Archive for the ‘Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’ Tag

Feast of Justus Falckner (September 22)   1 comment

Gloria Dei Church, 1850

Above:  Gloria Dei Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1850

Photographer = Frederick De Bourg Richards

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-39946

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JUSTUS FALCKNER (NOVEMBER 22, 1672-SEPTEMBER 21, 1723)

Lutheran Pastor and Hymn Writer

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) commemorate the lives of William Passavant (1821-1894; feast day in The Episcopal Church = January 3), Justus Falckner, and Jehu Jones (1786-1852). pioneering Lutheran ministers in North America, on November 24, the anniversary of the ordination of Falckner in 1703. On my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, however, each man receives his own feast day.

Falckner, born at Crimmitschau, Saxony, on November 22, 1672, was the fourth son of Daniel Falckner (Sr.), a Lutheran pastor, and a brother of Daniel Falckner (Jr.).  [Aside:  The tradition of naming a son after the father without adding a suffix, especially common in Germany and England, is really annoying to many historians and genealogists.  To know which Johannes Doe one is reading about is really helpful.  Sometimes it is relatively easy, but on other occasions it is impossible.]  Our saint, who began his studies at the University of Halle, with the intention of becoming a pastor, felt inadequate for that goal by the time he graduated.  Instead he became a lawyer and a land agent like his brother, Daniel Jr.  In 1700, at Rotterdam, the Falckner brothers acquired the power of attorney for the sale of William Penn‘s lands in Pennsylvania.  The following year the Reverend Andreas Rudman (1668-1708), a pioneering Swedish minister in what became the United States, purchased 10,000 acres along Manatawny Creek for Swedish Lutherans.  The connection with Rudman helped to convince the Falckner brothers to serve as clergymen in North America.  On November 24, 1724, 1703, at Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Justus Falckner became the first Lutheran minister ordained in North America.  The service was the first recorded instance of the use of an organ at a worship service in what became the United States.

Our saint served as many as 14 congregations spread out over a territory of 200 miles at one time during nearly 20 years of ordained ministry.  His first assignment was a Dutch congregation near New Hanover, Pennsylvania.  Later he succeeded Rudman (who returned to Sweden) at New York City.  Fortunately, Rudman left the congregation in good condition.  Falckner also served at Albany, where the congregation was in dire shape; he had to start “from scratch” there.  In 1719, after the death of Pastor Joshua Kocherthal, our saint assumed responsibility for the congregations in the Hudson River valley.

Meanwhile, if all that were not enough, Falckner would have been a busy man even without those responsibilities.  In 1704 he published the first Lutheran catechism in North America.  Over the years he lobbied for the use of organs in Lutheran churches in the Delaware River valley.  He succeeded.  And, in 1717, our saint married Gerritje Hardick, with whom he had three children (in 1718, 1720, and 1723).

Falckner died at Newburgh, New York, on September 21, 1723.  He, aged 51 years, had damaged his health via his work load.   Daniel Jr., a pastor in New Jersey since 1708, added the Hudson River valley congregations to his responsibilities, starting that year.

Our saint seems to have written at least two hymns (both from 1697, during his college years) extant in English-language translations.  “Rise, Ye Children of Salvation,” in English since 1858, courtesy of Emma Frances Bevan, is plainly by Falckner.  I am less (yet reasonably) certain about “If Our All on Christ We Venture,” which old North American Moravian hymnals attribute in the original German to Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760).  Both Zinzendorf and Falckner wrote in German, I know.  I also know that some old Moravian hymnals mistakenly attributed certain German hymns to the Count.

Falckner was indeed a pioneer of the faith in North America, and thereby worthy of much respect.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 6, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Justus Falckner,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following their examples and the teaching of their holy lives,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

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

Psalm 84

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

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

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

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Feast of John Christian Frederick Heyer, Bartholomeaus Ziegengbalg, and Ludwig Nommensen (November 7)   2 comments

Jerusalem Cross

Above:  The Jerusalem Cross

Image in the Public Domain

Meanwhile the eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them.  When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated.  Jesus came up and spoke to them.  He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.  And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.”

–Matthew 25:16-20, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

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JOHN CHRISTIAN FREDERICK HEYER (JULY 10, 1793-NOVEMBER 7, 1873)

Lutheran Missionary in the United States and India

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BARTHOLOMAEUS ZIEGENBALG, JR. (JULY 10, 1682-FEBRUARY 23, 1719)

Lutheran Missionary to the Tamils

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LUDWIG INGWER NOMMENSEN (FEBRUARY 6, 1834-MAY 23, 1918)

Lutheran Missionary to Sumatra and Apostle to the Batak

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INTRODUCTION

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These three saints share the same feast day on the calendar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

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JOHN CHRISTIAN FREDERICK HEYER

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“Father” John Christian Frederick Heyer (born Johann Christian Friedrich Heyer on July 10, 1793) was a dedicated missionary.  He, a native of Helmstedt, Lower Saxony, was son of Fredericke Sophie Johane Wagener and Johann Heinrich Gottlieb Heyer, a furrier.  Our saint, confirmed at Helmstedt in 1807, left Europe at a young age.  His parents sent him to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where an uncle was a hatter and a furrier.  Heyer studied theology at Philadelphia then, starting in 1815, the University of Gottingen, having taught at Zion School, Philadelphia, from 1813 to 1815.  In 1816 he returned to the United States and became a licensed lay preacher.  Three years later he married Mary Gash (died in 1839), a widow with two children.  The couple had six children from 1818 to 1827.  Heyer, ordained in 1820, was a missionary in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and other states for two decades.  He founded congregations in states from New York and Pennsylvania to Missouri.  Heyer, as an agent (1829-1831) of the Sunday School Union of the Lutheran Church in the United States, organized Sunday Schools.  He also served as the founding pastor (1837-1840) of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the first English-speaking Lutheran church west of the Allegheny Mountains.  And, in 1829, our saint helped to found what became Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Then a different mission field beckoned.  Heyer learned Sanskrit then left for India, where he served from 1842 to 1845 and from 1847 to 1857 under the auspices of the German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States.  He was the first U.S. Lutheran missionary overseas.  In India Heyer founded what became the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church (constituted in 1927).  Between stints in India our saint served as the pastor of St. John’s Church, Baltimore, Maryland, and earned his M.D. degree from the School of Medicine of the University of Maryland.  Back in India Heyer worked from two locations, but mainly from Rajahmundry (now in the territory of the Church of South India), site of a mission statement the North German Missionary Society could no longer afford to maintain.  He also built schools and hospitals.

 In 1857 the 60-year-old Heyer returned to the United States.  William Passavant (1821-1894) recruited our saint to undertake German-language missions in Minnesota, under the auspices of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of East Pennysylvania.  In 1860 Heyer founded the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Minnesota and Other States.  He continued to work in the Midwest until 1869.

Heyer’s third missionary stint in India, under the auspices of the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America, from 1869 to 1871.  He returned to Rajahmundry, where he reorganized the work of the mission station rather than transfer it to the (Anglican) Church Mission Society.

Heyer returned to the United States again in 1871.  The following year he became the chaplain and house father of the new Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He continued this work until he died on November 17, 1873.  He was 80 years old.

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BARTHOLOMAEUS ZIEGENBALG, JR.

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Bartholomeaus Ziegenbalg, Jr., had a shorter life yet left no less impressive a legacy.  The native of Pulsnitz, Saxony, born on July 10, 1682, was son of Maria Bruckner (1646-1692) and Bartholomeaus Ziegenbalg, Sr. (1640-1694), a grain merchant.  Our saint studied at the University of Halle before becoming, with Heinrich Plutschau, under the patronage of King Frederick IV of Denmark (reigned 1699-1730), half of the first Protestant missionary team in India.  The two arrived at Tranquebar, a Danish colony, on July 9, 1706.  He remained in India for most of the rest of his life, spending about two years (1714-1716) in Europe.

Zieganbalg’s time in India was eventful.  He spent two short terms (a few months each) in jail–once due to a dispute regarding whether the baptism of the child of a Danish soldier and a non-Christian woman should occur in a Roman Catholic or a Protestant church and once because of a dispute with some Hindus who objected to the fact that he was converting other Hindus to Christianity.  Ziegenbalg also argued with Brahmins about the poor treatment of lower-caste Hindus, established a Tamil printing press, and used it.  Our saint, married in 1716, published hymnals, catechisms, and part of the Bible in the Tamil language.  He also translated the New Testament (1708-1711; published in 1715) and the Old Testament through the Book of Ruth prior to dying on February 23, 1719, aged 36 years.

Ziegenbalg, unlike Heyer, cooperated across denominational lines.  He considered missionaries of the (Anglican) Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK) his partners, not his rivals.

Ziegenbalg contended with challenges in his work as a missionary.  There were, of course, hostility from Hindus and competition from Roman Catholic priests.   The weather–the heat and the wind–were physical challenges.  Racism, cultural imperialism, and ethnocentrism on the part of colonists, who looked down upon Tamils and did not want to grant them access to colonists’ congregations, were other obstacles.  Ziegenbalg had to found a Tamil congregation, the Church of the New Jerusalem, in fact.  He recognized the fact that the church in India needed to be Indian, not European.  This was not obvious to many Europeans in India at the time as well as later, but it proved to be correct and prescient.

At the time of Ziegenbalg’s death his legacy consisted of two church buildings, a seminary, and about 250 baptized Christians, plus the products of his printing press.  That legacy has grown to include the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church (constituted in 1919), with roots in his missionary efforts.

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LUDWIG INGWER NOMMENSEN

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Ludwig Ingwer Nommensen, born on February 6, 1834, became the “Apostle to the Batak” on the island of Sumatra, in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).  His mother was Anna Nommensen and his father was Peter Nommensen.  The native of Nordstrand, North Frisia, Denmark, had overcome, partly by prayer, the inability to walk in 1846-1849, after a horse cart crushed his legs.  From 1857 to 1862 he prepared to become a missionary under the auspices of the Rhenish Missionary Society, which sent him to Sumatra.

Nommensen worked among the Batak people.  He arrived in 1862.  By 1865 he had converted about 2000 people.  Many of these individuals, who had to leave their homes and villages, resided in the Village of Peace, which Nommensen had founded.  Meanwhile, Nommensen translated the New Testament; he completed that task in 1878.  he also married Margarethe Carolina Gutbrod (died in Germany in 1887), his first wife, in 1866.  The couple had six children, two of whom died in the Dutch East Indies–in 1868 and 1872.

Nommensen’s success as a missionary attracted both friendly and hostile attention.  In 1878, during a conflict between certain natives and the Dutch colonial government, he functioned as a translator for and a consultant to the Dutch colonial army.  Our saint’s purpose was to protect Christian villagers, who, like Dutch colonists, were targets of certain Batak potentates.  Many of the Batak people came to perceive Nommensen as their protectors against Dutch influences.  He also survived attempts to kill him.

Nommensen, much like Ziegenbalg before him, was a translator and writer.  He translated the New Testament into Batak, for example.  He also translated Martin Luther’s Small Catechism and wrote a book of Bible stories as well as a series of booklets.  He also wrote about 40 articles for mission journals.

The missionary, who relocated on Sumatra in 1885, remarried seven years later.  He and Anna Magdalena Christina Harder (died in 1909), had at least two children.  Our saint built up an indigenous church that, as of his death on May 23, 1918, had about 180,000 members, 34 indigenous pastors, 788 teachers, and 500 congregations.  The Batak Christian Protestant Church became independent in 1931.

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CONCLUSION

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I like the coincidence of celebrating the lives and living legacies of these three pioneering missionaries on the same date as Sts. Willibrord and Boniface, also apostles to unchurched populations.   The reason for the coincidence is the death of Father Heyer on November 7, the Feast of St. Willibrord on the Roman Catholic calendar of saints.  I also notice that Nommensen was a native of Frisia, an area evangelized by Sts. Willibrord and Boniface.  He owed his faith partially to their missionary endeavors.  And others, of course, owe their faith partially to his work or to that of Heyer or Ziegenbalg.

That faith we give away which we take with us to Heaven.  One might not travel to a remote location and risk martyrdom; that is not God’s call upon the life of everyone.  To share one’s faith, however, is a mandate for all who have faith in God in Christ.  However and wherever God commands you to do this, O reader, may you do so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 4, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALFRED TENNYSON, ENGLISH POET

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM FOSTER, ENGLISH MORAVIAN BISHOP, LITURGIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN BROWNLIE, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

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God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servants

John Christian Frederick Heyer, who made the good news known in the United States and India;

Bartholomeaus Ziegenbalg, Jr., who made the good news known to the Tamils in India; and

Ludwig Nommensen, who made the good news known to the Batak on Sumatra.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Feast of Bartolome de Las Casas (July 18)   1 comment

Bartolomedelascasas

Above:  Portrait of Bartolome de Las Casas

Image in the Public Domain

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BARTOLOME DE LAS CASAS (1474/1484-JULY 18, 1566)

“Apostle to the Indians”

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INTRODUCTION

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My background reading for this post included sources with diametrically opposed understandings of Bartolome de Las Casas.  He was imperfect, to be sure, but he was hardly the bete noir some have depicted him as being or the increasingly intolerant man of conscience of whom I read at the New Advent website.  (He was increasingly intolerant of slavery.  How is that a vice?)  I have concluded that The Church of England was correct to decide to celebrate his life, with a feast day of July 20.  Henry Irving Louttit, Jr., the Ninth (Episcopal) Bishop of Georgia, said in my presence while he was still the Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia, in the early 1990s that one can find a reason not to think of any given saint as a saint, and that such nitpicking was not a helpful endeavor.  What really mattered, Louttit argued, was whether one considered a saint was a person of God, especially at the end.  (That is also the point of view of Thomas J. Craughwell, author of Saints Behaving Badly:  The Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil Worshippers Who Became Saints, 2006.)  The Episcopal Church, which maintains a calendar of saints without canonizing anyone formally, has established a set of standards by which to evaluate proposed saints.  Among them are significance, memorability, perspective, and Christian discipleship.  That denomination has decided to celebrate the life of Las Casas on July 18.  Likewise, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) have decided to remember him on July 17.

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BIOGRAPHY

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Bartolome de Las Casas changed much during his lifetime.  He, a native of Seville, Castille and Leon, came from nobility.  His father, Francisco Casas, returned from the second voyage (1493-1496) of Christopher Columbus with an Indian boy, who became our saint’s servant.  Las Casas studied law and theology at the University of Salamanca then practiced law.  In 1502 he sailed to the Spanish Antilles to begin work as an advisor to the government there.  Eight years later, at Santo Domingo, Las Casas became the first Roman Catholic priest ordained in the Americas.  Then the direction of his life changed.

Our saint came under the influence of Antonio de Montesinos, a Dominican friar and the first Spaniard to preach against Spanish cruelty to indigenous people in the Americas.  Las Casas accompanied Diego Velasquez’s expedition to Cuba in 1511-1512 and tried in vain to prevent the massacre of natives at Caonas.  The Spanish Empire employed a system called repartimiento, the allotment of encomiendas, or slaves to Spanish landowners for forced labor.  Defenders of this arrangement cited economic necessity and public safety as justifications for it.  In 1514 Las Casas, having concluded that this system was evil, renounced his rights within it and encouraged others to follow his example.  Then he commenced his decades-long effort devoted to the abolition of repartimiento.

This work began in Spain in 1515, when Las Casas spoke to King Ferdinand V of Castille and Leon (reigned 1474-1516)/Ferdinand II of Castille (reigned 1506-1516), “Ferdinand the Catholic.”  The monarch was a power-hungry and unscrupulous figure, so that stage in the great work failed.  In 1516, however, Cardinal Jimenes de Cisneros, the regent, appointed Las Casas to lead a commission to inquire as to the best way to alleviate the injustices inflicted upon the native peoples by Spanish settlers and conquistadors.  Our saint returned to Hispaniola,  While there he found the zeal of his fellow commissioners lacking.  In 1517 he returned to Spain.  King Charles I (reigned 1518-1556)/Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1519-1556) was struggling to gain recognition for his claim to the throne.  There was a regency in place, however, and our saint spoke to people in power to make decisions.  He proposed an end to slavery for native peoples.  (That was good.)  To replace that slave labor force Las Casas proposed African slaves.  He disavowed that recommendation shortly thereafter and spent the rest of his life making apologies for it.  No part of this proposal bore fruit.  Our saint was able, however, to obtain royal approval for the founding of a model colony (without slave labor) at Cumana, on the coast of Venezuela.  That colony failed in 1521, due to the violence of conquistadors.  Powerful economic and military interests defended the enslavement of indigenous peoples tenaciously.

The effort continued.  In 1522 Las Casas entered the Dominican Order and the monastery at Santo Domingo.  There he wrote History of the Indies (published in 1875-1876), an account of early Spanish colonies in the Americas.  Our saint returned to Spain in 1530 and obtained a royal decree forbidding the enforcement of slavery in Peru.  He delivered it to Peru in person.  Circa 1535 Las Casas wrote The Only True Method of Attracting All People to the True Religion, in which he argued that preaching and good example, not enslavement, should be the first step in the process of converting Indians.  Next, in 1537-1538, our saint converted the fierce Tuzutlan tribe of Guatemala to Roman Catholicism.  He also changed the name of their territory from Tierra de Guerra (“Land of War”) to Vera Pax (“True Peace”).  The Dominican Order sent Las Casas to Spain to gather recruits in 1539.  At that time he wrote A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies (published in 1552).

On November 20, 1542, the New Laws took effect.  They were not all that Las Casas wanted, but they were more than many settlers considered wise.  The New Laws, prior to amendments which made them useless, were supposed to be the beginning of the end of the repartimeinto system.  Our saint, having declined to become the Bishop of Cuzco, in Peru, in 1542, became the Bishop of Chiapas, in Mexico, in 1544.  His tenure (1544-1547) was difficult, for he had to contend with constant opposition (related to the New Laws) from clergy, laymen, and authorities.  Our saint even refused absolution of sins to anyone who refused to free his Indian slaves.

Las Casas left the Americas for the last time in 1547.  He returned to Spain, where he spent most of the rest of his life living in monasteries.  In 1550 and 1551 our saint debated famed scholar and theologian Gines de Sepulveda in public on the topic of the enslavement and destruction of indigenous peoples.  Four years later, in 1555, Las Casas followed Prince Philip, soon to become King Philip II (reigned 1556-1598), to England, to prevent colonists from winning royal approval of the perpetual slavery of Indians.  Our saint died at Atocha Monastery, Madrid, on July 18, 1566.  The struggle against slavery in the Spanish Empire continued.

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CONCLUSION

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The designated collect from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010) emphasizes modern slavery.  That is appropriate, for Las Casas opposed slavery in his day.  One might think of religious-based slavery in Africa.  That practice is evil, I agree, but stopping there might lead one far away from Africa to think,

What can I do about that?

and do nothing else.  I live in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, on the outskirts of the Metropolitan Atlanta Region.  (To be precise, I live just a few miles from part of the eastern border of that region.)   Southeast of my location is Atlanta, a hub of human trafficking.  Even closer to home, human trafficking is a problem in Athens-Clarke County.  The life of Las Casas challenges me to ask myself what I might do to resist slavery just a few miles from my front door.  As for religious-based slavery in Africa, certain organizations fight that evil.  They need support.

Evil, supported by powerful economic, political, and military interests and frequently dressed up in the attire of morality, surrounds us.  We cannot fight all of it successfully or partially so, but we can do our part.  God, I suppose, does not really need we mere mortals.  God is omnipotent, correct?  Yet we, I have heard, are God’s hands and feet.  Will I–will you, O reader, in the words of the Baptismal Covenant in The Book of Common Prayer (1979),

…seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

and

…strive for for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

–Page 305

One of the great difficulties of timeless principles is that many people who agree to them differ when the question becomes how best to apply them.  If, for example, one accepts the proposition that one person’s rights end at the edge of the other person’s nose, how does one resolve the conflict of these two sets of rights?  May each of us, by grace, succeed in bringing honor to God and in respecting the dignity of every human being as we navigate and shape the circumstances of life.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 16, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERNADETTE OF LOURDES, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF HEINRICH THEOBALD SCHENCK, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ISABELLA GILMORE, ANGLICAN DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM FIRMATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

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Eternal God, we give you thanks for the witness of Bartolome de las Casas,

whose deep love for your people caused him to refuse absolution to those who would not free their Indian slaves.

Help us, inspired by his example, to work and pray for the freeing of all enslaved people of our world,

for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you

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

Isaiah 59:14-20

Psalm 52

Philemon 8-16

Matthew 10:26-31

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 469

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Feast of Nathan Soderblom (July 11)   2 comments

Nathan Soderblom

Above:  Nathan Soderblom

Image in the Public Domain

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LARS OLOF JONATHAN SODERBLOM (JANUARY 15, 1866-JULY 12, 1931)

Swedish Ecumenist and Archbishop of Uppsala

His feast transferred from July 12

Archbishop Nathan Soderblom‘s name came to my attention via the calendars of saints of The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), where his feast day is July 12.  Since, however, I have decided to reserve July 12 for St. Jason of Tarsus, a Biblical figure, I have transferred the archbishop’s feast one day.

Lars Olof Jonathan “Nathan” Soderblom debuted at Trono, Halsingland, Sweden, on January 15, 1866.  His mother was the Danish-born Sophie Blume Soderblom, daughter of a medical doctor.  Our saint’s father was the Reverend Jonas Soderblom (1823-1901), descended from farmers.  The Lutheran priest was a Pietist.  Young Nathan studied at Hudiksvall then at the University of Uppsala, starting at the latter in 1883.  He graduated with degrees in Oriental languages (1886) and theology (1892).  Soderblom, who had grown up with a strict form of Lutheranism, liberalized during his postsecondary education.  This fact disturbed his father, who feared that our saint was becoming a freethinker.

Soderblom became a Lutheran priest.  He, ordained in 1893, served first as a hospital chaplain in Uppsala.  In 1894 he married Anna Forsell (1870-1955).  The couple had twelve children, eleven whom survived to adulthood.  Each of the three surviving daughters married a future bishop of the Church of Sweden, and one of the eight sons entered the ordained ministry.  From 1894 to 1901 Soderblom was the chaplain to the Swedish legation in Paris and pastor to Swedish seamen at Calais and Dunkirk.  The busy clergyman also earned his doctorate from the Sorbonne in 1901.  The focus of his study was comparative eschatology.  His dissertation was La vie future d’apres le Mazdeisme, about Persian religion.

Soderblom combined support for foreign missions with advocacy for studies in comparative religion.  He was a Christian, of course–a Lutheran, to be specific–and he thought that more people should convert to Christianity.  Our saint also affirmed the proposition that missionaries should understand and not destroy the cultures in which they worked.

This point might seem obvious to you, O reader, but, as many people who train missionaries know well, a host of missionaries (in successive generations) destroyed cultures and functioned as more effective agents of earthly principalities than of the Kingdom of God for centuries.  Thus they harmed the cause for which they professed to labor.

Soderblom, an expert in Oriental religions, became a professor of theology at the University of Uppsala in 1901.  In Gudstrons uppkomst (1914) our saint argued that the fundamental concept of religion is the idea of the holy, not the concept of God.  For Soderblom, a pacifist, religion was properly a means of making peace.  Our saint, a professor at Uppsala until 1914, taught in Leipzig, Germany, in 1912-1914.  Then he received a major promotion.

From 1914 to his death in 1931 Soderblom served as the Archbishop of Uppsala, the primate of the Church of Sweden.  His appointment proved controversial for more than one reason.  For years our saint had to contend with allegations of heresy.  They continued to follow him.  Furthermore, Soderblom was not a bishop prior to becoming archbishop.  That was not unprecedented in Christian history, but, as a matter of practice, most archbishops have been bishops first.  Certain Swedish bishops thought that they were more qualified than Soderblom.  Our saint performed his duties ably and continued his studies, including with regard to the original teaching of Martin Luther, as opposed to subsequent developments in Lutheran theology (such as Pietism).

Soderblom was also an ardent ecumenist.  He had a great interest in liturgy and in burgeoning liturgical renewal in Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and Roman Catholicism.  He also favored Christian unity, but not as any cost.  Soderblom coined the term “evangelical Catholicism,” meaning, in his words:

It would be ungodly to sacrifice anything essential in our faith and our divine heritage for the cause of unity.

The author of Christian Fellowship (1923) emphasized Christian unity as a method for working toward global peace.  He organized the first World Council on Life and Work in 1925, inviting leaders of Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican/Episcopal churches to attend.  This gathering began the process that culminated in the formation of the World Council of Churches in 1948.  For his ecumenical work Soderblom, who had officiated at the state funeral of Alfred Nobel (1833-1896), received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1930.

In 1931 the ailing Soderblom delivered the Gifford Lectures in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The published version of these lectures was The Living God:  Basal Forms of Personal Religion (1933).  Our saint died at Uppsala on July 12, 1931.  He was 65 years old.

The article on Soderblom in the 1968 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica concluded:

A saintly man, a scholar, and a great ecclesiastical statesman, he had a remarkable personal influence on those who knew him.

–Volume 20, page 825

His influence continues to this day.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 15, 2016 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF DAMIEN DE VEUSTER, A.K.A. DAMIEN OF MOLOKAI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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

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Almighty God, we bless your Name for the life and work of Nathan Soderblom, Archbishop of Uppsala,

who helped to inspire the modern liturgical revival and worked tirelessly for cooperation among Christians.

Inspire us by his example, that we may ever strive for the renewal of your Church in life and worship,

for the glory of your Name; who with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

2 Kings 22:3-13

Psalm 133

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

John 13:31-35

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 159

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Feast of Sts. Bridget and Catherine of Sweden (July 23)   Leave a comment

Vadstena Abbey Church

Above:  Vadstena Parish Church

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT BRIDGET OF SWEDEN (CIRCA 1303-JULY 23, 1373)

Founder of the Order of the Most Holy Savior

Also known as Brigitta Birgensdotter, Saint Birgitta of Sweden, and Saint Birgit of Sweden

mother of

SAINT CATHERINE OF SWEDEN (1331-MARCH 24, 1381)

Superior of the Order of the Most Holy Savior

Also known as Catherine Vastanesis and Saint Catherine of Vadstena

Her feast transferred from March 22

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St. Bridget of Sweden has at least two feast days.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) observe her feast on July 23.  The Roman Catholic Church, however, celebrates her legacy on October 8.  I have added St. Catherine of Sweden to this commemoration as a practical matter.  Furthermore, this is my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, so this is my decision.

St. Bridget of Sweden (circa 1303-1373), a mystic, came from a prominent family.  According to one tradition, her date of birth was June 14, 1303.  Her father was Birger Persson, governor of Uppland.  At the age of 10 years ours saint reported receiving a vision of Christ crucified.  For the rest of her life St. Bridget made the Passion of Jesus the center of her spiritual devotion.  In 1316, when our saint was 13 years old, she married Ulf Gudmarsson, governor of Nericia.  The couple had eight children, one of which was St. Catherine of Sweden (1331-1381).  In 1342 the couple made the pilgrimage to Santo Domingo de Compostella.  Gudmarsson died at the Cistercian monastery at Alvastra in 1344.

Later that year the widow, already renowned for her saintliness and charitable works, became a Franciscan nun.  The frequency of St. Bridget’s visions increased during this period of time.  She dictated her Revelations (published in 1492) to the prior, Peter Olafsson, who translated them into Latin.  Among these visions was a command to found a new religious order.  This was the prompt for the creation of the Order of the Most Holy Savior (the Brigittines), at Vadstena, Sweden, in 1346.  The order (still extant) spread across Europe, from Scandinavia to Italy and Portugal and Spain to Russia.  The Brigittines used to have double monasteries, with nuns living one side, monks residing on the other, and both groups sharing the chapel.  The Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution reduced the number of Brigittine institutions.

In 1349 Sts. Bridget and Catherine made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  St. Catherine, educated at a convent, had, at age 12 or 13, married Egard van Kyren, a German nobleman.  They had a white, or chaste, marriage.  Egard died while his wife was away on pilgrimage in 1349.  She spent most of the rest of her life refusing the advances of suitors.

In 1350, during the time do the Black Death, which killed at least two-fifths of the population of Europe in less than five years, St. Catherine, an ascetic like her mother, traveled to Rome with Birger (her brother), St. Bridget, and a small party.  They sought Papal approval of their order.  That approval was forthcoming 20 years later.  The building of the mother house at Vadstena started the following year.  St. Bridget lived in Rome for the rest of her life, her faithful daughter by her side.  The two women made pilgrimages to the Holy Land (one together in 1372) and collaborated in providing shelter to homeless people.

Papal Palace, Avignon, France

Above:  The Papal Palace at Avignon, France, 1890

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-05243

St. Bridget also opposed ecclesiastical corruption.  Amid the scandal of the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy (1309-1377), with the Papal headquarters transferred to Avignon, under the influence of the French monarchy, St. Bridget favored the return of the Papacy to Rome.  She had lauded the election of Pope Innocent VI (reigned 1352-1362), but turned against him after he ordered the imprisonment of some Spiritual Franciscans and the burning at the stake of others.  St. Bridget accused the Supreme Pontiff of being a persecutor of faithful Christians.  She also predicted the early death of Pope Urban V (1362-1370) and cautioned him not to return to Avignon.  The Pope had returned to Rome while leaving a bureaucracy in Avignon.  He returned to Avignon on September 27, 1370.  An illness claimed his life on December 19.

St. Bridget died at Rome on July 23, 1373, with St. Catherine by her side.  The daughter succeeded her mother as superior of the order and returned to Sweden, taking St. Bridget’s corpse with her.

Pope Boniface IX (reigned 1389-1404) canonized St. Bridget in 1391.  She has become one of the patron saints of Europe.

St. Catherine of Sweden, who wrote Consolation of the Soul, a devotional work, eventually returned to Rome, where she lived for a few years.  Among her close friends was St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), who also advocated for the return of the Papacy to Rome.  St. Bridget’s daughter died at Vadstena on March 24, 1381.

The canonization of St. Catherine of Sweden was informal, with Pope Innocent VIII (reigned 1484-1492) supporting her veneration in 1484.  Formal canonization proved to be impossible, for that process required the documentation of miracles.  The Protestant Reformation prevented that from proceeding.

Today many people invoke St. Catherine of Sweden against abortion and miscarriage.

As I have written in various weblog posts, faith should be something families nurture.  The family of Sts. Bridget and Catherine of Sweden modeled that principle well.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, SCIENTIST, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF HENRY VAN DYKE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN LITURGIST, BISHOP OF TURKU, AND “FATHER OF FINNISH LITERARY LANGUAGE”

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants Saints Bridget and Catherine of Sweden,

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

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

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

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

and the Holy Spirit, one God, who lives and reigns with you

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

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

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Feast of Luther D. Reed (April 3)   2 comments

Lutheran Books February 13, 2016

Above:  Some of Luther Reed’s Major Works and Immediate Successors Thereto

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor, February 13, 2016

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LUTHER DOTTERER REED (MARCH 21, 1873-APRIL 3, 1972)

U.S. Lutheran Minister and Liturgist

Luther Dotterer Reed was an influential Lutheran liturgist in the United States.  He was chiefly responsible for the creation of the Common Service Book (1917) and the Service Book and Hymnal (1958), two of the major Lutheran service-books of the twentieth century.

Reed was a son of the Church.  He entered the world at North Wales, Pennsylvania, on March 21, 1873.  His parents were Annie Linley Reed and Ezra L. Reed, a Lutheran minister of the old Ministerium of Pennsylvania and its umbrella organization, the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (1867-1918).  From his father our saint learned much, including music and the Mercersburg Theology (high church Calvinism) of the Reformed Church in the United States (1793-1934).  Reed came under the direct influence of the Mercersburg Theology at his father’s alma mater, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1892.  Next our saint matriculated at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (hereafter LTS Mt. Airy), from which he graduated in 1895.

Reed was a parish minister for just a few years.  Upon graduating from LTS Mt. Airy he entered the liturgical boondocks of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania.  Western Pennsylvania was an unlikely place for a Lutheran minister with a strong liturgical bent.  In 1895 our saint became the pastor of Emmanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Allegheny, across the river from Pittsburgh.  As Reed described the facility, it was a chapel with a central pulpit and a lunch table for an altar.  Traditionally the pastor wore street clothes to church on Sundays.  In 1903, when our saint left for his next posting, there was a choir (which he had directed), he wore a Geneva robe to church on Sundays, and the use of vestments and paraments had begun.  Reed studied at the University of Leipzig in 1902.  He served as pastor in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, briefly before returning to his alma mater, LTS Mt. Airy, in 1906.  There he remained in one capacity or another until 1950.

Luther D. Reed

Above:  An Item in the Lebanon Courier and Semi-Weekly Report, Lebanon, Pennsylvania, May 24, 1905, Page 2

Accessed via newspapers.com

Reed worked beyond the parish and seminary levels, frequently in the cause of liturgical renewal.  He understood worship as occupying the center of Christian life.  The beauty of worship matters, he insisted, for it can inspire one to commit good works–lead one into the world.  From 1898 to 1906 our saint led the Lutheran Liturgical Association, the goal of which was to convince U.S. Lutherans to accept the Common Service (1888) as something simple yet dignified and Lutheran yet catholic.  Reed edited the Memoirs of the Lutheran Liturgical Association (1906).  From 1907 to 1936 he served as the President of the Church Music and Liturgical Art Society.  And, from 1930 to 1940, he was the President of the Associated Bureaus of Church Architecture of the United States and Canada, devoted to encouraging architecture suitable for proper liturgy.

Reed married Catharine S. Ashbridge (1878-1942) in 1906.  They remained married until by her death they did part.

Book Dedication

Above:  The Dedication to The Lutheran Liturgy (1947)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

In 1906 Reed went to work at LTS Mt. Airy, where he would have preferred to remain since his graduation 11 years earlier.  Until 1950 he served as the Director of the Krauth Memorial Library.  From 1911 to 1945 our saint was Professor of Liturgics and Church Art.  He was the first such professor at any Protestant theological seminary in North America.  And, from 1938 to 1945 Reed was also the president of the seminary.  If that were not enough, the served as the Archivist of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania from 1909 to 1939, and, starting in 1919, of the new United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA), which he had helped to form via merger.

Reed served as the chairman of the joint commissions that created the Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church (1917) and its successor, the Service Book and Hymnal (1958).  He also wrote two editions (1947 and 1959) of The Lutheran Liturgy, both classic works of Christian liturgical history and commentary on the then-current Lutheran services.  [Aside:  The best way to enjoy Reed’s depth of knowledge in liturgy is to read these two books.]  Reed favored restoring the Eucharistic canon, or prayer of thanksgiving, which Martin Luther had excised in the 1500s.  He included a proposed text for one on pages 336 and 337 of the first edition (1947) of The Lutheran Liturgy.  Variations on that canon graced the Service Book and Hymnal (1958), the Worship Supplement (1969), the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), and the Lutheran Service Book (2006).  Reed’s restoration of the Eucharistic canon took hold in North American Lutheranism beyond the lineages of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), The Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC), and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS).  In 2008, for example, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) added an original Eucharistic canon in Christian Worship:  Supplement.  Other conservative Lutheran denominations have not restored the canon, however.

Reed, who received honorary degrees (including a Doctor of Divinity degree from Thiel College, Greenville, Pennsylvania, in 1912), was a gentle, kind, unassuming, and gracious gentleman.  Although our saint was not physically imposing he was intellectually masterful.  He wrote and contributed to volumes, mostly related to liturgics:

  1. The Psalter and Canticles; Pointed for Chanting to the Gregorian Psalm Tunes; with a Plain Song Setting for the Order of Matins and Vespers, Accompanying Harmonies, and Tables of Proper Psalms; for the Use of Evangelical Lutheran Congregations (1897);
  2. The Choral Service Book; Containing the Authentic Plain Song Intonations and Responses for the Order of Morning Service, the Order of Matins and Vespers, the Litany and the Suffrages of the Common Service for the Use of Evangelical Lutheran Congregations; with Accompanying Harmonies for Organ (1901);
  3. The Responsories:  Musical Setting (1914);
  4. Luther and Congregational Song (1947);
  5. The Lutheran Liturgy:  A Study of the Common Service of the Lutheran Church in America (1947);
  6. The Lutheran Liturgy:  A Study of the Common Liturgy of the Lutheran Church in America (1959);
  7. Worship:  A Corporate Devotion (1959); and
  8. The Mind of the Church (1962).

Reed wrote a hymn and at least two hymn tunes also.  The hymn was “O God of Wondrous Grace and Glory” and the accompanying original tune was MOUNT AIRY.  He also composed the tune SURSUM CORDA.

Reed pondered what might and should follow the Service Book and Hymnal (1958).  He favored the inclusion of a provision for the procession of the bread and wine to the altar at the end of the offering.  This development became reality in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978).

Our saint died at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 3, 1972.  He was 99 years old.  The  process of forging the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) was well underway.

Reed’s liturgical legacy thrives, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 14, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM OF CARRHAE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CYRIL AND METHODIUS, MISSIONARIES TO THE SLAVS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN MICHAEL ALTENBURG, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR, COMPOSER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VICTOR OLOF PETERSEN, SWEDISH-AMERICAN LUTHERAN HYMN TRANSLATOR

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

thank you for those (especially Luther Dotterer Reed)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Feast of Franklin Clark Fry (June 6)   1 comment

ULCA Logo0002 (2)

Above:  The Logo of The United Lutheran Church in America

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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FRANKLIN CLARK FRY (AUGUST 30, 1900-JUNE 6, 1968)

President of The United Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church in America

Franklin Clark Fry comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via my interest in U.S. Lutheran history.  The main source of information for this post is The United Lutheran Church in America, 1918-1962 (1997), by E. Theodore Bachmann with Mercia Brenne Bachmann and edited by Paul Rorem, with supplementary information coming from The Lutherans in North America (second edition, 1980), edited by E. Clifford Nelson, as well as some websites, for information such as that one finds in an obituary.

Fry Family

Above:  A Partial Fry Family Tree

Chart and Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Franklin Clark Fry (1900-1968) came from a family of Lutherans and a line of Lutheran ministers.  His grandfather, Jacob Fry (1834-1920), was a Lutheran minister who graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1853 and taught homiletics (preaching) at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, (hereafter LTS Mt. Airy) from 1891 to 1920.  He wrote Elementary Homiletics, or, Rules and Principles in the Preparation and Preaching of Sermons (first edition, 1897; second edition, 1901) and The History of Trinity Church, Reading, PA., 1751-1894 (1894), of which he had been pastor since 1865.  (His previous pastorate, from 1854 to 1865, had been the First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.)

Franklin Foster Fry (1864-1933), our saint’s father, was prominent in the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (1867-1918) then The United Lutheran Church in America (1918-1962), hereafter ULCA.  He graduated from Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania, then LTS Mt. Airy.  He married Minnie Clark (1868-1961), a widow.  Franklin Foster Fry, ordained in 1888, served briefly in Reading and Easton, Pennsylvania before transferring to Grace Lutheran Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he was pastor from 1890 to 1901.  Next he served as pastor of the Church of the Reformation, Rochester, New York, from 1901 to 1927.  Franklin Foster Fry, who had helped to form the ULCA, served on the Executive Board for a time and as the Executive Secretary of the Board of American Missions (hereafter BAM) from 1926 to 1933.  (ULCA had inherited five domestic missions agencies, which it merged in 1925 and 1926.)  He also served on the board for LTS Mt. Airy in the 1920s.  He died of a heart attack on December 13, 1933.

Franklin Clark Fry entered the world at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on August 30, 1900.  He grew up in a loving family in which he learned duty and self-discipline.  Our saint, educated in Rochester schools, grew up a physically uncoordinated bookworm.  He attended Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, from 1917 to 1921, serving as captain of the debate team and graduating with his bachelor’s degree.  He continued his education at the American School of Classical Studies, Athens, Greece, in 1921 and 122 then at LTS Mt. Airy from 1922 to 1925.  Our saint’s time in seminary seemed to have been relatively unpleasant for him, for he noticed deficiencies in the curriculum and certain professors.  He was, however, an excellent student.

Franklin Clark Fry commenced his ministerial career in 1925.  The first pastorate (1925-1929) was Redeemer Lutheran Church, Yonkers, New York.  Our saint, ordained on June 10, 1925, fell in love with and married Hilda Adriana Drewes (1903-1976), whom he wedded on May 17, 1927.  They had three children:

  1. Franklin Drewes Fry (March 13, 1928-November 5, 2006), a prominent Lutheran minister;
  2. Robert Charles Fry (October 11, 1930-September 15, 2004), an attorney; and
  3. Constance Hilda Fry (February 21, 1935-1987), who died as Constance Preis.

The primary pastorate during the career of our saint was Holy Trinity Church, Akron, Ohio, where he was the senior pastor from 1929 to 1944.  For 15 years his predecessor, Emor W. Simon (died in 1949), who had served there for 26 years, sat in a red plush chair in front of the pulpit.  Fry, being an organized man, brought efficiency to the pastoral visitation program by dividing the parish into districts and assigning people to pay the visits.

Fry also served on the denominational level.  He sat on ULCA’s Standing Committee (as secretary) from 1930 to 1938.  From 1934 to 1942 our saint was a member of BAM, which his father had led from 1926 to 1933.  Our saint also served as the Dean of BAM’s week-long, summer School for Home Mission Partners, starting in 1936.  He also at on ULCA’s Executive Board from 1942 to 1944 and on the board of Wittenberg College and Hamma Divinity School form 1934 to 1940.

At the ULCA convention of 1944 (October 11-17) Fry won election as President.  He resigned as senior pastor of Holy Trinity, Akron, on October 22, 1944, and became the President of ULCA on January 1, 1945.  He was the second of two presidents of the denominations, remaining in office until 1962.  As President Fry became known as “Mr. Protestant” and became an ecumenical leader both nationally and internationally.  He participated in the Lutheran World Convention’s effort to feed hungry Europeans, served as Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches from 1948 to 1954, as Chairman of the same from 1954 to 1968, and led the ULCA into the World Council of Churches in 1948 and the National Council of Churches two years later.  Our saint also served as the President of the Lutheran World Federation from 1957 to 1963 and worked for greater Lutheran unity in the United States, helping to form the Lutheran Church in America (1962-1987), hereafter the LCA.

Franklin Clark Fry 1958

Above:  The Cover of TIME Magazine, April 7, 1958

Image in the Public Domain

Fry was, by the standards of his time, a man of the Left.  His ecumenical activities (with the Eastern Orthodox, even!) offended many people to his right.  Our saint, who spoke out for the downtrodden (also offensive to certain elements on the Right, especially in the context of the Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement), also favored Higher Criticism of the Bible.  He had, at the ULCA convention of 1940, spoken in opposition to proposed Articles of Agreement with The American Lutheran Church (1930-1960), hereafter TALC 1930-1960.  The leadership of ULCA sought progress toward organic union with TALC 1930-1960, but the leadership of TALC 1930-1960 had a more modest goal–pulpit fellowship with ULCA.  The controversial elements of the Articles of Agreement were (1) a condemnation of membership in secret societies, and (2) an affirmation that the Bible is without error.  The ULCA convention approved the Articles of Agreement, but TALC 1930-1960 backed away from pulpit fellowship anyway.

ULCA passed into history by merging with three other denominations in 1962.  Membership in ULCA, which stood at 1.7 million in 1945, had increased to 2.5 million, a gain of 47.1%.  Fry became the first of three presidents of the new LCA, service until his death, on June 6, 1968.  Membership in the LCA, which had started at 3.23 million, increased 15.48% to 3.28 million in 1968.  Fry’s successor was Robert James Marshall (1918-2008), who served for ten years.

Franklin Drewes Fry (1928-2006) became a prominent Lutheran minister.  He, baptized on April 15, 1928, one month and two days after his birth, graduated from Hamilton College then LTS Mt. Airy (M.Div., 1949).  He, ordained on June 11, 1953, served as pastor of St. Philip’s Church, Brooklyn, New York (1952-1958); Christ Church, York, Pennsylvania (1958-1971); and St. John’s Church, Summit, New Jersey (1971-1996).  Fry retired in 1996.  He married twice.  His first marriage, to  Mary Evelyn Gotwald (1925-1991), ended with her death. They had five children.  His second wife was Sharon Roth, a minister.  He, like his grandfather and father, served on the denominational level.  He sat on the LCA’s Executive Council and the Board of American Missions.  Fry also participated in the process of forming the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and served on the LCA’s and ELCA’s ecumenical committees, attended meetings of the World Council of Churches as a delegate, sat on seminary boards, and ELCA’s Church Council from 1993 to 1999.  He also sat on the board of the American Bible Society from 1972 to 2006.  Fry died of leukemia on November 5, 2006.  He was 78 years old.  His children have devoted their lives to making positive contributions to society.  For example, Franklin Gotwald Fry is the Executive Director of the Greater Syracuse Division of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.  He has also been involved in efforts to find a cure for AIDS.

Franklin Clark Fry continued the legacy of his grandfather and father.  That legacy continued via his children, especially his firstborn son.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 1, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY MORSE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIGID OF KILDARE, ABBESS

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE MENNONITE CHURCH U.S.A., 2002

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIGEBERT III, KING OF AUSTRASIA

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Franklin Clark Fry,

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

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

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