THE PETITION OF THE ST. PAUL'S SOCIETY.
A PETITION has recently been submitted to the Corporation by the St. Paul's Society, and has received notice in the Advocate. A few words of additional explanation may, however, be acceptable to those who have not been familiar with the project from its start. The St. Paul's Society desires the Corporation to assign to it a convenient lot of land, such as that on which the old gymnasium stands, or that which lies north-east of Appleton Chapel. This being granted, the Society promises to erect on this land, within the space of three years, a building of brick or stone, to be used for the devotional exercises and necessary business meetings of the Society, and for no other purposes. It is to be noted that the Corporation has the right to require the removal of this building at any time, and hence no permanent claim is established.
The reasons for this request are somewhat as follows. The Society finds its opportunity for activity seriously diminished by the privacy which must always characterize a service held in a small room. Have we not often hesitated to attend a vestry service when we would have slipped with great alacrity into a large church, sheltered from observation by its very publicity? Knowing the number of students who are not reached, as the phrase goes, by present religious influences, and the mistrustful feeling which this fact occasions in the minds of some, the Society hopes to remove at once the suspicion and its cause by establishing an institution which shall be a powerful organ of religious influence in the College. That the existing Episcopal churches cannot provide for this need is obvious. St. John's, which was intended partly for the students of the University, is too far; and of Christ Church it is to be remarked that no parish church, diverted from its original purpose, can ever be as effective as an institution managed by students, and intended primarily for students. Appleton Chapel cannot be procured for the services of any religious society.
We do not wish, however, to give the impression that the St. Paul's desires to establish an Episcopal church in the College Yard. The fundamental idea is simply this. A society desires a broader field for its exertions, and certain friends are willing to give it this opportunity by their contributions, if the Corporation will assign it a convenient lot of land. Instead of asking for room in a College building, they desire room for a building on College land.
The question naturally suggests itself whether the morning prayers in the new building will conflict with those in Appleton Chapel, and be substituted for them by the students. The College, by allowing attendance throughout the year at St. John's, has authorized such a practice; but it is more than doubtful whether the St. Paul's would be willing to support it, as the members seem to desire not to interfere in any way with present arrangements.
In conclusion, we would say that, whatever may be thought of the duty of the Corporation in this matter, the petition must be regarded by all Episcopalians, and even, to some extent, by those who are not Episcopalians, as a laudable endeavor to remedy acknowledged evils, and advance a good and holy cause.