Archive for the ‘Arthur Carl Lichtenberger’ Tag

Feast of William Scarlett (October 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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WILLIAM SCARLETT (OCTOBER 3, 1883-MARCH 28, 1973)

Episcopal Bishop of Missouri, and Advocate for Social Justice

Bishop William Scartlett comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible.

Scarlett, born in Columbus, Ohio, on October 3, 1883, grew up to become a courageous, progressive Christian leader on the vanguard of various moral causes.  He was what certain cynical reactionaries of 2018 would have called a “social justice warrior.”  So were Hebrew prophets.  Our saint, influenced at an early age by Washington Gladden (1836-1918) and Walter Rauschenbush (1861-1918), proponents of the Social Gospel, graduated from Harvard University with his A.B. degree in 1905.  Scarlett, unsure about whether to study for ministry or medicine, worked on a ranch in Nebraska for a year.  He matriculated at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1906, and graduated three years later.  Our saint, spent the rest of his life in ordained ministry marked by a dedication to social justice dictated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Scarlett cared deeply by outreach to the poor, the rights of industrial workers, civil rights, and other issues germane to human relations.  He was, in order:

  1. Assistant Rector, St. George’s Episcopal Church, New York, New York (1909-1911);
  2. Dean, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Phoenix, Arizona (1911-1922);
  3. Dean, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, Missouri (1922-1930);
  4. Bishop Coadjutor of Missouri (1930-1933); and
  5. Bishop of Missouri (1933-1952).

Friend Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) described our saint as

the conscience of the community.

Scarlett was on the avant-garde of The Episcopal Church with regard to social ethics.  He advocated for the liberalization of the denomination’s stance on remarriage after divorce.  In 1946 our saint edited Christianity Takes a Stand, in which various authors took a stand against societal sins such as racial segregation and the federal government’s recent internment of West Coast Japanese Americans.  Although the House of Deputies, at the General Convention of 1946, consented without debate to sponsor the publication of the book, the majority of Episcopalians were not ready to espouse those positions yet.

Scarlett, a Low Church Episcopalian and self-described Liberal Evangelical who wore a tie in lieu of a clerical collar, was a natural ecumenist.  He cooperated with members of other Christian denominations as easily as he did with Jews.  At Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, our saint scandalized many Anglo-Catholics by encouraging interdenominational Eucharists.  He also scrapped plans for a new Episcopal hospital in the city when he learned of a similar Presbyterian plan.  The result was cooperation, not competition, in the form of St. Luke’s Episcopal-Presbyterian Hospital.  He also favored the merger of The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in the 1940s.  The proposal did not survive the late 1940s.  It would probably have been impractical anyway.

(Aside:  I mean no disrespect to any Presbyterians, but the denominational cultures and certain theological-liturgical factors are too different for merger to be practical.  I suppose that many Presbyterians agree with that assessment.  Cooperation of many issues is feasible and desirable, however.)

Scarlett retired in late 1952.  His successor as Bishop of Missouri was Arthur Carl Lichtenberger (1900-1968), later the Presiding Bishop of the denomination.

In retirement Scarlett wrote the exposition on the Book of Jonah for The Interpreter’s Bible.  He wrote, in part:

If God has a controversy with his people, it is because there has been in our world too little concern for our brother, too little recognition that his fate is bound up in ours, and ours in his, even to the least, too much forgetting that word of old, “We are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25) and if one member suffers, “all the members suffer with it” (I Cor. 12:26).  A plain fact of the nineteen-thirties is that Hitler climbed to power on the backs of the unemployed in Germany, and it was this frustration, this sense of uselessness, in millions of lives that made his way easy.

The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume VI (1956), 877

That is a chilling text in 2018.

The resurgence of fascism and of authoritarianism in general has been current reality in the world, from the Philippines to Europe to Brazil to Turkey to Europe for a few years now.  Many of the enablers of fascist and other authoritarian leaders have been professing Christians.  The call to “Make America Great Again” has echoed pre-World War II movements to make Italy and Germany great again.  The rhetoric of “America First,” originated before World War II in an openly anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi movement to keep the United States out of that war, has returned, still with racist overtones.  Calls for U.S. society and government to practice the Golden Rule have become subversive as many professing Christians have chosen to ignore the demands of that great commandment and embraced xenophobia and nativism, largely out of fear.

I encourage you, O reader, to read Scarlett’s exposition on the Book of Jonah and to oppose–resist–the deplorable resurgence of fascism and of authoritarianism in general.

Scarlett, aged 89 years, died in Castine, Maine, on March 28, 1973.  His wife, Leah Oliver Van Riper (b. 1889), had predeceased him in 1965.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 3, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE KENNEDY ALLEN BELL, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CHICHESTER

THE FEAST OF ALBERTO RAMENTO, PRIME BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENT CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERARD OF BROGNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOHN RALEIGH MOTT, U.S. METHODIST LAY EVANGELIST, AND ECUMENICAL PIONEER

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

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

Help us, like your servant William Scarlett, 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 Bernhard W. Anderson (September 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  Title Page of Out of the Depths (1970)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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BERNHARD WORD ANDERSON (SEPTEMBER 25, 1916-DECEMBER 26, 2007)

U.S. United Methodist Minister and Biblical Scholar

Bernhard “Barney” W. Anderson comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via the Biblical Studies of my library, including The Interpreter’s Bible.

Anderson, born in Dover, Missouri, on September 25, 1916, became an influential scholar.  His Australian-born father, Arthur Lincoln Anderson, was a Methodist minister.  Our saint’s mother was Grace Word.  According to her son, who dedicated Out of the Depths (1970), a book about the Psalms, to her, her

life on earth came to fulfillment in the years 1956-1966, when she served the church as a Director of Beulah Home in Oakland, California.

–x

(Beulah Home, extant 1912-1968, was a Methodist rest home for retired ministers, deaconesses, and missionaries.  It closed due to societal changes rendering it no longer feasible.)  Our saint, as a youth, learned to play the organ, so he could assist his father on Sundays.  Anderson attended the College (now University) of the Pacific, Stockton, California, majoring first in music, then in religion.  After graduating in 1936, he married classmate Joyce Griswold.  Next Anderson studied at the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California.  He graduated in 1939.

Anderson, ordained in The Methodist Church (1939-1968) in 1939, and subsequently a minister in The United Methodist Church (1968-), served in congregations in Jamestown, Pittsburg, Sunnyvale, and Millbrae.  (Some sources I read used the term “United Methodist Church” anachronistically, having Anderson ordained in The United Methodist Church in 1939.)  During doctoral work at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (Ph.D., Old Testament studies, 1945), he was pastor to Congregational churches in Wauregan and Central Village, Connecticut, also.  The rest of his career was academic.

Anderson was an active academic for half a century.  He was, in order:

  1. Instructor, Department of Philosophy and Religion, Colgate University, Hamilton Township, New York (1946-1948);
  2. James A. Gray Associate Professor of Biblical Literature, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina (1948-1950);
  3. Joseph B. Hoyt Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, Colgate Rochester Divinity School, Rochester, New York (1950-1954);
  4. Henry Anson, Professor of Biblical Theology, Drew University, Madison, New Jersey (1954-1968);
  5. Dean of the Theological School, Drew University (1954-1963), as the youngest Dean of that theological school;
  6. Annual Professor, American Professor, American School of Oriental Research, Jerusalem, Israel (1963-1964);
  7. Professor of Old Testament Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey (1969-1983); and
  8. Adjunct Professor of Old Testament Theology, Boston University School of Theology, Boston, Massachusetts (1984-1996).

Anderson also received honorary degrees, served as the President of the Society of Biblical Literature in 1980, and, after retiring from Princeton in 1983, led the American Theological Society in 1985.

Our saint also had an interest in Biblical archeology.  In 1956 he and G. Ernest Wright (1909-1974) started the Drew-McCormick Archaeological Expedition, to excavate the ancient city of Shechem.

Anderson, who was a humble man, contributed greatly to Biblical scholarship.  He, for example, wrote the introduction to and exegesis of the Book of Esther for Volume III (1954) of The Interpreter’s Bible.  (Episcopal Bishop Arthur Carl Lichtenberger wrote the exposition on the Book of Esther.)  Furthermore, Understanding the Old Testament (First Edition, 1957; Second Edition, 1966; Third Edition, 1975; Fourth Edition, 1986; Fifth Edition, 2006) became a standard textbook.

By the late 1980s the marriage to Joyce (still alive when our saint died) had ended, and he had married Monique Martin.  In 1989 the Andersons settled in the Santa Cruz, California, area, where they worshiped at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Capitola (now the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist, Aptos).  Our saint, aged 91 years, died in Santa Cruz on December 26, 2007.

His written legacy remains, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 29, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE BEHEADING OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Bernhard W. Anderson 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 Arthur Carl Lichtenberger (September 3)   4 comments

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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ARTHUR CARL LICHTENBERGER (JANUARY 8, 1900-SEPTEMBER 3, 1968)

Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and Witness for Civil Rights

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Fast from criticism, and feast on praise.

Fast from self-pity, and feast on joy.

Fast from ill-temper and feast on peace.

Fast from resentment, and feast on contentment.

Fast from jealousy, and feast on love.

Fast from pride, and feast on humility.

Fast from selfishness, and feast on service.

Fast from fear, and feast on faith.

–Arthur Carl Lichtenberger on Lenten practice

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Arthur Carl Lichtenberger was a leader of The Episcopal Church during a transitional period of its life.  His influence has been evident since his term as Presiding Bishop.

Lichtenberger was a theologian and a scholar.  He, born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on January 8, 1900, was a child of Adam Lichtenberger and Thereza Heitz.  He graduated from Kenyon College with a Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1923.  Two years later he graduated from the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Our saint, ordained a deacon in 1925 and a priest the following year, was Professor of New Testament at St. Paul’s Divinity School, Wuchang, China, from 1925 to 1927.  Graduate work at Harvard University followed in 1927-1928.  Next our saint was the Rector of Grace Church, Cincinnati, Ohio (1928-1933).  While the Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Brookline, Massachusetts (1933-1941), Lichtenberger was also a lecturer at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge (1935-1941).  Our saint went on to serve as the Dean of Trinity Cathedral, Newark, New Jersey (1941-1948), then as Professor Pastoral Theology at the General Theological Seminary, New York City (1948-1951).  Throughout his career Lichtenberger received numerous Doctor of Divinity, Doctor of Sacred Theology, Doctor of Laws, Doctor of Civil Law, and Doctor of Humane Letters degrees.

Lichtenberger joined the ranks of bishops in 1951.  That year he became the Bishop Coadjutor of Missouri.  The following year he succeeded to become the Bishop of Missouri.  While in the Diocese of Missouri Lichtenberger wrote the exposition on the Book of Esther for Volume III (1954) of The Interpreter’s Bible.  He also initiated congregational-level study of church mission, resulting in an increase in the amount of outreach and the number of churches.

Above:  A Portion of The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume III (1954), x

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

At the General Convention of 1958 Lichtenberger won the election for Presiding Bishop, to succeed Henry Knox Sherrill (1890-1980), who had served in that post since 1947.  On that occasion Lichtenberger affirmed those unalienable rights no government, person, or group has a moral right to deny anyone.  He said that the human rights

to vote, to eat a hamburger where you want, to have a decent job, to live in a house fit for habitation are not rights to be litigated or negotiated.

(Those are still disputed points in the United States of America in 2018, unfortunately.)  Our saint led The Episcopal Church in affirming civil rights.  On his watch the House of Bishops supported the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (August 1963) and what became the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In June 1964, after Congress passed that landmark law, Lichtenberger issued a public statement in which he acknowledged that

legislation cannot change attitudes,

but

…law does influence the way in which men and women treat one another, and more than just relationships do provide a social climate in which attitudes change….We must commit ourselves without reservation to the full support of civil rights.

Baptism, Lichtenberger argued, creates a new social order.  This understanding, which influenced his views on the imperative of civil rights protections, has become part of the Baptismal Covenant in The Book of Common Prayer (1979).

Speaking of liturgical revision, Lichtenberger supported it.  At the General Conventions of 1961 and 1964 he favored the authorization of “trial use” liturgies.  The process of revising The Book of Common Prayer (1928) was underway when he died in 1968.

Lichtenberger became the Presiding Bishop when the denominational headquarters were inadequate.  The Church had occupied 281 Fourth Avenue, Manhattan, New York City, since 1894.  By 1958 branch offices in Connecticut, Chicago, and elsewhere in New York City were necessary.  Since 1960 the headquarters of The Episcopal Church have been at 815 Second Avenue, Manhattan.

On the ecumenical front Lichtenberger made history.  In 1961, en route to the Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches, our saint visited Pope St. John XXIII, thereby becoming the first Episcopal Presiding Bishop to visit a pope.

Lichtenberger was unable to complete a full term as Presiding Bishop.  As Parkinson’s Disease took its toll, our saint realized that he had to resign.  So, at the General Convention of 1964, the House of Bishops elected John Hines (1910-1997) to lead the denomination.  On his way out of office Lichtenberger published The Day is at Hand (1964), a collection of some of his writings.  From 1965 to 1968 our saint was Professor of Pastoral Theology at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Lichtenberger, aged 68 years, died in Bethel, Vermont, on September 3, 1968.

Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Virginia, has as one of its endowed chairs the Arthur Carl Lichtenberger Chair in Pastoral Theology and Continuing Education.

I revere John Hines, who deserves many accolades was still stands as a controversial and prophetic figure in 2018.  History should give him his due.  Yet I notice that his legacy overshadows that of Lichtenberger, a man no less supportive of civil rights and liturgical revision.  It is past time that Lichtenberger receive his due, which need not come at the expense of Hines.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 19, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN HINES, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN PLESSINGTON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JÓZEF PUCHALA, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC FRANCISCAN FRIAR, PRIEST, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT POEMEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINTS JOHN THE DWARF AND ARSENIUS THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Arthur Carl Lichtenberger,

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 power in 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), 60

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Feast of John Hines (July 19)   1 comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOHN ELBRIDGE HINES (OCTOBER 10, 1910-JULY 19, 1997)

Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and Witness for Civil Rights

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Justice is the corporate face of love.

John Hines, 1981

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John Elbridge Hines will probably receive his pledge on The Episcopal Church’s calendar eventually.  The appendix to A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016) lists him as one of those

people worthy of commemoration who do not qualify under the “reasonable passage of time” guideline.

–Page A3

That makes sense as a denominational policy.  Nevertheless, more than a reasonable amount of time has passed for inclusion on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

John Elbridge Hines was a prophet, in the highest sense of that word.  He, born in Seneca, South Carolina, on October 10, 1910, graduated from The University of the South then from Virginia Theological Seminary.  Our saint, ordained during the Great Depression, served in the Diocese of Missouri for a few years, during which he imbibed deeply of Social Christianity.  He also married Helen Orwig (1910-1996).  The couple had five children.  As the Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Augusta, Georgia, from 1937 to 1941, Hines was an outspoken critic of racial segregation.  Our saint’s final parish (from 1941 to 1945) was Christ Church, Houston, Texas.

Hines was a bishop most of his life.  From 1945 to 1955 he was the Bishop Coadjutor of Texas; then he was the Bishop of Texas for another nine years.  In Texas Hines helped to found the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the West, in Austin, in 1953.  He also integrated schools.  Then, in 1965, at the age of 54 years, Hines became the Presiding Bishop of the denomination.

Change was in the air, and much of that change was morally correct yet no less jarring and offensive to many.  Civil rights for African Americans were difficult for many white Americans to accept, for racism ran deeply.  Likewise, feminism was challenging patriarchy, which also ran deeply.  The Episcopal Church, long known as “the Republican Party at prayer,” was engaging the winds of change.  Many of the leaders were liberal–pro-civil rights, pro-equal rights for women.  Elements of the church resisted these changes, however.  Hines, with his social conscience fully engaged with regard to race, gender, and economics, had to contend with much strong opposition within The Episcopal Church.  He built on the legacies of his two immediate predecessors–Henry Knox Sherrill (1947-1958) and Arthur Carl Lichtenberger (1958-1964).

Much of what was revolutionary in 1965-1974 became mainstream subsequently.  The new Presiding Bishop marched at Selma, Alabama, in 1965; that was a controversial decision.  In 1971 Hines led a campaign to divest from South Africa, a proposition that aroused much opposition in much of U.S. Right Wing as late as the early 1990s.  In the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan, who told Archbishop Desmond Tutu that the dark-skinned majority of South Africa would have to wait for their rights, Reagan opposed divestment.  Yet, according to Tutu, divestment was crucial to ending Apartheid.  Hines also favored expanding roles for women in the church–including as lectors, as delegates to the General Convention, and as deacons, priests, and bishops.  He retired in 1974, just as the dispute over the ordination of women as priests became more of an issue.  Also, there were no female bishops in The Episcopal Church or the wider Anglican Communion until 1989.  for a few years after that the election and consecration of a female bishop was a major story in the ecclesiastical press.  As of 2018, however, it has become routine.  Hines also presided over the early stages of liturgical revision, early steps toward The Book of Common Prayer (1979), a volume objectionable to many conservatives at the time, as now.  Some of them found all or much of this change so offensive that they committed schism from The Episcopal Church.  Then many of them committed schism from each other, hence the confusing organizational mess that is Continuing Anglicanism in the United States.  Many of the allegedly theologically pure were apparently purer than others of their number.  Donatism ran amok and became cannibalistic.  (I, an ecclesiastical geek, have a long attention span and a tendency to pay attention to minor details, but even I find divisions in Continuing Anglicanism confusing.  Most of the divisions are over minor theological points, actually.  Collegiality, one of the great traditions of Anglicanism, is in short supply.)

Hines, invoking hindsight, was honest about the lofty goals and mixed legacy of the General Convention Special Program (GCSP), created in 1967.  The GCSP awarded grants, with the purpose of fostering racial justice, economic justice, and self-determination.  One of the conditions for a grant was not to advocate for violence.  The initial lack (in 1967-1970) of veto power by the local bishop was an especially controversial point.  In 1970 the establishment of that veto power, with a mechanism for overriding it, meant that no grants led to embarrassing headlines, as during the first three years of the program.  The GCSP, cut back in 1973, did not survive the 1970s.  After 1973, however, funding for work among Hispanics and Native Americans increased.  Nevertheless, the damage from 1967-1970 was done.  Many people had left The Episcopal Church in protest, and many parishes and some dioceses had, for a few years, withheld funding from the national church.

Hines, who understood that the institutional quest for justice was important than complacent, oblivious tranquility and internal reconciliation, retired three years early, in 1974.  He and Helen moved to North Carolina before relocating to Texas in 1993.  She, aged 85 years, died on May 17, 1996.  Our saint, aged 86 years, died in Austin on July 19, 1997.

The legacy of John Elbridge Hines should remind us of the moral necessity of applying Christian principles to pressing social issues, of creating justice, and of recognizing our individual, collective, and institutional complicity in injustice.  His legacy should also remind us that strong opposition to confronting injustice exists even within the church, and that doing the right thing will often come at a high cost.  We must still do the right thing, though.  The legacy of Bishop Hines should teach us these lessons.  Whether it does is up to us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE DAY OF PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALCUIN OF YORK, ABBOT OF TOURS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS COLUMBA OF RIETI AND OSANNA ANDREASI, DOMINICAN MYSTICS

THE FEAST OF JOHN ELIOT, “THE APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSE HAWTHORNE LATHROP, FOUNDRESS OF THE DOMINICAN SISTERS OF HAWTHORNE

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant John Elbridge Hines,

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), 60

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Feast of Henry Knox Sherrill (May 11)   3 comments

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Image in the Public Domain

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HENRY KNOX SHERRILL (NOVEMBER 6, 1890-MAY 11, 1980)

Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and Witness for Civil Rights

Henry Knox Sherrill made his mark on The Episcopal Church, the United States of America, and the global church.

Our saint grew up in a devout family and became an Episcopal priest.  His parents were Henry Williams Sherrill (1853-1900) and Maria Knox Mills Sherrill (1855-1932).  His brother was Franklin Goldthwaite Sherrill (1883-1933).  Our saint, born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 6, 1890, graduated from Yale University with his Bachelor’s degree in 1911.  At Yale his mentor had been Henry Sloane Coffin (1877-1954).  Then he attended the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, from which he graduated in 1914.

The young priest opposed intolerance and favored progressive causes throughout his life.  He began his ministerial career as the Assistant Rector of Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts (1914-1917).  Next he served as a Red Cross chaplain, assigned first to a hospital in Boston (1917) then in Talence, France (1917-1919).  Our saint, discharged from the U.S. Army after World War I, served as the Rector of the Church of Our Saviour, Brookline, Massachusetts (1919-1923), then as the Rector of Trinity Church, Boston (1923-1930).  During his time in Boston in the 1920s Sherrill also taught pastoral care and homiletics at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, and pastoral care at the Boston University School of University.

Sherrill became a bishop in 1930.  He, the Ninth Bishop of Massachusetts from October 14, 1930, to June 1, 1947, served as the chairman of The Episcopal Church’s Army/Navy Commission and the General Commission of Army/Navy Chaplains.  In the latter capacity our saint traveled widely in combat zones.  For this work he received the Medal of Merit, the U.S.A.’s highest award for a civilian.  Sherrill, Presiding Bishop from January 1, 1947, resigned as Bishop of Massachusetts on June 1, 1947, in accordance with national church canons.  As the Presiding Bishop our saint oversaw the organization of the Episcopal Church Foundation, the creation of the Seabury Press, and the progress of civil rights in the denomination.

That commitment to civil rights ran deeply with Sherrill.  In 1946 President Harry S Truman had appointed our saint to serve on the Civil Rights Advisory Committee, which produced the signal report “To Secure These Rights” (October 1947).  Sherrill also presided over the decision to change the location of the denominational General Convention of 1955 from Houston, Texas, where African-American delegates would not have received equal housing arrangements, to Honolulu, Hawai’i.  That was a controversial decision.  Under Sherrill’s leadership the General Convention of 1955 issued a strong statement decrying racial segregation and discrimination as being contrary to the will of God.  Our saint also supported ecclesiastical integration openly:

Integration in the whole church is inevitable; it is fundamental to the heart of the Gospel.

–Sherrill, September 18, 1956; quoted in David E. Summer, The Episcopal Church’s History:  1945-1985 (Wilton, CT:  Morehouse-Barlow, 1987), page 37

Sherrill was also an ecumenical leader.  He served as the first President of the National Council of Churches from 1950 to 1952 then as the President of the World Council of Churches from 1954 to 1961.

Our saint, who resigned as the Presiding Bishop on November 14, 1958, for health-related reasons, received 21 honorary degrees from universities such as Columbia, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton.  He retired to the Boston area, where he died on May 11, 1980, aged 89 years.  Arthur Carl Lichtenberger (in office 1958-1964) succeeded him.

Sherrill’s legacy has continued not only via institutions, but also via his family.  He married Barbara Harris.  The couple had four children, who had their own families and other direct and indirect influences.

Edmund K. Sherrill became a priest.  He was the Bishop of Central Brazil in 1975 and the Bishop of Northern Brazil five years later.

Barbara Prue Sherrill married Mason Wilson, Jr.

Henry Williams Sherrill (1922-2001) became an Episcopal priest.

Franklin Goldthwaite Sherrill II, or F. Goldthwaite Sherrill, served as the Rector of Grace Episcopal Church, Brooklyn, New York, New York, from 1967 until his retirement in 1993.  He died, aged 87 years, in late July 2017.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CALLIXTUS I, ANTERUS, AND PONTIAN, BISHOPS OF ROME; AND SAINT HIPPOLYTUS, ANTIPOPE

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HANSEN KINGO, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND “POET OF EASTERTIDE”

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Henry Knox Sherrill,

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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