Another Epoch in the History of the Church
in Vermont; Vermont Becomes a Separate Diocese. The Episcopate
of the Rt. Rev. John Henry Hopkins, D.D.l
One of the problems
that arose at this time owing to the rapid growth of the
Episcopal Church in Vermont during the Episcopate of Bishop
Griswold was how to deal efficiently with the increasing demands
that were laid upon the shoulders of the bishop whose labors
were extended over the territory of a large part of New England.
facilities one hundred years ago were not adapted to long
journeys by quick travel as today, and it is difficult to
realize how much was accomplished in Episcopal visitations and
matters of administration where a diocese extended over the
states of Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and
Vermont. The time had come to face this problem.
At the convention of
1831 held in Arlington on May twenty-fifth, a communication was
read from the secretary of the Convention of Massachusetts in
which the request was made for the consent of the other portions
of the Eastern diocese to its separation from the Eastern
diocese and the erection of Massachusetts into a separate
diocese, but retaining the services of Bishop Griswold. This
request was answered by our convention with concurrence in the
conviction that it is expedient that arrangements be made as
soon as possible for dividing the Eastern Diocese into smaller
The year of 1832 was
a memorable one in the annals of the church in Vermont.
As the result of the
decision of the convention of 1831 to take steps towards the
erection of a diocese and the election of a bishop, the
convention of 1832 called out a large representation from all
parts of the state. Thirteen clergymen and thirty lay delegates
from the parishes assembled.
The written consent
of the convention of the Eastern diocese, comprising Maine,
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire, for the
separation of Vermont into a diocese, was read; the
authorization and permission of the Bishop was recorded, and the
Protestant Episcopal Church in Vermont was declared to be "an
independent Episcopal jurisdiction, named the Diocese of
Vermont, subject only to the law of our Lord and Savior and to
the constitutions and canons of the Episcopal church in these
The election of a
bishop was made the order of the day for Thursday, May
thirty-first, at 8 a.m. The clergy retired for the purpose of
making a nomination as required by the constitution, and on
their return informed the convention that they had nominated the
Rev. John Henry Hopkins. This nomination was confirmed by the
laity and Dr. Hopkins was declared to be the Bishop-elect.
Dr. Hopkins was
consecrated to the office of bishop in St. Paulís Chapel, New
York, October thirty-first, 1832, by the Right Rev. Bishops
White of Pennsylvania, Griswold of the Eastern Diocese and Brown
of South Carolina.
At the same time
three other bishops-elect were consecrated, the Rev. B. B.
Smith, D.D., of Kentucky; the Rev. Charles P. Mcllvain, D.D., of
Ohio and the Rev. George W. Doane of New Jersey. This was an
outstanding event in the history of the church of that day, the
consecration of four bishops at the same services, and they were
all men who proved to be of great usefulness to the church.
The Right Rev. John
Henry Hopkins, D.D., the first Bishop of Vermont was born in
Ireland, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Hopkins, January thirtieth,
1792; came to this country in 1800; was educated mostly under
his motherís supervision; engaged in business, and in legal
practice in 1817 and 1818; he was ordained deacon in 1824 and
priest in 1825. He then took charge of Trinity Parish,
Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, supervised the building of the church
there; removed to Boston to engage more fully in theological
education in a proposed institution; was made assistant minister
of Trinity Church, Boston. At this time he was elected bishop of
the Diocese of Vermont in his fortieth year. He was consecrated
on the last day of the General Convention of 1832.
There was inevitably
a contrast in the personalities of the retiring Bishop Griswold,
venerable, and familiar with the limitations that prevailed in
New England for the carrying on of aggressive religious work;
seasoned in the varied experience of twenty years; and that of
Bishop Hopkins who came to the field of activity in the strength
of his prime vigor, with great energy and force of character and
with unquestionable consecration and zeal.
Added to these valued
gifts he was learned and scholarly in his training and became
one of the leaders in the church in the promotion of sound
learning and sound Churchmanship. His addresses to the
conventions in those days are suggestive of the scholarly
discourses that were given by Bishop Hall during his episcopate,
which began sixty years later. Bishop Hopkins received a hearty
welcome in the diocese and people were proud to have a leader
with such manifest ability and zeal.
During the first year
of his consecration Bishop Hopkins visited all the churches of
the diocese; consecrated three new churches, St. Paulís,
Burlington, St. Johnís, Poultney, and St. Johnís, Highgate;
confirmed two hundred and ten persons; enlarged his own house
with a wing for what he called a domestic seminary for boys, and
another wing for theological lectures for candidates for Holy
He also insisted on a
more rigid conformity to the rubrics and canons, and throughout
all his episcopate, though there were constant losses by
removals and deaths, there was a persistent effort on the part
of the bishop and his clergy to promote the growth of the
Bishop Hopkins in the
course of his address to the convention in 1833, relates as
follows his first visitation at Arlington: (This scene was one
scene of an historical pageant produced in St. Jamesí Church in
1932, Bishop Hopkins being impersonated by the Reverend S.
Halsted Watkins, D.D., rector of the parish from 1900 to 1904,
and the Reverend George R. Brush, rector from 1926 to 1939,
representing the Reverend William S. Perkins, rector in 1832.)
tenth, I set Out at I a.m. in the stage with Mr. Pierson for
Bennington. But after thirteen miles over a very rough road, the
axle of the stage broke which overturned it with seven pas-sengers.
None were hurt except Mr. Pierson whom I strongly urged to
return by the first stage, because being somewhat bruised by the
fall, and his health not firm at the best, he needed rest and
therefore, alone I arrived at Bennington and was most hospitably
received by our friends there who have not as yet organized
themselves into a church, but are anxious to do so as soon as
they can procure the services of a minister.
"Here I was met by
the Rev. Mr. Perkins of Arlington, and some of his Parish, and
after preaching the next day, Friday in the Congregational
meeting house, which was very kindly granted for the occasion, I
proceeded to Arlington in time to lecture to the congregation in
the commodious lecture room of the parish and preached in their
beautiful church the following afternoon and again at night.
thirteenth, I preached in the morning at Arlington and confirmed
In this address the
bishop also recommended the formation of a general fund for
domestic and diocesan purposes, providing for theological
education, the supporting of a certain number of missionaries to
preach in vacant places, the publishing of such useful tracts
and books for parish libraries or for the use of Sunday schools,
the assistance of feeble parishes to build churches or support
their ministers and the granting such support to superannuated
The report from
(Arlington) St. Jamesí at that convention states that the number
of communicants was one hundred; that the missionary association
had contributed thirty dollars to the Domestic and Foreign
Missionary Society and that the church had been furnished with
an excellent organ, the liberal donation of one man.
The parish was, about
this time, much disturbed by charges that had been preferred
against their rector, the Rev. William S. Perkins, by the
Standing Committee for the violation of the canons and rubrics
of the Church. At the convention of 1837 Bishop Hopkins related
some of the circumstances of this trial. He reported visiting
St. James Church, Arlington, then without a rector where he was
occupied together with clergymen appointed for that purpose in
the trial of the Rev. William S. Perkins, on charges preferred
to the Standing Committee some time before.
These charges had
been held in abeyance for several years owing to the fact that
there had been up to this time only an imperfect state of
regulations relating to discipline in such cases. The
disposition of these charges was deferred until definite
legislation by the diocese could be effected. (This may have
something to do with the fact that for several years after the
departure of the Rev. William S. Perkins as rector it was
difficult to maintain a rector, possibly owing to the division
that occurred as to the merits of the case against Mr. Perkins.)
At length, the bishop said, the proceedings were brought to a
close with the gravity, the fairness and the kindliness, which
became this tribunal. The result was that the accused was
unanimously acquitted by the assessor on some of the charges,
and found guilty on others. He was sentenced to be suspended
from the exercise of his ministerial office until he should in
writing profess his regret for having given occasion to the
presentment and promise conformity to the rules of the church
for the time to come. Having complied with this condition,
within an hour after the bishop restored his ministerial
standing. (Note. óOne of the specific charges against Mr.
Perkins was that he made changes in the phrasing of the
Absolution, which altered the priestly character of the prayer).
In the same year
Bishop Hopkins refers to Manchester and Arlington in his address
to the convention as follows:
Arlington, both important parishes, but the latter, namely
Arlington, being certainly one of the best located for the
zealous and devoted laborer; having a beautiful and costly
church, with all the appointments in the best style, and a
people not to be surpassed in the substantial qualities which
should make their pastor happy in their service".
The Rev. Anson B.
Hard who became Rector of St. Jamesí Church in 1839, was a
native of Arlington, the son of Noble Hard. He was a graduate of
Middlebury College in 1833 and of the Alexandria Theological
Seminary, and was a Vermont candidate for Holy Orders, and
ordained by the Right Rev. Dr. Onderdonk in Trinity Church,
Plattsburgh, New York, July twenty-eighth, 1831, of which parish
he was the Rector. He began his ministry in Sheldon and
Fairfield, Vermont, in July 1829. From August, 1834 until
September 1839 he was Rector at Mt. Vernon, Ohio. On July
twenty-fourth, 1839, he became Rector of St. Jamesí Church,
It seems most
unfortunate that so soon after the ecclesiastical trial of the
Rev. William S. Perkins, which must inevitably have caused a
certain amount of disquietude in the parish, another episode of
similar character should have occurred shortly after the coming
of the Rev. Mr. Hard as Rector. This episode reflected in no way
against the character of Mr. Hard but had to do with certain
infringements of the canons of the Church.
The facts in regard
to the case of Mr. Hard do not appear in the official records of
the diocese and there was no trial. It would be unjust to draw
hard and fast conclusions since the only data available are
letters written by Bishop Hopkins and Mr. Harmon Canfield during
the year 1840 in which the bishop charges that without the
knowledge or consent of the bishop the Rev. Mr. Hard had given
notice of a "protracted meeting or association" to be held in
the church at Arlington. Bishop Hopkins then made the following
ruling in regard to the matter:
"I consider that the
Days and Modes of all our public services are fixed by the
Church in the Book of Common Prayer, from which no bishop can
lawfully deviate himself, nor suffer his clergy to deviate. The
extra zeal of our ministry must therefore be content to exhibit
itself in the Private way, preaching the Gospel from house to
house, in private social prayer and familiar instruction, and in
honest and affectionate warnings addressed to individuals on all
occasions, when they sit down and when they rise up, and when
they walk in the way, in season and out of season.
"All they can do to
stir up the zeal of the people in these private methods, the
Church has left to each manís individual discretion, but she has
not left to any manís discretion the rules of public order, and
therefore I shall consider it my duty to have any willful
deviation from these rules inquired into forthwith according to
the provisions of the Canons and made the subject of
ecclesiastical presentment without respect of persons".
"It is not impossible
that Rev. Mr. Hard may choose to take his own course, on the
ground that other bishops permit these things, and that some may
even approve them. Be this as it may, it is no part either of
his duty or mine to make the allegation".
"If it be true that
other bishops tolerate public and open departures from the order
of the Church, which they as well as myself have solemnly vowed
to maintain, let them answer that to the great Head of the
Church, who is God of unity and order".
"At present Rev. Mr.
Hard is under my jurisdiction and if he understands the alphabet
of Episcopal government, he must be aware that while that
continues the arguments derived from any other quarter can have
no legal or regular application".
"I thank God that at
present there is no irregularity, unless it be in Arlington".
"But Arlington is an
influential spot, and may easily be made the headquarters of
radicalism in the Church if this matter be not clearly
understood by your Vestry and the heads of the Congregation in
"They have the power,
indeed, if they choose to exert it, of putting themselves out of
communion with the Episcopal Church in the diocese, and of
becoming a dissenting, independent set of Congregationalists, in
Church government, without a bishop, without Confirmation, and
without a clergyman in regular standing".
"The order of the
Episcopal Church is her glory, and if we are to be Churchmen, we
must consent to be Churchmen together".
Ever your, faithful
friend and servant,
John H. Hopkins."
This letter in the
bishopís own handwriting is to be found among the historical
letters and papers collected by Dr. George A. Russell and in his
There are no records
in the minutes of the Vestry at this time, which make any
mention of this letter, and there is no evidence of any letter
or expression on the part of the Rev. Mr. Hard of his attitude
on the subject of the Bishopís letter.
It may be assumed
therefore that the Rector and the people of the parish acted in
compliance with the letter.
Whatever may have
been planned in the way of "protracted meetings" this protest
was undoubtedly effective.
The letter shows that
Bishop Hopkins was masterly in his grasp of the Churchís canons
and discipline, and though his words seem drastic they gave not
only to the parish but also to the diocese a clear-cut ruling on
the subject of irregularities in worship.
It may be, however,
that some of us clergy who have used the Church for pageantry in
recent years might have come under the censure of the beloved
bishop had we lived in the year 1840.
episode the rector-ship of Rev. Mr. Hard seems to have been a
useful one. The "lean years" in the history of the parish seem
to have been from 1833, to 1840, and the closing years of Mr.
Hardís ministry indicate a return to prosperity.
In June 1844, Mr.
Hard took charge of parishes at Chester and Marcus Hook, where
he stayed until his voice broke down so completely as to
necessitate his retirement from the active ministry in 1848.
In 1844 the Rev.
Frederick Augustus Wadleigh became Rector of the parish, having
been previously Rector of Christ Church, Guilford. Mr. Wadleigh
was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts, May twenty-first, 1814.
He was ordained
Priest by Bishop Griswold in 1840 and received from the diocese
of Massachusetts in 1842.
The ministry of the
Rev. Mr. Wadleigh in Arlington covered a period of twenty years,
and therefore with the exception of the Rev. Abraham Bronson,
his rector-ship was the longest in the history of the parish.
It will be
interesting to make note of some of the outstanding events and
activities that marked the progress of the parish during this
In the Journal of 1848 it is recorded that a shed had been built
by the parish back of the church at an expense of $150. This
shed (or sheds) remained there for over seventy-five years, and
if it could only have kept a diary of the happenings of those
years in and about the church it would have been most
interesting reading, and the historianís task would have been
greatly simplified. The sheds were taken down in 1929.
In the Journal of
1849 it is recorded that twelve persons were confirmed and that
everything indicated the best state of feeling and mutual
satisfaction between pastor and people.
In the Journal of
1851 Mr. Wadleigh lamented the death of Hon. Martin C. Deming
and Cyrus B. Hills, two tried and firm friends of the Church. He
also reported services in Sunderland on alternate Sunday
evenings, which were invariably well attended.
A missionary, he
says, would now find ample employment in West Arlington,
Landgrove e and Sunderland. The services of the Church were once
enjoyed at these stations.
The people, he adds,
are too scattered to allow of their being gathered into a single
congregation and too poor to encourage the hope of being able to
support a minister.
Sunday Schools were
sustained a part of the year at three stations and more than
eighty children were under the indirect influence of the Church.
Mr. Wadleigh reports
in 1852 having held services in East Arlington once in two
weeks, in West Arlington once in two weeks and in Sunderland
once in four weeks.
He says, however,
that the Home Missionary Society of the Congregational Church
will probably send a missionary to East Arlington, which will
seriously interfere with the prospects of the Church there.
In the Journal of
1858 Mr. Wadleigh reported that on alternate Sundays services
are held at Sunderland with one hundred in regular attendance.
A Sunday School and
Bible Class have been organized with forty members. These were
the only religious services held in Sunderland except once a
month when the Baptist minister of Factory Point held a service.
The Journal of 1845,
the year following the beginning of Mr. Wadleighís rector-ship,
records 82 communicants.
The following is a
statement of the financial and temporal conditions of the parish
at this time:
"The parish owns, in
addition to the church edifice a parsonage valued at $800; one
Glebe lot leased at $40 a year; one Glebe lot leased at $30 a
year, and one Glebe lot leased at $10 a year".
Mr. Wadleigh was not
only a successful parish priest, but also a man of scholarly and
A valuable history of
Arlington and of the Episcopal Church in Arlington was his
permanent contribution to the community. This history is to be
found in Hemenwayís Historical Gazetteer, Volume One.
The present historian
is largely indebted to Mr. Wadleigh for the records in this book
dealing with the early history of the parish.
The Rev. Mr. Wadleigh
was followed by the Rev. Charles Stuart Hale as Rector of the
He was the only child
of Dr. Josiah and Marcia (Tracy) Hale and was born in Brandon,
Vermont, April thirtieth, 1835; educated at Brandon Academy and
Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut; studied for the ministry
with the Right Rev. John Henry Hopkins, DD, by whom he was
ordained Deacon and Priest.
He was Chaplain of
Fifth Vermont Volunteers 1862-1864; Rector of St. Jamesí Church,
Arlington 1865-68; Rector of Emmanuel Church, Bellows Falls; St.
Maryís-on-the-Hill, Buffalo; Assistant Rector of St. Paulís,
Buffalo; Rector of Christ Church, New Bern, North Carolina, and
Rector of Trinity, Claremont, New Hampshire, 1881-1885, his last
In Claremont he
financed the purchase of an organ and established the Boy Choir.
Some of the oldest of
the members of St. Jamesís, Mr. Charles H. Crofut and Mr. Edward
C. Woodworth, remember well Mr. Hale and speak highly of him. He
is said to have been gifted as a preacher, a good businessman
and successful as a pastor, a rare combination one might say in
the light of many yearsí experience in the ministry.
Mr. Hale, while
Rector at Arlington, was often called on to minister in other
towns. Mr. E. C. Woodworth says that his father, Mr. Joseph G.
Woodworth, was at one time proprietor of the Arlington Hotel,
now called the Arlington Inn.
He afterwards removed
with his wife to Cambridge, New York, where there was no
Episcopal Church. He and his wife who knew Mr. Hale invited him
to come to Cambridge and preach. He was the first clergyman to
hold Episcopal services in Cambridge, and he may be credited
with having been instrumental in establishing the parish there.
Mr. and Mrs.
Woodworth later returned to Arlington, and their son Edward
Canfield Woodworth was baptized and confirmed in St. James
Church. He was, from early manhood, a worker in the church and a
vestryman for fifty years.
Mr. Hale married
Louise Weed Stevens, July sixth, 1875. She died an 1880. In 1884
he married Clara Farwell Blodgett. They had four children, one
of whom is the Rev. Charles Stuart Hale, who is Rector at
We now come to the
close of the Episcopate of Bishop Hopkins. The Rev. Dr. George
Lynde Richardson, in his life of Bishop Hall, the third Bishop
of Vermont, has made a very excellent summary of the outstanding
labors of Bishop Hopkins. He writes:
"When in 1832 John
Henry Hopkins, then an assistant Minister at Trinity Church,
Boston, was consecrated as its first Bishop, the Diocese was too
poor to support him, and he was obliged to serve as Rector of
St. Paulís Church, Burlington, and give only such fragments of
his time as could be spared from those duties to the care of the
diocese. The Church grew slowly, and if it had not been for the
tireless energy of Bishop Hopkins and the devotion of his
clergy, who were true missionaries, in every sense of the word,
there would have been no growth at all".
"It is sometimes said
by people, who are more enthusiastic than well-informed, that
the Episcopal Church has given no attention to rural work until
our own day, but anyone who knows the story of Vermont can find
in it some of the most signal examples of successful and
self-sacrificing labor in the rural field that are to be found
anywhere in the Churchís history".
"Bishop Hopkins had
an intense conviction of the importance of education and with
incredible courage and perseverance he triumphed over obstacles
that would have seemed insurmountable to most men, and
established on Rock Point, north of Burlington, two schools, one
for boys and one for girls".
"There also he made
his home, and there it was he dreamed that there might be
eventually a Theological Seminary for which he even secured one
endowed professorship before his death in 1868."
The attitude of
Bishop Hopkins toward the Civil War made him unpopular at the
time, for though he discussed no such subjects in the pulpit,
yet as a citizen he exercised his right of freedom of speech.
He firmly advocated
the duty of loyalty to our government, but anticipating the
emergency of national strife over the question of slavery he had
prepared and published a plan by which war could be avoided.
By reason of the
bitter feeling engendered during this period between the North
and South, it was not possible to bring about the plan of
arbitration, which was evidently the fundamental purpose of the
In the light of today
it is a matter for regret that such a course could not have been
pursued, for it would have saved millions of lives and wholesale
destruction of property as well as have avoided heartbreaks and
The attitude of
Bishop Hopkins of loyalty to the government but tolerance for
the states that seceded contributed to his general usefulness
when in 1865 he became in order of seniority the Presiding
Bishop of the Church.
His unique position
as friendly to both sections of the country enabled him to be
instrumental in bringing together the several dioceses of the
Church with the least possible reawakening of bitterness.
In 1867 occurred the
first Pan Anglican Council at Lambeth, England.
All the bishops of
the American Episcopal Church were invited, especially the
recognized the signal honor that had come to their bishop by
resolution of congratulations and loyalty and also by providing
for the expenses of the Bishopís journey to England.
His homecoming from
England was welcomed by a gathering of most of the clergy of
Vermont and a service of thanksgiving at St. Paulís Church,
notwithstanding the infirmities of age, then began a strenuous
schedule of visitations throughout the diocese; sickness
overcame him owing to exposures in his long drives through
In the severity of
his sickness he calmly expressed the conviction that his life's
work was done. In resignation to his suffering and in
thanksgiving for all the mercies past and in hope of the future
he awaited the end. He died on January ninth, 1868.
Next | Back