Feast of Arthur Carl Lichtenberger (September 3)   4 comments

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ARTHUR CARL LICHTENBERGER (JANUARY 8, 1900-SEPTEMBER 3, 1968)

Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and Witness for Civil Rights

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Fast from criticism, and feast on praise.

Fast from self-pity, and feast on joy.

Fast from ill-temper and feast on peace.

Fast from resentment, and feast on contentment.

Fast from jealousy, and feast on love.

Fast from pride, and feast on humility.

Fast from selfishness, and feast on service.

Fast from fear, and feast on faith.

–Arthur Carl Lichtenberger on Lenten practice

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Arthur Carl Lichtenberger was a leader of The Episcopal Church during a transitional period of its life.  His influence has been evident since his term as Presiding Bishop.

Lichtenberger was a theologian and a scholar.  He, born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on January 8, 1900, was a child of Adam Lichtenberger and Thereza Heitz.  He graduated from Kenyon College with a Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1923.  Two years later he graduated from the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Our saint, ordained a deacon in 1925 and a priest the following year, was Professor of New Testament at St. Paul’s Divinity School, Wuchang, China, from 1925 to 1927.  Graduate work at Harvard University followed in 1927-1928.  Next our saint was the Rector of Grace Church, Cincinnati, Ohio (1928-1933).  While the Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Brookline, Massachusetts (1933-1941), Lichtenberger was also a lecturer at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge (1935-1941).  Our saint went on to serve as the Dean of Trinity Cathedral, Newark, New Jersey (1941-1948), then as Professor Pastoral Theology at the General Theological Seminary, New York City (1948-1951).  Throughout his career Lichtenberger received numerous Doctor of Divinity, Doctor of Sacred Theology, Doctor of Laws, Doctor of Civil Law, and Doctor of Humane Letters degrees.

Lichtenberger joined the ranks of bishops in 1951.  That year he became the Bishop Coadjutor of Missouri.  The following year he succeeded to become the Bishop of Missouri.  While in the Diocese of Missouri Lichtenberger wrote the exposition on the Book of Esther for Volume III (1954) of The Interpreter’s Bible.  He also initiated congregational-level study of church mission, resulting in an increase in the amount of outreach and the number of churches.

Above:  A Portion of The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume III (1954), x

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

At the General Convention of 1958 Lichtenberger won the election for Presiding Bishop, to succeed Henry Knox Sherrill (1890-1980), who had served in that post since 1947.  On that occasion Lichtenberger affirmed those unalienable rights no government, person, or group has a moral right to deny anyone.  He said that the human rights

to vote, to eat a hamburger where you want, to have a decent job, to live in a house fit for habitation are not rights to be litigated or negotiated.

(Those are still disputed points in the United States of America in 2018, unfortunately.)  Our saint led The Episcopal Church in affirming civil rights.  On his watch the House of Bishops supported the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (August 1963) and what became the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In June 1964, after Congress passed that landmark law, Lichtenberger issued a public statement in which he acknowledged that

legislation cannot change attitudes,

but

…law does influence the way in which men and women treat one another, and more than just relationships do provide a social climate in which attitudes change….We must commit ourselves without reservation to the full support of civil rights.

Baptism, Lichtenberger argued, creates a new social order.  This understanding, which influenced his views on the imperative of civil rights protections, has become part of the Baptismal Covenant in The Book of Common Prayer (1979).

Speaking of liturgical revision, Lichtenberger supported it.  At the General Conventions of 1961 and 1964 he favored the authorization of “trial use” liturgies.  The process of revising The Book of Common Prayer (1928) was underway when he died in 1968.

Lichtenberger became the Presiding Bishop when the denominational headquarters were inadequate.  The Church had occupied 281 Fourth Avenue, Manhattan, New York City, since 1894.  By 1958 branch offices in Connecticut, Chicago, and elsewhere in New York City were necessary.  Since 1960 the headquarters of The Episcopal Church have been at 815 Second Avenue, Manhattan.

On the ecumenical front Lichtenberger made history.  In 1961, en route to the Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches, our saint visited Pope St. John XXIII, thereby becoming the first Episcopal Presiding Bishop to visit a pope.

Lichtenberger was unable to complete a full term as Presiding Bishop.  As Parkinson’s Disease took its toll, our saint realized that he had to resign.  So, at the General Convention of 1964, the House of Bishops elected John Hines (1910-1997) to lead the denomination.  On his way out of office Lichtenberger published The Day is at Hand (1964), a collection of some of his writings.  From 1965 to 1968 our saint was Professor of Pastoral Theology at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Lichtenberger, aged 68 years, died in Bethel, Vermont, on September 3, 1968.

Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Virginia, has as one of its endowed chairs the Arthur Carl Lichtenberger Chair in Pastoral Theology and Continuing Education.

I revere John Hines, who deserves many accolades was still stands as a controversial and prophetic figure in 2018.  History should give him his due.  Yet I notice that his legacy overshadows that of Lichtenberger, a man no less supportive of civil rights and liturgical revision.  It is past time that Lichtenberger receive his due, which need not come at the expense of Hines.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 19, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN HINES, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN PLESSINGTON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JÓZEF PUCHALA, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC FRANCISCAN FRIAR, PRIEST, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT POEMEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINTS JOHN THE DWARF AND ARSENIUS THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Arthur Carl Lichtenberger,

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 power in 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), 60

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: