Although "The Church Intelligencer" continues to be published, the volumes for 1907 onwards are missing from our archives so we have used the "Church Association Annual Reports" (which began in 1867) to compile a summary of the activities of the Church Association from 1907 onwards.
Notes on the report of the Council at the Annual Meeting held on April 30 1917.
P.6 – “Continued Cause for Thankfulness”. ‘With grateful hearts we have again to acknowledge our indebtedness to Almighty God for His support and guidance during the past most difficult year. For while on every hand the great World-war has cast more or less of a shadow over the labours of our staff, we are nevertheless able to look back with heartfelt thankfulness upon a large amount of useful work successfully accomplished, and upon a steady continuance throughout the year of that encouragement and financial aid which we have been accustomed to receive from our subscribers and contributors.’
P.6 – “Religious Orders Relief Bill”. ‘At the commencement of the War Protestant Churchmen were given to understand that a truce would be observed in regard to contentious legislation, and the there would be a cessation of aggressive action by Romanising agencies. That there was no serious intention to keep this truce either by Romanists or Ritualists has been over and over again proved, but by no event more startling than by the Bill introduced by Mr Birrell for “the removal of Roman Catholic disabilities”. The real aim of this Bill was to give legal status to the Jesuits and other monastic Orders of the Church of Rome, and to enable these societies to hold property in the United Kingdom; in other words, to put the monastic orders of the Church of Rome here in such a position of power and privilege that they would be able to create exactly the same disturbance that forced the French a dozen years ago to suppress them altogether. The English law treats Romanists, both clerical and lay, with a toleration unknown to Protestants in any country acknowledging the sway of the Church of Rome; it even exempts from penalties of all female orders in the Romish church, although many of the cloistered devotees carry on their work with scant regard to the Factory Acts or even for common humanity. But male religious orders such as the Jesuits are a different matter. Such communities owe their peculiar exemptions from episcopal oversight and control to the Papal authority alone and have therefore ever been the foremost champions of the most extravagant claims made by the Popes. They are the Papal Janissaries, ready and watchful to crush at once the first symptoms of rebellion against Rome and they are also a Corps Diplomatique to carry out the political schemes of the Vatican.’
P.8 – “War Shrines” – ‘Another attempt to exploit the War in the interests of Romanism and Ritualism has been the erection of wayside Crucifixes and war shrines, which has been much in evidence in all parts of the country. This is a grave attempt to turn a noble public sentiment to base ends. All classes of people delight to honour our fighting men, and to remember with gratitude those who have fallen. A national desire to erect war memorials and rolls of honour was seized upon by Ritualists and Romanists as presenting a fine opportunity to push forward their ideas and aims on Protestant England. They advocated, as the only proper “War Shrine”, an erection that included a crucifix, or a statue of the Virgin Mary, or some other saint. The inscriptions included prayers for the dead, and the whole character of the so-called “shrines” was of the Romanist type, although the vast majority of our soldiers and sailors are Protestant by nationality and religious training.’
P.8 – “Reservation”. ‘The latest impudent attempt to Romanise the Church is the demand made by a body of the clergy in the form of a memorial to the Upper House of Canterbury Convocation, signed by nearly a thousand clergymen. The memorial says: “It being understood that an attempt is about to be made to deny the faithful the right of access to the Reserved Sacrament for the purpose of devotion, we the undersigned think it is our duty to state our conviction that compliance with such a restriction cannot rightly be demanded, and will not be given”. . . . It would have been as well, and more in accordance with God’s Word and our Prayer-book, If they had repeated the Convocation’s emphatic declaration of 1885 that “no Reservation of the Sacrament for any purpose is consistent with the rules of the Church of England”.’
P.9 – “Archbishop’s Committee on Church and State Report”. ‘The policy outlined in this Report has been aptly described as the “Archbishop’s scheme to outwit Parliament”. It is a scheme which aims at substituting legislation by canon for legislation by statute in all matters relating to the Church. . . . The scheme is avowedly drafted with a view to retain the status and prestige of an established Church and all its endowments, whilst shaking off absolutely, once for all, the control of Parliament. . . . Under scheme, the newly devised “Church Council” is to have power to “amend or repeal in whole or in part any Act of Parliament,” including, of course, the great Reformation statutes which gave an appeal to the Crown from any rights of interference with the so-called “Spiritual Courts”. The scheme bristles with dangers both to Church and State.’
P.12 – “Convocations”. ‘At the May meetings of the Convocations several subjects were discussed which merit the attention of Protestant Churchmen. One was “the temporary combination during the war of the work of small country parishes under a single parish priest, provided that due consideration be given to the needs of the parishioners”. If the Church of England were in a normal condition, and discipline duly administered, such proposals would probably meet with no objection. But in one parish we may find a faithful presentation of Christianity, with the simple ritual of the Reformation, while on the other side of it may be Romanism of the rankest type, and the infidel philosophy of rationalism usurping the place of religion of the New Testament. Any proposals for such concentration, whether of schools or of churches, must be scrutinised closely, lest they should involve the handing over of parishes to the care of hireling shepherds who will lead the people away from the “green pastures” of the gospel.’
P.13 – “Late Prime Minister’s Visit to the Pope”. ‘Our secretary, Mr Barron, in conjunction with the other Joint Secretaries, signed a memorandum and resolution on behalf of the London Council of the United Protestant Societies. . . . The resolution expressed regret that Mr Asquith should have paid a visit to the Pope, and in repudiating the visit on behalf of the Protestants of this country, called for the immediate termination of the useless, expensive, and undesirable appointment of a British envoy at the Papal Court. It is satisfactory to note that the present Prime Minister, Mr Lloyd George, on his recent visit to Rome, did not follow the mischievous example of his predecessor.’
P.13 – “Organisation”. ‘The effect of the War on our work has told in opposite directions. In some cases it has proved a serious hindrance. The Zeppelin raids in October, and the lighting regulations, made it impossible to hold meetings in some districts; in others our leading supporters were so fully occupied in war work that they could not find time for other efforts, while the National Mission was responsible for the postponement of many meetings, owing to the clashing of dates. On the other hand, public opinion has shown signs of revolt against the ill-timed efforts of the priest party to use the War, and even the National Mission, to push their own extravagant Romanism, especially on such subjects as War Shrines, Prayers and Masses for the Dead, the “Principal Service”, which often meant “the Mass”, and the reservation of the “creatures of bread and wine” for the purposes of adoration and worship. This revulsion of public feeling has given us the opportunity to hold meetings in defence of the Truth, and has, by God’s blessing, resulted in the eyes of many being opened to the dangers to which true religion is exposed in these critical times.’
P.15 – ‘At West End (Hants), the vicar made a violent attack on protestantism in his parish magazine. “England”, he wrote “may yet be won for Catholicism. Protestantism – its home is Germany – is done for ever; it has failed to produce anything but a devilish and hellish war, and no one will own the term again.” . . . (In) circulating a reply to this scurrilous attack, our District Secretary printed a pamphlet, entitled, “Will this War lead to a Revival of Sacerdotalism?”; a copy of this was posted to every house in the parish.’
P.18 – “Colporteur-Evangelist Van Mission”. ‘ This department of our work has suffered greatly during the last twelve months. Owing to illness, the call of King and Country, or other causes, all our Colporteur Evangelists have been taken from us, and we have found it impossible to secure capable men to take their places so that for the greater part of the year the Vans have been idle, and in consequence the record of work done by the colporteurs in charge is exceedingly small.’