Bishop John Medley "was the first prominent ecclesiologist to assume a colonial see, and at the very centre of his life and ministry were his views on the holiness of beauty. He revelled in the sacred stillness of a neo-Gothic sanctuary, and encouraged his flock to build places of worship that, whether large or small, were nonetheless glorious and set apart -- places where the soul could soar, where light could be transfigured into mystical hues of purple, red, and green by fine stained glass, and where the adoration of the Almighty could be empowered by the elaborate symbolism of a medieval Gothic setting. He sums up his feelings that it 'it is the particular glory of Gothic Architecture that it is eminently calculated to form and strengthen in the young habits of reverence and awe'. In this article I shall explore how and why John Medley sought to encourage 'habits of reverence and awe' through his introduction of the ecclesiologists' creed into the Canadian church. I shall place his ideas on church architecture and the material setting for worship in the context of the larger cultural and religious currents of his generation. In particular Medley's career must be seen again the background of the Anglo-Catholic revival, the principal source of the primary influence upon an enterprising ecclesiologist" (p. -4). The Ecclesiological Society "defined 'ecclesiology' as the science of church architecture and Christian aesthetics" (p. 9). "The first of two figures of significance for the ecclesiological movement was A.W.N. Pugin, considered to be the 'prophet' of the Gothic revival" (p. 10). Anglo-Catholic "Anglicans began to question the assumptions and conventions of their worship and sought the precise meaning of church architecture and furnishings. The altar became a particular focus; its position, size, patterning, colour, and symbolism were important aspects of the experience of worship. So too were the rich hues of stained glass, the painted or gilded designs on chancel walls, the textured symbolism of clerical vestments, and the myriad shapes of window-arches, open-timbered ceilings, rood-screen, and baptistry. Through the physical surrounds of worship, through the evocative liturgical environment, and the through the administration of the sacraments the worshipper could come closer to God and experience His grace. The outward and visual dimensions of the faith were inseparable from personal spirituality" (p. 10-11). "The other figure of major importance in the realm of architecture and aesthetics was of course John Ruskin (1819-1900). His works, especially his 'Seven Lamps of Architecture' (1849) and his 'Stones of Venice' (1851-3), were enormously influential and did much to popularize the Gothic movement among the general public" (p. 12). "Medley's important article from 1841, 'Elementary Remarks on Church Architecture', confirms that he was an early and able spokesman in the mainstream of the ecclesiological movement" (p. 14). "His article from 1843, 'The Advantage of Open Seats', outlined even more strongly his ecclesiological position. Medley favoured free seating in Anglican churches and opposed the practice of pew rents for ecclesiological, liturgical, legal, and spiritual reasons" (p. 16). "Here is a central tenet of the ecclesiologists' creed: the 'correct' physical environment for worship had the potential to touch the believer in a remarkable way, to mediate divine truths, to quicken the soul, to make an impression on the mind, to stimulate the senses, to heighten spiritual perception. In short, ecclesiological structures and objects served a very practical purpose; they were necessary elements in Christian worship" (p. 17).
In memoriam:. - address delivered at a service for the unveiling of a monument erected in the memory of the late Most Rev. John Medley, first Bishop of Fredericton and Metropolitan of Canada, Tuesday, Dec. 15, A.D. 1896