of God come with power"'.2 The American Methodist bishop of Peking, James W Bashford, addressing the same conference, gave hyperbolic reinforcement to Davidson's view that the world stood poised on the fulcrum of extraordinary religious change: 'Not since the days of the Reformation, not indeed since Pentecost, has so great an opportunity confronted the Christian Church.'3 The excitement of a new century, the unprecedented extent of recent colonial acquisitions by European Christian nations (especially in Africa), the revolution in transport currently being effected by steamships and railways, and the multiplying signs of spiritual and intellectual ferment in the historic civilisations of Asia, all seemed to point to the hand of providence, beckoning the church forward into a new era of global Christian expansion.
Even a comparatively small regional conference, such as the first and more controversial of the Kikuyu ecumenical conferences that took place in East Africa in June 1913, was invested by some with quite exceptional historical significance. A leader in The Times of 4 December 1913 saw no incongruity in adding the name of Kikuyu to a uniquely Anglican and hybridised version of apostolic succession that extended from Constantinople and Nicaea, through Trent, Augsburg and Dort, to the Hampton Court and Savoy conferences of seventeenth-century England.4 In the eyes of such ecumenical enthusiasts, the healing of the divisions of the centuries was about to begin in the newly tilled Christian soil of East Africa. For other Anglicans, of course, notably the Anglo-Catholic Bishop Frank Weston of Zanzibar, Kikuyu was very far from being an apostolic event, but even Weston, in his indignation at the 'heresy' and 'schism' supposedly involved in Kikuyu's pioneering celebration of a Protestant ecumenical eucharist, was doing his best to ensure that this apparently minor conference was written into the pages of church history.5
Weston's robust dismissal of pan-Protestant experiments in ecumenism from the perspective of a firmly Anglo-Catholic view of tradition was symptomatic of a range of responses by conservative Christians to the innovatory and often radical spirit that had seized sections of the churches. Catholic modernism received its come-uppance from Pius X in 1907 in the decree Lamentabili and the encyclical Pascendi, and in the systematic purge of modernist influence which followed. Pius also reasserted the control of clergy and hierarchy over
2 World Missionary Conference, 1910, vol. ix, The history and records of the conference (Edinburgh and London: Oliphant, Anderson and Ferrier, n.d.), p. 150.
4 Willis, Towards a united church, p. 18.
5 Smith, Frank Bishop of Zanzibar, p. 149.
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