Bishop Parsons on CLID

Bill Jr.:  Bishop Edward Lambe Parsons, first while Bishop of California and later in retirement, was president of the C.L.I.D.  He was a noted liturgical scholar as well as deeply concerned with the relevance of the Church to the changing culture and social climate.  He followed Bishop Charles Williams of Michigan as president in the early 1920’s and continued well through the World War II years.

Bill Sr., The Witness, Sept. 24, 1931:

Against the dark background of business depression and unemployment, one sees standing out more vividly than ever the need for the C.L.I.D.  The situation in the world and in America is so bad that even the thoughtless give it an occasional thought.  Serious minded people are everywhere troubled.  The complacent confidence that because America is America things will in time all come right automatically is badly shaken.  People are beginning to realize that we are living in a headless, planless world.  They talk of industrial strategy boards, and international conferences.  They are right.  There must be planning and ultimately planning on a world scale.

But the C.L.I.D. lives to point to a need more fundamental than planning.  It lives to remind Church people, and indeed whosoever will listen, that the present mess is the ripe fruit of an industrial and social order founded on the profit motive and the competitive method.  For those foundation stones the Church would substitute the motive of service and the method of cooperation.  To that effect innumerable Christian bodies throughout the world have spoken.  The Anglican bishops, the Pope,  the Stockholm Conference,  the Federal Council, our own General Convention and many others constitute a formidable array of witnesses to the message of Christ for the social order.  Christian people read, say ‘that is fine,’ and go about their business, caught and carried on in the relentless machinery of the system.

The C.L.I.D. exists to remind and keep reminding them that this matter of substituting cooperation and social planning for competitive individualism is a practical thing.  The teaching and spirit of our Lord where they rule must e embodied in institutions.  They are not platitudes.  They are the principles of a sound society.  The name of the League does not mean that its members are committed to any particular current type of industrial democracy.  It does mean that they are committed to regarding industry as a cooperative task just as political democracy regards government as a cooperative task.  The principle of political democracy is pretty generally accepted even if we work it badly. The C.L.I.D. is trying in its modest sphere to help Christian people to see that Christianity takes us inevitably to the same kind of principles in the social order.   That is its sole reason for existence.  It says we must not be satisfied with ideals.  We must try to see how they work.


And so it does three things.  It tries to stimulate Church people to think clearly.  Its School at the Wellesley Conference is a case in point.  Its branches and its individual members are always at work on this job.  They like it.  Sometimes it is hard work but it is always fun and it is always imperfect though the effort be a loving attempt to follow where their Master leads.


Its second field of service is in cases of industrial trouble.  The work of its secretary in Paterson, in Danville and in West Virginia is well known.  The development of better understanding, the help of the suffering, the support of the oppressed — in these and other ways the League operates.


And finally it draws together through a bond of practical endeavor those in our own Church who have a like outlook upon our task as Christians in this present world.  It is a goodly fellowship.  We thank God for it.  Our faith in God and man is high.  We rejoice together.

‘In work that keeps faith sweet and strong.’