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Feast of Jackson Kemper (May 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  Jackson Kemper, 1855

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-cwpbh-01884

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JACKSON KEMPER (DECEMBER 24, 1789-MAY 24, 1870)

Episcopal Missionary Bishop

Jackson Kemper was the first missionary bishop in The Episcopal Church.  He held various titles during his ministerial career.  Perhaps the most appropriate one was “Bishop of All Outdoors,” which he applied to himself.  Also apt was “The Bishop of the Whole Northwest,” given his importance to The Episcopal Church in the Old Northwest of the United States.

Kemper, who spent most of his life in the Midwest and the Old Northwest, came from the East.  He, born on February 24, 1789, hailed from Pleasant Valley, New York.  He studied at Columbia College, where John Henry Hobart (1775-1830), who became the Bishop of New York in 1816, became his mentor.  Kemper, who graduated in 1809, joined the ranks of Episcopal deacons two years later and became a priest in 1814.  From 1811 to 1831 he was one of the assistants serving under William White (1747-1836).  White was a major figure in The Episcopal Church.  He was an assistant priest at Christ Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1772-1779); the Rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia (1779-1836); the Chaplain of the Second Continental Congress (1777-1781); the Chaplain of the Confederation Congress (1781-1788); the Chaplain of the United States Senate (1789-1800); the Bishop of Pennsylvania (1787-1836); and the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (1789 and 1795-1836).  Kemper was White’s agent in western Pennsylvania, traveling in the wilds on behalf of the Diocese of Pennsylvania and the new Society for the Advancement of Christianity in Pennsylvania while keeping track of Episcopal Church work on the frontier of that state.  He also traveled into western Virginia (now West Virginia) and Ohio in that capacity.  Kemper convinced the 78-year-old White to embark on a 800-mile long journey into western Pennsylvania, to pay pastoral visits in 1826.

Kemper was also a pioneer in the Sunday School movement in the United States.  In 1814 he and another assistant, James Milnor, founded a Sunday school immediately north of Philadelphia.  This was the first Sunday school in The Episcopal Church and the United States.

Kemper left the Diocese of Pennsylvania in 1831.  For four years he was the Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Norwalk, Connecticut.

On September 25, 1835, Kemper acquired another title and a different set of responsibilities when he became the Bishop of Missouri and Indiana.  He, a high churchman, became the first missionary bishop in The Episcopal Church.  In 1836, at St. Louis, Missouri, our saint founded a college for training priests.  Kemper College, as friends called it contrary to his wishes, struggled financially due to the Panic of 1837 and closed in 1845.  Despite his title, Kemper’s work extended far beyond Missouri and Indian.  In 1837 and 1838 he and Bishop James Harvey Otey of Tennessee visited Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

The Diocese of Georgia, organized with three parishes (Christ Church, Savannah; Christ Church, Frederica, St. Simon’s Island; and St. Paul’s, Augusta) in 1823, did not have its own bishop until 1841.  By that time the diocese had grown to six congregations.  The newer churches were Christ Church, Macon; Trinity Church, Columbus; and Grace Church, Clarkesville.  On March 25, 1838, Kemper dedicated the new edifice of Christ Church, Macon, and conducted the first confirmation service in Middle Georgia.  On June 3 of that year our saint dedicated the new building of Trinity Church, Columbus.

The territorial range of Kemper’s episcopal jurisdiction expanded and contracted over time.  After 1838, for example, our saint was also responsible for Iowa and Wisconsin, but Bishop Leonidas Polk’s new territory covered parts of the South.  Over time Kemper became responsible for Kansas, Nebraska, and Minnesota, also.  Along the way new dioceses elected their bishops.  He visited the East to recruit missionary priests and raise funds.  Two of his recruits were John Henry Hopkins, Jr., and James Lloyd Breck (1818-1876), “The Apostle of the Wilderness.”  These men were some of the founders of St. John-in-the-Wilderness Church, Waukesha, Wisconsin, in 1841, and Nashotah House, Nashotah, Wisconsin, the following year.  Kemper also founded Racine College, Racine, Wisconsin, in 1852.

Kemper’s legacy was impressive.  It included seven dioceses–Missouri (1840), Indiana (1841), Wisconsin (1847), Iowa (1853), Minnesota (1857), Kansas (1859), and Nebraska (1868).  From 1859 until his death in 1870 Kemper was simply the Bishop of Wisconsin.  His legacy also included ministry to indigenous people.  Our saint, an advocate of such work, helped to found a mission to Native Americans in Minnesota, in 1859.

Kemper, aged 80 years, died at Nashotah, Wisconsin, on May 24, 1870.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 22, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROBERT SEAGRAVE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Lord God, in your providence Jackson Kemper was chosen first missionary bishop in this land,

and by his arduous labor and travel congregations were established in scattered settlements of the West:

Grant that the Church may always be faithful to its mission,

and have the vision, courage, and perseverance to make known to all people the Good News of Jesus Christ;

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

Exodus 15:22-25

Psalm 67

1 Corinthians 3:8-11

Matthew 28:16-20

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 385

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Feast of James Lloyd Breck (April 2)   1 comment

James Lloyd Breck

Above:  James Lloyd Breck

Image in the Public Domain

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JAMES LLOYD BRECK (JUNE 27, 1818-APRIL 2, 1876)

“The Apostle of the Wilderness”

James Lloyd Breck did more to expand the Church in  34 years than did most church members do in more time than that.

Breck was a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The fourth of six children of George Breck (1785-1869) and Catherine Douce Israel Breck (1789-1864) attended the Flushing Institute, which William Augustus Muhlenberg (1796-1877) had founded.  At that school the sixteen-year-old Breck resolved to become a missionary.  Our saint continued his studies at the University of Pennsylvania (B.A., 1838), and the General Theological Seminary, New York (1838-1841).

Breck, a deacon when 1842 dawned, became a priest by the end of the year.  The newly-minted clergyman went west to Wisconsin, where he, with three former classmates from seminary, founded Nashotah House as a monastic community, missions headquarters, and seminary.

After a few years Breck left for a new mission field–Minnesota.  There he served as a military chaplain, founded congregations and schools, and started missionary work among the Ojibwa and the Chippewa, laying the foundations for the education of indigenous priests.  On August 11, 1855, Breck married Jane Maria Mills (1823-1862), a teacher among the Ojibwa.  They had two children–William Augustus Muhlenberg Breck (1856-1920), who became an Episcopal priest, and Charles Renwick Breck (born in 1858).  His congregation at Faribault, Minnesota, became the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour, the first cathedral in The Episcopal Church.  At Faribault our saint founded Seabury Divinity Hall, now part of the Bexley-Seabury Federation.  In 1864 Breck married his second wife, Sarah E. Styles (1819-1877).

Breck’s final mission field was California, where he and a group of missionaries arrived in 1867.  Our saint settled in Benicia, founded five parishes, and established two schools.  He died at Benicia on April 2, 1876, after an illness about a week in duration.

Archive.org offers two biographies of Breck:

  1. The Life of James Lloyd Breck, D.D., Chiefly from Letters Written by Himself (1883), compiled by his older brother, Charles Breck, D.D. (1816-1891); and
  2. An Apostle of the Wilderness:  James Lloyd Breck, D.D., His Missions and His Schools (1903), by Theodore I. Holcombe.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 17, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARY CORNELIA BISHOP GATES, U.S. DUTCH REFORMED HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF FRANK MASON NORTH, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER

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Teach your Church, O Lord, we pray, to value and support

pioneering and courageous missionaries, whom you call,

as you called your servant James Lloyd Breck,

to preach, and teach, and plant your Church on new frontiers;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Joshua 24:14-18

Psalm 145:1-7

1 Corinthians 3:4-11

Mark 4:26-32

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 303

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