Archive for the ‘Robert Prichard’ Tag

Feast of Harriet Bedell (January 8)   Leave a comment

bedell

Above:  Harriet Bedell

Image in the Public Domain

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HARRIET BEDELL (MARCH 19, 1875-JANUARY 8, 1969)

Episcopal Deaconess and Missionary

Starting in 1889, The Episcopal Church formally had the order of deaconesses.  In the 1970s the denomination opened the Sacred Order of Deacons to women.  Howard Harper wrote:

A deaconess used to be a “devoted unmarried woman” (to quote the old canon) appointed by the bishop to do just about anything that happened to be needed in a parish or an institution.  She could be a spinster or a widow–if she married, that automatically terminated her appointment.

She wore a distinctive, identifying garb and went wherever she could make herself useful.  She visited the sick and the poor, she gave Baptism and Confirmation instructions, she read Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and the Litany at public services, she specialized in work with women and children, and when licensed by the bishop to do so, she gave “addresses”–which means she preached.  And if circumstances called for it, she mopped the floor and mowed the lawn.

There are still, bless them, a few deaconesses around, but their tribe will not increase.  There is no longer any canonical provision for creating new ones.

The Episcopalian’s Dictionary (1974), pages 56-57

The General Convention of 1964 permitted deaconesses to marry, according to Robert Prichard, A History of the Episcopal Church, Revised Edition (1999), page 255.

Harriet Bedell, born at Buffalo, New York, on March 19, 1875, devoted most of her adult life to missionary work among Native Americans.

Bedell prepared for her vocation at the New York Training School for Deaconesses, where she studied teaching, missions, education, and hygiene.  She taught Cheyenne Indians at the Whirlwind Mission in Oklahoma before going to Alaska in 1916.  There, in 1922, she became a deaconess.  Her home base was Allakaket, 40 miles south of the Arctic Circle.  She worked as a nurse and a teacher at St. Johns-in-the-Wilderness Mission.  Bedell also traveled to and from remote villages via dogsled.  Furthermore, our saint opened a boarding school.

Bedell relocated to Florida (and the Episcopal Diocese of South Florida) in 1932.  There she remained for the rest of her life.  Our saint used her own salary to reopen the Blades Cross Mission to the Seminoles and the Miccosukees.  Until 1960, when Hurricane Donna destroyed the mission, Bedell pursued a three-prong mission:  education, health care, and economic development.  One strategy was to encourage traditional crafts, simultaneously respecting the culture and providing a means of increasing income.  Retirement did not stop her; she retired at the age of 63 years in 1938.

Our saint won the respect of the indigenous people among whom she lived and worked.  She was also a popular author for The Spirit of Missions, an Episcopal Church missions magazine.

Bedell died on January 8, 1969.  She was 93 years old.  Her commemoration has spread from the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida to The Episcopal Church generally.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 14, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN AMOS COMENIUS, FATHER OF MODERN EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF THE CONSECRATION OF SAMUEL SEABURY, FIRST EPISCOPAL BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM ROMANIS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Holy God, you chose your faithful servant Harriet Bedell to exercise

the ministry of deaconess and to be a missionary among indigenous peoples:

Fill us with compassion and respect for all people, and

empower us for the work of ministry throughout the world;

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

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

Proverbs 8:32-9:6

Psalm 96:1-7

Romans 16:1-2

Matthew 5:1-12

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 161

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Feast of Elizabeth Ferard (July 18)   1 comment

Elizabeth Ferard

Above:  Elizabeth Ferard

Image in the Public Domain

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ELIZABETH CATHERINE FERARD (FEBRUARY 22, 1825-APRIL 18, 1883)

First Deaconess in The Church of England

Sometimes that which seems new is merely a revival of something quite odd.  Hence that which is new is more traditional than the status quo.

Such was the case with the revival of the ancient order of deaconesses in Lutheran and Anglican/Episcopal denominations in the 1800s.  I have read a portion of the Lutheran side of this history in Frederick S. Weiser, Love’s Response:  A Story of Lutheran Deaconesses in America (Philadelphia, PA:  The Board of Publication of The United Lutheran Church in America, 1962).  According to Robert Prichard, A History of The Episcopal Church (Harrisburg, PA:  Morehouse Publishing, 1999), The Episcopal Church revived the order in 1889.  Other denominations, such as various Methodist bodies and The United Church of Canada, also resurrected the order.  In recent decades, with the ordination of women to orders formerly restricted to men in many denominations, the female diaconate has faded and folded into regular ministerial orders in a host of denominations.  In The Episcopal Church, for example, the female diaconate merged with the formerly exclusively male diaconate in the 1970s.  Nevertheless, the order of deaconesses provided many faithful women with opportunities to serve God and their fellow human beings in the 1800s and 1900s.

The listing for our saint in Common Worship:  Services and Prayers for the Church of England (2000) reads:

Elizabeth Ferard, first Deaconess of the Church of England, Founder of the Community of St. Andrew, 1883.

Elizabeth Catherine Ferard, born in London, England, United Kingdom, on February 22, 1825, had a vocation to care for people.  Her father, Daniel Ferard (1788-1839), was a solicitor.  Our saint’s mother, an invalid, died in 1858.  Ferard, who had provided care for her mother, received support from Archibald Campbell Tait (1811-1882), the Bishop of London, in pursuing her vocation.  He sent her to Germany, to visit Lutheran deaconesses.  More encouragement and assistance came from Thomas Pelham Dale (1821-1892), a priest who went on to suffer incarceration for his ritualism in 1880-1881, as part of the anti-ritualist policy of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881).  In 1861, with Tait’s support, Ferard and Dale founded the North London Deaconess Institution (later renamed the Diocesan Deaconess Institution then the Community of St. Andrew), based on a monastic model.  Our saint was one of three original members.  On July 18, 1862 (hence her feast day in The Church of England), Ferard became the first deaconess in The Church of England and the Anglican Communion.  She worked among the poor of London as a teacher and a nurse.  Although health issues forced her to resign as the leader of the order in 1873, she operated a home for convalescing children after that year and before her death at London on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1883.

The poor will always be with us.  That statement is true and accurate for a host of reasons, but it provides no moral cover for throwing up one’s hands in discouragement or claiming that, because we cannot solve the problem, we must nor or will not do anything to address it.  After all, the commandments to love God as we love ourselves and to behave toward others as we want them to act toward us apply.  Furthermore, whenever we help “the least of these” we serve Jesus, and whenever we do not aid “the least of these” we do not serve Jesus.

Elizabeth Ferard served Jesus ably.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF CESAR CHAVEZ, LABOR UNION LEADER

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN, CAPUCHIN FRIAR AND MARTYR

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Elizabeth Catherine Ferard,

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, now and for ever.  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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