Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1800s’ Category

Feast of the Martyrs of Melanesia, 1864-2003 (September 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of New Zealand and Melanesia, 1958

Image Scanned and Cropped from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1958)

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INTRODUCTION

The Feast of the Martyrs of Melanesia comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.  This feast overlaps with two other commemorations from various provinces of the Anglican Communion–that of John Coleridge Patteson and His Companions (September 20) and that of the Martyrs of the Melanesian Brotherhood (April 24).

1864-1871

The first Anglican martyrs in Melanesia were Frederick Lorenzo Fisher Young (usually known as Fisher Young) and Edwin Nobbs, who died in 1864.  Young and Nobbs were descendants of H.M.S. Bounty mutineers; Young was a great-great-grandson of Fletcher Christian (1792-1842).  Young, born on January 27, 1846, was a native of Pitcairn Island.  Nobbs was a son of an Anglican priest stationed on Norfolk Island, the headquarters of the Melanesian Mission.  In 1864 Young, Nobbs, and Bishop John Coleridge Patteson were on Santa Cruz Island when natives shot them with arrows.  Young and Nobbs contracted tetanus and lockjaw.  Young died on August 24, after having forgiven his assailants.

I have already written about the martyrdoms of Joseph Atkin, Stephen Taroniara, and Bishop Patteson in 1871.

1904-1926

Others came to wear the crown of martyrdom, also.

  1. Arthur Ako died in his garden in 1904.  In 1898 he and fifteen converts from Fiji founded a Christian village at Kwara’ae, Fiu.  Within two years, with the addition of non-Fijian Christians, the village’s population had increased to about 100.  Hostile neighbors harassed the villagers.  The village remained after Ako’s murder and became the center of the spread of the faith in the area.
  2. James Ivo, a teacher from Nggela, died (by shooting) at Ngorefou in 1906.
  3. James Sili, falsely accused of sorcery, was standing on the veranda of the mission-house when someone fatally shot him in 1910.
  4. Charles Christopher Godden, born in Violet Town, Victoria, Australia, in 1876, was a poet, as well as the first Australian missionary to die in Melanesia.  He, ordained to the Anglican diaconate in 1899 and the priesthood the following year, was briefly the Curate of St. Michael’s Church, Surry Hills.  He volunteered for missionary work.  On September 3, 1900, Godden left for Norfolk Island, headquarters of the Melanesian Mission.  He arrived in Omba, New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) in April 1901.  There Godden supervised the construction of a church building and some schools.  On December 12, 1905, while on leave in Sydney, Australia, he married Eva Dearin (d. 1964).  They returned to Omba the following April.  On October 16, 1906, an angry, vengeful Melanesian man, released from an Australian prison after serving his sentence for attempted murder, killed Godden, who had never done anything to him, but was of European ancestry.  Our saint’s murderer was angry at people of European ancestry, due to his incarceration.  Eva gave birth to a daughter, Ruth, in July 1907.
  5. Ben Teilo, from Matema, was the first native Reef Islander ordained to the Anglican priesthood, in 1919.  He met his martyrdom via an axe attack in 1926.

2003

1998-2003 was a time of crisis in the Solomon Islands.  Two rival militias, the Isatubu Freedom Movement and the Malaitan Eagle Force, fought over competition between ethnic groups for land and jobs.  Government instability ensued, the economy suffered, and natural disasters made bad manners worse.  Military forces from Australia and New Zealand helped to stabilize the situation and end the crisis by the end of 2003, three years after the signing of the peace treaty.

Nathaniel Sado was a novice in the Melanesian Brotherhood.  He, in charge of the piggery, liked the pigs very much and fed them sweet potatoes he had picked from his garden then cooked.  Sado and animals got along well; he was one of the few novices the donkey liked.  Our saint, a native of the volcanic island of Savo, enjoyed taking expatriates to the hot springs there.  Sado, who was naïve, had befriended Harold Keke, notorious leader of the Isatubu Freedom Movement, and a man responsible for the murder of two priests, one of them a Member of Parliament in 2002.  Sado thought he really knew Keke; he was terribly mistaken.  Sado, accused of being a government spy, sang hymns as guerrillas beat him death at Easter (April 20) 2003.

Six Melanesian Brothers went to ask for Sado’s corpse.  They paid with their lives on or about April 23, 2003.

  1. Robin Lindsay was the Assistant Head Brother.  He, a longterm member of the Melanesian Brotherhood, was, according to the Father Richard Carter, a chaplain to the Brotherhood, “the encourager,” and a man who had a gift for helping people build on their strengths.
  2. Francis Tofi worked for peace in the strife-torn Solomon Islands.  He organized an effort, in conjugation with police, to sink all the ammunition, explosives, and high-powered weapons they could find into the sea, beyond reach.  Tofi, an expert in peaceful conflict resolution and an advocate for disarmament, fearlessly spoke out against Keke.  Tofi had received an offer from the World Council of Churches to accept a place at the Bossey Institute in Geneva and to assist with a course on conflict resolution.  He, according to his own words, had no fear of dying for the sake of peace and in the service of God.
  3. Alfred Hilly, stationed for two years at a the Chester Resthouse in Honiara, was the epitome of hospitality, teaching an abandoned child to read, tending to visiting children, and reading blood slides at the local malaria clinic.
  4. Ini Partabatu was an actor and a courageous opponent of injustice.  He acted in dramas about development and health issues.  Partabatu also condemned brutal police tactics that disrespected the rights of the accused.
  5. Patteson Gatu, admitted to the Melanesian Brotherhood in October 2002, was usually quick to smile.  His sense of humor, combined with his faith, made him an agent of grace.
  6. Tony Sirihi, having lost his father at an early age, found a family in the Melanesian Brotherhood.  He grew into a bold Brother, a courageous man, and a good friend who participated in the process of disarmament.

In March 2005 Harold Keke and two former guerrillas received life sentences for the murder of Father Augustine Geve, M.P., in 2002.

CONCLUSION

These are sobering stories that remind one of the command of Jesus to take up one’s cross and follow him.  Some follow Christ all the way to their own Golgotha.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PETER OF CHELCIC, BOHEMIAN HUSSITE REFORMER; AND GREGORY THE PATRIARCH, FOUNDER OF THE MORAVIAN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GODFREY THRING, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JANE CREWDSON, ENGLISH QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NARAYAN SESHADRI OF JALNI, INDIAN PRESBYTERIAN EVANGELIST AND “APOSTLE TO THE MANGS”

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Creator God, whose majesty is in the storms as well as in the calm,

we thank you for those of every race who gave their lives in Melanesia for the sake of Christ;

may we your church always proclaim your gospel, live your commandments,

and overcome the powers of darkness; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.  Amen.

or

God, you call us, your missionaries, to carry our lives in our hands;

we praise you for many servants in Melanesia whose lives

were taken by those for whom they would gladly have given them.  Amen.

Isaiah 26:1-4

Psalm 97 or 149

Colossians 1:9-14

John 12:20-26

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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Feast of Sarah Louise Delany, Annie Elizabeth Delany, and Hubert Thomas Delany (September 25)   Leave a comment

Above:  Sadie, Bessie, and Hubert Delany

Fair Use Images

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SARAH LOUISE “SADIE” DELANY (SEPTEMBER 19, 1889-JANUARY 25, 1999)

African-American Educator

sister of

ANNIE ELIZABETH “BESSIE” DELANY (SEPTEMBER 3, 1891-SEPTEMBER 25, 1995)

African-American Dentist

and their brother

HUBERT THOMAS DELANY (MAY 11, 1901-DECEMBER 28, 1990)

African-American Attorney, Judge, and Civil Rights Activist

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INTRODUCTION

The Episcopal Church has, in recent years, made the transition from having one calendar of saints (Lesser Feasts and Fasts, most recently revised in 2018; previously revised in 2006) to two calendars of saints, with the optional Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010) and its successor, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).  Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, although expanded from Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006, still commemorates fewer saints than the optional books.  It also remains the official calendar of saints for the denomination.

The Episcopal Church usually permits a minimum of four decades to pass before it adds someone to either of its calendars of saints, for the Anglican position is that history makes saints.  The passage of time allows for perspective, which is what separates history from journalism.  The denomination does make a few exceptions to the “reasonable passage of time” guideline, however, as in the case of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., one of Hubert Thomas Delany‘s clients, added at the General Convention of 1988, two decades after the great civil rights leader’s assassination.  The Appendix to A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016) contains a list of people deemed worthy of remaining in the institutional church’s memory yet who have not met the “reasonable passage of time” rule yet.  That list includes the Delany sisters, noted for their lives devoted to public service.  I add their brother Hubert also, for the same rationale.  The three siblings belong on this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

The Delanys were a remarkable family.  Bishop Henry Beard Delany, Sr. (1858-1928)added to Holy Women, Holy Men at the General Convention of 2009, was a great man.  His wife, Nannette Logan James (1861-1956), was a great woman.  He, born a slave in St. Marys, Georgia, became an Episcopal priest and, in the last decade of his life, a bishop who ministered to African Americans in several southeastern states.  Both partners in the marriage were educators attached to St. Augustine’s College, Raleigh, North Carolina.  Nannette was the chief matron.  Henry was an administrator, a faculty member, the college chaplain, a college architect, and a musician, also.  The Delanys challenged Jim Crow in their society and institutional racism in The Episcopal Church.  Henry, in particular, was a threat to certain powerful, racist elements in the denomination.  The Delanys raised their ten children well.  Growing up in Raleigh at the time exposed the younger Delanys to Jim Crow laws and to news of lynchings.  Most of the Delany children grew up to make great contributions to society.  Their number included educators, musicians, a mortician, a jurist, and doctors of various specialties.

SADIE AND BESSIE (I)

Sarah Louise “Sadie” Delany (1889-1999) and Annie Elizabeth “Bessie” Delany (1891-1995) were a pair.  Both of them studied at St. Augustine’s College to become teachers.  Sadie left for New York City first.  She arrived in 1916, and eventually graduated from the Teachers College of Columbia University.  Sadie became the first African-American woman allowed to teach high school home economics in New York City.  Bessie arrived in the “Big Apple” in 1918.  She, denied admission to the dental program at New York University because of her gender, matriculated at Columbia University instead.  Bessie, graduating in 1923, became the second African-American woman licensed to practice dentistry in the city.  She was, to many of her clients, “Dr. Bessie, Harlem’s colored woman dentist.”  For many years Bessie and brother Henry Beard Delany, Jr. (1895-1991) had a private practice.  They charged affordable fees and never turned anyone away.  The sisters never married, for, at the time, married women seldom had their own careers.  Meanwhile, they were part of the Harlem Renaissance scene.  Notable friends and associates included W. E. B. DuBois, Paul Robeson (one of Hubert’s clients), and Langston Hughes.  Sadie and Bessie shared an apartment in Manhattan until 1928, when their father, the bishop, died.  Then they and their mother moved into a house in the Bronx.  After Nannette died in 1956, Sadie and Bessie purchased a two-family house in Mount Vernon, New York.  Both sisters died in their sleep in that house many years later.

HUBERT

Hubert Thomas Delany (1901-1990) went into law.  He graduated from the City College of New York (Class of 1923) and the New York University School of Law (Class of 1926).  College jobs included working on a farm, working as a Pullman car porter, and teaching elementary school in Harlem.  Throughout his career Hubert championed the causes of unjustly marginalized members of society.  From 1926 to 1933 he was Assistant U.S. District Attorney for the Southern District of New York.  In 1926 Hubert married Clarissa Mae Scott (1901-1927), a poet who was part of the Harlem Renaissance.  She was also an educator, an essayist, and a social worker associated with the National Urban League.  She died of kidney disease in 1927, sadly.  The widower ran (as a Republican) for the vacant U.S. House seat representing Harlem in 1929; he won about 40% of the votes cast.  Hubert did, however, come to the attention of Fiorello La Guardia (1882-1947), Mayor of New York City from 1933 to 1945.  Mayor La Guardia appointed our saint to the Tax Commission.  In 1939 Hubert, as attorney of Marian Anderson, helped to arrange for her famous concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

In 1942 Hubert married Willietta S. Mickey (1907-2000), who had been his secretary when he had served on the Tax Commission.  Mayor La Guardia presided at the ceremony.  Willetta was also a mover and a shaker for good; she founded Adopt-A-Child, to help place minority children in adoptive families.  First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt supported this initiative publicly.

Hubert was a judge of the Family Court of New York City from 1942 to 1955.  He became a respected expert on juvenile issues, such as delinquency.  He, known as a fair judge, nevertheless incurred the wrath of reactionaries, who accused him of being too liberal, especially in the context of McCarthyism.  Hubert, outspoken in his support of civil rights, opposed loyalty oaths to the U.S. Government and defended the right of Socialists and Communists to be Socialists and Communists.  When our saint ceased to be a family court judge, politics was the reason.

Hubert was, by some standards, a radical, as he should have been.  He, for many year a member of the boards of the NAACP and its Legal Defense and Educational Fund, argued that the organization’s civil rights strategy was too conservative.  He also appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1956 and 1958 to represent people accused of being members of the Communist Party.  In 1963 Governor Nelson Rockefeller appointed our saint the chairman of the temporary State Commission on Low-Income Housing, informally the Delany Commission.  The commission proposed that the state subsidize low-income housing in middle-class neighborhoods.  The commission’s work led to the expansion of affordable housing in the State of New York.  Later in life Hubert also worked on issues related to the education of and health care for minorities.

Hubert, aged 89 years, died in New York on December 28, 1990.

SADIE AND BESSIE (II)

Sadie and Bessie outlived their siblings.  They joked that they lived as long as they did because they had no husbands to worry them to death.  Seriously, though, the sisters maintained healthy lifestyles, minimized stress, and retained their faculties.  Their book, Having Our Say:  The Delany Sisters’ First 100 years (1993), spent 28 weeks on The New York Times Bestseller List.  The following year they published their second book, The Delany Sisters’ Book of Everyday Wisdom.  Bessie, aged 104 years, died on September 25, 1995.  She, having broken her hip the previous year, never recovered.  Sadie lived to the age of 109 years.  She died in her sleep on January 25, 1999.  During her final few years Sadie missed her sister, hence the book On My Own at 107:  Reflections on Life Without Bessie.

CONCLUSION

Sadie, Bessie, and Hubert Delany witnessed the world change profoundly.  They also acted to change that world for the bettter.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 11, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAPHNUTIUS THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF UPPER THEBAID

THE FEAST OF ANNE HOULDITCH SHEPHERD, ANGLICAN NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN STAINER AND WALTER GALPIN ALCOCK, ANGLICAN CHURCH ORGANISTS AND COMPOSERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATIENS OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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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

Sarah Louise “Sadie” Delany, Annie Elizabeth “Bessie” Delany, and Hubert Thomas Delany,

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 Anna Ellison Butler Alexander (September 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  Deaconess Anna Ellison Butler Alexander

Image in the Public Domain

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ANNA ELLISON BUTLER ALEXANDER (1865?-SEPTEMBER 24, 1947)

African-American Episcopal Deaconess in Georgia, and Educator

Deaconess Anna Ellison Butler Alexander comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church.

The history of this feast exemplifies how many commemorations rise to the denominational level in The Episcopal Church.

The feast rose from the diocesan level.  In 1998 Henry Irving Louttit, Jr., the Bishop of Georgia, declared Deaconess Anna Alexander a saint of Georgia, with the feast day of September 24.  The feast rose to the national level at the General Convention of 2015, which added the commemoration to A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016), the expanded version of the official calendar of saints contained in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 (2007).  The General Convention of 2018 approved the greatly expanded official calendar of saints, Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 (as of the writing of this post, available as a PDF, pending the final, published version next year), with the deaconess included.

As with many other Southern African-Americans of the time, the date–the year, even–of Anna’s birth remained uncertain, due to the lack of written records.  Records of the Diocese of Georgia listed her year of birth as 1878.  In 1947 her death certificate listed 1881 as her year of birth.  Anna’s birth actually occurred shortly after the end of the Civil War.  Most recent sources have given 1865 as her year of birth.

Above:  Coastal Georgia, 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

Our saint was the youngest of eleven children of former slaves James and Daphne Alexander (married in 1841), of the Pierce Butler Plantation on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia.  Daphne was a child of plantation rape; her biological father was Roswell King, Jr.  James, or “Aleck,” was a skilled carpenter and builder, as well as Butler’s personal assistant.  The Alexanders instilled the value of education into their children, and modeled it.  James, for example, taught himself to read and write.  The couple, when slaves, violated the law against educating slaves; they taught their children.

Above:  Glynn and McIntosh Counties, Georgia, 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

Anna, raised in The Episcopal Church, found the public education available to her in Glynn County, Georgia, substandard.  (The inadequate education of African Americans in the Postbellum South was often a matter of policy.)  It was fortunate, then, that the Alexanders provided informal education for their children.  Our saint, seeking to help others less fortunate than herself, became a teacher at the parochial school (attached to St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, Darien, Georgia) her sister, Mary Alexander Mann, had founded.  (Mary’s husband, Ferdinand M. Mann, was the Vicar of St. Cyprian’s Church from 1892 to 1914.)  Many also taught at the parochial school, as did another sister, Dora.  The school was, for a time, a vital to the education of African Americans in Darien.

Anna’s base of operations for most of her life was the poor, rural community of Pennick, in Glynn County.  In 1894 she prompted the founding of a mission, Church of the Good Shepherd.  She spent 1894-1897 studying at St. Paul’s Normal School (later College), Lawrenceville, Virginia.  Episcopal priest James Solomon Russell (1857-1935) had founded the school in 1888.  (St. Paul’s College closed in 2013).  Our saint, back in Pennick, rebuilt the congregation and, in 1901, founded the parochial school, which grew from one room to two rooms, with an apartment for the deaconess.

The Diocese of Georgia, founded in 1823, divided in 1907; the Diocese of Atlanta formed to the northwest of the rump Diocese of Georgia.  Bishop Cleland Kinloch Nelson, based in Atlanta when he was the Bishop of Georgia (1892-1907), remained in the capital city and became the first Bishop of Atlanta (1907-1917).  Nelson was a relatively liberal white Georgian of the time.  He disapproved of Jim Crow, but knew he could not change the system alone, so he at least tried to keep his diocese integrated.  Nelson also encouraged African-American missions.  The bishop was not all-powerful, however; he could not override the collective will of the majority of lay people.  So, in 1907, after the as the Diocese of Atlanta was forming, the Diocese of Georgia was segregating.  Nevertheless, one of Nelson’s final acts as the Bishop of Georgia was to consecrate Anna Alexander as a deaconess–the only African-American deaconess in the denomination.  He did this on Friday, May 13, 1907, at the second annual meeting of the Council of Colored Churchmen.

The rump Diocese of Georgia was officially segregated for four decades.  During most of that time policy was to discourage African-American missions.  In 1907-1946 there were no African-American delegates to the annual diocesan conventions.  The Council of Colored Churchmen, formed in 1906, barely had any representation on diocesan committees.  Bishop Frederick Focke Reese (in office 1908-1936), a racist who delivered paternalistic addresses to African-American clergymen, neglected African-American congregations and schools financially.  Therefore, much financial assistance had to come from other sources, official (such as the denomination) and individual.  Anna was an effective fund raiser in this context.  The deaconess provided an education to many African-American youth and shepherded them into further education–some at colleges and others at technical schools.  She also worked as a cook at Camp Reese, the diocesan, whites-only summer camp on St. Simon’s Island, for a number of years.  The racially segregated Diocese of Georgia named a cabin after her in 1938.  The deaconess, while working as a cook for white campers at Camp Reese, brought groups of African-American youth to St. Simon’s Island and provided a sort of summer camp for them.

Bishop Middleton Stuart Barnwell (in office 1936-1954), unlike Bishop Reese, took an interest in African-American missions.  He spent diocesan funds to replace or repair buildings.  And, in 1947, he welcomed African Americans to the first racially integrated diocesan convention in four decades.

During the Great Depression Good Shepherd, Pennick, was a distribution center for federal and private aid in Glynn County.  Anna, who ministered to her neighbors without regard to race, was in charge of distribution.  She wrote:

I am to see everyone gets what they need….some folk don’t need help now and I know who they are.  The old people and the children, they need the most….When I tell some people they can’t get help just now…that others come first, they get mad, a little, but I don’t pay no mind and soon they forget to be mad.

The deaconess earned respect in her community and vicinity; many white men removed their hats in deference when she walked past them.

Anna died on September 24, 1947.  She was either in her late seventies or early eighties.  She remained mostly forgotten for many years.  The Episcopal Church in Georgia, 1733-1957 (1960), by Henry Thompson Malone, never mentioned the deaconess’s name.  Even the otherwise excellent Black Episcopalians in Georgia:  Strife, Struggle and Salvation (1980), by Charles Lwanga Hoskins, frequently misidentified her as Dora.  (Father Hoskins was a wonderful man, a charming priest, and a fine homilist.  When I was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, Statesboro, Georgia, he was a supply priest, filling in when the Rector was away.  Memories of some of his sermons have never ceased to edify me spiritually.  Hoskins did, however, often mistake Anna for her sister, Dora, in his book, still an invaluable source for this post.)  In recent years, however, Anna’s legacy has become more prominent, fortunately.  It has become sufficiently prominent that, in January 2018, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, an African American, visited Good Shepherd, Pennick.

May that legacy become more prominent.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 4, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL JONES, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF UTAH, AND PEACE ACTIVIST; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, JOHN NEVIN SAYRE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND PEACE ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF E. F. SCHUMACHER, GERMAN-BRITISH ECONOMIST AND SOCIAL CRITIC

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH AND MARY GOMER, U.S. UNITED BRETHREN MISSIONARIES IN SIERRA LEONE

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM MCKANE, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

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O God, you called Anna Alexander as a deaconess in your Church

and sent her as teacher and evangelist to the people of Georgia:

Grant us the humility to go wherever you send

and the wisdom to teach the word of Christ to whomever we meet,

that all may come to the enlightenment which you intend for your people;

through Jesus Christ, our Teacher and Savior.  Amen.

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

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O God, who called Anna Alexander as a deaconess in your Church:

Grant us the humility to go wherever you send

and the wisdom to teach the word of Christ to whomever we meet,

that all may come to the enlightenment you intend for your people;

through Jesus Christ, our Teacher and Savior.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25

Psalm 78

Matthew 11:25-30

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018

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Feast of St. Peter the Aleut (September 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Alaskan Saints

Image Source = St. Gregory the Great Orthodox Church, Silver Spring, Maryland

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SAINT PETER THE ALEUT (1800-1815)

Russian Orthodox Martyr in San Francisco, 1815

St. Peter the Aleut comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Orthodox Church in America.  Some sources argue that St. Peter never existed.  Others merely raise doubts regarding the matter.  The documentation of the martyrdom of St. Peter comes from the writings of St. Herman of Alaska (1756-1837), a man in a position to know if there were such a person.

In 1794 St. Herman and other Russian Orthodox missionaries arrived at Kodiak Island, Alaska.  They were effective evangelists in the region.  One of their converts was Tchounanak, a fur-trader, and a native of that island.

Tchounagnak, baptized as Peter, participated in a hunting party to the Russian colony in California in 1815.  (The Russian presence, centered in Fort Ross, about 50 miles north of San Francisco, was extant from 1812 to 1842.  The purposes of the colony were to facilitate trade, and to raise cattle and crops for the Russian presence in Alaska.  Spanish, then Mexican, authorities considered the Russian colony in California a threat.)   In 1815 Spanish sailors captured the 14 members of the hunting party off the coast of California and transported them to San Francisco.  St. Peter, enduring torture by Jesuits, refused to convert to Roman Catholicism.  Suffering partial dismemberment (removal of some extremities and the loss of his hands) caused him to bleed to death, however.  Other members of the Aleut hunting party, released, returned to Alaska, where they told the story of the martyrdom of St. Peter the Aleut, and St. Herman wrote it down.

In 1980 the Orthodox Church in America canonized St. Peter the Aleut, the third Orthodox martyr in the Americas.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 3, 2018 COMMON ERA

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF JEDEDIAH WEISS, U.S. MORAVIAN CRAFTSMAN, MERCHANT, AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR CARL LICHTENBERGER, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF JAMES BOLAN LAWRENCE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY IN SOUTHWESTERN GEORGIA, U.S.A.

THE FEAST OF SUNDAR SINGH, INDIAN CHRISTIAN EVANGELIST

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Saint Peter the Aleut

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember him in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with him the crown of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 714

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Feast of Blessed Francisco de Paula Victor (September 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Francisco de Paula Victor

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED FRANCISCO DE PAULA VICTOR (APRIL 12, 1827-SEPTEMBER 23, 1905)

Brazilian Roman Catholic Priest

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Do not be mastered by evil, but master evil with good.

–Romans 12:21, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Blessed Francisco de Paula Victor, born a slave in Campanha, Minas Gerais, Brazil, on April 12, 1827, obeyed that verse and those few immediately preceding it.  He, trained as a tailor, discerned a priestly vocation at a young age.  Blessed Francisco’s racial background (African) and social status (slave) meant that he needed special permission to matriculate at a seminary.  He received that permission, and therefore began his studies for the priesthood in 1849.  The seminary was replete with racism, however; many seminarians ostracized our saint because of his background and skin color.  Blessed Francisco, ordained priest on June 14, 1851, endured open hostility at his first parish, in which he served for about a year.  He spent decades in the second parish, however.

In Três Pontas, Minas Gerais, Blessed Francisco overcame hatred (a form of evil) with goodness, humility, love, and patience.  He won over many initially hostile parishioners and became beloved.  Our saint helped to found the College of the Holy Family, open to all children, regardless of social or racial background.  Blessed Francisco also built the Church of Our Lady of Hope, now a basilica, in Aparecida, in 1888.  Once, when there was the possibility of the bishop transferring our saint away from Três Pontas, protests ensued.  Blessed Francisco remained until he died on September 23, 1905, following a stroke.  He was 78 years old.

The Church has recognized our saint formally.  Pope Benedict XVI declared him a Venerable in 2012.  Pope Francis made our saint the first beatified Black Brazilian in 2015.

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God of mercy and justice, we thank you for the holy example of your servant, Blessed Francisco de Paula Victor,

who, with goodness, love, humility, and patience fulfilled his vocation

and ministered effectively to people from various racial and socio-economic backgrounds.

May we, following his example, respect the image of God in people, in their great variety,

both near and far away, and master evil with good.

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

Genesis 41:37-43

Psalm 11

Romans 12:14-21

Luke 6:27-38

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 27, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS GALLAUDET AND HENRY WINTER SYLE, EPISCOPAL PRIESTS AND EDUCATORS OF THE DEAF

THE FEAST OF SAINT AMADEUS OF CLERMONT, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND HIS SON, SAINT AMADEUS OF LAUSANNE, FRENCH-SWISS ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC BARBERI, ROMAN CATHOLIC APOSTLE TO ENGLAND

THE FEAST OF HENRIETTE LUISE VAN HAYN, GERMAN MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

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Feast of Elizabeth Kenny (September 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  Elizabeth Kenny

Image in the Public Domain

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ELIZABETH KENNY (SEPTEMBER 20, 1880-NOVEMBER 30, 1952)

Australian Nurse and Medical Pioneer

Elizabeth Kenny, known globally as Sister Kenny, was a nurse who improved the lives of countless numbers of people.  She did this by (1) being correct, and (2) persevering in the face of strong official opposition.

Kenny, born in Warialda, New South Wales, on September 20, 1880, was a daughter of Irish-born farmer Michael Kenny and Mary Moore, a native of Australia.  Our saint, with little formal education beyond primary school, became a home-care nurse in 1910.  She rode on horseback in the area of Nobby, Darling Downs, Queensland, providing free health care.  She opened a hospital in Clifton prior to World War I.  Her career of helping people had just begun.

Kenny, a Methodist, needed to help people medically.  From 1915 to 1919 she served in the Australian Army Nursing Service, working aboard vessels bringing wounded military personnel home.  Her rank was Sister.  Back home in Nobby, Kenny became the first President of the Nobby chapter of the Country Women’s Association.  In 1927 she patented the “Sylvia” ambulance stretcher, designed to reduce the shock of patients during transportation.  Five years later, at Townsville, Kenny founded a clinic for polio and cerebral palsy patients.  That was when she began to run afoul of the Australian medical establishment.

At the time the standard medical treatment entailed immobilizing the affected limbs.  Kenny, however, offered different treatment; she used hot baths, discarded braces, and encouraged active movement in limbs.  She opened a second clinic–in Brisbane–in 1934, then continued to open more clinics across Australia and overseas–as in Surrey, England, in the late 1930s, and in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1942.  Her therapeutic methods initially alarmed the medical establishment and, for a time, the government of Queensland.  Yet Kenny’s methods worked.  She trained medical professionals around the world, and they trained others, et cetera.

Kenny received many honors.  There were, of course, honorary degrees.  She was the subject of a movie, Sister Kenny (1946), starring Rosalind Russell.  According to a Gallup poll in 1951, our saint was the woman Americans admired the most.

Some have criticized Kenny for not taking criticism well.  In other words, she did not suffer fools easily.  Why should she have done so?

Kenny, who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease during her final years, died in Toowoomba, Queensland, on November 30, 1952, after a stroke.  She was 72 years old.

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God of compassion, we thank you for your light visible in your servant, Sister Elizabeth Kenny,

who triumphed over strong opposition,

revolutionized therapy for those afflicted with polio,

and improved the lives of many.

Lead us by your love to recognize how to help others most effectively, and to act accordingly.

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 38:1-14

Psalm 26

Acts 3:1-10

Mark 5:24b-34 or Luke 8:42-48

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

PROPER 16:  THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM HERZBERGER, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT LEVKADIA HARASYMIV, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC NUN, AND MARTYR, 1952

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LUIGI BELTRAME QUATTROCCHI AND MARIA CORSINI BELTRAME QUATTROCCHI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC HUMANITARIANS

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA OF JESUS, JORNEY Y IBARS, CATALAN ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND CONFOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE ABANDONED ELDERLY

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Feast of C. H. Dodd (September 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  C. H. Dodd

Image Scanned from The Parables of the Kingdom, 2d. ed. (1961)

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CHARLES HAROLD DODD (APRIL 7, 1884-SEPTEMBER 21, 1973)

Welsh Congregationalist Minister, Theologian, and Biblical Scholar

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But the Gospels do not offer us in the first place tales to point a moral.  They interpret life to us, by initiating s into a situation in which, as Christians believe, the eternal was uniquely manifested in time, a situation which is both historical and contemporary in the deepest possible sense.

–C. H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom, 2d. ed. (1961), x

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The Epistle to the Romans is the first great work of Christian theology.  From the time of Augustine it had immense influence on the thought of the West, not only in theology, but also in philosophy and even in politics, all through the Middle Ages.  At the Reformation its teaching provided the chief intellectual expression for the new spirit in religion.  For us men of Western Christendom there is probably no other single writing so deeply embedded in our heritage and thought.

–C. H. Dodd, in the beginning to the Introduction to The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (1932)

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C. H. Dodd, a proponent of Realized Eschatology, comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Biblical Studies section of my library.

Charles Harold Dodd, born in Wrexham, Denbighshire, North Wales, on April 7, 1884, was a great and influential scholar.  He studied at University College, Oxford, from 1902 to 1906, graduating with his B. A. degree and first class honors.  In 1907-1911 our saint engaged in research about the Roman Empire and the Early Church at the University of Berlin then at Magdalen College, Oxford.  While at Magdalen College Dodd also engaged in theological studies at Mansfield College, Oxford.  Our saint, ordained a minister in the former Congregational Union in England and Wales (which merged into The United Reformed Church in 1972) in 1912, served as pastor of just one church, at Warwick, from 1912 to 1915.

Dodd had an impressive academic career.  He was the Yates Lecturer (later Professor) of New Testament Greek and Exegesis, Mansfield College, Oxford, from 1915 to 1930.  Next Dodd was the Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis, the University of Manchester, for five years.  Then, from 1935 to 1949, when he retired, our saint was the Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, Cambridge.  He was the first non-Anglican to hold the theological chair at Cambridge University.  In addition, he was a lecturer at various elite seminaries and universities in the United States and the United Kingdom from 1927 until late in his life, with some gaps.  Dodd also became a Fellow of the British Academy in 1946.  In 1949-1950 he was the Visiting Professor in Biblical Theology, Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York.

Dodd remained active in retirement.  In 1950 he returned to the British Isles and became the Vice-Chairman and Director of The New English Bible (New Testament, 1961; complete Bible, 1970).  In the Preface to the finished translation, Donald Ebor, Chairman of the Joint Committee, wrote:

As Vice-Chairman and Director, Dr. C. H. Dodd has from start to finish given outstanding leadership and guidance to the project, bringing to the work scholarship, sensitivity, and an ever watchful eye.

–vii

Dodd, author of about 70 reviews, lectures, essays, and articles, as well as more than more than 20 books, was, depending on more than one’s perspective, too liberal, too conservative, or about right.  He was undoubtedly influential.

Perhaps Realized Eschatology was the major theme in Dodd’s ouevre.  As he wrote in The Founder of Christianity (1970):

God the eternal, the omnipotent, can hardly be said to be nearer or farther off at this time than at that.  If he is king at all, he is king always and everywhere.  In what sense his kingdom does not come; it is.  But human experience takes place within a framework of time and space.  It has varying degrees of intensity.  There are particular moments in the lives of men and in the history of mankind when what is permanently true (if largely unrecognized) becomes manifestly and effectively true.  Such a moment is reflected in the gospels.  The presence of God with man, a truth for all times and places, became an effective truth.

–56-57

Dodd, while recognizing the achievements of German Liberal theology and its students in filling in the details of the Hellenistic background of early Christianity, criticized them for their flight from dogma.  They were mistaken, he argued, in their assumption that they could discover the Historical Jesus via secular historical methods.  Furthermore, Rudolf Bultmann was mistaken when he rejected the possibility of any reliable historical understanding of Jesus, Dodd wrote.  Furthermore, according to Dodd, Karl Barth was mistaken when he wrote in his commentary (1918) on the Epistle to the Romans that the Historical Jesus was irrelevant to the Christ of faith.  Dodd, writing in The Meaning of Paul for Today (1920), argued that the Historical Jesus was germane to and essential for the Christ of faith.  Our saint’s attitude toward the Bible was evident in The Founder of Christianity (1970), in which most of the source citations were simply scriptural citations.

…Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, though the forbearance of God,….

–Romans 3:25, Authorized Version

…whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith.  This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins;….

–Romans 3:25, Revised Standard Version

For God designed him to be the means of expiating sin by his sacrificial death, effective through faith.  God meant by this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had overlooked the sins of the past….

–Romans 3:25, The New English Bible and The Revised English Bible

…whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith.  He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed;….

–Romans 3:25, The New Revised Standard Version 

Dodd rejected Penal Substitutionary Atonement, one of three theories of the atonement dating to the Patristic Era.  In The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (1932) Dodd, referring to the Greek word hilasterion in Romans 3:25, rejected the traditional “propitiation” in favor of “expiation.”

“Expiation” indicates the cancellation of a debt.  So does “propitiation,” but the suffix “pro-” indicates Penal Substitutionary Atonement.  In Dodd’s words:

In accordance with biblical usage, therefore, the substantive (hilasterion) would mean, not propitiation, but ‘a means by which guilt is annulled’; if a man is the agent, the meaning would be ‘a means of expiation’; if God, ‘a means by which sin is forgiven.’  Biblical usage is determinative for Paul.  The rendering propitiation is therefore misleading, for it suggests the placating of an angry God, and although this would be in accord with pagan usage, it is foreign to biblical usage.  In the present passage it is God who puts forward the means whereby the guilt of sin is removed, by sending Christ.  The sending of Christ, therefore, is the divine method of forgiveness.

The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (1932); reprint, 1959; 78-79

I could not have said it better.  I have been making a similar, albeit less scholarly, case based on what I have called the “gangster God” of Penal Substitutionary Atonement, since a time before I read Dodd’s case.  I grew up learning Penal Substitutionary Atonement yet have come to prefer the Classic Theory of the Atonement, or Christus Victor, among the three theories of the atonement dating to the Patristic Era.

Dodd’s description of the God of Penal Substitutionary Atonement is that such a deity is, in Dodd’s words, one who requires placation.  That is not the God of my faith.  That is not a God worthy of love, adoration, and loyalty.  No, that is a God in the presence of whom one should stand in stark terror.  That is a God with much in common with the frequently dangerous ancient Mesopotamian deities.  One of the main ideas in the rewritten creation mythology in Genesis 1:1-2:4a is that YHWH is different from those gods.

Many still hold Dodd’s rejection of Penal Substitutionary Atonement against him, of course.

Dodd died in Goring-on-Thames, England, on September 21, 1973.  He was 89 years old.

I am a Biblical and theological nerd.  I belong to a reading group that gathers monthly to discuss works in the fields of the Historical Jesus and the early Church.  As I ponder Dodd’s theology, I recognize his influences in the works of subsequent, major scholars, whom I have read.  I can also name certain contemporary scholars with whom Dodd would argue respectfully.

Dodd was correct more often than he was incorrect.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

PROPER 16:  THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM HERZBERGER, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT LEVKADIA HARASYMIV, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC NUN, AND MARTYR, 1952

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LUIGI BELTRAME QUATTROCCHI AND MARIA CORSINI BELTRAME QUATTROCCHI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC HUMANITARIANS

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA OF JESUS, JORNEY Y IBARS, CATALAN ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND CONFOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE ABANDONED ELDERLY

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [C. H. Dodd 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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