York Churchgoer Miffed about Collection
Collection pouches on wall on right in William Wagner 1830 drawing of York’s German Reformed Church
In 1829, an anonymous Yorker, signing himself REFORM eloquently argued against passing the collection pouch at church. Since all the church services I have attended still have a designated time for the offering and pass the collection plate, I would say the custom still prevails.
See below for the writer’s points, as published in the May 26, 1829 Recorder.
“MR. EDITOR:–A stranger upon visiting the churches in York would be struck with surprize when witnessing a practice in use here, which has been go generally discarded in the cities, and also in towns not only of the size of this but much less in wealth and population. The practice to which I allude is the passing about of those long-handled velvet pouches by the officers of the church, who like Portuguese Beggars ask a penny ‘pour l’abor de Dior.'”
He goes on to say that the practice probably came from “a practice among the early Christians making collections on the Sabbath day for the poor,” but now the poor are also being collected from. The writer says the collections are now used to pay the Sexton, pay for fuel and candles, defray expense of delegates to meetings and expenses for celebration of the Lord’s Supper, as well as help pay the Preacher.” The last especially does not set well with the writer, as he sees it as begging from both church members and visitors and proclaiming: “We are unable to support our minister, help us!”
He says the poor are embarrassed into giving more than they can afford when the collection pouch comes round and that young Ladies and Gentlemen may be discouraged from coming to church if they have forgotten to secure some coins for the collection.
You wonder if he is describing himself, revealing the reason for the lengthy tirade, in the following: “It is well known that those who are able, generally keep what is termed a better suit for Sunday wear, &c.; and there are very few that think it worth while on Sunday to transfer the contents of their pockets with their persons, and thus the feelings of many a worthy citizen are wounded upon being found at church without a ‘sous’ in his pocket when these ‘Portuguese beggars’ come round punching their long handled purse in his face, compelling him to make a tacit acknowledgement not only to them, but to the whole church, that he is pennyless.”
Perhaps REFORM learned to keep some money in his pocket for collection time.
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