August 4th, 1901
Rev & Dear Sir -
I am visiting this city, where I was Rector of your Church from 1883 to 1893. I hope you and the Church have an existence when this Chest is opened. For there are many good people who think that the Christian Church has had its day - that is has ceased to be the power for good that its founder intended it to be - - & therefore will die before the coming of the 21st century.
While not of that number I seriously doubt whether the church in your day will be administered on the same lines & for the same purpose, as during the 19th & the beginning of this 20th century.
I am living in this Church's transition period.
On one side are ultra Conservatives insisting that the church must hold on to the old dogmas, expressed in the old words of our forefathers - that fixity of interpretation is of the essence of the creeds.
On the other side - in the Church - are those who hold that while truth is eternal & can not change, yet the forms of its expression, must change with changing conditions.
That truth is as the sun that 'shineth more & more unto the perfect day. And as the 19th century showed a marvelous increase of the light of scientific truth - & the 20th will show a still greater increase. So too there has been during the past half of the 19th century an increased light of religious truth - that brightens now - - & will continue to brighten until your time & beyond.
So may you, my dear Brother, & your Parishioners may be repeating the words of the same Creed that I do now - while the meaning of those words are vastly deeper to you than to me, even as my understanding of them has a fuller spiritual meaning than my fathers found in them.
I congratulate you on living in a Day of fuller religious truth - that you are enjoying the rich fruits of the Higher Criticism, which is just beginning to bless us with clearer views of the Bible: a better understanding of what the Church's mission is.
And Mrs. Paul shall be the subject of this 2nd page of my letter
Not a few of us Churchmen are hoping & working for the restoration of what we believe was the original mission of the Church.
"The common people heard the Master gladly" - but they do not hear him [in] present day Church gladly - or at all, to any extent. There is a great gulf between them and the Church. But it is not widening now. I think it is narrowing. This seems to be the early dawn of a new day. There is not only a great discontent among "the working class," so called: but also among the best women & men of the wealthy class; a growing feeling among them that the present inequalities of conditions is wrong & should be righted - a deeper sense of the responsibility to use their wealth for the uplifting of humanity - in a word there is a marked increase of the Christ - Spirit among them that is among some of the wealthier. For the most consider their wealth their own, to be used selfishly.
Upon the whole I think the outlook is bright - although there are many dark & discouraging things which I trust will be [remedied?] before you get this letter. One, I have spoken of, mainly the alienation of the masses from the Church - - & the other is the indifference of most in the Church to the crying evils of our day.
It will be difficult for you to realize that the so called followers of the Prince of Peace are the most strenuous advocates of war. The so called Xian Nations are the most grasping & brutal. Heathens, Japanese have just been [scandalized?] & sent in this protest against the awful brutalities perpetrated by these Christian allies in putting down a rebellion in China. Christian England is waging an unjust war against the liberty loving Boers in S. Africa. And our own Xian [panic? land?] has forced the Philippine Islanders - our allies in a war with Spain - by an overwhelming army to submit to our dominion, after promising them Independence.
And the most discouraging thing is that most of our Xian pulpit & Xian Editors - - & Xian people see nothing wrong with these wars - rather they encourage them - favor the worship of Mars more than the "Prince of Peace: the opening of this 20th Century is marked by an intensification of the Martial spirit - - & the Church encourages it.
And yet there are hopeful signs that the Xian Church will go forward by going backward. Many are crying "back to Christ. There are not a few Christian Socialists who are trying to make the Church what, we believe, was the Masters intention - namely an organization for building up 'a kingdom of heaven" on the Earth - and not what it became, and chiefly is now - that is a post mortem emigration society.
Yes - we have been going on the idea that the Church exists chiefly to get souls into heaven after death! Altho' some of us are insisting that the Masters mission was to bring heaven to Earth - establish an earthly kingdom of Social Righteousness.
The powers of selfishness in Church & State are so strongly entrenched that we have not been able to make much impresion [sic] and yet the signs are most hopeful. Socialism is no longer used as a scare - word - for people are beginning to understand it better!
And the awful corruption in many of our state & municipal governments is so flagrant, that good men in all political parties are thinking seriously, whether state and municipal ownership is not the nessary [sic] remedy: just as the alienation between the Church & the Mass is roused so many of our Churchmen to the need of reverting to the Xian Socialism of the first centuries, in order to make men realize their brotherhood one with another, under their One Common Father. But be the reason what it may - these sentiments are growing - - & I believe you are enjoying their full realization. You cannot understand what it meant, when I was your predecessor to proclaim these opinions - truths rather.
It caused a split in Grace Church. I was waited on by a committee who insisted that I should not present for confirmation certain persons whose 'crime' was that they were socialy [sic] objectionable. They told me that God had raised up different Churches for the different classes, & that our Church was not intended for those whom my Policy & preaching was bringing into it.
Of course I would not consent that Grace Church should be made a fashionable Club of well - to - do people in "good society. Then war was made upon me. But nearly all the good people of the Parish stood by me - the vote at the Parish meeting being 200 for me, to 32 against: these last then organized the new Parish of St. Stephens.
But my health was wrecked in the struggle - and seven months after, I resigned to become Associate Rector of Trinity Church Pittsburg, Pennsylvania - two years later, I became Rector of the 'Church of the Ascension, Bradford, Pa - where I have been now nearly 6 years, & expect to spend the rest of my life.
What I have written will give you some idea of the times in which I live - - & make you perhaps more grateful to God for the work done by the [promoters?] of the Xian Socialist movement - beginning with Yves, D; Maurice, & Charles Kingsly, & carried on in my day, by not a few enthusiastic teachers & workers - with strong hopes of the ultimate triumph of true Xianity - among whom I dare not rank myself for ability - but do himself write myself as one who - according to the powers God has given him - is using them to bring on the day of universal brotherhood under the Leadership of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I hope to be present with you in the Spirit as you read this letter to your congregation.
A. R. Kieffer, D.D. Rector Church of the Ascension Bradford, McKean Co - Pa
P.S. If we have any descendants my wife wishes you to give this enclosed letter to them.
202 N. Cascade Avenue Colorado Springs, Colo., August 4th 1901
To our dear great grandchildren (if we be so fortunate as to have them) greeting.
Your great grandfather and I are on a visit to our daughter's Kate Keiffer Moore and her two little daughters Katharine Lissa and Constance Moore in Colorado Springs. We lived here and your great grandfather was Rector of Grace Church here for ten years and a half where our only son A. Bedell Keiffer died and was buried at the age of sixteen. Also our son in law Dr. Henry Boynton Moore who died only a year ago and left our daughter with two little girls whose heirs I hope will live to get this letter and the picture of their mother, grandmother, great grandmother and their great great grandmother. I also enclose a little book written as a letter to our two little granddaughters on the death [?] of their father which I had published while their grandfather was on a pleasure trip to the Land of the Midnight Sung. We wish you might have seen what a handsome pair the little girls' father and mother were. Dr. Moore was 6 feet two inches and his wife a most beautiful girl so that their beauty attracted attention wherever they went. He was the leading physician and surgeon in the town and was revered [?] by all alike rich and poor. The other branches of our family are decendents [sic] of George S. Kieffer, A.R. Keiffer's brother living in Baltimore. He has a son George a daughter Bessie (married to M. Nichols) and Mary Keiffer. My family of Halls consists of my father Alex Wilford Hall now 85 years old and my dear mother Mary Hall now 75 years old both still living. My two brothers Almon Hall and Alonzo Hall are living in Toledo, Ohio. Only Alonzo has children. A son Gordon Hall and Nella Louise. So if there are none of our immediate family of Kieffer's I hope this may find its way to the oldest living member of the Hall family.
May the richest blessings of our Heavenly Father be on all of the members of the families living. Both of the Halls and Kieffers.
Lissa Hall Kieffer
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