Archive for the ‘Calvary Episcopal Church Americus Georgia’ Category

Settling Into My New Life in Americus, Georgia   Leave a comment

Above:  My Writing Desk, Americus, Georgia

I have blacked out October 12-14, the three grimmest anniversaries I observe.

Photographer in this post = Kenneth Randolph Taylor


I moved from Athens, Georgia, to Americus, Georgia, last Monday, October 11.  I have spent the last few days unpacking, setting up, and settling in.  I have completed many tasks.  I have learned that I must wait on some tasks longer than I would like because these tasks must follow other tasks, which require me to wait on others to do something.

Other people are frequently the greatest obstacles to my efficiency and productivity.  They are not necessarily malicious.  They are usually merely slow.

Above:  My Office, Americus, Georgia, October 15, 2021

I have, however, set up tangibly and physically.  I have emptied all boxes and put away their contents.  I have hung my clothes in my new closet.  And my office, containing most of my books, takes up the dining room and parlor in my mother’s house.  The space, occupied, is not crowded and cluttered.

Above:  The Bookcase for Translations of and Commentaries on the Old and New Testaments

Bonny is always with me, hence the prominence of her photograph and the photograph of her grave marker.

I have also started the process of transferring my membership to Calvary Episcopal Church, Americus.  I have left Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, to which I belonged for slightly over sixteen years.  Parting gifts–books–have begun to arrive.  Half of the expected Biblical commentaries have arrived.

Above:  Woodrow Wilson’s A History of the American People (1902), on My Writing Desk

The set = a gift from Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia

I have known since immediately after Bonny’s death (October 14, 2019) that I probably needed to leave Athens.  This truth set in with greater potency the longer I remained in Athens.  Finally, with the space prepared in Americus, I scheduled my move.

Above:  The Bookcase for Translations and Commentaries on the Bible, Plus French and English Books

My Roman Catholic tendencies and past associating with Roman Catholics are evident.  Notice the Roman translations of the Bible, for example.  Also notice the “Bible Einstein Award,” which the Newman Center at Valdosta State University gave me in 1995.  (The Roman Catholics asked questions, and I knew the answers.)

Leaving Athens and Saint Gregory the Great Church was difficult and emotionally challenging.  Yet I knew that going was the correct course of action.  The time had come.

Above:  A Bookcase Containing an Ecclectic Selection of Volumes

I grew up moving frequently.  For a time, I moved every two years, on average.  I learned that home is where I live.  I never grew up in Americus, but it has become my home.

Above:  My Computer and Writing Desks

I anticipate the positive developments that will ensue.




Happy to Be an Episcopalian   1 comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor


I have belonged to three denominations and chosen one.  When my parents were Southern Baptists, so was I.  Likewise, in 1980, when my father left the ordained ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention for that of The United Methodist Church, I became a United Methodist at the age of seven years.  Thus, in June 1980, our family moved from Newington, Georgia, where he had been pastor of North Newington Baptist Church, and settled in the parsonage in Vidette, Georgia.  He served as the minister of the Vidette, Friendship, and Greens Cut congregations in Burke County.  In the ensuing years, I took the grand tour of rural southern Georgia.  My initial spiritual formation occurred within the context of rural Southern United Methodism, a different creature from United Methodism as it exists in much of the rest of the United States and the world.

Yet I have always had an inner Catholic.  The sacraments, central to my faith, were too infrequent in those rural United Methodist churches.  My attraction to the Deuterocanon (what many call the Apocrypha) asserted itself, also.  Furthermore, my interest in history, and therefore, in ecclesiastical history, made me an outlier in the congregations my father served.  Church history, as it existed in those places, started with Jesus, ran consistently through the Apostles, jumped to the Crusades, jumped again to Martin Luther, ran forward, and really started sprinting with John and Charles Wesley.  That version of church history left many gaps.

In the autumn of 1991, I started my studies at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Tifton, Georgia.  I started attending services at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, on the Sunday after All Saints’ Day.  On December 22, 1991, Bishop Harry Woolston Shipps confirmed me.  I remained in the Diocese of Georgia through 2005, belonging to the following congregations:

  1. Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia (1993-1996),
  2. St. Thomas Aquinas Episcopal Church, Baxley, Georgia (1996-1998),
  3. Christ Episcopal Church, Cordele, Georgia (1998-2001),
  4. Trinity Episcopal Church, Statesboro, Georgia (2001-2003), and
  5. Christ Episcopal Church, Dublin, Georgia (2003-2005).

I have worshiped as a member of St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, in the Diocese of Atlanta, since August 2005.

I have enjoyed the liberty of being a layman and the pleasure of belong to congregations that respect scholarship and encourage the asking of questions.  My father, as a pastor, censored himself; he made honest theological statements at home he dared not utter from a pulpit.  I did not feel free to ask certain questions in those churches.  In Episcopal churches, however, I have asked questions freely and heard priests utter statements (not all of whom I agreed with) that would have gotten my father into great trouble.  The threshold for offending people was low in his case; my father once offended people by supporting the Martin Luther King, Jr., federal holiday.  That position contributed to us moving.  On another occasion, he upset a parishioner by preaching that Jesus had a sense of humor.  He had allegedly insulted her Jesus.  The District Superintendent did not take the complaint seriously, fortunately.

Many of my statements on my weblogs, such as this one, would have cooked my goose in those churches.

So be it.  I refuse to back down from my Catholic tendencies and my acceptance of Single Predestination.  I refuse to back down from my support of civil rights (and not just based on skin color), of Biblical scholarship, and science.

I am where I belong–in The Episcopal Church.  Thanks be to God!





Feast of James Bolan Lawrence (September 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  Calvary Episcopal Church, Americus, Georgia

Scanned from a Business Card



Episcopal Priest and Missionary in Southwestern Georgia, U.S.A.

Also known as Brother Jimmy Lawrence

“The Bishop of Buckwheat”

In The Episcopal Church the commemoration of saints has become complicated during the last decade or so.  Editions of The Book of Common Prayer have, since the first one in 1549, included major feasts, the number of which has increased as Prayer Book revision has taken place from time to time.  The first edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts debuted in 1963 as the calendar expanded.  Subsequent editions of Lesser Feasts and Fasts (through 2006) have become thicker as the General Convention has added more saints.  The most recent General Convention approved Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, with more saints than Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006Lesser Feasts and Fasts has remained the official denominational calendar of commemorations despite the even more expanded calendar defined first by Holy Women, Holy Men (2010) then by A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016).  Many dioceses have long observed their local saints also.  Some of these local commemorations have filtered up to the denominational level.  The Diocese of Georgia has, since 1999, recognized James Bolan Lawrence as a saint, with September 3 as his feast day.  His feast has remained particular to the Diocese of Georgia, except, as far as I know, at this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

James Bolan Lawrence was a dedicated missionary.  He born, in Marietta, Georgia, on January 2, 1878, was the fifth of six children of Robert de Treville Lawrence (b. 1841) and Anna E. Atkinson.  Lawrence, baptized in St. James Episcopal Church, Marietta, Georgia (then in the Diocese of Georgia; in the Diocese of Atlanta since 1907), graduated from General Theological Seminary, New York City.  He, a bachelor, collected silver cups, entertained at home, was a wonderful conversationalist, and maintained a rigorous schedule as he ministered to his parish and missions.

For 42 years (1905-1947) Lawrence served as the Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church, Americus, Georgia.  Most of those years he was also the Archdeacon of Albany; in that capacity he had administrative authority over missions.  As the Rector of Calvary Church Lawrence oversaw construction (completed in 1921) of the new building, designed by Ralph Adams Cram (1863-1942), the architect who designed the Cathedral of St John the Divine, New York City.  Lawrence also founded the following rural congregations:

  1. Holy Trinity Church, Blakely;
  2. Epiphany Church, Cuthbert;
  3. St. James Church, Pennington;
  4. Calvary Church, Dawson; and
  5. the unorganized mission at Benevolence.

Lawrence also served at Prince of Peace Church, Vienna; and Christ Church, Cordele.

Above:  Locations of Churches Lawrence Served

Map Source = Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951), 171

[Correction:  I marked the wrong Benevolence on the map above.  Father Lawrence established a mission in the Sumter County community of Benevolence, on Highway 19.–KRT, December 23, 2018]

If that were not enough, Lawrence did more.  In 1929 he became a trustee of the Fort Valley High and Industrial School, an institution of The Episcopal Church.  (Now it is Fort Valley State University, a public institution.)  And, in 1934-1935, Lawrence was a candidate for Bishop Coadjutor of Georgia.  Middleton Stuart Barnwell (1884-1957) won that election and succeeded to the post of Bishop of Georgia in 1936.  He served until 1954.

Lawrence, the rector of one parish and the vicar of several missions, began to anticipate his retirement in the 1940s.  His intention was to retire to Pennington and spend his final years as the Vicar of St. James Church.  None of that happened, though.  He suffered his first heart attack in December 1945, when he was 67 years old.  Lawrence eventually resumed priestly duties, but had a second heart attack on Sunday, May 25, 1947.  He died on St. Simon’s Island on July 28, 1947.  Lawrence was 69 years old.  He could not spend retirement as the Vicar of St. James Church, Pennington, but he found his final resting place there.  Other priests continued the work he had begun and continued.

Time has marched on.  Of the churches Lawrence founded, only Holy Trinity, Blakely, has survived.  (I have visited there.  The buildings have long been near the courthouse square.)  Calvary Church, Dawson, closed; Holy Spirit Church, Dawson, succeeded it.  Calvary Church, Americus, suffered a schism in 2012; the congregation has struggled much of the time since then.  If that were not enough, the physical structure has become endangered, in the name of economic progress.

Yet I have discerned reasons for optimism.  Christ Church, Cordele, was struggling when I was a member there, in 1998-2001.  I recall vocalized questions about whether the congregation would continue to exist.  The church, long a perpetual mission, except for a few years in the 1970s, when it was a parish, has been thriving again for some years now.

I predict that the best years of Calvary Episcopal Church, Americus, await it.

May the legacy of James Bolan Lawrence and the call of the Great Commission continue to inspire people–especially in The Episcopal Church–in southwestern Georgia.








Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant James Bolan Lawrence,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of southwestern Georgia.

Raise up in this and very land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom,

that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ;

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

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 716


Gratitude for Athens, Georgia   Leave a comment

Above:  The Dome of the City Hall, Athens, Georgia, August 5, 2009

Photographer = Carol M. Highsmith

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-highsm-04138


Seeking reasons for gratitude to God is a daily activity; it is an easy one, fortunately.

During the last few days I have been thinking deeply about a subset of those reasons; I have been pondering reasons I am blessed to live in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia.  Many such reasons–too many to enumerate in a succinct blog post–have come to mind.

A few follow.

A visit to relatives in Americus, Georgia, followed shortly by a lecture at The University of Georgia (UGA), started me down this path.  Last Tuesday night I attended a lecture by Dr. Richard B. Miller, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Religious Ethics at The University of Chicago Divinity School.  Miller spoke about St. Augustine of Hippo‘s concept of the common good and of its implications for today.  The full explanation of St. Augustine’s definition of sin as disordered love proved especially helpful.  As I listened and learned, I also thought about how fortunate I was to live in the town in which that event happened.  UGA, my relationship with which has been both positive and tumultuous, at different times, since 2005, made that lecture possible.

Indeed, I have may reasons to be grateful for and to UGA.  It creates a wonderful intellectual environment in Athens.  I care nothing about the athletics of a university, for the purpose of such an institution is supposed to be primarily educational, is it not?  The presence of UGA in Athens not only makes Athens what it is, but also makes me feel at home in this town, a colony of members of the intelligentsia.

I grew up in a series of United Methodist parsonages in small towns and communities in southern Georgia.  The intellectual atmosphere (not in the parsonage, of course) was generally lackluster, even anti-intellectual.  (Nevertheless, I do recall that sometimes even my father angrily rebuffed some of my attempts at academic discussions, especially of the Bible.  There was no good reason to fear Higher Criticism.  No philosophical meat grinder will grind up the truth, after all; the truth will break the meat grinder.)  I usually felt like an intellectual outcast and the resident heretic.  (Today I wear the label “heretic” with pride.  As churchy as I am, given the option of avoiding church or facing allegations of heresy in a congregation, I would choose the former.)  Politically and socially most of the neighbors were or seemed to be beyond conservative–reactionary, actually.  Many were openly and unapologetically racist.

Of course I gravitated toward the left side of the spectrum.  I have remained a man of the left, although I have, with greater frequency, found myself in rooms with people to my left–sometimes far to my left.  I have shifted slightly to the right in some ways, and far to the left (relative to my former position) in others.  Overall, I have continued to occupy a center-left position.  (I tend to be center-right in liturgical matters and to the left politically, socially, and theologically.  My unapologetic Western Classicism in music is prominent in my daily life.)  I have ceased to be the resident heretic, for (1) I worship with people, many of whom are to my left, and (2) I worship in a faith community where nobody accuses me of heresy.  Charges of heresy have usually come from the right, not the left, after all.  (This is why most ecclesiastical schisms occur to the right and the majority of church mergers happen on the left.  Tolerance and acceptance are antidotes to Donatism.)

St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church has been my spiritual home since August 2005.  The parish has saved my life (in 2007) and become a means by which I offer gifts and talents to God.  I have, for years, curated a movie series, functioned as the librarian, and taught adult Sunday School, for example.  For nearly a decade I sang in the choir.  (I have many fond memories of that time.)  Although some people roll their eyes when I obsess over the proper arrangement of chairs, hymnals, and prayer books in the worship space, tending to that matter has long been something I have offered to God.  (I have come to long wistfully for pews.)  Also, the music has long been mostly excellent in the parish.  Last Sunday, for example, a string quartet performed at the 10:30 service and accompanied the choir during a performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart‘s Ave Verum Corpus.

As much as I enjoy visits to relatives in Americus, Athens is my place.  As much as I visit Calvary Episcopal Church, Americus, occasionally, and find my spot in a pew there comfortably, St. Gregory the Great Church is my place.  As much as I enjoy visiting Americus, I also enjoy returning to Athens.

I am also grateful for friends and acquaintances. all of whose privacy I respect in this post by preserving in this post by naming none of them.  Some of them have saved my life and seen me through difficult times.  I have also performed my sacred duty and helped one friend to the point of self-sacrifice.  If necessary, I would do it again, without hesitation.

I hope to reside in Athens for long time.  The possibility of leaving eventually remains, of course; I admit that doing so might be proper one day.  That hypothetical day is one I hope is far off, if it is extant.








Calvary Episcopal Church, Americus, Georgia, December 24, 2017   Leave a comment

Above:  The High Altar, Calvary Episcopal Church, Americus, Georgia, December 24, 2017

All Photographs by Kenneth Randolph Taylor


Above:  The Credence Table


Above:  The View from Behind the High Altar


When I visit Americus, Georgia, as I do a few times annually, I attend Calvary Episcopal Church, assuming that my time in town overlaps with a service.  The oldest part of the physical plant is part of the architectural legacy of Ralph Adams Cram (1863-1942), a saint in The Episcopal Church.  Subsequent additions blend well with the Cram structure.

Below:  Cram’s Architecture at Night

Calvary Episcopal Church split in March 2012.  This did not come out of nowhere; the rector of the parish and a group of parishioners had even incorporated a rival congregation (not an Episcopal one) before the Bishop of Georgia relieved the rector of duty.  Since the schism Calvary Church has not been the same; it has certainly experienced financial difficulties.  The next priest, with the title of Priest-in-Charge, will commence his service in January 2018.

I pray that he and the parish will succeed, for the glory of God and the benefit of local people.

Unfortunately, the building is in peril of demolition, in the name of economic progress.  Next to the church building is a sunken railroad track, with a bridge (also in peril) over it.  The church building is priceless, however.





Feast of Ralph Adams Cram, Richard Upjohn, and John LaFarge, Sr. (December 16)   6 comments


Above:  Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, New York

Image Source = Detroit Publishing Company

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a24588








JOHN LAFARGE, SR. (MARCH 31, 1835-NOVEMBER 14, 1910)

Painter and Stained Glass Window Maker


Art, including architecture, murals, and stained glass windows, can add much to the atmosphere of a space devoted to the worship of God.  The legacies of these three saints attest to this reality.


Ralph Adams Cram, born at Hampton Falls, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1863, became an architect.  His mother was Sarah Elizabeth Cram and his father was the Reverend William Augustine Cram, a Transcendentalist.  Our saint, educated in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, left for Boston at the age of 18 years.  There he joined the architectural firm of Rotch and Tilden, where he worked for five years.  Then, in 1886, Cram traveled to Rome, Italy, to study classical architecture.  At Rome, on Christmas Eve in 1887, our saint had a conversion experience during a Mass.

Cram, who became an Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian, became a founding partner of the firm of Cram and Wentworth in 1889.  (The name of the firm changed over time as partners came and went.)  He originated Collegiate Gothic architecture (such as at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, New York) and advocated for Gothic Revival architecture.  Cram designed churches, libraries, chapels, homes, et cetera.  He also served as the supervising architect at Princeton University from 1907 to 1929, defended Governor Alfred Smith against anti-Roman Catholic attacks in 1928, and led the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for seven years.

Cram married Elizabeth Carrington Read at New Bedford in 1900.  The couple had three children.

Cram died at Boston on September 22, 1942.  He was 78 years old.

Among the structures Cram designed was the building for Calvary Episcopal Church, Americus, Georgia.  It is a lovely edifice complete with a hardwood floor, brick arches, and Tiffany glass.  I know this structure, upon which people have expanded gracefully over time, fairly well, for I have attended services there during visits to Americus since 2006.  Unfortunately, as of late 2016, the structure is in peril due to the forces of “progress,” that is, the proposed replacement of the bridge (over railroad tracks) adjacent to the church building.


Richard Upjohn, born at Shaftesbury, England, on January 22, 1802, also became an important architect in time.  At first, however, he was an apprentice to a builder and a cabinet-maker.  Then our saint worked as a mechanic.  In 1829 the family moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts.  Four years later they relocated to Boston, Massachusetts.  There Upjohn became an architect.  He naturalized as an American citizen in 1836.

Upjohn was an influential architect.  He favored Gothic revival architecture and helped to originate the Carpenter Gothic style.  Our saint also helped to found the American Institute of Architects in 1857 and served as its President from 1857 to 1876.  Upjohn, based in New York City starting in 1839, designed homes, public buildings (such as the state capitol building in Hartford, Connecticut), and churches (especially Episcopal ones).  Notable examples of his church work were St. John’s Church in Bangor, Maine, and Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York City.

Upjohn died at home, in Garrison, New York, on August 16, 1878.  He was 76 years old.


John LaFarge, Sr., born at New York, New York, on March 31, 1835, became a painter and a stained glass window maker.  Our saint, a Roman Catholic, came from a wealthy family of French origin.  Initially he studied law at Fordham University, but, after visiting Paris in 1856, he changed his major and became an artist.

LaFarge, who studied under painter William Morris Hunt (1824-1879) in Newport, Rhode Island, painted scenes from the Bible and classical mythology.  He also studied Japanese art, illustrated works of Robert Browning and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and, in 1890-1891, traveled and painted in the South Pacific Ocean.  LaFarge also taught painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Schools, New York City.  Then, from 1899 to 1904, he served as the President of the National Society of Mural Painters.

LaFarge painted murals and created stained class windows for churches, homes, and public buildings.  For example, he painted murals for Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts; the Church of the Ascension, New York City; St. Paul’s Chapel, New York City; and the state capitol building, St. Paul, Minnesota.  LaFarge also created stained glass windows for libraries, various churches, and the Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina.

LaFarge married Margaret Mason Perry (1839-1925) on October 15, 1860.  The couple had eight children.  Among them was John LaFarge, Jr. (1888-1963), a Jesuit priest and a vocal opponent of racism and anti-Semitism.  Two other sons became architects.

LaFarge died at Providence, Rhode Island, on November 14, 1910.  He was 78 years old.






Gracious God, we thank you for the vision of Ralph Adams Cram, John LaFarge and Richard Upjohn,

whose harmonious revival of the Gothic enriched our churches with a

sacramental  understanding of reality in the face of secular materialism;

and we pray that we may honor your gifts of the beauty of holiness given through them,

for the glory of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

2 Chronicles 6:12-20

Psalm 118:19-29

Ephesians 2:17-22

Matthew 7:24-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 123


Updated on December 25,  2016


Feast of Sts. Callixtus I, Anterus, Pontian, and Hippolytus (October 14)   1 comment

Atlas of the Historical Geography of the Holy Land by George Adam Smith and J. G. Bartholomew

Atlas of the Historical Geography of the Holy Land by George Adam Smith and J. G. Bartholomew

Above:  Map of the Roman Empire in the Third Century

Image in the Public Domain



Bishop of Rome

Also known as St. Callistus I

His feast day = October 14



Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from January 3



Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from August 13




Feast transferred from August 13




This is a story of theft, self-righteousness, schism, false witness, forgiveness, repentance, and martyrdom.  Repentance, as I tire of having to explain, is far more than saying that one is sorry.  No, repentance is turning around or changing one’s mind.  To repent is literally to turn one’s back on sin.  That definition applies well to Sts. Callixtus I and Hippolytus.

Roman Catholic writer Thomas J. Craughwell notes the value of being honest about the dark episodes in the lives of the saints.  He states:

The point of reading these stories is not to experience some tabloid thrill, but to understand how grace works in the world.  Every day, all day long, God pours out his grace upon us, coaxing us, to turn away from everything that is base and cheap and unsatisfying, and turn toward the only thing that is eternal, perfect, and true–that is, himself.

Saints Behaving Badly:  The Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil Worshippers Who Became Saints (New York, NY:  Doubleday, 2006), page xii

Some of the most forgiving people have been those who have known of their need of much mercy and received it.  They, having received forgiveness in abundance, have become practitioners of forgiveness–sometimes to the consternation of others, many of whom have thought of themselves as pious and orthodox, as pure.  That summary applied well to St. Hippolytus for much of his life.

Roman Catholic tradition tells the stories of two of these men–Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus–together, for they share the same feast day, August 13.  I have found that I cannot tell their stores properly without recounting that of St. Callixtus I and, in passing, what little we know of St. Anterus.  Each of these two saints has his own feast day on the Roman Catholic calendar.  I, for the sake of convenience, have moved three of the four saints to the date for the feast of St. Callixtus I.  After all, the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is my project; I answer to nobody else with regard to it.




St. Callixtus I was a slave, a bad investor, an embezzler, and an inciter of needless violence before be became a deacon, a pope, and a martyr.  As a young man he was the slave of one Carpophorus, a Christian of Rome.  Circa 190 Carpophorus founded a bank for the Christians of Rome and made St. Callixtus, who had experience managing money, the administrator thereof.  Many of the depositors were of modest means and there was no ancient equivalent of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (F.D.I.C.).  St. Callixtus proved to be a bad investor and an eager embezzler, so the bank failed, much to the financial detriment of many of the depositors.  The perfidious slave fled Rome and got as far as Portus, where his master captured him.  Back in Rome, Carpophorus sentenced St. Callixtus to the hard labor of turning a large stone wheel at a grist mill daily.  Nevertheless, some of the defrauded depositors were merciful.  They convinced Carpophorus to liberate St. Callixtus, on the condition that the slave try to recover some of the lost funds.

St. Callixtus remained a troublesome character.  He attempted to recover some of the lost funds by interrupting a Jewish worship service, demanding money from investors present, and thereby starting a brawl.  Legal charges of disturbing the peace and desecrating a holy place ensued.  Carpophorus lied in court when he denied that St. Callixtus, a baptized person, was a Christian.  (Christianity was not yet legal in the Roman Empire.)  The prefect sentenced St. Callixtus to scourging then to hard labor in the salt mines of Sardinia.  That was effectively a death sentence.

Marcia, a Christian and the mistress of the Emperor Commodus (reigned 180-192), used her influence to aid her coreligionists.  She asked Pope St. Victor I (reigned 189-198; feast day = July 28) for a list of Christians sent to Sardinia.  He gave her that list, minus St. Callixtus, whose name he omitted on purpose.  Marcia interceded with the governor of Sardinia, who freed all the listed prisoners plus St. Callixtus, who begged his way into freedom.  St. Victor, not convinced that St. Callixtus had ceased to be a scoundrel, sent him to live outside the walls of Rome and gave him an allowance.  Eventually the pontiff concluded that St. Callixtus, who had remained out of trouble for some time, had indeed repented.  St. Victor permitted him to assist St. Zephyrinus, the priest who managed the assignments of priests and deacons in Rome.

St. Zephyrinus became the mentor to St. Callixtus.  St. Victor died in 198; St. Zephyrinus succeeded him as pontiff.  The new pope ordained St. Callixtus to the diaconate and placed him in charge of the Christian cemetery (now the Catacomb of St. Callixtus) on the Appian Way.  St. Callixtus became a powerful figure in the Roman Catholic Church during the papacy of his mentor.  Predictably, he succeeded St. Zephyrinus as the Pope upon the death of the latter in 217.




The election of St. Callixtus displeased St. Hippolytus, a priest, theologian, and author of treatises and Biblical commentaries.  St. Hippolytus, born before 170, practiced a rigorous form of Roman Catholicism.  Pope St. Zephyrinus, he was convinced, held heretical views regarding the Holy Trinity.  (Ironically, in the context of the Council of Nicaea, 325 C.E., St. Hippolytus was heretic avant le lettre regarding the Holy Trinity, for he held to a subordinationist position.)  St. Hippolytus not only spoke out but did something; he became the antipope first to St. Callixtus I (reigned 217-222) then to St. Urban I (reigned 222-230) then to St. Pontian (reigned 230-235) then to St. Anterus (reigned 235-236) and possibly then briefly to St. Fabian (reigned 236-250).  St. Hippolytus led a schismatic group as he condemned St. Callixtus for everything from his past crimes to this eagerness to forgive sinners.  The latter indicated doctrinal laxity, the antipope argued.  St. Hippolytus fumed whenever St. Callixtus forgave an errant and penitent bishop who had committed fornication, for example.  The antipope complained whenever St. Callixtus welcomed former members of schismatic sects back into the fold of Holy Mother Church enthusiastically and without requiring any sign of penance.  Furthermore, St. Hippolytus falsely accused St. Callixtus of being a modalist.

Modalism is a heresy pertaining to the Holy Trinity.  It is, actually, a form of Unitarianism whose proponents argue that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not persons but are really modes of God’s being.  God, in modalist thought, is united and indivisible.  As Praxeas argued circa 210 C.E., God the Father entered the womb of St. Mary of Nazareth, suffered, died, and rose again.  This is false doctrine, as Tertullian (circa 155-225) knew well.  He retorted that Praxeas had

put to flight the Holy Spirit and crucified the Father.

–Quoted in Linwood Urban, A Short History of Christian Thought–Revised and Expanded Edition (New York, NY:  Oxford University Press, 1995), page 58

St. Callixtus was no modalist.  In fact, he excommunicated Sabellius, a prominent modalist.  St. Hippolytus replied that the Pope had done that to cover up his own modalism, however.

The life and papacy of St. Callixtus ended in 222, when a pagan mob murdered him.  Members of that mob then threw his corpse down a well in Rome.




The persecution of Christianity in the Roman Empire was not continuous.  Certain emperors engaged in the practice; others did not.  Few persecutions were empire-wide; most were regional and sporadic.  For most of the tenure of Pope St. Pontian (July 21, 230-September 28, 235) imperial persecution was not a problem.  Other issues dominated the reign of the son of Calpurnius.  St. Pontian presided over the synod that ratified the decision of St. Demetrius of Alexandria (126-231) to banish Origen (185-254), to refuse to recognize his priestly ordination, and to excommunicate him.  (Nevertheless, Origen found refuge with sympathetic bishops and persuaded heretics to turn to orthodoxy.)  In March 235 Maximinus I became emperor.  He ended his predecessor’s policy of toleration of Christianity and targeted leaders of the faith first.  Authorities arrested Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus, convicted them, and sent them to die in the salt mines of Sardinia.  St. Pontian, recognizing the need of continuous leadership of the church, became the first pope to resign.  He stepped down on September 28, 235.

The next pope, St. Anterus, of whom we know little, much like his predecessor once removed, St. Urban I (reigned 222-230), took office on November 21, 235.  Contrary to the tradition that he died a martyr, St. Anterus seems to have died of natural causes.  His pontificate was brief, ending on January 3, 236.

Pope St. Fabian (reigned January 10, 236-January 20, 250) had a longer pontificate.  He became one of the first victims of the Decian persecution, one of those empire-wide persecutions of Christianity.

Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus died on Sardinia circa 236–the latter of the hard labor and the former by means of a beating by guards.  The antipope renounced schism, reconciled with the Church, and urged his followers to do the same while in prison in Rome or on Sardinia.  (The available sources disagree on that point.)  In 236 or 237 Pope St. Fabian interred the remains of these two men in Rome.  Holy Mother Church forgave him and recognized him as a saint.  To paraphrase Thomas J. Craughwell, writing in Saints Behaving Badly, the Church was more like St. Callixtus I than St. Hippolytus.




St. Hippolytus, prior to his repentance, thought of the Church as the assembly of saints, not as the hospital for sinners.  He was not the last person to hold that opinion and to start a schismatic movement based on that premise.  For example, just a few decades later, in the wake of the Decian persecution, Donatism (in its narrow definition) arose and persisted for centuries, dividing the Church in northern Africa.  Donatism, in its broad definition, has never ceased.  It has, in fact, led to many ecclesiastical schisms.  My studies of church history have revealed that most ecclesiastical schisms have occurred to the right and most ecclesiastical mergers (unions and reunions) have occurred to the left.  The self-identified pure of theology have long argued not only with those in the institutions from which they departed but also among themselves.  Thus schisms have frequently begat schisms.  (I can recall examples of this generalization easily.  I think for example, of the formation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1936, of the subsequent split in that body almost immediately, and of the rending asunder the group that broke away from it.)  In that process of bickering and breaking away one casualty has frequently been forgiveness.

I spent the most recent Good Friday in Americus, Georgia, away from home.  While in that town I attended the Noontime service at Calvary Episcopal Church.  The Rector said in the homily that we Christians stand in the need of forgiveness, at the foot of the cross of Christ.  Nevertheless, many non-Christians perceive us as standing in the place of judgment, much like Pontius Pilate.  That statement was sadly accurate.  I have concluded that the main cause of the perception that we are judgmental is the fact that many of us are indeed judgmental, that many of us seem not to know that we really stand in the need of forgiveness, at the foot of the cross of Christ.

St. Callixtus I knew where he stood.  St. Hippolytus eventually learned where he stood.  St. Pontian knew where he stood and extended mercy to the antipope.  All three men died as martyrs.


Holy God, in whom judgment and mercy exist in balance,

thank you for the lived example of Jesus of Nazareth, our Savior and Lord.

May we know that we stand not in the place of judgment

but in need of forgiveness, at the foot of the cross of Christ,

and, by grace, nurture the habit of forgiveness of others and ourselves.

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

Isaiah 30:15-26

Psalm 130

Romans 12:1-21

Luke 17:1-4








My Easter Triduum 2016   1 comment

Marker March 26, 2016

Above:  My Father’s Grave Marker, Americus, Georgia, Saturday Morning, March 26, 2016

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor


Most of my Easter Triduums are meaningful yet similar to each other; they run together in my memory.  The Triduum of 2016 was an exception to that rule.

The Reverend John Dodson Taylor, III, my father, was a minister of The United Methodist Church.  Complications of Alzheimer’s Disease forced his retirement a few years ago.  He died, not quite 71 years old, on October 30, 2014, less than a year after entering a nursing home in Americus, Georgia.  For reasons I choose not to explain in this post the interment of his cremains did not occur until Holy Saturday, March 26, 2016.

I spent part of Maundy Thursday, all of Good Friday, and half of Holy Saturday in Americus.  The Maundy Thursday service at Calvary Episcopal Church was the Prayer Book liturgy with part of the rites for Good Friday tacked on the end.  It was Johannine, for, in the Gospel of John, Jesus died on Thursday, not Friday.  The community-wide service of the Stations of the Cross at Calvary Episcopal Church at Noon on Good Friday was also meaningful.  The lessons I took away from those liturgies were:

  1. Love is evident in the sacrifice, and
  2. We mortals stand at the foot of the cross, not in the position of judgment.

I knew both of those already, but hearing a priest remind me of them was helpful.

The most potent moment of my visit occurred on the morning of Holy Saturday.  My mother and I were among the small group which gathered for the interment of my father’s cremains in a garden spot on the grounds of Fellowship Baptist Church, a congregation of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.  The Reverend Wendy Peacock, the pastor there, used the Service for Committal from The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992), appropriately.  Covering the container for my father’s cremains with soil was an emotional moment.

I had to return to Athens-Clarke County, so I did.  That night I attended the Great Vigil of Easter at my parish, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church.  The liturgy was mercifully brief, for there were just four readings, including the Gospel.  The day had already been long for me, so a marathon of a vigil would have been out of the question for me.  The vigil was glorious, as was the 10:30 Holy Eucharist on Easter Sunday, but I remained subdued.  I had, after all, just buried my father.

I have known of my mortality in a visceral way since my junior college days, when I almost died violently, with someone choking me.  Being dead has not terrified me, but thoughts of manners in which I might suffer and die have scared me.  Watching my father’s deterioration did nothing to calm those fears.  My father’s death made my sense of mortality even more real.  Burying him has made my mortality even more concrete in mind.  Burying him has given me much to contemplate solemnly.

Doing so will require as much time as will be necessary and proper.








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