Educational purposes; and upwards of seventy allotments of land in various parts of the Colony, but chiefly in the Northern Island, by various instruments--purchase deeds, deeds of gift, and grants from the Crown --are vested in the Bishop of New Zealand and his successors, as sites for Churches, Schools, Parsonage-houses, Cemeteries, and Mission stations, for the Endowment of Scholarships, and for other purposes in connection with the Church. It was a distinguishing-feature in the scheme of the founders of the Settlement of Canterbury, that one-third of the proceeds of all the land sold by them should be set apart for Religious and Educational purposes; and a considerable sum has already been realised and invested for that purpose. Permanent investments on a small scale have also been made for similar purposes in the Settlements of Wellington and Nelson, under the operations of the New Zealand Company. In various parts of the Colony some progress has been made towards the accumulation of an Endowment fund for
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the maintenance of the Minister. In some churches, funds are raised by means of pew rents; and in all the offertory is a considerable source of income. From these various and somewhat precarious sources, temporary provision, on a very moderate scale, is made for the maintenance of the Clergy in the more populous districts of the Colony.
The principal contributors to the support of the Native church are the Church Missionary Society, who still maintain more than twenty Clergymen in the country; and who, in the course of the last thirty years, can hardly have expended less than a quarter of a million sterling in maintaining their Missionary establishments in New Zealand. By those who are unacquainted with the real state of the country, the idea has been entertained that the Society might now withdraw from these Islands as a mission field; and that a body of clergy of the Native Race might be trained up, to whose pastoral care their countrymen might be confided. The great body of the Native people, it is true, have become professing Christians; but they have not undergone a corresponding change in their personal and domestic habits; and until the usages of civilised life shall be generally adopted amongst them, it will be difficult for any individual of the race to keep up the habits he may have acquired in the course of his own special training. He may not find it difficult, while living in the midst of a civilised community, to practise the usages of those around him; but a lifetime hardly suffices to render civilised habits a necessity: and the Native Minister
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who, when located in some outlying district where civilised usages do not yet prevail, shall, not only without the support, but against the influence of public opinion, continue to stand alone, and not sink down to the level of his flock, must be a man of no common force of character. By the Missionaries, and others who are personally acquainted with the Natives, the training of a body of Native Pastors, who by their tried character and confirmed habits may be capable of supplying the place of the English Missionary, is regarded as a work requiring too much time to be of any real value in meeting the present need. Even when most hopeful of the character and capability of the Native race, the Missionaries themselves would have received almost as a thing incredible, the assurance that they should themselves live to witness even two individuals of the aboriginal Native race ordained as Deacons of the Church of England. 1 To withdraw now from New Zealand as a field of Missionary labour would, on the part of the Church Missionary Society, be a fatal error. At no period in the history of the country have the native people so much needed as at the present moment, the services of the Christian Missionary. To induce a heathen race to receive the Christian faith may in itself be no easy task; but the difficulty of completing the work,
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and of building up a heathen people into a Christian nation, really begins when, the novelty having worn off, they are afterwards surrounded by a civilised race, who, though professing Christianity with their lips, deny it in their lives: it is then that the difficulty in reality begins. Something has, indeed, been done by the Natives themselves in making grants of land towards the maintenance of schools; and in some parts of the country they have expressed their readiness to contribute towards the support of a resident Minister; but unless some equivalent provision shall be made for their spiritual welfare, the Church Missionary Society can hardly abandon New Zealand as a Mission field without rendering fruitless much of the labour and expenditure of the last twenty years.
Owing, probably, to the fact that the Church of England in New Zealand has derived no invidious distinction from the State, no community has ever probably been less disturbed by religious dissensions. "The Denominational Schools," recently observed one of the local papers, "were never perverted to the purposes of proselytism: many Protestant parents felt secure in sending their children to the Catholic schools; and Episcopalians and Wesleyans, joined by the Presbyterians, reciprocated the feeling of mutual confidence towards each other." Nor have the benefits of increased zeal in favour of the Church of England in New Zealand been confined to the members of its own particular pale. With this animating example before them, the other Christian denominations have been moved to increased exertions, to
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afford their members settled in those Islands the advantages of the Ordinances and of the religious Ministrations of their parent Church; and from the earliest period of its settlement, there has been a reasonable expectation that the Colony would grow up an enlightened Christian country, and become a centre of civilization for the Southern Seas.
But until recently, the condition of the members of the Church of England in the colonies, excited but little interest in the mother-country. Within the last twenty years only has it been deemed needful that the Church in the Colonies should have the benefit of local Episcopal supervision; and to the zeal of a single prelate is the Colonial Church mainly indebted for the recent increase in the number of its Bishops. "Let every band of settlers," was the language of the late Bishop of London, "which goes forth from Christian England with authority to occupy a distant territory and to form a separate community, take with it, not only its civil rulers and functionaries, but its Bishops and its Clergy." An Episcopal church may now be found, many years after their first foundation, in the greater number of our Colonial dependencies; but New Zealand is almost the only British Colony in which, coeval with its foundation, the Episcopal church of England has been planted in its full integrity. 2
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As early as the year 1838, and before the country was colonized, the late Bishop of Australia, reporting on the state of the New Zealand Mission, urged the necessity, which even then existed, that the Church should be planted in these islands "in the full integrity of its system: its ordinances administered by a clergy duly ordained; and the clergy themselves subject to regular ecclesiastical authority." 3 But it was in a great measure through the instru-
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mentality of the New Zealand Company that so early as the year 1841, New Zealand was erected into a Colonial See. Fifteen years afterwards, the southern portion of the Southern Island (the Provinces of Canterbury and Otago) were carved out of the diocese of New Zealand, and erected into the see of Christ Church. Measures are now in progress, too, for a further subdivision of the Diocese by the establishment of three additional Sees; and the Colony is shortly to become an independent Episcopal Province, of which the present Bishop of New Zealand is to be the Metropolitan. The important precedent has also recently been established of consulting the wishes of Church members in filling up appointments to Colonial Sees; and in the first Bishop of Christ Church, the Colonists of Canterbury have for some time had for their chief pastor the Bishop of their choice; 4 and the appointments to the proposed bishoprics of Wellington 5 and Nelson, 6 are about
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to be made on the recommendation of the Colonists themselves. 7
But without either law or organization, there can be but little efficiency. If it were uncertain whether the Governor of a Colony were clothed with any legal powers; if there were no means of ascertaining what his powers really were; or if, when known, there existed no tribunal for enforcing them; if it were uncertain, too, whether the laws of England, or which of them, extended to a Colony: if there were no Local Legislature with authority to make Laws for its government; no Courts for the trial and punishment of offenders, the hapless condition of the Colonial State may be readily imagined: yet until means are taken for establishing amongst its members some settled form of Ecclesiastical government, such is, in fact, the condition of the Colonial Church. Though their numbers far exceed those of any other religious community in the Colony, the members of the Church of England in New Zealand are practically the least powerful and efficient of them all, when called upon to act in concert. A majority of the population of the Colony are to be found amongst the members of the Church; its Clergy are numerically equal to the Ministers of all the other religious denominations, and more than ordinary provision has been made for its Episcopal supervision;
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but the Church of England in New Zealand is still without law, without organization, without discipline, and without unity; and for want of some system of organization, by which its power may be directed to a common object by a common will, its influence is destroyed. Of all religious denominations, too, the members of the Church of England are the most helpless when suddenly thrown upon their own resources in a new country. The lay members of other religious bodies have generally had some share at home in the management of their Church affairs, and the necessity for their own personal exertions has not been forestalled by the providence of their ancestors. Carrying with them habits of self-reliance, knowing that there is no one to help them but themselves, and having no Act of Submission or other Ecclesiastical Statute to deter them, they, immediately on landing in a new country, set earnestly to work to organize a system of Church Government suited to their new and altered circumstances; and from the outset they became a united and effective body. The members of the Church of England, on the other hand, find themselves in an anomalous position: they neither carry with them the Ecclesiastical Laws of their parent church, nor any authority to make new and more suitable laws for themselves; and until recently, it was believed that the Clergy and laity could not, in the face of the Act of Submission, 8
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lawfully even meet together for the purpose of agreeing on regulations touching on Ecclesiastical affairs: indeed, on questions of the most elementary kind, and of immediate practical importance, they find themselves without either rule or guidance. By what means may the necessary funds be raised for the building of churches, and for the maintenance of the Clergy? In whom should Church property be vested, and by whom should it be administered? Should the Clergy be supported by independent incomes, or depend partly on the voluntary contribution of their congregations? and should their incomes be regulated by any general scale? How and by whom should patronage be administered? By what tribunal are Ecclesiastical offences to be tried, and how is Church discipline to be maintained? On these and other like questions, the members of the Church of England in a Colony, not only find themselves without any law, but without any power of legislation. Having been members of an Institution in the mother country having its Churches and its Ministers maintained and supported by ancient endowments, they come to regard a well-endowed Ecclesiastical establishment almost as a birthright, and are somewhat surprised, on transplanting themselves to a new country, that Churches are not built, and that Ministers are not
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supported without cost or trouble to themselves: and some time commonly elapses before they realize their true position and recognise the necessity for their own exertion. And even when the vis inertiae has been overcome, having been unaccustomed at home to take any part in Church organization, or in the management of Ecclesiastical affairs, the laity find that they have no experience to aid them, when called upon to take part in laying the foundation of the Ecclesiastical Institutions of their adopted country. And no measures having been taken by the parent Church to provide her Colonial branches with any system of local self-government, the Bishops, Clergy, and laity of the Church of England in a British Colony, instead of being a body "fitly joined together by that which every joint supplieth," was a mere aggregation of disjointed members, as powerless for many important purposes as an army without the Mutiny Act or the Articles of War. There is the prospect, indeed, in New Zealand of a considerable increase in the number of the Bishops; but the subdivision of the Colony into several Dioceses, desirable as it may be on other grounds, is by no means calculated in itself to solve the difficulty arising from the want of organization, from the want of some system for the administration of its patronage and discipline, and some more definite understanding as to the power and jurisdiction of its Bishops. A mere increase, indeed, in the number of the Bishops, would simply aggravate the evil. Instead of being governed by a single Bishop having arbitrary, unde-
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fined, and inadequate power, and administering some provisional system of his own designing, the Church would be virtually divided into several sections, each presided over by a Bishop, with the like uncertain powers; and there would not improbably be as many different practices prevailing as to patronage and discipline, in what ought to be the one Church, as Dioceses into which the Colony may be divided.
The need of some system of organization for the Church in New Zealand was first mooted in the Colony itself, at a meeting of the Bishop and Clergy in the year 1847. "I believe," said the Bishop, in his primary charge on that occasion, "the monarchical idea of the Episcopate to be as foreign to the true mind of the Church as it is adverse to the Gospel doctrine of humility... The expressive Ma of our native language, I pray may always be appended to my name. I would rather resign my office than be reduced to act as a single isolated being. It remains, then, to define by some general principles the terms of our co-operation. They are simply these: that neither will I act without you, nor can you act without me." But the New Zealand branch of the Church is still in this unsatisfactory position: the status of its Bishops is still undetermined; their power, undefined and uncertain as it is, is entirely autocratic; its Clergy are practically beyond the pale of constitutional law; and the Church has no other security for the enforcement of discipline than the absolute power of the Bishops to grant and withdraw their licence to
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preach. 9 And until measures have been taken for organising Church Members in the Colonies, for purposes of Church government, their condition is every-
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where the same. "The government of the Church of England in this Colony," said the Bishop of Melbourne, referring to Port Phillip, "is a pure autocracy.... While the Colonial Clergy justly complain of the insecurity of their tenure, men of high standing and ability in England, such as we especially require, are for the most part unwilling to accept employment where they would be subject to the arbitrary will of a single individual." 10
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The first movement on the part of the lay members of the Church in New Zealand, for the establishment of some system of Church organisation, took place in 1849. "Upon reviewing our present position," said the promoters of a plan of Church government which was then put forward, and which received the approval of a considerable number of Church members, "we find that we form the most advanced and remote outposts of the Church of England. There have also devolved upon us, in common with many of our countrymen, the important duties of aiding in the foundation of a great nation, and in the moulding of its institutions. At the same time there were in our immediate vicinity various heathen nations, and even in the midst of us are many Native inhabitants of these Islands who have not yet embraced the doctrines of Christianity. Moreover, we, the European members of the Church of England, have been collected from many countries, and are settled in widely detached localities; and thus, although we are bound together by a common faith, and have common duties to perform, we are united by but few of the usual ties
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of long and familiar acquaintance; while there is no system of local organisation which might tend to draw us together as members of the same Church. We therefore feel ourselves called, from circumstances and from our position, to vast responsibilities, and to the discharge of important duties, whilst we have many elements of weakness around and among us. From these causes it is our earnest conviction that a peculiar necessity exists for the speedy establishment of some system of Church government amongst us, which, by assigning to each order in the Church its appropriate duties, might call forth the energies of all, and thus enable the whole body of the Church most efficiently to perform its functions."
The Colonists being scattered over numerous and widely detached Settlements, it was by no means easy to ascertain what particular form of Church government they might deem most suitable to the circumstances of the country. To arrive at their views upon the subject, public meetings were held in the various Settlements in the years 1852 and 1853, to consider a document entitled, "General Principles of a Constitution for the Church in New Zealand," drawn up and circulated by the Bishop of New Zealand, and based upon the plan which had received the assent of a considerable number of Church members in 1849. "The amendments made at these Meetings were embodied with the original draft in a tabular statement, with the signatures appended, in order that the amount of difference of opinion might be distinctly seen... and the result of this inquiry
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was the almost unanimous agreement of the members of the Church who subscribed their names to this document, in two fundamental principles: the one relating to the Constitution of the Synod, and the other to the Standard of Doctrine." 11 And the Bishop of New Zealand, on the occasion of his visit to England in 1854, was authorised to move the Imperial authorities to embody these principles in a Constitution for the government of the Colonial Church. From the Cape of Good Hope, from Canada, and from Australia, there was, at the same time, a general call upon the Imperial Legislature to establish or to authorise some measures of Synodical action in our Colonies. In the various Petitions and Memorials presented to Parliament on the subject, there was a general concurrence of opinion in the various Colonies that, whatever plan might be adopted for the government of the Church in the Colonies, laymen should have a considerable share in the administration of its affairs; and that no bill should be agreed to which should have any tendency to separate the Church in the Colonies from the Church in the mother-country. In compliance with the wishes of the Colonists, three Bills were successively introduced into Parliament: in 1852 by Mr. Gladstone, by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1853, and by the Solicitor-General in 1854--for enabling the Bishops, Clergy, and laity of the Church of England in the Colonies to make regulations for the management of their Ecclesiastical affairs: not one of those Bills,
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however, passed into a law. It was not denied in Parliament that the members of the Church in our Colonies were in a disadvantageous position, compared with the members of other religious denominations: it was admitted, too, that they ought to be placed in the same position as any other religious body; and that if the various religious communities were on a footing of equality, none of them being established, it was but just to the Church of England that it should have the same privileges as others; and that if any existing Act of Parliament deprived her of any liberty which they enjoyed, it was but reasonable that these Acts should be modified. But the Bill introduced by the Archbishop of Canterbury (1853) was something more than a mere enabling measure; for it prescribed certain rules and a certain mode of action, by which Church members in all the colonies should be bound: and it met with considerable opposition, on the ground that the Colonists themselves would resent it, as a breach of recent pledges not to interfere in their local affairs, and as an attempt to undermine the Colonial franchise of self-government. It was objected, too, that it would establish in our Colonies an ecclesiastical law at variance with that of England--that it would create synods such as were never known in the Queen's dominions--and that we had no right to force upon the Colonists so extraordinary an innovation. Coming from what was believed to be an influential and well-informed authority, these objections were not without their weight; and opposition having been raised against it on other grounds,
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and in various quarters, both this Bill and the Bill introduced by the Solicitor-General were allowed to drop.
In the meantime, however, the opinion of several eminent counsel had been given, to the effect that the Act of Submission (25 Henry VIII., c. 19) does not extend to prohibit or render illegal the holding of Diocesan Synods within the limits of a Colonial See; and with reference to a memorial from the Canadian Legislature, the Governor-General of Canada was informed by the Secretary of State that her Majesty's Government also were by no means satisfied that, for enabling the Clergy and Laity to meet by representative bodies for the purpose of making rules for the management of Church affairs, any statutable aid was necessary.
All prospect of Imperial legislation being at an end, it remained to be determined what course should be taken by the members of the Church in New Zealand, for the management of its property and the organization of its members. There no longer appeared to be any legal impediment to the meeting of the various Orders in the Church, for the purpose of devising measures for the management of its affairs. It was impossible that the Bishop--in whom, for facility of transmission, from his corporate character, nearly the whole of the real property of the Church had been vested--could himself profitably manage upwards of seventy distinct properties, situated in various parts of the country. Nor, when the contemplated subdivision of the Colony into several
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dioceses shall have been effected, will it be fitting or convenient that the Bishop of New Zealand shall be the sole depositary of, and continue to hold, all the Church property in the Colony, which will then locally belong to several separate Sees. Some provision was therefore needed, under any circumstances, for the future management of the property of the Church: and, in order that the Laity might be induced to take an active interest in the affairs of the Church, the Bishop of New Zealand expressed his readiness, on being duly authorised by a legislative enactment to do so, at once to transfer the various Trust properties held by himself, to a Convention of Church members; and at the same time suggested that, instead of aiming at a constitution which should have the effect of establishing a complete system of Ecclesiastical polity, including a definition of Church membership, that the members of the Church who might be willing to administer its property, should associate themselves together on the basis of mutual compact, and establish a representative governing body, to manage the property of the Church--to apportion its proceeds--to regulate the salaries to be paid to its Ministers--and to make such regulations for the extension of the Church system, and for the organization of its members, as might be practicable, on the basis of property, and on the principle of voluntary compact.
A Deed of Trust, framed for the purpose of carrying these objects into effect, having been circulated in the various settlements, the Clergy and Laity were invited
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by the Bishop of New Zealand to elect Assessors to attend a Conference, at which it was proposed to revise the Trust Deed, to determine to what extent it might be expedient to seek the aid of the Colonial Legislature, and to prepare the necessary measures for inaugurating the First General Synod, A small chapel, St. Stephen's, at Taurarua, 12 in the neighbourhood of Auckland, was the place appointed for the meeting of the Conference. When all the Members were present, the Conference consisted of the following persons: --
The Bishop of New Zealand.
The Bishop of Christ Church.
Archdeacon Henry Williams
" William Williams
" Alfred Nesbit Brown.
Representing the Missionary or Native Districts.
Archdeacon C. J. Abraham
The Rev. G. A. Kissling
T. M. Haultain
Representing the Auckland District.
Representing New Plymouth.
R. K. Prendergast
Archdeacon Robert Bateman Paul
Edward William Stafford
The Rev. James Wilson
Henry John Tancred.
On the 14th of May, 1857, the business of the Conference formally commenced; and after the celebration of Divine Service and the administration of the Holy Communion, the members present having
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elected the Bishop of New Zealand to be their Chairman, proceeded to determine the general rules by which the business of the Conference should be conducted. As to the time and place of meeting, it was determined that the members should meet daily, except on Saturdays and Sundays, at St. Stephen's Chapel, from ten to one o'clock in the forenoon, and from three to six o'clock in the afternoon. It was hardly expected that their proceedings would excite much public interest; but if they sat with closed doors there might be the appearance of a desire to shun publicity: it was, therefore, determined that their proceedings should be open to the public. As the object of the members in meeting together was to hold a really free Conference, it was resolved that they should not be confined to a single set speech and reply on each subject of discussion, but that the mode of conducting the business of the Conference should be similar to that adopted by Committees of Legislative bodies, so that there might be no limit in the way of explanation, repetition, or reply. And as the subjects proposed to be dealt with affected all the three Orders of the Church, it was agreed that nothing should be done without the consent of all; that the Conference should vote by Orders, and that no question should be considered as decided which had not been carried by a majority of all the Orders. These and a few other standing rules having been agreed upon, and the general objects of the meeting having been stated by the Chairman in his explanatory address, the real business of Conference was com-
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menced; and for six hours a day, for a period of upwards of a month, the members addressed themselves steadily to their work.
The Conference had been assembled to consider and devise a plan of operation framed on the principle of voluntary compact; but, as binding legal powers had been sought for from the Colonial States in several of our Colonies, it was submitted to the Conference to decide which of the two courses it might be most expedient to pursue. There was no longer any doubt of the legality of the meeting of Bishops, Clergy, and Laity, for the purpose of regulating the affairs of the Church; and even assuming that an Act of the Imperial Parliament was in force prohibiting such meetings, it was not within the power of a Colonial Legislature to remove the prohibition.
Against the course adopted in Melbourne, it was urged that the members of the Church of England in that Colony derive their powers of Synodical action entirely from the Colonial State; that what the Legislature have given, the Legislature may take away; and that the Synod established under the authority of the Melbourne Act, holds its existence at the will of a body with whom it may have no community of interest, sympathy, or feeling: that when any alteration or amendment may be required in the Act, recourse must be again had to the Colonial Legislature, when the proceedings of the Synod will be liable to hostile or unfriendly discussion; and that the affairs of the Church, being regulated under the authority of the State, will in fact at all times be
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liable, both at the hustings and in the Legislature, to be made the subject of party and political debate. Seeing the position of the members of the Church under the provisions of the Melbourne Act, the Conference decided--instead of applying to the Colonial Legislature for enabling powers, and seeking to establish a system of organization which might be made binding on the whole body of Church members--to proceed, in the first instance at least, on the principle of voluntary compact, and to apply to the Colonial Legislature only in case legal powers should be found necessary for carrying the proposed system into effect. Two instruments which had been framed with that object were now laid before them; the Bishop's model Trust Deed, framed in England under the advice of eminent counsel, and which for some time had been in the hands of Church members in the various Settlements; and a draft Trust Deed, prepared in the Canterbury settlement. Both were framed on the same principle. The Canterbury Deed was thought to have the advantage in point of form and arrangement, but in point of substance the Bishop's Trust Deed was preferred: but as it was desirable that the measures to be adopted by the Conference should be thoroughly discussed and clearly understood by all the members, it was resolved that, instead of adopting either Deed, the Conference should begin de novo, and themselves frame a Deed of Foundation, or Constitution, upon certain fundamental principles to be previously agreed upon; availing themselves indifferently of the provisions of both instruments as
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occasion might require. This course no doubt protracted considerably the sittings of the Conference, but it was not without its advantages; for if either Deed had been adopted simply for revision, it is probable that its provisions would have received but a comparatively hasty consideration, and that the members would hardly have been able afterwards to give a satisfactory explanation of the reasons which had led to their adoption.
Having, in a series of Resolutions, adopted after lengthened discussion, agreed upon the fundamental principles on which the branch of the Church of England in New Zealand should be united; having defined the powers and jurisdiction of its governing body, and agreed upon the terms and conditions on which its property should be administered, the Conference proceeded to frame the formal instrument by which their views might be accomplished, which provides that a representative body, to be called the "General Synod" shall be established for the management of Church property in New Zealand; that it shall consist of the three Orders, of Bishops, Clergy, and Laity; that the consent of a majority of each of the three Orders shall be necessary to all acts of the Synod; and that its Constitution and mode of voting, as thus prescribed, shall be unalterable: and, as it was not the object of the framers of the Constitution to found a new Church in New Zealand, but simply to organize the members of the Church of England in the Colony--the doctrines and ritual of the united Church of England and Ireland,
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and the authorized version of the Bible, were declared to be the bond of union. To avoid the evils which would arise from the discussion in the Synod of questions relating to Doctrine and Ritual, it is declared that such bond of union shall also be unalterable. All property conveyed to the General Synod, it is declared shall be held and administered in such manner and for such purposes as the Synod shall from time to time appoint; but with this express proviso, that the doctrines to be taught by the Bishops, Clergy, schoolmasters, and others, wholly or partially maintained out of the proceeds of such property, shall not be repugnant to the doctrines of the Church of England, as explained and contained in the Thirty-nine Articles and the Book of Common Prayer, &c. Although the Conference were unwilling to take any step which might appear to interfere with the supremacy of the Crown, 13 or to weaken the union with the mother-Church, yet as the property of the Church in New Zealand might be placed in jeopardy, unless
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provision were made for the contingency of a separation of the Colony from the mother-country, and for that of an alteration in the existing relations between the Church and State, it is declared that the Synod may, in the event of such contingency, make such alterations in the Articles, Services, and Ceremonies of the Church in New Zealand, as the altered circumstances may then require. To the General Synod, power is also given to determine how and by whom, so far as regards those who are maintained by the funds at the disposal of the Synod, patronage shall be exercised; to fix the amount of salaries; to establish a tribunal for deciding questions of false doctrine and discipline; to make regulations for the government of the Clergy, schoolmasters, and others, holding office under, or receiving enrolment from the Synod; and, generally, to make such regulations as may be necessary for the order, good government, and efficiency of the Colonial branch of the Church of England in New Zealand. Such are some of the principal provisions of "the Constitution for associating together, as a branch of the United Church of England and Ireland, the members of the said Church in the Colony of New Zealand."
To the General Synod, power is given to determine the number, qualification, and mode of election of their own body; but it was necessary for the Conference to determine the Electoral districts, the number of Representatives, the qualification of Electors and Representatives for establishing the Constituent Assembly or first General Synod. And as regards
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the Clergy, it was determined that the clerical Representatives should be elected by the Clergy; and that Deacons should be eligible to act among the clerical body, either as Electors or Representatives. To avoid all questions as to Church membership, and to exclude no one who might be desirous of carrying out the measures adopted by the Conference for organizing the members of the Church of England in New Zealand, it was resolved that in the election of the first General Synod, every man of the age of twenty-one years or upwards, who should sign a declaration that he is desirous of uniting himself with the members of the Church under the provisions of the Constitution, shall be entitled to vote at the election of a lay member. But, as not even a declaration of Church membership is required on the part of the Electors, it was determined by the Conference that the range of their choice should be strictly confined to members in full communion with the Church; and, with but a single dissentient voice, it was resolved that no person should be qualified to be a lay Representative at the first General Synod except he be a communicant.
The property--which it is proposed shall, in future, be administered by Trustees, to be appointed by the Synod--is still vested in the Bishop of New Zealand; and it cannot be legally transferred by him without the authority of the Legislature: to that extent, therefore, the aid of the State was required, and the draft of a Bill was prepared by the Conference to be presented to the Colonial Legislature for that
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purpose. The Constitution itself, based as it was on the principle of voluntary compact, needed neither the authority nor the sanction of the General Assembly; but, for convenience of reference, for the purpose of identification, and as a means of affording the members of the Legislature an opportunity of making themselves acquainted with the provisions of the Constitution, a copy of it, in the form of a schedule, was annexed to the Bill. Simple as it was, the Bill met with considerable opposition. Some of the Members of the Assembly, not well acquainted with the objects of the Conference, unwilling that any legislative authority should be given to the Constitution, and fearing, though erroneously, that if even a copy of the Constitution were allowed to be attached to the Bill, the Constitution itself would thereby receive some legal validity, proposed that the schedule should be struck out. If, however, there was one point more than another on which the members of the Conference had been generally and cordially agreed, it was that the Church Constitution should not in anywise be dependent on the Colonial State; and, as a copy of the Constitution had been annexed to the Bill simply for convenience, no great effort was made to retain it, and its opponents succeeded in having it struck out. But the Bill ultimately passed without undergoing any substantial alteration: and by the Bill, in the form in which it passed into a Law, the Colonial Legislature recognises the members of the Church who may associate themselves together under the Constitution, as com-
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potent to receive and administer the property of the Church on behalf of the New Zealand Branch of the United Church of England and Ireland. The Legislature not only declares also that the recent Conference represented a numerous body of the members of the Church of England in New Zealand, and that it agreed to a Constitution for establishing a General Synod of the Church, but it recognises the Synod to be so established as "The General Synod of the Church of England in New Zealand;" and it declares that, for its better management, it is expedient that the property now held by the Bishop of New Zealand for religious and charitable purposes, should be transferred to Trustees, to be appointed by such General Synod; and it formally authorises such transfer to be made. 14
It may not improbably be found that compulsory powers, to be derived from the Legislature, and binding on all the members of the Church, may be necessary for its complete and efficient organization; but the plan recommended by the Conference, based simply on property and on the principle of voluntary compact, may serve as a prudent experiment, on which a complete system of Ecclesiastical Polity may hereafter be prepared. The plan proposed by the Conference is simply an attempt to unite the members of the
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Church for the purpose of administering any Church property which may be entrusted to their management, upon such principles, as to patronage, discipline, &c, as may be presented by themselves. The contemplated union of Church members can include none but those who voluntarily enrol themselves amongst its members; it excludes none but those who do not choose to join it, and it can deal with no other property than that which may be voluntarily conveyed to it. Those only are practically amenable to its rules and regulations who are wholly or partially maintained by the funds at its disposal; while the independent rights of those members of the Church who may take no part in its proceedings are at the same time left untouched.
But whatever may be the result of its measures, it must be accorded to the New Zealand Conference that its proceedings were conducted with uninterrupted good feeling; that its measures were devised with careful deliberation, and that its members devoted themselves with painstaking assiduity to the business for which they had been assembled. What has been said of the Canterbury Convocation of 1854 may be said of the New Zealand Conference of 1857- "The members knew that the failure of Convocation had been confidently predicted. It had been said that a set of Clergymen, differing in opinion, could not possibly meet without quarrelling; that there were angry spirits in the Convocation certain to light up a flame......But nothing of the kind happened. The demeanour and conduct of
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the members were that of men fully sensible of their grave responsibilities. Their proceedings were regular and decorous; and all the public documents were marked by a dignity and ability answerable to the position and high reputation of those from whom they emanated."
By those who are most sincerely attached to the doctrines and ritual of the Church of England, it is admitted that abuses have crept into her system, which, for want of freedom of action, she has hitherto been unable to reform. But the founders of a Church system in a new country, unfettered by any pre-existing system, and unimpeded by any vested interests, have the opportunity of remedying the defects, and of providing against the abuses by which the efficiency of the Church in the mother-country is no doubt seriously impaired; and the General Synod of New Zealand have full liberty, under the provisions of the Constitution, to build up such a system of Ecclesiastical Polity as they may deem most suited to promote the efficiency of the infant Church. But unless the great body of the Lay members of the Church of England in New Zealand shall themselves be moved to take an active interest in the management of its affairs, the Constitution framed for their acceptance by the recent Conference, will be of no more value than a body of dry bones; and it still remains to be seen whether they will take timely advantage of the opportunity which now lies before them of conferring a lasting benefit on the country of their adoption. If the property proposed to be
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transferred to the General Synod shall be carefully and profitably administered, and if the powers proposed to be conferred upon that body, for ordering the affairs of the Church, for managing its property, and for promoting its efficiency, shall be seen to be wisely exercised, it may be expected that other property devoted to Church purposes, will from time to time be added to the common fund; that an increasing number of the members of the Church will be moved to take part in the management of its affairs, and that the measures of the Conference, if insufficient in themselves, may ultimately lead to the establishment of a system of Church government which, "assigning to each order in the Church its appropriate duties, may call forth the energies of all;" and that, being gradually "united by joints and bands, having nourishment ministered, and knit together," the members of the Church of England in New Zealand may be formed into one body, may be animated by one spirit, and may be governed by one law; and thus become an efficient instrument for building up the people of these Islands into a Christian nation, and for spreading abroad the light of the Gospel amongst the heathen people of the Southern Seas.
London: Printed by SMITH, ELDER and Co., Little Green Arbour Court.