Archive for the ‘Slavery’ Tag

Feast of John H. Caldwell (March 12)   2 comments

Above:  First United Methodist Church, Newnan, Georgia

Image Source = Google Earth

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JOHN HOLLIS CALDWELL (JUNE 4, 1820-MARCH 11, 1899)

U.S. Methodist Minister and Social Reformer

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We have sinned, and God has smitten us.

–John H. Caldwell, Newnan, Georgia, June 1865

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INTRODUCTION

The great Galileo Galilei warned many who were conventionally orthodox and sat in judgment on him for making shocking and revolutionary statements (such as that the Earth revolves around the Sun), that they may actually be heretics.  John H. Caldwell, in the middle of his life, concluded that he had been a heretic regarding slavery.  He chose actual orthodoxy.

Caldwell came to my attention years ago, when I was a graduate student at Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia.  I was researching Methodist history regarding slavery; my focus in graduate school was the intersection of race and religion in the U.S. South.  Slavery was the rock upon which the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939) split in 1844-1845.  I knew that already, but I wanted to know more details.

I was a United Methodist from 1980 to 1991.  Then I became an Episcopalian.  I have never looked back, for I have concluded that I am on this planet to be an Episcopalian.  Besides, my theological development subsequent to my confirmation (St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, Georgia, December 22, 1991) has led me to become a Single Predestinarian Anglican-Lutheran, contrary to Methodist theology.  My increasingly liberal and inclusive social views have placed me substantially to the left of where many of the more conservative elements of society are.  So be it.  I affirm that all human beings with both a pulse and brain waves possess unalienable natural rights, including civil rights and civil liberties.  Call me a radical, if you wish, O reader, but there I stand.  I will do no other.

I write this so that you, O reader, will understand that (1) I know whereof I write, and (2) I have no animosity toward The United Methodist Church.

I recall, as early as the middle 1980s, talk of The United Methodist Church being two denominations in one.  If the General Conference 2020 plays out the way I predict it will, 2020 may echo 1844.  Even if the General Conference of 2020 does not play out the way I predict it will, The United Methodist Church will continue to live into the typographical error and Freudian slip “Untied Methodist Church.”  This is an objective statement.  To quote William Butler Yeats in The Second Coming,

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

The big tent encompasses only those who choose to live within it.  Donatism did not die in norther Africa long ago.  No, it is alive and well, unfortunately.

As The United Methodist Church comes asunder and as the United States of America observes the Martin Luther King, Jr., federal holiday, pondering another schism–that of 1844-1845–as well as the cause of it, should lead us to sober-minded contemplation of orthodoxy and heresy, actual and alleged.

JOHN H. CALDWELL, DEFENDER OF SLAVERY

John Hollis Caldwell as a white Southerner.  He, born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on June 4, 1820, was a son of James Caldwell (1768-1825) and Jane Wardlaw (1772-1822).  His family moved to Georgia when our saint was an infant.  He converted to Christianity and to Methodism, in particular, at the age of 16 years.  Six years later, the Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) licensed Caldwell as an exhorter.  Our saint joined the Georgia Conference as a full minister in 1844.

The Methodist Episcopal Church concluded its General Conference of 1844 with a divorce agreement.  The cause of the divorce was slavery.  In particular, the question was whether James Osgood Andrew, the bishop assigned to the Georgia Conference, should continue as a bishop, despite owning slaves, in violation of church law.  He had not owned slaves in 1832, when he had become a bishop.  Yet Andrew had received slaves as inheritances over the years.  State law forbade him from freeing his slaves during his lifetime.  Slavery was still morally wrong, of course.  The MEC had been backing away from this moral truth since just a few years after its founding, as slaveholders joined.  The denomination finally issued a firm antislavery message again in 1864, shortly before the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution went to Congress.

One week apart, in May 1845, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MECS) and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) formed, for the same reason:  slavery.  The SBC formed because Northern-controlled missions boards of the Triennial Convention did not permit slaveholders to become missionaries.  Andrew became one of the founding bishops of the MECS, and continued to preach to slaves that they should obey their masters.

Caldwell joined the MECS and rose through the ranks to become a prominent member of the Georgia Conference thereof.  He accepted the conventional wisdom of his culture and the dominant theology thereof.  Caldwell believed that God supported and ordained slavery.  He quoted the Bible chapter-and-verse to defend this position.  He preached to slaves, telling them to obey their masters.  Opponents of slavery were heretics, fanatics, and radicals, according to Caldwell.  He insisted that they sought to destroy not just slavery, but the freedoms of press, speech, religion, and thought, too.  As Mark A. Noll has written in The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (2006), support for slavery became caught up with the authority of scripture.  Many, if not most, of those who argued for slavery theologically believed they were morally correct.

Above:  Old Main Building, Andrew College, Cuthbert, Georgia

Image Source = Google Earth

Caldwell also helped to found Andrew Female College (now Andrew College), Cuthbert, Georgia, which opened in 1854.  He taught moral and mental science there.  He, a slaveholder (via inheritances), sold one of his slaves to pay the college’s debts.  Caldwell’s father-in-law, a wealthy planter, insisted that a Methodist minister should not own slaves.  Our saint owned up to four slaves at a time, though.

Caldwell, by 1860 the pastor of Trinity Church, Savannah, had moved to Newnan to by 1864.  During the Civil War he supported slavery and the Confederacy.  He assumed that God was pro-Confederate States of America.

JOHN H. CALDWELL, RELIGIOUS SCALAWAG

Then the proverbial scales fell away from Caldwell’s eyes in early 1865.  Confederate defeat threw many white Christian Southerners into a theological crisis.  They reasoned that surely God had supported slavery and the Confederacy, so how could they make sense of their reality?  Caldwell took a different position.  Over a few Sundays in June 1865 he alienated his congregation and most of the other people in Newnan by condemning slavery, secession, the Confederacy, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  He acknowledged, as he had in 1861, that the cause of the Confederacy had been slavery.  President Jefferson Davis had said as much in his Inaugural Address.  Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens, speaking in Savannah in March 1861, had called slavery the cornerstone of the Confederacy.   He was proud of this cornerstone.  Caldwell surveyed the destruction of the Civil War and pronounced the judgment of God.  He also stated that the end of slavery was just.  The Confederacy had been sinful, too, the minister preached, and slavery tainted the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

Caldwell’s time left at Newnan was brief.  The Presiding Elder (District Superintendent, in contemporary Methodist terms) removed our saint from the pulpit, at the request of the leaders of the congregation.  U.S. Army General George H. Thomas, who had authority in Georgia, reinstated him in September.  Thomas also ordered local U.S. Army personnel to to protect Caldwell.  Our saint left the Georgia Conference of the MECS in November 1865, after that annual conference voted to condemn the contents of his sermons.

Then Caldwell rejoined the Methodist Episcopal Church and helped to begin rebuilding it in the former Confederacy.  He became a charter member of the new Georgia Conference of the MEC in January 1866.  He ministered to former slaves, helping them build churches, not telling them they should have obeyed their masters.  Predictably, the new Georgia Conference of the MEC was mostly African-American; it was politically and theologically suspect, according to most Southern Methodist neighbors.  Caldwell remained in Georgia until 1871, shortly after “redemption,” of the return of the antebellum ruling class to power.  He helped to found schools for former slaves.  Our saint, a religious scalawag, favored the Radical Republicans’ ambitious civil rights platform and worked with the Freedmen’s Bureau to help his flock.  Caldwell attended the state constitutional convention (December 1867-March 1868) and served in the state legislature.  He opposed the expulsion of all his African-American colleagues from that body.  Caldwell and his fellow religious scalawags were, according to Edward H. Myers, the editor of the Southern Christian Advocate,

miserable traitors to their brethren, their church, and their country.

–Quoted in Daniel W. Stowell, Rebuilding Zion:  The Religious Reconstruction of the South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 133

JOHN H. CALDWELL OF DELAWARE

Caldwell and his family to Delaware in 1871.  He had married Elizabeth Thurston Hodnett (1826-1902) on January 2, 1849.  The couple had had five sons and four daughters from 1849 to 1869.  Our saint joined the local conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and served as a pastor, a presiding elder, and a college president.

From 1885 to 1888 Caldwell served as the President of Delaware College (now the University of Delaware), then a men’s institution.  His time as a college president was unhappy for everybody involved.  Personality clashes abounded, and his inexperience created more problems.  Our saint perceived that people were conspiring around him.  They may have been, perhaps justifiably.  Caldwell was simultaneously of his time and ahead of it.  His antiquated moral disapproval of dancing led to some conflicts; he forbade it on campus.  Yet he favored admitting women to the student body; that was progressive.

Caldwell returned to parish ministry in 1888.

He, aged 78 years, died in Dover, Delaware, on Mach 11, 1899.

EVALUATING JOHN H. CALDWELL

Caldwell may have been, as one of his adversaries at Delaware College claimed, “cranky,” but he possessed courage, too.  Our saint had enough courage to change his mind on a central issue of his time and to contradict conventional wisdom, as well as to speak up at great risk to himself and his livelihood.  He had the courage of his convictions.  History has rendered its verdict in Caldwell’s case; it has ruled in his favor.

As one should know, presenting evidence is frequently the least successful method of changing a person’s mind, especially in matters that pertain to one’s self-image.  Facts should matter, but ego protection often overrules objective reality.  Human beings are usually more irrational than rational, sadly.

By grace, Caldwell found the moral courage, starting in June 1865, to admit that he had been wrong–horribly, sinfully wrong.  Then he repented, paid the price, and made the world a better place for many of the “least of these.”

That is sufficient reason to honor him.

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God of justice, we thank you for the example of your servant, John H. Caldwell,

who turned his back on the sins of slavery and, in the face of hostility,

labored for the civil rights of former slaves, his neighbors.

May we, by grace, confront our prejudices and, when necessary and proper to do so,

expose the foolishness of “received wisdom” and other ubiquitous assumptions,

for your glory and for the benefit of all people.

May the Church be on the vanguard of the struggle for social justice,

never on the side of the oppressors,

regardless of the price she will pay for standing with the “least of these.”

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

Amos 2:6-8

Psalm 71:1-6

Galatians 3:23-29

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 20, 2020 COMMON ERA 

THE FEAST OF SAINT FABIAN, BISHOP OF ROME, AND MARTYR, 250

THE FEAST OF SAINTS EUTHYMIUS THE GREAT AND THEOCRISTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF GREVILLE PHILLIMORE, ENGLISH PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF HARRIET AUBER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RICHARD ROLLE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SPIRITUAL WRITER

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Feast of Samuel Simon Schmucker (February 29)   Leave a comment

Above:  Samuel Simon Schmucker

Image in the Public Domain

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SAMUEL SIMON SCHMUCKER (FEBRUARY 28, 1799-JULY 26, 1873)

U.S. Lutheran Minister, Theologian, and Social Reformer

Samuel Simon Schumucker 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).

I recall, while growing up as a good United Methodist boy in rural southern Georgia, hearing people say,

There are Baptists then there are Baptists.

That principle applies to Lutherans, too; degrees of Lutheran confessionalism exist.  If one, for example, labels The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, despite its strong confessionalism and social and theological conservatism, as being too liberal, one has a selection of Lutheran denominations from which to select a church home.

Samuel Simon Schumucker changed throughout his life; he was human, after all.  Lutheranism within the United States of America also changed during his lifetime.  Schmucker effected much of that change, but other change made him, once a prominent leader, an increasingly marginal figure in many quarters.  Yet Schmucker’s legacy has remained relevant within and beyond Lutheranism in North America.

Schmucker came from a devout and large Lutheran family.  He, born in Hagerstown, Maryland, entered the world on February 28, 1779.  Our saint’s mother was Elizabeth Catherine Gross (1771-1820).  His father was the Reverend John George Schmucker (1771-1854), the President of the German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States (the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, for short) in 1820 and 1821.  Our saint was one of the best-educated young Lutheran ministers in the United States.  He had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton Theological Seminary.  In 1820, when young Schmucker was preparing to assume pastoral duties in New Market, Virginia, he and his father helped to found the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States of America (the General Synod, in short).  The General Synod was the first national confederation of Lutheran synods in the United States.  Schmucker, who grew quickly into a leader of the General Synod, attended every convention through 1870.  At its founding, the General Synod encompassed almost all of the U.S. Lutheran Synods and the vast majority of U.S. Lutherans.  Within a few years, however, doctrinal disputes reduced the membership of the General Synod; the Ministerium of Pennsylvania defected in 1823.  (Then it rejoined in 1853 and departed again in 1867.)  Proposed union with the German Reformed Church caused another controversy in 1830.  Our saint saved the General Synod in 1823 and 1830.  Although some synods left the General Synod, others formed and affiliated with it over the years.

The General Synod was too liberal for many Lutherans in the United States in the 1800s.  This was especially ironic in the 1820s.  Our saint was relatively conservative; he advocated for an increased prominence of the Augsburg Confession (1530) in U.S. Lutheranism.  He also sought to purge all traces of Deism from U.S. Lutheranism.  Schmucker, like many Christians of his time, held an overly strict position on “worldly amusements;” the following entertainments (a few of them actually sinful), among others, were forbidden:

  1. Playing games of chance,
  2. Playing checkers,
  3. Playing chess,
  4. Casting dice,
  5. Playing cards,
  6. Listening to opera,
  7. Attending vocal performances in concert halls,
  8. Using tobacco,
  9. Consuming liquor, and
  10. Wearing fashionable clothing.

If Schmucker was too liberal, what was the standard of conservatism?  Perhaps his position that intellectual rigor was no threat to Christianity marked him as a liberal and an alleged heretic.  As time passed, so did his abolitionism, opposition to the U.S.-Mexican War (1846-1848), and acceptance of Evolution.

Schmucker and his father recognized the need for a Lutheran seminary in the United States.  They helped to found Gettysburg Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in.  Schmucker, Sr., served as a trustee.  Our saint served on the faculty and as the President for nearly four decades.  The seminary gave rise to another institution, Pennsylvania College (now Gettysburg College) in 1832.

Schmucker wrote a textbook, Elements of Popular Theology, with Special Reference to the Doctrines of the Reformation, as Avowed Before the Diet at Augsburg, in MDXXX (1834).  This volume indicated our saint’s concept of orthodox Christianity.  He defined orthodox Christianity according to a common creedal core, which he defined as

fundamental doctrines of Scripture,

while eschewing overly specific creeds and allowing for disagreement in secondary matters.  Parts of some creeds were optional, Schmucker argued.  Orthodox Christianity, according to our saint, was Protestant yet did not include all Protestants.  Roman Catholics, Unitarians, Campbellites, Baptists, and Deists were not orthodox Christians, according to Schmucker.

Schmucker’s critics, starting in the 1830s, in particular, found more and more theological ammunition to use against him.  The General Synod permitted much theological latitude.  Our saint’s Eucharistic and Baptismal theology was closer to that of Calvinism than to that of Lutheranism.  (He did graduate from a Presbyterian seminary.)  He, influenced by the Second Great Awakening, was also a revivalist, to a point.  Puritanism and Pietism were prominent in his theology.  (Pietism had been part of a segment of Lutheran theology for some time by the 1800s.)  Schmucker’s “American Lutheranism” made him open to ecumenical relations with non-Lutherans he defined as orthodox.

This became evident by 1838, when Schmucker proposed church union–confederation, really–on what he called

the apostolic basis.

This plan offered six points of union:

  1. Variety in liturgy, polity, and discipline;
  2. Toleration of theological diversity within the ecclesiastical confederation;
  3. A common creed;
  4. Full communion and open communion within the ecumenical confederation;
  5. Cooperation in matters pertaining to “the common cause of Christianity;” and
  6. The Bible as the main textbook for religious and theological instruction.

Schmucker manifested other evidence of his liberalism as he aged and the General Synod became increasingly confessional and conservative, yet never sufficiently conservative, according to many U.S. Lutherans.  In 1855 our saint worked on the proposed American Rescension of the Augsburg Confession.  The controversial proposal, which most synods of the General Synod refused to accept, deleted the condemnations of non-Lutheran groups, removed mentions of baptismal regeneration, denied Consubstantiation, and argued that the Augsburg Confession (1530) contained errors.

Schmucker was also a liturgist.  He, as the head of the General Synod’s Committee on Liturgy of 1866, in lieu of the Liturgy of 1856.  The Provisional Liturgy of 1866 influenced the Washington Service (1876), which, in turn, presaged the Common Service (1888).  The Liturgy of 1856 was noteworthy for reintroducing The Apostles’ Creed (complete with “the holy Catholic Church”) to corporate worship.  A greater influence on the Common Service was the Reverend Beale Melanchton Schmucker (1827-1888), the more conservative, formalistic, and confessional son of our saint.  Beale, whose liturgical sensibilities were evident in the Ministerium of Pennsylvania’s Liturgy for Use in the Evangelical Lutheran Church (1860) and the General Council’s Church Book for the Use of Evangelical Lutheran Congregations (1868), was one of the greatest experts on liturgy and liturgical development.  He was, according to accounts, a walking encyclopedia on the subjects.  He was one of the main reasons the General Council had a stronger liturgical  tradition than the General Synod.

Schmucker lived long enough to witness the General Synod divide twice.  The General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Confederate States of America organized in 1863.  This organization became the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America in 1866 then the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the South in 1876.  Ten years later, with the addition of the Tennessee Synod, the Southern General Synod became the United Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the South.  The General Synod (1820) suffered another schism in 1867, when the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America came into existence.  The merger that created The United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA) in 1918 repaired the schisms of 1863 and 1867.  The General Synod (1820) moved to the right as the General Council moved to the left.  The two confederations moved toward each other.

Schmucker married three times and outlived his first two wives.  He married Eleanora Geiger (1799-1823) in 1821.  Wife number two was Mary Catharine Steenbergen (1808-1848).  Our saint’s third wife was Heisther (Esther), who died in 1882.  Schmucker fathered at least four children.

Schmucker, aged 84 years, died in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 26, 1873.

I, as an Episcopalian, am creedal, not confessional.  I also accept science and oppose all forms of slavery.  Anglican collegiality is one of the defining characteristics of my faith.  Therefore, I find much to admire about Schmucker.  I also recognize points of strong disagreement with him.  Yet, whenever I ponder denominational full communion agreements, such as the one the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The Episcopal Church share, I think Schmucker would approve.

Alex Haley advised,

Find the good and praise it.

I praise the good in the legacy of Samuel Simon Schmucker.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 9, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DENIS, BISHOP OF PARIS, AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 250

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

THE FEAST OF ROBERT GROSSETESTE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOLAR, PHILOSOPHER, AND BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF WILFRED THOMASON GRENFELL, MEDICAL MISSIONARY TO NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Samuel Simon Schmucker,

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 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 John Greenleaf Whittier (December 8)   3 comments

Above:  John Greenleaf Whittier

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER (DECEMBER 7, 1807-SEPTEMBER 7, 1892)

U.S. Quaker Abolitionist, Poet, and Hymn Writer

John Greenleaf Whittier was one of the greatest American poets of the nineteenth century.

Whittier, born and raised in a Quaker family on a farm near Haverhill, Massachusetts, on December 7, 1807, worked hard as a youth.  He was a farmer, of course, but was also a cobbler.  (Farming was not his sole concern, although he remained a grounded person.)  Our saint had little formal education–a few terms at Haverhill Academy, actually.  While there, he began to write.  William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) made Whittier a published poet in the Newburyport Free Press, in 1826.  The two men became lifelong friends in 1829.

Whittier’s friendship with Garrison advanced our saint professionally.  In 1829 Garrison helped Whittier become the editor of The American Manufacturer, Boston, Massachusetts.  This was a politically Whig publication that focused on industrial and agricultural interests.  While editor of The American Manufacturer, Whittier became involved in the abolitionist movement.  Our saint went on to edit The New England Weekly Review (1830-1832), The Pennsylvania Freeman (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1838-1840), and The Middlesex Standard (Lowell, Massachusetts, 1844-1845), as well as to join the staff of The Washington National Era (1847-1869).

Whittier put his literary skills to work in the service of abolitionism in other ways, too.  He wrote Justice and Expediency (1833), a best-selling pamphlet.  That year, as the secretary of the Anti-Slavery Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, our saint helped to draft the declaration of principles.  Four years later, he published Poems Written During the Progress of the Abolitionist Cause in the United States.

Whittier did more than write and edit.  In 1835 he won a seat in the Massachusetts legislature.  The following year, he became the secretary of the American Anti-Slavery Society.  In 1835 and 1838 Whittier experienced pro-slavery mob violence–first in Concord, New Hampshire.  Three years later, he witnessed the burning of the offices of The Pennsylvania Freeman.

Throughout mob violence and the United States Civil War Whittier, a womb-to-tomb Quaker, remained a staunch pacifist.  Although he preferred secession to war, he welcomed Confederate defeat at the end of that war.

Whittier became more radical as he aged.  By the end of his life, he had abandoned enough of his former, traditional ideas about gender to support women’s suffrage.

Whittier also composed religious poems, some of which congregations sang as hymns, starting during his lifetime.  He denied being a hymn writer, though; his Quaker congregations did not sing hymns.  Nevertheless, generations of Christians have sung some of his texts, including “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind,” as hymns.

Whittier moved in with three female cousins in Danvers, Massachusetts, in 1876.  He died in Hampton Falls, New York, on September 7, 1892.  He was 86 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ISABEL FLORENCE HAPGOOD, U.S. JOURNALIST, TRANSLATOR, AND ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDRA GIACINTO LONGHIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TREVISO

THE FEAST OF PHILIP DODDRIDGE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VIRGIL MICHEL, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ACADEMIC, AND PIONEER OF LITURGICAL RENEWAL

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring John Greenleaf Whittier

and all those who with words have filled us with desire and love for you;

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

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

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 728

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Feast of Albert Barnes (December 1)   6 comments

Above:  Albert Barnes

Image in the Public Domain

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ALBERT BARNES (DECEMBER 1, 1798-DECEMBER 24, 1870)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Abolitionist, and Alleged Heretic

Public sentiment controls the land; public sentiment will ultimately control the world.  All that error, tyranny, and oppression demand is a strong public sentiment in their favor; all that is necessary to counteract their influence is that public sentiment be right.

Albert Barnes, The Church and Slavery (1857), 7

When that book rolled off the presses, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that African Americans were not citizens and therefore lacked all constitutional rights.  In 1857 vocal defenders of slavery who quoted the Bible made the authority of scripture one of the pillars of their arguments.  That year, the United States was moving toward the Civil War.

Barnes was humble yet not timid.  He, a man of this time and his Evangelical subculture in some ways, for better and worse, was also ahead of his time in other ways.  He expressed his opinions boldly and acted on them in the same manner.  Targets included dancing, saloons, slavery, and High Church Episcopalians.  Our saint counterbalanced that with a tolerant attitude regarding a range of theological opinions, however.

Barnes comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Our saint, born in Rome, New York, on December 1, 1798, was a skeptic who converted.  He became a Christian under the influence of the Second Great Awakening, while he was a student at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York.  Our saint’s original plans had been to become an attorney.  He matriculated at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1820 instead.  Barnes graduated in 1824 and became a minister the following year.

Barnes, ordained by the Presbytery of Elizabethtown in 1825, served in only two congregations.  While in Morristown, New Jersey (1825-1830), he helped to close all the taverns in town.  In 1829 our saint became both prominent and controversial in his denomination, the old Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1789-1838), with a sermon, “The Way to Salvation.”  In this sermon Barnes made a number of controversial statements, not the least of which was his rejection of Original Sin.  This position aligned him with Judaism and Eastern Orthodoxy, but separated him from most of Western Christianity.

Barnes served in the First Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1830 to 1870.  With greater prominence came more theological scrutiny.  Our saint, accused of heresy, won acquittal at the General Assemblies of 1831 and 1836, both times with votes from delegates belonging to the New School wing of the denomination.  Both acquittals caused much consternation in the Old School.  During the 1830s Barnes wrote and published an internationally best-selling series of Biblical commentaries marked by both erudition and accessibility.  Ministers and Sunday School teachers were the main audiences.   In Notes on the Epistle to the Romans (1835) Barnes wrote in opposition to Original Sin (without using that term) in the note on 5:9.   The presbytery suspended our saint from his pulpit and declared the volume dangerous.  The General Assembly of 1836 not only dismissed those charges but also restored him to his pulpit.  These two acquittals hastened the Old School-New School schism of 1838.

Barnes minced no words regarding slavery, although he changed his mind.  In An Inquiry into the Scriptural Views of Slavery (1846), our saint acknowledge a range of views regarding slavery in the Bible yet concluded that the principles of Christ vis-à-vis slavery led to abolition of slavery.  Therefore, according to Barnes, all pro-slavery Biblical principles were not applicable to chattel slavery in the 1800s.  In The Church and Slavery (1857), Barnes took a harder line; those pro-slavery Biblical principles never applied in any circumstances; slavery was wrong at all times and in all places.  The 1858 schism in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (New School), resulting in the formation of the (Southern) United Synod of the Presbyterian Church, resulted from an effort by Barnes et al. to discipline slaveholders in 1856.  The consensus of the delegates to the General Assembly of 1856 was merely to express official displeasure with slavery.  Even that mild measure was too much for some.

Historical Note:  The Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (Old School) divided in 1861, with the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America forming at First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Georgia, in December 1861.  The United Synod of the Presbyterian Church merged into the Confederate Church in 1864.  The Confederate Church renamed itself the Presbyterian Church in the United States in December 1865.  The remaining, national (“Northern”) bodies reunited as the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in 1870.  Ultimately, the Southern and national (“Northern”) bodies wound up together again, in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1983. 

One does need far more than a flow chart to keep track of Presbyterian schisms and mergers in the United States of America.

Barnes, who served as the Moderator of the New School General Assembly in 1851 and as the President of the Pennsylvania Bible Society from 1858 to 1870, did not reject science out of hand.  Early during the controversy over Evolution our saint made a distinction between the Bible and the interpretation thereof.  He insisted that science may contradict an interpretation of scripture without running afoul of the Bible.

Our saint, open to dialogue and cooperation with others (especially Congregationalists and other Calvinists) of whom Old School Presbyterians disapproved, died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 24, 1870.  He was 71 years old.

One may, of course, disagree with Barnes on more than one issue; I, an Episcopalian fond of “smells and bells,” do.  That is fine, as our saint would agree.  One ought to recognize the moral courage Barnes showed as he fought the good fight against slavery while one differs with him on other matters.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 19, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES ARTHUR MACKINNON, CANADIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

THE FEAST OF ALFRED RAMSEY, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CHARITIE LEES SMITH BANCROFT DE CHENEZ, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM PIERSON MERRILL, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SOCIAL REFORMER, AND HYMN WRITER

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant to us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant Albert Barnes, to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name, 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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Feast of Martha Coffin Pelham Wright, Lucretia Coffin Mott, James Mott, Abigail Lydia Mott Moore, and Lindley Murray Moore (November 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Partial Family Tree

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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MARTHA COFFIN PELHAM WRIGHT (DECEMBER 25, 1806-1875)

sister of

LUCRETIA COFFIN MOTT (JANUARY 3, 1793-NOVEMBER 11, 1880)

wife of

JAMES MOTT (JUNE 20, 1788-JANUARY 26, 1868)

brother of

ABIGAIL LYDIA MOTT MOORE (AUGUST 6, 1795-SEPTEMBER 4, 1846)

wife of

LINDLEY MURRAY MOORE (MAY 31, 1788-AUGUST 14, 1871)

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U.S. QUAKER ABOLITIONISTS AND FEMINISTS

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It is time that Christians were judged more by their likeness to Christ than their notions of Christ.  Were this sentiment generally admitted, we should see such tenacious adherence to what men deem the opinions and doctrines of Christ while at the same time in every day practice is exhibited anything but a likeness to Christ.

–Lucretia Coffin Mott, at the Cherry Street Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 30, 1849; quoted in A Year with American Saints (2006), 19

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One of my goals in renovating this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, is to emphasize relationships and influences.  This post is an example of that approach.  Lucretia Coffin Mott comes to my Ecumenical Calendar via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).  The other saints come to my Ecumenical Calendar via relationship to or via cooperation with her.

Lucretia and Martha Coffin were daughters of Thomas Coffin (a merchant; died in 18150 and Anna Folger.  Lucretia (born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, on January 3, 1793) and Martha (born in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 25, 1806) studied in Quaker schools.  Lucretia, a student then a teacher at Nine Partners Boarding School, Millbrook, New York, became an active feminist when she noticed the discrepancy in pay for men and women performing the same work.  Martha moved with her family to Philadelphia, where she attended Quaker schools.  Lucretia and her fiancé, James Mott, a former teacher at Nine Partners, joined her family in Philadelphia in 1811.  The couple had five children, all moral and social reformers.

James Mott, born in North Hampstead, Long Island, New York, on June 20, 1788, was a cradle Quaker.  He was a son of Anne Mott (née Mott; 1768-1852) and Adam Mott (1762-1839), superintendent of Nine Partners Boarding School.  He and Lucretia were teachers at Nine Partners when they fell in love.  They moved to Philadelphia in 1813.  In that city James became a partner in Thomas Coffin’s nail business.  Then, in 1822, our saint went into the textiles business.  His involvement in selling cotton gave way to selling wool, for James was an abolitionist.  He, as a conscientious merchant, joined the free produce movement, which boycotted all goods slaves produced.

James had a younger sister, Abigail Lydia Mott, born in Caw Bay, Long Island, New York, on August 6, 1795.  She studied at Nine Partners Boarding School and, in 1811, became a teacher there.  Two years later, she married fellow teacher Lindley Murray Moore.

Lindley Murray Moore hailed from Nova Scotia.  The Moores, of Rahway, New Jersey, were Loyalists during the American Revolutionary period.  They were also Quakers, so they refused to engage in violence.  They also refused to assist the rebellion against the British Empire.  With the seizure of their property in 1779, Samuel Moore (1742-1822) and his family moved to Nova Scotia.  Later they relocated to Upper Canada (Ontario).  Lindley, born in Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, on May 31, 1788, bore the name of Lindley Murray (1745-1826), a Quaker, a Loyalist, and a friend of his father.

Lucretia became a Quaker minister in 1821.  Husband James supported her in her traveling and speaking.  Lucretia spoke against slavery, called for its abolition, and supported the free produce movement.  In the late 1820s, when the Hicksite Quakers broke away from the Orthodox Quakers, Lucretia and James Mott became Hicksite Quakers.

Abigail and Lindley Moore left Nine Partners Boarding School in 1813.  They settled in Rahway, New Jersey, where they opened the first of a series of schools they founded.  Over the years they had eight children, three of whom did not live to see their fourth birthday.  The most famous of the Moore children was Edward Mott Moore (1814-1902), an Episcopalian, a surgeon, a professor of surgery, and the father of the public parks system in Rochester, New York.  Abigail and Lindley moved to Flushing, New York, in 1820.  They opened a school, of course.  Eleven years later, they relocated to Rochester, New York, where they became farmers.

Martha Coffin married twice.  In 1824 she married Peter Pelham (1785-1826).  The couple moved to Tampa, Florida, where Peter died.  Martha was a nineteen-year-old widow raising an infant daughter.  The following year, Martha moved to Aurora, New York, where she taught writing and painting at a Quaker girls’ school.  Our saint became engaged to Julius Catlin, who died in 1828.  She married attorney and fellow Quaker David Wright the following year.  The couple had five children, including Ellen Wright (1840-1931), a suffragette who married William Lloyd Garrison, Jr. (1838-1909) in 1864.

Lucretia and James Mott were active abolitionists.  They helped to found both the American Anti-Slavery Society and the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1833.  The latter, extant until 1870, was a multiracial organization whose members included Angelina Grimké Weld (1805-1879) and Charlotte Forten, grandmother of Charlotte Forten Grimké (1837-1914).  Lucretia managed to remain active on the lecture circuit while performing certain crucial domestic tasks.  She also resisted violence.  In 1838, at the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women, a mob set the convention hall on fire.  The delegates (white and African-American) linked arms and passed through the mob.  The Motts were delegates to the World Anti-Slavery Convention (1840), in London, England.  Lucretia was one of six female delegates.  They faced exclusion, due to their gender.

Abigail and Lindley Moore were also active abolitionists.  They, active in the Farmington Annual Meeting (Orthodox), were the clerks of the women’s and men’s meetings, respectively, in 1836.  They helped to found the Rochester Anti-Slavery Society in 1838.  Furthermore, Abigail wrote novels, essays, and biographies in which she addressed slavery and the education of females.  She died in Rochester on September 4, 1846.  She was 51 years old.

Martha and David Wright moved to Auburn, New York, in 1839.  Both of them were conductors of the Underground Railroad.

The issue of rights and who should have them linked abolitionism and feminism.  Lucretia and Martha understood that connection, for they and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the Seneca Falls Convention at Seneca Falls, New York (July 19-20, 1848).  The delegates called for legal equality of men and women, as in the fields of voting and property rights.

Lindley Moore, as a widower, returned to education and continued his social activism.  He served as the President of Haverford College (1848-1850) then taught high school.  Our saint also served as the Vice President of the Rochester Temperance Society and financed the education of newly freed slaves in Upper Canada.  He died in Rochester on August 14, 1871.  He was 83 years old.

Lucretia and James Mott continued to make lasting contributions to society.  In 1864 they helped to found Swarthmore College, in Pennsylvania.  Lucretia helped to found the American Equal Rights Association two years later.

James Mott died of pneumonia in Brooklyn, New York, on January 26, 1868, while visiting a daughter.  He was 79 years old.

Martha Wright died in Auburn, New York, on 1875.  She was 70 years old.

Lucretia Mott died in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, on November 11, 1880.  She was 87 years old.

These members of the Mott-Moore-Wright extended family followed a high standard of public morality.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 27, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NICHOLAS FERRAR, ANGLICAN DEACON AND FOUNDER OF LITTLE GIDDING; GEORGE HERBERT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND METAPHYSICAL POET; AND ALL SAINTLY PARISH PRIESTS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANNE LINE AND ROGER FILCOCK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT GABRIEL POSSENTI, PENITENT

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUIS DE LEON, SPANISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servants

Martha Coffin Pelham Wright,

Lucretia Coffin Mott,

James Mott,

Abigail Lydia Mott Moore,

and Lindley Murray Moore,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name,

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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Feast of Arthur Tappan, Lewis Tappan, Samuel Eli Cornish, and Theodore S. Wright (November 5)   5 comments

Above:  Emancipation, 1865

Image in the Public Domain

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ARTHUR TAPPAN (MAY 22, 1786-JULY 23, 1865)

U.S. Congregationalist Businessman and Abolitionist

brother of

LEWIS TAPPAN (1788-1873)

U.S. Congregationalist Businessman and Abolitionist

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SAMUEL ELI CORNISH (1795-NOVEMBER 6, 1858)

African-American Presbyterian Minister, Abolitionist, and Journalist

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THEODORE SEDGWICK WRIGHT (1797-MARCH 25, 1847)

African-American Presbyterian Minister and Abolitionist

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One of my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences.  That is a goal I can accomplish in more than one way.  I can, for example, write posts that link into each other.  Sometimes doing so is the option that provides the most clarity in the presentation of material.  I can also write about more than one person in one post.  This post uses both methods.

The Tappan brothers–Arthur and Lewis–were a remarkable team from a remarkable family.  They were sons of Benjamin Tappan (Sr.) and Sarah Homes, and brothers of Benjamin Tappan (Jr.) (1773-1857), a United States Senator from Ohio (1839-1845).  David Tappan (1752-1803), theologian and Hollis Chair at Harvard Divinity School, was an uncle.  Arthur (born in Northampton, Massachusetts, on May 22, 1786) and Lewis (born in Northampton in 1788) worked in the family business (a dry goods store) before blazing their own paths, mostly together.  The family was Congregationalist.  Lewis, as a young man, converted to Unitarianism, but Arthur persuaded him to return to Trinitarian faith in 1827.

Arthur and Lewis were longtime business partners.  In 1826, in New York City, they opened a silk importing business that became a victim of the Panic of 1837.  In 1827 the brothers founded The Journal of Commerce with Samuel Morse (1791-1872), the inventor of the Morse Code.  The Journal of Commerce functioned as a platform for frequently controversial social advocacy, such as appeals on behalf of the Amistad slaves in 1839-1841.  After the demise of the silk importing firm, the Tappan brothers opened the Mercantile Agency, the first commercial credit rating service, in 1840.

The Tappan brothers understood that the true value of money was what one did with it.  They used money to work for social reform and to sponsor African-American divinity students, for example.  In 1833 the brothers helped to found the American Anti-Slavery Society with William Lloyd Garrison, Theodore Weld, et al.  Lewis had formerly favored emancipating the slaves then shipping all of them to overseas colonies, but had decided that the colonization movement was deficient.  Also in 1833, Arthur and Lewis helped to found Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, a school open to students regardless of race and gender.  In some ways the Tappan brothers were radical, according to the standards of their time; they favored racial mixing as a solution to racism.

Although the Tappan brothers were somewhat progressive, according to the standards of their time, regarding gender roles, they were conservative, according to the standards of their time, on the issue of women in leadership roles.  Arthur, President of the American Anti-Slavery Society from 1833 to 1840, left that organization in part over the insistence of William Lloyd Garrison, who linked the rights of African Americans to the rights of women, that women fill leadership roles.  The schism of 1840 resulted from a set of issues, including gender roles.  Other issues were institutional hostility to religion, as well as the desire of many abolitionists to focus narrowly on the abolition of slavery.  The Tappan brothers were two of the founders of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1840.

Samuel Eli Cornish and Theodore Sedgwick Wright also helped to found the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833 and the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society seven years later.

Cornish was a minister and a journalist.  He, born free in Sussex County, Delaware, in 1795, studied at the Free African School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  His mentor was John Gloucester (1776-1822), the first African-American Presbyterian minister and the pastor of the First African Church, Presbyterian, Philadelphia.  Cornish, licensed to preach in 1819, assisted Gloucester and worked as a missionary to slaves on the Eastern Shore of Maryland before he moved to New York City in 1821.  There he organized the New Demeter Presbyterian Church (later the First Colored Presbyterian Church), the first African-American Presbyterian congregation in the city and the second in the nation-state.  Cornish, ordained in 1822, led that congregation until 1828.  In 1827 he founded Freedom’s Journal, the first African-American newspaper.  Our saint used his editorial office to advocate for the abolition of slavery, as well as for the improvement of living conditions and educational opportunities for African Americans.  Cornish, editor in 1827 and 1829-1830, changed the name of the newspaper to Rights of All in 1829.  The publication ceased to exist in 1830.  Our saint returned to journalist in 1837, when he founded and began to edit Colored American (extant until 1839), which Arthur Tappan subsidized.

(Aside:  I have added John Gloucester to my list of people to consider for addition to this Ecumenical Calendar.)

Theodore Sedgwick Wright was a colleague of Cornish.  Wright, born free in New Jersey circa 1797, attended the African Free School in New York City.  He graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary (Class of 1829); Arthur Tappan was one of his sponsors.  With Arthur Tappan’s help, Wright became the first African-American man to graduate from a theological seminary in the United States.  Wright followed in Cornish’s footsteps as the pastor of the First Colored Presbyterian Church, New York City, from 1833 to 1847.  Wright also worked as a conductor of the Underground Railroad, of which Cornish was a pioneer.  Both ministers were members of the New York Committee on Vigilance, associated with the Underground Railroad.  Wright, who also worked with James Pennington (1897-1870), an African-American Congregationalist then Presbyterian minister, and an abolitionist, once opposed the use of violence as an antislavery tactic.  In 1843, however, Wright called for slave insurrection.  The slaves were never going to gain by freedom by asking for it politely, after all.

Wright, who married Adeine Turpin in 1837, died in 1847.  He was about 50 years old.

Cornish married Jane Livingston in 1824.  The couple had three children.  Jane (the wife) died in 1844.  Two daughters died at the age of 22 years–Sarah in 1846 and Jane in 1855.  Perhaps William, the son, survived his father.

Cornish remained active until the end of his life.  He, a missionary in New York City, Philadelphia, and Newark, helped Lewis Tappan et al found the American Missionary Society in 1846.  Cornish also founded Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, New York City, that year.  Our saint, an opponent of both the colonization movement and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, moved to Brooklyn in 1855.  There he died, aged about 63 years, on November 6, 1858.

The Tappan brothers lived long enough to see the end of race-based slavery in the United States.  Arthur, aged 79 years, died on July 23, 1865.  Lewis, aged about 85 years, died in 1873.

Had the derogatory and socially and politically regressive term “Social Justice Warrior” existed during the lifetimes of these saints, many would have accused Arthur Tappan, Lewis Tappan, Samuel Eli Cornish, and Theodore Sedgwick Wright of being Social Justice Warriors.  Certainly many would have accused William Lloyd Garrison and members of the Weld-Grimké family of being Social Justice Warriors.  These saints were actually moral giants who got more right than they got wrong, and who left the United States and the world better than they found both.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS TIMOTHY, TITUS, AND SILAS, COWORKERS OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servants

Arthur Tappan,

Lewis Tappan,

Samuel Eli Cornish, and

Theodore Sedgwick Wright,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name,

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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Feast of Theodore Weld, Angelina Grimke Weld, Sarah Grimke, Francis J. Grimke, and Charlotte Grimke (November 4)   4 comments

Above:  A Partial Grimké-Weld Family Tree

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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THEODORE DWIGHT WELD (NOVEMBER 23, 1803-FEBRUARY 3, 1895)

U.S. Congregationalist then Quaker Abolitionist and Educator

husband of

ANGELINA EMILY GRIMKÉ WELD (FEBRUARY 20, 1805-OCTOBER 26, 1879)

U.S. Presbyterian then Quaker Abolitionist and Feminist

sister of

SARAH MOORE GRIMKÉ (NOVEMBER 26, 1792-DECEMBER 23, 1873)

U.S. Episcopalian then Quaker Abolitionist and Feminist

aunt of

FRANCIS JAMES GRIMKÉ (NOVEMBER 4, 1852-OCTOBER 11, 1937)

African-American Presbyterian Minister and Civil Rights Activist

husband of

CHARLOTTE LOUISE BRIDGES FORTEN GRIMKÉ (AUGUST 17, 1837-JULY 23, 1914)

African-American Abolitionist and Educator

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Lawless ruffians may keep the Negro away from the polls by shotguns; and by unrighteous laws and intimidation may shut him out of first-class cars, but there is no power by which all the combined forces of evil in the South can keep him from approaching the throne of grace.  Here is one thing, thank God, that this Negro-hating spirit cannot do,–it cannot prevent him from praying.

–Francis James Grimké, quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (New York:  Church Publishing, 2006), 349

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The Weld-Grimkés, a remarkable family, did much for the cause of social justice.

MEET THEODORE WELD

Theodore Dwight Weld, born in Hampton, Connecticut, on November 23, 1803, was an abolitionist and an educator.  He, raised a Congregationalist, studied at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, from 1820 to 1822.  He had to leave the school because of bad eyesight, however.  Our saint, a son of Elizabeth Clark (Weld) and the Reverend Ludovicus Weld, came from a socially conscious family.  Brother Ezra Greenleaf Weld (1801-1874), a daguerreotype photographer by profession, was also an abolitionist.  Young Theodore traveled in the United States for several years after leaving Phillips Academy; he witnessed slavery in the South.  In 1825 he moved with his family to Pompey, in upstate New York.

Weld became an abolitionist.  This transformation occurred during his time as a student at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York.  Influential figures in our saint’s life included William Wilberforce (a British politician largely responsible for the abolition of slavery in that empire) and Charles Finney (1792-1875), a prominent American evangelist and abolitionist, who, unfortunately, considered the bulk of the classics of English literature, from William Shakespeare to Sir Walter Scott, blasphemous.  After Hamilton College young Theodore left for Oneida, New York, and for the Oneida Manual Labor Institute, specifically.  In 1831 brothers Arthur Tappan (1786-1865) and Lewis Tappan (1788-1873), businessmen, abolitionists, and socially conscious philanthropists, hired our saint as an agent for the Society for Promoting Manual Labor in Literary Institutions.  In that capacity he traveled widely and spoke regarding manual labor and moral reform.

Later, as a student at Lane Theological Seminary, Cincinnati, Ohio, Weld continued his abolitionist activism.  He led the “Lane Rebels,” a group of pupils who openly discussed the abolition of slavery and helped to liberate 1,500 slaves in that city.  In 1834, when the trustees of the seminary imposed a gag rule regarding slavery, Weld and the bulk of the student body transferred to the Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio.  Our saint left Oberlin College later that year, however, and became an agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society, founded the previous year.  People he converted to the cause included Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) and Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887).  Weld lectured until 1836.  That year he shifted his focus to writing.  Weld edited The Emancipator until 1840.  In 1836 he also met Angelina Emily Grimké, whom he married two years later.

MEET SARAH AND ANGELINA GRIMKÉ

Sarah Moore Grimké and Angelina Emily Grimké were two of the most remarkable women of the nineteenth century.  They, born in Charleston, South Carolina, came from a large, prominent, and wealthy family.  The Grimkés, of Huguenot ancestry, belonged to the planter class; they owned slaves.  The father, John Grimké (1752-1819), held various statewide political offices.  The mother, Mary Smith (Grimké), guided the daughters’ educations according to gender norms, meaning a narrower curriculum for young women.  Sarah, born in 1792, manifested her revolutionary tendencies starting in childhood; she, in violation of state law, taught slaves to read.  Angelina, also rebellious, refused confirmation in The Episcopal Church when, at the age of 13 years, she refused to recite the creed.  She became a Presbyterian eight years later.

Sarah left The Episcopal Church and converted to Quakerism.  In 1819 she accompanied her dying father to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to consult Dr. Philip Syng Physick (1768-1837), “the Father of American Surgery.”  She remained in the City of Brotherly Love for several months after the father died.  During that sojourn Sarah became a Quaker.  She returned to Charleston briefly before going back to Philadelphia.

Angelina was a devout Presbyterian for a few years.  She taught Sunday School at her church and offered worship services for the family’s slaves.  Our saint also opposed the Peculiar Institution of the South.  Chattel slavery was, she insisted, contrary to Biblical ethics and human rights.  Angelina’s open abolitionism led to her expulsion from her congregation in 1829.  She, already under the influence to join Sarah in Philadelphia and become a Quaker, did so.

The Grimké sisters were radical, even relative to the standards of other radicals of their time.  The sisters, suffragettes who sought gender equality in the Religious Society of Friends, where they should have found it, given the doctrine of the Inner Light, were too revolutionary for the leaders of the Orthodox Quakers in Philadelphia.  When the sisters addressed audiences of men and women, Angelina and Sarah violated deeply held social mores and gender norms.  When the sisters criticized Northern allies of Southern slaveholders and of slavery in general, Angelina and Sarah offended many.  When the sisters addressed the Massachusetts State Legislature in 1838, they linked the rights to women to the rights of African Americans.  In so doing, the sisters contributed to a controversy that divided the abolitionist movement.

Angelina and Sarah wrote against slavery, too.  Angelina wrote for The Liberator, founded and edited by fellow abolitionist and feminist William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879).  One of her major works was “An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South” (1836.  Another important work was Letters to Catharine Beecher (1838).  Catharine Esther Beecher (1800-1878), sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe (1812-1896), was an educator who pioneered kindergarten in the United States.  Catharine Beecher. despite her progressiveness vis-à-vis early childhood education, was conservative in other ways.  She, for example, opposed the participation of women in the abolitionist movement, for she accepted female subordination to males.  Angelina disagreed strongly.  Sarah’s works included the Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States (1836) and Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women (1838).

WELD-GRIMKÉ FAMILY ACTIVITIES

The Grimké sisters met Theodore Weld in 1836.  Sarah and Angelina were in New York City for a training conference for antislavery agents.  Weld married Angelina and converted to Quakerism in 1838.  The couple and Sarah moved to a farm in Bellville, New Jersey, and became a team.  All three published American Slavery As It Is:  Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses (1839), a work that influenced Harriet Beecher Stowe to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852).

Angelina and Theodore had three children:  Charles Stuart Weld, Theodore Grimké Weld, and Sarah Grimké Weld.

Theodore continued his abolitionist activities until about 1844.  He helped to found the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1840, became active with the Liberty Party, and advised the antislavery wing of the Whig Party.  He also helped Representative (and former President of the United States) John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) resist the antislavery gag rule (1836-1844) in effect in Congress.

Theodore, Angelina, and Sarah devoted much of their lives to education.  Theodore and Angelina opened to schools–one in Eagleswood, Perth Amboy, New York (1854), and the other in their new home, Hyde Park, Boston, Massachusetts (1864).  These schools were open to students regardless of race or gender.

When ill health forced Angelina into domestic life, Sarah served as her primary caregiver.

THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN BRANCH OF THE HENRY GRIMKÉ FAMILY

Henry Grimké (1801-1852), a brother of Angelina and Sarah, had two families.  After his wife, Selina Simmons (Grimké) died in 1843, Henry started a second family with slave Nancy Weston (1810-1895), who was, in all ways except the legal one, his second wife.  They had three children:  Archibald Henry Grimké (1849-1930), John Grimké (1852-1918), and Francis James Grimké (1852-1937).  Henry’s dying instruction to his son and heir, E. Montague Grimké (1832-1896), was to treat Nancy, Archibald, John, and Francis like family.  Montague did the opposite.  In 1860 he claimed them as slaves–his property.  He never provided sufficient financial support for them, but he did sell Francis.  Archibald had to hide from his half-brother during the Civil War.  After the war, the three brothers studied in schools the Freedmen’s Bureau operated.

Theodore, Angelina, and Sarah learned of the existence of the African-American cousins in the late 1860s.  The Weld-Grimkés recognized their newly found relatives and offered education to the three sons, their nephews.  Archibald and Francis accepted; they graduated from Lincoln University in 1870 then continued their educations.  John, however, remained in Charleston with his mother.

Archibald eventually became an attorney, diplomat, journalist, and intellectual.  In 1909 he and brother Francis helped to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.).  Archibald’s daughter, Angelina Weld Grimké (1880-1958), became an educator, a playwright, a journalist, and a figure of the Harlem Renaissance.

EXUENT

Sarah died on December 23, 1873.  She was 81 years old.

Angelina died on October 26, 1879.  She was 74 years old.

Theodore died on February 3, 1895.  He was 91 years old.

FRANCIS JAMES GRIMKÉ AND CHARLOTTE LOUISE BRIDGES FORTEN GRIMKÉ

Francis James Grimké graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1878 and became a Presbyterian minister.  That year he also married Charlotte Louise Bridges Forten.

Charlotte Forten was one of the great women of history.  She, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 17, 1837, came from a prominent African-American family involved in the abolitionist movement.  Her parents were Robert Forten and Virginia Wood (Forten).  Our saint, educated in Salem, Massachusetts, joined the female Anti-Slavery Society there.  She spoke in public and met famous abolitionists, such as William Lloyd Garrison.  Charlotte made history in 1856; she became the first African-American hired to teach white pupils in Salem’s public schools.  She returned to Philadelphia two years later.  While there, Garrison published some of her poetry in The Liberator.  Charlotte taught freedmen on St. Helena’s Island, South Carolina, as part of the Port Royal Experiment, during the Civil War.  After the war she worked for the U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington, D.C.  After 1873, she was a clerk, until she married Francis.  Their only child, Theodora Cornelia Grimké, lived for about five months in 1880.

Francis was the pastor of two congregations.  He spent 1886-1889 at Laura Street Presbyterian Church, Jacksonville, Florida, a tenure preceded and succeeded at Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C.  He, minister there for more than half a century, retired in 1928.  Charlotte worked in her husband’s churches.

Francis was also active beyond the parish level.  He worked with Alexander Crummell (1819-1898), with whom he helped to found the American Negro Academy in 1897.  Francis also opposed Booker T. Washington‘s gradualist approach to ending segregation, sought to end lynching, advocated for African Americans’ full suffrage, and worked for educational equality of access for African Americans.

Charlotte died on July 23, 1914.  She was 78 years old.

Francis brought his widowed brother, Archibald, and his niece, Angelina, into his household.  Angelina and her uncle were caregivers to Archibald, who died in 1930.

Francis died in Washington, D.C., on October 11, 1937.  He was 85 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 24, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ORDINATION OF FLORENCE LI-TIM-OI, FIRST FEMALE PRIEST IN THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANGELA MERICI, FOUNDER OF THE COMPANY OF SAINT URSULA

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF PODLASIE, 1874

THE FEAST OF SAINT SURANUS OF SORA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MARTYR

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servants

Theodore Dwight Weld,

Angelina Grimké Weld,

Sarah Moore Grimké,

Francis James Grimké, and

Charlotte Louise Bridges Forten Grimké,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name,

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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