The Present Task of Ministry

The early 20th Century was a time of great technological change and scientific discovery; the airplane, radio and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis was entering the mainstream, as well. In light of these developments, Woodrow Wilson had concerns about the direction of humankind’s spiritual life.

1918_task_ministry_cover1918_task_ministry_2Published in 1918, this pamphlet contains the transcription of a 1908 speech given by Wilson to the Hartford Theological Seminary. During his speech, “The Present Task of the Ministry,” Wilson said,

…I sometimes think that men in our age are either losing their spirits or thinking that they have lost them. It is a very confusing age for a man of conscience. In the modern organization of economic society, for example, no man is a complete whole, every man is a fraction…


Wilson goes on to tell the graduating seminarians of the importance of their role as a “mediator between our souls and our knowledge” and of the importance of their calling to the ministry.

Wilson was a spiritual man and one of America’s most deeply religious presidents. A visit to the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library can be combined with a tour of Wilson’s birthplace located on the same site; the Presbyterian Church manse. The visitor can then experience Wilson’s religious influences from birth to presidency.

Post written by library volunteer Tim French


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