|Rev. Samuel J. Stone|
Anglican priest, the Rev. Samuel J. Stone penned the words to the beloved hymn: “The Church’s One Foundation” in 1866. (Book of Hymns #545) According to Warren Shiver, author of Stories behind the Hymns, it was written as a call to unity in the church during a time of controversy.
South African Bishop John William Colenso (first Church of England Bishop of Natal, mathematician, theologian, Biblical scholar and social activist) had contended that the Bible was a myth. He was deposed for heresy, then later reinstated. But all the while there was deep division in the South African Church about these issues.
Rev. Stone writes: “Though with a scornful wonder we see her (the church) sore oppressed, by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed.”
This humble parish priest was passionate about the church remaining unified as a body here on earth even in the midst of controversy. In his hymn he connected the church of the living with the church triumphant.
The saints in heaven are depicted as those who are encouraging the church by keeping watch and praying as the divisions raged on below. This imagery can be helpful for us today as we struggle with disagreements over Disciplinary paragraphs.