Archive for the ‘Rosa Parks’ Tag

Feast of Lucy Jane Rider Meyer (September 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Two Methodist Deaconesses, 1889

Image in the Public Domain

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LUCY JANE RIDER MEYER (SEPTEMBER 9, 1849-MARCH 16, 1922)

Novelist, Hymn Writer, Medical Doctor, and Foundress of the Deaconess Movement in the Methodist Episcopal Church

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INTRODUCTION

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Lucy Jane Rider Meyer 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).

The changing nature of Methodist ministerial orders over time requires explanation and is germane to this blog post.  Both versions (1945 and 1965) of The Book of Worship for Church and Home (of The Methodist Church, extant 1939-1968) include Orders for the Ordination of Deacons, the Ordination of Elders, the Consecration of Bishops, and the Consecration of Deaconesses.  The Order for the Consecration of Deaconesses, from The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1945) includes the following instructions to the candidate(s):

Dearly beloved, we rejoice that in the providence of God a door of usefulness has been opened to you in the Church of Christ.  You are to give yourselves to the service if the Lord, going about doing good.  You are to minister to the poor, visit the sick, pray for the dying, care for the orphaned, seek the wandering, comfort the sorrowing, and lead the sinning to their Saviour.  Such service lays upon you solemn responsibility.

–452

The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992), the immediate successor to The Books of Worship for Church and Home, includes the Order for the Consecration of Diaconal Ministers in lieu of the old Order for the Consecration of Deaconesses.  The consecration ritual includes these instructions to the candidate(s):

My brothers and sisters,

you are to be consecrated to diaconal ministry in Christ’s holy Church.

You are to represent to the Church the ministry of servanthood in the world.

 

God has called you to a special ministry that will exemplify Christ’s servanthood.

You are to lead the people of God to be obedient servants,

to participate in the leadership of worship,

to demonstrate concern for love, justice, and freedom,

to counsel the troubled in spirit,

to teach from the riches of God’s grace,

to serve the poor, the sick, and the oppressed,

to equip all Christians to be in ministry and in service to the community,

and to embody the unity of the congregation’s worship with its life in the world.

–657

When I was a United Methodist preacher’s kid in southern Georgia, U.S.A., in the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, the ordained clergy on the parish level came in three tiers:  Local Pastor, Deacon, and Elder.  My father started as a local pastor in 1980.  He became a deacon in 1986 then an elder in 1994.  (I have his framed ordination certificates.)  I knew about diaconal ministers; I saw them, from a distance, consecrated at the Annual Conferences in June.  My father wore a stole over both shoulders, but a diaconal minister wore a stole over one shoulder.  Diaconal ministers usually served on staff in large congregations in cities.  

I, being on this earth, in part, to be an Episcopalian, converted to The Episcopal Church on December 22, 1991.  I stopped paying such close attention to the details of United Methodist ministerial orders.  In 1996, The United Methodist Church established the Order of Deacons.  The denomination revised its ministerial orders and redefined the diaconate.  Deacons ceased to be parish ministers who had not become elders yet.  Deacons started wearing the one-shoulder stole.  The Church ceased to consecrate diaconal ministers, although some people already consecrated as diaconal ministers still used the title.  Likewise, when The Episcopal Church had relabeled all deaconesses as deacons, some deaconesses had retained their former title in a denomination that had ceased to set women apart as deaconesses.

Now that increasing numbers of denominations have authorized the ordination of women, many of those denominations have discontinued the Order of Deaconesses.   The Order of Deacons has come to include both men and women in many denominations.  Yet the Order of Deaconess has persisted in some quarters of the Church; Rosa Parks (1913-2005) was a deaconess in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, for example.

I live in a time in which a woman can be the Presiding Bishop.  I approve of this.

Lucy Jane Rider Meyer, however, lived in a time and a culture quite different from mine.  Progress for women in the churches meant opening up gendered, parallel institutions.  After the U.S. Civil War, for example, opposition to sending single women abroad as medical missionaries declined, and women from various denominations founded ecumenical and denominational missions agencies for women.  Furthermore, the renewal of the female diaconate spread in the United States.

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DEACONESSES

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The revival of the ancient Order of Deaconesses started in Europe.  The renewed Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) did this first, in 1745.  In Germany, Lutheran pastor Theodor Fliedner (1800-1864) opened a deaconess training center at Kaiserworth in 1836.   The revival of the female diaconate spread throughout European Lutheranism.

The Reverend William Alfred Passvant, Sr. (1821-1894), the pastor of the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1845f), became active in providing social services.  From 1849 to 1871, he founded hospitals, orphanages, homes for the aged, and homes for epileptics.  Passavant also raised funds to support these institutions.  And, in 1846, he wrote Fliedner and requested deaconesses in Pittsburgh.  Fliedner and four deaconesses arrived in 1849.  They helped to open Deaconess’ Hospital, Pittsburgh, in 1850.  Passavant consecrated Catherine Lousia Marthens (1828-1899), the first American deaconess, in 1850.  And, in 1885, Passavant invited Norwegian Lutheran deaconess Elizabeth Fedde (1850-1921) to work in the United States.  She worked in this country from 1883 to 1895.  She opened hospitals in New York and Chicago.  

The revival of the female diaconate spread to the Anglican Communion, too.  Elizabeth Catherine Ferard (1825-1883) became the first deaconess in The Church of England in 1861.  The movement to revive the ancient Order of Deaconesses in The Episcopal Church began in earnest in 1871.  The denomination approved that order in 1889.

The 1888 General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (extant 1784-1939) approved the creation of the Order of Deaconesses in that denomination.  

That detail brings me to the woman known as the “Archbishop of Deaconesses.”

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A SHATTERER OF MOLDS AND AN ALLEGED HERETIC, THEREFORE, BY DEFINITION, A CONTROVERSIAL FIGURE

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Above:  Lucy Jane Rider and Josiah Shelly Rider

Image in the Public Domain

Lucy Jane Rider, born in New Haven, Vermont, on September 9, 1849, became a mold-breaker and an educator.  She was the only child of widower Richard Dunning Rider (1807-1876) and his second wife, Jane Child Rider (1823-1901).  Our saint had three younger half-siblings, born in 1834, 1840, and 1847.  Lucy graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in literary studies in 1872.  She, planning to become a medical missionary, matriculated at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania the following year.  Our saint, engaged to marry, suffered heartache in 1875; her fiancé died.  Lucy dropped out of the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania and served as the principal of the (Methodist Episcopal) Troy Conference Academy, Poultney, Vermont (1876-1877).  

Rider also had an interest in chemistry.  She studied the subject at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1877-1878.)  Then she was a professor of chemistry at McKendree College, Lebanon, Illinois (1879-1881).  This interest in chemistry was also evident in her children’s book, Real Fairy Folks, or, The Land of Chemistry:  Explorations in the World of Atoms (1887).

Our saint turned her full-time attention to Christian education next.  She, a delegate to the World Sunday School Convention, London, in 1880, worked as a field secretary for the Illinois State Sunday School Association in 1881-1884.  This period in Rider’s life proved to be foundational for her subsequent labors.  She became convinced that Christian educators and others engaged in evangelism needed to be better informed than many of them were.  

In 1885, Rider married Chicago businessman and ordained Methodist Episcopal minister Josiah Shelly Meyer (1849-1926).

The Meyers opened the Chicago Training School for City, Home, and Foreign Missions (later renamed the Chicago Training School for Home and Foreign Missions) in 1885.  Josiah served as the first superintendent and Lucy as the first principal.  The school, which was for women, had a curriculum some conservatives considered more advanced than necessary for mere females.  Furthermore, Lucy was allegedly a heretic because she argued that the authors of the Bible did not take dictation from God.  She taught that the Biblical authors were inspired, and that others edited those texts into the forms present in the Bible.  

Lucy, married, returned to medical school.  She graduated with her M.D. from the Women’s Medical College of Chicago in 1887.

Lucy founded The Message, a periodical, in 1886, and served as its editor until 1914.  After the Methodist Episcopal Church formally approved the Order of Deaconesses in 1888, she renamed the magazine The Deaconess Advocate.  

Lucy remained active in the Methodist deaconess movement for the rest of her life.  She designed the uniform.  Our saint established the deaconess houses in Chicago (1888), Boston (1889), and Toronto (1894).  She appointed Isabella Thoburn (1840-1901), one of the first Methodist deaconesses, as the superintendent of the Chicago deaconess house.  Lucy founded the Methodist Deaconess Association in 1908.  And she wrote about deaconesses.  Her published works germane to this topic included:

  1. Deaconesses:  Who They Are and What They Do (188?),
  2. Deaconesses:  Biblical, Early Church, European, American (1889),
  3. Deaconesses and Their Work:  Biblical, Early Church, European, American (1897), and
  4. Deaconess Stories (1900)

Women became eligible to serve as delegates to the General Conference, starting in 1904.  Lucy was a delegate to the General Conferences of 1904 and 1908.

Lucy also made her contribution to hymnody.  She wrote at least 17 hymns and edited Everybody’s Gospel Songs (1910).

Lucy’s other published works included:

  1. The Shorter Bible, Chronologically Arranged (1895), as editor;
  2. Mary North:  A Novel (1903);
  3. What Made Life Worth Living,” an article in The American Journal of Nursing (December 1904); and
  4. Some Little Prayers (1907), as compiler.

Lucy retired as the principal of the Chicago Training School for Home and Foreign Missions in 1917. 

She died, aged 72 years, on March 16, 1922, in Chicago.

The legacy of the Chicago Training School for Home and Foreign Missions has continued.  It merged into Garrett Biblical Institute, Evanston, Illinois, in 1930.  This institution merged with the Evangelical Theological Seminary (formerly of the Evangelical United Brethren Church), Napierville, Illinois, in 1974, to form Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois, in 1974.

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Loving God, who called many women to Christian service as deaconesses,

thank you for the faithful life of Lucy Jane Rider Meyer,

reviver of that ancient order in the Methodist Episcopal Church.

May we, inspired by her good example,

follow you where and when we are, and as you direct us.

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

Exodus 22:21-24

Psalm 10

Acts 9:36-43 and Romans 16:1-2

Matthew 25:31-46

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACHARY OF ROME, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF HENRY WALFORD DAVIES, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JAN ADALBERT AND LADISLAUS FINDYSZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS IN POLAND

THE FEAST OF OZORA STEARNS DAVIS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VETHAPPAN SOLOMON, APOSTLE TO THE NICOBAR ISLANDS

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Feast of Rosa Parks (October 24)   4 comments

Above:  Rosa Parks, December 1, 1955

Image in the Public Domain

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ROSA LOUISE MCCAULEY PARKS (FEBRUARY 4, 1913-OCTOBER 24, 2005)

African-American Civil Rights Activist

In this post I refer you, O reader, to a biography of the great Rosa Parks, as well as to Sarah Vowell’s audio essay about the general folly of comparing oneself or another person to Parks.  Now I offer my thoughts about our saint.

Perhaps the first volume to list Parks as a saint was G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), published about a year after her death.  I had written her name on a list for addition to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days before I ordered that book, one of the recent additions to my library.

Parks, a lifelong member of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church and a deaconess within that denomination, spent most of her 92 years working for social justice, one the greatest legacies of the A.M.E. Church, a great contributor to the struggle for civil rights in the United States of America since 1816.  Long after Parks famously broke the law in Montgomery, by refusing to give up her bus seat for a white man, advocating for Black Power and working for the release of prisoners–political ones and those incarcerated for acts of self-defensive violence.  Her faith was of the variety that understood that Christianity is about liberation–of individuals and societies.  Her faith compelled her to work for goals that seemed impossible yet morally imperative.  She was faithful in these efforts.

May we work for justice wherever and whenever we are, whoever we are.  The legacy of Rosa Parks challenges us to imagine what society would be if the Golden Rule were the norm, and violations of it were socially unacceptable.  That legacy also challenges us to work to make society more like the ideal, and not to give up in apathy or despair.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 15, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BENSON POLLOCK, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRY FOTHERGILL CHORLEY, ENGLISH NOVELIST, PLAYWRIGHT, AND LITERARY AND MUSIC CRITIC

THE FEAST OF JOHN HORDEN, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF MOOSENEE

THE FEAST OF RALPH WARDLAW, SCOTTISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGIST

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight;

through Jesus Christ our Judge and Redeemer, who lives and reigns

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

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736

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Feast of Myles Horton (July 10)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of the State of Tennessee

Image in the Public Domain

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MYLES FALLS HORTON (JULY 9, 1905-JANUARY 19, 1990)

“Father of the Civil Rights Movement”

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From my mother and father, I learned the idea of service and the value of education.  They taught me by their actions that you are supposed to serve your fellow men, you’re supposed to do something worthwhile with your life, and education is meant to help you do something for others.

–Myles Horton

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Myles Horton was a radical, by the standards of his time.  He was so radical that he dared to love like Jesus and confront institutionalized economic and racial structures of injustice.

Horton, born in Savannah, Tennessee, on July 9, 1905, grew up in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  His parents were Elsie Falls and Perry Horton.  Our saint, who started working in factories as an adolescent, became a labor rights activist at an early age.  He went on to study at Cumberland University, Union Theological Seminary, and The University of Chicago before studying folk schools in Denmark while traveling in Europe.  Then Horton’s work kicked into high gear.

In 1932, with help from his former professor, Reinhold Niebuhr, who wrote a fund-raising letter, Horton opened the Highlander Folk School, then called the Southern Mountain School, at Monteagle, Tennessee.  At the folk school people learned job skills and labor organizing tactics.  Racial integration was also a reality at Highlander Folk School, which became deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement.  Many Southern African Americans, including Rosa Parks, studied there.  Luminaries who taught at Highlander Folk School included Rosa Parks; Fannie Lou Hamer; Martin Luther King, Jr.; and Eleanor Roosevelt.  In the late 1950s, for example, Roosevelt was teaching civil disobedience tactics at the folk school.  She traveled in the company of another elderly woman, without armed guards, as members of the Ku Klux Klan sought to assassinate the former First Lady.

Horton and the Highlander Folk School became targets of harassment and violence.  In 1986 Horton told Sojourners magazine that he had suffered broken ribs, a broken collar bone, a skull fracture, the knocking out of teeth, the slashing of his arms, and incarceration.  The school became a target for various law enforcement agencies, the Ku Klux Klan, and other members of the paranoid and fearful far Right Wing who mistook racial integration for a communist plot.  U.S. Senator James O. Eastland of Mississippi attempted to close the school.  The State of Tennessee succeeded briefly in 1962, but Horton moved the school to Knoxville and reopened it as the Highlander Research and Education Center.  Since 1972 the school has been in New Market.

Horton, who retired as leader of the school in 1973, continued as an activist until he died of brain cancer at New Market on January 19, 1990.  He was 84 years old.

The website of the Highlander Research and Education Center identifies the school’s mission and tactics:

We work with people fighting for justice, equality, and sustainability, supporting their efforts to take collective action to shape their own destiny.

That remains radical in much of the U.S. society and body politic in 2018, unfortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION

THE FEAST OF SAINT ENRICO RUBUSCHINI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND SERVANT OF THE SICK; AND HIS MENTOR, SAINT LUIGI GUANELLA, FOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF SAINT MARY OF PROVIDENCE, THE SERVANTS OF CHARITY, AND THE CONFRATERNITY OF SAINT JOSEPH

THE FEAST OF ANNA LAETITIA WARING, HUMANITARIAN AND HYMN WRITER; AND HER UNCLE, SAMUEL MILLER WARING, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVAN MERZ, CROATIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC INTELLECTUAL

THE FEAST OF JOHN GOSS, ANGLICAN CHURCH COMPOSER AND ORGANIST; AND WILLIAM MERCER, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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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

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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