St. Mark’s-in-the-Bouwerie gave notice through the clerk of the vestry that the church properties will be locked and barred today should the Body and Soul Clinic attempt to resume activities this afternoon.
Dr. Edward S. Cowles, director of the clinic, met this challenge by announcing that he would treat patients on the sidewalks in front of the church if this action is taken.
The statement of the vestry clerk and the announcement of Dr. Cowles came after the receipt of another communication from Dr. William N. Guthrie, rector of the church, in which he denies his vestry is anti-Semitic, asserts he had not said he would permit the re-opening of the clinic on September 1st, and asks for a month’s respite from the controversy.
Dr. Cowles’ answer to Dr. Guthrie’s statement was to draw up an affidavit sworn to by two other persons who assert they were witnesses when Dr. Cowles and the rector of St. Mark’s church came to an agreement that the clinic would be reopened within a month.
Dr. Cowles, through his attorney, Samuel Untermeyer, threatened to seek an injunction to restrain Dr. Guthrie from evicting the clinic.
The witnesses who signed the Cowles affidavit are Dorraine Posey, Miss Jeanne Bailey and Dr. Cowles. The affidavit states: “Dr. Guthrie in our presence stated emphatically that the clinic would resume the activities” in the church on September 1, after a month’s suspension for repairs.
Dr. Cowles offered to make a gift of $1,000 to help defray the expenses of the church building on condition that the clinic would be permitted to continue.
The letter of Dr. Guthrie, as quoted by the Herald-Tribune, declares:
“I asked you for a suspension of hostilitiesâ€”a truce of God. I said to you a suspension does not preclude resumption. If you should see fit, I hoped you would not force the issue. If you wish to, your case will be as good as everâ€”your injunction brought by the Clinic Corporation would be just as strong in September as in August, and you would have a chance for very desperately needed convalesence and my own family a respite from nervous tension. Never in God’s world did I pledge you a new invitation to use St. Mark’s Churchâ€”I merely said your case would be just as good after a voluntary suspension on your part. I assured youâ€”for the 100th time I presumeâ€”that as a minister of Christ, I would not myself personally or officially close St. Mark’s Church to the clinic, but that, on the other hand, the vestry was legally constituted to take its action and after the bishop’s reply to my request quite unlikely to reconsider their resolution of June 27, for which action they are corporately and individually responsibleâ€”not I, the rector, who am bound by my ordination vows as they are not.
“I take all poor and afflicted to be Christ’s representatives on this earth, and that we owe them all service we can render, and I consider that the stragetic position of St. Mark’s in-the-Bouwerie on the edge of the Ghetto, makes a service to Jewish people more incumbent than to a church on Park Avenue. I have never made a distinction of raceâ€”Negroes, American Indians, Mexicans, Syrians, Armenians, Parsees and Persians have to my positive knowledge attended, and quite a few communicated. Your clinic has been wide open as our churchâ€”an anti-Semitic attitude on the part of my vestry, and particularly of my junior warden, is a most entertaining falsehood. We have never made the distinction of race, but we have demanded respectful and reverent attitude in our edifice, and cleanliness about the premises. This we have often failed to get, but we have been patient and our rebukes have been gentle. If others are anti-Semitic, let them bear the burden. It is pure slander with regard to us, and action on such lines would be laughed out of court.
“For God’s sake, dear doctor, as a communicant at St. Mark’s, protect your own house of worship. Send that check for $1,000 as a token of fair play. Adjourn for August, and if you must resume your tactics of legal and press hostility against your parish, do so when you are yourself and entirely accountable for your conduct. I have nothing more to say except that we are absolutely worn out by this tempest in a teapot, and that you are acting a poor part as friend and physician when you continue this strain with vituperative tenacity. You are a genius and a magician n your own job. When it comes to ordinary commonsense business relations you should invoke the aid of such friends as Mr. Untermyer, Mr. Andrews and a half a dozen others I might name, who have cool heads and warm hearts.”