Feast of Ruby Middleton Forsythe (May 29)   Leave a comment

Above:  Chapel/Old Church, Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church, Pawleys Island, South Carolina

Image Source = Google Earth

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RUBY MIDDLETON FORSYTHE (JUNE 27, 1905-MAY 29, 1992)

African-American Episcopal Educator

Ruby Middleton Forsythe comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church.  A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016), an official resource and the volume containing the denomination’s side calendar of saints, has an appendix.  Two pages in this appendix list people officially “worthy of commemoration” whom The Episcopal Church has yet to recognize formally because four decades (give or take a year or so) have not passed since their decease.  Forsythe’s name is on this list.  I have no forty-year rule, although I understand why the denomination has one.

(Aside:  The Episcopal Church has made a few–at least two, to my knowledge–to this rule.  It added Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968); and Jonathan Myrick Daniels (1939-1965).  Both were martyrs for the Gospel and for civil rights.)

Our saint, born Ruby Middleton, spent sixty of her nearly eighty-seven years as a teacher.  Middleton, born in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 27, 1905, graduated from Avery Normal Institute, Charleston, in 1921.  “Miss Ruby,” as many people called her, went on to earn her Bachelor of Science degree from South Carolina State College, Orangeburg.  Our saint lived in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, where she took care of her parents and taught until 1937.  Toward the end of that time she married Father William Essex Forsythe (1889-1974), the Vicar of Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church, Pawleys Island, South Carolina.  The congregation operated a one-room school, the only local school for African-American youth.  Our saint did not move to Pawleys Island immediately, for she took care of her parents.  She did, however, visit Pawleys Island during summers through 1937.

Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church had originally been two missions, each with its own school.  Holy Cross-Brookgreen Mission dated to 1896.  Faith Memorial Mission dated to 1903.  Father Forsythe served as the vicar of both missions from 1926 to 1930, then as the vicar of the merged mission, starting in 1930.

Our saint taught in the school on Pawleys Island from 1938 to 1981, when she retired.  She outlived her husband, who taught in the school until he died in 1974.  Holy Cross Faith Memorial Church became a center of African-American life in the Diocese of South Carolina.  Camp Baskervill, a summer camp for African Americans, occurred on the grounds from 1939 to the 1990s, for example.

Our saint, who retired in 1981, received much recognition.  She received four honorary doctorates.  She was the subject of a segment of 60 MinutesNewsweek magazine declared her one of “America’s Unsung Heroes.”  President George H. W. Bush labeled her one of the Thousand Points of Light.

“Miss Ruby” died in Mount Pleasant on May 29, 1992.

The school closed in 2000.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 17, 2020 COMMON ERA

FRIDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF DANIEL SYLVESTER TUTTLE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF EMILY COOPER, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF LUCY LARCOM, U.S. ACADEMIC, JOURNALIST, POET, EDITOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAX JOSEF METZGER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1944

THE FEAST OF WILBUR KENNETH HOWARD, MODERATOR OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

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Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom:

Enlighten by your Holy Spirit those who teach and those who learn,

that, rejoicing in the knowledge of your truth,

they may worship you and serve you from generation to generation;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25

Psalm 78:1-7

2 Timothy 3:4-4:5

Matthew 11:25-30

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016), A60

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