Archive for the ‘Theodore O. Wedel’ Tag

Feast of Theodore O. Wedel and Cynthia Clark Wedel (August 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Episcopal Flag

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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THEODORE O. WEDEL (FEBRUARY 1892-JULY 21, 1970)

Episcopal Priest and Biblical Scholar

husband of

CYNTHIA CLARK WEDEL (AUGUST 26, 1908-AUGUST 24, 1986)

U.S. Psychologist and Episcopal Ecumenist

The appendix in A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016), of The Episcopal Church, contains a list of men and women deemed “worthy of commemoration” but who do not qualify yet because insufficient time has passed since they died.  Cynthia Clark Wedel is on that list.  The denomination has its reasons for usually (with few exceptions, including Martin Luther King, Jr.; and Jonathan Myrick Daniels) waiting at least four decades.  I have no such temporal rule, however.  Therefore Wedel joins my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days with this post.  I add to her husband to this post.

Theodore O. Wedel, a scholar and a priest, became a leader in The Episcopal Church.  He, born in Halstead, Kansas, grew up a Mennonite.  Our saint’s father was the Reverend Cornelius Wedel, President of Bethel College, Halstead.  Theodore, while a high school student, played the organ for the Episcopal Church in town.  He went on to graduate with his B.A. at Oberlin College, in 1914 then his M.A. at Harvard University the following year.  In 1915, at the Church of the Advent, Boston, Theodore joined The Episcopal Church.  He earned his Ph.D. from Yale University (1918), in time for the U.S. Army to draft him.  Our saint already the husband (since 1917) of Elizabeth Cornelia Ewert (d. 1932), was an instructor in San Diego for what was left of the war.  The Wedels had two children:  Theodore Carl (born in 1919) and Gertrude (born in 1924).

Academia beckoned.  Theodore taught English at Yale (1919-22) before taking a job (1922-1934) at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota.  He was Professor of English then Professor of Biography.  Ministry also beckoned.  The professor audited courses at Seabury Divinity School, read deeply in theology, and became a lay reader.  On September 24, 1929, he became a deacon.  After studying theology further in Marburg, Germany, our saint became a priest on May 31, 1931.  He served at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Northfield.

Cynthia Clark Wedel was a trail blazer.  She, born Cynthia Clark in Dearborn, Michigan, on August 26, 1908, was a daughter of Elizabeth Snow Clark and civil engineer Arthur Pierson Clark.  She grew up in Dearborn, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; and Evanston, Illinois.  Our saint studied history at Northwestern University (B.A., 1929; M.A., 1930).  In 1931-1934 she served as the Director of Christian Education at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Evanston.  In 1934 she went to work at the denominational headquarters, first as a field worker.  In 1935 she became the Director of Youth Work.

Theodore also went to work at the denominational headquarters in 1934.  From 1934 to 1939 he was the Secretary for College Work in the Department of Christian Education.

On May 4, 1939 Cynthia and Theodore married.  Shortly after the wedding he became the Canon of Washington National Cathedral and the Warden of the College of Preachers, continuing in those positions until he retired in 1960.  He also served as the President of the House of Deputies from 1952 to 1961, and was active as a delegate to assemblies and other gatherings of the World Council of Churches.   Theodore also wrote the about the church and theology.  He contributed to The Interpreter’s Bible project as the author of the exposition on Ephesians for Volume 10 (1953).

Theodore remained active after his retirement.  In 1960-1961 he worked at the Ecumenical Institute, Evanston, Illinois.  The following year he was a visiting professor at the Episcopal Theological Seminary, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  In 1962 and 1963 our saint served on the faculty of Union Theological Seminary,  New York, New York.

Theodore, recipient of high honors and honorary degrees, died of a heart attack in Alexandria Virginia, on July 21, 1970.  He was 78 years old.

Cynthia continued to be quite active in church and society.  She taught religion at the National Cathedral School for Girls (1939-1948), sat on the national executive board of the Episcopal Women’s Auxiliary (1946-1952), was a member of the denominational National Council (1955-1962), and served as the President of United Church Women (1955-1958).  She also earned her doctorate in psychology (George Washington University, 1957) and worked as a lecturer at American University for several years.  As the 1960s marched on our saint was an observer (1962-1965) at Vatican II and the General Secretary for Christian Union (1965-1969) as well as, with her friend, Eleanor Roosevelt, a member of the federal Commission on the Status of Women (1961-1963).

Cynthia, like Theodore, was, an ecumenist. She continued her work into the 1980s.  In 1969 she became the first female President of the National Council of Churches.  After six years in that position she served as the President of the World Council of Churches (1975-1983).  She, a supporter of the ordination of women, was also one of the three female consultants at the Lambeth Conference of 1978.

Cynthia died in Alexandria, Virginia, on August 24, 1986, two days prior to what would have been her seventy-eighth birthday.

As I write this post in June 2018, I note that nearly 32 years have passed since Cynthia Wedel died.  If The Episcopal Church follows the 40-year rule in her case, it will add her to its calendar of saints in nine years, at the General Convention of 2027, at the earliest.

As for her husband, also a prominent figure, the 40-year-rule has expired.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 27, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CORNELIUS HILL, ONEIDA CHIEF AND EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF HUGH THOMSON KERR, SR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST; AND HIS SON, HUGH THOMSON KERR, JR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JAMES MOFFATT, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND BIBLE TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES THE GEORGIAN, ABBOT; AND SAINTS EUTHYMIUS OF ATHOS AND GEORGE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN, ABBOTS AND TRANSLATORS

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants

Theodore O. Wedel and Cynthia Clark Wedel,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and reserved its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

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

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Revised and extended to include Theodore O. Wedel

Extant text slightly edited

August 13, 2018 Common Era

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