An Episcopal minister assumed the pulpit in Memorial Church yesterday morning with a pledge "to explore and develop the long and continuous tradition of free worship which is the precious heritage of this place."
In his first official sermon as Preacher to the University, the Rev. Charies P. Price '41 remarked on the curiosity of an Episcopalian becoming preacher "in this citadel of Puritanism, Unitarianism, and free thought."
Price said that he entered upon his office "proudly and gladly" but recalled that the situation had not always been thus: in the eighteenth century New England Puritans and Episcopalians hurled epithets at one another, and in 1859 Frederic Huntington resigned as University Preacher after becoming an Episcopalian, because he felt his denomination was inconsistent with Harvard custom.
But Price asserted that "in the gospel which I have received neither Episcopalians nor non-Episcopalians count for anything, but [what matters is] a new creation." He took his text from St. Paul (Galatians 6: 11-18): "Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ.... For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation."
Price interpreted the passage to mean that neither differences in denomination nor observance of ritual "counts for anything." "What avails is the healing renewing love of God."
The minister recalled that chapel attendance at Harvard was last compulsory in 1886, when University Preacher Francis Peabody said it reminded him of his preaching experience in the state prison. "No pressure will ever be exerted on you to come to this chapel or to worship at all," Price declared.
The final significance which Price drew from his text was that, "in the long run, not even the profession of Christian, as opposed to non-Christian, creeds "counts for anything." Faith in Christ is necessary to point the way, he said, but its object is to awaken us to God and his renewing power of love: "We need the particular forms of our faith, but they exist to be done away with.