Archive for the ‘Christopher L. Webber’ Tag

Feast of Gustave Weisel (January 16)   1 comment

Above:  Logo of the Society of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

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GUSTAVE WEIGEL (JANUARY 15, 1906-JANUARY 3, 1964)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Ecumenist

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Whether we like it or not, Protestants and Catholics are inevitably related to each other by the concept of opposition, and the opposition is stronger the nearer we approach the moment of split of one from the other.  Today we are all striving manfully to overcome the sense of opposition, but we are descendants of the past and history works in all of us.

–Father Gustave Weigel; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 452

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Gustave Weigel, a Jesuit priest and a professor of theology, became a pioneer of ecumenism in the Roman Catholic Church.

Weigel, a native of the United States, taught in both the United States and Chile.  He, born in Buffalo, New York, on January 15, 1906, was the second of three children of Auguste Weigel and Louise Leontine Kiefer.  He attended Catholic schools in Buffalo.  After graduating from high school in 1922, our saint became a Jesuit novice at Poughkeepsie, New York.  In 1926 he transferred to Woodstock College, Woodstock, Maryland.  There he earned the A.B. and M.A. degrees in three years.  After teaching Latin and English at Loyola College, Baltimore, during the 1929-1930 academic year, Weigel returned to Woodstock College, to study for the priesthood.  He, ordained a priest on June 25, 1933, earned the Licentiate of Sacred Theology degree the following year.  Our saint continued his education in Rome, where, in 1937, he earned his Doctor of Sacred Theology degree.  Weigel taught theology at the Catholic University of Chile from 1937 to 1948 and for two months in 1949.  He spent the rest of his academic career at Woodstock College while writing books and articles, as well as lecturing in the United States and Germany.

Years before Pope St. John XXIII opened the windows of the Church, so to speak, Weigel became involved in ecumenism.  He engaged with Protestantism in writing as early as 1954.  Six years later, our saint and Presbyterian Robert McAfee Brown collaborated on An American Dialogue.  That year, Weigel became the first Roman Catholic to deliver endowed lectures at Yale University.

Weigel, aged 57 years, died on January 3, 1964.

As Weigel wrote, final ecclesiastical reunion will be the work of God.  Christians, however, can and must overcome misconceptions they harbor about each other and their traditions.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 6, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION

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God our Father, your Son Jesus prayed that his followers might be one as he is one with you,

so that in peace and concord we may carry to the world the message of your love,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Isaiah 2:2-4

Psalm 133

Ephesians 4:1-6

John 17:15-23

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61

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Feast of Bertha Paulssen (January 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Image in the Public Domain

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BERTHA TONI AGNES CAROLA PAULSSEN (JANUARY 15, 1891-APRIL 2, 1973)

German-American Seminary Professor, Psychologist, and Sociologist

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Modern men and women suffer most deeply from their inability to love their neighbors.  How can they love their neighbors if they know nothing of God?

–Bertha Paulssen; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 38

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Bertha Paulssen devoted most of her life to helping “the least of these” in the name of Christ.  She, born in Leipzig, German Empire, on January 15, 1891, grew up in a wealthy, cultured, and Lutheran family.  She internalized the Christian faith and concluded that the church of her youth was too dogmatic and insufficiently addressing human needs.  Our saint, educated at a Moravian school then at the Universities of Leipzig and Göttingen, earned her doctorate at Leipzig in 1917.  Next, Paulssen worked as a librarian and a teaching assistant.  She moved to Frankfurt in 1919, to manage a home for girls who had dropped out of school.  After a few years, our saint worked with children, with prostitutes, and with prisoners in Kiel and Stettin.  Starting in 1923, Paulssen assumed a supervisory role in Hamburg.  She, a state employee, supervised 800 social workers.  Our saint replaced top-down management with tactics that emphasized individual solutions.  The rise of the Third Reich ended Paulssen’s career in Germany in 1933.

Paulssen, who fled Germany, spent most of her life after 1935 in the United States.  She headed first for England, before departing for New York City.  Our saint worked with youth in the “Big Apple” before teaching at Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Next, she taught at the (Lutheran) Deaconess Motherhouse, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, before teaching at Wagner College, Staten Island, New York City.  Paulssen, legally an “enemy alien” after early December 1941, had to leave the United States.  She settled in Cuba, naturalized as an American citizen in 1944, and returned to the United States.

From 1945 to 1963, Paulssen was a professor jointly at Muhlenberg College, Gettysburg College, and Gettysburg Theological Seminary.  She became the first woman and lay person to hold a tenured professorship at a Lutheran theological seminary in the United States.  Our saint’s social ethic informed her presentation of the Christian faith and brought sociology and psychology to bear on theology.

Paulssen, aged 82 years, died in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on April 2, 1973.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 6, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION

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

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

and rest to the weary,

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

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Abby Kelley Foster and Stephen Symonds Foster (January 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  Liberty Farm, Worcester, Massachusetts

Image in the Public Domain

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STEPHEN SYMONDS FOSTER (NOVEMBER 17, 1809-SEPTEMBER 13, 1881)

husband of

ABBY KELLEY FOSTER (JANUARY 15, 1811-JANUARY 14, 1887)

Also known as Abby Kelly Foster

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U.S. QUAKER ABOLITIONISTS AND FEMINISTS

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I do not talk of woman’s rights, but of human rights, the rights of human beings.  I do not come to ask [for] them, but to demand them; not to get down on my knees and beg for them, but to claim them.

–Abby Kelley Foster, October 1850, at the first National Women’s Rights Convention, Worcester, Massachusetts

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In short, in the harangue of Abby, she simply demands that men and women should be treated as human beings, all alike….

The New York Herald, October 15, 1850, criticizing Abby Kelley Foster and her positions

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Abby Kelley Foster comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saint’s Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).  Stephen Symonds Foster joins her on the Ecumenical Calendar by virtue of being her husband and her fellow activist.  After all, one of my purposes in adding to the Ecumenical Calendar is to emphasize relationships and influences.

STEPHEN SYMONDS FOSTER

Stephen Symonds Foster, born in Canterbury, New Hampshire, became a radical, according to the standards of his time.  He, raised a Congregationalist, was a carpenter until the age of 22 years.  Foster decided to study to become a missionary, so he matriculated at Dartmouth College.  He eventually graduated, in 1838.  During his college years, Foster found a new direction in life and endured hardships.  He became an abolitionist.  He also went to jail for being in debt and spent time incarcerated with hardened, violent criminals.  This experience led to a movement that ended imprisonment for debt in New Hampshire.

Instead of becoming a missionary, Foster became an activist.  The three social causes for which he worked were feminism, temperance, and the abolition of slavery.  After graduating from Dartmouth College, he studied at Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York, in 1838-1839.  He left that institution because the leadership forbade him from hosting abolitionist meetings.  Our saint even rejected the offer of a scholarship in exchange for his silence regarding slavery.  Foster’s abolitionist activism led to his expulsion from the Congregational Church in 1841 and to a physical attack in Portland, Maine, the following year.  Our saint was outspoken in his criticism of religion that justified slavery.  He expressed himself in both writing and on the lecture circuit of the American Anti-Slavery Society.

ABBY KELLEY FOSTER

Abby Kelley was also making the rounds on the anti-slavery lecture circuit.

Kelley, born in Pelham, Massachusetts, on January 15, 1811, became a radical, also.  She came from a rigid, conservative society with gender norms–separate spheres.  Women did not address mixed-gender audiences.  Schools were not coeducational.  Women’s suffrage was out of the question.  The Quakers, her denomination, had a mixed record regarding opposition to slavery, but they were more progressive than many other Christian bodies.  Abby, a teacher, joined the Female Anti-Slavery Society at Lynn in 1837.  The following year, she began to lecture.  Eventually, she became a full-time lecturer.  Kelley made the connection between the rights of women and those of African Americans, many of whom were slaves.  To insist on the rights of one group while ignoring the rights of the other was wrong, she understood.  This was a minority position within the abolitionist movement in the United States.

THE FOSTERS

Abby Kelley married Stephen Symonds Foster in 1845.  Their marriage was, of course, unconventional.  They were a team of activists.  The Fosters purchased an estate, “Liberty Farm,” in 1847; their home became a station of the Underground Railroad.  After Abby gave birth to a daughter, Paulina Wright “Alla” Foster, in 1847, husband and wife took turns traveling on the lecture circuit, so that one parent would stay home with Alla.  More often that not, Stephen was a stay-at-home father.

Abby made her mark on the United States.  She helped to organize the first National Women’s Rights Convention at Worcester, Massachusetts, in late 1850, and spoke at it.  In 1854 she became the chief fundraiser for the American Anti-American Society.  After the Civil War, she advocated for the ratification of the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.  In 1868 she helped to organize the New England Women Suffrage Association.

The Fosters made their protest against the lack of women’s suffrage where they lived by refusing to pay taxes.  Their justification was the revolutionary cry,

No taxation without representation.

The local government sold Liberty Farm for unpaid taxes in 1874.  A sympathetic neighbor purchased the farm then sold it back to the Fosters.  This pattern repeated until both Abby and Stephen died.

Stephen, aged 73 years, died on September 13, 1881.

Abby, aged 75 years, died on January 14, 1887.

IN RETROSPECT

From my vantage point in the United States in 2019, the once-radical and marginal ideas becoming mainstream are mostly hateful and exclusionary.  They tend to be ideas such as white nationalism and Anti-Semitism, and frequently result in violence or other forms of abuse.  The radical and marginal ideas the Fosters espoused fall into a different category:  inclusion.  As the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta says,

DRAW THE CIRCLE WIDE.

The Fosters, ahead of their time, helped to create a better future.

May their ethic of recognizing the image of God, or as their Quaker theology put it well–the inner light–in others then acting accordingly inspire us to do the same.

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Loving God, who has implanted your image and inner light inside all people,

we thank you for the lives and legacies of your servants,

Abby Kelley Foster and Stephen Symonds Foster,

who affirmed the inherent human dignity in those whom

society defined as non-citizens or as second-class citizens.

May we, in our times and places, affirm the image of God in all human beings and treat them accordingly,

so that a moral revolution of values may lead people to define all your children as insiders.

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

Genesis 1:27

Psalm 97

Galatians 3:23-29

Luke 10:29-37

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 5, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALFRED TENNYSON, ENGLISH POET

THE FEAST OF ADAM OF SAINT VICTOR, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ALBRECHT DÜRER, MATTHIAS GRÜNEWALD, AND LUCAS CRANACH THE ELDER, RENAISSANCE ARTISTS

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FREDERICK ROOT, POET AND COMPOSER

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Feast of Emily Greene Balch (January 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Emily Greene Balch

Image in the Public Domain

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EMILY GREENE BALCH (JANUARY 8, 1867-JANUARY 9, 1961)

U.S. Quaker Sociologist, Economist, and Peace Activist

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If Messiah should arise bodily from death, it would mean there was more for us to learn in our efforts to understand than we had expected.  It would not overthrow any truth that we had eventually reached, whatever adjustment our thought might have to make.

–Emily Greene Balch, quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 90

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Emily Greene Balch, raised a Unitarian, spent her adult life working for social justice.  She, born in Boston, Massachusets, on January 8, 1867, came from a wealthy and prominent family.  Family wealth enabled our saint to receive a fine education.  Unitarianism, with its tradition of social justice activism, also contributed to Balch’s professional direction.  She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1889 then at the Sorbonne.  In 1892, in Boston, between graduate studies at the Sorbonne and at Harvard, Balch founded Denison House, modeled after Hull House, in Chicago, Illinois.  Our saint continued her graduate studies (focused on poverty, sociology, gender, and economics) at the Universities of Chicago and Berlin.

Balch served on the faculty of Wellesley College from 1896 to 1918.  She rose to Professor of Economics in 1913.  The college fired her in 1918; the cause of the termination was our saint’s pacifism during World War I.

Balch spent her professional life pursuing practical solutions to problems of poverty and gender.  The word “intersectionality” did not exist yet, but she tried to help people at intersections of categories, such as poor, child, female, immigrant, industrial worker, and conscientious objector.    She supported the labor union movement, was a suffragette, helped conscientious objectors, advocated to end child labor, and worked on industrial education.   Balch, Jane Addams (1860-1935), and others founded the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 1915.  Our saint served as the Secretary General of that organization for a number of years.  She also joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation.  Balch, a convert to Quakerism in 1921, assisted refugees from the Third Reich while continuing to help conscientious objectors during World War II.  She also supported Allied victory in that war.  For our saint’s work with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946.

Balch, who never married, lived to the age of 94 years.  She died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on January 9, 1961.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 1, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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

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

Help us, like your servant Emily Greene Balch,

to work for justice among people and nations, the 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 A. J. Muste (January 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  A. J. Muste

Image in the Public Domain

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ABRAHAM JOHANNES MUSTE (JANUARY 8, 1885-FEBRUARY 11, 1967)

Dutch-American Minister, Labor Activist, and Pacifist

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Only the nonviolent can apply therapy to the violent.

–A. J. Muste

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A. J. Muste 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).

Muste changed his mind on major points more than once, each time sending his life in a different direction.

Our saint, born in Zierkzee, The Netherlands, on January 8, 1885, to Martin and Adriana Muste, came from a Dutch Reformed family.  He, his parents, and his siblings, seeking economic opportunity, emigrated in 1891.  They settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan, joined the Dutch Reformed Church there, and naturalized in 1896.  The working-class congregation that shaped Muste was quite conservative–diehard Republican and puritanical.  Dancing, attending plays, and listening to secular music were allegedly sinful.

Muste, intelligent, was a fine student.  He, the valedictorian of Hope College in 1905, taught Greek and Latin at Northwestern Classical Academy (now called Northwestern College), Orange City, Iowa.  Then our saint studied at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, New Brunswick, New Jersey, from 1906 to 1909.  After ordination into the ministry of the Reformed Church in America (1909), Muste married Anna Huizenga before the end of the year.  The couple raised three children.

Muste liberalized significantly during 1909-1914, his tenure as pastor of Fort Washington Collegiate Church, Washington Heights, New York, New York.  He questioned the religious strictness of his youth, accepted the Social Gospel, and earned a degree from Union Theological Seminary.  Muste had changed so much in 1912 that he cast his vote for Eugene Victor Debs, nominee of the Socialist Party, in the presidential election of 1912.

Muste was theologically honest.  By 1914 he no longer accepted the Westminster Confession of Faith, so he resigned his pastorate.  Our saint served as the pastor of Central Congregational Church, Newtonville, Massachusetts, for about three years.  (Muste succeeded Jay Thomas Stocking in that role.  Stocking’s immediate predecessor was Ozora Stearns Davis, who served in 1900-1904.)  Muste, a pacifist, founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation in 1915.  In 1917, after the United States entered World War I, Muste resigned his pastorate under pressure.  Our saint volunteered for the Civil Liberties Bureau (a precursor of the American Civil Liberties Union) in Boston, in 1918.  He defended draft resisters.  Later that year, in Providence, Rhode Island, our saint joined the Quakers.

Muste became a labor union activist in 1919 and remained active in the cause for the rest of his life.  For sixteen weeks that year, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, workers went on strike.  They had a just cause; they worked 54-hour-long work weeks for $0.20 an hour.  (That amount, adjusted to inflation and keyed to the Consumer Price Index for 2018, the most recent year I can adjust amounts for inflation, is $2.90.)  Police spies tried to goad workers into committing violence, but Muste encouraged striking workers not to resort to violence.  Police beat him and incarcerated our saint for a week, though.  Later that year, Muste helped to found the Amalgamated Textile Workers of America.  He served as the secretary until 1921.

Muste became a radical–a Marxist-Leninist, even, for a time.  He, the president (1921-1933) of Brookwood Labor College, Katonah, New York, left the American Federation of Labor in 1929.  Our saint helped to found the Conference for Progressive Labor Action.  He also worked to build a labor third party, culminating in the Workers Party of the United States (1934-1936).

Muste changed direction again in 1936.  He left Marxism-Leninism behind and became a minister in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A..  Our saint’s writings, starting in 1936, were clear; the proper revolutionary force was Christianity.  From 1937 to 1940, he was the director of the (Presbyterian) Labor Temple, a mission of the Presbytery of New York to working men of New York City.  Our saint, the Executive Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation from 1940 to 1953), mentored Bayard Rustin (1912-1987), who taught nonviolent resistance tactics to Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968).  Muste’s obvious opposition to Marxism-Leninism, starting in 1936, did not spare him from allegations during the 1950s of being a communist.  He was certainly a consistent pacifist, opposing wars, whether declared or “police actions.”  Muste also spoke out against racism at home and abroad.  Furthermore, he insisted that good housing and proper, affordable health care were human rights.  Those views were sufficient to prompt much criticism of him.

Muste died in New York, New York, on February 11, 1967.  He was 82 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 1, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of William Adams Brown (December 30)   2 comments

Above:  Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York, 1910

Image Source = Library of Congress

Image Copyrighted by Irving Underhill

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-74646

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WILLIAM ADAMS BROWN, SR. (DECEMBER 29, 1865-DECEMBER 15, 1943)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Theologian, and Social Reformer

William Adams Brown, Sr., comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

William Adams Brown, Sr., born in New York, New York, on December 29, 1865, grew up in a devout family with multi-generational ties to Union Theological Seminary.  He spent much of his life working at that institution.

Our saint, a son of Mary Elizabeth Adams and John Crosby Brown, a merchant banker, was well-educated.  After private education, he attended St. Paul’s Preparatory School in Concord, New Hampshire, followed by five years (four years as an undergraduate and one year as a graduate student) at Yale University.  Then Brown matriculated at Union Theological Seminary.  He graduated in 1890 then studied in Germany for two years.  Adolf von Harnack was one of his professors.

Brown taught at Union Theological Seminary from 1892 to 1936, when he retired.  He was an Instructor of Church History (1892-1893), an Instructor of Systematic Theology (1893-1898), the Roosevelt Chair of Systematic Theology (1898-1930), and a Research Professor in Applied Christianity (1930-1936).  Faith was active for Brown.  It led him to oppose corruption (Tammany Hall) in municipal politics and government and fight against prostitution and liquor.  Active faith also led Brown to lead the Missions Committee of the New York Presbytery of New York (Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.), the Board of Missions of the PCUSA, the Department of Research and Education (Federal Council of Churches), the Religious Education Association, and the American Theological Association.

That active faith also made Brown a target for many conservative Presbyterians.  He was on the side of Modernism in the Modernist-Fundamentalist controversy in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.  Community outreach to poor immigrants via the American Parish on the Upper East Side and the Labor Temple in the East Village placed our saint in the midst of alleged hot beds of socialism.  In 1895, he helped to form the Union Settlement in East Harlem.  Students from Union Theological Seminary volunteered to provide community services.  Brown, speaking at Harvard in 1910, allegedly committed heresy in “The Old Theology and the New.”  The General Assembly of 1914 acquitted him.

Brown was also an active wartime ecumenist.  In 1917 and 1918, he served as the Secretary General of the Wartime Commission of the Churches.  He helped to arrange for Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Jewish military chaplains, and to advise regarding religious issues.

Brown married Helen Gilman Noyes in 1892.  The couple had four children:  John Crosby (b. 1892), William Adams Jr., (b. 1894), Winthrop Gilman “Bob” (b. 190?), and Helen (1910-1928; died of polio before she would have matriculated at Vassar College).

Brown, aged 77 years, died in New York, New York, on December 15, 1943.  He left a fine legacy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 5, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTONIO MARY ZACCARIA, FOUNDER OF THE BARNABITES AND THE ANGELIC SISTERS OF SAINT PAUL

THE FEAST OF GEORGES BERNANOS, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC NOVELIST

THE FEAST OF HULDA NIEBUHR, CHRISTIAN EDUCATOR; HER BROTHERS, H. RICHARD NIEBUHR AND REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIANS; AND URSULA NIEBUHR, EPISCOPAL THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH BOISSEL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND MARTYR IN LAOS, 1969

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

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of D. Elton Trueblood (December 20)   2 comments

Above:  Sign, Earlham School of Religion

Image in the Public Domain

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DAVID ELTON TRUEBLOOD (DECEMBER 12, 1900-DECEMBER 20, 1994)

U.S. Quaker Theologian

D. Elton Trueblood, U.S. theologian and academic, comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

The words “liberal,” “moderate,” and “conservative” are inherently relative; they have no fixed meaning for all circumstances, times, and places.  The record of Trueblood’s life reveals that all three applied to him.  Sui generis describes him well.

Trueblood came from Midwestern Quaker stock.  He, born on a farm near Indianola, Iowa, on December 12, 1900, was a son of Effie and Samuel Trueblood.  Our saint studied at William Penn College, Oskaloosa, Iowa (Class of 1922), then at Brown University and Hartford Theological Seminary before graduating from Harvard University with his Bachelor of Systematic Theology degree in 1926.  Eight years later, he graduated from The Johns Hopkins University, with his doctorate in philosophy.

Trueblood spent most of his life on college and university campuses, mainly Quaker ones.  He taught at Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina, before joining the faculty of Haverford College, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  During the summer of 1935, Trueblood served as the acting chaplain at Harvard University.  This experience led him to become chaplain at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, in 1936.  Trueblood was chaplain there for nine years.  While living in Palo Alto, he worshiped with former President Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) and former First Lady Lou Henry Hoover (1874-1944).  His friendship with them deepened, and he presided at their funerals.

Trueblood, preferring smaller professor-to-student ratios, moved to Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, in 1945.  There he remained for most of the rest of his life.  Our saint helped to open the seminary, the Earlham School of Religion, in 1960.  After he retired in 1966, Trueblood became Professor-at-Large.  He remained active in college life.

Trueblood married twice.  He married Pauline Goodenow in 1924.  The couple had four children–three sons and one daughter–from 1925 5o 1941.  Pauline died of a brain tumor in 1955.  Our saint married Virginia Hodgin, a widow with two children, in September 1956.  She became his partner in life and in publishing.  (He wrote 33 books.)  Virginia died in 1984.

Trueblood, who emphatically never identified with the Religious Right, made his objections to that variety of Christianity plain.  He was also critical of much of the Religious Left.  Trueblood opposed both “churchianity” and “vague religiosity.”  He, who helped to form the World Council of Churches in 1948, was an internationalist.  He was not, however, a strict pacifist; he concluded that some wars were necessary, especially in the context of the Cold War.  The sole foundation of a humane social order, Trueblood argued, was a reinvigorated faith.  He also supported civil rights for African Americans and members of other minorities.  Our saint, who drafted Thanksgiving Day proclamations for several presidents of both major parties, served as the Chief of Religious Policy at the United States Information Agency during the Eisenhower Administration and advised the Eisenhower Administration regarding religious matters.  Trueblood also founded the Yokefellow movement, which engaged in prison ministry and established halfway houses.

In 1988 Trueblood moved to Meadowood, a retirement community in Norristown, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to be closer to his family.  He died in Worcester Township, Pennsylvania, on December 20, 1994.  He was 94 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 5, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTONIO MARY ZACCARIA, FOUNDER OF THE BARNABITES AND THE ANGELIC SISTERS OF SAINT PAUL

THE FEAST OF GEORGES BERNANOS, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC NOVELIST

THE FEAST OF HULDA NIEBUHR, CHRISTIAN EDUCATOR; HER BROTHERS, H. RICHARD NIEBUHR AND REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIANS; AND URSULA NIEBUHR, EPISCOPAL THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH BOISSEL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND MARTYR IN LAOS, 1969

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

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

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

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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