Archive for the ‘Saints of 1880-1889’ Category

Feast of James Rendel Harris, Robert Lubbock Bensly, Agnes Smith Lewis, Samuel Savage Lewis, Margaret Smith Gibson, and James Young Gibson (March 26)   1 comment

Above:  St. Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai Desert, Egypt, 1898

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-09674

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JAMES RENDEL HARRIS (JANUARY 27, 1852-MARCH 1, 1941)

Anglo-American Congregationalist then Quaker Biblical Scholar and Orientalist

Also known as J. Rendel Harris

worked with

ROBERT LUBBOCK BENSLY (AUGUST 24, 1831-APRIL 23, 1893)

English Biblical Translator and Orientalist

worked with

AGNES SMITH LEWIS (JANUARY 11, 1843-MARCH 26, 1926)

English Biblical Scholar and Linguist

wife of

SAMUEL SAVAGE LEWIS (JULY 13, 1836-MARCH 31, 1891)

Anglican Priest and Librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, England

brother-in-law of

MARGARET DUNLOP SMITH GIBSON (JANUARY 11, 1843-JANUARY 11, 1920)

English Biblical Scholar and Linguist

wife of

JAMES YOUNG GIBSON (FEBRUARY 19, 1826-OCTOBER 2, 1886)

Scottish Literary Translator and United Presbyterian Minister

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INTRODUCTION

Ecclesiastical history–especially early ecclesiastical history–is a topic of little or no interest to many Low Church Protestants.  Common gaps in knowledge and interest include the time between the Apostles and the Crusades, as well as the centuries between the Crusades and the Reformation.  I recall, as a youth in rural United Methodist congregations in southern Georgia, U.S.A., in the 1980s, hearing elders refer to “old songs.”  I also remember checking the dates of those “old songs” and frequently learning that they were from the early twentieth century.  Sixty or seventy years are nothing compared to two millennia.  Historical perspective is useful.

This cluster of six saints had a firm grasp of historical perspective, however.

They come to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via their connection to F. Crawford Burkitt (1864-1935), an Anglican scholar, theologian, hymn writer, and hymn translator.

THE WESTMINSTER SISTERS AND THEIR HUSBANDS

The central figures were twin sisters, Agnes Smith and Margaret Dunlop Smith, born in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, on January 11, 1843.  Our saints never knew their mother, who died two weeks after their birth.  The father was John Smith, a solicitor who studied languages.  He raised his daughters to be linguists and sent them to private schools.  The family also traveled throughout England.  The sisters eventually settled in London and joined the Presbyterian Church at Clapham Road.  They traveled in Europe and the Middle East, and expanded their linguistic range.  Eventually the two sisters mastered at least twelve languages, including German, Italian, Greek, Arabic, and Syraic.

Agnes and Margaret, known as the Westminster Sisters, had a positive relationship with Greek Orthodoxy.  This relationship helped them to complete the main work that has brought them to this Ecumenical Calendar, in the 1890s.

Margaret married James Young Gibson on September 11, 1883, in Germany.  He, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, was a son of merchant William Gibson.  James, educated at the University of Edinburgh (1842-1846), pursued divinity studies (1847-1852) for the United Presbyterian Church.  After working for the Henry Birkbeck family as a tutor at Keswick Hall, Gibson served as a parish minister at Melrose (1853-1859).  Failing health forced him to leave that post.  Gibson traveled and studied in Europe and the Middle East.  He also translated Spanish masterworks, including Don Quixote, into English.  The marriage to Margaret was brief; he died at Ramsgate on October 2, 1886.  He was 60 years old.

Agnes married Samuel Savage Lewis on December 12, 1887.  Lewis, born in Bishopsgate, London, on July 13, 1836, was a son of surgeon William Jonas Lewis.  Poor eyesight complicated and delayed Samuel’s education at St. John’s College, Cambridge.  Surgeries improved his eyesight, however, so Lewis completed his formal education.  He, ordained a deacon (1872) then a priest (1873) in The Church of England, was the Librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, from 1870 to 1891, when he died.  Lewis, a classicist, traveled in Europe and the Middle East, mastered many languages, and collected ancient seals and coins.  He, Agnes, and Margaret formed a household.  Lewis died of heart failure on a train near Oxford on March 31, 1891.  He was 54 years old.

JAMES RENDEL HARRIS

The twin sisters, widows living in Cambridge, read J. Rendel Harris‘s account of his discovery of the Syraic text of the Apology of Aristides at St. Catherine’s Monastery, in the Sinai Desert, Egypt.  This inspired them them to visit the monastery in 1892.

James Rendel Harris opened the floodgates for the Westminster Sisters.  His story was interesting in its own right.  Harris, born in Plymouth, Devon, England, on January 27, 1852, grew up with ten siblings.  The father, Henry Marmaduke Harris, decorated houses.  The mother, Elizabeth Corker (Harris), operated a shop selling baby clothes.  Harris, who grew up a Congregationalist, studied at Plymouth Grammar School then at Clare College, Cambridge.

Harris’s life changed in 1880, when he married Helen Balkwell (d. 1914), a Quaker from Plymouth.  She influenced him to convert in 1885, three years after he had come to the United States, where she was working as a missionary.  From 1882 to 1885 Harris was Professor of New Testament Greek at Johns Hopkins University.  His criticism of vivisection at the university created a backlash that prompted him to resign.  Then the couple spent some time in 1885-1886 in England.

Harris was Professor in Biblical Studies at Haverford College, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1886 to 1891.  In 1888 and 1889 he bought 47 codices in various ancient languages in Egypt and Palestine.  He donated these codices to Haverford College.  One of these texts, which he discovered at St. Catherine’s Monastery, was the Syraic text of the Apology of Aristides.

ST. CATHERINE’S MONASTERY, 1892 AND 1893

The Westminster Sisters visited St. Catherine’s Monastery in 1892.  They discovered the earliest Syraic version of the Gospels known to exist at the time.  The sisters were just getting started.  The following year they returned with F. Crawford Burkitt, Robert Lubbock Bensly, and J. Rendel Harris.  By then Harris had become Lecturer in Palaeography at Cambridge.

Robert Lubbock Bensly was an Orientalist and a Biblical translator.  He, born in Eaton, Norwich England, on August 24, 1831, was a son of Robert Bensly and Harriet Reeve (Bensly).  Young Robert studied at King’s College, London, then at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, as well as in Germany.  He was, in order, Lecturer in Hebrew and Syraic at Gonville and Caius College then, in 1887, Lord Almoner’s Professor of Arabic.  Bensly helped to translate the Old Testament (1885) of the Revised Version of the Bible.  On the personal side, Bensly married Agnes Dorothee von Blomberg in Halle on August 14, 1860.  She and their three children outlived him.

At St. Catherine’s Monastery in 1893 the Westminster Sisters et al transcribed the Syraic version of the Gospels.  Agnes and Margaret also cataloged the monastery’s collection of Arabic and Syraic texts.  They began to collect about 1,700 fragments of manuscripts, now called the Lewis-Gibson Collection.

Bensly died in Cambridge, England, on April 23, 1893.  He was 63 years old.

J. RENDEL HARRIS AND THE WESTMINSTER SISTERS

Harris became a mentor to Agnes and Margaret.  He, Lecturer in Palaeography at Cambridge (1893-1903), wrote about ancient texts, including the Didache, the Acts of Perpetua, the Odes of Solomon, the Psalms of Solomon, and the Gospel of Peter.  His course in palaeography helped Agnes to become an internationally-renowned Syraic scholar.

Agnes and Margaret, despite their accomplishments, held only honorary degrees.  The reason for this was sexism.  The University of Cambridge, for example, did not give degrees to women at the time.

Harris, also an author of devotional works, left Cambridge.  After teaching theology in Leiden (1903-1904), he became the first Principal and Director of Studies at the Friends’ Settlement for Social and Religious Study, Woodbrooke College, Selly Oak, Birmingham, England.  Then, from 1918 to 1925, Harris was the Curator of Eastern Manuscripts at the John Rylands Library, Manchester.  He, aged 89 years, died in Selly Oak, Birmingham, on March 1, 1941.

Agnes and Margaret remained active scholars into the 1910s.  One of their later achievements was to make possible the discovery of an ancient Hebrew manuscript of Sirach/Ecclesiasticus.  The sisters, members of St. Columba’s Presbyterian (now United Reformed) Church, Cambridge, constituted the core of a religious and intellectual circle.  The Westminster Sisters also endowed Westminster College, Cambridge, and assisted in the founding of the Presbyterian student chaplaincy at the University of Oxford.

Margaret Dunlop Smith Gibson died on January 11, 1920., her seventy-seventh birthday.

Agnes Smith Lewis died on March 26, 1926.  She was 83 years old.

CONCLUSION

These six saints stood in the spiritual lineage of St. Clement of Alexandria (died circa 210/215) and his protégé, Origen (185-254).  St. Clement was the “Pioneer of Christian Scholarship.  He and Origen wedded faith and intellect, not without controversy, then and subsequently.  Opponents and critics have included those infected with indifference or anti-intellectualism.

To honor God with one’s intellect is to act consistently with the commandment to love God fully with one’s being.

James Rendel Harris, Robert Lubbock Bensly, Agnes Smith Lewis, Samuel Savage Lewis, Margaret Dunlop Smith Gibson, and James Young Gibson did that.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 26, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINTS TIMOTHY, TITUS, AND SILAS, COWORKERS OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of

[James Rendel Harris,

Robert Lubbock Bensly,

Agnes Smith Lewis,

Samuel Savage Lewis,

Margaret Dunlop Smith Gibson

James young Gibson. and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of John S. Stamm (March 21)   1 comment

Above:  Bishop John S. Stamm, 1939

Image Source = Raymond M. Veh, Thumbnail Sketches of Evangelical Bishops (1939)

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JOHN SAMUEL STAMM (MARCH 23, 1878-MARCH 5, 1956)

Bishop of the The Evangelical Church then the Evangelical United Brethren Church 

Bishop John S. Stamm comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible, for which he wrote the introduction to and the exegesis of Galatians for Volume X (1953).

Stamm belonged to an Arminian tradition.  The Church of the United Brethren in Christ (1800-1946) and the Evangelical Association (1816-1922) began as German-speaking counterparts to the English-speaking Methodist movement.  The ironically-named United Evangelical Church (1891-1922) reunited with the Evangelical Association, from which it had broken away, to create The Evangelical Church (1922-1946).  The Church of the United Brethren in Christ merged with The Evangelical Church to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968).  This denomination merged with the reunited Methodist Church (1939-1968) to create The United Methodist Church.

John Samuel Stamm was a son of Swiss immigrants.  His parents were Hans (George) Stamm (1854-1918) and Anna Maria (Mary) Stamm (1854-1950).  Our saint, born in Alida, Kansas, on March 23, 1878, grew up in the Evangelical Association.  The first two decades of his life were not conducive to education; he had completed five grades before his twentieth birthday.  Stamm, who had a conversion experience at age 18, matriculated at North Central College, Napierville, Illinois, in 1898.  The college, like many similar institutions at the time, had a preparatory academy attached to it.  Our saint started at the academy before moving on to the postsecondary program.  In 1909, at the age of 31 years, he completed his undergraduate degree.  The following year, he graduated from Evangelical Theological Seminary, attached to North Central College.  Then he earned his M.A. degree from The University of Chicago.

Stamm, a minister, spent most of his career above the congregational level.  He served in churches in Missouri (Bloomington and Glasgow) and Illinois (Manhattan, Downers Grove, and Oak Park) before becoming a professor at Evangelical Theological Seminary (1918-1926).  Then he became a bishop in 1926.  Stamm worked first out of Kansas City, Missouri (1926-1934), then Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (1934f).  Along the way, he fell in love with Priscilla Marie Wahl (d. 1955).  He wed her in Manhattan, Illinois, on March 9, 1912.

Stamm was active on the Conference level of his denomination.  He was, at different times, the President of the Sunday School Board, the Chairman on the Commission on Policy and Program, and the Missionary Secretary of the Young People’s Alliance.

Stamm was active on the denominational level, beyond his duties as a bishop.  He was the President of the Evangelical School of Theology, Reading, Pennsylvania (1934-1941).  As of 1939, our saint also led the denominational Board of Publication, the Superannuation Fund, the Church Extension board, the Christian Social Action committee, and the Commission on Church Federation and Union.  Stamm was, therefore, deeply involved in the 1946 merger that formed the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

Stamm, the author of Evangelism and Christian Experience, was also an ecumenist.  He served as the President of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches (1945-1949), the Federal Council of Churches (1948-1950).  Furthermore, Stamm helped to found the World Council of Churches (1948) and sat on its Central Committee (1948-1954).  If that were not enough, he also helped to create the Revised Standard Version (1946, 1952) of the Bible.

Stamm received more degrees later in life.  These were:

  1. Doctor of Divinity (1927), Evangelical Theological Seminary;
  2. Doctor of Laws (1936), Albright College;
  3. Doctor of Humane Letters (1949), North Central College; and
  4. Doctor of Sacred Theology (1951), Dickinson College.

In 1950, at the age of 72 years, Stamm retired from episcopal ministry.  He remained active in other capacities for years.  Our saint died on Kansas City, Missouri, on March 5, 1956, at the age of 77 years.  The cause of death was pneumonia, after a pelvic fracture.

Bishop John S. Stamm got a late start to his ministry, but he did much once he got underway.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN JULIAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER MEN, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1990

THE FEAST OF LADISLAO BATTHÁNY-STRATTMANN, AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND PHILANTHROPIST

THE FEAST OF LOUISE CECILIA FLEMING, AFRICAN-AMERICAN BAPTIST MISSIONARY AND PHYSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, THE UNION OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, AND THE SISTERS OF THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant John Samuel Stamm,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock;

and we pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by grace grow into the full stature of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978). 38

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Feast of Ellen Gates Starr (March 20)   1 comment

Above:  Ellen Gates Starr, Between 1915 and 1917

Image Creator = Bain News Service

Image Source = Library of Congress

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ELLEN GATES STARR (MARCH 19, 1859-FEBRUARY 10, 1940)

U.S. Episcopalian then Roman Catholic Activist and Social Reformer

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I became a Socialist because I was a Christian.  The Christian religion teaches that all men are to be regarded as brothers, that no one should wish to profit by the loss or disadvantage of others; as all winners must do under a competitive system; that none should enjoy “two coats” while others are coatless; that, in effect, “none should have cake til all have bread.”  “Civilized” life is in grotesque contrast to all this.  All the individual, acting individualistically, is helpless to modify it very much….”Society” or “the state” must see to it that strangers are entertained; that the hungry are fed and the destitute provided for.  Does it?

–Ellen Gates Starr, quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 470

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Ellen Gates Starr was more than a social reformer, although she was that.  She was a social revolutionary.  Perhaps her Unitarian upbringing contributed to her social conscience.  American Unitarianism did have a reputation for being on the vanguard of social justice efforts.  Throughout her life, whether Starr was in her Unitarian, Episcopalian, or Roman Catholic phase, social justice was an integral part of her faith.  Our saint, born in Laona, Illinois, on March 19, 1859, was a daughter of Allen Starr and Susan Gates Child (Starr).  Ellen was a classmate of Jane Addams (1860-1935) at Rockford Female Seminary in 1877-1878.  Their collaboration began.

Starr, who joined The Episcopal Church in 1883, worked with Addams to help the poor, especially immigrants.  The two women toured Europe, studying efforts to help the poor, in 1888.  Upon returning to Chicago, they founded Hull House in 1889.  The model for Hull House was Toynbee Hall, a settlement house in London.  Hull House began by offering educational opportunities, as well as concerts and other cultural enrichment programs.

Starr objected to the ills of industrialization and worked for a better society.  She worked to improve the working conditions in factories.  She advocated to end child labor.  Starr organized labor strikes and went to jail for doing so at least once.  She embraced Christian Socialism.  Our saint also developed an interest in the arts and crafts movement, going as far as to found the Chicago Society of Arts and Crafts in 1897.

Starr had a long-term interest in Roman Catholicism.  Her faith wedded doctrines, prayer, and sacraments to social activism.  In 1894 our saint joined the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross, founded by Emily Malbone Morgan (1862-1937) in 1884.  Starr finally converted to Roman Catholicism in 1920.  Starr, in failing health during her final years, moved to a convent of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in Suffern, New York, in 1931.  The sisters took care of our saint for the rest of her life.  She, aged 80 years, died on February 10, 1940.

My Western culture (especially the conservative portion of it) overemphasizes individualism.  Biblical ethics contain both individual and collective elements; moral responsibility is both individual and collective.  Many instances of “you” and “your” in the Bible are plural.  This is more obvious in languages with different words for singular and plural second-person pronouns.

Starr understood the collective aspects of Biblical ethics.  She grasped both collective and individual responsibility.  Our saint was correct; how much one person can do is minor compared to what we can do together.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN JULIAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER MEN, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1990

THE FEAST OF LADISLAO BATTHÁNY-STRATTMANN, AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND PHILANTHROPIST

THE FEAST OF LOUISE CECILIA FLEMING, AFRICAN-AMERICAN BAPTIST MISSIONARY AND PHYSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, THE UNION OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, AND THE SISTERS OF THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us [like your servant Ellen Gates Starr] to use our freedom to bring justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name; through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of Thomas Wyatt Turner (March 16)   1 comment

Above:  Thomas Wyatt Turner, 1901

Image in the Public Domain

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THOMAS WYATT TURNER (MARCH 16, 1877-APRIL 21, 1978)

U.S. Roman Catholic Scientist, Educator, and Civil Rights Activist

Founder of Federated Colored Catholics

Thomas Wyatt Turner comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Turner, an African-American, became a fine and a pioneering scientist, a great educator, and a civil rights activist.  Our saint, born in Hughesville, Maryland, on March 16, 1877, was a son of sharecroppers and former slaves, Eli Turner and Linnie Gross (Turner).  The family was Roman Catholic.  At an early age our saint encountered racism in the Church.  Given that local Roman Catholic parochial schools did not admit African Americans, Turner attended an Episcopal school, St. Mary’s Parochial and Industrial School, from which he graduated in 1894.

Turner earned degrees through his doctorate, and began to teach.  He graduated from Howard University (A.B., 1901) then spent a brief stint as a graduate student at the Catholic University of America in 1901.  In 1901 and 1902 our saint taught science and mathematics at the Tuskegee Institute.  Then, from 1902 to 1910, Turner taught biology at Colored High and Training School, Baltimore, Maryland.  Meanwhile, he earned his A.M. degree from Howard University (1905).  Our saint taught high school in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1910 and 1911.  Then he taught biology again at Colored High and Training School, Baltimore, in 1911 and 1912.  From 1913 to 1924 Turner was Professor of Applied Biology and Nature Study at Teachers’ College, Howard University.  During his sabbatical (1920-1921) he completed work on his Ph.D. in Plant Physiology, Plant Pathology, and Pomology from Cornell University (1921).  He was the first African American to earn and receive a doctorate from Cornell University, and in botany from any institution in the the United States.  The title of his dissertation was “Studies of the Mechanism of the Physiological Effects of Certain Mineral Salts in Altering the Ratio of Top Growth to Root Growth in Seed Plants.”  At the time the Catholic University of America refused to admit African Americans to doctoral programs.  Otherwise, he would have worked on his Ph.D. there.

Turner was active in scientific and academic life.  He worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture off-and-on, on the side.  Our saint served as the Acting Dean of Teachers’ College, Howard University.  From 1924 to 1945 Turner was Professor and Head of the Unit of Natural Sciences at Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia.  He also founded the Virginia Conference of Science Teachers in 1931 and served as its first president.  Furthermore, our saint studied science education in historically African-American colleges and universities in 1943.  Turner, in retirement, was a visiting professor at Texas State University for Negroes, Houston, Texas, in 1949 and 1950.  He was active in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society for Horticultural Science for many years.

Turner married twice.  In 1907 he wed Laura Miller (d. 1934).  His second wife, whom he married in 1936, was Louise Wright.  Our saint had no children.

Turner confronted racism in the Church and in society.  In 1909 he he became a charter member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.).  He founded the Committee Against the Extension of Race Prejudice in the Church in 1917.  This organization was a forerunner of Federated Colored Catholics in 1925.  Our saint served as its president until his ouster by the board in 1932.  He had objected to the organization’s transformation into the National Catholic Federation for the Promotion of Better Race Relations.  The renamed organization divided, resulting in the formation of the second Federated Colored Catholics.  Turned resigned as its president in 1934.  This organization existed until 1958.

Turner reported various examples and patterns of racism in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States of America.  They included:

  1. Having to sit at the back of a church building during Mass;
  2. Priests’ hesitation to recommend African-American men to bishops for consideration for holy orders;
  3. Bishops’ hesitation to send African-American men to seminary;
  4. Racism in parochial schools and Catholic colleges and universities;
  5. The insistence that African Americans use side entrances of church buildings;
  6. Priests hearing the confessions of white parishioners first; and
  7. Priests administering communion to white parishioners first.

Turner ran unsuccessfully for the city council of Hampton, Virginia, in 1948.

The Catholic University of America awarded an honorary doctorate to Turner in 1976, when he was 99 years old.

Turner, aged 101 years, died in Washington, D.C., on April 21, 1978.

To condemn those who, out of racism, erected and/or maintained barriers in the way of Turner and other African Americans is easy and correct.  To stop there is insufficient, however.  We, individually and collectively, in our minds and in our institutions, may not be as morally superior as we may imagine ourselves to be.  We, individually, also harbor discriminatory prejudices and function as cogs in institutions that segregate and exclude unjustly.  We, individually and collectively, have a moral obligation to confront these examples and patterns of injustice.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN JULIAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER MEN, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1990

THE FEAST OF LADISLAO BATTHÁNY-STRATTMANN, AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND PHILANTHROPIST

THE FEAST OF LOUISE CECILIA FLEMING, AFRICAN-AMERICAN BAPTIST MISSIONARY AND PHYSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, THE UNION OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, AND THE SISTERS OF THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us [like your servant Thomas Wyatt Turner] to use our freedom

to bring justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of Venerable Vincenzina Cusmano and Blessed Giacomo Cusmano (March 14)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of Italian Unification

Image in the Public Domain

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VENERABLE VINCENZINA CUSMANO (JANUARY 6, 1826-FEBRUARY 2, 1894)

Superior of the Sisters Servants of the Poor

Her feast day transferred from February 2

sister of

BLESSED GIACOMO CUSMANO (MARCH 15, 1834-MARCH 14, 1888)

Founder of the Sisters Servants of the Poor and the Missionary Servants of the Poor

His feast day = March 14

One of my purposes in expanding this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, is to emphasize relationships and influences.  Living faith is never properly a “Jesus-and-me” matter.  No, living faith is properly outward-focused, with a core of strong internal care.  One cannot give to others what one lacks.  Furthermore, all of us with faith owe that to other people, to a great extent.  We ought to strengthen each other as we walk with God.

Giacomo Cusmano (the elder) and Magdalena Patti, of Palermo, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, were a well-to-do couple.  They had five children.  The eldest was Vincenzina (born on January 6, 1826) and the fourth was Giacomo (born on March 15, 1834).  The family dynamic encouraged piety.  Young Vincenzina wanted to become a Carmelite nun.  Those plans ended when Magdalena died of cholera.  Vincenzina, eleven years old , became the substitute mother to her siblings.  The family was financially secure, but raising five children without his wife was very difficult.

Vincenzina, although the substitute mother, still had to grow up.  She, according to convention, studied music and literature at home.  Her spiritual director was Father Domenico Turano, later the Bishop of Agrigento.

Young Giacomo’s path in life seemed set; he would help the poor.  He, as a child, eagerly answered the front door when poor people asked for food.  Our saint, as a boy, gave them food from the family pantry until someone (presumably the father) put a lock on the pantry door. Young Giacomo studied under Jesuits in Palermo from 1841 to 1851.  During this time he became interested in missionary work.  In 1850 he almost ran away, to become a missionary to the Rocky Mountains.  His brother Pietro prevented this.  Giacomo (the younger) became a physician.  He studied medicine in Palermo from 1851 to 1855.  He, as a doctor, treated those he knew could not pay him, and he did not require that they do so.  Nevertheless, Dr. Cusmano perceived a vocation to do more for the poor.

He became a priest in December 22, 1860.  Italian unification was in progress.  One of the consequences of the founding of the united Kingdom of Italy was an increasing rate of poverty in the former Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, due to the loss of patronage.  Father Cusmano, serving in Palermo, derived inspiration from a social custom in the city.  At a meal, every member of a family placed some good from his or her plate on a plate in the middle of the table.  That food was for the poor.  Father Cusmano founded a charitable endeavor, Morsel to the Poor, in 1867.  It provided relief for many impoverished people.

Father Cusmano founded orders to care for the poor.  The Sisters Servants of the Poor came into existence on May 23, 1880; Vincenzina became the first Superior.  She earned her nickname, “Mother of the Poor,” and founded Houses of Mercy in Palermo.  The Missionary Servants of the Poor, a male order, came into existence on November 21, 1887.

The siblings died a few years apart.  Giacomo died of a pleurisy in Palermo on March 14, 1888.  If he had lived one day more, he would have observed his fifty-fourth birthday.  Vincenzina, aged sixty-eight years, died in Palermo on February 2, 1894.

The Roman Catholic Church has placed both siblings on the path to potential canonization.  Pope John Paul II declared Giacomo a Venerable in 1982 then beatified him the following year.  Pope Francis declared Vincenzina a Venerable in 2017.

Members of these orders continue to serve the poor around the world in parishes, schools, orphanages, and hospitals.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MIROCLES OF MILAN AND EPIPHANIUS OF PAVIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ALBAN ROE AND THOMAS REYNOLDS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS, 1642

THE FEAST OF EDGAR J. GOODSPEED, U.S. BAPTIST BIBLICAL SCHOLAR AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN YI YON-ON, ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR IN KOREA, 1867

W. SIBLEY TOWNER, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

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Lord God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of James Theodore Holly (March 13)   2 comments

Above:  Bishop James Theodore Holly

Image in the Public Domain

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JAMES THEODORE AUGUSTUS HOLLY (OCTOBER 3, 1829-MARCH 13, 1911)

Episcopal Bishop of Haiti, and of the Dominican Republic

First African-American Bishop in The Episcopal Church

James Theodore Holly comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church used to have one calendar of saints.  Starting in the 1960s, the guide to it was Lesser Feasts and Fasts, revised and made thicker occasionally.  From 1989 to 2007, a new edition debuted every three years.  Then, in 2009, the General Convention authorized a side calendar, Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010).  That volume’s successor debuted in late 2016.  A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations has enlarged the side calendar.

Some commemorations are present in both Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 and A Great Cloud of Witnesses; others are present only in one of them.  Some feasts new to The Episcopal Church debut on the side calendar and move into Lesser Feasts and Fasts, too.  Other feasts new to the denomination debut in Lesser Feasts and Fasts.  Bishop Holly’s feast is present in Holy Women, Holy Men (2010) and A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016), but not in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018Holy Women, Holy Men (2010) lists two feast days–March 13 and November 8–for Bishop Holly.  However, A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016) lists only the March 13 feast day for him.

James Theodore Augustus Holly, born free in Washington, D.C., on October 3, 1829, became a vigorous champion for civil rights.  He, baptized and raised a Roman Catholic, eventually joined The Episcopal Church.  After moving with his family to Brooklyn, New York, in 1843, our saint trained as a shoemaker.  In 1848 he had begun to work with abolitionist Lewis Tappan.  Holly and his brother Joseph opened a boot-making shop in 1850.  By then our saint had developed strong interests in Haiti and emigration.  The Episcopal Church rejected his repeated requests to become a missionary to that country for years.

Holly became an ordained minister–a deacon in 1855 then a priest in 1856.  He, Rector of St. Luke’s Church, New Haven, Connecticut, from 1856 to 1861, traveled to Haiti before settling there in 1861.  In 1856 he also founded the Protestant Episcopal Society for Promoting the Extension of the Church among Colored People, a forerunner of the Union of Black Episcopalians.

Holly sought to build up the church in and the people of Haiti.  In 1861 he led a group of 110 African Americans and African Canadians to that country.  For a few years he received no support from The Episcopal Church for his missionary work, but it came through eventually.  Within the first year of living in Haiti, Holly’s wife and two of his children died.  He remained with his two young sons.  Holly, who doubled as the Liberian Consul to Haiti from 1864 to 1874, sought to stabilize the unstable societies on Hispaniola.  He, the founder of what he called L’Église Orthodoxe Apostolique Haitienne, became the first Bishop of Haiti and the first African-American Episcopal bishop.  The consecration occurred at Grace Episcopal Church, New York, New York, on November 8, 1874.  Although a member of the denominational House of Bishops, Holly had no vote in that body.  From 1897 to 1911 Holly doubled as the Bishop of the Dominican Republic.  In both countries he evangelized, built churches, founded schools, and started hospitals and other charitable institutions.  Holly, aged 81 years, died in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 13, 1911.

Michael Curry (an African American), the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, said of Deaconess Anna Alexander (1865?-1947), whose feast is in both Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 and A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016), that The Episcopal Church had to catch up to her.  The denomination had to catch up to Bishop Holly, whom it treated worse than a second-class member.

Racism is alive and well in society, unfortunately.  It also continues to exist within ecclesiastical institutions, including The Episcopal Church, my chosen denomination.  We are doing better in this regard than we did.  We need to do better than we do.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 20, 2020 COMMON ERA 

THE FEAST OF SAINT FABIAN, BISHOP OF ROME, AND MARTYR, 250

THE FEAST OF SAINTS EUTHYMIUS THE GREAT AND THEOCRISTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF GREVILLE PHILLIMORE, ENGLISH PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF HARRIET AUBER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RICHARD ROLLE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SPIRITUAL WRITER

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Most gracious God, by the calling of your servant

you gave us our first bishop of African-American heritage.

In his quest for life and freedom, he led your people from bondage

into a new land and established the Church in Haiti.

Grant that, inspired by his testimony, we may overcome our prejudice

and honor those whom you call from every family, language, people, and nation;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Deuteronomy 6:20-25

Psalm 86:11-17

Acts 8:26-39

John 4:31-38

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 271

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Feast of John H. Caldwell (March 12)   2 comments

Above:  First United Methodist Church, Newnan, Georgia

Image Source = Google Earth

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JOHN HOLLIS CALDWELL (JUNE 4, 1820-MARCH 11, 1899)

U.S. Methodist Minister and Social Reformer

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We have sinned, and God has smitten us.

–John H. Caldwell, Newnan, Georgia, June 1865

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INTRODUCTION

The great Galileo Galilei warned many who were conventionally orthodox and sat in judgment on him for making shocking and revolutionary statements (such as that the Earth revolves around the Sun), that they may actually be heretics.  John H. Caldwell, in the middle of his life, concluded that he had been a heretic regarding slavery.  He chose actual orthodoxy.

Caldwell came to my attention years ago, when I was a graduate student at Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia.  I was researching Methodist history regarding slavery; my focus in graduate school was the intersection of race and religion in the U.S. South.  Slavery was the rock upon which the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939) split in 1844-1845.  I knew that already, but I wanted to know more details.

I was a United Methodist from 1980 to 1991.  Then I became an Episcopalian.  I have never looked back, for I have concluded that I am on this planet to be an Episcopalian.  Besides, my theological development subsequent to my confirmation (St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, Georgia, December 22, 1991) has led me to become a Single Predestinarian Anglican-Lutheran, contrary to Methodist theology.  My increasingly liberal and inclusive social views have placed me substantially to the left of where many of the more conservative elements of society are.  So be it.  I affirm that all human beings with both a pulse and brain waves possess unalienable natural rights, including civil rights and civil liberties.  Call me a radical, if you wish, O reader, but there I stand.  I will do no other.

I write this so that you, O reader, will understand that (1) I know whereof I write, and (2) I have no animosity toward The United Methodist Church.

I recall, as early as the middle 1980s, talk of The United Methodist Church being two denominations in one.  If the General Conference 2020 plays out the way I predict it will, 2020 may echo 1844.  Even if the General Conference of 2020 does not play out the way I predict it will, The United Methodist Church will continue to live into the typographical error and Freudian slip “Untied Methodist Church.”  This is an objective statement.  To quote William Butler Yeats in The Second Coming,

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

The big tent encompasses only those who choose to live within it.  Donatism did not die in norther Africa long ago.  No, it is alive and well, unfortunately.

As The United Methodist Church comes asunder and as the United States of America observes the Martin Luther King, Jr., federal holiday, pondering another schism–that of 1844-1845–as well as the cause of it, should lead us to sober-minded contemplation of orthodoxy and heresy, actual and alleged.

JOHN H. CALDWELL, DEFENDER OF SLAVERY

John Hollis Caldwell as a white Southerner.  He, born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on June 4, 1820, was a son of James Caldwell (1768-1825) and Jane Wardlaw (1772-1822).  His family moved to Georgia when our saint was an infant.  He converted to Christianity and to Methodism, in particular, at the age of 16 years.  Six years later, the Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) licensed Caldwell as an exhorter.  Our saint joined the Georgia Conference as a full minister in 1844.

The Methodist Episcopal Church concluded its General Conference of 1844 with a divorce agreement.  The cause of the divorce was slavery.  In particular, the question was whether James Osgood Andrew, the bishop assigned to the Georgia Conference, should continue as a bishop, despite owning slaves, in violation of church law.  He had not owned slaves in 1832, when he had become a bishop.  Yet Andrew had received slaves as inheritances over the years.  State law forbade him from freeing his slaves during his lifetime.  Slavery was still morally wrong, of course.  The MEC had been backing away from this moral truth since just a few years after its founding, as slaveholders joined.  The denomination finally issued a firm antislavery message again in 1864, shortly before the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution went to Congress.

One week apart, in May 1845, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MECS) and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) formed, for the same reason:  slavery.  The SBC formed because Northern-controlled missions boards of the Triennial Convention did not permit slaveholders to become missionaries.  Andrew became one of the founding bishops of the MECS, and continued to preach to slaves that they should obey their masters.

Caldwell joined the MECS and rose through the ranks to become a prominent member of the Georgia Conference thereof.  He accepted the conventional wisdom of his culture and the dominant theology thereof.  Caldwell believed that God supported and ordained slavery.  He quoted the Bible chapter-and-verse to defend this position.  He preached to slaves, telling them to obey their masters.  Opponents of slavery were heretics, fanatics, and radicals, according to Caldwell.  He insisted that they sought to destroy not just slavery, but the freedoms of press, speech, religion, and thought, too.  As Mark A. Noll has written in The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (2006), support for slavery became caught up with the authority of scripture.  Many, if not most, of those who argued for slavery theologically believed they were morally correct.

Above:  Old Main Building, Andrew College, Cuthbert, Georgia

Image Source = Google Earth

Caldwell also helped to found Andrew Female College (now Andrew College), Cuthbert, Georgia, which opened in 1854.  He taught moral and mental science there.  He, a slaveholder (via inheritances), sold one of his slaves to pay the college’s debts.  Caldwell’s father-in-law, a wealthy planter, insisted that a Methodist minister should not own slaves.  Our saint owned up to four slaves at a time, though.

Caldwell, by 1860 the pastor of Trinity Church, Savannah, had moved to Newnan to by 1864.  During the Civil War he supported slavery and the Confederacy.  He assumed that God was pro-Confederate States of America.

JOHN H. CALDWELL, RELIGIOUS SCALAWAG

Then the proverbial scales fell away from Caldwell’s eyes in early 1865.  Confederate defeat threw many white Christian Southerners into a theological crisis.  They reasoned that surely God had supported slavery and the Confederacy, so how could they make sense of their reality?  Caldwell took a different position.  Over a few Sundays in June 1865 he alienated his congregation and most of the other people in Newnan by condemning slavery, secession, the Confederacy, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  He acknowledged, as he had in 1861, that the cause of the Confederacy had been slavery.  President Jefferson Davis had said as much in his Inaugural Address.  Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens, speaking in Savannah in March 1861, had called slavery the cornerstone of the Confederacy.   He was proud of this cornerstone.  Caldwell surveyed the destruction of the Civil War and pronounced the judgment of God.  He also stated that the end of slavery was just.  The Confederacy had been sinful, too, the minister preached, and slavery tainted the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

Caldwell’s time left at Newnan was brief.  The Presiding Elder (District Superintendent, in contemporary Methodist terms) removed our saint from the pulpit, at the request of the leaders of the congregation.  U.S. Army General George H. Thomas, who had authority in Georgia, reinstated him in September.  Thomas also ordered local U.S. Army personnel to to protect Caldwell.  Our saint left the Georgia Conference of the MECS in November 1865, after that annual conference voted to condemn the contents of his sermons.

Then Caldwell rejoined the Methodist Episcopal Church and helped to begin rebuilding it in the former Confederacy.  He became a charter member of the new Georgia Conference of the MEC in January 1866.  He ministered to former slaves, helping them build churches, not telling them they should have obeyed their masters.  Predictably, the new Georgia Conference of the MEC was mostly African-American; it was politically and theologically suspect, according to most Southern Methodist neighbors.  Caldwell remained in Georgia until 1871, shortly after “redemption,” of the return of the antebellum ruling class to power.  He helped to found schools for former slaves.  Our saint, a religious scalawag, favored the Radical Republicans’ ambitious civil rights platform and worked with the Freedmen’s Bureau to help his flock.  Caldwell attended the state constitutional convention (December 1867-March 1868) and served in the state legislature.  He opposed the expulsion of all his African-American colleagues from that body.  Caldwell and his fellow religious scalawags were, according to Edward H. Myers, the editor of the Southern Christian Advocate,

miserable traitors to their brethren, their church, and their country.

–Quoted in Daniel W. Stowell, Rebuilding Zion:  The Religious Reconstruction of the South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 133

JOHN H. CALDWELL OF DELAWARE

Caldwell and his family to Delaware in 1871.  He had married Elizabeth Thurston Hodnett (1826-1902) on January 2, 1849.  The couple had had five sons and four daughters from 1849 to 1869.  Our saint joined the local conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and served as a pastor, a presiding elder, and a college president.

From 1885 to 1888 Caldwell served as the President of Delaware College (now the University of Delaware), then a men’s institution.  His time as a college president was unhappy for everybody involved.  Personality clashes abounded, and his inexperience created more problems.  Our saint perceived that people were conspiring around him.  They may have been, perhaps justifiably.  Caldwell was simultaneously of his time and ahead of it.  His antiquated moral disapproval of dancing led to some conflicts; he forbade it on campus.  Yet he favored admitting women to the student body; that was progressive.

Caldwell returned to parish ministry in 1888.

He, aged 78 years, died in Dover, Delaware, on Mach 11, 1899.

EVALUATING JOHN H. CALDWELL

Caldwell may have been, as one of his adversaries at Delaware College claimed, “cranky,” but he possessed courage, too.  Our saint had enough courage to change his mind on a central issue of his time and to contradict conventional wisdom, as well as to speak up at great risk to himself and his livelihood.  He had the courage of his convictions.  History has rendered its verdict in Caldwell’s case; it has ruled in his favor.

As one should know, presenting evidence is frequently the least successful method of changing a person’s mind, especially in matters that pertain to one’s self-image.  Facts should matter, but ego protection often overrules objective reality.  Human beings are usually more irrational than rational, sadly.

By grace, Caldwell found the moral courage, starting in June 1865, to admit that he had been wrong–horribly, sinfully wrong.  Then he repented, paid the price, and made the world a better place for many of the “least of these.”

That is sufficient reason to honor him.

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God of justice, we thank you for the example of your servant, John H. Caldwell,

who turned his back on the sins of slavery and, in the face of hostility,

labored for the civil rights of former slaves, his neighbors.

May we, by grace, confront our prejudices and, when necessary and proper to do so,

expose the foolishness of “received wisdom” and other ubiquitous assumptions,

for your glory and for the benefit of all people.

May the Church be on the vanguard of the struggle for social justice,

never on the side of the oppressors,

regardless of the price she will pay for standing with the “least of these.”

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

Amos 2:6-8

Psalm 71:1-6

Galatians 3:23-29

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 20, 2020 COMMON ERA 

THE FEAST OF SAINT FABIAN, BISHOP OF ROME, AND MARTYR, 250

THE FEAST OF SAINTS EUTHYMIUS THE GREAT AND THEOCRISTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF GREVILLE PHILLIMORE, ENGLISH PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF HARRIET AUBER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RICHARD ROLLE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SPIRITUAL WRITER

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