Archive for the ‘The United Church of Canada’ Tag

Feast of Lydia Emilie Gruchy (April 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Lydia Emilie Gruchy and the Ministers who Ordained Her, 1936

Image in the Public Domain

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LYDIA EMILIE GRUCHY (SEPTEMBER 5, 1894-APRIL 9, 1992)

First Female Minister in the United Church of Canada

In 1936 Lydia Emilie Gruchy became the first woman ordained as a minister in the United Church of Canada.

Gruchy’s journey toward that recognized vocation started at Asnieres, France, where she debuted on September 5, 1894.  Our saint was the eighth of ten children.  Gruchy lost her mother to death when she was eight years old.  From then until 1913 our saint moved from one side of the Atlantic Ocean to the other in the company of various members of her immediate family.  She and two brothers (Arthur and Victor) were in Saskatchewan together before she and her sisters attended a boarding school in Seaford, England, starting in 1905.  Our saint took a business course in London and worked as a civil servant for a year before she and sisters Florence, Hilda, and Elsie moved to Saskatchewan in 1913.  There Gruchy completed high school, worked as a housekeeper for a year, and trained to become a teacher.  From 1915 to 1923 she taught recent immigrants in one-room schools.  Along the way Gruchy earned her B.A. degree (University of Saskatchewan, 1920), received the Governor-General’s Gold Medal for academic excellence and leadership (1920), and studied theology at Presbyterian College (later St. Andrew’s College), Saskatoon (1920-1923).

Meanwhile, World War I affected Gruchy.  Brothers Arthur and Bert died in the war.  Another brother, Stanley, suffered injuries.

Our saint perceived a vocation to become an ordained minister.  In 1923 she applied to become a Presbyterian minister; the synod turned her down.  For more than a decade Gruchy worked as a lay missionary.  From 1923 to 1927 she served as a missionary to the Doukhobors at Veregin, Saskatchewan.  Meanwhile, in 1926, the Kamsack Presbytery and the Saskatchewan Conference of the new United Church of Canda (created via a merger the previous year) petitioned the denomination to ordain her.  The question of ordaining women was a matter of official study from 1927 to 1931, however.  As the United Church studied Grouchy worked as a lay missionary in Wakaw, Saskatchewan.  Our saint took a sabbatical to Long Beach, California, in 1931-1932; she visited relatives there.  Then she served as a lay missionary to Kelvington, Saskatchewan, from 1932 to 1936.

The United Church of Canada was finally ready to ordain women in 1936.  So, on November 4, 1936, at St. Andrew’s United Church, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Grouchy became a reverend.  At first she assisted the senior minister at St. Andrew’s Church, Moose Jaw (1936-1938).  From 1938 to 1943 she was the secretary for the Committee on the Deaconess Order and Women Workers, Toronto.  Then our saint served as pastor at Simpson (1948-1952), Cupar (1952-1957), and Neville-Vanguard (1957-1962), all in Saskatchewan.  She also received her Doctor of Divinity degree from St. Andrew’s College, Saskatoon, in 1953.

Gruchy retired in 1962.  She and a sister relocated to White Rock, British Columbia, where our saint died, aged 97 years, on April 9, 1992.

Pioneers such as Lydia Emilie Gruchy have enriched the life of the institutional church and paved the way for other women to pursue their vocations from God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BLESSED OSCAR ROMERO AND THE MARTYRS OF EL SALVADOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF PAUL COUTURIER, APOSTLE OF CHRISTIAN UNITY

THE FEAST OF THOMAS ATTWOOD, FATHER OF MODERN CHURCH MUSIC

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Lydia Emilie Gruchy,

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), page 60

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Feast of Paul Couturier (March 24)   Leave a comment

paul-couturier

Above:  Paul Couturier

Image in the Public Domain

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PAUL IRENEE COUTURIER (JULY 29, 1881-MARCH 24, 1953)

Apostle of Christian Unity

Paul Couturier is one of three saints assigned to March 24 in Common Worship:  Daily Prayer (2005; Fourth Impression, 2010).  In my copy of Common Worship:  Services and Prayers for the Church of England (2000), however, his feast is absent.

Couturier, born in Lyon, France, on July 29, 1881, grew up as one of the pieds-noirs in Algeria.  In 1906 he became a Roman Catholic priest as a member of the Society of St. Irenaeus.  Next our saint studied physical science for several years before beginning to teach at the Institut des Chartreux, a parochial school in Lyon.  For most of the rest of his life Couturier taught at that school; he retired in 1951.  Couturier, as a teacher, influenced the lives of many students directly and therefore the lives of many other people indirectly.

His other work–that of ecumenism–has brought him to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, however.  That ecumenical work had its roots in the early 1920s, when Couturier worked with Russian refugees.  They broadened his horizons by introducing him to Russian Orthodoxy.  By the early 1930s our saint had become a committed ecumenist.  In 1933 he founded the Triduum for Christian Unity.  The following year he renamed it the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25), an extension of the Octave for Church Unity, dating to 1908 and with Anglican origins.  In 1939 Couturier’s Octave became the Universal Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Couturier developed a network of international contacts as he pursued ecumenical efforts.  In 1936 he organized the first Reformed-Roman Catholic dialogue at Erlenbach, Switzerland.  The following to years he spent time in England as he studied Anglicanism.  His international contacts alarmed the Gestapo, which incarcerated our saint during World War II.  The prison experience damaged Couturier’s health; it was his cross to bear, he concluded.  Couturier witnessed the founding of the World Council of Churches in 1948 and stayed in contact with that organization’s leaders for the rest of his life.  In 1952 Maximus IV, the Melkite Greek Patriarch of Antioch, declared Couturier an honorary archimandrite, or monastic priest.

Couturier died at Lyon on March 24, 1953.  He was 71 years old.

predictably Couturier’s legacy has received mixed reviews.  Both traditional Catholic groups (who oppose dialogue with other Christians) and non-Roman Catholic groups who oppose dialogue with Holy Mother Church have not embraced ecumenism.  After all, if one thinks that Catholicism is the repository of truth, why should one affirm dialogue with heretics?  Likewise, if one thinks that the Roman Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon, why should one support dialogue with it?  Couturier, however, presaged the declaration of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) that non-Roman Catholic Christians are “separated brethren.”

Denominational identities and structures are frequently stubborn; inertia does much to maintain them, even long after the reason or reasons for the founding have become obsolete.  I wonder when the changing demographics of organized religion in the United States (where the fastest grown religious label is “none”) will begin to lead to the consolidation of denominations.  After all, what proportion of the devout Christian population in the United States really cares about minor theological differences?  One might point to the mergers that created the United Church of Canada (1925), the Church of South India (1947), the Church of North India (1970), the Church of Pakistan (1970), and the Uniting Church of Australia (1977).  Why not, for example, consolidate certain Reformed denominations in the United States?  [The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) + the United Church of Christ = a feasible denomination, does it not?  Portions of the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church of North America might even what to participate in a merger also.  (Parts of the CRCNA are to the left of parts of the RCA.  I wonder if segments of the RCA and the CRCNA would be comfortable merging with some conservative Reformed bodies.)]  Why not lay aside minor theological differences and merge certain Anglican and Lutheran bodies in North America? [The Episcopal Church + the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America = The Anglican Lutheran Church; the Anglican Church of Canada + the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada = the Anglican Lutheran Church in Canada.]   The Lutheran and Anglican traditions have cross-fertilized each other since the 1500s, after all.  I could continue to offer examples of possible merger partners, but I think I have made my point sufficiently.  The churches, consolidated more and working together more closely when not merged, would have a more effective witness this way.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 31, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES FREDERICK MACKENZIE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CENTRAL AFRICA

THE FEAST OF HENRY TWELLS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARY LUNDIE DUNCAN, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MENNO SIMONS, MENNONITE LEADER

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Heavenly Father, whose Son our Lord Jesus Christ said to his apostles,

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you:

regard not our sins but the faith of your Church,

and grant it that peace and unity which is agreeable to your will;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Jeremiah 33:6-9a

Psalm 133 or 122

Ephesians 4:1-6

John 17:11b-23

The Alternative Service Book 1980, pages 904 and 905

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Feast of Jack Layton (August 22)   2 comments

Jack Layton Button

Above:  A Campaign Button

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN GILBERT LAYTON (JULY 18, 1950-AUGUST 22, 2011)

Canadian Activist and Federal Leader of the New Democratic Party

The process of researching this post entailed, among other activities, watching certain videos at YouTube.  In one of them Ezra Levant, a Canadian pundit, mocked adulation of the recently deceased Jack Layton.  Levant, who had mourned Layton’s passing just a few days before, showed a faux icon of Layton and derived attempts to depict him as a saint.

With this post I declare Layton to be a saint.

Jack Layton came from a family with a history of service to Canada and vulnerable people.  His great-great uncle on his mother’s side was William Henry Steeves (1814-1873), a Father of Confederation, a member of the Senate (1867-1873) as a Liberal, and an advocate for the humane treatment of the mentally ill.  Our saint, on his father’s side, was a great-grandson of Philip E. Layton, a blind organist who advocated for disability benefits and founded the Montreal Association for the Blind and the Philip E. Layton School for the Blind, Montreal, in 1908.  Philip was the father of Gilbert Layton (1899-1961), a conservative Member of the Legislative Assembly of Quebec and cabinet minister in the provincial government in the late 1930s.  Gilbert was the father of Robert Layton (1925-2002), a Liberal Party activist who switched to the Progressive Conservative Party and served as a Member of Parliament from 1984 to 1993, as the Minister of State for Mines from 1984 to 1986, and as the Party Caucus Chair from 1986 to 1993.  He retired from politics in 1993 to focus on his recovery from prostate cancer.  Robert had married Doris Elizabeth Steeves.  Their firstborn son was John Gilbert Layton, born at Montreal, Quebec, on July 18, 1950.

Layton, who graduated with his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from McGill University, Montreal, 1970, embarked upon an academic career and a political vocation.  In 1971 he graduated from York University with his Master of Arts in Political Science.  He became a professor at Ryerson University then at York University, and completed his doctoral program at York University in 1983.  He, married to Sally Halford from 1969 to 1983, became an activist and councilman in Toronto in the 1980s, continuing the good work into the early 2000s.  He was especially passionate with regard to homelessness (favoring public housing as an alternative to incarceration), an issue he addressed locally and on which he wrote two books.  Layton also worked proactively on issues such as HIV/AIDS, recycling, renewable energy, and violence against women.  In 1988 he married Olivia Chow (b. 1957), who served as a councilwoman in Toronto from 1991 to 2005 and as a Member of Parliament from 2006 to 2015.

Layton grew up in The United Church of Canada and acted upon socially progressive Christianity.  Among his heroes was Tommy Douglas (1904-1986), Baptist minister and federal leader of the New Democratic Party.  Our saint, a member of the Bloor Street United Church, Toronto, also attended services at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, whose minister was his friend.  Layton, who had run for Parliament in 1993 and 1997, became the federal leader of the New Democratic Party in 2003 and finally won a seat in 2004.  He led his party, increased its number of seats, and retained his seat in the elections of 2006, 2008, and 2011.  In the House of Commons he opposed the war in Iraq, favored peacekeeping and reconstruction (as opposed to combat) in Afghanistan, and favored a plan to cap interest rates on credit card debt.  He also read scripture at the annual National Prayer Breakfast and taught a Bible study class for youth at Wynan United Church, Hudson, Quebec, in which he had grown up.

In 2011 the New Democratic Party, with Layton as leader, won 103 seats in the House of Commons and became the official opposition for the only time so far in Canadian electoral history.  (The Liberal Party, which came in third place in 2011, won a majority in the election of 2015.  The Conservative Party, which had formed minority governments in 2006 and 2008 before winning a majority in 2011, became the largest opposition party.   The New Democratic Party returned to its usual status as the party in third place.)  In May 2011 Layton became the Leader of the Official Opposition.  During the campaign he had used a cane, due to his recent hip surgery.  That cane, his smile, and his enthusiasm had become his trademarks.  The future seemed bright for Layton and his party.

In 2010 Layton had announced his diagnosis of prostate cancer.  He had sought and obtained treatment for it.  He had been vigorous during the federal campaign of 2011.  There had been no outward indication of disease as of election day 2011.  On July 25, 2011, however, Layton, looking and sounding seriously ill, announced that he had another cancer and that he was stepping down temporarily as party leader.  On August 20 he issued his farewell letter, which concluded with these words:

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,

Jack Layton

Layton died at home in Toronto on August 22, 2011.  He was 61 years old.  The outpouring of grief came from across the political spectrum.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 4, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FLORAN OF LORCH, MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT GODEHARD OF HILDESHEIM, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of John Scrimger (August 7)   2 comments

Scrimger

Above:  John Scrimger

Source = The Winnipeg Tribune, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Monday, August 9, 1915, Page 2

Accessed via newspapers.com

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JOHN SCRIMGER (FEBRUARY 10, 1849-AUGUST 6, 1915)

Canadian Presbyterian Minister, Ecumenist, and Liturgist

John Scrimger, a Canadian Presbyterian minister, worked for ecclesiastical union, which he did not live long enough to witness.  He, born at Dumfries Township (near Galt), Waterloo County, Ontario, Canada, on February 10, 1849, was the son of John Scrimger (1813-1890) and Janet McKenzie Scrimger (1826-1906), Scottish immigrants.  Our saint attended Galt Institute, Galt, Ontario.  Then he also studied at and graduated from the University of Toronto (B.A., 1869; M.A., 1871) and Knox College, a seminary attached to the University of Toronto (degree, 1873).  Scrimger, ordained into the former Canada Presbyterian Church (1861-1875) on August 28, 1873, served as the pastor of the St. Joseph Street Presbyterian Church (formed in 1863) for nine years.

Aside:  I traced the history of the congregation through 1940.  In 1887 the St. Joseph Street Presbyterian Church became the Calvin Presbyterian Church.  The congregation became the Calvin Westminster Presbyterian Church via amalgamation in 1916.  The name changed to the Calvin Westminster United Church in 1925, with the Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregationalist merger forming The United Church of Canada.  In 1940 the congregation became the Westminster Central United Church via amalgamation.  My Internet searches for “Westminster Central United Church” in Montreal have yielded no current results.  Neither does that congregation appear on current records of the Montreal Presbytery of The United Church of Canada.  Many congregations have closed.  Others have amalgamated.  Still others have changed their names, sometimes after either amalgamation or relocation.  I do not know if the legacy of the Westminster Central United Church of Montreal continues.  If anyone reading this post does know, please inform me.

Scrimger, who received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the Wesleyan Theological Seminary, Montreal, in 1892, worked at The Presbyterian College, Montreal, from 1874 until his death in 1915.  He began as a lecturer in Old and New Testament exegesis then became a professor in 1882.  Prior to 1904 our saint served also as college librarian, in addition to his professorial duties.  Scrimger served as the principal of the college and as the chair of systematic theology from 1904 to 1915.  As an academic he spoke and published with regard to the Society of Jesus (the less we ponder these thoughts of his, the better), the Old Testament, and John Knox (1513-1572), among other topics.

With regard to Scrimger’s personal life, he married Catherine Charlotte Gairdner (1851-1921).  The couple had four children:

  1. John Tudor Scrimger (1875-1945),
  2. Anna Marks Scrimger Lyman (1877-1956),
  3. Francis Alexander Carron Scrimger (1880-1937), and
  4. Ethel Scrimger (1884-1884).

Our saint was active in denominational and ecumenical affairs.  For example, he served on the committees of The Presbyterian Book of Praise (1897) and The Book of Praise (1918), the second and third official hymnals of The Presbyterian Church in Canada (formed by merger in 1875).  (The first official hymnal was the Hymnal of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, 1880).  Scrimger also served on the committee for The Psalter (1912), for which he wrote “Lord, Who Shall Come to Thee,” a paraphrase of Psalm 15.  He was also active in the planning for Church union in 1925.  Our saint, asked to work on the Basis of Union of The United Church of Canada (1908), favored basing the document primarily on the Articles of Faith of the Presbyterian Church of England (1890) and Donald Fraser’s 1892 commentary upon them.  However, the consensus of the Canadian Joint Committee on Union was to made those documents a secondary basis of the Basis of Union and to found the Basis of Union mainly upon the Brief Statement of the Reformed Faith (Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., 1902).

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Source:  The Hymnal (1911), Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

Scans by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Scrimger and others who labored on the Basis of Union (approved in 1910-1912) sought to create a document which reflected both mild Calvinism and mild Arminianism, and was thereby acceptable to the great majority of Canadian Methodists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists.

Our saint died at Bic, Quebec, on August 6, 1915, while on vacation.  He was 66 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BOSA OF YORK, JOHN OF BEVERLEY, WILFRID THE YOUNGER, AND ACCA OF HEXHAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY REES, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LLANDAFF

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially John Scrimger)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Feast of Robert Murray (December 10)   1 comment

Flag of Canada 1868-1921

Above:  Flag of Canada, 1868-1921

Image in the Public Domain

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ROBERT MURRAY (DECEMBER 25, 1832-DECEMBER 10, 1910)

Canadian Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer

Some people set out upon a course–a godly one–yet find themselves pursuing a different path–also a godly one.  That statement applies to Robert Murray (1832-1910).

Our saint was a child of John William Murray and Christina Matheson Murray, who emigrated from Scotland to Nova Scotia in 1822.  He, born at Earltown, near Truro, Nova Scotia, on Christmas Day, 1832, was a talented you who read theology and composed poetry prior to his tenth birthday.  Murray seemed destined for parish ministry when he graduated from the Halifax Free Church College and received a license to preach.  He became an editor instead.

From 1855, when Murray was 22 years old, to 1910, when he died, our saint edited the Presbyterian Witness (1841-1925).  During our saint’s tenure the affiliation of the Witness changed due to a series of ecclesiastical unions.  It went from being a publication of the Synod of the Free Church of Nova Scotia (1844-1860) to one of the Synod of the United Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia (1860-1866) to one of the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of the Lower Provinces (1866-1875) to one of the Presbyterian Church in Canada (1875-1925).  Murray, who supported Canadian confederation (not a universally popular political change, especially in Nova Scotia) in 1867, advocated church union.  Part of this Protestant ecumenism was, for him, a product of anti-Roman Catholicism.  Murray, also an opponent of Anglo-Catholicism, which he considered destructive to souls, was a man of his time, culture, and subculture.  I, as a post-Vatican II Episcopalian with Roman Catholic tendencies, invoke my Anglican collegiality, thereby recognizing him as a saint while offering no excuses for his anti-Catholicism.  Murray, who died fifteen years before the formation of The United Church of Canada in 1925 from Congregationalist, Methodist, and Presbyterian denominations, probably would have supported that union also, for he favored the union of all Protestant denominations in Canada.

Our saint married Elizabeth Carey (1835-1920) on August 24, 1867.  The couple had seven children, five of whom survived into adulthood.

Murray, a hymn writer, composed at least seven hymns.  He also published hymns in the Presbyterian Witness, with only “M.” to identify the author.  He sought to avoid giving the impression of claiming equality with other Canadian poets.

Our saint died at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on December 10, 1925.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 3, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILL CAMPBELL, AGENT OF RECONCILIATION

THE FEAST OF SAINT LIPHARDUS OF ORLEANS AND URBICIUS OF MEUNG, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF UGANDA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MORAND OF CLUNY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND MISSIONARY

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Robert Murray and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

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

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Feast of John Diefenbaker, Tommy Douglas, and Lester Pearson (August 16)   3 comments

H2O 2004 01

Above:  Canadian Houses of Parliament, from H2O (2004)

A Screen Capture I Took Via PowerDVD

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JOHN GEORGE DIEFENBAKER (SEPTEMBER 18, 1895-AUGUST 16, 1979)

Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party (1956-1967) and Prime Minister of Canada (1957-1963)

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THOMAS CLEMENT DOUGLAS (OCTOBER 20, 1904-FEBRUARY 24, 1986)

Premier of Saskatchewan (1944-1961) then Leader of the New Democratic Party (1961-1971)

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LESTER BOWLES PEARSON (APRIL 23, 1897-DECEMBER 27, 1972)

Leader of the Liberal Party (1958-1968) and Prime Minister of Canada (1963-1968)

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Today I add to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days three Canadian statesmen who, despite their political differences, were each partially responsible for creating the national health care system.

Our story begins, however, with Prime Minister Richard Bennett (1870-1947), who led his country from 1930 to 1935.  In 1935 he, the leader of the Conservative Party, was seeking another mandate.  The Prime Minister proposed a set of social programs, including national medical insurance.  Bennett lost the election and his proposal died.  Within a few years, however, a Baptist minister (whom some accused of being a Communist) influenced by the Social Gospel picked up the torch.

800_ap_tommy_douglas_110221

Above:  Tommy Douglas

Image Source = http://www.pittmeadowstoday.ca/education-canadians-voted-tommy-douglas-our-greatest-canadian-in-2004/

Thomas Clement Douglas (1904-1986), son of Thomas Douglas and Annie Clement Douglas, was born in Falkirk, Scotland.  The family immigrated to Canada when he was six years old.  His father, an iron moulder, suffered from an injury which almost led to the amputation of one leg.  Douglas, whose future depended greatly on his father’s ability to earn a living, became convinced that quality health care should not depend upon one’s ability to afford it.  The family returned to Scotland during World War I then went back to Canada.  Douglas, shaped by the Social Gospel and by social injustices (many of them economic), earned his B.A. at Brandon College, Manitoba, in 1930 (the same year he married Irma Dempsey), and is M.A. at MacMaster University in 1933.  Then he became pastor of a Baptist congregation at Weyburn, Saskatchewan.

Politics beckoned Douglas.  He ran unsuccessfully for the provincial legislature on the Farmer-Labour ticked in 1934.  The following year he ran successfully for the federal House of Commons as a candidate of the Co-opearative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), a Fabian Socialist party.  Douglas, elected to a second term in 1940, resigned four years later to run successfully for Premier of Saskatchewan.

The CCF, founded in 1932, during the depths of the Great Depression, was an outgrowth of Progressivism.  It received much support from trade unionists, farmers, and urban intellectuals.  Causes the CCF supported included:

  1. Clearing slums;
  2. Electrifying rural areas;
  3. Establishing public works programs;
  4. Socializing financial institution and public utilities;
  5. Creating national health insurance;
  6. Establishing pensions for disabled people;
  7. Subsidizing affordable rental housing;
  8. Supporting agricultural prices; and
  9. Passing a national bill of rights.

Many of these goals became realities in governments led by Progressive Conservative John Diefenbaker and Liberal Lester Pearson.

Douglas, Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961, instituted important and historical reforms.  He granted public employees the right to bargain collectively.  The Premier’s administration granted equality of access to public places and ownership of property regardless of race, creed, color, or nationality.  And, in 1947, the provincial government began to offer a variety of insurance programs (including medical).

In 1961 the CCF ended its existence; the New Democratic Party (NDP), more moderate than the CCF, took its place with Douglas as the first federal leader.  He, returned to the House of Commons in 1962, remained there through 1979, except for a brief gap in 1968-1969.  Douglas, who left the national leadership of the NDP in 1971, received the honor of the Order of Canada in 1980.  The staunch defender of civil liberties died at Ottawa, Ontario, in 1986.

Diefenbaker 1926

Image in the Public Domain

Now we turn our attention to John Diefenbaker (1895-1979), a man who defended his opinions vigorously then acknowledged that those fellow countrymen who disagreed with him were also loyal Canadians.  National unity mattered greatly to Diefenbaker, as did how decisions which governments and corporate boards made affected common people.  “Dief the Chief” was a Western populist whose principles made him unpopular with elements of his political party, the Progressive Conservatives.

Diefenbaker, born at Neustadt, Ontario, in 1895, was son of William Thomas Diefenbaker and Mary Florence Bannerman Diefenbaker.  The future Prime Minister, who moved to the Fort Carlton region of the North-West Territories with his family in 1903, relocated with them to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, seven years later.  He graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with his B.A. in 1915 and with his M.A. the following year.  Diefenbaker served in the Army in 1916 and 1917 then entered law school, graduating in 1919.

The Saskatchewan attorney entered political life.  In 1925 and 1926 he ran unsuccessfully for the House of Commons on the Conservative Party ticket.  In 1929 and 1938 Diefenbaker ran unsuccessfully for provincial offices.  Yet, from 1936 to 1940, he led the provincial Conservative Party.  And from 1940 to 1979, he sat in the House of Commons.  Diefenbaker, federal leader of the Progressive Conservative Party (renamed in 1942) from 1956 to 1967, served as Prime Minister from 1957 to 1963.

Along the way Diefenbaker married twice.   His first wife was Edna Mae Brower (1899, 1951), whom he married in 1929.  He remarried in 1953, wedding Olive Freeman Palmer (1902-1976).

As Prime Minister Diefenbaker had some important accomplishments.  As a matter of principle he opposed government favors for millionaires.  This policy disturbed many members of the Eastern, big business-oriented wing of his party yet pleased his fellow Western populists.  Diefenbaker, like Tommy Douglas an advocate of a national bill of rights, secured passage of it in 1960.  The Prime Minister led the international movement to isolate the Apartheid government of the Republic of South Africa.  And, in 1961, he appointed a Royal Commission on Health Services.  Three years later the Royal Commission endorsed the Saskatchewan model–mandatory health insurance.  (This had been mandatory in the province since 1961.)

The Canadian Bill of Rights (1960) was a landmark law.  It was the first national legislation to protect human rights and basic freedoms.  This bill of rights lasted until 1982, when the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms superceded it.

Diefenbaker, a Baptist, died at Ottawa, Ontario, in 1979.

e007150483-v6

Above:  Lester Pearson, July 16, 1956

Copyright: Copyright assigned to Library and Archives Canada by copyright owner Duncan Cameron
Credit: Duncan Cameron / Library and Archives Canada / e007150483

Mikan number 3727308

http://collectionscanada.gc.ca/pam_archives/index.php?fuseaction=genitem.displayItem&lang=eng&rec_nbr=3727308&rec_nbr_list=105124,3727311,3840421,3727310,3840420,3727308,3840408,3840418,3840414,3727312

The final luminary in our Canadian triad is Lester Pearson (1897-1972), Diefenbaker’s frequent political adversary.  Pearson was born at Toronto, Ontario.  He, the son of a Methodist pastor, attended public schools at Peterborough and Hamilton.  Pearson served in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I.  His military service ended when a bus ran over him and the Corps sent him home.  Then Pearson attended the University of Toronto (B.A., 1919) and Oxford University (degrees in 1923 and 1925).  Next he worked as a Lecturer (1924-1926) then as an Assistant Professor (1926-1928) of History at the University of Toronto.

Then Pearson commenced his career as a diplomat.  He, married to Maryon Elspeth (1901-1989) since 1925, became a first secretary in the new federal Department of External Affairs in 1928.  This led to a series of diplomatic postings and service on two royal commissions then a stint as Secretary (later Counsellor) of the Canadian High Commissioner’s Office in London.  Pearson, nearly the first Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), served as the first Ambassador to the United States in 1945-1946.  Next, in 1946-1948, he was the Undersecretary of State for External Affairs.  In 1947 Pearson served as Chairman of the UN’s Political and Security Committee; he proved instrumental in the partition of Palestine in 1947.

Then, in 1948, Pearson entered politics, his arena for the next two decades.  The future Prime Minister, a member of the Liberal Party, joined the House of Commons and became Secretary of State for External Affairs.  His diplomacy continued–he was ever a diplomat–into political life.  In 1956, during the Suez Crisis, Pearson proposed the creation of a UN peacekeeping force, thereby aiding British and French withdrawal from Egypt.  For this he won the Nobel Peace Prize the following year.  In 1957, with Diefenbaker’s rise to the office of Prime Minister, the Liberal Party became the main opposition party.  Pearson led that party from 1958 to 1968, when he retired from public life.

Pearson became Prime Minister in 1963.  He led two successive minority governments (1963-1965 and 1965-1968).  His tenure was eventful.  In 1965 Pearson signed the Canada Pension Plan (similar to Social Security in the U.S.A.), something for which Tommy Douglas also advocated.  Pearson also presided over the centennial of Canadian confederation in 1967.  Of great importance also were two other laws.

In 1966 the Government of Canada created Medicare–socialized medicine–via the Medical care act.  This accomplishment also had the fingerprints of Richard Bennett, Tommy Douglas, and John Diefenbaker all over it.

Flag of Canada Pre-1965

Above:  The Flag of Canada, 1957-1965

Image in the Public Domain

And, in December 1964, Parliament voted to change the national flag, switching from a flag with the Union Jack prominent in it to the current banner, the one with the maple leaf symbol.

Flag of Canada Current

Above:  The Flag of Canada Since 1965

Image in the Public Domain

This was not a universally popular decision.  John Diefenbaker, a defender of Canada’s British heritage, opposed the new flag.  He spoke of the two founding nations of Canada–Britain and France–and of how the flag should show both heritages.  The former Prime Minister also spoke of the Canadian soldiers who had died fighting under a Canadian flag with the Union Jack on it.

Pearson, ever the diplomat and mediator, tried to resolve a variety of disputes, sometimes unsuccessfully.  In 1965, for example, the Prime Minister, in a speech at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, criticized U.S. policy in Vietnam and suggested that, if the United States were to halt bombing in Vietnam, there might be an opening for a negotiated settlement.  President Lyndon Baines Johnson took great offense and invited him to Camp David.  There the President demonstrated his displeasure by grabbing the Prime Minister’s lapels and scolding him.  Canada, Johnson said, did not do its fair share to spread freedom around the world, so Pearson had no right to criticize U.S. foreign policy.  The Prime Minister came away from that encounter convinced that the President was a bully and that the United States was not a senior partner but a nation to view from a distance.  Pearson’s subtle description of the encounter to his cabinet was to recount

the story of a British policeman giving evidence at a murder trial.  “My Lord,” the policeman told the judge, acting on information received, I proceeded to a certain address and there found the body of a woman.  She had been strangled, stabbed and shot, decapitated and dismembered.  But, My Lord, she had not been interfered with.”

At Camp David, the Prime Minister concluded, he had at least not been

interfered with.

–Quoted in Robert Dallek, Flawed Giant:  Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973 (New York, New York:  Oxford University Press, 1998), page 259

Pearson, a member of the United Church of Canada, died at Ottawa, Ontario, in 1972.

I have been pondering and studying Canada for years.  It is an interest which many people do not understand.  This interest has led me, however, to learn of these great men–statesmen, really–who left Canada better than they found it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 31, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES FREDERICK MACKENZIE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CENTRAL AFRICA

THE FEAST OF HENRY TWELLS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARY LUNDIE DUNCAN, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MENNO SIMONS, MENNONITE LEADER

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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 servants John Diefenbaker, Tommy Douglas, and Lester Pearson,

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of James Lewis Milligan (May 2)   16 comments

milligan_jl

Image Source = http://www.hymntime.com/tch/bio/m/i/l/milligan_jl.htm

Poet, Journalist, and Hymn Writer; died on May 1, 1961

James Lewis Milligan was born in Liverpool, England, on February 1, 1876, to a Scotch-Irish father and a Welsh mother.  He began to work in building trades at age twelve while writing poetry and continuing to attend school.  In 1910 Milligan won the Hemans Prize for Lyrical Poetry at the University of Liverpool (according to the 1937 companion volume to the 1935 U.S. Methodist Hymnal).  That same year saw the publication of a volume of Milligan’s poetry.

In 1911, Milligan, who was married with four children, emigrated to Canada.  He served as a Methodist lay pastor in Ontario for two years before becoming a journalist (as editor, correspondent, and editorial writer for various newspapers), retiring in 1937.  He continued to publish poetry (including a second volume in 1920) and play, Judas Iscariot, in 1930.  Milligan wrote poems for Christmas cards as well.  And, on the political front, he wrote speeches for Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, who held that office in three terms:  1921-1926, 1926-1930, and 1935-1948.

Milligan wrote hymns, also.  Among these is “There’s a Voice in the Wilderness Crying,” which he wrote for The Hymnary of The United Church of Canada (1930).  (I own a copy of this hymnal.)  The 1925 Congregationalist-Presbyterian-Methodist merger which created The United Church of Canada in 1925 inspired Milligan to write this missionary hymn.  He was involved deeply in that union, for he directed publicity relating to it from 1922 to 1925.

The Methodist Hymnal (1935) and The Methodist Hymnal (1965) included this great hymn.  Yet The United Methodist Hymnal (1989) dropped it.  Now I can add this fact to the long list of reasons I prefer the 1966 hymnal.  Anyhow, the hymn’s inclusion in the 1935 hymnal created the opportunity for Robert Guy McCutchan, editor of that hymn book, to write about Milligan in Our Hymnody: A Manual of The Methodist Hymnal, a source which proved invaluable in the writing of his post.

KRT

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Below:  The Biography of Milligan from McCutchan’s 1937 Our Hymnody:

Milligan Biography 1937

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There’s a Voice in the Wilderness Crying (from the 1930 Hymnary)

1.  There’s a voice in the wilderness crying,

A call from the way untrod;

Prepare in the desert a highway,

A highway for our God!

The valleys shall be exalted,

The lofty hills made low;

Make straight all the crooked places,

Where the Lord our God may go!

2.  O Zion, that bringest good tidings,

Get thee up to the heights and sing!

Proclaim to a desolate people

The coming of their King;

Like the flowers of the field they perish,

The works of men decay,

The power and pomp of nations

Shall pass like a dream away.

3.  But the word of our God endureth,

The arm of the Lord is strong;

He stands in the midst of nations,

And He will right the wrong:

He shall feed His flock like a shepherd,

And fold the lambs to His breast;

In pastures He’ll lead them,

And give to the weary rest.

4.  There’s a voice in the wilderness crying,

A call from the ways untrod;

Prepare in the desert a highway,

A highway for our God!

The valleys shall be exalted,

The loft hills made low;

Make straight all the crooked places,

Where the Lord our God may go!

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Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness: You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servant James Lewis Milligan.  Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder, that our eyes may behold your glory, and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible richness of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52