Archive for the ‘Social Justice Warriors’ Tag

Feast of Arthur Tappan, Lewis Tappan, Samuel Eli Cornish, and Theodore S. Wright (November 5)   4 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 William Scarlett (October 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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WILLIAM SCARLETT (OCTOBER 3, 1883-MARCH 28, 1973)

Episcopal Bishop of Missouri, and Advocate for Social Justice

Bishop William Scartlett comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible.

Scarlett, born in Columbus, Ohio, on October 3, 1883, grew up to become a courageous, progressive Christian leader on the vanguard of various moral causes.  He was what certain cynical reactionaries of 2018 would have called a “social justice warrior.”  So were Hebrew prophets.  Our saint, influenced at an early age by Washington Gladden (1836-1918) and Walter Rauschenbush (1861-1918), proponents of the Social Gospel, graduated from Harvard University with his A.B. degree in 1905.  Scarlett, unsure about whether to study for ministry or medicine, worked on a ranch in Nebraska for a year.  He matriculated at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1906, and graduated three years later.  Our saint, spent the rest of his life in ordained ministry marked by a dedication to social justice dictated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Scarlett cared deeply by outreach to the poor, the rights of industrial workers, civil rights, and other issues germane to human relations.  He was, in order:

  1. Assistant Rector, St. George’s Episcopal Church, New York, New York (1909-1911);
  2. Dean, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Phoenix, Arizona (1911-1922);
  3. Dean, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, Missouri (1922-1930);
  4. Bishop Coadjutor of Missouri (1930-1933); and
  5. Bishop of Missouri (1933-1952).

Friend Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) described our saint as

the conscience of the community.

Scarlett was on the avant-garde of The Episcopal Church with regard to social ethics.  He advocated for the liberalization of the denomination’s stance on remarriage after divorce.  In 1946 our saint edited Christianity Takes a Stand, in which various authors took a stand against societal sins such as racial segregation and the federal government’s recent internment of West Coast Japanese Americans.  Although the House of Deputies, at the General Convention of 1946, consented without debate to sponsor the publication of the book, the majority of Episcopalians were not ready to espouse those positions yet.

Scarlett, a Low Church Episcopalian and self-described Liberal Evangelical who wore a tie in lieu of a clerical collar, was a natural ecumenist.  He cooperated with members of other Christian denominations as easily as he did with Jews.  At Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, our saint scandalized many Anglo-Catholics by encouraging interdenominational Eucharists.  He also scrapped plans for a new Episcopal hospital in the city when he learned of a similar Presbyterian plan.  The result was cooperation, not competition, in the form of St. Luke’s Episcopal-Presbyterian Hospital.  He also favored the merger of The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in the 1940s.  The proposal did not survive the late 1940s.  It would probably have been impractical anyway.

(Aside:  I mean no disrespect to any Presbyterians, but the denominational cultures and certain theological-liturgical factors are too different for merger to be practical.  I suppose that many Presbyterians agree with that assessment.  Cooperation of many issues is feasible and desirable, however.)

Scarlett retired in late 1952.  His successor as Bishop of Missouri was Arthur Carl Lichtenberger (1900-1968), later the Presiding Bishop of the denomination.

In retirement Scarlett wrote the exposition on the Book of Jonah for The Interpreter’s Bible.  He wrote, in part:

If God has a controversy with his people, it is because there has been in our world too little concern for our brother, too little recognition that his fate is bound up in ours, and ours in his, even to the least, too much forgetting that word of old, “We are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25) and if one member suffers, “all the members suffer with it” (I Cor. 12:26).  A plain fact of the nineteen-thirties is that Hitler climbed to power on the backs of the unemployed in Germany, and it was this frustration, this sense of uselessness, in millions of lives that made his way easy.

The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume VI (1956), 877

That is a chilling text in 2018.

The resurgence of fascism and of authoritarianism in general has been current reality in the world, from the Philippines to Europe to Brazil to Turkey to Europe for a few years now.  Many of the enablers of fascist and other authoritarian leaders have been professing Christians.  The call to “Make America Great Again” has echoed pre-World War II movements to make Italy and Germany great again.  The rhetoric of “America First,” originated before World War II in an openly anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi movement to keep the United States out of that war, has returned, still with racist overtones.  Calls for U.S. society and government to practice the Golden Rule have become subversive as many professing Christians have chosen to ignore the demands of that great commandment and embraced xenophobia and nativism, largely out of fear.

I encourage you, O reader, to read Scarlett’s exposition on the Book of Jonah and to oppose–resist–the deplorable resurgence of fascism and of authoritarianism in general.

Scarlett, aged 89 years, died in Castine, Maine, on March 28, 1973.  His wife, Leah Oliver Van Riper (b. 1889), had predeceased him in 1965.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 3, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE KENNEDY ALLEN BELL, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CHICHESTER

THE FEAST OF ALBERTO RAMENTO, PRIME BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENT CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERARD OF BROGNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOHN RALEIGH MOTT, U.S. METHODIST LAY EVANGELIST, AND ECUMENICAL PIONEER

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

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

Help us, like your servant William Scarlett, 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 Amos Niven Wilder (September 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Scan from Volume XII (1957) of The Interpreter’s Bible

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AMOS NIVEN WILDER (SEPTEMBER 18, 1895-MAY 4, 1993)

U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Poet, Literary Critic, and Biblical Scholar

Amos Niven Wilder comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible.

Wilder came from a remarkable family.  Amos Parker Wilder (1862-1936) was a journalist and sometime diplomat.  He was, until 1906, the editor and partial owner of the Wisconsin State Journal.  During the administrations of Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson, he was U.S. Consul to China, based first in Hong Kong (1906-1909) then Shanghai (1909-1914).  Isabella Thornton Niven (1873-1946), daughter of a Presbyterian minister, was a poet.  She encouraged her children to love language, drama, and literature.  Those children were:

  1. Amos Niven Wilder, born in Madison, Wisconsin, on September 18, 1895;
  2. Thornton Wilder (1897-1975), playwright and novelist;
  3. Charlotte Wilder (1898-1980), poet;
  4. Isabel Wilder (1900-1995), novelist; and
  5. Janet Wilder (Dakin) (1910-1994), zoologist and conservationist.

Our saint combined Biblical scholarship and literary skill.  He matriculated at Oberlin College in 1913, but left to enlist in the U.S. Army in 1916.  Wilder, a corporal, drove ambulances in France and Macedonia.  He, discharged in 1919, studied at Yale University, from which he graduated with a B.A. the following year.  His first volume of poetry, Battle Prospect (1923), won the Yale Younger Prize.  Another volume of poetry, Arachne, followed five years later.  Wilder, as a literary critic, wrote The Spiritual Aspects of the New Poetry (1940).  The ministry beckoned to the young Wilder.  He, while studying at Mansfield College, Oxford, in 1921-1923, was the secretary to Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965).  After continuing theological studies at Yale in 1924, Wilder became a Congregationalist minister in 1926.  He was, for a few years, the pastor of First Church of Christ, Congregational, North Conway, New Hampshire.

Wilder was mainly an academic, though.  After teaching at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, he became Professor of the New Testament at Andover Newton Theological Seminary, Newton Centre, Massachusetts.  That was his professional position when he met Catharine Kerwin (December 3, 1906-September 1, 2006) during the summer of 1934 and married her in August 1935.  She came from a socially progressive family active in the suffragette movement.  In other words, Catharine and her relatives were the kind of people many would, in the cynical, regressive terms of 2018 that excuse social injustice and other perfidy, label “Social Justice Warriors.”  Catharine, active in the post-World War I peace movement, had earned her B.A. in history from Smith College and became a teacher.  The Wilders, married for nearly 58 years, had two children, Catharine Dix Wilder (b. 1937) and Amos Tappan Wilder (b. 1940).

Wilder, a Ph.D. from Yale since 1933, became Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Chicago Theological Seminary and The University of Chicago and a member of the Federated Theological Faculty of Chicago in 1943.  There he remained until 1954.  In 1949-1950 Wilder doubled as the President of the Chicago Society of Biblical Research.  Wilder spent 1954-1963 as the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University.  Then, at the age of 68 years, he retired.

Wilder wrote 35 books, published various articles, and contributed to The Interpreter’s Bible.  Theological works included Otherworldiness and the New Testament (1954) and Theopoetic:  Theology and the Religious Imagination (1976).  The posthumously published book was Armageddon Revisited (1994), a memoir of war.  He also served as a Consulting Editor of The Interpreter’s Bible, wrote the article “The Teaching of Jesus II:  The Sermon on the Mount” for Volume VII (1951), and wrote the introduction to and exegesis of the three Letters of John for Volume XII (1957).

Wilder, active in retirement, traveled around the world with Catharine.  He also continued to play tennis, which he had done since his college years.  Wilder was a nationally ranked tennis player.

Wilder, aged 97 years, died on May 4, 1993.

Catharine, aged 99 years, died on September 1, 2006.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Amos Niven Wilder and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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