A New Code of Rules for Chapel Keepers
A spoof article but are there messages for today?
Transcription of Article in the Christian Messenger by ‘Robin Robust’
(1) In the winter never have the church warm in the morning or cool in the evening. It lends variety if men worship with cold feet in the morning and perspiring foreheads in the evening; besides, it tends to diminish the congregation, hence there is not so much cleaning required.
(2) Never open the church windows. You will let in a new supply of oxygen, which is fatal to sleepfulness, and you will let out the millions of bacteria which belong lawfully to the church. Remember, you are in your present position to take charge of the property of the trustees.
(3) Be sure when you purchase a pair of new boots to obtain a pair that are guaranteed to creak; if they don’t creak don’t have them. To walk up and down in a pair of creaking boots is the most effectual way of calling the attention of the congregation to the fact that you are on duty.
(4) Between the seasons never light the lamps before the service begins. Wait till the preacher has announced his text and then walk slowly down from the bottom of the church to the top. It is still more effective if you forget the matches and have to return to fetch them. It keeps the congregation alert for a longer time. Do everything with a becoming deliberation.
(5) Always be stiff and dignified to strangers. If you speak to them about your minister tell them all his weaknesses and faults. Let them find out his excellencies for themselves. It will be all the greater surprise and pleasure when they discover that he has some strong points. Don’t smile on duty.
(6) Get into the habit of complaining about your duties. Magnify your office. Let it be understood that you are greatly overworked, and that it is only your devotion that leads you to retain your position for a single week.
(7) Never by any means do extra duty without demanding extra pay.
(8) Make your house a centre where all the gossips and grumblers of the church gather to air their grievances.
(9) Be as churlish as you possibly can to the young folks. Remember they ought to be kept in their proper place. There is a “professional snarl ” which is very becoming, and which you should go to some trouble to acquire.
(10) Leave the members of the congregation to dust their own seats and book-boards with their pocket-handkerchiefs. It finds them something to do and saves trouble.
(11) When you sweep the church (which should not be too often) keep all windows and doors closed, then go vigorously to work with a long broom. Don’t mind the corners.
(12) See that the decanter in the pulpit is replenished not less than once a month. Water that stands longer is apt to get a little thick. Oftener, of course, you cannot be expected to attend to this matter, but some regard should be paid to the minister’s health.
(13) When a new minister comes, take the first opportunity you can of informing him of the members of the congregation who are “not to be trusted.” If anyone knows them you do, and it is only right he should be warned.
(14) If anybody finds fault with you, put your foot down at once and threaten to resign. When on duty during service time slam the doors to ensure them fastening.
(15) If any strangers or poor folks enter the cushioned pew of the members, haughtily order them into the free seats. The rights of the pew-owners must be rigidly protected.
N.B.— lf you diligently keep these rules you will effectually do your part in keeping your church from becoming too popular, and in counteracting the efforts of the ministers and others to make it a centre of aggressive spiritual life.
Christian Messenger 1903/206