Archive for the ‘Christopher L. Webber’ Tag

Feast of Benedict Joseph Flaget (November 7)   4 comments

Above:  Benedict Joseph Flaget

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

BENEDICT JOSEPH FLAGET (NOVEMBER 7, 1763-FEBRUARY 11, 1850)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Bardstown then of Louisville, Kentucky

Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Flaget was French.  He, born at Contournat, near Billom, Auvergne, on November 7, 1763, became an orphan when two years old.  Our saint and his two brothers grew up in the household of an uncle (Canon Benoît Flaget) and an aunt at Billom.  At the age of seventeen years, our saint matriculated at the Sulpician seminary in Clermont.

Flaget became a priest.  He, ordained on All Saints’ Day, 1783, at Issy, taught for years.  Our saint taught theology at Nantes for two years then did the same at Angers.  The anti-clericalism of the French Revolution led to the closing of the seminary at Angers.  Flaget, after returning briefly to Billom in 1791, sailed for the United States of America in January 1792.  He sailed with Étienne (Stephen) Theodore Badin (1768-1853), then a subdeacon, but destined to become the first Roman Catholic priest ordained in the United States of America, on May 25, 1793.  Flaget also sailed with Jean-Baptiste-Marie (John Baptist Mary) David (1761-1841), whom he had recruited to the seminary.

The three future missionaries landed in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 29, 1792.  They proceeded to study English and prepare for their tasks in the New World.  John Carroll (1735-1815), the Bishop of Baltimore (1789-1808) then the Archbishop of Baltimore (1808-1815), assigned Flaget to minister to indigenous people at Fort Vincennes, Northwest Territory (now Indiana).  Our saint arrived on December 21, 1792.  Recalled after two years, he taught at Georgetown College (now University) until 1798.  Then, transferred to Havana, Cuba, in 1798, Flaget eventually returned to Baltimore, in the company of twenty-three students.

Pope Pius VII created the Diocese of Bardstown, Kentucky (out of the Archdiocese of Baltimore), and appointed Flaget the first bishop thereof on April 8, 1808.  Flaget, back in France, initially refused.  Yet he accepted the appointment.  Our saint returned to the United States of America in 1810.  He sailed with friend and colleague Father Simon William Bruté (1779-1839), later the first Bishop of Vincennes.  Another passenger on that vessel was Subdeacon Guy Ignatius Chabrat (1787-1868).  Flaget, consecrated by Archbishop John Carroll in Baltimore on November 4, 1810, arrived in Bardstown on June 9, 1811.

The Diocese of Bardstown was initially vast.  However, as time passed, the Church carved other dioceses out of it.  In 1811, the Diocese of Bardstown included the original Northwest Territory (1787), Kentucky, and Tennessee.  The new diocese was a daunting mission field.  In 1811, after a long and difficult overland journey, Flaget and his entourage arrived in Bardstown.  Shortly after arriving, the new bishop wrote in his journal:

In entering the town, I devoted myself to to all the guardian angels who reside therein, and I prayed to God, with all my heart, to make me an instrument of His glory in this new Diocese.  O my dear brother, have compassion on me, overloaded with so heavy a burden, and pray fervently to God that he would vouchsafe to lighten it.

–Quoted in Cady and Webber. A Year with American Saints (2006), 574

Above:  The Basilica of St. Joseph, Bardstown, Kentucky

Image Source = Google Earth

Flaget was an effective and energetic missionary bishop.  He founded a seminary and parishes.  Construction of his first cathedral, the Basilica of St. Joseph, Bardstown, finished in 1823.  Chabrat became one of Flaget’s missionary priests.  Flaget ordained him, the first Roman Catholic priest ordained west of the Allegheny Mountains, on Christmas Day, 1811.  Flaget also helped to select most of the Roman Catholic bishops consecrated in the United States of America in the 1810-1830s.  John Baptist Mary David (1761-1841), the Bishop Coadjutor of Bardstown (1819-1832), succeeded as the Bishop of Bardstown when Flaget retired, in 1832.  Our saint’s age and health were catching up with him.

David served as the Bishop of Bardstown for less than a year (1832-1833).  Whatever and however great his virtues were, the majority of priests and lay people wanted Flaget back.  Therefore, David resigned and Flaget returned.  Our saint’s second tenure lasted from 1833 to 1850.  His next Bishop Coadjutor was Chabrat, consecrated on July 20, 1834.  By then, the diocese spanned only Kentucky and Tennessee.  Flaget and Chabrat continued to found institutions, build up the diocese, and lay the foundations for future dioceses.  And Flaget traveled in France and Italy (1835-1839).  In his absence, the Diocese of Bardstown became the Diocese of Louisville in 1837.  Chabrat, who had taken over most of the administrative work of the diocese, was going blind.  Therefore, he resigned in 1847 and returned to France.  Flaget needed a new Bishop Coadjutor.

Flaget’s third Bishop Coadjutor was Martin John Spalding, a priest in the diocese.  Spalding was a fine choice, for he was already one of the main administrators of the Diocese of Louisville.  Spalding was the effectively the Bishop of Louisville, starting in 1848, for the aged Flaget all-but officially retired while retaining the title “Bishop of Louisville.”

Flaget, aged 86 years, died in Louisville, Kentucky, on February 11, 1850.

His tomb is in the basement of the Cathedral of the Assumption, Louisville.

Spalding served (officially) as the Bishop of Louisville from 1850 to 1864.  He, appointed the Archbishop of Baltimore (1864-1872), was an uncle of John Lancaster Spalding (1840-1816), the Bishop of Peoria (1877-1908).

Flaget, by the grace of God, functioned as an instrument of divine glory.

May you, O reader, do the same in your context.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 28, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAROSLAV VAJDA, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOZEF CEBULA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAMPHILIUS OF SULMONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF ALMSGIVER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CHANEL, PROTOMARTYR OF OCEANIA, 1841

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW, EPISCOPAL ATTORNEY, THEOLOGIAN, AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, whose will it is to be glorified in your saints,

and who raised up your servant Benedict Joseph Flaget to be a light in the world:

Shine, we pray, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth your praise,

who called us out of darkness into your marvelous light;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Isaiah 49:1-6

Psalm 98 or 98:1-4

Acts 17:22-31

Matthew 28:16-20

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 717

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Eugene Carson Blake (November 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  My Copies of the Presbyterian Books of Confessions, from 1967, 1985, and 2007

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The Book of Confessions (1967), of The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

The Book of Confessions (1985, 2007), of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

EUGENE CARSON BLAKE (NOVEMBER 7, 1906-JULY 31, 1985)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Ecumenist, and Moral Critic

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Boasting about our heritage of freedom, we allied ourselves with some of the worst dictators all over the world, as long as they were, in our judgment, anti-communist.  We have justified all sorts of immoral political acts either because we thought they would weaken communism or (even a more immoral excuse) that since the communists were doing them, so must we….These, and other such actions, have been occasioned far more by fear of communism than by concern for justice.

–Eugene Carson Blake, quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 554

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Eugene Carson Blake comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Cady and Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Blake came from Midwestern Presbyterian stock.  He, born in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 7, 1906, was a son of Lulu Blake and Orville Prescott Blake.  Our saint graduated from Princeton University with a degree in philosophy in 1928.  Then he taught the Bible, English, and philosophy at Forman Christian College, Lahore (then in India; now in Pakistan), for a year (1928-1929).  Next, Blake studied theology at New College, Edinburgh (1929-1930).  He matriculated at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1930 and graduated two years later.

Our saint, ordained in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (PCUSA) in 1932, embarked upon his ministerial career.  He was, in order:

  1. the assistant pastor (1932) then the senior pastor (1932-1935) of the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas (Reformed Church in America), New York, New York;
  2. the senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), Albany, New York (1935-1940); and
  3. the senior pastor of the Pasadena Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), Pasadena, California (1940-1951).

Blake left parish ministry in 1951.  He served as the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1951-1958).  As such, he helped to execute the merger of the PCUSA with The United Presbyterian Church of North America (UPCNA) to form The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA) in 1958.  Then he served as the President of the Stated Clerk of the UPCUSA (1958-1966).

Above:  The Logo of the UPCUSA

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

On the ecumenical front, Blake also served as the President of the National Council of Churches (1954-1957) then as the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (1966-1972).

Blake’s ecumenism led to the founding of the Consultation on Church Union (1962-2002), the predecessor of Churches Uniting in Christ (2002-).  In 1960, at Grace Episcopal Cathedral, San Francisco, California, he preached a famous sermon.  Our saint advocated for the merger of The UPCUSA (1958-1983), The Methodist Church (1939-1968), The Episcopal Church (1789-), and the United Church of Christ (1957-) into one denomination truly both Catholic and Reformed.

The Consultation on Church Union included ten denominations in 1967:

  1. the African Methodist Episcopal Church,
  2. the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church,
  3. the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),
  4. the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church,
  5. The Episcopal Church,
  6. the Evangelical United Brethren Church (merged into The United Methodist Church, 1968),
  7. The Methodist Church (merged into The United Methodist Church, 1968),
  8. the Presbyterian Church in the United States (merged into the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 1983),
  9. the United Church of Christ, and
  10. The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (merged into the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 1983).

The successor organization, Churches Uniting in Christ, consciously confronts racism.  The members are:

  1. the African Methodist Episcopal Church,
  2. the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church,
  3. the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),
  4. the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church,
  5. The Episcopal Church,
  6. the International Council of Community Churches,
  7. the Moravian Church in America,
  8. the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),
  9. the United Church of Christ, and
  10. The United Methodist Church.

That anti-racism is consistent with our saint’s legacy.

Blake was active in the Civil Rights Movement.  On July 4, 1963, he went to jail for trying to integrate the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park, Baltimore, Maryland.  The following month, he was prominent at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which he had helped to organize.  Our saint was one of speakers at that great event.  And, at the World Council of Churches (1966-1972), Blake led a global anti-racism program.

Blake’s opposition to the Vietnam War earned the ire of two Presidents of the United States of America.  He became persona non grata with Lyndon Baines Johnson (in office 1963-1969).  Richard Nixon (in office 1969-1974) had a list of 576 enemies, subject to official harassment, such as tax audits and F.B.I. investigations.  “Enemies” included actor Paul Newman (1925-2008), journalists Daniel Schorr (1916-2010) and Mary McGrory (1918-2019), and U.S. Representatives John Conyers (1929-2019) and Ron Dellums (1935-2018).  That list also included Blake.  Newman described being on Nixon’s enemies list as a great honor.  Schorr, whom the F.B.I. investigated, spoke to Nixon at a social occasion years after Nixon left office.  The journalist referred to that investigation.  The former President, apparently not apologetic and repentant, replied:

I damn near hired you once.

Blake was in very good company on Nixon’s list of enemies.

Blake also helped to make the United Presbyterian Book of Confessions and Confession of 1967 possible.  The first edition of The Book of Confessions debuted in 1967.  The emphasis on reconciliation in Christ in the Confession of 1967 was consistent with our saint’s work.

In Jesus Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.  He is the eternal Son of the Father, who became man and lived among us to fulfill the work of reconciliation.  He is present in the church by the power of the Holy Spirit to continue and complete his mission.  This work of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the foundation of all confessional statements about God, man, and the world.  Therefore the church calls men to be reconciled to God and to one another.

–From the Confession of 1967, quoted in The Book of Confessions (1967), 9.07

In retirement, Blake worked for Bread for the World.  Feeding starving people was consistent with decreasing poverty, another social justice issue and long-time cause of our saint.  He had worked on economic and social development at the World Council of Churches, too.

Blake, aged 78 yeas, died in Stamford, Connecticut, on July 31, 1985.  By then The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the Presbyterian Church in the United States had merged to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in 1983.

Blake got more right than wrong–a daunting task and a great accomplishment.

I am an ecumenist.  Denominational structures exist because of human nature.  We in the Universal Church should, of course, strive to reduce the number of denominations via well-reasoned and feasible mergers.  And, when organic union is not feasible, perhaps cooperation is.  So be it.

I am also an Episcopalian.  I have definite Roman Catholic tendencies.  What passes for corporate worship in most of Protestantism leaves me uninspired.  I want to ask:

Do you call this a proper liturgy?

My denominational Plan B is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), in full communion with The Episcopal Church.  This is a good fit, given the historical relations between Anglicanism and Lutheranism.

Blake’s proposed United Presbyterian Church-United Church of Christ-Methodist Church-Episcopal Church union was not feasible.  For example, in 1993, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) published its most recent Book of Common Worship.  It was a vast improvement over The Worshipbook–Services (1970), incorporated into The Worshipbook–Services and Hymns (1972).  Many Presbyterians objected to the new Book of Common Worship.  It was too Episcopalian, they said.

A denomination has a character.  Some denominations are better fits with other denominations than with others.

Blake issued his proposal at a different time.  Most Christian denominations in the United States of America were growing in membership, for example.  Also, The Episcopal Church had yet to bear the full fruits of liturgical renewal in 1960.  Nevertheless, his vision for a more united institutional church has become more relevant when, in the United States of America and the rest of the Western world, “none” has become the fastest-growing religious affiliation.

Sadly, Blake’s foci on reducing poverty and racism are more germane than ever.  Related to them is another one of his favorite themes.  We need reconciliation with each other and God more than ever.  Reconciliation is difficult to achieve when mutually hostile camps cannot even agree on what constitutes objective reality.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Loving and righteous God, who transcends all religious denominations,

we thank you for the faithful ministry, social witness, and legacy of your servant, Eugene Carson Blake.

May we also seek to bring the world closer to the high calling of the fully-realized Kingdom of God,

and embrace our brother and sister Christians in other denominations;

for your glory and for the common good.

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

Leviticus 19:9-18

Psalm 133

1 Corinthians 1:10-17

John 17:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 24, 2021 COMMON ERA

GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE

THE FEAST OF SAINT EGBERT OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND SAINT ADALBERT OF EGMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN, CAPUCHIN FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1622

THE FEAST OF JOHANN WALTER, “FIRST CANTOR OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MELLITUS, BISHOP OF LONDON, AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Eric Norelius (October 25)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Logo of the Augustana Synod

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ERIC NORELIUS (OCTOBER 26, 1833-MARCH 15, 1916)

Swedish-American Lutheran Minister

Eric Norelius comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Norelius grew up in The Church of Sweden.  He, born in Hassela, Sweden, on October 26, 1833, was steeped in Lutheranism.  When our saint arrived in New York Harbor on October 31, 1850, he found other Swedish immigrants, mostly Methodists.  When Norelius arrived in Chicago, Illinois, he found a Swedish Episcopalian congregation.  After graduating from Capital University, Columbus, Ohio (1855), Norelius began his Lutheran ministerial career.

In September 1855, Eric Norelius and Inga Peterson Norelius, newlyweds, arrived in Red Wing, Minnesota.  Our saint became the pastor of two churches, one in Red Wing and the other one in Vasa.  The Swedish Lutheran congregations were poor, so the Noreliuses had to leave, for financial reasons, in 1858.   Before they did, however, our saint had founded twelve congregations.

Norelius remained active in ecclesiastical affairs.  Our saint became a journalist.  He had founded a Swedish-language newspaper, the Minnesota Posten, in November 1857.  He assumed the editorship of the Hemlandet, a Swedish-language newspaper which absorbed the Minnesota Posten, in January 1859.  Norelius helped to found the Augustana Synod (originally for Norwegian and Swedish immigrants) in June 1860.  He served as a traveling missionary to Swedes living west of Minneapolis, starting in October 1860.

Norelius returned to the Red Wing-Vasa area, as pastor, in 1861.  He founded a school, the origin of Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota, in 1862.  Our saint also founded the Vasa Children’s Home in 1865.  This was the genesis of Lutheran Social Services  of Minnesota.

Norelius led above the parish level, too.  He served as the President of the Augustana Synod’s Minnesota Conference (1870f).  Then our saint was the President of the Augustana Synod (1874-1881, 1899-1911).  Norelius also wrote and edited.  His published works included The History of the Swedish Lutheran Congregations and the Swedish Americans (two volumes, 1890).  Norelius edited ecclesiastical publications (1870-1882, 1899-1909), too.

Norelius, aged 82 years, died in Vasa, Minnesota, on March 15, 1916.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 23, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF TOYOHIKO KAGAWA, RENEWER OF SOCIETY AND PROPHETIC WITNESS IN JAPAN

THE FEAST OF JAKOB BÖHME, GERMAN LUTHERAN MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF MARTIN RINCKART, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA MARIA OF THE CROSS, FOUNDRESS OF THE CARMELITE SISTERS OF SAINT TERESA OF FLORENCE

THE FEAST OF WALTER RUSSELL BOWIE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, SEMINARY PROFESSOR, AND HYMN WRITER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

to call the Church to its tasks and renew its life [such as your servant Eric Norelius].

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 kingdom;  through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of John Clarke (October 4)   2 comments

Above:  United Baptist Church, John Clarke Memorial, Newport, Rhode Island

Image Source = Google Earth

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

JOHN CLARKE (BAPTIZED OCTOBER 8, 1609-DIED APRIL 20, 1676)

English Baptist Minister and Champion of Religious Liberty in New England

The Reverend John Clarke comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), as well as his association with Obadiah Holmes, Sr. (1609-1682).

Many people accept a host of falsehoods about the history of the United States of America.  One of these lies is that most Puritans came to this country (when it was still a collection of British colonies) to practice religious freedom.  Shall I point to the numerous examples that prove the existence of Puritan theocracies in New England?  How about the four executed Quakers (link and link) in the Massachusetts Bay colony?  I point also to the cases of Roger Williams (1603?-1683) and Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643) and company, exiled for dissenting.  To that list I add the case of John Clarke.

Clarke arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in November 1637 yet left soon thereafter.  The church in Boston was embroiled in the Antinomian Controversy.  Proponents of the Covenant of Grace argued against supporters of the Covenant of Works.  (I understand the three Calvinist covenants objectively and intellectually yet cannot muster enough theological interest to become either excited or offended by this dispute.)  The Antinomian Controversy did lead to expulsions from the colony and to voluntary relocation.  Many people in the Massachusetts Bay Colony cared deeply about this matter.

Clarke and his first wife, Elizabeth Harris Clarke, joined other dissidents (including Williams and the Hutchinsons) who had moved to Rhode Island.  He had left England to get away from religious restrictions.  Then he had found the Massachusetts Bay Colony to be a Puritan theocracy and not to his liking, either.  Rhode Island was not a theocracy, though.  The Clarkes settled at Pocasset, Aquidneck Island, in 1638.  By the end of the year, however, our saint had helped to establish a new settlement, Newport, and the First Baptist Church there.  This was the second Baptist congregation in America.

Clarke, who had legal training, too, helped to secure the charter for Rhode Island.  In 1641, he and Roger Williams traveled to England for this purpose in 1643.  Clarke remained in England for a few years, to function as colonial agent.  Our saint, back in Rhode Island, resumed his role as pastor of First Baptist Church.  In 1647, he was the main author of the colony’s new legal code.

Clarke’s life intersected with that of Obadiah Holmes in 1649.  Holmes and eight other members, excommunicated from the church in Reheboth, Massachusetts Bay Colony, had argued with the pastor over infant baptism.  The Reverend Samuel Newman was for it; Holmes and company were against it.  The excommunicated church members formed a house church, with Holmes as the pastor.  Clarke rebaptized the members of the house church in 1649.  With the local court declaring the house church illegal, the dissidents of Reheboth moved to Newport and joined First Baptist Church.

John Clarke and John Crandall (1618-1676) of First Baptist Church, Newport, visited William Witten, an old blind man, in Lynn, Massachusetts Bay Colony, in July 1651.  Obadiah traveled with Clarke and Crandall to visit Witten.  The three visitors conducted a church service.  They celebrated communion and baptized converts.  Authorities arrested the three visitors.  The court convicted and fined them:

  1. John Crandall–five pounds, or about $984.15 (2021);
  2. John Clarke–twenty pounds, or about $3,939.37 (2021); and
  3. Obadiah Holmes–thirty pounds, or about $4,270.15 (2021).

The alternative was a severe whipping.  Nevertheless, Governor John Endecott considered that punishment lax; he claimed that the three men deserved to die.

Allies offered to pay the fines of all three men.  Crandall and Clarke accepted and returned to Newport.  Our saint, however, refused.  Therefore, he endured 30 strokes on his back.  For weeks, he had to sleep on his knees and elbows.  For the rest of his life, he called his scars “the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

Clarke returned to England again in 1651, to serve as colonial agent.  He remained there until 1664.  While in England, our saint wrote against religious persecution in New England and ruffled the feathers of New England Puritan authorities.  He also secured a royal charter for Rhode Island in 1663.  That charter guaranteed freedom of religion except when a person’s actions

disturb the civil peace of our said colony.

The Clarkes–John and Elizabeth–returned to Newport, Rhode Island, in early 1664.  Our saint returned to First Baptist Church, as co-pastor, with Obadiah Holmes.  Clarke continued to be active in colonial governance.  From 1664 to 1672, not all at once, he did he following:

  1. Clarke represented Newport in the General Assembly.
  2. Clarke served as the Deputy Governor.
  3. Clarke made a digest of the laws of Rhode Island.
  4. Clarke returned to England briefly as colonial agent in 1670.

First Baptist Church, Newport, experienced one major and two minor schisms while Clarke was alive.

  1. Second Baptist Church (somewhat Arminian) formed in 1656.  This congregation reunited with First Baptist Church in 1946.  The merged congregation took the name United Baptist Church, John Clarke Memorial.
  2. A few members broke away and organized the first Seventh Day Baptist church in America in late 1671.  This congregation closed in the middle of the nineteenth century.
  3. Some excommunicated members and their extended family became Quakers in 1673.

Clarke married three times and buried two wives.  Elizabeth Harris Clarke having died, our saint married a widow, Jane Fletcher, on February 1, 1671.  The couple had a daughter (February 14, 1672-May 18, 1673).  Jane died on April 19, 1672.  Clarke’s third wife was another widow, Sarah David (d. circa 1692).

Clarke, aged 66 years, died in Newport on April 20, 1676.  His will established the oldest educational trust in what became the United States of America.  That will specified

relief of the poor or bringing up of children unto learning from time to time forever.

Clarke was a pioneer of religious freedom in what became the United States of America.  That part of his legacy has benefited more people than perhaps he could have imagined.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DONALD S. ARMENTROUT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HADEWIJCH OF BRABERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF KATHE KOLLWITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN ARTIST AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VITALIS OF GAZA, MONK, HERMIT, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 625

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, our light and salvation, who makes all free to worship you:

May we ever strive to be faithful to your call, following the example of John Clarke,

that we may faithfully set our hands to the Gospel plow,

confident in the truth proclaimed by your Son Jesus Christ;

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

–Adapted from A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

+++++++++++++++++

O God our light and salvation, we thank you for John Clarke,

whose visions of the liberty of the soul illumined by the light of Christ

made him a brave prophet of religious tolerance in the American colonies;

and we pray that we may follow paths of holiness and good conscience,

guided by the radiance of Jesus Christ;

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

1 Kings 17:1-16

Psalm 133

1 Peter 1:13-16

Luke 9:51-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 211

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This is post #2250 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Elizabeth Comstock (October 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  Elizabeth Comstock

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ELIZABETH LESLIE ROUS WRIGHT COMSTOCK (OCTOBER 30, 1815-AUGUST 3, 1891)

Anglo-American Quaker Educator, Abolitionist, and Social Reformer

++++++++++++++++

It is a blessed mission to visit the poor prisoners, and to know “That mercy to the bondman shown.  It is a mercy unto Him.”

–Elizabeth Comstock, quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 320

++++++++++++++++

Elizabeth Comstock comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Cady and Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Elizabeth Leslie Rous was a native of England.  She, born in Maidenhead on October 30, 1815, was a daughter of William and Mary Rous.  The Rouses were a Quaker family, and our saint studied at a Friends school in Croyden.  She became a teacher, wife, and mother.  Our saint taught at Ackworth then at Croyden.  In 1847, Rous married Leslie Wright.  The couple had a daughter, Caroline.  Leslie died in 1849.

Elizabeth Leslie Rous Wright and Caroline Wright immigrated to British North America in 1854.  She settled in Belleville, in what is now Ontario.  Our saint, influenced by Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845), became active in meeting the needs of vulnerable people in her community.

Wright married John T. Comstock.  The blended family moved to Rollin, Michigan, in 1858.  Our saint grew into a figure worthy of Fry.  Elizabeth Leslie Rous Wright Comstock became a great orator, a conductor of the Underground Railroad, and an activist on behalf of prison reform, temperance, and the rights of women.  She visited many jails and prisons, Civil War-era hospitals and prison camps, and, in 1864, President Abraham Lincoln.  After the Civil War, our saint worked with the government of the State of Kansas to organize temporary relief to African-American migrants (in 1879-1880).

Our saint moved to Union Springs, New York, in 1885.  She, aged 75 years, died there on August 3, 1891.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 16, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERNADETTE OF LOURDES, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC VISIONARY

THE FEAST OF CALVIN WEISS LAUFER, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF ISABELLA GILMORE, ANGLICAN DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MIKEL SUMA, ALBANIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, FRIAR, AND MARTYR, 1950

THE FEAST OF PETER WILLIAMS CASSEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL DEACON; AND HIS WIFE, ANNIE BESANT CASSEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL EDUCATOR

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

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

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

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer, who lives and reigns

with you and the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Richard McSorley (October 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Image Source = Google Earth

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

RICHARD T. MCSORLEY, S.J. (OCTOBER 2, 1914-OCTOBER 17, 2002)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest, Professor, and Peace Activist

++++++++++++++++++

I see my mission in life, as God has made it known to me, to help make the Catholic Church what it should be, a peace church.  To be Christian means to have respect for life in all its forms, and in today’s nuclear age, that means Christians must become active witnesses for peace and must firmly oppose all forms of war.

–Father Richard T. McSorley, S.J., quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 540

++++++++++++++++++

Father Richard T. McSorley, S.J., comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Cady and Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

The McSorleys of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were a large and devout Roman Catholic family.  There were fifteen children, eight of whom entered religious life.  Young Richard entered the Society of Jesus in 1932, at Wernesville, Pennsylvania.  By 19939, our saint completed his degree in philosophy.  That year, the order sent him to Manila, the Philippines, to teach at a Jesuit high school and seminary.

McSorley spent December 13, 1941-February 23, 1945, as a prisoner of the Japanese Empire.  He and other Jesuits and seminarians suffered repeated tortures.  McSorley nearly died of starvation.  He, hauled repeatedly before firing squads, saw fellow prisoners executed.  Japanese soldiers laughed at our saint, and aimed their guns at him without shooting.  They faked him out three times.

After U.S. paratroopers rescued the prisoners.  McSorley returned to the Untied States of America.  Our saint graduated from seminary at Woodstock College in Maryland.  He, ordained to the priesthood in 1946, embarked upon a life of ministry and social justice.  He, assigned to St. James’ Church, St. Mary’s City, Maryland, confronted Jim Crow laws, individual racism, and the Ku Klux Klan.  He preached against racism, advocated for the desegregation of church and society, and nearly became the victim of a Klan lynching.  McSorley, not intimidated, refused to be silent.

McSorley, who taught philosophy at the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania (1952-1961), completed his doctorate at Ottawa University, Canada, during those years.  Then he taught theology at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. (1961f).  He also did all of the following:

  1. He tutored the children of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
  2. He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., at Selma, Alabama.
  3. He opposed the Vietnam War.
  4. He became a pacifist in the 1960s.
  5. He tried to abolish all chapters of the R.O.T.C. at Roman Catholic colleges and universities.
  6. He favored the abolition of the R.O.T.C.
  7. He denounced all weapons of mass destruction.
  8. He condemned nuclear weapons as sinful.
  9. He helped to found Pax Christi U.S.A. in the 1970s.
  10. He went to jail for peacefully protesting Apartheid and nuclear weapons.
  11. He opposed Ronald Reagan’s policy of supporting repressive governments in Latin America.
  12. He wrote books and articles.

McSorley had a well-developed sense of the disparity between the laws of God and the laws of governments.  For our saint, Christian love was nonviolent love.  He considered Just War Theory absurd, especially in the age of nuclear weapons:

Can we serve both God and our government when the government orders us to do what God forbids?  Of course not.

McSorley belonged to the Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton wing of the Roman Catholic Church.  Our saint made enemies, of course.  He made enemies inside the Society of Jesus.  F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover (that paragon of opposition to civil rights and civil liberties) considered McSorley a “disgrace” and searched in vain for a way to smear his reputation.

McSorley, aged 88 years, died in Washington, D.C., on October 17, 2002.

Our saint took to heart the commandment of Jesus to love one’s enemies.  In so doing, McSorley became a radical–a radical Christian.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 16, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERNADETTE OF LOURDES, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC VISIONARY

THE FEAST OF CALVIN WEISS LAUFER, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF ISABELLA GILMORE, ANGLICAN DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MIKEL SUMA, ALBANIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, FRIAR, AND MARTYR, 1950

THE FEAST OF PETER WILLIAMS CASSEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL DEACON; AND HIS WIFE, ANNIE BESANT CASSEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL EDUCATOR

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make peace with oppression.

Help us [like your servant Richard T. McSorley] to use our freedom

to bring justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of the Martyrs of Lien-Chou, China, October 28, 1905 (October 29)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Late Imperial Flag of China

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ELEANOR CHESTNUT, M.D. (JANUARY 8, 1868-OCTOBER 28, 1905)

U.S. Presbyterian Medical Missionary and Martyr, 1905

++++++++++++++

JOHN ROGERS PEALE (SEPTEMBER 17, 1879-OCTOBER 28, 1905)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Missionary, and Martyr, 1905

husband of

REBECCA GILLESPIE PEALE (AUGUST 16, 1878-OCTOBER 28, 1905)

U.S. Presbyterian Missionary and Martyr, 1905

++++++++++++++

ELLA MAY WOOD MACHLE (DIED OCTOBER 28, 1905)

U.S. Presbyterian Missionary and Martyr, 1905

mother of

AMY MACHLE (1894-OCTOBER 28, 1905)

U.S. Presbyterian Martyr

++++++++++++++

In loving memory of the missionary martyrs of Lien-chou, China, Eleanor Chestnut, M.D.; Mrs. Ella Wood Machle; and her little daughter, Amy; Rev John Rogers Peale and Mrs. Rebecca Gillespie Peale; who for Christ’s sake suffered cruel death at Lien-chou, China, October 28, 1905.  “They loved not their lives unto the death.”  (Rev. xii 11)

–A plaque at the Presbyterian Foreign Mission Board, New York, New York; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 34

++++++++++++++

INTRODUCTION

++++++++++++++

Dr. Eleanor Chestnut comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Cady and Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).  The other four saints martyred with her come her via my desire to include all five martyrs in this post.

++++++++++++++

DOCTOR CHESTNUT

++++++++++++++

Above:  Dr. Eleanor Chestnut

Image in the Public Domain

Chestnut grew up without her parents.  She, born in Waterloo, Iowa, on January 8, 1868, was essentially an orphan.  Our saint’s father deserted the family.  Chestnut’s mother died shortly after our saint’s birth.  The Merwins, childless neighbors, raised Chestnut a few years.  Then our saint grew up with relatives on a struggling farm at Hatton, Missouri.  Chestnut sought a way out of her precarious existence and into a better future.

Education was that route.  Chestnut graduated from Park College (now University), a Presbyterian school in Parksville, Missouri, in 1888.  Next, she studied at the Chicago Women’s Medical College, the Illinois Training School for Nurses, and the Moody Bible Institute.  Our saint prepared to become a medical doctor and missionary.  She, who preferred to treat the most vulnerable and most impoverished patients, applied to the Presbyterian Foreign Missions Board in 1893.  Chestnut sailed for China in August 1894.  She had worked in a women’s reformatory in Framingham, Massachusetts.  Our saint had experience as a physician, but none as a missionary (yet).

The missionary compound at Lien-chou dated to 1891.  Chestnut worked there, starting in 1894.  She operated a women’s hospital in Lien-chou.  She also rode to local villages and provided medical care.  Our saint also trained local women as nurses, advocated for public health measures and the construction of schools.   Furthermore, she translated a nursing textbook and the Gospel of Matthew into the local dialect.

Chestnut was a dedicated and compassionate medical missionary.  Yet, while on furlough in the United States of America in 1902-1903, our saint confided to a friend:

I do not feel that I am spiritual enough to be a missionary.

++++++++++++++

THE MACHLES

++++++++++++++

Other Presbyterian missionaries labored for God and Lien-chou.  For example, the Machles were there.  Dr. Edward Machle operated another hospital.  His wife, Ella (May) Wood Machle, and children (some of them, depending on the year), were present, too.

Edward Machle and Ella May Wood had met at Wharton Street Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the 1880s.  He had been a student at the Medical College of Philadelphia, and she a teacher.  After the couple married, they applied to the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions.  They arrived in China in 1889.

The Machles had four children:

  1. Elsie (born May 3, 1890),
  2. Victor (born in 1892), and
  3. Amy and Howard (born in 1894).

The Machles, in the United States of America on furlough in 1897, left Elsie and Victor at the Presbyterian Homes for Children of Foreign Missionaries, Wooster, Ohio,  That decision saved the children’s lives.  The parents and their children corresponded with each other frequently and on a regular basis.

Amy and Howard were fraternal twins.  Howard died of diptheria in 1904.

++++++++++++++

THE PEALES

++++++++++++++

John Rogers Peale and Rebecca Gillespie Peale hoped to serve as missionaries in China for forty years.  They did not get to serve even forty hours before they received the crown of martyrdom.

John Rogers Peale grew up a Presbyterian.  He, a son of Samuel Alexander Peale and Elizabeth (McIntire) Peale, debuted in New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania, on September 17, 1879.  John joined the New Bloomfield Presbyterian when he was 12 years old.  After graduating from Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1902.  John matriculated at Princeton Theological Seminary.  His interest in foreign missions was obvious at seminary.  He graduated from Princeton University (M.A., 1904) and Theological Seminary (1905).  John, licensed to preach in the old Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. on April 11, 1905, and ordained on May 15, married Rebecca Gillespie on June 29.

Rebecca Gillespie, born on August 16, 1878, was a native of Colora, Maryland.  She joined the West Nottingham Presbyterian Church at the age of 14 years, and attended and graduated from West Nottingham Academy.

++++++++++++++

OCTOBER 28, 1905

++++++++++++++

The Rogerses, who had sailed from San Francisco, California, on August 16, 1905, arrived in Hong Kong around September 28.  The long, arduous journey to the missionary station awaited the couple.  Dr. Edward Machle picked them up and delivered them to Lien-chou.  On October 26 or 27, the young couple, in the twenties, arrived at their new home, the site of hospitals, a boys’ school, a girls’ school, a church building, that sat 700 people, and residences for missionaries.

Dr. Machle came home to a Chinese festival celebration, underway near one of the hospitals.  The noise was disturbing patients.  The pagan nature of the festival upset Dr. Machle.  He spoke to local elders and, in accordance with local custom, removed a ceremonial object (a miniature cannon).  Many local people took great offense and committed violence.  A mob attacked the compound.  Only two missionaries, including Dr. Machle, survived; they got so deep inside a cave that nobody pulled them out.  However, those who did not get sufficiently deep into that cave died.  The mob damaged some buildings and burned others.  They also beat and stabbed five missionaries (including young Amy Machle) and threw the bodies into the river.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 15, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT OLGA OF KIEV, REGENT OF KIEVAN RUSSIA; SAINT ADALBERT OF MAGDEBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT ADALBERT OF PRAGUE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR, 997; AND SAINTS BENEDICT AND GAUDENTIUS OF POMERANIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 997

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DAMIEN AND MARIANNE OF MOLOKAI, WORKERS AMONG LEPERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT FLAVIA DOMITILLA, ROMAN CHRISTIAN NOBLEWOMAN; AND SAINTS MARO, EUTYCHES, AND VICTORINUS OF ROME, PRIESTS AND MARTYRS, CIRCA 99

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUNNA OF ALSACE, THE “HOLY WASHERWOMAN”

THE FEAST OF LUCY CRAFT LANEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN EDUCATOR AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty and everlasting God,

who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your holy martyrs

Eleanor Chestnut,

John Rogers Peale,

Rebecca Gillespie Peale,

Ella May Wood Machle,

and Amy Machle:

Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love,

that we who rejoice in their triumph may profit by their example;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-5

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 715

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Levi and Catherine Coffin (October 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Coffin House, Fountain City, Indiana

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

LEVI COFFIN, JR. (OCTOBER 28, 1798-SEPTEMBER 16, 1877)

U.S. Quaker Abolitionist and “President of the Underground Railroad”

husband of

CATHERINE WHITE COFFIN (SEPTEMBER 10, 1803-MAY 22, 1881)

U.S. Quaker Abolitionist and “Aunt Katie” of the Underground Railroad

Levi Coffin comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).  Catherine Coffin joins her husband by virtue of having been his wife and his colleague in the struggle for social justice.  One cannot properly tell the story of one Coffin without telling the story of the other Coffin.

Above:  Levi Coffin

Image in the Public Domain

Levi Coffin, born in Guilford County, North Carolina, on October 28, 1798, was a son of Levi and Prudence Williams Coffin.  The Quaker family of abolitionists helped runaway slaves.

Above:  Catherine Coffin

Image in the Public Domain

Catherine White, born in Guilford County, North Carolina, on September 10, 1803, was a daughter of Stanton and Mary White.  That Quaker family of abolitionists was also involved in helping runaway slaves.

Levi and Catherine fell in love.  They married on October 28, 1824.  There in North Carolina, they made their home a station of the Underground Railroad.  Levi became known to slave-hunters as the “President” of the local Underground Railroad.

In 1826, the Coffins moved to Newport (now Fountain City), Indiana.  Levi opened a general store, which became a profitable enterprise.  He and Catherine made their home a station of the Underground Railroad.  They usually had a full house.  The couple raised six children.  Also, about 20,000 slaves passed through the house in twenty-one years.  Slave-hunters knew where to find the Coffins, and threatened them repeatedly.  Yet the Coffins had many local allies.  Levi handled the financial side of the local Underground Railroad operation.  Catherine (“Aunt Katie”) helped to host her guests, cooked for them, and organized a sewing society to make clothes for the escaped slaves.  Many local people contributed financially to the Coffins’ efforts, too.

The Coffins and other conductors of the Underground Railroad were criminals, technically.  They were, according to the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 (then of 1850), committing a property crime.  These conductors of the Underground Railroad were helping property escape to freedom.

By the 1840s, Quakers participating in the Underground Railroad were coming under pressure from their church to cease and desist.  The Coffins persisted, however.  They persisted after their expulsion from their meeting house in 1843.

Levi eventually realized his moral responsibility as a merchant.  He had been selling items that were products of slavery.  Therefore, he joined the Free Produce movement in the 1840s.  After the couple moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1847, he opened a new store and continued in the Free Produce movement.  The couple also continued as conductors of the Underground Railroad.

Eventually, the need for the Underground Railroad ended.  The Coffins visited wounded soldiers in the local military hospital and helped runaway slaves in refugee camps during the Civil War.  After the war, Levi raised funds to help African Americans start businesses and farms.  Also, the couple worked with the Western Freedmen’s Aid Society.

Levi wrote his autobiography, Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, the Reputed President of the Underground Railroad (1876), at the end of his life.  He, aged 78 years, died in Cincinnati on September 16, 1877.

Catherine, aged 77 years, died in Cincinnati on May 22, 1881.

Levi and Catherine had the courage of their nonviolent, moral convictions.  They risked criminal convictions by acting morally to help slaves live as free people.

May you, O reader, and I have the moral courage to behave morally, even when doing so may be criminal.  When the law is unjust, may people act justly.  May they follow the higher law–the highest law, the Golden Rule.

+++++++++++++++++++++

God of compassion, justice, and freedom, we thank you for the

faithful and courageous lives and legacies of Levi and Catherine Coffin.

May we, who live in a different time and set of circumstances,

derive from their examples inspiration to live according to the Golden Rule,

regardless of the risks to ourselves, in the name of Christ.

May we recognize your image in all other people and treat them accordingly.

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

Leviticus 19:17-18 and Deuteronomy 6:1-8

Psalm 27

2 John 4-6

Matthew 22:34-40

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 14, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDWARD THOMAS DEMBY AND HENRY BEARD DELANY, EPISCOPAL SUFFRAGAN BISHOPS FOR COLORED WORK

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANTHONY, JOHN, AND EUSTATHIUS OF VILNIUS, MARTYRS IN LITHUANIA, 1347 

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT WANDREGISILUS OF NORMANDY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT LAMBERT OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZENAIDA OF TARSUS AND HER SISTER, SAINT PHILONELLA OF TARSUS; AND SAINT HERMOINE OF EPHESUS; UNMERCENARY PHYSICIANS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Obadiah Homes (October 15)   2 comments

Above:  United Baptist Church, Newport, Rhode Island

Image Source = Google Earth

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

OBADIAH HOLMES, SR. (BAPTIZED MARCH 18, 1609 OR 1610-DIED OCTOBER 15, 1682)

English Baptist Minister and Champion of Religious Liberty in New England

Born Obadiah Hulme

The Reverend Obadiah Holmes, Sr., comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Many people accept a host of falsehoods about the history of the United States of America.  One of these lies is that most Puritans came to this country (when it was still a collection of British colonies) to practice religious freedom.  Shall I point to the numerous examples that prove the existence of Puritan theocracies in New England?  How about the four executed Quakers (link and link) in the Massachusetts Bay colony?  I point also to the cases of Roger Williams (1603?-1683) and Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643) and company, exiled for dissenting.  To that list I add the case of Obadiah Holmes, Sr.

Obadiah Hulme grew up in a devout Anglican family.  He, baptized on March 18, 1609 or 1610, in Didsbury, Lancashire, England, was a son of Katherine Johnson Hulme (d. 1630) and Robert Hulme (d. 1640).  Obadiah led a rebellious, wild youth.  After his spiritual awakening, his blamed himself for his mother’s death.  Our saint was, by profession, a weaver and a glass maker.  On November 20, 1630, at the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, St. Denys and St. George, Manchester (now Manchester Cathedral), he married Katherine Hyde.  The couple had nine children, starting with John, who died in 1633.  The other eight children (four sons and four daughters) were:

  1. Jonathan;
  2. Mary;
  3. Martha;
  4. Samuel;
  5. Obadiah, Jr.;
  6. Lydia;
  7. John (II); and
  8. Hopestill.

The growing Holmes family immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638.  They settled in Salem and joined the church there.  Obadiah worked as a glass maker.  He, finding the church in Salem too rigid, left and moved the family to Reheboth in 1645.  Reheboth proved unsatisfactory, too.  Obadiah and the eight other members of the church there split away (during a dispute over infant baptism) and formed a house church in 1649.  He became the minister of the new congregation.  According to the local court, the house church was illegal.  In 1650, Obadiah and the rest of his congregation moved to Newport, Rhode Island.  They affiliated with the First Baptist Church in that city.  This made sense; pastor John Clarke (1609-1676), of Newport, had rebaptized the members of the house church in 1649.

Rhode Island was rare in British North America; it had a policy of religious toleration.  First Baptist Church, Newport, was the second Baptist congregation in what became the United States of America.  John Clarke founded it in 1638, shortly after Roger Williams had founded the First Baptist Church, Providence.

John Clarke and John Crandall (1618-1676) of First Baptist Church, Newport, visited William Witten, an old blind man, in Lynn, Massachusetts Bay Colony, in July 1651.  Obadiah traveled with Clarke and Crandall to visit Witten.  The three visitors conducted a church service.  They celebrated communion and baptized converts.  Authorities arrested the three visitors.  The court convicted and fined them:

  1. John Crandall–five pounds, or about $984.15 (2021);
  2. John Clarke–twenty pounds, or about $3,939.37 (2021); and
  3. Obadiah Holmes–thirty pounds, or about $4,270.15 (2021).

The alternative was a severe whipping.  Nevertheless, Governor John Endecott considered that punishment lax; he claimed that the three men deserved to die.

Allies offered to pay the fines of all three men.  Crandall and Clarke accepted and returned to Newport.  Our saint, however, refused.  Therefore, he endured 30 strokes on his back.  For weeks, he had to sleep on his knees and elbows.  For the rest of his life, he called his scars “the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

Later in 1651, Clarke traveled to England, to serve as Rhode Island’s colonial agent.  Obadiah began to serve as pastor of First Baptist Church, Newport.  After Clarke returned, in 1664, the two men served as co-pastors (1664-1667, 1671-1676).  Our saint was pastor at Newport until he died, on October 15, 1682.

First Baptist Church, Newport, has become the United Baptist Church, John Clarke Memorial, Newport.

No freedoms are absolute in any society.  Mutuality requires that people be responsible to and for each other.  And it does not license trampling the rights of anyone.  Therefore, in the case of freedom of religion, some restrictions are necessary, in extreme cases.  When, for example, someone’s religion endangers public health, public health properly takes precedence.  Most circumstances are not extreme, though.  Living in a free society requires much mutual toleration, if not acceptance.  So be it.

All of the legal troubles Obadiah Holmes, Sr., endured in the Massachusetts Bay Colony were indefensible.  He was not endangering public health and safety.  He was not endangering anyone in any way.  No, he was defying a theocracy.  He refused to conform.

“Conform” and “conformity” are, by the way, the most profane words in the English language.  Mutuality embraces mutual responsibility and tolerates all dissent and individuality that does not endanger the common good.

I write in a politically divided society.  Labels such as “liberal” and “conservative” function as weapons to use against members of the other tribe.  Actually, many people who weaponize these terms strip these words of their real meanings, inherently relative to the center.  A better way (NOT original to me) is to ask whether one prioritizes order or justice.  Properly, of course, justice establishes a morally defensible order.  Likewise, order is necessary for justice, which cannot exist in the midst of anarchy.  Nevertheless, not all order is just.  In fact, much order is unjust.  And many people favor an unjust order over justice.  I favor justice every day.  Whenever a given order is unjust, I support tearing it down and replacing it with a just order.  Call me a revolutionary if you wish, O reader.

Obadiah Holmes, Sr., favored justice.  He worked for a just order.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 12, 2021 COMMON ERA

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

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

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

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIUS I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZENO OF VERONA, BISHOP

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, our light and salvation, who makes all free to worship you:

May we ever strive to be faithful to your call, following the example of Obadiah Holmes, Sr.,

that we may faithfully set our hands to the Gospel plow,

confident in the truth proclaimed by your Son Jesus Christ;

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

–Adapted from A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

+++++++++++++++++

O God our light and salvation, we thank you for Obadiah Holmes, Sr.,

whose visions of the liberty of the soul illumined by the light of Christ

made him a brave prophet of religious tolerance in the American colonies;

and we pray that we may follow paths of holiness and good conscience,

guided by the radiance of Jesus Christ;

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

1 Kings 17:1-16

Psalm 133

1 Peter 1:13-16

Luke 9:51-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 211

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Emily Gardiner Neal (October 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

EMILY GARDINER NEAL (OCTOBER 22, 1910-SEPTEMBER 23, 1989)

Episcopal Deacon, Religious Writer, and Leader of the Healing Movement in The Episcopal Church

Emily Gardiner Neal comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via two sources.  One is G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).  The second source is Donald S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, eds., An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church:  A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians (1999).

Emily Gardiner, born in New York, New York, on October 22, 1910, had a plan for her life.  She wanted to become a professional violinist.  Our saint studied at the Brearly School then at the David Mannes Music School (now the Mannes School of Music), both in New York City.  She never became a professional violinist, though.  Our saint married David Neal (d. 1961) and had two daughters (Rebekah and Diane).  Emily Gardiner Neal became a journalist instead.  She wrote articles for leading magazines.

One assignment changed Neal’s life.  She, raised in an atheist family, eagerly accepted the assignment to debunk healing ministries.  Our saint investigated 100 cases and realized that she could not debunk every reported case of spiritual healing.  She wrote a book, A Reporter Finds God Through Spiritual Healing (1956), her first book.  Neal became a Christian and joined The Episcopal Church.  She lectured and counseled.  After becoming a widow, our saint moved into a convent.  And she led healing services.  Neal, appointed to The Episcopal Church’s Joint Commission on the Ministry of Healing in 1961, became a deacon on January 31, 1978.  She also became the first President of The Episcopal Healing Ministry Foundation in 1987.

Neal’s books subsequent to A Reporter Finds God Through Spiritual Healing (1956) were:

  1. God Can Heal You Now (1958),
  2. Father Bob and His Boys (1963),
  3. In the Midst of Life (1963),
  4. Where There’s Smoke:  The Mystery of Christian Healing (1967),
  5. The Healing Power of Christ (1978), and
  6. The Healing Ministry:  A Personal Journey (1982).

Neal was on staff at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Terrace Park, Ohio.  She also lived at the Convent of the Transfiguration, Glendale, Ohio.  Our saint, aged 78 years, died at the convent on September 23, 1989.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 8, 2021 COMMON ERA

THURSDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF HENRY MELCHIOR MUHLENBERG, PATRIARCH OF AMERICAN LUTHERANISM; HIS GREAT-GRANDSON, WILLIAM AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGICAL PIONEEER; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, ANNE AYRES, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERHOOD OF THE HOLY COMMUNION

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS OF CORINTH, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUGH OF ROUEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, ABBOT, AND MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIE BILLIART, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY LULL, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MINISTER, SCHOLAR, THEOLOGIAN, AND ECUMENIST

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

to call the Church to its tasks and renew its life [such as Emily Gardiner Neal].

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 kingdom;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++