Training of Colored Students for the Episcopal Ministry

A very interesting discussion occurred in the Missionary Council of the Episcopal Church, held in Washington, D.C., November 13th and 14th, in regard to the education of colored students for the ministry in the Episcopal Church. The motive for not educating them in the existing Episcopal Seminaries appeared to be simply the caste-prejudice, and some marked utterances and facts were given on that subject, which we wish to preserve.

The Bishop of Kentucky, whose generous feelings toward the colored race we have had occasion to notice heretofore, quoted from another, and endorsed for himself, the declaration: “The white man is not fit to study for the ministry who is not ready to have his black brother sit by him in the class room,” and he subsequently added: “I believe I can speak for my brothers, and I say out of my heart I would just as soon sit by the side of a black man if he were in the House of Bishops, as one of my white brothers.” But yet the Bishop suggested and endorsed the plan for the separate education of colored students, for two reasons:

  • “The power of heredity is not to be overthrown in a day nor an hour… This subtle spirit of caste is perhaps the demon hardest to cast out of the human spirit, the one that requires the most prayer and fasting, without which it will not go out,” and
  • “It is certainly true that the colored men themselves do not want to go there. It is just as true that the white men do not want to have them there.”

As to the first point, it is to be regretted that the good Bishop did not give himself to fasting and prayer to cast out this malignant demon, rather than to yield to it, and that he did not heed the words which Jesus uttered when his disciples could not cast out a demon, “Bring him hither to me.” If bishops and churches will only bring this demon of caste to Jesus, the work will be done.

The Bishop’s second point, that the colored people desired the separation, was pointedly answered by Dr. Crummell (rector of St. Luke’s Colored Church, Washington,) who was invited to speak on the subject. Dr. Crummell said: “I do not think that any man in this country has seen any statement by any number of black men or black students that they wanted to be by themselves. I do not think such an utterance can be found among the race. I myself never heard such a thing, and wherever they have had entrance to other schools they have gone to them.”

The decision reached by the Council was to erect, in connection with some of the colored universities in the South, a hall under Episcopal control for colored Episcopal students for the ministry, who should also attend the college classes in the University. So far as the principle is concerned, we regret this decision. How much better if the wealthy and intelligent Episcopal Church in this country had lent its vast influence in repudiating the spirit of caste by introducing colored theological students into its own excellent seminaries.

Clippings from Papers Edited by Colored Men

The only colored daily paper in America is printed at Columbus, Ga. It is a four column folio, neat in make-up and well edited.

Colored Exhibitions to the Front

At the recent Virginia Exposition Mr. J.C. Farley, the colored photographer, was awarded the first premium for his work, for which he is to receive a diploma and medal. Our esteemed townsman has entered a new field and ascended to the topmost round of the ladder at one bound.

A Colored Prize Winner

Give a colored man a fair show and he is certain to give a good account of himself. One of the notable college contests in Illinois is known as the Swan Oratorical Contest, and is held annually at Lombard University, at Galesburg. This contest was held Thursday night of last week. The first prize was awarded to Burt Wilson, a colored student, who lives at Galesburg, and is one of the most promising scholars in the university. His oration is said to have been an unusually brilliant effort.

What the Negro has Done

In the South there are now 16,000 colored teachers, 1,000,000 pupils, 17,000 in the male and female high schools, and 3,000,000 worshipers in the churches. There are sixty normal schools, fifty colleges and universities, and twenty-five theological seminaries. The colored people pay taxes on nearly $200,000,000 worth of property valuation. This is a wonderful showing for a race that has two hundred years of slavery and four thousand years of barbarism back of it; it needs no silent sympathy or patient waiting, when in twenty years it makes such a showing. American generosity has done for the South in twenty years what statesmanship has failed to do in over a century; but generosity should not be depended upon, as even that can reach a limit.

Successful in Business

North Carolina has a colored man whose business success is hard to find surpassed by even the white people. The Concord Times, a white journal, gives the following interesting sketch of his career:

He was born a slave, and until he was twenty-one years of age, never had a copper of his own. Possessed of a keen and adaptable mind, he has by his energy and untiring efforts accumulated a competency, equaled by few of his race in the South.

Warren Coleman commenced business here in 1879. He has lost everything by fire three times,—one time meeting with a loss of $7,000 and no insurance. Various purses of money were made up and sent him at this time, all of which he very nobly returned. But by pluck and energy he rose again.

He owns four farms, amounting in all to some 300 acres of land, and employs on them twenty regular hands. He is the owner of ninety-eight tenement houses and is still adding to the list, having in his employ at this time twenty carpenters and eight or ten brick masons, laborers, etc.

What The World Says, Black Saints and White

Do colored folks retain their complexion when they go to heaven? This is a question of some importance to the members of the Diocesan Convention of the Protestant Episcopal churches of Charleston, S.C. Not long ago the Convention appointed a special committee to consider and report upon the subject of the admission of negro clergymen and laymen as members of that body. Their action was taken with the view of bringing the Charleston churches, if possible, into harmony with the other Episcopal congregations of the State. In 1887, the former had seceded in consequence of the adoption of a resolution which the Charleston brethren regarded as a virtual obliteration of the color-line.

Thursday, the report of the committee was made public. It proposes a separate convocation for the colored churches under the ministration of the bishop, and consents to the admission to the Convention of colored clergymen who have been associated with the church for twelve months prior to May, 1889. If the report is adopted, three negro ministers will sit as members, but no lay delegates will be eligible. The committee were willing to forego their prejudice out of deference to the holy office. They felt that the color of a clergyman’s skin, although it was no doubt a very serious ground of objection when it happened to be black, should not overcome the respect due to the sanctity of his official calling. His cloth, so to speak, saved him, and what would have been denied to the man it was possible to concede to the priest.

Under these circumstances the gravity of the question, “Do colored folks retain their complexion when they go to heaven?” is obvious. The concession which the committee of the Diocesan Convention make is but a re-affirmation of the Charleston brethren’s aversion to anything that smacks of an approach to association of the two races on terms of equality. If there are colored saints in Paradise, it will be utterly impossible for the Charleston white saints of the Episcopal denomination to feel at home there. The only chance of reconciling them to a heaven so liberally disposed would depend on the adoption of some such plan as that recommended by the committee as a modus vivendi in the church on earth. That is to say, if the colored saints were corralled by themselves—if their convocations were separate from the convocations of the white saints—if they were not admitted to the white circles of celestial society as equal partakers of the privileges of the heavenly kingdom—the Caucasian angels from Charleston might be willing to pass their eternity in such a place.

It is very essential for them, therefore, to know whether there are in fact any colored saints in heaven; and, if there are, whether the divisions of the Father’s house into “many mansions” admits of an arrangement whereby the angelic brunettes may occupy one set of quarters and the Charleston blondes another. Until these problems are solved to their satisfaction, we do not see how our Christian friends of the chief city of South Carolina can contemplate a future life with any degree of equanimity. Their faith may be equal to the removal of mountains and their virtues may entitle them to all the felicity of the spirits of just men made perfect, but if it is the rule of the “happy land, far, far away” that a black saint is just as good as a white one, how much more rational it would be for them to prefer annihilation to immortality.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle.



Various. The American Missionary, Vol. 43, No. 8, August, 1889.

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