Archive for the ‘Washington Gladden’ Tag

Feast of William Scarlett (October 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor



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.








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


Feast of Washington Gladden (July 2)   3 comments

Above:  Theodore Roosevelt and Washington Gladden at Columbus, Ohio, 1900

Image Creator = Bain News Service

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ggbain-06699



U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Hymn Writer, and Social Reformer

In 2009 The Episcopal Church added Washington Gladden to its calendar of saints, with a feast day of July 2, shared with Walter Rauschenbusch and Jacob Riis.  However, I have decided, during this time of renovation of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, to break up that commemoration.

Gladden was a revolutionary in his time.  If he were alive in 2018, he would still be revolutionary in many theological and political circles.

Gladden’s destiny was ordained ministry.  He, born at Pottsgrove, Pennsylvania, on February 11, 1836, was a son of Solomon and Amanda Daniels Gladden.  Solomon died prior to our saint’s sixth birthday.  Washington’s uncle and grandfather helped to raise him.  They, realizing that the farm was not where he belonged, encouraged our saint to leave.  He followed their advice.  Gladden, educated at Owego Academy then at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, entered the Congregationalist ministry in 1859, at the age of 23 years.

Gladden had a varied ministerial career.  His first pastorate was First Congregational Church, LeRaysville, Pennsylvania (1859-1860).  Our saint overworked himself at First Congregational Church, Brooklyn, New York (1860-1861), so he transferred to a less stressful position at a church in Morrisania, New York (1861-1866).  There he was active in the Union war effort, serving on the Christian Commission and meeting President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant in the field.  Ministry in North Adams, Massachusetts, followed from 1866 to 1871.  For three years our saint served as the religion editor of The Independent.  In that capacity he exposed political corruption in New York.  Then Gladden served at North Congregational Church, Springfield, Massachusetts (1874-1882) and First Congregational Church, Columbus, Ohio (1882-1914).  Along the way Gladden served as one of two Associate Editors of The Pilgrim Hymnal (1904) and as Moderator (1904-1907) of his denomination, the National Council of Congregational Churches in the United States.

Gladden’s partner in life for nearly half a century was his wife, Jennie Cohoon, of Brooklyn.  They wed on December 5, 1860.  She died on May 8, 1909.  The couple had one son, George Gladden, a journalist and encyclopedia editor.

Gladden, the author of more than 32 published works, received high honors and advocated for social justice.  Roanoke College awarded our saint a D.D. in 1882.  The University of Wisconsin granted Gladden a LL.D. the previous year; the University of Notre Dame followed suit in 1895.  For a Roman Catholic university to honor a Protestant clergyman in that way in that era was remarkable.  Our saint was also a pioneer among U.S. ministers in siding with labor unions against exploitative employers during frequently violent strikes.  “Predatory wealth” (Gladden’s term) in U.S. society troubled his social conscience.  Thus he favored the Progressive Era policy of breaking up monopolies.  He also spoke out against Jim Crow laws.

Gladden also wrote at least four hymns, which I have added to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.

Gladden, retired from active ministry in 1914, died at Columbus, Ohio, on July 2, 1918.  He was 82 years old.

I grew up singing “O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee” in a pietistic, individualistic, and conservative milieu in southern Georgia.  I was unaware of the hymn’s Social Gospel meaning at the time.  So was the rest of the congregation, probably.  Gladden’s theology would have angered many of the people in the pews, had they known of it.





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 Washington Gladden,

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