Archive for the ‘Mordecai Johnson’ Tag

Feast of Howard Thurman (April 10)   Leave a comment

Above:  Howard Thurman

Image in the Public Domain

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HOWARD WASHINGTON THURMAN (NOVEMBER 18, 1899-APRIL 10, 1981)

U.S. Baptist Minister, Mystic, and Theologian

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The religion of Jesus makes the love-ethic central.

–Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited (1949; 1996 reprint, page 89)

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Howard Thurman was an important force for social justice in the United States.  Although he was not on the front lines of the civil rights movement, he did produce a theology of reaching beyond fear and hatred that inspired many who were on the front lines.

Thurman, born on November 18, 1899, at Daytona, Florida, was a son of the church.  His father was Solomon Thurman (a railroad worker) and his mother was Alice Ambrose Thurman (a domestic worker).  Our saint learned much about the Bible from his maternal grandmother, a former slave.  Thurman, educated at Florida Baptist Academy, Jacksonville, Florida (1915-1919), then at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia (1919-1923), became a Baptist minister in 1925.  His first church as pastor was Zion Baptist Church, Oberlin, Ohio.  The following year our saint graduated from Rochester Theological Seminary.  Then Thurman continued his education at Oberlin School of Theology and Haverford College.  At the latter institution he learned from Rufus Jones (1863-1948), a prominent Quaker philosopher.  In 1929 Thurman became both a professor of religion and the director of religious life at both Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, Atlanta.  While in Atlanta he married Sue Bailey, in 1932.

From 1932 to 1943 Thurman served on the faculty of Howard University, D.C.  He, President Mordecai Johnson, and Dr. Benjamin Mays (the Dean of the School of Religion), provided leadership at that institution and beyond.  Thurman’s titles were Chairman of the Committee on Religious Life and Professor of Christian Theology.  Our saint worked behind the scenes with many of the early leaders of the civil rights movement.  These great men and women included W. E. B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, and Mary McLeod Bethune.  During a tour of India in 1935 and 1936 Thurman met Mohandas Gandhi and became convinced of the wisdom of applying nonviolence to the struggle for civil rights in the United States.  Our saint also expanded his understanding of religious freedom with regard to human freedom and the struggle for it.

Thurman left Howard University in 1943 to co-found the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, San Francisco, California, an early example of a multicultural congregation in the United States.  His co-pastor was Alfred G. Fisk, who was white.   While in San Francisco, Thurman wrote Jesus and the Disinherited (1949), in which he laid the theological foundation for the use of nonviolence in the civil rights movement and portrayed Jesus as one who helped disinherited people as they dealt with oppression.  Black Liberation Theology, which James Cone went on to develop, grew out of this volume, a copy of which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., carried with him.

Our saint left San Francisco in 1953, when he accepted the job as Dean of the Marsh Chapel and Professor of Spiritual Disciplines and Resources at Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.  That year Life magazine described Thurman as one of the twelve greatest preachers of the twentieth century.  He applied that rhetorical skill at the Marsh Chapel until 1965, when he retired.

For the rest of his life our saint directed the Howard Thurman Educational Trust.

Thurman died at San Francisco on April 10, 1981.  He was 81 years old.

His message of nonviolent resistance to oppression is timeless, however.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 8, 2017 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF JOHANN CRUGER, GERMAN LUTHERAN ORGANIST, COMPOSER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

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

THE FEAST OF RANDALL DAVIDSON, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.

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

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

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

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Mordecai Johnson (September 10)   1 comment

Founders Library, Howard University, Washington, D.C.

THE REVEREND MORDECAI WYATT JOHNSON (JANUARY 4, 1890-SEPTEMBER 10, 1976)

Educator, University President, Community Organizer, and National Baptist Minister

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010) contains the revamped calendar of saints for The Episcopal Church.  That volume contains a list of people the denomination might add later, given the passage of more time.  That list contains the name of Mordecai Johnson.  Although my church body has decided to wait, I act today to enroll him on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

Born to former slaves in Paris, Tennessee, in 1890, Johnson did not grow up in an academic environment.  His mother worked as a domestic, and his father was a mill worker and a preacher.  Yet Johnson’s future was to an academic one.  He studied at Morehouse College, Atlanta University, the University of Chicago, and Rochester Theological Seminary, graduating from the seminary in 1916.  He also graduated with a Master’s Degree from Harvard University in 1922.  Along the way, he married Anna Ethelyn Gardner (with whom he had three sons and two daughters), pastored the Second Baptist Church in Muford, New York, served as the pastor the First Baptist Church of Charleston, West Virginia, and worked with the YWCA.

Johnson became the first African-American President of Howard University in 1926, serving in that position for thirty-four years.  He developed his institution in many ways, notably transforming its law school into a training ground for many civil rights attorneys and law professors.  Much of his legacy in this regard became evident in the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, which fought back the curse of Jim Crow laws via the court system.  Brown v. Board of Education (1954) was one of their greatest accomplishments.  Among the people Johnson inspired was Martin Luther King, Jr.

Johnson died in Washington, D.C., on September 10, 1976.

History contains the stories of many heroes.  Sometimes, as in the case of Dr. King, they receive great renown and even a national holiday.  King deserves his holiday, but let us not forget Mordecai Johnson, who inspired him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 5, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF GREGORIO AGLIPAY, PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENT BISHOP

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.)

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Further Reading:

http://www.howard.edu/library/reference/cybercamps/camp2001/studentwebs/shayna/default.html

http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/educator-mordecai-johnson-influenced-mlk-jr

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The Collect and Readings:

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 to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.  Through us give hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, peace to the trouble, and rest to the weary, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

This a a collect and these are the readings for “Renewers of Society” from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the hymnal and worship book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).