Archive for the ‘Sojourner Truth’ Tag

Feast of Sojourner Truth (November 26)   2 comments

Above:  Sojourner Truth

Image in the Public Domain

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SOJOURNER TRUTH (1797-NOVEMBER 26, 1883)

U.S. Abolitionist, Mystic, and Feminist

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If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

–Sojourner Truth, 1851

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Sojourner Truth comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, mainly via The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.  She also comes to my Ecumenical Calendar via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), and G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).  Truth’s Lutheran feast day, shared with Harriet Tubman, is March 10.  The feast day situation in The Episcopal Church is complicated, though.

The Episcopal calendar of saints used to be a simple matter.  From 1963 or so to 2009, the then-current edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts defined the church calendar.  From 1988 to 2006, the triennial General Convention approved the new edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, with “new” saints added.  The General Convention of 2009 left Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 (published in 2007) unaltered yet authorized a greatly expanded side calendar, the first guide to which which was Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010).  The General Convention of 2012 left Holy Women, Holy Men (2010) alone, but the General Convention of 2015 authorized a successor, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).  The General Convention of 2018 authorized the expanded Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, which, as of the date I write this post, is available only as a PDF document.

Truth, therefore, has two feast days in The Episcopal Church.  Her feast day from Holy Women, Holy Men (2010) and A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016) is July 20.  She shares that feast day with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, and Harriet Tubman.  However, her feast day (by herself) in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 is November 26.

Isabella Baumfree, born in Rifton, New York, in 1797, was a slave.  She, a daughter of James and Elizabeth Baumfree, grew up speaking Dutch, not English.  After our saint learned English, she spoke it with a Dutch accent.  Young Isabella suffered greatly.  She, sold more than once, never knew her siblings; slavery broke her family apart.  She endured beatings, the scars of which her body bore throughout her long life.  When Isabella was 13 years old, her master mated her with Thomas, an older slave.  She and Thomas had five children.  As the government of New York prepared to free all the remaining slaves in that state on July 4, 1827, Isabella’s master reneged on promises to free her prior to that date.  In 1826 she liberated herself and her youngest child, Sophia.

Isabella spent 1826-1843 in New York City and the immediate area.  Elizabeth Baumfree had taught her daughter to trust in God.  Isabella became a Christian under the influence of her new employers (1826-1829), Isaac and Maria Van Wagener, Quakers.  Our saint, their housekeeper, adopted their surname.  In 1828 she successfully sued for the freedom of her son Peter, sold illegally into slavery in Alabama.  He joined her in New York and became Peter Van Wagener.  About that time, Isabella joined a Methodist congregation.

Isabella, who claimed to have conversations with God, was not, unfortunately, the shrewdest of mystics at all times.  From 1829 to 1832 she was housekeeper to Elijah Pierson (1786-1834), a dodgy evangelist who billed himself as “Elijah the Tishbite.”  He was also a friend of her next employer, Robert Matthews (1788-circa 1841), who billed himself as “Matthias the Prophet,” operated a commune from 1832 to 1835, and also turned out to be untrustworthy.

Our saint’s life changed in 1843.  Peter, a crewman aboard a whaling vessel, died.  Isabella, discerning a call from God to become an itinerant evangelist and political activist, renamed herself Sojourner Truth.  She was a feminist, a suffragette, a pacifist, an educator (despite being illiterate), a pacifist, and an advocate of temperance.  Truth also worked with Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison.  The latter man published her dictated autobiography, Narrative of Sojourner Truth, in 1847.

Truth, based at Northampton, Massachusetts, from 1844 to 1857, was usually a Methodist.  She had an association with the Millerites, however.  After William Miller’s predictions of 1843-1844 proved false, she chose to remain separate from that movement, which spawned the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Truth, unlike other abolitionists, understood the principle summarized in intersectionality, a word that did not exist during her lifetime.  Her life played out at the intersection of race, slavery, and gender.  Perhaps Truth’s best, most succinct summary of why freedom for slaves and the equality of men and women must go hand-in-hand was the “Ain’t I a Woman” speech, which she delivered at the Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio, in 1851.

Truth, who moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, where some of her daughters resided, in 1857, supported the U.S. military during the Civil War and worked for justice for former slaves after that conflict.  She helped to recruit African-American soldiers during the war.  She also met with President Abraham Lincoln in 1864 then remained in the District of Columbia, to minister to slaves in refugee camps.  Then Truth spent seven years unsuccessfully lobbying for federal land grants for former slaves.

Truth remained a radical in her final years.  In 1872 she tried to vote in the presidential election;  she would have voted for President Ulysses Grant, with whom she had met.

Our saint, aged about 86 years, died in Battle Creek, Michigan, on November 26, 1883.  The truths for which she worked and advocated have never died, though.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 7, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMITIAN OF HUY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF HARRIET STARR CANNON, FOUNDRESS OF THE COMMUNITY OF SAINT MARY

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH ARMITAGE ROBINSON, ANGLICAN DEAN, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSA VENERINI, FOUNDRESS OF THE VENERINI SISTERS; MENTOR OF SAINT LUCIA FILIPPINI, FOUNDRESS OF THE RELIGIOUS TEACHERS FILIPPINI

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Almighty God, who has made the Church to be one body with many members and many gifts:

we thank you for the witness of your daughter, Sojourner Truth,

and for her courage to preach the truth of your liberating love in the face of injustice.

Grant that we, like her, may use our time, talents, and energy to proclaim the coming of your Kingdom,

which is good news to the poor, and in which all the oppressed shall be made free;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Wisdom of Solomon 5:15-20

Psalm 126

Mark 4:21-29

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018

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Feast of Amelia Bloomer (May 27)   2 comments

Above:  Amelia Bloomer

Image in the Public Domain

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AMELIA JENKS BLOOMER (MAY 27, 1818-DECEMBER 18, 1894)

U.S. Suffragette

On the calendar of saints of The Episcopal Church the feast of Amelia Bloomer is July 20.  On that calendar, however, she shares that date with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Ross Tubman.  On this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, I am in the process of breaking up that joint commemoration.

Amelia Jenks, born in Homer, New York, on May 27, 1818, came from a devout Presbyterian family.  She, the youngest of six children, grew up to become a teacher and an activist.  She worked for temperance, the end of slavery, and the establishment of equal rights for women with men in the United States.  She married attorney Dexter Bloomer in Seneca Falls, New York, on April 13, 1840.  Our saint wrote political articles for her husband’s newspaper.  She attended the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls in 1848.  The following year our saint began to publish The Lily, a newspaper advocating for temperance, women’s suffrage, and legal and social equality for women.  She published that newspaper through 1855.  Furthermore, she began her journeys on the lecture circuit in 1851.

Above:  Title Page of the Bloomer Waltz, 1851

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZC4-3591

In 1851 Bloomer began to wear the loose-fitting clothes (designed by Elizabeth Smith Miller) that became known as bloomers.  Bloomers came to replace corsets for many women, for corsets were not only uncomfortable but the causes of health problems.  Certain ministers, citing the Law of Moses’s injunction against women dressing like men, condemned bloomers as immoral.  Our saint replied that (1) the Law of Moses was irrelevant in this matter and (2) if these clergymen really cared about the Law of Moses, they would add fringes to their garments.

Our saint, associate editor of The Western Home Journal in the early 1850s, resided with her husband in Mount Vernon, Ohio, in 1854-1855, before they relocated to the frontier town of Council Bluffs, Iowa.  There the family remained.  There our saint, an Episcopalian, became deeply involved in civic life, helping to start schools and a library.  She also served as the first President of the Iowa Suffrage Association from 1871 to 1873.  Furthermore, Bloomer supported a variety of charities to help poor people.

Bloomer died, aged 76 years, at Council Bluffs on December 30, 1894.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KARL BARTH, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; FATHER OF MARKUS BARTH, SWISS LUTHERAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF GEORG FRIEDRICH HELLSTROM, DUTCH-GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN, COMPOWER, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER FOURIER, “THE GOOD PRIEST OF MATTAINCOURT;” AND SAINT ALIX LE CLERC, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF NOTRE DAME OF CANONESSES REGULAR OF SAINT AUGUSTINE

THE FEAST OF SAINT WALTER CISZEK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND POLITICAL PRISONER

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

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

Help us, like your servant Amelia Bloomer, 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), page 60

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Feast of Harriet Tubman (March 9)   2 comments

harriet-tubman

Above:  Harriet Tubman

Image in the Public Domain

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HARRIET ROSS TUBMAN DAVIS (1820?-MARCH 10, 1913)

Abolitionist

The Episcopal Church celebrates the lives and legacies of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman on July 20.  I have decided, however, to break up that commemoration on this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  Therefore I establish her feast day as being separate and set it in the proximity of the anniversary of her death.

Our saint, born circa 1820 in Dorcester County, Maryland, was originally Araminta “Minty” Ross, a slave.  She endured the humiliations and injustices of slavery; her Christian faith, among other things, helped her to do this.  Our saint was a mystic; she entered into trances and understood God to speak to her.  After a trance in 1849 she escaped to freedom in Canada.

“Minty” became Harriet Tubman in 1844, when she married John Tubman.  He died in 1851.

Tubman’s faith compelled her to put her life at risk for the freedom of slaves.  From 1851 to 1861 she made at least 19 trips to Maryland and back to Canada, to bring more than 300 slaves to freedom.  “Moses,” as many slaves called her, was a physically slight person and a moral giant.  She put her life at risk to help others; the bounty for her capture was $40,000.  (Aside: $40,000 in 1861 currency = $1,110,000 in 2015 currency.)  Tubman relocated to upstate New York in 1858/1859.  During the Civil War she worked as a nurse, a scout, and a spy for the U.S. Army.  She even participated in a raid that freed more than 750 slaves.

Tubman continued her good works after the Civil War.  She, although poor, took African-American orphans and elderly people into her home.  Although she was illiterate, our saint founded schools for African-American children.  When she came into more money, she helped those who were more impoverished than she was.  Our saint, who married Nelson Davis (died in 1888) in 1869, was the adoptive mother of Gertie Davis (born in 1876).  Our saint also advocated for feminist causes, working with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.  Tubman, however, chose to focus more on the problems of African Americans than on those of women in general.

Tubman died at Auburn, New York, on March 10, 1913.  She was in her nineties.

In 2016, when the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced plans to replace President Andrew Jackson‘s image on the $20 bill with the likeness of Tubman, candidate Donald Trump denounced the proposed change as an example of political correctness.  Actually, Tubman did more that was positive for the United States than Jackson did.  Jackson, for example, executed the policy of Indian removal, set the stage for the morally indefensible Trail of Tears, and led the charge to destroy the Second Bank of the United States.  The last item alone makes his place on money dubious.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 4, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CORNELIUS THE CENTURION, WITNESS TO THE CRUCIFIXION

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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 servant Harriet Tubman, 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), page 60

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