Lowder, Charles Fuge

Lowder, Charles Fuge an Anglican clergyman, of some fame in the history of city missions and of English ritualism, was born at Bath, June 22, 1821, and graduated at King's College School, London, and Exeter College, Oxford. He served his apprenticeship to London church-work under Skinner, at St. Barnabas, Pimlico, from 1851 to 1856. It was a time of vehement anti-Catholic agitation. The ritualism of Skinner and Lowder consisted in (1) Procession of clergy and choristers from and to the vestry; (2) Obeisance towards the altar on entering and retiring from the sanctuary; (3) The eastward position; (4) Colored coverings varied for the season on the altar. Bishop Blomfield allowed some of these, but disapproved of others. These troubles dragged on until the Lushington judgment disheartened the High- Church party, and the first decision of the privy council in December 1855, was welcomed as a deliverance by hearts which could not foresee the very different treatment which the Rubric oil ornaments was to receive from that same body in the Ridsdale judgment. Yet, at the beginning, the ritualism of St. Barnabas "roused such a storm and provoked such outrage that towards the end of 1850 the religious people of the district were so horrified by the blasphemous cries of the mob that they were fain to keep within their houses." In 1856 and 1857 Lowder took charge of mission congregations at Ratcliff Highway and Wellclose Square, where, amid many physical discomforts, and among the rough population of that wild East London district, he left "the record of a very noble life, full of unconscious greatness, to which the term heroic would not be misapplied." He was not a man of brilliant abilities or social attractiveness, by no means eloquent as a preacher, not always a good judge of character, his asceticism impaired his health and his working force, yet one could speak of his calm, unexcited courage, his splendid patience, his unsparing laboriousness, his habitual, far-reaching charity, his burning love of souls, his intense loyalty to Christ as a personal Savior. In 1858 Lowder welcomed a coadjutor, Alexander Heriot Mackonochie, since so conspicuous in the English Church. In 1859 six clergy were laboring in the parish, with a large staff of lay assistants, fifty-four services were held weekly, and six hundred children were under instruction in the six schools which had been set on foot. This outburst of missionary energy, with services so ritualistic, excited opposition. In September 1859, Lowder came near being murdered by a mob lashed into fury, and in the beginning of 1860 "the whole service was interrupted by hissing, whistling, and shouting; songs were roared out during the service and lesson; cushions and books were hurled at the altar . . . the clergy were spat upon, hustled, and kicked within the church, and only protected from greater outrages by sixty or eighty gentlemen who, unasked, came to the rescue." The mob gutted St. George's Church of everything savoring of the Roman service, and the bishop (Tait) for the most part gave way to the rioters. After the storm had passed, the patience and Christian spirit of Lowder and his associates began to make itself felt upon the rough zealots. Some of them became choristers in other churches, or assisted priests in mission work. New agencies for good sprang up, one of which was the Working Men's Institute, The Church of St. Peter's, London Docks, was consecrated June 31, 1866, Lowder being its first vicar. Then came the visitation of cholera, which conquered the people and bowed their hearts once for all to the pastor who gave himself up with such absolute devotedness to the work of helping them. Lowder did not set up a system in place of a Person, or his own office as the substitute for an absent, instead of the witness for a present, Lord. The root idea of confession was the, heinousness of sin and the promise of pardon through the blood of Christ, and confession and absolution were freely offered to all those who needed it. He had rituals, because he thought it his duty to put before the eyes of the people the image of the worship of heaven, and the outward appointments of the Church gave an air of comfort and dignity — a lesson for the people to take back to their squalid homes. As the result, not only was open sin swept away from the streets of St. Peter's, where before streets were peopled by houses of ill-fame, but five hundred communicants of St. Peter's Were lifted above the suffering life into joy and peace. Lowder's health, undermined for a long time, broke down in 1874 or 1875. In August 1880, he went abroad, never to return. In the Tyrol, at Zell-am-See, at the age of sixty, among strangers, Sept. 9,1880, this great and heroic spirit passed away. See Charles Lowder, a biography, by the author of the Life of St. Teresa (2d ed. Lond. 1882; N.Y. eod.); Church of England Quar. Rev. April 1882, page 57 sq.; Twenty-one Years in St. George's Mission, by Reverend C.F. Lowder, M.A. (Lond. 8vo).

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