Archive for the ‘Martin Luther King Jr.’ Tag

Remaining Positive and Focused on the Morally Justifiable   Leave a comment

Above:  The View from the Camera Built Into a Computer on my Desk, June 14, 2020

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We live in times of rapid social and political change.  Change–even that which is morally proper–causes disorientation and disturbance.  Sometimes we ought to be disturbed.  Injustice ought to disturb us. The root word of “conservative” is “conserve.”  Whether one’s conservatism is morally defensible depends on what one seeks to conserve.  Sometimes one should conserve x.  In certain times, reform is proper.  On other occasions, however, only a revolution is morally defensible.  Yet, even in those cases, nobility must extend beyond the cause and encompass the methods, also.

Call me politically correct, if you wish, O reader.  Or call me a radical or a fool.  If you call me a radical and a revolutionary for justice, I will accept the compliment.  I support what Martin Luther King, Jr., called

a moral revolution of values.

I favor the building of a society in which people matter more than money and property.  I favor social and political standards that brook no discrimination and bigotry while granting violators of those standards the opportunity to repent.  I favor altering society and institutions, inculcating in them the awareness that keeping some people “in their place,” that is, subordinate, underpaid, poorly educated, et cetera, harms society as a whole.  I support building up the whole, and individuals in that context.  I oppose celebrating slavery, discrimination, racism, and hatred, whether past or present.  I stand (socially distanced and wearing a mask, of course) with all those, especially of the younger generations, who are rising up peacefully for justice.  The young will, overall, have an easier time adapting to morally necessary change than many members of the older generations will, no matter how devout and well-intentioned many older people may be.  To quote a cliché,

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

St. Paul the Apostle offered timeless advice for confronting evil:

Do not be mastered by evil, but master evil with good.

–Romans 12:21 (The New Jerusalem Bible, 1985)

May all who seek a more just society pursue that goal with shrewdness, courage, and goodness.  To create a better society without incorporating goodness into methodology is impossible, after all.  May all who reshape society remain positive and focused on the morally justifiable.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN ELLERTON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CARL HEINRICH VON BOGATSKY, HUNGARIAN-GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY FRANCES BLOMFIELD GURNEY, ENGLISH POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT LANDELINUS OF VAUX, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; SAINT AUBERT OF CAMBRAI, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT URSMAR OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MISSIONARY BISHOP; AND SAINTS DOMITIAN, HADELIN, AND DODO OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

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To Be Clear   Leave a comment

Shalom in Hebrew

Above:  Shalom in Hebrew

Image in the Public Domain

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Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

–The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Riverside Church, New York, New York, April 4, 1967

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To be clear, I stand, without reservation, against police brutality, systemic racism, individual racism, the militarization of police forces, needless violence, and all excuses that cover up for not opposing and correcting these offenses against human dignity.  I also oppose all political dog whistles (mainly, appeals to law and order) that distract while they favor unjust order over social justice.  Furthermore, I oppose the use of force against peaceful protesters.  That unjust, oppressive, and repressive law-and-order “desert called peace” (as Tacitus referred to the Pax Romana) is NOT shalom.  It is not, in civil rights terms, beloved community.

I also understand that institutions infected with injustice change only when people force them to do so.  Society is people.  It shapes its members, who have the power to change it.

I favor a just social order.  I favor wise and necessary systemic reform.  I favor spiritual renewal, which must go hand-in-hand with the first two points.  I recognize that sin, guilt, reward, and punishment are both individual and collective.

I, as a self-respecting white liberal, also refuse to tell my brothers and sisters of color how they should feel regarding any matter related to racism.  I do not know how they feel.  I have not experienced what have experience and continue to experience.  I refuse to lecture them.  Instead, I listen to them and learn from them.  I respect them so much that I refuse to do otherwise.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 9, 2020 COMMON ERA

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This is post #2100 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of Will Herzfeld (June 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Logo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Fair Use

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WILLIAM LAWRENCE HERZFELD (JUNE 9, 1937-MAY 9, 2002)

U.S. Lutheran Ecumenist, Presiding Bishop of the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and Civil Rights Activist

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Will was a person with uncanny insight, constant respect for people, and a focus on the gospel.  He conveyed the partnership, accompaniment, of a large North American church with churches in other lands in a manner that transcended economic, cultural, and political boundaries.

–Bonnie L. Jansen, Executive Director, Division for Global Mission, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 408

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Bishop Will Herzfeld was a leader of U.S. Lutheranism.  He departed from one denomination, helped to form two denominations, and played a vital role in increasing the degree of unity of Lutheranism in the United States.  Activism in support of civil rights was a component of his faith.

Herzfeld grew up in the Jim Crow South.  He, born in Mobile, Alabama, on June 9, 1937, was a son of Julius Herzfeld, Sr., and Clarice Heinningburg Herzfeld.  Our saint grew up in The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS)–in Faith Lutheran Church, Mobile, to be precise.  He attended parochial schools then other Lutheran institutions of education for African Americans.  Herzfeld graduated from the subpar Alabama Lutheran Academy and College (now Concordia College), Selma.  He carried negative memories of this institution for the rest of his life.  Our saint also graduated from Immanuel Lutheran College, Greensboro, North Carolina (1957).  Herzfeld went on to graduate from Immanuel Lutheran Seminary, Greensboro (M.Div., 1961), and to continue his studies at Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.  Meanwhile, he married Thressa M. Alston at Kannapolis, North Carolina, on June 11, 1961.  The couple had four children–two daughters and two sons–three of whom lived to adulthood.  Their first child, a daughter, lived only one day.

Herzfeld was an ordained minister in the LCMS from 1961 to 1976.  His first pastorate was Christ Lutheran Church, Tuscaloosa, Alabama (1961-1965).  Our saint became a leader in the Civil Rights Movement while in Tuscaloosa.  He helped to organize the Tuscaloosa chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1963.  Herzfeld, the first president of that chapter, worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968).  OUr saint also served as the president of the Alabama branch of the SCLC (1964-1965).  On the denominational level, he was active in the Southern District of the LCMS.  Our saint sat on the Stewardship Committee and the Family Life Committee.  Furthermore, he was the Vice President of the Lutheran Human Relations Association of America (1964-1966).

Herzfeld ministered in the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of the LCMS, starting .  He, based in Oakland, California, was an urban minister for the district (1966-1969).  Our saint also served as the regional mission executive of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. (1969-1973).  This service overlapped with his time on the LCMS Board of Missions (1969-1973), the Council for Christian Medical Work (1973-1975), and the Board of Directors of the Wheat Ridge Foundation (now the We Raise Foundation) from 1069 to 1972.  The latter organization addresses social inequality.

Herzfeld ministered in the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of the LCMS, starting in 1966.  He, based in Oakland, California, was an urban minister for the district (1966-1969).  Our saint also served as the regional mission executive of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. (1969-1973).  This service overlapped with his time on the LCMS Board of Missions (1969-1973), the Council for Christian Medical Work (1973-1975), and the Board of Directors of the Wheat Ridge Foundation (now the We Raise Foundation) from 1969 to 1972.  (The We Raise Foundation addresses social inequality.)

Above:  Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Oakland, California

Image Source = Google Earth

Herzfeld was the pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Oakland, California, from 1973 to 1992.  These were eventful years for U.S. Lutheranism.  Our saint, who had represented LCMS President Jacob Preus at the seventy-fifth anniversary of the LCMS mission in India in 1969, broke with Preus during the doctrinal turmoil (1969-1976) in the denomination.  Herzfeld became the vice president of the moderate Evangelical Lutherans in Mission (ELIM) in 1973.  Three years later, he became the Vice President of the moderate, breakaway Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC), to which ELIM gave birth.  The AELC eventually changed its title to Presiding Bishop.  Herzfeld became the Presiding Bishop in 1984.  By then he had been active for years in efforts to merge the AELC, the Lutheran Church in America (1962-1987), and The American Lutheran Church (1960-1987) into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Herzfeld was socially and politically active.  He taught urban ministry at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, California, starting in 1976.  He devoted much to ecumenical Black Theology-related projects and organizations for decades.  Our saint always seemed to find time for work in civil rights.  He worked for nuclear disarmament.  Herzfeld, active in urban renewal in Oakland, served in a variety of capacities toward that end.  He also found time to be the chaplain of the Golden State Warriors, a professional basketball team, from 1984 to 1991.

Herzfeld made history.  He made history in 1984, when he became the first African-American head of a U.S. Lutheran denomination.  He made history in the 1980s by being prominent in the movement to bring global pressure on the Apartheid-era governments of South Africa.  Our saint made history by helping to seal the deal to form the ELCA.

Meanwhile, Herzfeld continued his education.  He earned two doctorates–one from the Center for Urban Black Studies, the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California; and the other one from Seminex.

Herzfeld resigned from Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Oakland, at the end of 1992 to accept promotion to the denominational level.  He moved to Chicago, Illinois, to become the Director for Global Community and Overseas Operations of the Division of Global Mission of the ELCA.  He, already a presence in global Lutheranism, expanded his worldwide profile.  He served as the Vice Presidency of Lutheran World Relief.  Our saint, a vice president of the National Council of Churches during his final years, was also active in the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation.  Herzfeld represented the ELCA globally in a variety of capacities and at a number of events.

In 2002, Herzfeld visited the Central African Republic.  He went there to attend the ordination of the first female Lutheran minister in that country.  Unfortunately, he also contracted cerebral malaria.  A month later, on May 9, our saint died at Resurrection Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois.  Had Herzfeld lived one month longer, he would have celebrated his sixty-fifth birthday.

Survivors included Herzfeld’s former wife, Thressa; his three adult children–Martin, Katherine, and Stephen; and five grandchildren.  Our saint’s second wife, the Reverend Michele L. Robinson, had died in May 2001.

Herzfeld’s death prompted many remembrances and kind words.  Perhaps the most poignant statement came from a colleague, Herbert Chilstrom, the first Presiding Bishop of the ELCA. Chilstrom said,

I’ve lost a friend.

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God of justice, we praise you as we thank you for the

life, work, and legacy of your servant, Will Herzfeld.

May we, deriving inspiration from his example,

confront and resist systems of oppression and artificial inequality

as we strive to live according to the Golden Rule

and to leave society better than we found it.

May we also work to break down unnecessary barriers

to greater ecclesiastical unity and cooperation, for your glory.

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

Amos 5:21-24

Psalm 95

Galatians 5:13-15

Matthew 25:31-46

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 28, 2020 COMMON ERA

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

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

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

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

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

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Feast of Ruby Middleton Forsythe (May 29)   Leave a comment

Above:  Chapel/Old Church, Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church, Pawleys Island, South Carolina

Image Source = Google Earth

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RUBY MIDDLETON FORSYTHE (JUNE 27, 1905-MAY 29, 1992)

African-American Episcopal Educator

Ruby Middleton Forsythe comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church.  A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016), an official resource and the volume containing the denomination’s side calendar of saints, has an appendix.  Two pages in this appendix list people officially “worthy of commemoration” whom The Episcopal Church has yet to recognize formally because four decades (give or take a year or so) have not passed since their decease.  Forsythe’s name is on this list.  I have no forty-year rule, although I understand why the denomination has one.

(Aside:  The Episcopal Church has made a few–at least two, to my knowledge–to this rule.  It added Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968); and Jonathan Myrick Daniels (1939-1965).  Both were martyrs for the Gospel and for civil rights.)

Our saint, born Ruby Middleton, spent sixty of her nearly eighty-seven years as a teacher.  Middleton, born in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 27, 1905, graduated from Avery Normal Institute, Charleston, in 1921.  “Miss Ruby,” as many people called her, went on to earn her Bachelor of Science degree from South Carolina State College, Orangeburg.  Our saint lived in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, where she took care of her parents and taught until 1937.  Toward the end of that time she married Father William Essex Forsythe (1889-1974), the Vicar of Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church, Pawleys Island, South Carolina.  The congregation operated a one-room school, the only local school for African-American youth.  Our saint did not move to Pawleys Island immediately, for she took care of her parents.  She did, however, visit Pawleys Island during summers through 1937.

Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church had originally been two missions, each with its own school.  Holy Cross-Brookgreen Mission dated to 1896.  Faith Memorial Mission dated to 1903.  Father Forsythe served as the vicar of both missions from 1926 to 1930, then as the vicar of the merged mission, starting in 1930.

Our saint taught in the school on Pawleys Island from 1938 to 1981, when she retired.  She outlived her husband, who taught in the school until he died in 1974.  Holy Cross Faith Memorial Church became a center of African-American life in the Diocese of South Carolina.  Camp Baskervill, a summer camp for African Americans, occurred on the grounds from 1939 to the 1990s, for example.

Our saint, who retired in 1981, received much recognition.  She received four honorary doctorates.  She was the subject of a segment of 60 MinutesNewsweek magazine declared her one of “America’s Unsung Heroes.”  President George H. W. Bush labeled her one of the Thousand Points of Light.

“Miss Ruby” died in Mount Pleasant on May 29, 1992.

The school closed in 2000.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 17, 2020 COMMON ERA

FRIDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF DANIEL SYLVESTER TUTTLE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF EMILY COOPER, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF LUCY LARCOM, U.S. ACADEMIC, JOURNALIST, POET, EDITOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAX JOSEF METZGER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1944

THE FEAST OF WILBUR KENNETH HOWARD, MODERATOR OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

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Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom:

Enlighten by your Holy Spirit those who teach and those who learn,

that, rejoicing in the knowledge of your truth,

they may worship you and serve you from generation to generation;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25

Psalm 78:1-7

2 Timothy 3:4-4:5

Matthew 11:25-30

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016), A60

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Feast of Lucy Craft Laney (April 15)   1 comment

Above:  Kindergarten, Haines Normal and Industrial Institute, Augusta, Georgia, 1899

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-132449 (b&w film copy neg.)

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LUCY CRAFT LANEY (APRIL 13, 1854-OCTOBER 24, 1933)

African-American Presbyterian Educator and Civil Rights Activist

Lucy Craft Laney 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).

Our saint was a daughter of former slaves.  David Laney, a carpenter, was a Presbyterian minister.  In 1838, slaves who had been members of First Presbyterian Church, Macon, Georgia, became part of the African chapel, the origin of Washington Avenue Presbyterian Church.  Laney was a “leader,” functioning as a minister, of this congregation.  His ordination in 1866 made his ministerial status official.  He, having purchased his freedom in the 1830s, married Louisa, whose freedom he also purchased.  The couple had ten children.  Number seven was Lucy Craft Laney, born in Macon on April 13, 1854.

Presbyterian denominational history can be very confusing, even for those initiated into the mysteries of mergers and schisms.  I, having studied these matters closely, write authoritatively about them.  In the case of Lucy Craft Laney, I conclude that she belonged to the following denominations, in order:

  1. the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (Old School), until December 1861; then
  2. the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America (December 1861-December 1865), which changed its name to the Presbyterian Church in the United States in December 1865.

Our saint’s family taught her the value of education.  She learned to read and write by the age of four years.  When she was twelve years old, Laney translated difficult passages of Julius Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars from Latin.  Her formal education came courtesy of the American Missionary Association, which founded schools for African Americans in the former Confederacy.  She attended Lewis High School, Macon, from 1865 to 1869.  After graduating, she matriculated at Atlanta University.  Ironically, she could not formally study the classics there because of her gender; Laney objected.  Our saint, who graduated in 1873, had her credentials as a teacher.

Laney spent a decade teaching in other people’s schools.  She taught in Macon, Savannah, Milledgeville, and Augusta.  Then, in 1883, she founded what became Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in Augusta.  The first “campus” was the basement of Christ Presbyterian Church, Augusta.  This African-American congregation, formed in October 1882, had separated from First Presbyterian Church, Augusta.

Laney served as principal from 1883 to 1933.  The school became Haines Normal and Industrial Institute because one Francine Haines donated $10,000 ($282,862.94, adjusted for inflation, as of the day I am typing this sentence) in 1886.  The State of Georgia chartered the school that year.  The Haines Institute, which moved to its new campus on Gwinnett Street (now Laney-Walker Boulevard) grew to 34 teachers and 900 students by 1912.  The school offered sewing classes, the first African-American kindergarten in Augusta, the first African-American nursing school in Augusta, orchestral concerts and other cultural events, and a college preparatory program.  Laney taught Latin.  Many graduates matriculated at respected Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  Novelist Frank Yerby (1916-1991), a native of Augusta, was an alumnus of the Haines Institute; he attended the school toward the end of Laney’s life.  Another famous person connected to the Haines Institute was Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), who taught there for a year then moved on to make her mark elsewhere.

Laney was active in the struggle for civil rights.  She, a friend of luminaries such as W. E. B. DuBois (1868-1963), Langston Hughes (1902-1967), and Madam C. J. Walker/Sarah Breedlove (1867-1919), was active in the National Association of Colored Women and the Interracial Commission.  She also helped to organize the Augusta Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.) in 1918.  Furthermore, Laney helped to integrate the work of the Augusta branches of the Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.) and the Young Women’s Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.).

Laney died in Augusta on October 24, 1933.  “Miss Lucy” was 79 years old.

Haines Normal and Industrial Institute closed in 1949.  Laney High School replaced it.  Sadly, not one of the buildings of the Haines Institute has survived the ravages of time and political decisions.

Gwinnett Street, which borders the campus of Christ Presbyterian Church and the site of the former Haines Institute, has become Laney-Walker Boulevard.  Dr. Charles T. Walker was one of the founders of Atlanta University.

In 1974, Governor Jimmy Carter unveiled the first three portraits of African Americans in the state capitol.  The three honorees were Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (1834-1915); Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968), and Lucy Craft Laney.

The Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History and Conference Center, Augusta, opened in 1991.

Fortunately, the indirect and intergenerational influence of Lucy Craft Laney has continued to grow.

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Everlasting God, you teach us that your ways frequently conflict with many of our societal norms.

We thank you for the life and legacy of your servant, Lucy Craft Laney.

May we, inspired by her example, resist social injustice and

testify with our lives to the image of God present in all people.

May we, empowered by the Holy Spirit, transform our societies,

changing our societal norms so that they will more closely resemble your ways,

for your glory and the benefit of all people.

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

Proverbs 2:1-5

Psalm 25:1-10

Galatians 3:23-29

Matthew 5:13-16

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 28, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BINNEY, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND “ARCHBISHOP OF NONCONFORMITY”

THE FEAST OF ANNA JULIA HAYWOOD COOPER AND ELIZABETH EVELYN WRIGHT, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATORS

THE FEAST OF FRED ROGERS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HOST OF MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BADGER, SR., U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST AND PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER; FIRST MISSIONARY TO THE WESTERN RESERVE

THE FEAST OF PEDRO ARRUPE, ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND MARGINALIZED, AND SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS

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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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Happy to Be an Episcopalian   1 comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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I have belonged to three denominations and chosen one.  When my parents were Southern Baptists, so was I.  Likewise, in 1980, when my father left the ordained ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention for that of The United Methodist Church, I became a United Methodist at the age of seven years.  Thus, in June 1980, our family moved from Newington, Georgia, where he had been pastor of North Newington Baptist Church, and settled in the parsonage in Vidette, Georgia.  He served as the minister of the Vidette, Friendship, and Greens Cut congregations in Burke County.  In the ensuing years, I took the grand tour of rural southern Georgia.  My initial spiritual formation occurred within the context of rural Southern United Methodism, a different creature from United Methodism as it exists in much of the rest of the United States and the world.

Yet I have always had an inner Catholic.  The sacraments, central to my faith, were too infrequent in those rural United Methodist churches.  My attraction to the Deuterocanon (what many call the Apocrypha) asserted itself, also.  Furthermore, my interest in history, and therefore, in ecclesiastical history, made me an outlier in the congregations my father served.  Church history, as it existed in those places, started with Jesus, ran consistently through the Apostles, jumped to the Crusades, jumped again to Martin Luther, ran forward, and really started sprinting with John and Charles Wesley.  That version of church history left many gaps.

In the autumn of 1991, I started my studies at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Tifton, Georgia.  I started attending services at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, on the Sunday after All Saints’ Day.  On December 22, 1991, Bishop Harry Woolston Shipps confirmed me.  I remained in the Diocese of Georgia through 2005, belonging to the following congregations:

  1. Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia (1993-1996),
  2. St. Thomas Aquinas Episcopal Church, Baxley, Georgia (1996-1998),
  3. Christ Episcopal Church, Cordele, Georgia (1998-2001),
  4. Trinity Episcopal Church, Statesboro, Georgia (2001-2003), and
  5. Christ Episcopal Church, Dublin, Georgia (2003-2005).

I have worshiped as a member of St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, in the Diocese of Atlanta, since August 2005.

I have enjoyed the liberty of being a layman and the pleasure of belong to congregations that respect scholarship and encourage the asking of questions.  My father, as a pastor, censored himself; he made honest theological statements at home he dared not utter from a pulpit.  I did not feel free to ask certain questions in those churches.  In Episcopal churches, however, I have asked questions freely and heard priests utter statements (not all of whom I agreed with) that would have gotten my father into great trouble.  The threshold for offending people was low in his case; my father once offended people by supporting the Martin Luther King, Jr., federal holiday.  That position contributed to us moving.  On another occasion, he upset a parishioner by preaching that Jesus had a sense of humor.  He had allegedly insulted her Jesus.  The District Superintendent did not take the complaint seriously, fortunately.

Many of my statements on my weblogs, such as this one, would have cooked my goose in those churches.

So be it.  I refuse to back down from my Catholic tendencies and my acceptance of Single Predestination.  I refuse to back down from my support of civil rights (and not just based on skin color), of Biblical scholarship, and science.

I am where I belong–in The Episcopal Church.  Thanks be to God!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Realism in Politics and Policy   2 comments

I am, like most of my fellow Democrats, contemplating which candidate to prefer during the upcoming primary season next year.  The number of fine candidates is numerous.  Even the not-so-fine candidates are better on their worst days than Donald Trump is on his best days.

I have been reading about some of the candidates.  I have been reading at websites for which experts in domestic and foreign policy write.  A recurring theme, especially regarding Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, has been realism.  Warren, according to a longtime friend quoted in an article, has manifested a

data-driven worldview,

and changed her mind to fit the facts.  Biden, according to foreign policy writer James Traub, has demonstrated a realistic, not ideological, foreign policy.

I do not expect responsible policy-makers to remain consistent if consistency requires them to ignore date.  No, to ignore data would be to decide irresponsibly.  Actually, I seek a mature (in the highest sense of that word) President of the United States.  The more mature (in the highest sense of that word) he or she is, the better.  Particular policy matters may take a back seat to maturity as I ponder for whom to vote.  Besides, certain matters are ones best left to societal changes affected as people change their minds–what the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., called

a radical revolution of values

–than to court rulings and other acts of government.  Passing laws is necessary sometimes, but one should never imagine that doing so ends the offending actions.  (I wrote about this matter, with its subleties, here.)

I have seen a bumper sticker that reads,

ANY FUNCTIONING ADULT 2020.

I have not arrived at that point of political desperation, but have concluded that I may get there eventually.  Trump has lowered the bar so far that is has fallen to the floor.

The United States of America and the world deserve much better.  May we all have it on January 20, 2021.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 7, 2019 COMMON ERA

Feast of F. Bland Tucker (November 20)   2 comments

Above:  Christ Church, Savannah, Georgia

Image Scanned from Henry T. Malone, The Episcopal Church in Georgia (1960)

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FRANCIS BLAND TUCKER (NOVEMBER 6, 1895-JANUARY 1, 1984)

Episcopal Priest and Hymnodist

“The Dean of American Hymn Writers”

Feast Day in the Diocese of Georgia = November 19

Father F. Bland Tucker comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via two Episcopal hymnals and the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

Tucker came from a family tree full of Episcopal priests, bishops, and missionaries.  He was the youngest of thirteen children of Anna Maria Washington (1851-1927) and Father Beverley Dandridge Tucker (Sr.) (1846-1930), a priest in Norfolk, Virginia, where our saint entered the world on January 6, 1895.  Tucker, Sr., went on to become the Bishop Coadjutor of Southern Virginia (1906-1911) then the Bishop of Southern Virginia (1918-1930).  One of our saint’s elder brothers was Beverley Dandridge Tucker (Jr.) (1882-1969), the Bishop of Ohio (1938-1969).  Another elder brother was Henry St. George Tucker (1874-1959), the Bishop Coadjutor of Virginia (1926-1927), the Bishop of Virginia (1927-1943), and the Presiding Bishop of the denomination (1938-1946), preceding the great Henry Knox Sherrill (1890-1980).

Our saint, descended from old Virginia families and raised in The Episcopal Church, became a courageous and reconciling figure in church and society.  He, raised on The Book of Common Prayer (1892), his favorite version of the Prayer Book, graduated from the University of Virginia (1914) then Virginia Theological Seminary (1920).  Military service during World War I interrupted his theological education.  Tucker, ordained to the diaconate in 1918 and the priesthood two years later, married Mary (Polly) Goldsborough Laird (1890-1972).  The couple had no children.

Tucker served as the rector of three parishes during forty-seven years of active ministry:

  1. St. Andrew’s Church, Lawrenceville, Virginia (1920-1925);
  2. St. John’s Church, Georgetown, District of Columbia (1925-1945); and
  3. Christ Church, Savannah, Georgia (1945-1967).

During this time our saint helped to prepare The Hymnal 1940 (1943).  His contributions to it were two original hymns and four translations.  Tucker also received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1944.  When The Episcopal Church replaced the The Book of Common Prayer (1892) with The Book of Common Prayer (1928), our saint and his father accepted the change while not renouncing their fondness for the older Prayer Book.

Tucker spent 1945-1984 in Savannah, Georgia.  He, from 1945 to 1967 the Rector of historic Christ Church, Savannah, declined an opportunity to become the Bishop of Western North Carolina just a few months after arriving in Savannah.  He led the effort to integrate the Diocese of Georgia in 1947.  Tucker was also active in child welfare efforts in Savannah.  Furthermore, our saint openly supported civil rights in the staunchly segregated city.  In the 1960s, when many other congregations turned away those seeking to “pray in,” Tucker welcomed all who wanted to pray at Christ Church.  Also, Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968), when in Savannah, spoke at Christ Church.

Tucker remained active during his retirement.  He helped to create The Book of Common Prayer (1979) and The Hymnal 1982 (1985).  When our saint heard complaints from supporters of The Book of Common Prayer (1928), he told them that he still preferred The Book of Common Prayer (1892).  He also contributed 17 hymns or parts thereof (original and translated) to the new hymnal.  (The listings for Tucker in the hymnal are 25, 26, 121, 135, 139, 164, 220, 221, 268, 269, 302, 303, 322, 356, 366, 421, 428, 443, 477, 478, 489, 530, 547, 587, 663, and 668.)

Tucker, aged 88 years, died in Savannah on January 1, 1984.  Three days later, the Savannah Morning News eulogized the great man:

…he was ahead of his time as a humanitarian.  Long before desegregation, he was on record in favor of it and a leader in accomplishing it.

Tucker was also a skilled poet who shared his literary gifts for the glory of God.

May the church never be bereft of people with such talents and moral courage.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 11, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS OF CORINTH, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF CHARLES STEDMAN NEWHALL, U.S. NATURALIST, HYMN WRITER, AND CONGREGATIONALIST AND PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER

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

THE FEAST OF HENRY HALLAM TWEEDY, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant F. Bland Tucker,

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 Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Harry Emerson Fosdick (October 5)   6 comments

Above:  Harry Emerson Fosdick

Image in the Public Domain

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HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK (MAY 24, 1878-OCTOBER 5, 1969)

U.S. Northern Baptist Minister and Opponent of Fundamentalism

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…we cannot harmonize Christ himself with modern culture.  What Christ does to modern culture is to challenge it.

–Harry Emerson Fosdick, “The Church Must Go Beyond Modernism” (1935); quoted in Dewitte Holland, ed., Sermons in American History:  Selected Issues in the American Pulpit, 1630-1967 (Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1971), 377

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Harry Emerson Fosdick was one of the most influential ministers in the United States of America during the twentieth century.  He, controversial in life, has remained so postmortem.

Fundamentalism is inherently ahistorical.  This is not an idea original to me.  Consider, O reader, Karen Armstrong:

…fundamentalism is ahistorical:  it believes that Abraham, Moses and the later prophets all experienced their God in exactly the same way as people do today.

A History of God:  The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (1994), xx

One might also consider G. E. Mendenhall, author of The Tenth Generation (1973):

Biblical fundamentalism, whether Jewish or Christian, cannot learn from the past because in so many respects the defense of presently accepted ideas about religion is thought to be the only purpose of biblical narrative.  It must, therefore, support ideas of comparatively recent origin–ones that usually have nothing to do with the original meaning or intention of biblical narrative because the context is so radically different.

–Quoted in W. Gunther Plaut, The Torah:  A Modern Commentary, Vol. IV, Numbers (New York:  Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1979), xiv-xv

Fosdick, born in Buffalo, New York, on May 24, 1878, came from a devout family with a tradition of valuing education.  His father was Frank Sheldon Fosdick.  Our saint’s mother was Amy Inez Weaver.  His brother, Raymond B. Fosdick, grew up to become an esteemed attorney, as well as a friend and associate of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960).  Our saint, baptized at the age of seven years, thought about becoming a missionary before deciding on domestic ministry.  He, having graduated from high school in 1896, matriculated at Colgate University.  He graduated with his A.B. degree four years later, and was the class poet.  Fosdick, ordained a Baptist minister in 1903, graduated from Union Theological Seminary the following year.  He married Florence Allen Whitney (d. 1964) on August 16, 1904.  The couple had two daughters.

Fosdick served in a few congregations and taught at Union Theological Seminary.  He, from 1904 to 1915 the pastor of First Baptist Church, Montclair, New Jersey, began his 38-year-long stint of teaching practical theology at Union Theological Seminary in 1908.  He was an instructor (1908-1915), a professor (1915-1917, 1919-1934), and a part-time faculty member (1934-1946).  In 1917-1919 our saint worked as a chaplain with the Y.M.C.A. in France.  After World War I he returned to New York City, to begin duties as assistant minister (1919-1925) of First Presbyterian Church.

Fosdick became a central figure in the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., a denomination to which he did not belong.  In 1922 he preached a seminal sermon, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”  He condemned the intolerance of fundamentalism and criticized minor theological disputes (such as arguments about the Virgin Birth) as distractions

when the world is perishing for the lack of the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith.

–Quoted in Holland, ed., Sermons in American History, 347

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., liked the sermon so much that he paid for the printing and mailing of the text to every Protestant minister in the United States.  Clarence Macartney (1879-1957), conservative pastor of Arch Street Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, replied via a sermon that year.  He asked, “Shall Unbelief Win?” and accused Fosdick of heresy and intolerance.  After much controversy, Fosdick had to resign in 1925.

Above:  Park Avenue Baptist Church, New York, New York

Photographer = Irving Underhill

Image Source = Library of Congress

Rockefeller, Jr., offered Fosdick another position, though.  Our saint accepted the pastorate of Park Avenue Baptist Church on four conditions, which he established:

  1. That baptism by immersion cease to be a requirement for membership;
  2. That the congregation become interdenominational, accepting Christians of all creeds;
  3. That the congregation move to a less swanky neighborhood; and
  4. That the initial salary cap for Fosdick be $5000 ($69,900, adjusted for inflation, to 2017 currency).

Above:  Riverside Church and Grant’s Tomb, New York, New York

Image in the Public Domain

Rockefeller, Jr., financed the construction of the Gothic edifice of the renamed Riverside Church, located near Columbia University and Grant’s Tomb.  The congregation’s first Sunday in the new building, dedicated in 1931, was October 5, 1930.  Fosdick wrote the hymn, “God of Grace and God of Glory,” for the occasion.  For 15 years 1931-1946) Fosdick was the most influential Protestant minister in the United States.  For 20 years (1926-1946) he preached on national radio.  He retired from Riverside Church in 1946.

Fosdick was a prolific author of books and articles.  Some of these were volumes of sermons.  Many other books were psychological-theological in nature.  Examples of these included Twelve Tests of Character (1923) and On Being a Real Person (1943).

Fosdick, who preferred modernism to fundamentalism, was critical of modernism, too.  In 1935 he preached a sermon, “The Church Must Go Beyond Modernism.”  Modernism, he said, was a necessary advance.  However, our saint stated, the church needed to move beyond it, for modernism was imperfect.  It was simultaneously preoccupied with intellectualism and too sentimental, according to Fosdick.  He also argued that modernism had

largely eliminated from its faith the God of moral judgment.

–Quoted in Holland, ed., Sermons in American History, 373

Our saint also asserted that modernism had accommodated too much to the world that it (modernism) had placed people at the center and relegated God to an advisory capacity.  Modernism, Fosdick argued, had also surrendered the moral high ground.  Our saint was arguing for Neo-orthodoxy.

Fosdick stood up for a range of controversial positions.  His adopted pacifism, evident in his hymn, “The Prince of Peace His Banner Spreads” (1930), was more popular at certain times than others.  Our saint also advocated for the civil rights of African Americans when doing so was often unpopular.  The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968) thought of Fosdick as a prophetic figure.  Fosdick, eschewing anti-Semitism, also sympathized with displaced Palestinians.  He, not a Zionist, opposed the creation of the State of Israel.

Fosdick wrote four hymns, all of which have remained germane:

  1. God of Grace and God of Glory” (1930),
  2. The Prince of Peace His Banner Spreads” (1930),
  3. O God, in Restless Living” (1931), and
  4. O God, Who to a Loyal Home” (1956).

Fosdick, aged 91 years, died in Bronxville, New York, on October 5, 1969.

Perhaps the précis of Fodick’s life was the following excerpt from “God of Grace and God of Glory”:

Save us from weak resignation

To the evils we deplore;….

Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 4, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF FRIARS MINOR

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM SCARLETT, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MISSOURI, AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

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O God, by your Holy Spirit you give to some the word of wisdom,

to others the word of knowledge,

and to others the word of faith:

We praise your Name for the gifts of grace manifested in your servant Harry Emerson Fosdick,

and we ray that your Church may never be destitute of such gifts;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-14

Psalm 119:97-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16

John 17:18-23

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 720

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