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A Statement: On the Future of This Church

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On the Future of This Church

On Sunday, November 24 last, as most of you know. I was invited by unanimous vote of the people of All Souls Church, Chicago, "to take up the work laid down by (their) beloved pastor," the late Dr. Jenkin Lloyd Jones. On Thursday, November 28, I received this call through the personal visitation of two members of the Chicago church, and agreed to give it most earnest consideration. On Sunday, December 1, through my associate, Mr. Brown, I announced this call to the congregation of the Church of the Messiah, explaining that it involved the ministry of All Souls Church, the directorship of Abraham Lincoln Centre, and the editorship of the weekly liberal religious journal, called "Unity." I stated in my announcement that I had asked and been granted ample time for the consideration of this call, but that I intended to answer it as speedily as possible. On Thursday last, just five weeks to a day after receiving the invitation to Chicago, I sent my reply for transmission to the people of All Souls Church this morning. I choose this same time to announce to you my decision.

At the beginning of my consideration of the problem, I found questions of personal inclination and comfort inevitably to the fore. For twelve years minus one month, I have lived and labored in New York City. Every particle of moral energy which I possess, I have invested here. Nearly all of my friends are associated with this community. Especially am I bound by ties of deepest reverence and affection to this church. Here are memories of joy and sorrow and great trial which are more truly a part of me than the voice with which I speak, or the hand with which I turn these pages. It [3] needed but this single summons to teach me what I had not known—how deeply my roots are struck into the soil of this place, and how great the pain and hazard of their exposure, removal and replanting.

It very soon became clear to me, however, that personal considerations could rightly have but little part in the settlement of this problem. In no spirit of bravado, but in simplest recognition of the truth, I say to you that I believe I would have been betraying the profession which I have sworn to serve had I permitted conditions of personal affection, however lovely and precious, to determine my decision in this case. I take seriously the fact of my ordination—that as a minister of religion I have been "set apart," as the traditional phrase has it, to the high purpose of propagating an idea, championing a cause, seeking the best and the highest that I know in terms of God and of his holy will. I am here, in other words, not to make or to keep friends, not to enjoy pleasant associations of hand and heart, not even to serve a particular church, but to serve, perhaps at the cost of these other and more personal things, the great idea of which I speak. To allow my individual sentiments to fix the place and fashion of my professional service, would be to me as dastardly a thing as to allow considerations of profit or prestige to make decision....