Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the
National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. external link Learn more
Image provided by: Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA
Newspaper Page Text
Laymen and Their Work
PROTESTANTISM IN NORTHERN EUROPE. By Frederick Lynch, Editor-in-Chief of "The Christian Work," Interdenominational, New York. We have been spending a month in the Scandinavian countries, most of the time in Sweden, and it has been very interesting to study Pro testantism in its stronghold. For it is pure and unadulterated here. There is no Roman Catholicism to speak of, and the Protestantism is of the pure IiUtheran variety. There are a few Methodists and Baptists, but they are so few in number that even in the big cities they are quite lost. Luther anism is the State Cnurch in Sweden and Denmark, and in Norway it is the national religion. Methodists and Baptists are looked upon as interlop ers and outside of Stockholm and one or two other big cities are regarded by the people as queer "sects." The people cannot understand why they have come and wonder why America sends them and Adventists and Pen tecostal brethren and other groups they never heard of until they ar rived. The first question we were inter ested in was that of the organization of the churches. Being all of one faith simplifies this very greatly. The city is divided up into parishes. All the people within a certain section be long to one parish. One church where we preached in Stockholm had twenty thousand souls in its parish. For the care of these twenty thousand five clergy were appointed by the Bishop. This seems a small number of pastors for so many people. (The disposition is to increase the number in all the parishes in time.) But three things must be remembered. One is that these people all live in one section of the city, in the neighborhood of the church; secondly, the clergy expect to give practically all their time to pas toral work. The clergy here do not take part in the civic life' of the city to anything like the extent they do in America. They are pastors pri marily and many of them work day after day simply ministering to their own people. Often they do not leave the parish for months, even for com mittee meetings. In the third place they do not visit as do our Ameri can pastors, except in cases of sick ness, trouble or for fuuerals. One pas tor told me that in his parish they had so many christenings aud funerals that they divided up the work. He would take all of them one week, an other pastor all the next week and so on in rotation. Often every moment of the week was thus occupied. Again the pastors here devote much more time to the religious education of the children than do our pastors. Not so much is left to Sunday schools. The pastors themselves, or approved teachers, meet the children. In the weeks preceding confirmation the pas tors are instructing the childron daily in the things of the faith. There are several deaconesses connected with every parish. These women are trained in regular deaconesses schools ? we visited a large and most admir ably appointed one in Upsala ? and devote all their time to the cause of the sick and poor. They wear uniforms and are seen everywhere much as the sisters of charity aro seen In Roman Catholic countries. They have prac tically the same training that trained nurses have in America. We found considerable difference in the various churches we visited, not in the liturgy. But in the manner of conducting it. In some churches the pastor read the service and wore a simple black robe before the altar. In other churches he sang or intoned the service and wore gorgeous chas ubles of red and gilt. The hymns were very impressive and sung with great heartiness and with superb volume of tone. They are nearly all of the na ture of chorales and their slow and stately movement seems some what in keeping with the Northern character. We were occasionally told, though, that the younger people, who have become acquainted with some of the modern English church music, might welcome tunes with somewhat more logical movement, as those used by the Anglican Church, for instance. We wondered, in some of the services, whether the younger men and women, especially the boys and girls, might not be more interested in the service, if it was lightened up a bit by some more tuneful music. There is a happy medium between the Bach chorale and the ragtime of the American revival hymns. The preaching interested us very much. It is undeniably more schol arly on the whole than in the aver age American Church. The pulpit is regarded more as a chair of instruc tion than as a place of exhortation, though exhortation is by no means absent. The texts for the whole year are chosen for the pastor, and are given in the prayer book. This has two or three things in its favor. First of all, It insures the covering of the whole range of Christian doctrine and virtues during the year. Secondly, it keeps the element of variety in the pastor's preaching. There is danger that pastors may become particularly interested in one phrase of Christian truth and preach on that everlast ingly. It may be temperance, or mis sions, or amusements, or international peace or any other subject. (One American layman once told me that his pastor had become obsessed with the idea that free trade between na tions was the solution of the war prob lem and that they got rree trade every Sunday, even at communion, and on Easter Day.) This method guards against that and keeps the pastor thinking on all aspects of the faith. Finally, the people know beforehand what the text of the sermon is going to be and can study it during the prer ceding . week. Some pastors encour age this study, believing that it in creases the interest in the churches. It might be added, also, that it saves the pastors the worry or choosing a new text every week ? which is a woTry to some pastors. There is much to be said on the other side, howeVer, such as taking away some of the spon taneity rs? preaching, turning the preacher's mind from some particular inbreathing of the Holy Spirit that may be possessing him for the mo ment, making it difficult to deal with some particular crisis arising in the people's or the nation's life. We are rather inclined toward it ourselves after observing it carefully, and know ing, as we do, the danger of ruts in preaching. We doubt, though, if it would ever find favor with our free American churches. We were interested in zujKing two questions everywhere we went" the first as to whether the people were attending church as much as did their fathers, or not; and the second as to (Continued on page 13) PRESBYTERIANS "LISTEN IN" DECEMBER FIRST IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT TO BE BROADCASTED ON THAT EVENING On Friday, December 1st, several great Southern newspaper wireless stations will broad cast announcement of LAYMEN'S MISSIONARY MOVEMENT'S EIGHTH BIENNIAL GENERAL CONVENTION This will be the first announcement and will include convention cities, dates, the theme, some" of the names of the strong speakers, and other facts of interest to all Presbyterans. Information will also be given al>out the Woman's Auxiliary Parallel Conventions. WIRELESS STATIONS: HOUSTON POST ATLANTA JOURNAL, 8 to 9 P. M. MEMPHIS PRESS, 8:15 to 9:15 P. M.