Vicar’s letter on Nonconformity

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Monday 14 July 1902


Sir, – May I add a word? The letters in to-day’s “Yorkshire Port” will, I hope, be allowed to represent the dispassionate feeling of true Christian Churchmen towards Nonconformity. They are perfectly satisfactory as coming from representative Churchmen, and I can conscientiously subscribe my name to every one of them.

There is again, no inconsistency between their spirit and the spirit of the letter written by our revered Bishop to the new President of the Free Church Council. What I am wishing to ask is this: Are the schismatics any more than nominal schismatics at heart? Where is the difference between the majority of them and Churchmen?

I live in a village where Nonconformity has been strong for years, and taking an interest in its public life I find that the so-called “rabid Dissent” is based more upon the suspected antipathy of the parson than upon any theological difference. The Church has placed herself, to speak, in a ring fence, and Nonconformists imagine themselves to be fenced out.

I have succeeded in breaking through much of the unfortunate reserve of the Nonconformists, and I find them as body to be really admirable fellows for whom I have the greatest possible affection.

They in no particular resemble the paid political man who I contend does but libel them on public platforms. Throw out to them unfettered love and sympathy, and who shall say how soon our prayer for unity may be forthcoming? Act arbitrarily and a strengthened suspicion will bar the way. It is a most unfortunate position to contemplate, that the only thing in our common life we split upon is our Christianity.

Yours truly
Wrenthorpe Vicarage
July 11, 1902