Archive for the ‘Saints of 2010-2019’ Category

Feast of Joseph Lowery (October 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Joseph and Evelyn Lowery, Atlanta, Georgia, 1994

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-47972

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JOSEPH ECHOLS LOWERY, SR. (OCTOBER 6, 1921-MARCH 27, 2020)

African-American United Methodist Minister and Civil Rights Leader

Joseph Lowery comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via civil rights activism.

The struggle to gain and retain civil rights, which should be automatic because one has a pulse, never ends.  At any given time, some person, group, or political party seeks to deny or curtail the civil rights of certain people based on an arbitrary characteristic.  These evildoers frequently cloak these efforts in the language of righteousness.  The life and legacy of Joseph Lowery contains lessons that, sadly, remain current and relevant.

Lowery, born in Huntsville, Alabama, on October 6, 1921, grew up in the (old) Jim Crow South.  His mother, Dora Lowery, was a teacher.  His father, Leroy Lowery, Jr., was a small businessman.  The 14-year-old Lowery once refused to get off a sidewalk as a white man approached and passed.  For this alleged offense, a white police officer punched our young saint.  The youth rushed home to get a gun, but his father dissuaded him.  The family sent Lowery to live with relatives in Chicago, Illinois, for a few years.  Our saint returned to Huntsville in 1936.  After graduating from William Cooper Council High School in 1939, he went to college.  He matriculated at Knoxville College, transferred to Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College, then studied at Paine College, Augusta, Georgia (Class of 1943).

Lowery became a minister in The Methodist Church (1939-1968).  He matriculated at Payne Theological Seminary (of the African Methodist Episcopal Church), Wilberforce, Ohio, 1944.  In the early 1940s, he had married Agnes Moore.  The couple had two children, Joseph Lowery, Jr.; and Leroy Lowery, III.  That marriage ended in divorce in the middle 1940s.  Our saint completed his Doctor of Divinity degree from the Chicago Ecumenical Institute, Chicago, Illinois (1950).  That year, he also married civil rights activist Evelyn Gibson, a member of The Methodist Church.  The couple had three children:  Yvonne, Karen, and Cheryl.

Lowery served as the pastor of Warren Street Methodist Church, Mobile, Alabama (1952-1961).  During those years, he became a leader in the Civil Rights Movement.  He helped to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Lowery also led the Alabama Civic Affairs Association, dedicated to the desegregation of buses and public places.  In 1957, Lowery; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and others founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).  He held various positions in the SCLC before serving as the President (1977-1997).  The State of Alabama harassed Lowery and certain other civil rights leaders in 1959.  The state seized their cars and other property to pay damages resulting from a libel suit.  The United States Supreme Court, in New York Times Company v. Sullivan (1964), ruled that Alabama’s libel law violated the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of speech and press.  The State of Alabama, therefore, had acted unconstitutionally.

From 1961 to 1964, Lowery worked in the office of Methodist Bishop Michael Golden, in Nashville, Tennessee.  Our saint continued to participate in protests for civil rights during these years.

Lowery was pastor of St. Paul Methodist Church, Birmingham, Alabama, from 1964 to 1968.  He also marched with Dr. King at Selma in 1965.

Lowery was the senior pastor of Central United Methodist Church, Atlanta, Georgia (1968-1986).  Almost immediately, he continued his tradition of getting arrested from a righteous cause, but in Georgia.  Our saint’s participation in a sanitation workers’ strike (1968) led to jail time.  This was neither his first nor last time to go to jail for protesting peacefully.  He, active in the anti-Apartheid movement, went to jail in the District of Columbia for participating in a protest there outside the South African embassy in 1984, for example.

Lower was the senior pastor of Cascade United Methodist Church, Atlanta, Georgia (1986-1992).  He built up his congregation, community, city, and society.  Our saint worked to ensure that Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) lines ran through African-American communities.  He also helped to initiate a gun buyback program.  Evelyn initiated an HIV/AIDS program from African-American communities.  Lowery retired in 1992.

Lowery remained socially conscious, active, and controversial (as all proper social activists are) in retirement.  He served as the President of the SCLC until 1997.  Clark Atlanta University opened the Joseph E. Lowery Center for Justice and Human Rights in 2001.  At the funeral of Coretta Scott King, in 2006, in the presence of President George W. Bush, Lowery aroused much conservative ire by condemning the federal government for fighting a war in Iraq yet not a war on domestic poverty.  (One gets to denounce a U.S. President peacefully in the presence of that President in the United States of America, of course.  It is a grand American tradition.)  Later in life, our saint openly advocated for equal rights for homosexuals.  He initially spoke out in favor of civil unions, then, in 2012, same-sex marriage.

Evelyn Lowery died on September 26, 2013.

Our saint, aged 99 years, died in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 27, 2020.

Perhaps the best way to conclude this post is with Lowery’s benediction at the first inauguration of President Barack Obama, on January 20, 2009:

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest,

and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work

for that day when black will not be asked to get in back; 

when brown can stick around;

when yellow will be mellow;

when the red man can get ahead, man;

and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say,

Amen!  Say Amen!  And Amen!

That vision remains in the future tense, unfortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 13, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BARBER LIGHTFOOT, BISHOP OF DURHAM

THE FEAST OF HENRI PERRIN, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC WORKER PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOHN GLOUCESTER, FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARTIN I, BISHOP OF ROME, AND MARTYR, 655; AND SAINT MAXIMUS THE CONFESSOR, EASTERN ORTHODOX MONK, ABBOT, AND MARTYR, 662

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROLANDO RIVI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1945

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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, Joseph Echols Lowery, Sr.] to use our freedom

to bring justice among peoples 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 Walter and Albertina Sisulu (October 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Walter and Albertina Sisulu with their Wedding Party, Including Nelson Mandela

Image in the Public Domain

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WALTER ULYETE MAX SISULU (MAY 18, 1912-MAY 5, 2003)

Anti-Apartheid Activist and Political Prisoner in South Africa

husband of

NONTSIKELELO ALBERTINA SISULU (OCTOBER 21, 1918-JUNE 2, 1911)

Anti-Apartheid Activist and Political Prisoner in South Africa

“Mother of the Nation”

Born Nontsikelelo Thethiwe

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[The South African government] call themselves Christians, but I fail to understand, because in the very Bible they are carrying it says, “Thou shalt not kill.”  But they are busy killing the children, busy killing the people in jail.

–Albertina Sisulu, April 1988; quoted in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, eds., Cloud of Witnesses, 2nd. ed. (2005), 36

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To share the sacrament as part of the tradition of my Church was important for me.  It gave me a sense of inner quiet and calm.  I used to come away from these services feeling a new man.

–Walter Sisulu, in a letter from prison, May 10, 1979

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I have never abandoned my Christian beliefs.

–Walter Sisulu, 1993

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INTRODUCTION

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Albertina Sisulu comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Wallis and Hollyday, Cloud of Witnesses (2005).  Walter Sisulu joins her here because he was her husband and fellow activist for social justice, in the name of God.  One cannot properly tell the story of one Sisulu alone.  One can, however, properly tell the story of the couple.

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MEET WALTER SISULU

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Walter Sisulu, born in Qutubeni, a village in the Engcobo district of Transkei, Eastern Cape, on May 18, 1912, was the son of Albert of Victor Dickenson and Alice Mase Sisulu.  Dickenson, an assistant magistrate, was White.  The mother was African.  The couple was not married.  Young Walter grew up with his grandmother and uncle until he was six years old.  Then he began to live in his mother’s household.  Our saint, baptized a Methodist, studied at an Anglican missionary school until he was 15 years old, when his uncle died.  Walter had to leave school and work in a dairy in Johannesburg to help support his family financially.

Walter, who worked in a gold mine, starting in 1929, eventually moved to East London, Eastern Cape, to rejoin his mother, who had become a domestic worker there.  In East London, our saint met Clements Kadalie, the leader of the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU).  In 1933, Walter and his mother settled in Johannesburg.  He worked at the Premier Biscuit factory and attended the Bantu Men’s Social Centre’s night school.   Our saint also helped to organize a strike for higher wages at the bakery.  So, he got fired in 1940.  That year, he also joined the African National Congress (ANC).

Throughout the 1940s, Walter worked in a succession of jobs, departing from one for the next one in a disagreement.  Finally, our saint went into real estate.  First he was a partner with a White man.  Then Walter branched out on his own.

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MEET ALBERTINA SISULU

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Nontsikelelo Thethiwe, born in the Tsomo district of Transkei, Eastern Cape, on October 21, 1918, was the second of five children of Bonizwe and Monikazi Thethiwe.  Nontsikelelo arrived at a perilous time, that of the Spanish Influenza, which her mother had while pregnant wtih her.  Bonilizwe, the father, was away, working in the mines.  Monkazi, the mother, suffered aftereffects of the Spanish Influenza.  Therefore, our saint and her immediate family (except for her father) lived with Monkazi’s relatives in Xolobe.  There our saint attended a Presbyterian missionary school.  According to the custom at the school, she selected a Christian name for herself.  Nontsikelelo chose to become Albertina.

Albertina was a good student, but domestic demands held her back academically.  Her mother being ill constantly, our saint had to keep leaving school to take care of her younger siblings.  This situation, combined with her age, disqualified Albertina for a four-year scholarship for which she had competed and which she had won.  Given that the competition call had not stated an age limit, this predicament was unfair.  Albertina’s teachers advocated for her.  Some local Roman Catholic priests took up this case and arranged for a four-year scholarship for Albertina to attend the high school at Mariazell College, Mataliele, Eastern Cape.  She graduated in 1939.

Albertina, who had converted to Roman Catholicism while a student at Mariazell College, pondered becoming a nun.  Yet doing this would not have enabled our saint to work to support her family financially.  Therefore, a priest advised Albertina to consider nursing instead.  She started training to become a nurse in Johannesburg in January 1940.

Albertina experienced racism for the first time in Johannesburg.  White nurses had higher status than Black nurses.  African patients could not receive treatment in European wards, even when the non-European ward was full and the European ward was not.  And racist restrictions on Black nurses prevented Albertina from attending her mother’s funeral in 1941.

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WALTER AND ALBERTINA

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Above:  The Flag of South Africa, 1928-1994

Image in the Public Domain

Albertina met Walter in 1941.  He was politically active; she was not.  Then she became politically active, too, under his influence.  In 1944, Albertina became a fully qualified nurse.  That July 15, she and Walter married in a ceremony held at the Bantu Men’s Social Club, Johannesburg.

The Sisulus’ household spanned three generations.  The couple had five children:  Max (b. 1945), Lungi (b. 1948), Zwelkhe (b. 1950), Lindiwe (b. 1954), and Nonkuleleko (b. 1958).  The household, at 7373, Orlando, Soweto, also included Walter’s mother (Alice), as well as younger members of the extended family.  Gerald (b. 1944) and Beryl (b. 1948), children of Walter’s sister, lived there, too.  So did Jongumzi (b. 1957), the son of Walter’s cousin.  Meanwhile, Albertina worked as a nurse.

The Sisulu house was also a hub of political activity.  ANC activists visited frequently.  In 1948, when the ANC formed its Women’s League, Albertina joined.  Walter became the first full-time Secretary-General of the ANC the following year.  He, having become increasingly militant during the 1940s, was prepared for the resistance struggle against full-blown Apartheid, imposed starting in 1948.

Albertina and Walter actively opposed that racially-defined form of tyranny.  They also went to jail repeatedly and endured official harassment at home.  The Sisulus opposed measures such as the pass laws.  They also operated an alternative school for a time.  Over the decades, both of them were also banned people.  Walter joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) in the early 1950s.  In 1956, he was one of a large group of activists accused of treason after having organized the Freedom Charter campaign and the Congress of the People.  The verdict in 1961 was an acquittal.  After the Sharpville Massacre (1960), the government imposed a state of emergency.  Walter was one of the ANC activists detained for several months during this time.  He, later placed under house arrest, continued to lead the militant struggle against Apartheid.

Walter, convicted of furthering the aims of the ANC and sentenced to six years of incarceration in March 1963, skipped bail and house arrest on April 20, 1963.  He went underground at the secret headquarters of the SACP.  Government security forces arrested Albertina and Zwelakhe.  Albertina spent two months in solitary confinement.  Interrogators made her believe that her husband had died.  She learned that he was alive after his arrest on July 11, 1963.

Walter and his fellow conspirators received life sentences on June 12, 1964.  They served their sentences at Robben Island.  For the next quarter of a century, Albertina continued the struggle and spent some time in prison, too.  In order to visit her husband, she had to humiliate herself by applying for a passbook.  And, for almost all of that that quarter of a century, she was a banned person.  Finally, finances were difficult, of course.  Fortunately, overseas donors and local Anglican priests helped.  Despite the many difficulties, Albertina kept mothering children from her extended family and adding on to the house, to accommodate them.

Other members of the Sisulu joined the anti-Apartheid struggle and faced the legal consequences of doing so.  Daughter Lindiwe, arrested in 1976, went to prison.  She remained in custody for more than a year, during which she endured repeated tortures.  After her release, she left the country.  Also, Max, after release from detention, went into exile, too.  And Zwelakhe spent two years in detention without a trial.

Meanwhile, Walter led from prison.  He taught younger members of the ANC the history of that organization.  He advised Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) on how to negotiate with the South African government in the 1980s, too.

Albertina, arrested in late 1983 for giving an illegal speech on behalf of the ANC while a banned person, received a sentence of four years in prison on February 24, 1984.  The court suspended two of those years for five years.  Allies paid our saint’s bail that day.  Yet Albertina, arrested again on February 19, 1985, on the charge of treason, went into solitary confinement.  The court permitted bail on the condition that Albertina curtail her political activity.  The state, acknowledging its weak legal hand, withdrew charges on December 9, 1985.

Starting in 1984, Albertina worked for Dr. Abu Asvat, who operated a mobile clinic that served poor people.  He paid her even when she was in custody.  The two anti-Apartheid activists of different political stripes tended effectively to essential problems of the very poor.  For example, they installed 20 toilets for 150 people who lived in their vehicles at McDonald’s Farm.  Also, the two instituted a daily feeding program for the approximately 80 children at the farm.

Albertina, a banned person again in the late 1980s, granted an interview with Joyce Hollyday of Sojourners magazine.  In that interview, Albertina spoke of her faith, family, and anti-Apartheid struggle.  She expressed the hope that Apartheid would end during her lifetime.  And our saint correctly diagnosed why the South African government perpetuated Apartheid and operated a police state:  fear.

By 1989, the foundations of Apartheid were cracking.  That much was obvious.  The government released Walter from prison on October 26.  Mandela (a prisoner until February 11, 1990) insisted on this as a condition for continuing to negotiate with the government.  The following year, the government lifted the ban on the ANC, banned since 1963.  Albertina helped to reestablish the ANC Women’s League in 1990.  In 1991, she won election to the ANC’s National Executive Committee and Walter won election as the ANC’s Deputy President.

The Flag of South Africa, 1994-

Image in the Public Domain

Apartheid ended in 1994.  Nelson Mandela, elected President, served until 1999.  Both Albertina and Walter served in the new parliament until 1999, too.

The Sisulus moved into a new house in Linden, Johannesburg, in 1999.  Walter died there, in Albertina’s arms, on May 5, 2003.  He died thirteen days prior to his ninety-first birthday.  Albertina died in Johannesburg on June 2, 2011.  She was ninety-two years old.  Each Sisulu received a state funeral.

God Bless Africa.

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CONCLUSION

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Meister Eckhart (c. 1268-1327/1328), the great Dominican theologian and mystic, offered timeless spiritual counsel.  One gem of his sagacity was:

Do exactly what you would do if you felt most secure.

People frequently harm, hate, and discriminate against others out of fear and insecurity.  Those who hate, harm, and discriminate against may know that they are in the wrong yet have too much fear and insecurity to cease doing that.  They may ask themselves what those they have been hating, harming, and discriminating against will do to them, given the opportunity.  Therefore, the cycle of oppression and injustice continues unbroken.  Love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and justice break that cycle.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 12, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; AND HIS NEPHEW, WILLIAM SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT DAVID URIBE-VELASCO, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1927

THE FEAST OF GODFREY DIEKMANN, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, PRIEST, ECUMENIST, THEOLOGIAN, AND LITURGICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIUS I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZENO OF VERONA, BISHOP

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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 servants Walter and Albertina Sisulu]

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 Dianna Ortiz (September 2)   1 comment

Above:  Map of Central America

Image in the Public Domain

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DIANNA MAE ORTIZ (SEPTEMBER 2, 1958-FEBRUARY 19, 2021)

U.S. Roman Catholic Nun and Anti-Torture Activist

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In spite of the memories of humiliation, I stand with the people of Guatemala.  I demand the right to heal and to know the truth.  I demand the right to a resurrection.

–Sister Dianna Ortiz, Lafayette Park, Washington, D.C., Palm Sunday, March 31, 1996; quoted in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, eds., Cloud of Witnesses, 2nd. ed. (2005), 42

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From the brokenness and pain of her torture and its aftermath, beauty and joy emerged.  She modeled the gentle strength of non-violence and the deep compassion for others reflected in Catholic Social Teaching.

–Jane Deren on Sister Dianna Ortiz, 2021

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My policy here at SUNDRY THOUGHTS is almost always to cap content at a PG rating.  This post exceeds that rating.  Certain details are both essential and extremely disturbing.  At least as disturbing are the human capacities for cruelty and subsequent obfuscation.

Sister Dianna Ortiz comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Wallis and Hollyday, eds., Cloud of Witnesses, 2nd. ed. (2005).

Ortiz dedicated her life to serving God, present in the vulnerable, powerless, and voiceless.  She, born to Ambroshia “Amby” Ortiz and Pilar Ortiz, Sr., on September 2, 1958, was one of eight children.  Our saint, born in Colorado Springs, grew up in Grants, New Mexico.  Ortiz became a postulant (1977) then a full member (1978) of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph.  She taught at Immaculate Conception High School, Hawesville, Kentucky (1983-1985), then at Blessed Mother School (1985-1987).

Above:  The Flag of Guatemala

Image in the Public Domain

Then Ortiz went to Guatemala in 1987.  There she taught Mayan children in the highlands.  The Guatemalan government placed our saint under surveillance for allegedly meeting with subversives.  She received many threats and moved around, out of caution.  The Guatemalan government, with the backing of the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.), tortured alleged subversives.  The Cold War made for morally unsavory bedfellows and the betrayal of American high principles in the name of fighting communists, real or imagined.

On November 2, 1989, Guatemalan security forces abducted our saint, whom they had mistaken for Veronica Ortiz Hernandez, allegedly a subversive.  In the presence of an American, “Alejandro,” these Guatemalans burned Ortiz’s chest and back hundreds of times with cigarettes and repeatedly gang-raped her.  They broke the nun, impregnated her, and forced her to kill another female prisoner with a machete.  Then “Alejandro,” citing the fight against communism, tried to blackmail Ortiz into forgiving her attackers.  If she did not, he said, he or they would release the photographic evidence (which they had) of the nun killing the other prisoner.  These attackers also threw the nun into a pit full of bloody corpses, some of them decapitated.  “Alejandro,” who realized that the Guatemalan security forces had abducted the wrong Ortiz and swore when he first understood this, wore dark glasses and a wig.  He had an American accent and spoke, broken Spanish yet fluent American English.

Ortiz, detained for a day, visited a Guatemalan doctor before immediately returning to the United States of America.  She was so traumatized that she did not remember her life prior to November 2.  Guatemalan and U.S. officials minimized what had happened to our saint.  After a doctor in the United States counted 111 cigarette burns on Ortiz’s back alone, our saint’s story received more factual support.  In January 1990, the Guatemalan defense and interior ministers, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, played the homophobic card.  They tried to defame Ortiz by calling her a lesbian, as if that would make the torture less egregious.

Ortiz spent years rebuilding her life and recovering memories of her life pre-November 2, 1989.  She never recovered all of these memories.  Ortiz, realizing that she was pregnant, had an abortion.  Later, she wrote that she felt she had no choice and was not proud of that decision. Official U.S. denial of involvement in the rape and torture did not help Ortiz recover.  Repeated Freedom of Information Act requests led to various results, from refusal to pages full mostly blacked-out text.  The most honest response Ortiz received face-to-face came from First Lady Hillary Clinton, who admitted that a U.S. agent was probably involved.  Ortiz’s international legal case resulted in the verdict that the government used torture.  Yet nobody directly involved faced any legal consequences.

Ortiz became an activist against torture and for victims of torture, as well as against human trafficking and for victims thereof.  She was a grassroots organizer for the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission (1994-2000).  In 1998, she founded the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition.  She, with Patricia Davis, wrote The Blindfold’s Eyes:  My Journey from Torture to Truth (2002).  Our saint also testified before Congress and opposed the post-9/11 use of “enhanced interrogation.”  Ortiz worked for Pax Christi (2010-2012), first as the Interim Director then as the Deputy Director.  After serving at the Education for Justice project at the Center for Concern (2012-2018), our saint returned to Pax Christi as the Deputy Director in March 2020.

Telling her story was extremely difficult for Ortiz.  Yet she did so out of the conviction that she should be a voice for the voiceless.  After each lecture, Ortiz could not sleep for several nights.  Furthermore, she suffered flashbacks and had to spend a week in bed.

Ortiz contracted COVID-19 in 2020.  She never fully recovered from the virus.  What she initially thought to be lingering effects of COVID-19 turned out to be inoperable cancer.  Our saint, knowing that she had a few months left to live, put her affairs in order, said her goodbyes, and spoke of reuniting with her beloved father in Heaven.  Ortiz’s mother and siblings were with her in Washington, D.C., when she died on February 19, 2021.  Our saint was 62 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 5, 2021 COMMON ERA

MONDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF ANDRÉ, MAGDA, AND DANIEL TROCMÉ, RIGHTEOUS GENTILES

THE FEAST OF EMILY AYCKBOWM, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF MARIANO DE LA MATA APARICIO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY AND EDUCATOR IN BRAZIL

THE FEAST OF PAULINE SPERRY, U.S. MATHEMATICIAN, PHILANTHROPIST, AND ACTIVIST; AND HER BROTHER, WILLARD LEAROYD SPERRY, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, ETHICIST, THEOLOGIAN, AND DEAN OF HARVARD LAW SCHOOL

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM DERHAM, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND SCIENTIST

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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 Sister Dianna Ortiz]

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 Jane Holmes Dixon (July 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JANE HART HOLMES DIXON (JULY 24, 1937-DECEMBER 25, 2012)

Episcopal Suffragan Bishop of Washington and Bishop of Washington Pro Tempore

Second Female Bishop in The Episcopal Church

Third Female Bishop in the Anglican Communion

Witness for Civil and Human Rights

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The Kingdom of God is for all people.

–Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon

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Jane Holmes Dixon spent her ordained ministry and most of her life opposing the othering of human beings.

Jane Hart Holmes, born in Winona, Mississippi, on July 24, 1937, grew up in a racially-segregated society.  The hospital where her father, a physician, worked, had racially-segregated wings.  The Holmes family had an African-American domestic employee, Julia Toliver, who lived in a small house behind the Holmes family home.  This was the way of the world.  As long as our saint lived in Mississippi, she never questioned it.   White supremacy was consistent with the Presbyterian fundamentalism of the Holmes family.  Our saint began to awaken to the injustice of which she was apart while a student at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee (Class of 1959).

Holmes, a teacher, did not return to live in Mississippi.  She married attorney David McFarland “Dixie” Dixon (Sr.) in 1960 and moved to the District of Columbia.  The couple had three children:  David Jr., Edward, and Mary.  Our saint was a stay-at-home mother, a Sunday School teacher, and a member of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C., for years.  During this time, in the late 1960s, she met Diane Rehm (b. 1936), who became her best friend.  Rehm, eventually a radio talk show host, had Dixon on the show as a guest more than once.

Note:  The archives of Rehm’s radio show are easy to access.

Dixon, aged 40 years, embarked on her destiny in 1977.  The Episcopal Church had approved the ordination of women to the priesthood at the General Convention the previous year.  In the fall of 1977, our saint matriculated at Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Virginia.  Before she could become a deacon, she needed to get a job at a church.  This was a challenge in 1980 and 1981.  Those congregations in the Diocese of Washington that were open to hiring a woman in a pastoral role had already done so.  Dixon, ordained to the diaconate in June 1981 then the priesthood the following year, served as an associate at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Burke, Virginia (in the Diocese of Virginia), from 1981 to 1984.

Above:  St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Laurel, Maryland

Image Source = Google Earth

Then Dixon returned to the Diocese of Washington.  She was the Associate Rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C., from 1984 to 1986.  For the next six years, our saint served as the Rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Laurel, Maryland.  Dixon, elected the Suffragan Bishop of Washington in June 1992, became the second female bishop in The Episcopal Church the following November 19.  Throughout her episcopate, some conservative congregations in the diocese refused to acknowledge her legitimacy.  After Roland Haines, the Bishop of Washington, retired at the end of 2000, Dixon served as the Bishop of Washington Pro Tempore (January 2001-July 2002).  Then she retired.

Dixon proclaimed a generous, inclusive Gospel, the opposite of her childhood religion.  Sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and other forms of othering people had no place in our saint’s version of Christianity.  The Golden Rule was the guiding rule.  Social justice and orthodoxy were inseparable were inseparable.  This principle dated to the Old Testament, at least.

Dixon remained active in socially and theologically progressive organizations (such as the Interfaith Alliance) after she retired.  Toward the end of her life, our saint’s physical well-being was waning, but her commitment to a more just society and world never did.  On December 24, 2012, after cooking for her family at home in Washington, D.C., Dixon went to bed.  She was tired, she told her husband.  Our saint never woke up.  She was 75 years old.

Love is more powerful than hate, Dixon preached.  Her adult life proclaimed confronting structures of injustice, hatred, and oppression with the Golden Rule, the greatest subversive commandment.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 8, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GERALD FORD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND AGENT OF NATIONAL HEALING; AND BETTY FORD, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

THE FEAST OF ALBERT RHETT STUART, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF GEORGIA AND ADVOCATE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF ALICE PAUL, U.S. QUAKER WOMEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF GEORG NEUMARK, GERMAN LUTHERAN POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GIOVANNI BATTISTA BONONCINI AND ANTONIO MARIA BONONCINI, ITALIAN COMPOSERS

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Heavenly Father, Shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Jane Holmes Dixon,

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

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

we may by your grace grow into the stature of 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 Vicar Earle Copes (July 20)   Leave a comment

Above:  Highland Park United Methodist Church, Dallas, Texas

Image Source = Google Earth

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VICAR EARLE COPES (AUGUST 12, 1921-JULY 20, 2014)

U.S. Methodist Minister, Liturgist, Composer, and Organist

The Reverend Vicar Earle Copes comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Methodist Hymnal (1966).

Copes spent his life serving God.  He, born in Nofolk, Virginia, on August 12, 1921, was the only child of Archibald Vicar Copes (1883-1964) and Lena Agnes Early (Copes) (1887-1984) who survived to adulthood.  Our saint, a graduate of Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina (B.A., 1940), and Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York (M.S.M., 1944; B.D., 1945), became an ordained elder in The Methodist Church.  Copes, an associate pastor in McAllen, Texas (1945-1946), served as the Minister of Music at Highland Park Methodist Church (now United Methodist Church), Dallas, Texas (1946-1949).  Then he left parish ministry until 1973.

Copes worked on the academic and denominational levels from 1949 to 1973.  He was Professor of Organ and Church Music, Hendrix College, Conway, Arkansas (1949-1956), then at Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa (1956-1958).  Next, our saint was the Music Editor at the General Board of Education of The Methodist Church (1958-1967).  He, based in Nashville, Tennessee, had been working to improve the quality of music in the denomination since 1952.  This work continued for decades.  He edited Music Ministry magazine from 1958 to 1967.  Our saint also served on the subcommittee on hymn tunes for The Methodist Hymnal (1966).  One purpose of that hymnal was to improve the quality of hymnody in the denomination.  Sadly, The Methodist Hymnal (1966), a prescriptive hymn book, constituted a prescription much of The Methodist Church then The United Methodist Church rejected.  The United Methodist Hymnal (1989), being descriptive instead, became more popular than its predecessor.  Copes served as the head of the Department of Organ and Church Music, Birmingham Southern College, Birmingham, Alabama (1967-1973).

Above:  Christ Church United Methodist, Kettering, Ohio

Image Source = Google Earth

Copes retired after spending 1973-1986 as the Minister of Music at Christ Church United Methodist, Kettering, Ohio.

Copes was qualified to serve in the capacities he did.  He composed choir anthems and at least four hymn tunes.  He wrote the tunes FOR THE BREAD, EPWORTH CHURCH, KINGDOM, and VICAR.  Copes also harmonized at least eight hymn tunes.  Furthermore, he played the organ in 32 states.

Above:  First Congregational United Church of Christ, Sarasota, Florida

Image Source = Google Earth

Copes, retired, was a substitute organist in the Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida, area.  He attended the First Congregational United Church of Christ, Sarasota.

Copes, aged 92 years, died in Sarasota, Florida, on July 20, 2014.  Laura (Eakin), to whom he had been married for more than 70 years, survived him, as did their sons and the sons’ families.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 7, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS RALPH MILNER, ROGER DICKINSON, AND LAWRENCE HUMPHREY, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1591

THE FEAST OF FRANCIS FLORENTINE HAGEN, U.S. MORAVIAN MINISTER AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HEDDA OF WESSEX, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF LEO SOWERBY, EPISCOPAL COMPOSER AND “DEAN OF CHURCH MUSIC”

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HELMORE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND ARRANGER AND COMPOSER OF HYMN TUNES

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Vicar Earle Copes)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Feast of Frederick C. Grant and Robert M. Grant (June 10)   Leave a comment

Above:  Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York

Image Source = Google Earth

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FREDERICK CLIFTON GRANT (FEBRUARY 2, 1891-JULY 11, 1974)

Episcopal Priest and New Testament Scholar

Also known as F. C. Grant

father of

ROBERT MCQUEEN GRANT (NOVEMBER 25, 1917-JUNE 10, 2014)

Episcopal Priest and Patristic Scholar

The Grants come to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via my library.  That collection of books includes The Interpreter’s Bible (twelve volumes, 1951f), which lists Frederick C. Grant as one of the Consulting Editors, as well as the author of the Introduction to and the Exegesis of the Gospel of Mark in Volume VII (1951).  Robert M. Grant‘s contribution is the General Article, “The History of the Interpretation of the Bible:  I.  Ancient Period” (Volume I, 1951).  My library also contains The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (four volumes, 1962), to which both Grants contributed.  Furthermore, I own a copy of Robert M. Grant’s Early Christianity and Society:  Seven Studies (1977).

Frederick C. Grant was one of the most prominent scholars of the New Testament during his lifetime.  He, born in Beloit, Wisconsin, on February 2, 1891, graduated from the General Theological Seminary, New York, New York, in 1912.  Our saint, ordained a deacon (1912) then a priest (1913) in The Episcopal Church, earned his Master of Sacred Theology (1916) then his doctorate (1922) from Western Theological Seminary.  He was also the husband of Helen McQueen Hardie (Grant), who gave birth to Robert M. Grant in Evanston, Illinois, on November 25, 1917.  Frederick, a longtime Professor of Biblical Theology at Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York, helped to translate the Revised Standard Version (1946, 1952) of the Bible.  He also published books, mostly about the New Testament and the influences (Jewish, Hellenistic, and Roman) that shaped it.  Our saint argued that the authors of the Synoptic Gospels shared the same sources.  Frederick, aged 83 years, died on July 11, 1974.

Robert M. Grant was a chip off the old block.  He, a graduate of Northwestern University (B.A., 1938), continued his education at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts (1938-1939); Columbia University, New York, New York (1939-1940); and Union Theological Seminary (B.D., 1941).  Robert, ordained an Episcopal priest in 1942, studied further at Harvard Divinity School (ST.M., 1942; Th.D., 1944) while serving at St. James’s Church, South Groveland, Massachusetts.  He had married Margaret Huntington Horton on December 21, 1940.  Our saint served on the faculty at The School of Theology, The University of the South, Sewannee, Tennessee, from 1944 to 1953.  He was one of the eight faculty members who resigned in protest over the trustees’ refusal to admit African Americans.  Starting in 1953, Robert served on the faculty of the Divinity School, The University of Chicago, for decades.  His commitment to civil rights remained.  Our saint marched at Selma, Alabama, in 1965, for example.

Robert M. Grant was, in his adult lifetime, the greatest U.S. scholar of ancient Christianity.  He wrote more than 38 books and articles about topics ranging from Patristics to German u-boats from World War I.

Robert M. Grant, aged 96 years, died in Chicago, Illinois, on June 10, 2014.

Frederick C. Grant and Robert M. Grant, father and son, left written legacies from which Christians can still benefit.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC AND RELIGIOUS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BOSA OF YORK, JOHN OF BEVERLEY, WILFRID THE YOUNGER, AND ACCA OF HEXHAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF JAMES EDWARD WALSH, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY BISHOP AND POLITICAL PRISONER IN CHINA

THE FEAST OF SIMON B. PARKER, UNITED METHODIST BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY REES, WELSH ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND BISHOP OF LLANDAFF

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Frederick C. Grant, Robert M. Grant, 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 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 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 Alfred C. Marble, Jr. (April 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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ALFRED CLARK “CHIP” MARBLE, JR. (APRIL 4, 1936-MARCH 30, 2017)

Episcopal Bishop of Mississippi then Assisting Bishop of North Carolina

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If ever there was a saint who understood that the work of reconciliation is the work of evangelism, it was Chip Marble.

–Bishop Anne Hodges-Copple, Diocese of North Carolina

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The Episcopal Church has a rule of waiting for about half a century before adding someone to its calendar of saints.  The denomination also makes exceptions to that rule, but it does let a considerable amount of time pass, even in those cases (Jonathan Myrick Daniels and Martin Luther King, Jr., mainly).  I understand why such rules exist for denominational calendars of saints.  This, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, is a hobby, however.  I am ready, willing, and able to engage in nearly instantaneous canonization.

Alfred Clark “Chip” Marble, Jr., for whom civil rights and economic justice were essential elements of faith, became an Episcopal priest.  He, born in Oreonta, New York, on April 4, 1936, studied at the University of Mississippi, The School of Theology of the The University of the South, and the University of Edinburgh.  Our saint, ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons in 1967 then to the priesthood the following year, served in five congregations in the Diocese of Mississippi, as well as at the student chaplaincy at the University of Mississippi.  Marble also spent eight years as the Assistant to the Bishop of East Carolina, B. Sidney Sanders (in office 1983-1996).

Marble joined the ranks of bishops in 1991.  He served under Bishop Duncan Montgomery Gray, Jr. (1926-2016), as the Bishop Coadjutor of Mississippi from 1991 to 1993.  Then Marble succeeded Gray as the Bishop of Mississippi, serving for about a decade (1993-2003).  Our saint, after retiring, served as the Assisting Bishop of North Carolina from 2005 to 2013.  He served under Michael Curry, then the Bishop of North Carolina, and currently the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

Throughout his ministry Marble worked for justice for the poor as well as for racial reconciliation.  As the struggle for civil rights expanded to include legal equality (per the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America) for homosexuals, Marble opposed discrimination against them, too.  He also advocated for immigrants, a frequently despised and scapegoated population.

Marble conducted much of his work for reconciliation in Greensboro, North Carolina.  He worked with the Beloved Community Center and the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.).  Our saint also helped to found and lead the Greensboro Faith Leaders Council, an interfaith and interracial organization.  Furthermore, Marble helped to establish the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2004-2006), which sought the truth about and reconciliation regarding the “Greensboro Massacre” of November 3, 1979.  On that date members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi (or, as Donald Trump would say, as he did of violent white supremacists in 2017,

some very fine people),

killed some protesters and wounded others.  All-white juries acquitted the killers.

(Really, if one chooses not to resist describing white supremacists, especially criminally violent ones who use chants such as, “The Jews will not replace us,”, in such glowing terms, is one not far gone, morally?)

Marble, aged 80 years, died in Greensboro on March 30, 2017.  His wife (Diene), their two children, and other relatives survived him.  Our saint, surrounded by family, died at home.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 3, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANSKAR AND RIMBERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOPS OF HAMBURG-BREMEN

THE FEAST OF ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTER, ENGLISH POET AND FEMINIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALFRED DELP, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF JEMIMA THOMPSON LUKE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER; AND JAMES EDMESTON, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL DAVIES, AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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God of compassion, you have reconciled us in Jesus Christ, who is our peace:

Enable us to live as Jesus lived, breaking down walls of hostility and healing enmity.

Give us grace to make peace with those from whom we are divided,

that, forgiven and forgiving, we may be one in Christ;

who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns for ever, one holy and undivided Trinity.  Amen.

Genesis 8:12-17, 20-22

Psalm 51:1-17

Hebrews 4:12-16

Luke 23:32-43

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 737

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Feast of Fred B. Craddock (March 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  Cherry Log Christian Church, Cherry Log, Georgia

Image Source = Google Earth

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FRED BRENNING CRADDOCK, JR. (APRIL 30, 1928-MARCH 6, 2015)

U.S. Disciples of Christ Minister, Biblical Scholar, and Renowned Preacher

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The question is not whether the church is dying, but whether it is giving its life for the world.

–Fred B. Craddock

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Fred B. Craddock was one of the most influential preachers in the United States of America.  He, the author of volumes of sermons as well as books about preaching (including Preaching, 1985), was a popular preacher at conferences of his denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and a much sought-after lecturer at theological seminaries of various denominations.  In 1996 Baylor University named Craddock one of the twelve most influential preachers in the country.  In 2010 Preaching magazine, founded in 1985, ranked the twenty-five most influential preachers in the United States from 1985 to 2010.  Craddock occupied the sixteenth ranking.

Fred Brenning Craddock, Jr., was a native of Appalachia.  He, born in Humbolt, Tennessee, on April 30, 1928, was one of the offspring of Fred Brenning Craddock, Sr., and Ethel Craddock. After graduating from Johnson Bible College, Kimberlin Heights, Tennessee, in 1950, our saint maried Nettie Dungan in the middle of that year.  The couple, whom our saint’s death did part, had two children, John and Laura.  Craddock, who graduated from Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1953, became a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  He served in congregations in Tennessee and Oklahoma, earned his doctorate from Vanderbilt University (1964), studied at Tübingen and Yale, and, starting in 1964, taught at Phillips Theological Seminary.  Then, from 1979 to 1992, he was a professor of homiletics at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Decatur, Georgia.  The Craddocks, in retirement, returned to Appalachia.  In 1996, in Cherry Log (down the road from Blue Ridge, Georgia), our saint began to preach at what became Cherry Log Christian Church the following year.  He served as that congregation’s founding pastor from 1997 to 2003.

Craddock wrote commentaries on the Bible. He wrote the volumes on Luke (1990) and Philippians (2011) for the Interpretation series of books.  He also wrote the volume on 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and Jude (1995) for the Westminster Bible Companion series.  Our saint, who contributed to expository commentaries on the Common Lectionary and the Revised Common Lectionary, also cowrote The New Interpreter’s Bible New Testament Survey (2006) and wrote the introduction to and the commentary and reflections on Hebrews for Volume XII (1998) of The New Interpreter’s Bible.

Fred and Nettie Craddock, seeking to contribute to their corner of the world in yet another way, founded the Craddock Center, Cherry Log, in 2001.  Children, our saint and his wife insisted, needed books and music as well as food and shelter.  The Craddock Center has offered educational and cultural programs for children and families in nine counties in Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina for 19 years.

Our saint, who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease during his final years, died in Blue Ridge, Georgia, on March 6, 2015.  He was 86 years old.

In one of the songs from Cotton Patch Gospel (1982) Harry Chapin wrote:

Now if a man tried

to take his time on Earth

and prove before he died

what one man’s life could be worth,

well, I wonder what would happen to this world?

Fred B. Craddock lived that question.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 18, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE CONFESSION OF SAINT PETER THE APOSTLE

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God of grace and might, we praise you for your saint Fred B. Craddock,

to whom you gave gifts to make the good news known.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds and evangelists of your kingdom,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of our Savior, Jesus Christ our 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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