Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - In the Slums, by the Rev. D. Rice-Jones, 1884 - Chapter 8 - Encouragements

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CHAPTER VIII.

ENCOURAGEMENTS.

HITHERTO I have chiefly dwelt on the difficulties of my work. I will now mention some of the encouragements.
    This mission was first started in 1872, and for the first six years was worked without stipend by a clergyman of great zeal and ability. But so great were the difficulties he had to encounter that it would be unfair to estimate the good he did by the ordinary tests of success in church work, the number of communicants, or even of the congregation attending the services. Still as the teaching of the Church inevitably leads up and points to Holy Communion as the bond of fellowship amongst Christians, we must take the desire or refusal to partake of that Communion as some indication of the success or non- success of our work amongst all classes of society. The following table may therefore prove interesting as showing the numbers of candidates Confirmed [-33-] from this mission in different years from the commencement:-

Year. 1872 1873 1874 1875 1876 1877 Total
Candidates confirmed 0 2 4 5 6 9 26

For the years between 1877 and 1882 I can find no record. But in 1882 the number was two.
    Last year, which was my first year, I had in all thirty-four candidates for confirmation. Out of that number twenty-six were confirmed in the month of June, while eight had for various reasons to postpone their confirmation. From this it will be seen that as many communicants were added to the Church in this district last year as in the first six years of the mission, and thirteen times as many as in the year before last. I attribute this great difference in the numbers to the circumstance of my living amongst the people, whereas my predecessors resided away from the district. It may be objected, that candidates taken to confirmation are mostly boys and girls, the majority of whom never become regular communicants. But that was not the ease with my candidates. The average age of those whom I took to confirmation was thirty-three. The oldest was sixty years of age; the youngest fifteen. Two were over fifty; eleven over forty; seventeen over thirty; twenty-two over twenty; and only four under twenty years of age. Four or five had been [-34-] brought up as Wesleyan Methodists, one of whom had been a preacher; three had been brought up as Congregationalists; one as a Lutheran; and one as a Roman Catholic. Seventeen were or had been married; and amongst these there were three married couples. There were ten men and sixteen women. Of the men, two were engaged in a small way of business for themselves; one was a compositor; one a bookbinder; one a furrier; two porters; one a waiter; one a pensioner and government office servant; and one a scavenger.
    When I came here at Christmas 1882 the largest number of communicants was twelve. In June 1883, on the Sunday after the confirmation, there were thirty-three communicants. On Christmas Day there were twenty-four communicants, some ten or twelve having been prevented from coming by circumstances with which I was made acquainted. When I add that I have never had any one except my wife to help me in the work of visitation, it will be admitted that these are encouraging signs of what may be done.