C.L.I.D: Father to Son

Bill Jr.

On June 1, 1946, the long-term executive secretary of CLID 1 turned his office to his son 2 who had been assistant social service secretary in the diocese of Massachusetts, as well as rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, an early experimental parish in urban work under the sponsorship of Bp. Henry Knox Sherrill. The announcement of the transition was made at a general meeting in the Church of the Epiphany, Washington, D.C., at which a chapter for the nation’s capital was started, with J. Brooke Mosley as chairman. At the time, Mosley was the social service secretary of the Washington diocese and future Bp. of Delaware and Dean of Union Seminary in New York . He also had attended the Graduate School of Applied Religion in Cincinnati following seminary. Speakers at the meeting were Dr. Joseph F. Fletcher of E.T.S. and Mr. Joseph Evans, regional director of the Fair Employment Practices Committee.

In my acceptance speech, according to Sara Dill’s account in the March 7, 1946, WITNESS , I said (I am sure with a good bit of trepidation and stage fright):

“It does not take a great deal of prophetic insight to read the signs of our times correctly. Modern man is caught up in the maelstrom of social change and that powerful and extremely vocal group of reactionaries is seeking to insure that the change shall be in a backward direction. Opposed to them is a less powerful and less vocal group of radicals who are fighting to make sure that the change continues to add to man’s freedom and man’s true fellowship with God. Man has passed through three major revolutions since the 16th century: the revolution to free man’s mind in the Renaissance and Reformation; the revolution to liberate man politically which centered first in America and France; and the contemporary revolt which is aimed at liberating man economically…to give him justice and the reality of the full life. “From every indication it is apparent that the United States is the country which gives greatest promise of remaining isolated from this fundamental movement of growth. It is apparent that this is the great struggle of our generation. It is a struggle which we as Church members and as members of the CLID are completely and dynamically involved.”

“It has been said that the CLID is more a state of mind than an organization. To a certain extent that is true: it is a collection of like-minded Church people. But if it is to function effectively we must have organization.  Most of the present struggle is being fought out in the committees of legislatures. If we are to be effective it is necessary to have members throughout the country who, given the word, can bring the witness of Christian pressure to bear on these committees.”

I spoke of the need for younger members, many of whom are being lost to the Church because they think the Church didn’t take any vital, unequivocal stand or action upon the major social problems of our time. So, too, I sought the recruitment of lay persons, pointing out that there were many union men (sic) in our churches who were personally concerned in the current labor-management conflicts and stresses.  I also suggested that the central office of the League might well be moved from time to time to some ‘potential critical area’…New York, Detroit, Cincinnati, St. Louis, the South, the West Coast. “In this way,” I said, “the League would be better able to keep abreast of the times and bring the Church’s witness to the areas of conflict, and at the same time build up membership which can act as a real leaven in the social field in those areas.” (NOTE: In suggesting the ‘moving’, I wonder whether I consulted Polly, since our eldest son, Timothy, had been born in Boston and, not too soon after this speech, we became parents of triplets. 3 Both Sr. and Jr. Spoffords seem to have had remarkably patient or saintly wives when it came to their tolerance of the peripatetic nature of their vocations. At any rate, organizational development and witness wasn’t my particular skill and in 1947, we moved to be rector of St. Thomas’ Church, Detroit, and, also, a student at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. At that point, the Rev. Andrew van Dyke, who had succeeded Dad as rector of Christ Church, Middletown, N.J., became CLID secretary.