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Harry CroswellHallo again to all.

We have spent the week—and shall spend the coming week—engaged in summer synods in one way or another: in person in Texas, and remotely in the Church of England. There is synodical silliness at times, along with convention fatigue, but the business of the Church proceeds apace with a high standard of care.

We've spent some of the evenings transcribing the manuscript journals of the Reverend Harry Croswell, a remarkable and overlooked figure of the nineteenth century. In addition to being the first person to use the word cocktail in print, Croswell was an epoch-making priest in the history of New England during his long tenure at Trinity Church, New Haven. He was also essential in the development of United States defamation law through his involvement in an imbroglio with Thomas Jefferson. Although not himself a Tractarian, Croswell's son William was the founding rector of the Church of the Advent in Boston.

Like many senior clergy in Anglican history, the elder Croswell took an active role in church legislation. His unpublished recollections of the 1835 General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church are precisely this extensive:

Philadelphia, Thursday, Aug 20. Convention opened at 10, in St. Andrew's Church, which is still hung in black, on account of the death of the late Rector, Dr. Bedell. Finding little or nothing to do, the house adjourned at an early hour—and the time dragged heavily till dinner-time, 3. Dined at Dr. Meade's, and was invited to private lodgings by a Mr. Smith, where I went at evening. Took tea, and attended service at St. James’s, where Dr. Tyng preached a Missionary sermon an hour long. Found myself very comfortably lodged.

The convention was some two weeks long—then as now—but its opening day found little or nothing to do. Food, tea, and worship are Croswell's account of the residue of the meeting.

What could be more different than our experience of recent synodical gatherings, changed even in very recent memory by the movement toward paperless deliberation, book-less worship, and the proliferation of screens? We have had much in the way of worship and food, but very little tea and none of the dragging ennui endured by Episcopalians in Philadelphia in 1835. There seems more contrast than the possibility of meaningful comparison.

We wonder tonight about the momentous intersections of business and busyness in Church life: must they be as intertwined as they now are? Is there a via media between Croswell's listlessness and the frantic present pace that takes its toll on each and all? Will this month's synod-goers and convention-goers have a moment for tea, or will we go home before we can live into the prayer we pray in quiet confidence each day?

O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: by the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

See you next week.

Our Signatures

Richard Mammana


All of us at Anglicans Online

8 July 2018

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