Hull Unitarian Church. - Welcome to Mr. Perris.

The welcome given to the Rev. H. W. Perris, successor to the late Rev. J. M. Dixon in the ministry of the Park-street Unitarian Church, by the members of the congregation at the tea meeting on Monday night, was distinguished by its thoroughness, its sincerity, and its unanimity. The late Mr. Dixon’s popularity as a preacher and as a man of broad, sympathetic views is too well known to need repetition, and in choosing a gentleman to follow him who has already won golden opinions elsewhere, the Church have wisely taken the best step they could to fill up the painful void which had been so prematurely created. One can have little hesitation in affirming that with the lapse of time the wisdom of the choice will make itself abundantly apparent. About 150 sat down to tea, which was held in the school-room adjoining the church. The caterers for the occasion were the Hull Peoples Public-house Company. Dr. LONGSTAFF (London) presided at the subsequent proceedings in the chapel, and he expressed the pleasure he felt in doing so, stating that his connection with that church dated from 1836. He rejoiced that they had found a minister imbued with the spirit of that Christianity which they all so much admired, and he trusted that every time they assembled within those walls they would be inspired with nobler feelings, better resolves, and loftier aspirations.
Mr. MAXWELL then, addressing the meeting on behalf of the congregation, said that their election fell unanimouaiy on Mr. Perris, whom they now heartily welcomed to what was the oldest Dissenting congregation in Hull. Mr. Perris, he was sure, was a man whom they could honour and respect. They would be able to sit under him as free men, whilst they imposed no restriction on his own freedom.
Mr. S. HARRIS, on behalf of the Sunday School, joined in welcoming Mr. Ferris, who, he said, understood and sympathised with their Sunday school work.
Rev. CHARLES HARGROVE, M.A., Leeds, following, welcomed Mr. Ferris as an accession to the Unitarian ministry of Yorkshire, and observed that if the Unitarian churches were not as a rule numerically large, the intellectual giants of the world were for the most part on their side.
The Rev. H. W. PERRIS, in responding to the welcome that had been offered him, was very cordially received. He felt that his was a high vocation, and the words that were addressed to him showed how high were the expectations his congregation had formed of what he should aim to accomplish. Although his experience had been a long one, he might well feel trepidation in taking up that ministry, following, as he did, a minister who bid left an abiding influence behind him. This would make him modest in the assumption of his duties, but he knew that he would never fail to be sustained by their sympathy. He claimed to be a progressive thinker. As to his belief, he would now say little. He hoped, as time went on, to show that he had a positive faith - a faith which was the underlying strength of whatever work he attempted to do, and for their sakes as well as his own he would look to ripen his convictions and to put new power into his statement of them. More than that he could not promise. What God might yet reveal to him, or what he might discover, he could not say. All he could say was that he entered on a ministry which would be continued with the utmost regard to his own conscience. The Rev. gentleman sat down amidst warm applause.
The Rev. WILLIAM BINNS, of Birkenhead, then addressed the meeting. The combination of ripe culture, experience, and that Shaksperian [sic] sense which is only common amongst natures of unusual strength and richness, gave a great charm to this part of the proceedings. Mr. Binns is an original even amongst originals. A clear and vigorous style, and a vivacious manner, are only the appropriate vehicle for the conveyance of thoughts that breathe, in words that burn. He spoke of the high function of the preacher - of Solomon, the Ecclesiast, who was, after all, chiefly a cynical moralist, reflecting in his teachings the bitter half truths he had learned in his own spotted and self-indulgent career; of Isaiah, the prophet of righteousness, who inspired a decaying theocratic tradition, and expanded it to the dimensions of humanity; of Paul, who, with whatever inevitable limitation of form, still grandly reinterpreted the gospel of human brotherhood and of Jesus, whose spirit touched the world and man at every point, and for ever put it beyond question that the Son of Man was always and everywhere potentially the Son of God. Mr. Binns then spoke of great modern preachers - of Carlyle, Ruskin, and Emerson - finding stormy force and grandeur in the former, and fine insight, chequered with a rather disheartening element of pessimism in the second, but in the latter a broad and universal humanity, at once strong and delicate, pure and sympathetic; the warm, full-braided, all-reconciling sunshine, rather than the electric flash which often scorches instead of ripening. The concluding counsels of the speaker to the Park-street congregation and its minister were now humorous and now pathetic, and they evidently made a deep impression upon the hearers, who frequently applauded.
The Rev. T. W. FRECKLETON followed. This gentleman has also a very marked individuality. He anticipated great things for the ministry which was being inaugurated, and urged with very fine tact, discernment, and sympathy that nothing should be wanted to ensure the true spiritual success that was within the grasp of true and loyal workers in the cause of free Christianity. The speaker claimed a large liberty of practical direction for every ministry that was tried and true, showing that all great spiritual movements had so originated and been sustained. The whole address, which was both powerful and tender, and the feeling excited in the audience found full expression.
Rev. C. H. Ostler (Sheffield), Rev. Sydney Morris (York), and the Rev. Wm. Blazeby, B.A. (Rotherham), also addressed the meeting. Dr. Longstaff received a warm vote of thanks for presiding, on the motion of Mr. FROST, and the meeting came to a close.

[No details of publication but presumably in 1883 in a Hull newspaper. Picture added. The original was without paragraphs but each paragraph here starts where a - was followed by a capitalised name, plus a final paragraph at Rev. Ostler.]


Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful