IN MY work for Red Cross, U.S.O., and the War Chest I had met many preachers and had spoken in many churches, once or twice even pinch-hitting for Labor Day sermons. Once I spoke on the Lord's Prayer, pointing out human affairs would remain in a mess until God's will displaced the clashing wills of men in the troubled world. My "sermons" went over pretty well with the various Protestant congregations, but sometimes I had heated arguments with the parsons. Some of them labored under the illusion that bolshevism, in spite of blood purges and atheism, was akin to the communism of the primitive Christian church. Things like that convinced me that preachers needed talking to as much as wage-earners, employers, and professors. Matters of religious sectarianism interested me little and the parsons' notions about economics and social science less. All that I expected from the church was affirmation of the reality of God and guidance in a basic faith on which men of differing opinions and interests might agree.
Edith and I talked these matters over earnestly before we united with the First Congregational Church of Tacoma. Had it not been for one of my long-dead grandfathers, it might have been any other church. Hugh Chaplin, recorded as "the immigrant," had embarked from Hull, England, on the good ship "Joan" in the summer of 1638. He was one of a group of twenty Puritan families from Yorkshire who were following their pastor, Rev. Ezekiel Rogers, to New Rowley, Massachusetts, where they hoped to be free to worship God without interference by the state. In the record it is said of him:
" Hugh Chaplin became a Freeman, which previous to 1664 meant that they were members of the same Congregational Church, had taken the Freeman's oath and were thereby entitled to vote."