Feast of Orange Scott (February 6)   Leave a comment

Above:  Wesleyan Chapel, Seneca Falls, New York, Site of the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848

Image in the Public Domain

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ORANGE SCOTT (FEBRUARY 13, 1800-JULY 31, 1847)

U.S. Methodist Minister, Abolitionist, and first President of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection

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Ye are the salt of the earth:  but if the salt have lost his savour, wherefore shall it be salted?

–Matthew 5:13a, Authorised Version

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One, acting on faith, may retreat from the world, giving up hope of transforming it for the better.  Alternatively, one acting on faith, may act in revolutionary ways that improve one’s society.  One may think of the world as the camp of Satan, therefore, give up on it.  A better attitude is to think of the world as one’s neighborhood, for which one is partially responsible.

Orange Scott acted in revolutionary ways to improve his proverbial neighborhood.

Scott, from a poor family and lacking much formal education, became a prominent abolitionist.  He, born in Brookfield, Vermont, on February 13, 1800, began working full-time at the age of 12 years.  After his conversion experience at a camp meeting in 1820, our saint joined the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Within a year, the Church had licensed Scott to preach.  He traveled the Bernard Circuit (200 miles long with 30 stations) on feet and a horse.  He, admitted to the New England Conference in 1822, became a Presiding Elder (in today’s terms, District Superintendent) in 1830.  At first, Scott was the Presiding Elder of the Springfield District.  By 1834, however, he served in that capacity in the Providence District.  Our saint, an effective evangelist, expanded his work from saving souls to reforming society.  He, a delegate to the General Conferences of 1832, 1836, and 1840, became an abolitionist in the early 1830s.  Despite warnings to be quiet, he remained vocal.  Scott paid the price by losing his Presiding Eldership after speaking out at the General Conference of 1836.

Scott’s final years in the Methodist Episcopal Church were difficult for him.  He was a pastor in Lowell, Massachusetts, for a year (1836-1837) before spending two years as a traveling agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.  He, back in the pulpit in 1839, spoke out against slavery again at the General Conference of 1840.  His experience at that gathering convinced him to leave the denomination, which he did on November 8, 1842.  The Wesleyan Methodist Connection organized at Utica, New York, on May 31, 1843.

Scott was active in the new denomination.  He served as its first president (1843-1844) then as its book agent (1844-1847).  Our saint worked himself to death, though.  Scott, aged 47 years, died in Newark, New Jersey, on July 31, 1847.

The Wesleyan Methodist Connection, a predecessor of The Wesleyan Church (formed via merger in 1968), was radical during its earliest decades.  The Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York, hosted the Seneca Falls Convention (1848), about women’s rights.  The denomination attracted social revolutionaries, including feminists (especially suffragettes), temperance activists, pacifists, and abolitionists.  Many Wesleyan Methodist churches were stations of the Underground Railroad.  Early Wesleyan Methodists tended to act on the belief that they could improve society.

As time passed, however, the torch of change passed to the mainline churches, which embraced the Social Gospel then the more sober-minded Neo-orthodoxy.  Wesleyan Methodists opposed these movements, as well as higher Biblical criticism and science; they became fundamentalists preoccupied with personal holiness.  This transition was part of what scholars of religion in the United States call the Great Reversal.

Scott understood the truth, though.  He knew that saving souls was not at odds with being salt and light in the world.  He grasped the importance of leaving the world better than one found it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 12, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK J. MURPHY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCISCUS CH’OE KYONG-HWAN, KOREAN ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR, 1839; SAINTS LAWRENCE MARY JOSEPH IMBERT, PIERRE PHILIBERT MAUBANT, AND JACQUES HONORÉ CHASTÁN, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS, MISSIONARIES TO KOREA, AND MARTYRS, 1839; SAINT PAUL CHONG HASANG, KOREAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SEMINARIAN, AND MARTYR, 1839; AND SAINTS CECILIA YU SOSA AND JUNG HYE, KOREAN ROMAN CATHOLIC MARYTRS, 1839

THE FEAST OF KASPAR BIENEMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM JOSIAH IRONS, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; AND HIS DAUGHTER, GENEVIEVE MARY IRONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC HYMN WRITER

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Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church.

Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace.

Where it is corrupt, purify it;

where it is in error, direct it;

where in anything it is amiss, reform it.

Where it is is right, strengthen it;

where it is in want, provide for it;

where it is divided, reunite it;

for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior,

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

Ezekiel 34:1-6, 20-22

Psalm 12:1-7

Acts 22:30-23:10

Matthew 21:12-16

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 735

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