Archive for the ‘Saints of 1970-1979’ Category

Feast of Unita Blackwell (May 13)   Leave a comment

Above:   Mayersville, Mississippi

Image Source = Google Earth

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UNITA ZELMA BROWN BLACKWELL (MARCH 18, 1933-MAY 13, 2019)

African-American Civil Rights Activist, Rural Community Development Specialist, and Mayor of Mayersville, Mississippi

Born U. Z. Brown

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Politics is not just about voting one day every four years.  Politics is the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the road we walk on.

–Unita Blackwell

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Unita Blackwell‘s Christian faith compelled her to resist systems of oppression and leave communities better than she found them.  Her faith led her to seek intercultural understanding on the local, national, and international levels.

U. Z, Brown, born in Lula, Mississippi, on March 18, 1933, grew up in the Jim Crow U.S. South.  Laws kept African Americans “in their place,” or subordinate to white people.  Our saint, the daughter of sharecroppers Willie Brown and Virda Mae Brown, was originally just U. Z,–initials, no name that abbreviated to them.  The Browns believed on a plantation and in fear of the estate’s owner.  In 1936, Willie fled the plantation.  His family joined him in Memphis, Tennessee, shortly thereafter.  The couple separated in 1938.  Virda Mae and her mother moved to West Helena, Arkansas.

Jim Crow laws restricted the educational opportunities of African Americans in West Helena.  The agricultural economy took precedence over schooling.  Furthermore, African Americans could not attend high school; their public education terminated at the eighth grade.  U. Z. chose her new name, Unita Zelma, in the sixth grade.  She also completed the eighth grade.  Her formal education did not progress until the 1980s.

Our saint met and married Jeremiah Blackwell, a cook for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The site of the wedding was Clarksdale, Mississippi.  The couple had one child, Jeremiah, Jr., born on July 2, 1957.  The Blackwells moved to Mayersville, Mississippi, a small town and the seat of Issaquena County.  Mayersville remained our saint’s home for most of the remainder of her life.  She active in her Baptist church, taught Sunday School.

Blackwell became a civil rights activist in the summer of 1964.  That June, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) conducted a voter registration drive in Issaquena County.  Jeremiah and Unita tried to register to vote, but initially failed the the registration test, designed to cause people to fail.  Both of them lost their jobs for their trouble.  Unita eventually passed the registration test a few months later.  I have found no information about when Jeremiah successfully registered to vote.

That summer, with the aid and encouragement of Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977), Blackwell embarked upon activism.  She became a project manager with SNCC, directing voter registration drives in the state.  That summer, she also attended the Democratic National Convention as a delegate from the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

Blackwell paid a stiff price for her activism; police arrested her more than 70 times.  Yet she remained undeterred.  Our saint helped to introduce Head Start for African-American children in Mississippi in 1965.  Our saint and her husband successfully sued the Issaquena County Board of Education in 1965.  The local elementary school principal had expelled more than 300 African-American children for a range of alleged offenses, including wearing SNCC pins.  The federal district court agreed with the Blackwells.  It also ordered the integration of Issaquena County public schools by fall 1965.  The federal court of appeals upheld the district court’s ruling.  The public schools did not integrate until 1970, though.  Freedom schools for African-American chilldren operated through the summer of 1970.

Blackwell became an expert in rural community development, in the context of rural poverty.  In the late 1960s and the 1970s, she worked with the National Council of Negro Women on the issue of low-income housing.  Our saint encouraged poor people across the United States to construct their own housing.  She served as the Mayor of Mayersville from 1977 to 2001.  In that capacity, in the poor, rural Mississippi Delta, Blackwell expanded the range of basic services the local government provided to citizens.  The quality of life for all residents, especially poor and the vulnerable, improved.  Mayor Blackwell’s formal education leapfrogged from the eighth grade to a graduate degree in 1983.  In 1982 and 1983, she studied for her Master of Regional Planning degree from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst.

Blackwell’s efforts extended to the national level, too.  She was a member of the Democratic National Committee.  Our saint also attended the national Energy Summit at Camp David in 1979.  President Jimmy Carter invited her.  That year our saint also began to sit on the U.S. National Commission on the International Year of the Child.  Furthermore, Blackwell was a Fellow of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, in 1991-1992.  She also ran in the primary election for U.S. House of Representatives in 1993, the year after she won one of the MacArthur Fellowships, or “genius grants.”

Blackwell also worked on the international front.  She, interested in U.S.-Chinese cultural exchanges, made sixteen trips to the People’s Republic of China, starting in 1973.  Furthermore, she served as the President of the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association (founded in 1974) for six years.  And, in 1995, our saint was a delegate to the Non-Government Organizations Forum, related to the International Conference on Women, in Beijing.

Sadly, dementia afflicted Blackwell during her final years.  It set in by 2007/2008.  Our saint, 86 years old, died in a nursing home in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, on May 13, 2019.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT INNOCENT OF ALASKA, EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES AND ENLIGHTENER OF NORTH AMERICA

THE FEAST OF CORDELIA COX, U.S. LUTHERAN SOCIAL WORKER, EDUCATOR, AND RESETTLER OF REFUGEES

THE FEAST OF JOHN MARRIOTT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN WRIGHT BUCKHAM, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIA ALVAREZ MENDOZA, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1927

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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 Unita Blackwell, to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Barbara Andrews (May 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  Edina Community Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Image Source = Google Earth

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BARBARA LOUISE ANDREWS (MAY 11, 1935-MARCH 31, 1978)

First Female Minister in The American Lutheran Church

The Reverend Barbara Louise Andrews comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Witnesses, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

The American Lutheran Church (1960-1987), the product of a merger, was one of the two main immediate forebears of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  The other main immediate predecessor of ELCA was the Lutheran Church in America (1962-1987).  Both The American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America approved the ordination of women in 1970.  In November 1970, Elizabeth Platz became the first woman ordained in the Lutheran Church in America and in U.S. Lutheranism.  (Platz is still alive.)  Barbara Andrews became the first ordained woman in The American Lutheran Church and the second in U.S. Lutheranism on December 22, 1970.

Andrews, born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 11, 1935, became a trailblazer in two fields.  She, born with cerebral palsy, spent her time in a wheelchair.  Our saint championed the rights of people with physical handicaps.  She, a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, served as a lay pastor to students at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, from 1962 to 1969.  She matriculated at Luther Theological Seminary, Minneapolis, in 1964.  Our saint was one of the three women on the ordination track at the seminary. She graduated with (M.Div.) in 1969.

Andrews, ordained in 1970, ministered faithfully.  She was assistant pastor at Edina Community Lutheran Church, Edina, Minneapolis, Minnesota, until 1974.  Next she was a chaplain at Luther Haven Nursing Home, Detroit, Michigan (1974-1977).  Finally, in 1977-1978, our saint was the interim pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Detroit.

Andrews, aged 42 years, died while fighting a fire in her apartment in Detroit on March 31, 1978.

Andrews helped to make possible the ordained ministries of other women in U.S. Lutheranism.  For example, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America elected Elizabeth Eaton its Presiding Bishop in 2013 then reelected her to another six-year term in 2019.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 27, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES HENRY BRENT, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINES, BISHOP OF WESTERN NEW YORK, AND ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINTS NICHOLAS OWEN, THOMAS GARNET, MARK BARKWORTH, EDWARD OLDCORNE, AND RALPH ASHLEY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1601-1608

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HALL BAYNES, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF MADAGASCAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT RUPERT OF SALZBURG, APOSTLE OF BAVARIA AND AUSTRIA

THE FEAST OF STANLEY ROTHER, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MISSIONARY, AND MARTYR IN GUATEMALA, 1981

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Almighty God, we praise you for the men and women you have sent

to call the Church to its tasks and renew its life [such as Barbara Andrews].

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets whose voices will

give strength to your Church and proclaim the reality of your kingdom;

through your Son, Jesus Christ or Lord.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

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

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Feast of Blessed Maria del Carmen Rendiles Martinez (May 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of Venezuela, 1954-2006

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED MARIA DEL CARMEN RENDILES MARTINEZ (AUGUST 11, 1903-MAY 9, 1977)

Foundress of the Servants of Jesus of Caracas (the Servant Congregation of Jesus in Venezuela)

Also known as Mother Maria Carmen

Born Carmen Elena Rendiles Martinez

Blessed Maria del Carmen Rendiles Martinez devoted almost all of her life to God.  She, one of eight children of Ramiro Antonio Rendiles and Ana Antonia Martinez, debuted in Caracas, Venezuela, on August 11, 1903.  Our saint, from a respected and wealthy family, was devout from youth.  She was a catechist at the age of 15 years.  Blessed Maria also overcame a physical disability; she never had a left arm.  She used a prosthesis instead.

Blessed Maria Carmen spent nearly half of a century in religious life.  She joined the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament on February 25, 1927, when she was 23 years old.  Our saint spent years studying in Toulouse, France.  While there, she received her habit in 1927, made her first vows in 1929, and made her final vows in 1932.  After returning to Caracas in 1934, she became the novice mistress there.  Our saint, the Provincial Superior for Venezuela and Colombia, starting in 1945, founded convents and schools.  After she inherited the family estate, she founded a school for poor children there.

Politics led to the division of the order.  In 1961, by means of a new constitution, the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament became the Servants of the Eucharist.  The change of constitution came as a surprise to the order’s South American members.  Internal communications were problematic for the order.  The South American province became a separate order in 1965, and Blessed Maria became the first Superior General of the Servants of Jesus of Caracas (the Congregation of Jesus in Venezuela).

Blessed Maria Carmen died in Caracas on May 9, 1977.  She was 73 years old.

Pope Francis declared our saint a Venerable in 2013 then beatified her five years later.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT DISMAS, PENITENT BANDIT

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we,

inspired by the devotion of your servant Blessed Maria del Carmen Rendiles Martinez,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 722

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Feast of Angus Dun (May 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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ANGUS DUN (MAY 4, 1892-AUGUST 12, 1971)

Episcopal Bishop of Washington, and Ecumenist

Bishop Angus Dun comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible (1951f), a project on which he was one of the Consulting Editors.

Dun grew up in the Reformed Church in America.  He, born in New York, New York, on May 4, 1892, was a son of Henry Walke Dun (1853-1928) and Sarah Hazard Dun (1859-1929).  Our saint contracted polio at the age of 11 years.  Complications led to the amputation of one leg during his youth.  Dun matriculated at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, in 1910.

Dun spent most of his life as an Episcopalian.  He converted to The Episcopal Church in college.  After our saint graduated from Yale University in 1914, he matriculated at the Episcopal Theological School (hereafter, ETS), Cambridge, Massachusetts (Class of 1917).  Dun married Catherine Whipple Pew (1893-1978) in 1916.  The couple had two sons.  Our saint, ordained a deacon then a priest in 1917, simultaneously served in the Episcopal congregations in Lexington and Ayer, Massachusetts.  He also served as a civilian chaplain at Camp Devens during World War I.  In 1919 and 1920, respectively, Dun studied in Oxford, England, and in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Then he began his career (1920-1944) at ETS.  Our saint taught systematic theology, starting in 1920, then became the Dean in 1940.

Dun led the Diocese of Washington, encompassing the District of Columbia and part of Maryland, from 1944 to 1962.  He sought to proclaim to Gospel to all segments of society within the boundaries of the diocese, regardless of racial, economic, and other categories.  Our saint, a white man who opposed racial segregation in society and the Church, became a target of ire of many segregationists; he became “Black Angus.”  Dun, close to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was one of the officiants at FDR’s White House funeral in 1945.  Our saint, like Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), another Christian Realist, tried to balance idealism and realism in the context of the common good.  In October 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Dun stated:

The every-family-for-itself approach to fallout shelter construction is immoral, unjust, and contrary to national interest.

Many doctrinaire Christians, especially those not steeped in Christian history, objected to our saint’s acknowledgement that the Church made the creeds, not the other way around.  He was objectively and historically accurate, given the record of councils and synods.

Dun was also an ecumenist.  He became the Secretary of the American Theological Commission for the World Conference on Faith and Order, a predecessor of the World Council of Churches (WCC), in 1937.  His global ecumenism continued through the 1950s.  Our saint represented The Episcopal Church at the first Assembly of the WCC in 1948.  He also sat on the WCC’s Central Committee from 1948 to 1954.  Furthermore, Dun wrote books about ecumenism.  Titles included The Meaning of Unity (1937) and Prospecting for a United Church (1948).

Dun’s other books included:

  1. The King’s Cross:  Meditations on the Seven Last Words (1926);
  2. We Believe:  A Simple Exposition on the Creeds (1934);
  3. Not By Bread Alone (1942);
  4. Behold the City of God:  Meditations on the Christian Faith, the Christian Family, the Christian World, and the World Mission of the Church (1946);
  5. The Christian Conscience and Weapons of Mass Destruction (1950); and
  6. The Saving Person (1957).

Dun also served on the denominational level.  He sat on the Executive Committee of The Episcopal Church and chaired the Department of Religious Education and the Episcopal Joint Commission on Ecumenical Relations.

Angus Dun, Order of the British Empire (1953), retired in 1962.  He died in Washington, D.C., on August 12, 1971.  Our saint was 79 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 18, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT LEONIDES OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 202; ORIGEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN; SAINT DEMETRIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; AND SAINT ALEXANDER OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT CYRIL OF JERUSALEM, BISHOP, THEOLOGIAN, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SIBBALD ALDERSON, POET AND HYMN WRITER; AND JOHN BACCHUS DYKES, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAUL OF CYPRUS, EASTERN ORTHODOX MARTYR, 760

THE FEAST OF ROBERT WALMSLEY, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER

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O heavenly Father, Shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Angus Dun,

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 your grace grow into the stature and the fullness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ;

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

Ezekiel 34:11-16

Psalm 23

1 Peter 5:1-4

John 21:15-17

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 718

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Feast of Diet Eman, Hein Sietsma, and Henk Sietsma (April 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Netherlands

Image in the Public Domain

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BERNANDINA ROELOFINA HENDRIKA “DIET” EMAN (APRIL 30, 1920-SEPTEMBER 3, 2019)

fiancée of

HEIN SIETSMA (OCTOBER 15, 1919-JANUARY 21, 1945)

Martyr, 1945

brother of

HENDRIK “HENK” SIETSMA (OCTOBER 18, 1921-MAY 10, 2002)

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RIGHTEOUS AMONG THE NATIONS

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…we wanted to obey God to help the Jewish people.

–Diet Eman

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Diet (pronounced “deet”) Eman comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via news accounts of her death in September 2019.  Her fiancé and his brother join her her via their work with her.  All three saints are Yad Vashem, or Righteous Among the Nations–the brothers since 1977 and Diet since 1998.

These saints were Dutch Reformed Christians.  Bernandina Roelofina Hendrika Eman, born in The Hague, The Netherlands, on April 30, 1920, was a daughter of Gerrit Eman (1883-1975) and Johanna Maria Brouwer Eman (1884-1978).  She met Hein Sietsma, born in Marum, The Netherlands, on October 15, 1919, in 1937.  The two of them eventually fell in love.  Almost immediately after the Nazi invasion of The Netherlands, Diet, Hein, and his brother Hendrik “Henk” (born on October 18, 1921) joined the resistance to the occupation.

The three were founders and members of Group Hein, also known as Help Elkander in Nood, or “Helping Each Other in Need.”  Group Hein/Help Elkander in Nood sheltered Jews, as well as British and American airmen behind the lines.  The group saved the lives of nine Jewish families plus eleven Jewish individuals.  Supplying and hiding these Jews and airmen was risky; the Third Reich and its agents disapproved of saving these lives and producing fake IDs.

Nazi authorities arrested all three saints.  They arrested Hein in Friesland on April 28, 1944.  He died at Dachau concentration camp on January 21, 1945.  In his last letter (written on toilet paper) to Diet, he acknowledged that the couple would never meet again in this life, and wrote,

Love conquers all.

Henk survived Dachau concentration camp, though.  Diet, eventually arrested, went to Vught concentration camp.  Her assigned task was to wash the bloody clothes of executed prisoners.  At her trial she successfully played dumb.  The court released her, and she resumed her work with the resistance.

Henk, aged 80 years, died on May 10, 2002.

Diet spent the next thirty-plus years not discussing her wartime experiences.  She, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) left The Netherlands after World War II.  She, having obtained her nursing degree, worked as a nurse for the Shell Oil Company in South America for a decade.  There she met and married Egon Erlich (1928-2017), an American.  The couple had children and moved to New York state.  The marriage ended in divorce.  Diet and her children relocated to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Diet, who told her story publicly in 1978 then many times afterward, remained active in health care.  After our saint retired from nursing, she volunteered with the American Red Cross and served as a medical missionary with the Luke Society, from her seventies to her nineties.  At age 97, Diet was a volunteer in the Dominican Republic.  She also told her story in writing and in person.  Our saint’s book was Things We Couldn’t Say (1999).  During the early 2000s, she traveled, telling her story to contradict Holocaust deniers.

Diet became an American citizen in 2007.

She, aged 99 years, died at Samaritas Senior Living of Grand Rapids on September 3, 2019.  Our saint was a member of Seymour Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, the site of the funeral.

The divine commandment to love others as one loves oneself is an order that can place one at great risk.  It is a commandment Diet Eman, Hein Sietsma, and Henk Sietsma followed, for the glory of God and the benefit of many people.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 16, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBALD OF OSTREVANT, RICTRUDIS OF MARCHIENNES, AND THEIR RELATIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM KIDUNAIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT; AND SAINT MARY OF EDESSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ANCHORESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CACCIAFRONTE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND MARTYR, 1183

THE FEAST OF SAINT MEGINGAUD OF WURZBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF THOMAS WYATT TURNER, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SCIENTIST, EDUCATOR, AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST; FOUNDER OF FEDERATED COLORED CATHOLICS

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

and to give his life for the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those 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.

Psalm 94:1-14

Hosea 2:18-23

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of Simon B. Parker (April 29)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Seal of Boston University

Image in the Public Domain

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SIMON BRUCE PARKER (FEBRUARY 23, 1940-APRIL 29, 2006)

United Methodist Biblical Scholar

Simon B. Parker comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The New Interpreter’s Bible.  He wrote the article, “The Ancient Near Eastern Literary Background of the Old Testament,” for Volume I (1994).

Parker was a fine Biblical scholar. He, born in Manchester, England, on February 23, 1940, was a son of Harold William Parker and Irene Smith (Parker).  Our saint graduated from the University of Manchester (B.A., 1960).  The following year, he came to the United States of America.  Parker married Sonia Margarita Palmer on August 26, 1961.  The couple had two sons Jeremy Edmund Parker and Jonathan Aldwin Parker.

Parker built a career in academia.  He graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky (B.D., 1963); and The Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D., 1967).  Our saint was, in order:

  1. Assistant Professor, Reed College, Portland, Oregon (1967-1975);
  2. Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon (1976-1977);
  3. Assistant to the President, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts (1978-1981);
  4. Associate Dean, The School of Theology, Boston University (1981-1988); and
  5. Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible and Harrell F. Beck Scholar in Hebrew Scholar, The School of Theology, Boston University (1988-2006).

Parker was an expert in Hebrew inscriptions and Ugaritic literature.  His research focus was Canaanite cultural influences on Israel.  He, the author of many articles and book reviews, and edited the Society of Biblical Literature’s Writings from the Ancient World series of books for eight years.  Our saint also wrote The Pre-Biblical Narrative Tradition (1988) and Stories in Scripture and Inscriptions (1997).

Furthermore, Parker enjoyed hiking and played classical piano well.

Parker served as the moderator of the United Parish of Auburndale, Auburndale, Newton, Massachusetts, from 1992 to 1994.  I have noticed with delight that the federated United Church of Christ-United Methodist congregation is substantially to the left of the administration of Asbury Theological Seminary.

Parker died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Auburndale, Newton, Massachusetts, on April 29, 2006.  He was 66 years old.

One may legitimately wonder what other contributions to Biblical scholarship Parker may have made, had he lived longer.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACHARY OF ROME, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JAN ADALBERT BALICKI AND LADISLAUS FINDYSZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS IN POLAND

THE FEAST OF OZORA STEARNS DAVIS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VETHAPPAN SOLOMON, APOSTLE TO THE NICOBAR ISLANDS

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Simon B. Parker 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 William Stringfellow (April 28)   1 comment

Above:  William Stringfellow

Fair Use

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FRANK WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW (APRIL 26, 1928-MARCH 2, 1985)

Episcopal Attorney, Theologian, and Social Activist

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I think they need to hear it.

–William Stringfellow, explaining why he read long passages of the Bible to the F.B.I. agents recording his telephone calls

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This is the man America should be listening to.

Karl Barth, on Stringfellow, early 1960s

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It is profane, as well as grandiose, to manipulate the Bible in order to apologize for America.

–William Stringfellow, An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land (1973)

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For thousands of us, he became the honored keeper and guardian of the Word of God.

Daniel Berrigan, 1985

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William Stringfellow comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via five sources.  He is on the short list of people The Episcopal Church will probably list officially as a saint once the “fifty-year-rule” (to which the denomination has made notable exceptions) ceases to be a barrier.  Stringfellow’s name appears in this context in the back of Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010) and its successor, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).  Cloud of Witnesses, 2d. ed (2005), edited by Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, contains Wallis’s remembrance of his friend of 14 years.  A Year with American Saints (2006), by G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, features Stringfellow.  So does All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), by Robert Ellsberg.

Stringfellow was a prophet.  He was, by definition, also a controversial figure.  Our saint was the kind of man certain contemporary reactionaries would dismiss cynically as a “social justice warrior.” Stringfellow would, in a counterfactual scenario in which he would have heard that term, probably have considered it a compliment and read the Book of Amos to his critics.  He did, after all, read long Biblical passages to the F.B.I. spooks who recorded this telephone calls.  That was better than what some other spied-upon U.S. citizens did in identical circumstances–frequently insult J. Edgar Hoover profanely.

Stringfellow stood up for what he believed.  He condemned economic injustice, racism, institutionalized segregation, homophobia, misogyny, sexual promiscuity, and other offenses.  Our saint also advocated for the ordination of women within The Episcopal Church long before 1976, when the General Convention approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate.  His opposition to the Vietnam War and to nuclear weapons also made him many enemies on the Right.

Frank William Stringfellow was a man who allowed the Bible to shape him.  He was a radical and a strong social critic who walked the walk.  Our saint, born in Johnston, Rhode Island, on April 26, 1928, was a life-long Episcopalian.  At age fifteen, he matriculated at Bates College, Lewiston, Massachusetts.  When Stringfellow left Bates College, he studied at the London School of Economics.  Our saint served in the Second Armored Division, U.S. Army, during World War II.  Next, he earned his J.D. degree at Harvard Law School.

Stringfellow moved into a slum in Harlem after he graduated from Harvard Law School.  He joined the East Harlem Protestant Parish, taught Biblical studies, and practiced law.  He remained in Harlem until 1967.  Our saint moved for health-related reasons; a metabolism-related disorder that led to diabetes affected him.  Stringfellow and platonic partner, poet Anthony Towne (died in 1980), a Methodist, moved to Block Island, New Shoreham, Rhode Island.

All evidence points to Stringfellow being a celibate, semi-closeted homosexual.  This matter, relevant to his life and activism, does not offend me.  (Stringfellow no more chose to be homosexual than I chose to be heterosexual.)

Theologically, Stringfellow was neo-orthodox.  He read works by Karl Barth (with whom he had a conversation in Harlem in the early 1960s) and Jacques Ellul.  The neo-orthodox theology of original sin pervading neo-orthodoxy was evident in his writings, including many of his books.  The presence of original sin in American culture and social institutions was one of Stringfellow’s most controversial topics.  He objected to reading the Bible through (dominant) American cultural eyes.  Rather, our saint interpreted (dominant) American culture through Biblical lenses.  He concluded that the Bible condemned his culture and his society’s institutions.  That proved to be controversial when

My country, right or wrong

was a popular slogan for many people.

Stringfellow’s views and activism placed him on J. Edgar Hoover’s radar, hence the wire-tapping.  When our saint’s friend, Father Daniel Berrigan (1921-2016) was a fugitive for having destroyed military draft records, Stringfellow and Toyne sheltered him for four months.  F.B.I. agents raided the house on Block Island and arrested all three.  The court eventually dropped the charges (of sheltering a fugitive) against Stringfellow and Towne, though.

Stringfellow, in constant pain during his final years, died at home on March 2, 1985.  He was 56 years old.

Stringfellow defined being holy as

being truly human.

By that standard, of being the best person one can be, our saint was holy.

Stringfellow’s prophetic witness remains relevant, unfortunately.  I write “unfortunately” because the United States of America, my country, has continued collectively and officially down a path contrary to the high moral standards Stringfellow championed.  I wonder what the FOX News Channel (according to which Mister Rogers was evil) would have said about Stringfellow, had it existed when he was alive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FANNIE LOU HAMER, PROPHET OF FREEDOM

THE FEAST OF ALBERT LISTER PEACE, ORGANIST IN ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND

THE FEAST OF HARRIET KING OSGOOD MUNGER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NEHEMIAH GOREH, INDIAN ANGLICAN PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS VINCENZINA CUSMANO, SUPERIOR OF THE SISTERS SERVANTS OF THE POOR; AND HER BROTHER, SAINT GIACOMO CUSMANO, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERS SERVANTS OF THE POOR AND THE MISSIONARY SERVANTS OF THE POOR

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may

do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight,

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736

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