Archive for the ‘The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.’ Tag

Feast of Elmer G. Homrighausen (January 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey

Image Source = Library of Congress

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ELMER GEORGE HOMRIGHAUSEN (APRIL 14, 1900-JANUARY 3, 1982)

U.S. German Reformed and Presbyterian Minister, Biblical Scholar, and Professor of Christian Education

Elmer G. Homrighausen comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume XII (1957), for which he wrote the exposition of 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and Jude.

Homrighausen came from the Reformed tradition.  He, son of Henry and Sophia, entered the world in Wheatland, Iowa, on April 14, 1900.  The family was German Reformed, members of the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS), which merged into the Evangelical and Reformed Church (ERC) in 1934, which merged into the United Church of Christ (UCC) in 1957.  The religion of Homrighausen’s youth and early adulthood was stern; fear of divine judgment was always present.  After nearly dying as a child, he was thankful for every day of the rest of his long life.

Homrighausen became a scholar and a German Reformed minister.  He studied at Mission House College, Plymouth, Wisconsin, from 1921 to 1923.  Mercersburg Theology, or relatively High Church Reformed theology with an emphasis on sacraments and liturgy, began to influence our saint there.  In 1923, before transferring to Princeton Theological Seminary as a senior, married Ruth W, Strassburger.  The Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy divided the faculty.  Our saint identified as a Modernist.  (The couple went on to raise six children.)  He graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary and became an ordained minister in 1924.

Above:  The Former First English Reformed Church, Freeport, Illinois

Image Source = Google Earth

Homrighausen’s first pastorate was the First English Reformed Church (now Bethany United Church of Christ), Freeport, Illinois, where he served from 1924 to 1929.  Our saint applied Mercersburg Theology to help resolve a difficult situation.  Some of the leaders of the congregation were members of the Ku Klux Klan.  This appalled Homrighausen and many of his parishioners.  Our saint understood that the honor, integrity, and unity of the congregation were at stake.  He practiced reconciliation, followed by a communion service.  Then Homrighausen initiated outreach to African Americans in the community.

Above:  The Former Carrollton Avenue Reformed Church, Indianapolis, Indiana

Image Source = Google Earth

Homrighausen served as pastor of the Carrollton Avenue Reformed Church, Indianapolis, Indiana (now St. Peter’s United Church of Christ, Carmel, Indiana), from 1929 to 1938.  While there, he earned his Ph.D. (1929) and Th.D. (1930) from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, as well as his M.A. from Butler University, Indianapolis (1931).  Homrighausen also worked as a lecturer in church history at Butler University from 1931 to 1938.

Homrighausen liberalized in academia and became a Barthian.  Our saint stood in the theological center and criticized positions to his left and his right.  The relationship between church and culture interested him.  Homrighausen read the writings of St. Justin Martyr (d. 166/167) during the process of loyalty to empire versus loyalty to the Kingdom of God.  Our saint found in St. Justin Martyr openness to the truth, regardless of its source, while affirming Christ as the Savior.  Doctrinal rigidity was not a virtue, according to Homrighausen.  Neither was setting social progress in opposition to perceived orthodoxy.  And, in the theology of Karl Barth, our saint found a Christocentric theology.

NOTE:  I identify as a Modernist, for I accept science.  I, as a generally liberal person, think of myself as occupying a center-left position on the spectrum.  I tend to be more conservative in liturgical matters–traditional worship please, preferably Rite II from The Book of Common Prayer (1979).  And, if if I see so much as a guitar or a tambourine, I will kvetch inwardly.  I like the Roman Catholic Church’s “Seamless Garment” theology of life, with some caveats regarding tactics, never ideals.  I understand church history well enough to be able to rattle off instances of ecclesiastical leaders, from antiquity to the present day, deploying “orthodoxy” against necessary and proper social progress.  I make no excuses for that.  I also know of examples of the predictable, reflexive tendency in much of the Christian Left to focus on social progress in reaction against false, reactionary orthodoxy.  Social progress is a principle firmly entrenched in the Law of Moses, the Hebrew Prophetic tradition, and the Gospels, therefore in actual Jewish and Christian orthodoxy.  Actual orthodoxy, with the Golden Rule, facilitates social justice. 

Homrighausen worked full-time at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1938 to 1970.  He was, in order, the:

  1. Thomas Synnott Professor of Christian Education (1938-1954),
  2. Chairman of the Department of Practical Theology (1953-1960),
  3. Charles R. Erdman Professor of Pastoral Theology (1954-1970) and
  4. Dean (1955-1965).

Homrighausen, a recipient of many honorary degrees, was also active beyond the seminary.  He traveled the world, preaching, from 1941 to 1971.  Starting in the 1930s, our saint was active in the movement to found the World Council of Churches, formed in 1948.  Then he became a leader of that organization.  Likewise, Homrighausen filled leadership roles in the Federal Council of Churches and its successor, the National Council of Churches.  Our saint also served as the Vice Moderator of The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

Homrighausen, aged 81 years, died in Princeton, New Jersey, on January 3, 1982.

Princeton Theological Seminary has created the position of Elmer G. Homrighausen Professor of Christian Social Ethics.  While preparing this post, I read the list of faculty members of the seminary.  I noticed that this position was vacant.  I found names of previous Homrighausen Professors in Internet searches, however.

Homrighausen left a fine and faithful legacy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 8, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MACKILLOP, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF SAINT JOSEPH OF THE SACRED HEART

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALTMAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PASSAU

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINIC, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF PREACHERS

THE FEAST OF RAYMOND BROWN, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Elmer G. Homrighausen 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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Feast of Samuel Hanson Cox and Arthur Cleveland Coxe (July 20)   2 comments

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Above:  Library, New York University, 1904

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a11791

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SAMUEL HANSON COX (SR.) (AUGUST 25, 1793-OCTOBER 2, 1880)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Abolitionist

father of

ARTHUR CLEVELAND COXE (MAY 10, 1818-JULY 20, 1896)

Episcopal Bishop of Western New York, Hymn Writer, and Translator of Hymns

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Today I add a father and a son to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

Samuel Hanson Cox (1793-1880), born in Rahway, New Jesey, grew up a Quaker.  He renounced that denomination to serve in the United States armed forces during the War of 1812.  After that conflict Cox became a Presbyterian minister, serving at Mendham, New Jersey (1817-1821) then at the City of New York (1821-1834).  In 1932 he cofounded the University of the City of New York, now New York University, where he taught theology.  Cox’s opposition to slavery offended a sufficient number of people that a mob sacked his home and church building during the anti-abolitionist riots in 1834, forcing him to leave the city for safety.  So Cox became the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, not yet part of the City of New York.  He also began to teach Ecclesiastical History at the Union Theological Seminary in time.  Cox, a prominent New School Presbyterian, served as the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (New School) in 1849-1850.

[Historical Note:  The organizational roots of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1789-1838) went back to 1706, when The Church of Scotland founded the Presbytery of Philadelphia.  The PCUSA (1789-1838) divided over, among other things, the Second Great Awakening.  The Old School opposed it while the New School accommodated itself to the movement.  Just to confuse people, I suppose, each body which formed from the 1838 schism called itself simply the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.  The New School divided over slavery 1858, with the United Synod of the South forming.  The Old School split likewise in 1861, spawning the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America.  The PCCSA absorbed the United Synod of the South in 1864 and renamed itself the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) in 1865, after the Confederacy had ceased to exist.  The two PCUSAs reunited in 1869-1870 as the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (what else?).  This body merged with the United Presbyterian Church of North America in 1958 to create The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., which reunited with the almost entirely Southern PCUS in 1983 to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).]

Cox retired in 1854.  He died at Broxville, New York, in 1880.

Cox had two sons, both of whom became Episcopal clergymen and added “e” to the last name.  One son, Samuel Hanson Coxe, Jr., served parishes in the State of New York.  The other son, Arthur Cleveland Coxe, rose to the office of bishop.

Arthur Cleveland Coxe was born at Mendham, New Jersey, in 1818, during his father’s tenure as the Presbyterian minister there.  Coxe attended the University of the City of New York, which his father had cofounded.  Coxe published throughout his life, beginning with poetry during his freshman year of college.  He graduated in 1838 then matriculated at General Theological Seminary.  Coxe, ordained to the Diaconate in 1841 and the Priesthood the next year, served at St. John’s Church, Hartford, Connecticut, from 1842 to 1854; Grace Church, Baltimore, Maryland, from 1854 to 1863; and Calvary Episcopal Church, New York, New York, from 1863 to 1865.  In 1865 Coxe became the Bishop Coadjutor of Western New York, having already declined an opportunity to become the Bishop of Texas.  His tenure as Bishop Coadjutor lasted for just a few months, for the bishop died, making Coxe the next bishop, a post he held for the rest of his life.

Coxe published prose and poetry, including hymns.  He wrote the following text in 1850:

Saviour, sprinkle many nations,

Fruitful let Thy sorrows be;

By Thy pains and consolations

Draw the Gentiles unto Thee.

Of Thy cross, the wondrous story,

Be it to the nations told;

Let them see Thee in Thy glory

And Thy mercy manifold.

—–

Far and wide, though all unknowing,

Pants for Thee each mortal breast;

Human tears for Thee are flowing,

Human hearts in Thee would rest.

Thirsting, as for dews of even,

As the new-mown grass for rain,

Thee they seek as God of heaven,

Thee as man for sinners slain.

—–

Saviour, lo!  the isles are waiting,

Stretched the hand and stained the sight,

For Thy Spirit, new-creating,

Love’s pure flame and wisdom’s light;

Give the word, and of the preacher

Speed the foot and tough the tongue,

Till on earth by every creature

Glory to the Lamb be sung.

Coxe was a humble man, one who, until the last four years of his life, refused to let any of his hymns appear in official Episcopal hymnals, even though he served on the denominational Hymnal Commission.  Of Coxe Robert Guy McCutchan wrote the following:

Bishop Coxe was a man of unusual gifts:  great personal charm, wonderful eloquence, a scholar of distinction, and a poet whose master-motive was his love of Christ, his love of souls.

Our Hymnody:  A Manual of The Methodist Hymnal, 2d. ed.  (Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1937, pages 149-150)

Bishop Coxe spoke out on a variety of issues.  He opposed any translation of the Bible other than the Authorized (King James) Version. (I disagree with him on that point.  That translation is, for me, properly a museum piece.)  He also opposed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and defended the Apostolic nature of Anglican orders.  (I agree with him on both of those counts.)  But, regardless of how much I agree or disagree with Bishop Coxe, I honor him for his work for God.  And I honor his father’s efforts for God and the enslaved.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALCUIN OF YORK, DEACON AND ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT HELENA, MOTHER OF EMPEROR CONSTANTINE I

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For Further Reading:

Samuel Hanson Cox:

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/browse?type=lcsubc&key=Cox%2C%20Samuel%20H.%20(Samuel%20Hanson)%2C%201793-1880&c=x

Arthur Cleveland Coxe:

http://anglicanhistory.org/usa/accoxe/

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Coxe%2C%20A.%20Cleveland%20(Arthur%20Cleveland)%2C%201818-1896

http://anglicanhistory.org/usa/wcdoane/coxe1896.html

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servants

Samuel Hanson Cox and Arthur Cleveland Coxe,

who were faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following their examples and the teachings of their holy lives,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

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

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

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60