Feast of Halford E. Luccock (November 6)   Leave a comment

Above:  Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Connecticut, 1900

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a19636



U.S. Methodist Minister and Biblical Scholar

The Reverend Halford E. Luccock comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible, for which he wrote the exposition on the Gospel of Mark in Volume VII (1951).

Luccock, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on March 11, 1885, grew up in a pious home.  His mother was Etta Anderson.  Our saint’s father was Naphtali Luccock, a bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Luccock followed in his father’s footsteps and became a minister in 1910, after receiving his B.A. from Northwestern University (1906), B.Div. from Union Theological Seminary (1909), and M.A. from Columbia University (1909).

Luccock spent most of his career as a professor.  He was a pastor in Windsor, Connecticut (1910-1912), an instructor at Hartford Theological Seminary (1912-1914), and the pastor of St. Andrew’s Church, New Haven, Connecticut (1914-1916), as well as an instructor of the New Testament at Drew Theological Seminary (1916-1918).  Luccock married Mary Whitehead on July 17, 1914.  The couple had two children–Robert Edward Luccock and Mary Etta Luccock.  Our saint, attached to the denominational board of Foreign Missions from 1918 to 1924, was a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century from 1924 to 1928.  He wrote for that publication for the rest of his life.  Starting in 1948, he wrote a column under the pen name “Simeon Stylites.”  Luccock’s purpose in that column, as he explained it, was to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.  From 1928 to 1953, when he retired, our saint was Professor of Homiletics at The Divinity School, Yale University.

Luccock wrote and spoke in the fields of preaching, history, literature, and social critique, with many books, articles, and columns to his credit.  Our saint was not shy about expressing himself.  In September 1938, about a year before the European Theater of World War II began, he stood in the Riverside Church, Manhattan, and said,

When and if fascism comes to America, it will not be labeled, “made in Germany;” it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, Americanism.

The domestic political context for that statement was the rise of the openly pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic America First movement, of which Charles Lindbergh was a prominent spokesman.  The America First movement hoped to keep the United States out of the inevitable war, in which the country helped to defeat the Third Reich.

The essence of the statement remains relevant in the United States as I type these words, unfortunately.

Luccock, aged 75 years, died on November 6, 1960.





Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,

and to another the insight of wisdom,

and to another the steadfastness of faith.

We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servant Halford E. Luccock,

and we pray that by his teaching we may be led to a fuller knowledge of the truth

we have seen in your Son Jesus, our Savior and Lord,

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

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61


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