Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1890s’ Category

Feast of Henry Van Dyke (April 10)   4 comments

Above:  Henry and Ellen Van Dyke, Between 1910 and 1915

Image Source = Library of Congress

Image Publisher = Bain News Service

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ggbain-17998

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HENRY JACKSON VAN DYKE (NOVEMBER 10, 1852-APRIL 10, 1933)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer

Henry Van Dyke was a Presbyterian minister, a diplomat, a poet, a theologian, a liturgist, and an author of pious fiction.

The great man debuted at Germantown, Pennsylvania, on November 10, 1852.  He graduated from the Polytechnic Institute, Brooklyn, New York, in 1869.  Then he studied at Princeton University (B.A., 1873; M.A., 1877).  Next Van Dyke traveled abroad before returning to the United States.  He became a Presbyterian minister in 1879.  Our saint married Ellen Reid of Baltimore, Maryland, in December 1881.  The couple had five children:

  1. Frances (age 16 at the time of the 1900 census);
  2. Terticus (1887-1956), a poet who wrote a biography (1935) of his father;
  3. Dorothea (age 12 at the time of the 1900 census);
  4. Elaine (age 8 at the time of the 1900 census); and
  5. Paula (age 1 at the time of the 1900 census).

Van Dyke served as the pastor of two congregations.  He was at the United Congregational Church, Newport, Rhode Island, from 1879 to 1883.  Then he served at The Brick Presbyterian Church, New York, New York, from 1883 to 1900.  Our saint became a respected scholar and writer, as well as a popular orator.

Two of Van Dyke’s gifts were poetry and prose.  He brought these to this position as a Professor of English Literature at Princeton University, starting in 1900.  Our saint also brought his literary skill to bear on The Book of Common Worship (1906), the first formal liturgy the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. authorized, created, and published, although not the first formal liturgy it published.  He served as the chairman of the committee that produced the volume, which many in the denomination considered too Roman Catholic.  During his time at Princeton Van Dyke also served as the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1902-1903), was a lecturer at the University of Paris (1908-1909), became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (in England, 1910), and began to serve as the President of the National Institute of Arts and Letters (starting in 1912).

Van Dyke’s life became more international in 1913, when President Woodrow Wilson, his friend and former boss at Princeton, appointed him to serve as the Minister  (Ambassador) to The Netherlands and Luxembourg.  Our saint resigned that post in late 1916 and returned to the United States.  The following year he became a U.S. Navy chaplain with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.  Van Dyke, a Commander of the Legion of Honor since 1918, returned to civilian life in 1923 and devoted himself primarily to literary matters.

Van Dyke, who received many honorary doctorates, made one final contribution to Presbyterian liturgy.  In this late seventies he served as the chairman of the committee that produced The Book of Common Worship (Revised) (1932).

One might know of Van Dyke as a writer, probably for The Story of the Other Wise Man (1895) and/or his most famous hymn, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (written in 1907 and published two years later).  The list of our saint’s publications long and impressive, including even a play.  I refer you, O reader, to archive.org, where you can find electronic copies of many of Van Dyke’s published works, not least of which is The Poems of Henry Van Dyke (1911).

I have added some of our saint’s hymns addressed to God at my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.

Van Dyke died, aged 80 years, at Princeton, New Jersey, on April 10, 1933.

His legacy survives.  His hymns survive, although most have fallen into disuse.  The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which published the sixth incarnation of the Book of Common Worship in 1993, is working on the seventh version.  [Aside:  The versions were those of 1906, 1932, 1946, 1966, 1970, and 1993.]  And, of course, one can read what he published.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 9, 2017 COMMON ERA

PALM SUNDAY:  THE SUNDAY OF THE PASSION, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT CASILDA OF TOLEDO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ANCHORESS

THE FEAST OF JOHN SAMUEL BEWLEY MONSELL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET; AND RICHARD MANT, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DOWN, CONNOR, AND DROMORE

THE FEAST OF LYDIA EMILIE GRUCHY, FIRST FEMALE MINISTER IN THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

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

thank you for those (especially Henry Van Dyke)

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 Randall Davidson (April 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  Archbishop Randall Davidson

Image in the Public Domain

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RANDALL THOMAS DAVIDSON (APRIL 7, 1848-MAY 25, 1930)

Archbishop of Canterbury

Randall Davidson was the Archbishop of Canterbury for about a quarter of a century.  The native of Edinburgh, Scotland, born on April 7, 1848, grew up a Presbyterian.  The son of Henrietta Swinton and Henry Davidson, a grain merchant, grew up in The Church of Scotland.  Our saint, educated at the Harrow School and at Trinity College, Oxford, converted to Anglicanism.  He, ordained in 1875, became the chaplain to Archbishop of Canterbury Archibald Campbell Tait in 1877 then to Edward White Benson, Tait’s immediate successor.  Davidson married Tait’s daughter, Edith (died in 1936), in 1878.  Our saint gained the confidence of Queen Victoria and advised her regarding ecclesiastical appointments.  Through her favor he succeeded to the posts of Dean of Windsor (1883), Bishop of Rochester (1891), and Bishop of Winchester (1895).  In February 1903 he succeeded Frederick Temple as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Davidson had a passion for reconciliation, ecclesiastical and political.  He sought to find common ground in theological arguments (such as the one regarding ritualism), favored the League of Nations, and became an ecumenical leader.  Our saint supported Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue, favored closer Anglican-Eastern Orthodox ties, and argued for retaining the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.  He also opposed religious persecution in Russia and spoke out on behalf of the rights of indigenous peoples, thereby making the work of Anglican missionaries easier.

Davidson retired, aged 80 years, in November 1928, shortly after the Parliament refused to approve the proposed Book of Common Prayer, meant to replace the Prayer Book of 1662.  He had hoped that Parliament would approve the proposed Prayer Book.  He died on May 25, 1930, aged 82 years, in London.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 16, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADALBALD OF OSTEVANT, SAINT 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

THE FEAST OF SAINT MEGINGAUD OF WURZGURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ABBOT

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Heavenly Father, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servant Randall Davidson.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

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

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

Psalm 84

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

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

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, William Augustus Muhlenberg, and Anne Ayres (April 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Church of the Holy Communion, New York, New York

Image Source = New York Public Library

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HENRY MELCHIOR MUHLENBERG (SEPTEMBER 6, 1711-OCTOBER 7, 1787)

Patriarch of American Lutheranism

His feast day transferred from October 7

great-grandfather of

WILLIAM AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG (SEPTEMBER 16, 1796-APRIL 8, 1877)

Episcopal Priest, Hymn Writer, and Liturgical Pioneer

colleague of

ANNE AYRES (JANUARY 3, 1816-1896)

Foundress of the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion

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One church, one book.

–Henry Melchior Muhlenberg

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October 7 is the feast day of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg in The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, and The Lutheran Church–Canada.  A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (The Episcopal Church, 2016) lists William Augustus Muhlenberg and Anne Ayres on April 8.  However, since one of my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences, I have merged the commemorations.

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Henry Melchior Muhlenberg became the Patriarch of American Lutheranism.  He, born at Einbeck, Saxony, on September 6, 1711, attended the University of Gottingen.  Then our saint taught in the orphanage at Halle for 15 months.  He wanted to become a missionary to India, but became a pastor in Grosshennersdorf, Saxony, instead.  In September 1741 Muhlenberg visited Halle.  Soon thereafter he was en route to America, sent there by pastor August Herman Francke, who had also sent other missionaries to the New World.

Lutheranism was in a sorry state in America.  There was little organization above the parish level, liturgies varied widely, there were no firm standards for become an ordained minister, and adjacent Lutheran churches frequently had little to do with each other.  In 1741 Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a Saxon Lutheran layman and Moravian bishop, was visiting America.  While in Pennsylvania, he functioned as a Lutheran pastor at Philadelphia, creating a controversy in the church there.

Muhlenberg had a difficult set of tasks to complete.  His motto was Ecclesia Plantanda, or

The Church Must Be Planted.

Our saint arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1742.  Then he spent a week with the Jerusalem Lutheran Church at Ebenzezer, Georgia.  Muhlenberg arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 25, 1742.  Within a month he had ousted Zinzendorf from the pulpit.  On December 27, 1742, Muhlenberg became the pastor of several congregations.  He went on, within a year, to found a school per congregation and to found new churches.

During the following decades Muhlenberg planted and organized the church.  He founded new congregations, fostered unity among them, and established standards for ordination.  On August 26, 1748, at St. Michael’s Church, Philadelphia, ministers from 10 of the 70 Lutheran congregations in North America formed “The United Preachers of the Evangelical Lutheran Congregations of German Nationality in These American Colonies, Especially Pennsylvania,” the first synod.  In 1781, with the adoption of a constitution, the synod became the German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium in North America.  The ministerium gave rise to other synods, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium in the State of New-York and Adjacent States and Countries (1786), led by John Christopher Kunze, Muhlenberg’s son-in-law.  The original synod became the German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States in 1792.

Muhlenberg did much to build up the Ministerium in North America/of Pennsylvania.  He traveled from the northeast to Georgia.  In 1751 and 1752 he spent much time in New York City, where the dispute over what the proper language for worship should be had created divisions.  Our saint, who prioritized the Gospel of Jesus Christ over languages, preached in English, Dutch, and German every Sunday for months.  Over the years he struggled with Lutheran disunity; many Lutheran ministers did not relate to Halle, as he did.  Our saint also prepared a hymnal late in life.

On the personal side, Muhlenberg married Anna Mary Weiser, daughter of Indian agent Conrad Weiser, in April 1745.  Three of their sons became Lutheran ministers.  Although our saint ranged from Loyalism to neutrality during the American Revolutionary period, two of his sons (both of them ministers) chose to fight under the command of George Washington.  Peter (in full, John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, 1746-1807) went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives with Frederick (in full, Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, 1750-1801), the first Speaker of the House.

Our saint died at Trappe, Pennsylvania, on October 7, 1787.  He was 76 years old.

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Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, first Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, had a son named Henry William Muhlenberg, who became a wine merchant in Philadelphia.  Henry William married Mary Sheefe.  The couple welcomed William Augustus Muhlenberg into the world on September 16, 1796.  He became a figure to rival his great-grandfather in terms of ecclesiastical importance.

William Augustus Muhlenberg, raised in a Lutheran home, became an influential Episcopal priest.  He studied at the University of Pennsylvania from 1812 to 1815, graduating as the English-language salutation.  His affinity for the English language, especially in worship, led him to join The Episcopal Church.  Such conversions were common at a time when German was the preferred language of worship in many Lutheran congregations, the leaders of which referred those who preferred to worship in English to Episcopal churches.  Muhlenberg became a priest, serving first as the assistant at Christ Church, Philadelphia, from 1817 to 1822.  (The rector of the parish was William White, also the Bishop and Pennsylvania and the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.)  Then, for a few years, Muhlenberg was the Rector of St. James’s Church, Lancaster.  There he opened the first public school in Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia.  Meanwhile, our saint had published a case for singing hymns instead of the traditional metrical Psalms.  Thus he served on the committee for the Prayer Book Collection (1826), an early Episcopal hymnal.

In 1826 Muhlenberg relocated to New York.  He became the Rector of St. George’s Church, Flushing, Long Island.  There he founded the Flushing Institute (later St. Paul’s College), which made him nationally famous for his advocacy of progressive educational methods.  At St. George’s Church Muhlenberg was a pioneer in liturgical renewal.  His church had vested choirs, candles and flowers on the altar, and greenery at Christmas.  If that were not enough, the church sang Christmas carols.  This was groundbreaking in a culture in which much of the dominant Protestant ethos did not support celebrating Christmas.

Muhlenberg received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Columbia College, New York, New York, in 1834.

In 1845 Muhlenberg founded the Church of the Holy Communion in the City of New York.  The architect of the edifice (dedicated in 1846) was Richard Upjohn (1802-1878).  Muhlenberg’s sister, the wealthy widow Mary A. Rogers, financed the construction of the building and much of the parish’s budget for years.  This patronage enabled the church to minister to members of all social classes; that was a priority for the priest and his sister.  One of the novelties at the Church of the Holy Communion was free pews–no pew rentals.  Our saint was also a pioneer in the Sunday School movement; the parish schools reflected this fact.  The church also offered unemployment benefits, operated an employment agency, provided medical services, and offered English-language classes.  Furthermore, the liturgical life of the parish was more advanced than at other churches.  Communion services were weekly, Morning and Evening Prayer were daily, Holy Week was a priority, and the choirs there were the first vested choirs in the city.  Beyond that, the use of colors, flowers, and music to increase the beauty of worship was influential.

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The parish dispensary became the genesis of St. Luke’s Hospital, New York City.  Muhlenberg served as the Superintendent and Chaplain there from 1858 to 1877.  He and Anne Ayres, a member of his congregation, founded the institution.

Ayres, born in London, England, on January 3, 1816, arrived in New York City in 1836.  For a few years she tutored children of the wealthy, but Muhlenberg’s influence prompted her to change the direction of her life.  In 1845 she and Muhlenberg founded the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion, dedicated to providing social services.  For many years members of the Sisterhood performed most of the nursing duties at St. Luke’s Hospital.  The Sisterhood of the Holy Communion was the first Anglican order for women founded in North America.

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Muhlenberg was an ecumenist.  In 1853 he presented a proposal before the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.  Our saint, convinced that the rubrics of The Book of Common Prayer (1789) were too rigid, proposed Articles of Union with Protestant bodies in a confederation, complete with Apostolic Succession.  The requirements were:

  1. The Apostles’ Creed;
  2. Ordination not repugnant to the Word of God;
  3. Common hymns, prayers, and Biblical readings; and
  4. A council on common affairs.

This proposal, the natural successor to The Evangelical Catholic (1851-1853), Muhlenberg’s monthly journal, went down in failure.  It did, however, influence the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (1886, 1888):

  1. The Old and New Testaments as scripture,
  2. The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds,
  3. The sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, and
  4. Apostolic Succession.

In 1868 Muhlenberg served on a committee to discuss revising The Book of Common Prayer (1789).  Revision had to wait, however; the next edition debuted in 1892.

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Muhlenberg, who wrote hymns, chose to remain unmarried, so that he could have more time for ministry.  His theology was something science did not threaten; he did not oppose Evolution.  His priorities in ministry reflected his proto-Social Gospel ethos.  Among his final projects (with Anne Ayres) was St. Johnland, an intentional community for members of the working class on Long Island, away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.  There were family homes, group homes, businesses, a library, a church, et cetera.  Muhlenberg helped to finance St. Johnland.

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Muhlenberg died in New York City on April 8, 1877.  He was 80 years old.

Anne Ayres died in New York City on February 9, 1896.  She was 80 years old.

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The Ministeriums of Pennnsylvania and New York survived into the 1960s, when they, as part of The United Lutheran Church in America, merged into the Lutheran Church in America, a predecessor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg’s dream of a common liturgy for North American Lutherans has never become a reality.  The closest it came to reality was the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), which, by the way, borrowed heavily from The Book of Common Prayer (1979), in development at the same time.

The Church of the Holy Communion closed in 1975 and merged with Calvary Episcopal Church and St. George’s Episcopal Church.  Since then the edifice has housed a series of establishments, including two night clubs (one of them notorious), an upscale store, and a gymnasium.

The Sisterhood of the Holy Communion ceased to exist in 1940.

St. Luke’s Hospital and Mt. Sinai Hospital merged in 1979.

St. Johnland survives as a nursing center.

Flowers and altar candles remain familiar sites in Episcopal hymnals.

The Episcopal Church has made the transition from metrical Psalms to hymns.

The Episcopal Church has entered into full communion agreements with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Moravian Church in America.

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Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, William Augustus Muhlenberg, and Anne Ayres did much to glorify God, build up the church, and benefit many people.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 15, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACHARY OF ROME, POPE

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

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

THE FEAST OF VETHAPPAN SOLOMON, APOSTLE TO THE SOLOMON ISLANDS

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, William Augustus Muhlenberg, and Anne Ayres,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Emil Brunner (April 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Dr. Emil Brunner

Image in the Public Domain

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HEINRICH EMIL BRUNNER (DECEMBER 23, 1889-APRIL 6, 1966)

Swiss Reformed Theologian

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The Protestant theology of our day is in a state of rapid dissolution….The substance of Christian theology, the content of Christian faith, is in a state of compete decomposition.  Christianity is either faith in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, or it is nothing.

–Emil Brunner, in The Theology of Crisis (1930); quoted in Martin E. Marty and Dean G. Peerman, editors, A Handbook of Christian Theologians–Enlarged Edition (1984) page 410

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Emil Brunner and Karl Barth were the most influential Protestant theologians of the twentieth century.  The latter, however, has become more famous than the former.  Furthermore, Willard Learoyd Sperry was openly critical of their Neo-orthodox theology.  Coincidence has caused the feasts of Brunner and Sperry to fall on the same date on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  This project of mine has sufficient breadth to include theologians who criticized each other.

Brunner was Swiss, as was his contemporary and critic, Barth.  Brunner, born on December 23, 1889, at Winterthur, drew from a variety of influences.  One early influence was pastor Christoph Blumhardt (1842-1919), of southern Germany.  Another influence was Hermann Kutter (1863-1931), a student of Blumhardt.  Brunner studied theology at the University of Zurich.  His professor, Leonhard Ragaz (1868-1945), taught him the works of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), who influenced our saint profoundly.

Brunner traveled and lectured around the world.  He studied in Berlin for a semester in 1911; he found both the city and Adolf von Harnack 1865-1923) unimpressive.  Our saint visited England in 1913-1914 and quickly became fluent in English.  He was back home, serving in the Swiss army, in 1914-1916, before becoming the pastor at a church in Obstalden, in the canton of Glarus, in 1916.  Brunner studied at Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York, in 1919-1920.  In 1924 he became Professor of Systematic and Practical Theology at the University of Zurich.  He also continued to preach in churches.  Throughout the 1920s Brunner lectured in the United States and in the United Kingdom.  The Third Reich banned his books and forbade him to teach in Germany, but he did not slow down.  From 1938 to 1939 Brunner was a visiting professor at Princeton Theological Seminary.  He was also active in the Faith and Order Movement and the Life and Work Movement, forerunners of the World Council of Churches, organized in 1948.  After World War II Brunner became a theological advisor to the Y.M.C.A.  In 1949, for the Y.M.C.A., he traveled and lectured in Asia.  From 1953 to 1955 our saint was a professor at the International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan.  There he engaged in ecumenical and interfaith dialogues.  In 1955, on the way back to Switzerland, Brunner suffered a stroke, which slowed the previously vigorous pace of his scholarly work.

In 1916 Brunner married Margret Lauterberg, niece of his mentor, Hermann Kutter.  Our saint was a loving husband and father.  The couple raised four sons, two of whom they buried.

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A person literate in Christian theology can understand why one can find criticisms of Brunner from both the right and the left on the Internet.  According to certain critics from the left, he was much too traditional.  Yet, according to those who condemn our saint from the right, he was a heretic and a destroyer of faith whose insidious influence remains.

Brunner, who considered himself neither a traditionalist nor an innovator, held to a theology based to two related factors:  love and the revelation of God in Jesus Christ.  He rejected fundamentalism and dogmatism on the right  and vague religious values on the left.  Brunner was, simply put, in the middle, with many critics from both his right and his left.  For example, as our saint stressed the primacy of Jesus as the Word of God and insisted upon the unique and unrepeatable nature of the Incarnation, he remained skeptical regarding the Virgin Birth.  The miracle of the Incarnation, Brunner wrote, was greater with a human father.  Furthermore, our saint insisted, one need not affirm the Virgin Birth as being essential to accepting the divinity of Jesus.

Brunner also pondered how God and mere mortals can relate to each other.  Our saint, being himself, rejected the extremes of literalism and dogmatism on the right and of experience and feeling on the left.  He wrote that God and people meet in Jesus Christ and that only God can take the initiative to bridge the gap.  People, he argued, have the ability to reject God or to accept God.  Furthermore, the revelation of God is ongoing–via the Holy Spirit, including in the scriptures at the present time.  The reign of God on earth will become a reality also.  In the meantime, Brunner argued, there must be a point of contact in sinful human nature for one to perceive the divine revelation.  This assertion prompted Barth too write his famous rebuttal Nein! (1934), in which he argued that divine revelation creates its own point of contact ex niliho.  Brunner referred to Nein! as “that terrible book” as late as the 1950s.

For Brunner the definitive Christian virtue was love–self-sacrificing love, the kind Jesus had.  This love, our saint wrote, Christianizing Martin Buber‘s I-Thou theology, binds people to God and to each other in relationships.  The responsibility to live in community with each other and with God, Brunner wrote, is inherent in us.  Furthermore, we might be unaware of this duty or even reject it, but we can never escape it, he argued.  The basis of this responsibility, according to Brunner, was the image of God.  He criticized violations of this responsibility, wherever he saw them–in capitalism, communism, Christian congregations and denominations, et cetera.  Worse than the scandal of schisms, Brunner wrote, was the lack of spiritual brotherhood in Christian community.

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Brunner, a man well-informed in matters of theology, science, music, and painting, died at Zurich, Switzerland, on April 6, 1966.  He was 76 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 15, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACHARY OF ROME, POPE

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

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

THE FEAST OF VETHAPPAN SOLOMON, APOSTLE TO THE SOLOMON ISLANDS

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Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,

and to another the insight of wisdom,

and to another the steadfastness of faith.

We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted by your servant Emil Brunner,

and we pray that by his teaching we may be led to a fuller knowledge of the truth

we have seen in your Son Jesus, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 61

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Feast of Pauline Sperry and Willard Learoyd Sperry (April 5)   1 comment

Above:  Divinity Library, Harvard College, 1900

Copyright Holder and Image Publisher = Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a08542

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PAULINE SPERRY (MARCH 15, 1885-SEPTEMBER 24, 1967)

Mathematician, Philanthropist, and Activist

sister of

WILLARD LEAROYD SPERRY (APRIL 5, 1882-MAY 15, 1954)

Congregationalist Minister, Ethicist, Theologian, and Dean of Harvard Divinity School

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The greatest gift to mankind–the freedom of the mind–is in peril.  If we lose that, we lose everything.  The universities are the greatest bulwark.  They are the first to be attacked.  The battle is only just begun.

–Pauline Sperry, 1953

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Grant, O God, to Your people more courage to live for you.  Guard us from rashness, and deliver us from fear.  Teach us when by patience we may serve you, and when by impatience.

–Willard Learoyd Sperry

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Pauline Sperry and Willard Learoyd Sperry were children of Henrietta Learoyd Sperry and Willard Gardner Sperry.  Henrietta had been a teacher and a vice principal at Abbot Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, her alma mater.  Willard Gardner, former President of Olivet College, Olivet, Michigan, was a congregationalist minister.  From 1877 to 1885 he served at South Congregational Church, Peabody, Massachusetts.  At Peabody Pauline and Willard Learoyd joined the family.  Their parents taught them faith, the importance of social reform and religious liberty, and the value of education.

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Willard Learoyd Sperry, born on April 5, 1882, followed in his father’s footsteps.  Our saint, a 1903 graduate of Olivet College, went on to become a Rhodes Scholar.  After completing studies at Oxford in 1907, became a Congregationalist minister the following year.  From 1908 to 1913 he served as the assistant pastor at the First Church at Fall River, Massachusetts.  Along the way, in 1909, Sperry received his M.A. from Yale.  In 1914 he became the pastor of Central Church, Boston, Massachusetts.  Starting in 1917, he was Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Andover Theological Seminary.  From 1922 to 1925, with the union of the Andover Theological Seminary and the Harvard Divinity School as the Theological School in Harvard University, Sperry served as the Dean.  After the merger ended in 1925, he became the Dean of the Harvard Divinity School.  Sperry served in that capacity until 1953.  He also doubled as the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals (1928-1953) and the chairman of the Harvard Board of Preachers (1928f).  Our saint also served on the Old Testament translation committee for the Revised Standard Version of the Bible.  He also found time to write and publish a plethora of articles and books.

Sperry, always a theological liberal, was critical of Neo-orthodoxy as late as 1949, when he made his opinion plain in Jesus Then and Now.  Neo-orthodoxy, he argued, turned sin into

an incantation lacking any solid warrant in the common conscience

and of using it as a shibboleth.  Sperry was interested in transforming, not condemning, culture.

Sperry died at Boston, Massachusetts, on May 15, 1954.  He was 72 years old.

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Pauline Sperry, born on  March 5, 1885, became a mathematician and an academic.  She graduated from Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, with her B.A. degree in 1906.  She taught mathematics at Hamilton Institute, New York, New York, for a year, before returning to Smith College for a M.A. degree in music in 1907.  After graduating again in 1908 Sperry taught mathematics at her alma mater until 1912.  Then she commenced graduate studies at The University of Chicago.  She graduated in 1914.  Her thesis was “On the Theory of  One-to-One Correspondence with Geometric Illustrations.”  Doctoral work followed in 1914-1916.  Her dissertation was “Properties of a Certain Projectively Defined Two-Paramater Family of Curves on a General Surface.”  Sperry was Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Smith College from 1916 to 1917.  Sperry taught at the University of California at Berkeley, starting in 1917.  She was Instructor (1917-1923), Assistant Professor (1923-1931), and Associate Professor (1931f).  Sperry, the first female Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Berkeley, taught many geometry courses and wrote two textbooks in trigonometry.

Sperry’s career ended during the Second Red Scare.  In 1949 the Board of Regents of the University of California decided to require faculty and staff to take a loyalty oath.  Our saint, a defender of academic freedom and a convert to Quakerism, refused to take the oath.  Thus, in 1950, the university dismissed her.  Two years later the state Supreme Court ruled that the Board of Regents had no legal right to require a loyalty oath separate from one mandatory for all public employees.  In 1952, however, Sperry had reached retirement age.  Four years later she received her back pay.

Sperry was active in politics during her retirement.  She was active in the League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the American Friends Service Committee, as well as in efforts to oppose the testing of nuclear weapons.

Sperry also became involved in philanthropy.  In the 1950s she founded the Step-By-Step School (for starving children) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  She also continued to support it financially.  She offered advice regarding how to be happy:

Be bold enough to ask the right questions, and brave enough to face the answers about the untouchable subject, money….Give ’till it hurts!

Sperry died, aged 82 years, on September 4, 1967, at Pacific Grove, California.

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These two saints did much to contribute to the world.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FANNIE LOU HAMER, PROPHET OF FREEDOM

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

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

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATHILDA, QUEEN OF GERMANY

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Pauline Sperry, Willard Learoyd Sperry, 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 Marc Sangnier (April 3)   Leave a comment

marc-sangnier

Above:  Stamp Featuring the Image of Marc Sangnier

Image in the Public Domain

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MARC SANGNIER (APRIL 3, 1873-MAY 28, 1950)

Founder of the Sillon Movement

Sangnier, born at Paris, France, on April 3, 1873, came from a wealthy family.  Our saint learned the lesson that God expects much of he who has received much.  Sangnier, from an early age, had a deep concern for social justice in the light of Roman Catholic social teaching.  Of particular concern to him were the conditions of members of the working class.  Sangnier, as a student, organized a small group of like-minded people to study and ponder these moral concerns.  Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (1891), regarding capital and labor, provided encouragement.

Sangnier became a force in public life in his twenties and continued his activism afterward.  In 1894 he founded Le Sillon (The Furrow), a newspaper devoted to the effort to reconcile Roman Catholicism, social justice, and democracy.  The newspaper led to the Sillon Movement, which attracted many idealistic youth and established study centers for workers in French cities in the 1890s.  Pope St. Pius X was initially supportive of the movement.  In 1905 Sangnier founded a second publication, L’Esprit democratique, devoted to promoting democracy.  The Sillon Movement had become more political than it had been.  St. Pius X changed his opinion of the movement.  Did democracy threaten divine authority?  Was possibly seeking to introduce democracy into the Roman Catholic Church heretical?  Therefore the Supreme Pontiff condemned the Sillon Movement in a letter dated August 25, 1910.

Sangnier, a loyal Roman Catholic, disbanded the Sillon Movement rather than leave the Church or oppose the Vatican.  The movement did, however, have a number of alumni who continued to promote social activism in the Church.  Sangnier chose to channel his activism in the arena of politics.  In 1912 he founded the Young Republic League, a socialist political party.

He died, aged 77 years, in Paris on May 28, 1950.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATTHIAS THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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

and to give his life for the life of 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 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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of James Solomon Russell (March 27)   Leave a comment

james-solomon-russell

Above:  James Solomon Russell

Image in the Public Domain

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JAMES SOLOMON RUSSELL (DECEMBER 20, 1857-MARCH 28, 1935)

Episcopal Priest, Educator, and Advocate for Racial Equality

The feast day of James Solomon Russell in The Episcopal Church is March 28.  However, as the rules of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days stand, the maximum number of commemorations per day is four, and I have four of them on March 28 already.  Therefore I transfer this feast to March 27.

Russell, born a slave near Palmer Springs, Virginia, on December 20, 1857, attended Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, Hampton, Virginia, when family finances permitted him to do so.  Sometimes our saint had to work as a teacher between periods of being a student.  He also taught after completing his studies at Hampton.  In the 1870s Russell attended annual conferences of the Zion Union Apostolic Church (an 1869 offshoot of the African Methodist Episcopal Church), called the Reformed Zion Union Apostolic Church since 1882.  In 1878 he served as the recording secretary of the annual conference.  Later that year, after receiving a copy of The Book of Common Prayer (1789), he decided to become an Episcopalian.

Russell studied for ordained ministry.  He was the first student at St. Stephen’s Normal and Theological Institute (later the Bishop Payne Divinity School), Petersburg, Virginia.  In 1882, after four years of study, he became a deacon.

Russell served at Lawrenceville, Virginia.  There, in 1882, he founded a congregation, which became St. Paul’s Church the following year.  Also in 1882 (on December 20, to be precise), he married Virginia Michigan Morgan, his wife until she died on July 2, 1920.  They couple had two sons and four daughters.  In 1883 the Russells founded the parish school.  Four years later our saint became a priest.  In 1888 he founded St. Paul’s Normal School, which expanded its programs and changed its names over time, ultimately becoming St. Paul’s College, which closed in 2013.  Russell served as the principal and chaplain of the school until he retired in 1929.  He also supported efforts to help African-American farmers improve their economic status, as in the St. Paul’s Farmers’ Conference (1905).

Russell recruited African-American priests.  Due to his efforts as the first Archdeacon for Colored Work in the Diocese of Southern Virginia (from 1893), that diocese had the largest African-American population of any diocese in The Episcopal Church.

Russell received two offers to become a Suffragan Bishop and rejected all of them.  The first came from the Diocese of Arkansas in 1917; the second came from the Diocese of North Carolina the following year.  Our saint cited the importance of his work in Lawrenceville when he rejected those offers.  He also objected to the fact that African-American bishops were subordinate to their white counterparts.  The position in Arkansas went to Edward Thomas Demby, V (1869-1957).  Henry Beard Delany, Sr. (1858-1928), accepted the position in North Carolina.  Russell’s objection eventually led The Episcopal Church to correct that injustice.  [Aside:  I did detect the typographical error–1927 for 1917–in Russell’s biography in A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).]

Russell, citing his age, retired at the end of 1929.  His son, James Alvin Russell, Sr., succeeded him in the leadership role at the school immediately; he retired in 1950.  James Alvin Russell, Jr., served as the President of St. Paul’s College from 1971 to 1981.

Russell asked the Diocese of Virginia to allow full representation of the clergy, regardless of race, at its convention in 1933.  His request met with rejection.

Russell died at Lawrenceville on March 28, 1935.  He was 77 years old.  His autobiography, Adventure in Faith, debuted in print the following year.

The Episcopal Church, which has been honest about its institutional sins of racism, has made much progress since Russell’s time.  Michael Curry, an African American, became the Bishop of North Carolina, in 2000.  Fifteen years later he resigned that position to become the Presiding Bishop of the denomination.

The Diocese of Southern Virginia designated Russell a local saint in 1996.  The General Convention of The Episcopal Church included him on the denominational calendar of saints in 2015, as evident in his inclusion in A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 5, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF JAPAN, 1597-1639

THE FEAST OF SAINT AVITUS OF VIENNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT JANE (JOAN) OF VALOIS, COFOUNDER OF THE SISTERS OF THE ANNUNCIATION

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PHILEAS AND PHILOROMUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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God, font of the resurrected life, we bless you for the courageous witness

of your deacon James Solomon Russell, whose mosaic ministry vaulted over adversity;

allure us into the wilderness and speak tenderly to us there

so that we might love and worship you as he did,

sure of our legacy of saving grace through Jesus Christ,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, always and ever.  Amen.

Exodus 22:21-27

Psalm 78:1-7

1 John 4:13-21

Matthew 21:12-16

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

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