INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH, a non credal organization of Christians, to supplement the regular church methods and ministrations — preaching, prayer-meetings, Sunday school, and pastoral visitations — by helpful social work in the community. The moving spirit is the same as in the Y. M. C. A., University Settle ment, Salvation Army, Rescue Missions, Chris tian Endeavor societies, etc.; but "with the emphasis on Church, not Institution.° The prime object is to reannex to the church the functions which other bodies have been com pelled to fill by its neglect of its duty; and strengthen it by gathering potential Christian elements which under the old system do not come to it, as well as by combining in itself all the claims to public gratitude and interest now shared between the purely ecclesiastical and the purely social institutions, or the half way houses like the Y. M. C. A. It differs from the latter in not merely furnishing a reli gious atmosphere which may lead to church membership, but enrolling members at once in a real church of Christian work by absorbing the secular features of the other; in a word, to do, without vows or uniforms, what the Catholic Church has always done with its chari table functions — make them an integral por tion of the church organization. Hence, it is not by itself a church in the sense of the Roman Catholic or the Methodist Church, but in a broad sense a description of any church which adds educational or social work; in general use, a title of any which throws into this work its predominant vitality. Free pews are an es sential accompaniment, as the social aristocracy fostered by rented pews contradicts the basal democratic principle of institutional work; hence it is -sometimes called Free Church, but preferably Open Church. The present name originated with President Tucker of Dartmouth College, who applied it to Berkeley Temple, Boston.
The movement started chiefly with the High Church element in England, modeled on the Catholic idea; it flourished for two generations in that country before reaching the United States, about 1880. Now a large number of churches — Episcopal, Congregational and Bap tist in the forefront, but also Methodist, Pres byterian, Unitarian — have adopted the idea with increasing vigor, besides the work of this class always performed by the brotherhoods and sisterhoods of the Roman Catholic Church. One of the earliest of these was Plymouth Church of Indianapolis, inspired by the memory of Mr. Beecher. Notable among others are the Saint Bartholomew, Saint George, Saint Paul and Judson Memorial of New York, and the Tabernacle of Jersey City; Berkeley-Temple, Parker Memorial, and Ruggles Street Baptist of Boston; Grace and Bethany of Philadelphia; Ninth Street of Cincinnati, Pilgrim of Cleve land; Plymouth Tabernacle of Detroit; People's of Saint Paul ; and the Denver Tabernacle. In 1894 the Open and Institutional Church League was organized in New York; it held several conventions in Eastern cities (1895-1901), and for three years published the 'Open Church> as its organ, but has practically lapsed, being merged in the 'National Federation of Churches and Christian Workers.> The total of its work,
however, is not shown by its nominal member ship; the same spirit has infected outside churches, and their methods are being more and more adopted as a general basis of work.
The platform of the League stated that it aimed to save all men by *abolishing, so far as possible, the distinction between the religious and the secular*; by "open church doors for every day and all the day, free seats, a plurality of Christian workers, the personal activity of all church members, a ministry to all the commu nity through educational, reformatory and phil anthropic channels, to the end that men may be won to Christ and his service, that the Church may be brought back to the simplicity and comprehensiveness of its primitive life' It is not correct to say, as is often done, that its methods are purely secular : its additional meth ods beyond the regular religious ones are so, for the very reason it exists. These involve a thorough organization for social and philan thropic work; but the religious features are sedulously conserved and carefully fitted to the work, the spirit of worship being cherished and made the centre of inspiration. The service gen erally ends in the communion; there is con gregational singing of both hymns and chants, led by a highly trained choir, and often respon sive readings; the whole with the sermon are intended to be brief, varied, and attractive. Sunday schools are carefully attended to; prayer meetings given new features; in sum mer there are open-air meetings; and other Christian associations, endeavor societies, broth erhoods, etc., are encouraged. The officers and workers of the church are given active special duties, such as pastoral visiting, reception and welcome of strangers, canvassing for the vari ous activities of the church; and there are not only sub-pastors, but deaconesses, sisters and nurses. The purely secular side embraces all departments of culture, physical, intellectual and moral, as well as direct charities. Morally, the church work above should be sufficient. The charitable departments include not only direct aid to the poor, but wood-yards, em ployment bureaus, etc.; personal endeavor to provide employment for those willing to work; dispensaries, hospitals and creches; and en couragement to thrift by savings funds. Spe cial buildings are often erected.
That the movement is liable to perversions is admitted; such is the case with every institu tion. Secularization is one; but unless it can be faced, the churches cannot influence or draw in thcse outside them, for the simple reason that the latter cannot be brought within hearing. Sensationalism, to draw in hearers to be bene fited, is a graver one, and ill-judged; as one of its chief workers puts it, *a camp-stool congre gation neither pays nor repents," and a lasting work must be content with slower processes. Consult Burr, A. R., 'Russell H. Conwell, Foun der of Institutional Church in America> (Philadelphia 1905); Forbes, J., 'Social Ideas of a Free Church> (Boston 1913) ; Thwing, C. F., 'The Working Church' (New York 1913).