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CHALMERS CHURCH.

TO THE EDITOR. Sir, —Your readers will no doubt have noticed,that the Presbytery of Dunedin have again discussed, very fully, the serious question as to whether the small congregation worshipping in the above church should be allowed to exist or not, and I am sure it must occur to all interested minds that it might be possible for the reverend court to find much more useful work. If you will kindly grant mo a little space I will as briefly as possible give your readers the history of the congregation. As is well-known the introduction of organs and the use of hymns in the Presbyterian churches of the City are innovations of comparatively recent date, and in every case a minority was opposed to the change, but of course these old-fashioned individuals were crushed. Then the churches found that money could be much more easily gathered into the trsasury if bazaars, sacred concerts, and other amusements of a similar character were tacked on to the ordinary work, and now I don't think I am far wrong in saying that more time and attention is given to getting up these junkettings than to the preaching of the Gospel or visiting the poor and afllicted. The minorities referred to gradually drew together and worshipped for over five years in the Oddfellows' Hall, Stuart street, until in June last they found themselves strong enough to buy a small church in Lower York place. Very naturally, as you will admit, they wished to protect themselves from any further annoyance, after being forced to leave the churches where some of them had worshipped for over twenty years; and when the title deeds of the church were being prepared it was resolved to insert a clause prohibiting the use of hymns and organs in Chalmers Church unless the number of those holding these views should become so small that they could not keep up the work of the church. Then, but not till then, the majority may take over the property at a price to be agreed upon, any surplus e;oing to the missions of tho Presbyterian Churches of New Zealand. It must be borne in mind that Chalmers congregation has not asked or received any aid from the funds of the Presbyterian Church of Otago and Southland; but, on the other hand, it contributes to the various schemes of the church. Such is the history of the congregation, and any unprejudiced person would come to the conclusion that it might safely be allowed to do its work in peace, even if it does not deserve commendation for the self-sacrifice shown by its members and adherents. But the Rev. Gibson Smith, of North Dunedin, is of quite another opinion, and sees great danger to the church as a whole in the action of Chalmers Church, which he characterises as " unconstitutional and immoral." I should have mentioned that the congregation appealed to the Presbytery to give a guarantee that the question of hymns and oigans should not be raised in connection with the new church, but the Presbytery did not see its way to do so ; consequently, the clause so much objected to was the only safeguard left. Mr Gibson Smith is, however, determined that the congregation must leave an open door for the innovations, and he talks most feelingly of the rights of a minority or possible minority in Chalmers Church conveniently forgetting that the rights of minorities were entirely ignored in all the churches when the majorities determined to introduce organs. As regards the petition read (but not received) at the last meeting of Presbytery, I am free to adroit that the language used might have been more courteous, but some members of the reverend court themselves set a bad example in this respect, and allowance will be made for the very irritating way in which the matter has been dealt with by the Presbytery. The spirit in which the matter was taken up shows clearly that one or two interested parties in the Presbytery wish to snuff out Chalmers Church if possible. In proof of this I may mention that Presbyteries as a rule do not take up such a question as this unless there is a crying scandal or fama clamom as it is called. In this case there was no such scandal, and there was no complaint of any kind before the Presbytery to give them grounds on which to move. The Rev. Mr Gibb, of First Church, ostentatiously declares again and again that he has no sympathy with Mr Smith's motion, yet on all occasions he is the rarty to second it {pro forma, of course). His conduct is utterly inconsistent with his statement that he has no sympathy with Mr Smith in his action. If necessary, it could be proved that Mr Gibb expressed himself very hostile to the location of Chalmers Church so close to the First Church. Now, sir, you may perhaps think this is not a matter for the Press to give room to; but there is no other means left for the Chalmers Church people, and those who

think with them, as the Presbytery give them no opportunity to defend themselves unless they approach hat in hand and use soft words about harsh and heartlesß proceedings ; and anything they have to say to the point is denounced as " base insinuations," worthy of only the " severest censure," while the head and front of the offending is bespattered with praise and considered a "gentleman." There is, therefore, no other way but to take the matter to a t ibunal where they can meet Mr Smith and his friends on equal terms. So far they do not seem to have had the courage to accept the challenge.—l am, etc., One of the Petitionees. Dunedin, September 13. P. S.—Since writing the above I notice a new thing in football—First Church Young Men's Association v. St. Andrew's Church Young Men's Association. How delightful!

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890917.2.36.2

Bibliographic details

CHALMERS CHURCH., Issue 8014, 17 September 1889

Word Count
994

CHALMERS CHURCH. Issue 8014, 17 September 1889

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