Archive for March 2017

Feast of Lydia Emilie Gruchy (April 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Lydia Emilie Gruchy and the Ministers who Ordained Her, 1936

Image in the Public Domain

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LYDIA EMILIE GRUCHY (SEPTEMBER 5, 1894-APRIL 9, 1992)

First Female Minister in the United Church of Canada

In 1936 Lydia Emilie Gruchy became the first woman ordained as a minister in the United Church of Canada.

Gruchy’s journey toward that recognized vocation started at Asnieres, France, where she debuted on September 5, 1894.  Our saint was the eighth of ten children.  Gruchy lost her mother to death when she was eight years old.  From then until 1913 our saint moved from one side of the Atlantic Ocean to the other in the company of various members of her immediate family.  She and two brothers (Arthur and Victor) were in Saskatchewan together before she and her sisters attended a boarding school in Seaford, England, starting in 1905.  Our saint took a business course in London and worked as a civil servant for a year before she and sisters Florence, Hilda, and Elsie moved to Saskatchewan in 1913.  There Gruchy completed high school, worked as a housekeeper for a year, and trained to become a teacher.  From 1915 to 1923 she taught recent immigrants in one-room schools.  Along the way Gruchy earned her B.A. degree (University of Saskatchewan, 1920), received the Governor-General’s Gold Medal for academic excellence and leadership (1920), and studied theology at Presbyterian College (later St. Andrew’s College), Saskatoon (1920-1923).

Meanwhile, World War I affected Gruchy.  Brothers Arthur and Bert died in the war.  Another brother, Stanley, suffered injuries.

Our saint perceived a vocation to become an ordained minister.  In 1923 she applied to become a Presbyterian minister; the synod turned her down.  For more than a decade Gruchy worked as a lay missionary.  From 1923 to 1927 she served as a missionary to the Doukhobors at Veregin, Saskatchewan.  Meanwhile, in 1926, the Kamsack Presbytery and the Saskatchewan Conference of the new United Church of Canda (created via a merger the previous year) petitioned the denomination to ordain her.  The question of ordaining women was a matter of official study from 1927 to 1931, however.  As the United Church studied Grouchy worked as a lay missionary in Wakaw, Saskatchewan.  Our saint took a sabbatical to Long Beach, California, in 1931-1932; she visited relatives there.  Then she served as a lay missionary to Kelvington, Saskatchewan, from 1932 to 1936.

The United Church of Canada was finally ready to ordain women in 1936.  So, on November 4, 1936, at St. Andrew’s United Church, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Grouchy became a reverend.  At first she assisted the senior minister at St. Andrew’s Church, Moose Jaw (1936-1938).  From 1938 to 1943 she was the secretary for the Committee on the Deaconess Order and Women Workers, Toronto.  Then our saint served as pastor at Simpson (1948-1952), Cupar (1952-1957), and Neville-Vanguard (1957-1962), all in Saskatchewan.  She also received her Doctor of Divinity degree from St. Andrew’s College, Saskatoon, in 1953.

Gruchy retired in 1962.  She and a sister relocated to White Rock, British Columbia, where our saint died, aged 97 years, on April 9, 1992.

Pioneers such as Lydia Emilie Gruchy have enriched the life of the institutional church and paved the way for other women to pursue their vocations from God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BLESSED OSCAR ROMERO AND THE MARTYRS OF EL SALVADOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF PAUL COUTURIER, APOSTLE OF CHRISTIAN UNITY

THE FEAST OF THOMAS ATTWOOD, FATHER OF MODERN CHURCH MUSIC

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Lydia Emilie Gruchy,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (April 9)   2 comments

Above:  Dietrich Bonhoeffer Stamp

Image in the Public Domain

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DIETRICH BONHOEFFER (FEBRUARY 4, 1906-APRIL 9, 1945)

German Lutheran Martyr

Instead of writing a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I refer you, O reader, to the following links:

  1. Link #1
  2. Link #2
  3. Link #3

Now I reflect on his legacy.

Bonhoeffer opposed the regime of Adolf Hitler, who sought to make Germany great again and wrecked the country and committed genocide in the process.  This opposition made our saint an associate of men who plotted to assassinate Hitler.

Sometimes making moral choices is relatively easy.  Much–perhaps most–of the time, however, life exists in shades of gray, not black and white.  Much of the time the best we can do is to select the least bad choice.  The fact that this is true as often as it is indicates that we live in a world in which sin has infected social institutions.  Bonhoeffer found himself in a difficult situation not of his making.  In that context he made the best choice he could.  That led to his execution shortly before the fall of the Third Reich.

Bonhoeffer understood that grace is free yet costly.  We cannot purchase grace yet it does require a response.  That response in the life of our saint led to martyrdom.  As Bonhoeffer wrote,

When Christ calls a man to follow him, he bids him come and die.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BLESSED OSCAR ROMERO AND THE MARTYRS OF EL SALVADOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF PAUL COUTURIER, APOSTLE OF CHRISTIAN UNITY

THE FEAST OF THOMAS ATTWOOD, FATHER OF MODERN CHURCH MUSIC

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Gracious God, the Beyond in the midst of our life,  you gave grace to your servant

Dietrich Bonhoeffer to know and teach the truth as it is in Jesus Christ,

and to bear the cost of following him:  Grant that we, strengthened by his teaching and example,

may receive your word and embrace its call with an undivided heart:

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Proverbs 3:1-7

Psalm 119:89-96

Romans 6:3-11

Matthew 5:1-12

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 317

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Feast of Randall Davidson (April 7)   1 comment

Above:  Archbishop Randall Davidson

Image in the Public Domain

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RANDALL THOMAS DAVIDSON (APRIL 7, 1848-MAY 25, 1930)

Archbishop of Canterbury

Randall Davidson was the Archbishop of Canterbury for about a quarter of a century.  The native of Edinburgh, Scotland, born on April 7, 1848, grew up a Presbyterian.  The son of Henrietta Swinton and Henry Davidson, a grain merchant, grew up in The Church of Scotland.  Our saint, educated at the Harrow School and at Trinity College, Oxford, converted to Anglicanism.  He, ordained in 1875, became the chaplain to Archbishop of Canterbury Archibald Campbell Tait in 1877 then to Edward White Benson, Tait’s immediate successor.  Davidson married Tait’s daughter, Edith (died in 1936), in 1878.  Our saint gained the confidence of Queen Victoria and advised her regarding ecclesiastical appointments.  Through her favor he succeeded to the posts of Dean of Windsor (1883), Bishop of Rochester (1891), and Bishop of Winchester (1895).  In February 1903 he succeeded Frederick Temple as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Davidson had a passion for reconciliation, ecclesiastical and political.  He sought to find common ground in theological arguments (such as the one regarding ritualism), favored the League of Nations, and became an ecumenical leader.  Our saint supported Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue, favored closer Anglican-Eastern Orthodox ties, and argued for retaining the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.  He also opposed religious persecution in Russia and spoke out on behalf of the rights of indigenous peoples, thereby making the work of Anglican missionaries easier.

Davidson retired, aged 80 years, in November 1928, shortly after the Parliament refused to approve the proposed Book of Common Prayer, meant to replace the Prayer Book of 1662.  He had hoped that Parliament would approve the proposed Prayer Book.  He died on May 25, 1930, aged 82 years, in London.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 16, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADALBALD OF OSTEVANT, SAINT RICTRUDIS OF MARCHIENNES, AND THEIR RELATIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM KIDUNAIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT, AND SAINT MARY OF EDESSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ANCHORESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CACCIAFRONTE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MEGINGAUD OF WURZGURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ABBOT

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Heavenly Father, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servant Randall Davidson.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of William Derham (April 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  William Derham

Image in the Public Domain

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WILLIAM DERHAM (NOVEMBER 26, 1657-APRIL 5, 1735)

Anglican Priest and Scientist

Despite the negative opinions of some, whether in the church or outside it, there has long been a good relationship between science and elements of the church.  In fact, certain scientists have been clergymen, members of religious orders, or prominent laymen.  William Derham was a scientist and an Anglican priest.

Derham, born at Stoulton, Worcestershire, England, on November 26, 1657, became a priest of The Church of England.  He studied at Blockley, Gloucestershire, then at Trinity College, Oxford (1675-1679).  Out saint, ordained to the priesthood in 1681, became the Vicar of Wargrave, Berskshire, that year.  Starting in 1689 Derham served as the Rector of Upminster, Essex.  He doubled as Canon of Windsor in 1716-1735.

Derham recognized no conflict between religion and good science.  He wrote four books:

  1. Artificial Clockmaker (1696),
  2. Physico-Theology (1713),
  3. Astro-Theology (1714), and
  4. Christo-Theology (1730).

He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1703, contributed to papers thereof, and edited scientific works by other people.  Derham’s scientific interests included zoology and astronomy.  He wrote about sunspots, marsupials, Jupiter’s moons, and the aurora borealis, among other topics.  In 1709 he published an estimate of the speed of sound.

Oxford granted Derham a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1730.

Derham died at Upminster (near London), England, on April 5, 1735.  He was 77 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 16, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADALBALD OF OSTEVANT, SAINT RICTRUDIS OF MARCHIENNES, AND THEIR RELATIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM KIDUNAIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT, AND SAINT MARY OF EDESSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ANCHORESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CACCIAFRONTE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MEGINGAUD OF WURZGURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ABBOT

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God of grace and glory, you create and sustain the universe in majesty and beauty:

We thank you for William Derham and all in whom you have planted the desire

to know your creation and to explore your work and wisdom.

Lead us, like them, to understand better the wonder and mystery of creation;

through Christ your eternal Word, through whom all things were made.  Amen.

Genesis 2:9-20

Psalm 34:8-14

2 Corinthians 13:1-6

John 20:24-27

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 738

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Feast of Johann Cruger (April 9)   Leave a comment

 

Above:  Johann Cruger

Image in the Public Domain

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As a writer and editor of tunes this distinguished musician occupies a special niche in the hymnic hall of fame.

–Armin Haeussler, The Story of Our Hymns:  The Handbook to the Hymnal of the Evangelical and Reformed Church (1952)

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JOHANN CRUGER (APRIL 9, 1598-FEBRUARY 23, 1662)

German Lutheran Organist, Composer, and Hymnal Editor

Johann Cruger ranks among the greatest composers in the Lutheran Church.  He, born at Gross-Breesen, Brandenburg, on April 9, 1598, studied at Guben, Sorau, and Breslau before studying at the Jesuit school at Olmutz then the Poets’ School at Regensburg.  At Regensburg Cruer studied music under Paul Homberber, who had been a student of Giovanni Gabrieli.  Next our saint traveled in Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, and Moravia before settling in Berlin in 1615.  Then he worked as a private tutor until 1620, when he began to study music and theology at the University of Wittenberg.

Cruger settled at Berlin again in 1622, when he became the cantor (organist and choirmaster) at St. Nicholas Church and a teacher at the Gray Cloister.  Our saint held both posts for the rest of his life–about 40 years.  Cruger composed at least 122 chorale tunes, 18 of which remained in widespread use at the times of the publication of The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) and Lutheran Worship (1982).  In 1657 Paul Gerhardt became the deacon at St. Nicholas Church.  They became friends and Cruger set 21 texts by Gerhardt to music.

Cruger edited and published five important volumes:

  1. Neues vollkommliches Gesangbuch (1640), with 161 hymns;
  2. Praxis Pietatis Melica (first edition, 1644; forty-fourth edition, 1736); the twenty-third edition (1688) included 1114 hymns; the forty-third edition had 1316 hymns;
  3. Geistliche Kirchenmelodien (1649), with 161 hymns;
  4. Geistliche Lieder und Psalmen (1653), with 92 tunes and no texts; and
  5. Psalmodia Sacra (1657), with 319 texts; intended for Huguenot immigrants.

Cruger died at Berlin on February 23, 1662.  He was 63 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 16, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADALBALD OF OSTEVANT, SAINT RICTRUDIS OF MARCHIENNES, AND THEIR RELATIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM KIDUNAIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT, AND SAINT MARY OF EDESSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ANCHORESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CACCIAFRONTE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MEGINGAUD OF WURZGURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ABBOT

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Johann Cruger)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Feast of Blessed Mariano de la Mata Aparicio (April 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Mariano de la Mata Aparicio

Image Source = catholicsaints.info

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BLESSED MARIANO DE LA MATA APARICIO (DECEMBER 31, 1905-APRIL 5, 1983)

Roman Catholic Missionary and Educator in Brazil

Blessed Mariano de la Mata Aparicio, born at La Puebla de Valdavia, Palencia, Spain, on December 31, 1905, became a great missionary in Brazil.  His parents were Manuel and Martina de la Mata Aparicio; he was one of eight offspring.  After studying at Valladolid, Spain, our saint followed in the footsteps of three of his brothers and became an Augustinian on September 9, 1921.  He made his vows on January 23, 1927.  He studied philosophy in Pisuerga, Spain, then went to the Monastery of St. Maria La Vid, Burgos, Spain.  De la Mata Aparicio, ordained a priest on July 25, 1930, taught at the College La Encarnacion, Llames, Spain, briefly.

Our saint spent most of his life in Brazil, however.  He went to the Augustinian vice-province of Brazil in 1931.  Then he served in a variety of functions during the following 52 years.  He was a priest, of course; pastoral roles were part of his work.  Of special concern to de la Mata Aparicio were the poorest of the poor.  Our saint also taught and coordinated education.  On the vice-provincial level de la Mata Aparicio was an administrator, a secretary, a prior, and a counselor.

De la Mata Aparicio was a kind and sympathetic man quick to smile.   He was kind and sympathetic, of course, to those who received little comfort from the world.  He was also kind to plants, which reminded him of the greatness of God, their creator.  Our saint took care of them and spoke to them as part of his panentheism–recognizing God in nature.  De la Mata Aparicio also had devotions to Mary and the Holy Eucharist.

Our saint died at Sao Paulo, Brazil, on April 5, 1983.  He was 77 years old.  Pope John Paul II venerated him in 2004.  Pope Benedict XVI beatified de la Mata Aparicio two years later.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 16, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADALBALD OF OSTEVANT, SAINT RICTRUDIS OF MARCHIENNES, AND THEIR RELATIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM KIDUNAIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT, AND SAINT MARY OF EDESSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ANCHORESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CACCIAFRONTE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MEGINGAUD OF WURZGURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ABBOT

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom

the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, William Augustus Muhlenberg, and Anne Ayres (April 8)   2 comments

Above:  The Church of the Holy Communion, New York, New York

Image Source = New York Public Library

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HENRY MELCHIOR MUHLENBERG (SEPTEMBER 6, 1711-OCTOBER 7, 1787)

Patriarch of American Lutheranism

His feast day transferred from October 7

great-grandfather of

WILLIAM AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG (SEPTEMBER 16, 1796-APRIL 8, 1877)

Episcopal Priest, Hymn Writer, and Liturgical Pioneer

colleague of

ANNE AYRES (JANUARY 3, 1816-1896)

Foundress of the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion

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One church, one book.

–Henry Melchior Muhlenberg

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October 7 is the feast day of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg in The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, and The Lutheran Church–Canada.  A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (The Episcopal Church, 2016) lists William Augustus Muhlenberg and Anne Ayres on April 8.  However, since one of my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences, I have merged the commemorations.

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Henry Melchior Muhlenberg became the Patriarch of American Lutheranism.  He, born at Einbeck, Saxony, on September 6, 1711, attended the University of Gottingen.  Then our saint taught in the orphanage at Halle for 15 months.  He wanted to become a missionary to India, but became a pastor in Grosshennersdorf, Saxony, instead.  In September 1741 Muhlenberg visited Halle.  Soon thereafter he was en route to America, sent there by pastor August Herman Francke, who had also sent other missionaries to the New World.

Lutheranism was in a sorry state in America.  There was little organization above the parish level, liturgies varied widely, there were no firm standards for become an ordained minister, and adjacent Lutheran churches frequently had little to do with each other.  In 1741 Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a Saxon Lutheran layman and Moravian bishop, was visiting America.  While in Pennsylvania, he functioned as a Lutheran pastor at Philadelphia, creating a controversy in the church there.

Muhlenberg had a difficult set of tasks to complete.  His motto was Ecclesia Plantanda, or

The Church Must Be Planted.

Our saint arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1742.  Then he spent a week with the Jerusalem Lutheran Church at Ebenzezer, Georgia.  Muhlenberg arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 25, 1742.  Within a month he had ousted Zinzendorf from the pulpit.  On December 27, 1742, Muhlenberg became the pastor of several congregations.  He went on, within a year, to found a school per congregation and to found new churches.

During the following decades Muhlenberg planted and organized the church.  He founded new congregations, fostered unity among them, and established standards for ordination.  On August 26, 1748, at St. Michael’s Church, Philadelphia, ministers from 10 of the 70 Lutheran congregations in North America formed “The United Preachers of the Evangelical Lutheran Congregations of German Nationality in These American Colonies, Especially Pennsylvania,” the first synod.  In 1781, with the adoption of a constitution, the synod became the German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium in North America.  The ministerium gave rise to other synods, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium in the State of New-York and Adjacent States and Countries (1786), led by John Christopher Kunze, Muhlenberg’s son-in-law.  The original synod became the German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States in 1792.

Muhlenberg did much to build up the Ministerium in North America/of Pennsylvania.  He traveled from the northeast to Georgia.  In 1751 and 1752 he spent much time in New York City, where the dispute over what the proper language for worship should be had created divisions.  Our saint, who prioritized the Gospel of Jesus Christ over languages, preached in English, Dutch, and German every Sunday for months.  Over the years he struggled with Lutheran disunity; many Lutheran ministers did not relate to Halle, as he did.  Our saint also prepared a hymnal late in life.

On the personal side, Muhlenberg married Anna Mary Weiser, daughter of Indian agent Conrad Weiser, in April 1745.  Three of their sons became Lutheran ministers.  Although our saint ranged from Loyalism to neutrality during the American Revolutionary period, two of his sons (both of them ministers) chose to fight under the command of George Washington.  Peter (in full, John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, 1746-1807) went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives with Frederick (in full, Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, 1750-1801), the first Speaker of the House.

Our saint died at Trappe, Pennsylvania, on October 7, 1787.  He was 76 years old.

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Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, first Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, had a son named Henry William Muhlenberg, who became a wine merchant in Philadelphia.  Henry William married Mary Sheefe.  The couple welcomed William Augustus Muhlenberg into the world on September 16, 1796.  He became a figure to rival his great-grandfather in terms of ecclesiastical importance.

William Augustus Muhlenberg, raised in a Lutheran home, became an influential Episcopal priest.  He studied at the University of Pennsylvania from 1812 to 1815, graduating as the English-language salutation.  His affinity for the English language, especially in worship, led him to join The Episcopal Church.  Such conversions were common at a time when German was the preferred language of worship in many Lutheran congregations, the leaders of which referred those who preferred to worship in English to Episcopal churches.  Muhlenberg became a priest, serving first as the assistant at Christ Church, Philadelphia, from 1817 to 1822.  (The rector of the parish was William White, also the Bishop and Pennsylvania and the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.)  Then, for a few years, Muhlenberg was the Rector of St. James’s Church, Lancaster.  There he opened the first public school in Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia.  Meanwhile, our saint had published a case for singing hymns instead of the traditional metrical Psalms.  Thus he served on the committee for the Prayer Book Collection (1826), an early Episcopal hymnal.

In 1826 Muhlenberg relocated to New York.  He became the Rector of St. George’s Church, Flushing, Long Island.  There he founded the Flushing Institute (later St. Paul’s College), which made him nationally famous for his advocacy of progressive educational methods.  At St. George’s Church Muhlenberg was a pioneer in liturgical renewal.  His church had vested choirs, candles and flowers on the altar, and greenery at Christmas.  If that were not enough, the church sang Christmas carols.  This was groundbreaking in a culture in which much of the dominant Protestant ethos did not support celebrating Christmas.

Muhlenberg received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Columbia College, New York, New York, in 1834.

In 1845 Muhlenberg founded the Church of the Holy Communion in the City of New York.  The architect of the edifice (dedicated in 1846) was Richard Upjohn (1802-1878).  Muhlenberg’s sister, the wealthy widow Mary A. Rogers, financed the construction of the building and much of the parish’s budget for years.  This patronage enabled the church to minister to members of all social classes; that was a priority for the priest and his sister.  One of the novelties at the Church of the Holy Communion was free pews–no pew rentals.  Our saint was also a pioneer in the Sunday School movement; the parish schools reflected this fact.  The church also offered unemployment benefits, operated an employment agency, provided medical services, and offered English-language classes.  Furthermore, the liturgical life of the parish was more advanced than at other churches.  Communion services were weekly, Morning and Evening Prayer were daily, Holy Week was a priority, and the choirs there were the first vested choirs in the city.  Beyond that, the use of colors, flowers, and music to increase the beauty of worship was influential.

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The parish dispensary became the genesis of St. Luke’s Hospital, New York City.  Muhlenberg served as the Superintendent and Chaplain there from 1858 to 1877.  He and Anne Ayres, a member of his congregation, founded the institution.

Ayres, born in London, England, on January 3, 1816, arrived in New York City in 1836.  For a few years she tutored children of the wealthy, but Muhlenberg’s influence prompted her to change the direction of her life.  In 1845 she and Muhlenberg founded the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion, dedicated to providing social services.  For many years members of the Sisterhood performed most of the nursing duties at St. Luke’s Hospital.  The Sisterhood of the Holy Communion was the first Anglican order for women founded in North America.

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Muhlenberg was an ecumenist.  In 1853 he presented a proposal before the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.  Our saint, convinced that the rubrics of The Book of Common Prayer (1789) were too rigid, proposed Articles of Union with Protestant bodies in a confederation, complete with Apostolic Succession.  The requirements were:

  1. The Apostles’ Creed;
  2. Ordination not repugnant to the Word of God;
  3. Common hymns, prayers, and Biblical readings; and
  4. A council on common affairs.

This proposal, the natural successor to The Evangelical Catholic (1851-1853), Muhlenberg’s monthly journal, went down in failure.  It did, however, influence the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (1886, 1888):

  1. The Old and New Testaments as scripture,
  2. The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds,
  3. The sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, and
  4. Apostolic Succession.

In 1868 Muhlenberg served on a committee to discuss revising The Book of Common Prayer (1789).  Revision had to wait, however; the next edition debuted in 1892.

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Muhlenberg, who wrote hymns, chose to remain unmarried, so that he could have more time for ministry.  His theology was something science did not threaten; he did not oppose Evolution.  His priorities in ministry reflected his proto-Social Gospel ethos.  Among his final projects (with Anne Ayres) was St. Johnland, an intentional community for members of the working class on Long Island, away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.  There were family homes, group homes, businesses, a library, a church, et cetera.  Muhlenberg helped to finance St. Johnland.

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Muhlenberg died in New York City on April 8, 1877.  He was 80 years old.

Anne Ayres died in New York City on February 9, 1896.  She was 80 years old.

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The Ministeriums of Pennnsylvania and New York survived into the 1960s, when they, as part of The United Lutheran Church in America, merged into the Lutheran Church in America, a predecessor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg’s dream of a common liturgy for North American Lutherans has never become a reality.  The closest it came to reality was the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), which, by the way, borrowed heavily from The Book of Common Prayer (1979), in development at the same time.

The Church of the Holy Communion closed in 1975 and merged with Calvary Episcopal Church and St. George’s Episcopal Church.  Since then the edifice has housed a series of establishments, including two night clubs (one of them notorious), an upscale store, and a gymnasium.

The Sisterhood of the Holy Communion ceased to exist in 1940.

St. Luke’s Hospital and Mt. Sinai Hospital merged in 1979.

St. Johnland survives as a nursing center.

Flowers and altar candles remain familiar sites in Episcopal hymnals.

The Episcopal Church has made the transition from metrical Psalms to hymns.

The Episcopal Church has entered into full communion agreements with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Moravian Church in America.

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Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, William Augustus Muhlenberg, and Anne Ayres did much to glorify God, build up the church, and benefit many people.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 15, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACHARY OF ROME, POPE

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JAN ADALBERT BALICKI AND LADISLAUS FINDYSZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS IN POLAND

THE FEAST OF OZORA STEARNS DAVIS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VETHAPPAN SOLOMON, APOSTLE TO THE SOLOMON ISLANDS

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, William Augustus Muhlenberg, and Anne Ayres,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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