Archive for the ‘World Council of Churches’ Tag

Feast of Will Herzfeld (June 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Logo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Fair Use

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WILLIAM LAWRENCE HERZFELD (JUNE 9, 1937-MAY 9, 2002)

U.S. Lutheran Ecumenist, Presiding Bishop of the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and Civil Rights Activist

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Will was a person with uncanny insight, constant respect for people, and a focus on the gospel.  He conveyed the partnership, accompaniment, of a large North American church with churches in other lands in a manner that transcended economic, cultural, and political boundaries.

–Bonnie L. Jansen, Executive Director, Division for Global Mission, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 408

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Bishop Will Herzfeld was a leader of U.S. Lutheranism.  He departed from one denomination, helped to form two denominations, and played a vital role in increasing the degree of unity of Lutheranism in the United States.  Activism in support of civil rights was a component of his faith.

Herzfeld grew up in the Jim Crow South.  He, born in Mobile, Alabama, on June 9, 1937, was a son of Julius Herzfeld, Sr., and Clarice Heinningburg Herzfeld.  Our saint grew up in The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS)–in Faith Lutheran Church, Mobile, to be precise.  He attended parochial schools then other Lutheran institutions of education for African Americans.  Herzfeld graduated from the subpar Alabama Lutheran Academy and College (now Concordia College), Selma.  He carried negative memories of this institution for the rest of his life.  Our saint also graduated from Immanuel Lutheran College, Greensboro, North Carolina (1957).  Herzfeld went on to graduate from Immanuel Lutheran Seminary, Greensboro (M.Div., 1961), and to continue his studies at Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.  Meanwhile, he married Thressa M. Alston at Kannapolis, North Carolina, on June 11, 1961.  The couple had four children–two daughters and two sons–three of whom lived to adulthood.  Their first child, a daughter, lived only one day.

Herzfeld was an ordained minister in the LCMS from 1961 to 1976.  His first pastorate was Christ Lutheran Church, Tuscaloosa, Alabama (1961-1965).  Our saint became a leader in the Civil Rights Movement while in Tuscaloosa.  He helped to organize the Tuscaloosa chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1963.  Herzfeld, the first president of that chapter, worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968).  OUr saint also served as the president of the Alabama branch of the SCLC (1964-1965).  On the denominational level, he was active in the Southern District of the LCMS.  Our saint sat on the Stewardship Committee and the Family Life Committee.  Furthermore, he was the Vice President of the Lutheran Human Relations Association of America (1964-1966).

Herzfeld ministered in the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of the LCMS, starting .  He, based in Oakland, California, was an urban minister for the district (1966-1969).  Our saint also served as the regional mission executive of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. (1969-1973).  This service overlapped with his time on the LCMS Board of Missions (1969-1973), the Council for Christian Medical Work (1973-1975), and the Board of Directors of the Wheat Ridge Foundation (now the We Raise Foundation) from 1069 to 1972.  The latter organization addresses social inequality.

Herzfeld ministered in the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of the LCMS, starting in 1966.  He, based in Oakland, California, was an urban minister for the district (1966-1969).  Our saint also served as the regional mission executive of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. (1969-1973).  This service overlapped with his time on the LCMS Board of Missions (1969-1973), the Council for Christian Medical Work (1973-1975), and the Board of Directors of the Wheat Ridge Foundation (now the We Raise Foundation) from 1969 to 1972.  (The We Raise Foundation addresses social inequality.)

Above:  Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Oakland, California

Image Source = Google Earth

Herzfeld was the pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Oakland, California, from 1973 to 1992.  These were eventful years for U.S. Lutheranism.  Our saint, who had represented LCMS President Jacob Preus at the seventy-fifth anniversary of the LCMS mission in India in 1969, broke with Preus during the doctrinal turmoil (1969-1976) in the denomination.  Herzfeld became the vice president of the moderate Evangelical Lutherans in Mission (ELIM) in 1973.  Three years later, he became the Vice President of the moderate, breakaway Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC), to which ELIM gave birth.  The AELC eventually changed its title to Presiding Bishop.  Herzfeld became the Presiding Bishop in 1984.  By then he had been active for years in efforts to merge the AELC, the Lutheran Church in America (1962-1987), and The American Lutheran Church (1960-1987) into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Herzfeld was socially and politically active.  He taught urban ministry at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, California, starting in 1976.  He devoted much to ecumenical Black Theology-related projects and organizations for decades.  Our saint always seemed to find time for work in civil rights.  He worked for nuclear disarmament.  Herzfeld, active in urban renewal in Oakland, served in a variety of capacities toward that end.  He also found time to be the chaplain of the Golden State Warriors, a professional basketball team, from 1984 to 1991.

Herzfeld made history.  He made history in 1984, when he became the first African-American head of a U.S. Lutheran denomination.  He made history in the 1980s by being prominent in the movement to bring global pressure on the Apartheid-era governments of South Africa.  Our saint made history by helping to seal the deal to form the ELCA.

Meanwhile, Herzfeld continued his education.  He earned two doctorates–one from the Center for Urban Black Studies, the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California; and the other one from Seminex.

Herzfeld resigned from Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Oakland, at the end of 1992 to accept promotion to the denominational level.  He moved to Chicago, Illinois, to become the Director for Global Community and Overseas Operations of the Division of Global Mission of the ELCA.  He, already a presence in global Lutheranism, expanded his worldwide profile.  He served as the Vice Presidency of Lutheran World Relief.  Our saint, a vice president of the National Council of Churches during his final years, was also active in the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation.  Herzfeld represented the ELCA globally in a variety of capacities and at a number of events.

In 2002, Herzfeld visited the Central African Republic.  He went there to attend the ordination of the first female Lutheran minister in that country.  Unfortunately, he also contracted cerebral malaria.  A month later, on May 9, our saint died at Resurrection Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois.  Had Herzfeld lived one month longer, he would have celebrated his sixty-fifth birthday.

Survivors included Herzfeld’s former wife, Thressa; his three adult children–Martin, Katherine, and Stephen; and five grandchildren.  Our saint’s second wife, the Reverend Michele L. Robinson, had died in May 2001.

Herzfeld’s death prompted many remembrances and kind words.  Perhaps the most poignant statement came from a colleague, Herbert Chilstrom, the first Presiding Bishop of the ELCA. Chilstrom said,

I’ve lost a friend.

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God of justice, we praise you as we thank you for the

life, work, and legacy of your servant, Will Herzfeld.

May we, deriving inspiration from his example,

confront and resist systems of oppression and artificial inequality

as we strive to live according to the Golden Rule

and to leave society better than we found it.

May we also work to break down unnecessary barriers

to greater ecclesiastical unity and cooperation, for your glory.

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

Amos 5:21-24

Psalm 95

Galatians 5:13-15

Matthew 25:31-46

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 28, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAROSLAV VAJDA, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOZEF CEBULA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAMPHILIUS OF SULMONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND ALMSGIVER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CHANEL, PROTOMARTYR OF OCEANIA, 1841

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW, EPISCOPAL ATTORNEY, THEOLOGIAN, AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

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Feast of Robert McAfee Brown (May 28)   3 comments

Above:  Stanford University

Photographer = Carol M. Highsmith

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-highsm-21158

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ROBERT MCAFEE BROWN (MAY 28, 1928-SEPTEMBER 4, 2001)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Theologian, Activist, and Ecumenist

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In conscience, I must break the law.

–Robert McAfee Brown, October 31, 1967

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Robert McAfee Brown comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via my library.

Above:  Two Books by Robert McAfee Brown

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Brown stood in the finest tradition of the Hebrew prophets and centuries of Christian tradition.  He, born in Carthage, Illinois, on May 28, 1928, was a son of Ruth McAfee (Brown) and Presbyterian minister George William McAfee.  Our saint was also a grandson of Cleland Boyd McAfee, a professor at McCormick Theological Seminary.  Brown, a 1944 graduate of Amherst College, married Sydney Elise Thomson on June 21, 1944.  The couple had three sons and a daughter.  Our saint, a student at Union Theological Seminary from 1943 to 1945, studied under Paul Tillich (1886-1965) and Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971).  After graduating, Brown served as a chaplain in the United States Navy in 1945 and 1946.

Brown spent most of his life as an academic.  He was an assistant chaplain and an instructor in religion at Amherst College in 1946-1948.  Then he studied at Mansfield College, Oxford, in 1949 and 1950.  Our saint, an instructor at Union Theological Seminary in 1950 and 1951, earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1951.  He led the Department of Religion, Malacaster College, St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1951-1953.  Our saint served on the faculty of Union Theological Seminary in 1953-1962.  Then, in 1962-1976, our saint was a Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University.  Brown returned to Union Theological Seminary in 1976 as Professor of Ecumenics and World Christianity.  Our saint was Professor of Theology and Ethics at the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California, in 1979-1984.  Then he retired.

Brown was an ecumenist.  In the early 1950s, when unapologetic anti-Roman Catholicism was prominent in U.S. Protestantism, our saint campaigned for Minnesota Congressman Eugene McCarthy, whose Roman Catholicism was a political difficulty.  Brown and Gustave Weigel (1906-1964) collaborated on An American Dialogue:  A Protestant Looks at Catholicism and a Catholic Looks at Protestantism (1960).  Time magazine called Brown

Catholics’ favorite Protestant

in 1962.  Our saint was even an observer (on behalf of global Calvinism) at the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) in 1963 and 1965.  Brown also attended the Fourth Assembly of the World Council of Churches as a delegate in 1968.  Seven years later, he delivered the keynote address (“Who is This Jesus Who Frees and Unites?”) at the Fifth Assembly of the World Council of Churches.

Social justice was essential to Brown’s faith.  He, a pacifist, had no moral difficulty serving as a military chaplain after World War II.  Our saint’s pacifism led him to oppose the Vietnam War, of course.  His conscience led him to protest the military draft, to speak and write against the war, to commit civil disobedience, and to go to jail for doing so in 1971.  That conscience also let Brown to join a delegation that met with Pope Paul VI (1897-1978) in  January 1973 about ending the Vietnam War.

Brown was also a longtime civil rights activist at home and abroad.  He, a Freedom Rider in 1961, went to jail in Tallahassee, Florida.  Our saint addressed the immorality of Apartheid when he spoke at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of South Africa in September 1972.  Brown also advocated for women’s liberation and the civil rights of homosexuals.  Furthermore, he was active in the Sanctuary Movement, for he cared deeply about justice in Central America.  This led our saint to collaborate with Liberation Theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez (b. 1928).

Brown also helped to raise consciousness about the Holocaust.  He, a friend of Elie Wiesel (1928-2016) since the middle 1970s, served on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council from 1979 to 1985.  Our saint resigned after President Ronald Reagan visited Bitburg Cemetery, containing graves of Waffen SS troups.

Brown became a novelist late in life.  He published Dark the Night, Wild the Sea in 1998.

Brown, aged 81 years, died in Greenfield, Massachusetts, on September 4, 2001.

One of Brown’s volumes invaluable for Bible study is Unexpected News:  Reading the Bible with Third World Eyes (1984).  Passages covered came from Luke, Exodus, 2 Samuel, Jeremiah, Matthew, and Daniel.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT OLGA OF KIEV, REGENT OF KIEVAN RUSSIA; SAINT ADALBERT OF MAGDEBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT ADALBERT OF PRAGUE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MARTYR, 997; AND SAINTS BENEDICT AND GAUDENTIUS OF POMERANIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 997

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DAMIEN AND MARIANNE OF MOLOKAI, WORKERS AMONG LEPERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT FLAVIA DOMITILLA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NOBLEWOMAN; AND SAINTS MARO, EUTYCHES, AND VICTORINUS OF ROME, PRIESTS AND MARTYS, CIRCA 99

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUNNA OF ALSACE, THE “HOLY WASHERWOMAN”

THE FEAST OF LUCY CRAFT LANEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN EDUCATOR AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST

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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 Robert McAfee Brown,

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, 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

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Feast of John Charles Roper (May 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  John Charles Roper

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN CHARLES ROPER (1858-JANUARY 26, 1940)

Anglican Archbishop of Ottawa

John Charles Roper comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Anglican Church of Canada.  His feast day there is May 27.

Roper was a native of Frant, Sussex, England.  He, born in 1858, joined the ranks of priests in 1882.  He (B.A., Oxford), was the Curate of Herstmonreux (1882) then the Chaplain of Brasenose College, Oxford (1883-1885).  Then our saint moved to the New World.

Roper spent 1886-1897 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  He was the Keble Professor of Theology, Trinity College, Toronto, starting in 1886.  He became the Vicar of St. Thomas’s Church, Toronto, in 1888.  The congregation had dwindled to six people.  Roper built up the congregation during his tenure  as its priest.  In 1897, Roper (M.A, Trinity College, Toronto) relocated to New York, New York, to become a professor of theology at the General Theological Seminary.  He remained there until 1911.

Roper, who had married Fanny Ewart Bethune of Toronto in 1901, returned to Canada in 1912.  The eminent Anglo-Catholic became a bishop.  He was the Bishop of British Columbia (1912-1915) then the Bishop of Ottawa (1915-1939).  He became the Metropolitan (therefore Archbishop, as the Canadian Anglican calendar lists him) of Ottawa in 1933.  Roper, a man of prayer, was a faithful shepherd.  He influenced the shaping of The Book of Common Prayer (1918).  Our saint was also active in the Lausanne Conference on Faith and Order (1927), a forerunner of the World Council of Churches.

Roper died on January 26, 1940.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

TUESDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF EDWARD THOMAS DEMBY AND HENRY BEARD DELANY, EPISCOPAL SUFFRAGAN BISHOPS FOR COLORED WORK

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANTHONY, JOHN, AND EUSTATHIUS OF VILNIUS, MARTYRS IN LITHUANIA, 1347

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT WANDREGISILUS OF NORMANDY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT LAMBERT OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZENAIDA OF TARSUS AND HER SISTER, SAINT PHILONELLA OF TARSUS; AND SAINT HERMIONE OF EPHESUS; UNMERCENARY PHYSICIANS

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Eternal God, who laid your hand upon John Roper and made him

a bishop and servant of your people to give them nurture in Christ;

grant us unity in faith, steadfastness in hope, and constancy in love,

that by word and deed we may show ourselves true members in the body of your Son Jesus Christ;

who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16

Psalm 40:5-11

Luke 12:42-48

–The Anglican Church of Canada

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Feast of Angus Dun (May 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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ANGUS DUN (MAY 4, 1892-AUGUST 12, 1971)

Episcopal Bishop of Washington, and Ecumenist

Bishop Angus Dun comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible (1951f), a project on which he was one of the Consulting Editors.

Dun grew up in the Reformed Church in America.  He, born in New York, New York, on May 4, 1892, was a son of Henry Walke Dun (1853-1928) and Sarah Hazard Dun (1859-1929).  Our saint contracted polio at the age of 11 years.  Complications led to the amputation of one leg during his youth.  Dun matriculated at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, in 1910.

Dun spent most of his life as an Episcopalian.  He converted to The Episcopal Church in college.  After our saint graduated from Yale University in 1914, he matriculated at the Episcopal Theological School (hereafter, ETS), Cambridge, Massachusetts (Class of 1917).  Dun married Catherine Whipple Pew (1893-1978) in 1916.  The couple had two sons.  Our saint, ordained a deacon then a priest in 1917, simultaneously served in the Episcopal congregations in Lexington and Ayer, Massachusetts.  He also served as a civilian chaplain at Camp Devens during World War I.  In 1919 and 1920, respectively, Dun studied in Oxford, England, and in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Then he began his career (1920-1944) at ETS.  Our saint taught systematic theology, starting in 1920, then became the Dean in 1940.

Dun led the Diocese of Washington, encompassing the District of Columbia and part of Maryland, from 1944 to 1962.  He sought to proclaim to Gospel to all segments of society within the boundaries of the diocese, regardless of racial, economic, and other categories.  Our saint, a white man who opposed racial segregation in society and the Church, became a target of ire of many segregationists; he became “Black Angus.”  Dun, close to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was one of the officiants at FDR’s White House funeral in 1945.  Our saint, like Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), another Christian Realist, tried to balance idealism and realism in the context of the common good.  In October 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Dun stated:

The every-family-for-itself approach to fallout shelter construction is immoral, unjust, and contrary to national interest.

Many doctrinaire Christians, especially those not steeped in Christian history, objected to our saint’s acknowledgement that the Church made the creeds, not the other way around.  He was objectively and historically accurate, given the record of councils and synods.

Dun was also an ecumenist.  He became the Secretary of the American Theological Commission for the World Conference on Faith and Order, a predecessor of the World Council of Churches (WCC), in 1937.  His global ecumenism continued through the 1950s.  Our saint represented The Episcopal Church at the first Assembly of the WCC in 1948.  He also sat on the WCC’s Central Committee from 1948 to 1954.  Furthermore, Dun wrote books about ecumenism.  Titles included The Meaning of Unity (1937) and Prospecting for a United Church (1948).

Dun’s other books included:

  1. The King’s Cross:  Meditations on the Seven Last Words (1926);
  2. We Believe:  A Simple Exposition on the Creeds (1934);
  3. Not By Bread Alone (1942);
  4. Behold the City of God:  Meditations on the Christian Faith, the Christian Family, the Christian World, and the World Mission of the Church (1946);
  5. The Christian Conscience and Weapons of Mass Destruction (1950); and
  6. The Saving Person (1957).

Dun also served on the denominational level.  He sat on the Executive Committee of The Episcopal Church and chaired the Department of Religious Education and the Episcopal Joint Commission on Ecumenical Relations.

Angus Dun, Order of the British Empire (1953), retired in 1962.  He died in Washington, D.C., on August 12, 1971.  Our saint was 79 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 18, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT LEONIDES OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 202; ORIGEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN; SAINT DEMETRIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; AND SAINT ALEXANDER OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT CYRIL OF JERUSALEM, BISHOP, THEOLOGIAN, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SIBBALD ALDERSON, POET AND HYMN WRITER; AND JOHN BACCHUS DYKES, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAUL OF CYPRUS, EASTERN ORTHODOX MARTYR, 760

THE FEAST OF ROBERT WALMSLEY, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER

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O heavenly Father, Shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Angus Dun,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock;

and we pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by your grace grow into the stature and the fullness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16

Psalm 23

1 Peter 5:1-4

John 21:15-17

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 718

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Feast of William Stringfellow (April 28)   1 comment

Above:  William Stringfellow

Fair Use

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FRANK WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW (APRIL 26, 1928-MARCH 2, 1985)

Episcopal Attorney, Theologian, and Social Activist

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I think they need to hear it.

–William Stringfellow, explaining why he read long passages of the Bible to the F.B.I. agents recording his telephone calls

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This is the man America should be listening to.

Karl Barth, on Stringfellow, early 1960s

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It is profane, as well as grandiose, to manipulate the Bible in order to apologize for America.

–William Stringfellow, An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land (1973)

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For thousands of us, he became the honored keeper and guardian of the Word of God.

Daniel Berrigan, 1985

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William Stringfellow comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via five sources.  He is on the short list of people The Episcopal Church will probably list officially as a saint once the “fifty-year-rule” (to which the denomination has made notable exceptions) ceases to be a barrier.  Stringfellow’s name appears in this context in the back of Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010) and its successor, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).  Cloud of Witnesses, 2d. ed (2005), edited by Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, contains Wallis’s remembrance of his friend of 14 years.  A Year with American Saints (2006), by G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, features Stringfellow.  So does All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), by Robert Ellsberg.

Stringfellow was a prophet.  He was, by definition, also a controversial figure.  Our saint was the kind of man certain contemporary reactionaries would dismiss cynically as a “social justice warrior.” Stringfellow would, in a counterfactual scenario in which he would have heard that term, probably have considered it a compliment and read the Book of Amos to his critics.  He did, after all, read long Biblical passages to the F.B.I. spooks who recorded this telephone calls.  That was better than what some other spied-upon U.S. citizens did in identical circumstances–frequently insult J. Edgar Hoover profanely.

Stringfellow stood up for what he believed.  He condemned economic injustice, racism, institutionalized segregation, homophobia, misogyny, sexual promiscuity, and other offenses.  Our saint also advocated for the ordination of women within The Episcopal Church long before 1976, when the General Convention approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate.  His opposition to the Vietnam War and to nuclear weapons also made him many enemies on the Right.

Frank William Stringfellow was a man who allowed the Bible to shape him.  He was a radical and a strong social critic who walked the walk.  Our saint, born in Johnston, Rhode Island, on April 26, 1928, was a life-long Episcopalian.  At age fifteen, he matriculated at Bates College, Lewiston, Massachusetts.  When Stringfellow left Bates College, he studied at the London School of Economics.  Our saint served in the Second Armored Division, U.S. Army, during World War II.  Next, he earned his J.D. degree at Harvard Law School.

Stringfellow moved into a slum in Harlem after he graduated from Harvard Law School.  He joined the East Harlem Protestant Parish, taught Biblical studies, and practiced law.  He remained in Harlem until 1967.  Our saint moved for health-related reasons; a metabolism-related disorder that led to diabetes affected him.  Stringfellow and platonic partner, poet Anthony Towne (died in 1980), a Methodist, moved to Block Island, New Shoreham, Rhode Island.

All evidence points to Stringfellow being a celibate, semi-closeted homosexual.  This matter, relevant to his life and activism, does not offend me.  (Stringfellow no more chose to be homosexual than I chose to be heterosexual.)

Theologically, Stringfellow was neo-orthodox.  He read works by Karl Barth (with whom he had a conversation in Harlem in the early 1960s) and Jacques Ellul.  The neo-orthodox theology of original sin pervading neo-orthodoxy was evident in his writings, including many of his books.  The presence of original sin in American culture and social institutions was one of Stringfellow’s most controversial topics.  He objected to reading the Bible through (dominant) American cultural eyes.  Rather, our saint interpreted (dominant) American culture through Biblical lenses.  He concluded that the Bible condemned his culture and his society’s institutions.  That proved to be controversial when

My country, right or wrong

was a popular slogan for many people.

Stringfellow’s views and activism placed him on J. Edgar Hoover’s radar, hence the wire-tapping.  When our saint’s friend, Father Daniel Berrigan (1921-2016) was a fugitive for having destroyed military draft records, Stringfellow and Toyne sheltered him for four months.  F.B.I. agents raided the house on Block Island and arrested all three.  The court eventually dropped the charges (of sheltering a fugitive) against Stringfellow and Towne, though.

Stringfellow, in constant pain during his final years, died at home on March 2, 1985.  He was 56 years old.

Stringfellow defined being holy as

being truly human.

By that standard, of being the best person one can be, our saint was holy.

Stringfellow’s prophetic witness remains relevant, unfortunately.  I write “unfortunately” because the United States of America, my country, has continued collectively and officially down a path contrary to the high moral standards Stringfellow championed.  I wonder what the FOX News Channel (according to which Mister Rogers was evil) would have said about Stringfellow, had it existed when he was alive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FANNIE LOU HAMER, PROPHET OF FREEDOM

THE FEAST OF ALBERT LISTER PEACE, ORGANIST IN ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND

THE FEAST OF HARRIET KING OSGOOD MUNGER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NEHEMIAH GOREH, INDIAN ANGLICAN PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS VINCENZINA CUSMANO, SUPERIOR OF THE SISTERS SERVANTS OF THE POOR; AND HER BROTHER, SAINT GIACOMO CUSMANO, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERS SERVANTS OF THE POOR AND THE MISSIONARY SERVANTS OF THE POOR

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may

do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight,

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736

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Feast of Georgia Harkness (April 21)   1 comment

Above:  My Copy of Toward Understanding the Bible (1952)

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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GEORGIA ELMA HARKNESS (APRIL 21, 1891-AUGUST 21, 1974)

U.S. Methodist Minister, Theologian, Ethicist, and Hymn Writer

Georgia Harkness comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Toward Understanding the Bible (1952) and The Interpreter’s Bible (12 volumes, 1951f), in my library.

Georgia Elma Harkness was a pioneer for women in her Methodist tradition and in the mainstream of Christianity in the United States of America.  She, born in Harkness, New York, on April 21, 1891, was the fourth of four children of Joseph Warren Harkness and Lillie Merrill Harkness.  Our saint, from a progressive and upper middle class family, members of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939), perceived her vocation when an adolescent.  The institutional church had other ideas, however.

Sexism remained a barrier for Harkness, who had received a call to ordained ministry.  She, a graduate of Cornell University (B.A. in Philosophy, 1912), could not matriculate at any of the theological seminaries in the United States because of her chromosomes.  Had Georgia Elma Harkness been George Elmo Harkness, such institutional barriers would not have existed.  After teaching high school for six years, Harkness matriculated at Boston University.  Her gender kept her out of the School of Theology, so she went to the School of Religion instead.  She graduate with her doctorate in 1923.  Her dissertation was, “The Relations Between Philosophy of Religion and Ethics in the Thought of Thomas Hill Green.”

Harkness became an academic.  She taught religion and philosophy courses at Elmira College, Elmira, New York, a women’s college, from 1923 to 1938.  She continued her studies during summers.  Our saint was a summer student at Harvard Divinity School, Yale Divinity School, and Union Theological Seminary, New York City.  She was Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Mount Holyoke College from 1937 to 1940.  The Methodist Episcopal Church ordained Harkness a deacon in 1926 and an elder in 1939.  However, given that no female could yet join a conference, our saint could not yet function as an ordained minister.  Delegates to the Methodist reuniting conference (1939) voted on a resolution to approve the ordination of women.  The resolution failed by a few votes.  The Methodist Church (1939-1968) finally authorized the ordination of women at the General Conference of 1956.  In the meantime, however, Harkness did make history by becoming the first woman to hold the position of professor at a theological seminary in the United States.  She joined the faculty of Garrett Biblical Institute (a predecessor of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary), near Chicago, Illinois, in 1940.  Our saint taught Applied Theology there for a decade then transferred to the Pacific School of Religion, a Congregationalist seminary in Berkeley, California.  Harkness retired in 1960.

Harkness’s liberal tendencies were prominent.  She, a pacifist, wrote materials for the Methodist Board of World Peace.  Economic justice, a major concern of Hebrew prophets, was another priority for our saint.  Harkness, an ecumenist, was active in the World Council of Churches.  She wrote the hymn, “Hope of the World” (1953) for the WCC Assembly of 1954.  Harkness also supported civil rights for African Americans and confronted Karl Barth (1886-1968) to his face (at the first WCC Assembly, in 1948) over his opposition to feminism.

Harkness wrote other hymns, too.  “Hope of the World” has become her most popular hymn.  Other titles were:

  1. “The Earth Thou Givest, Lord, is Thine;”
  2. “Tell it!  Tell it Out with Gladness;”
  3. “Speak Through the Living Silence;”
  4. “Speak Thou, O Lord, Thy Light;” and
  5. “God of the Fertile Fields.”

Harkness also served as one of the Consulting Editors of The Interpreter’s Bible in the 1950s.

Harkness had a practical bent and wrote most often for general audiences.  She preferred to write books many people would read and find useful.  Her publications included the following:

  1. The Church and the Immigrant (1921),
  2. Holy Flame (1935),
  3. The Resources of Religion (1936),
  4. The Recovery of Ideals (1937),
  5. How to Find Prayer More Meaningful (1946),
  6. Prayer and the Common Life (1948),
  7. Conflicts in Religious Thought (1949),
  8. The Gospel and Our World (1949),
  9. Through Christ Our Lord:  A Devotional Manual Based on the Recorded Works of Jesus (1950),
  10. Toward Understanding the Bible (1952),
  11. Christian Ethics:  Emerging Social Trends and the Future of American Christianity (1952),
  12. Eschatology in the Great Poets (1952),
  13. The Sources of Western Culture:  From Primitive Society to the Beginnings of Christian Ethics (1954),
  14. Religious Living (1958),
  15. The Bible Speaks to Daily Needs (1959),
  16. Does God Care? (1960),
  17. The Providence of God (1960),
  18. John Calvin:  The Man and His Ethics (1963),
  19. The Glory of God:  Poems and Prayers for Devotional Use (1963),
  20. The Methodist Church in Social Thought and Action (1964),
  21. The Dark Night of the Soul (1965),
  22. Disciplines of the Christian Life (1967),
  23. A Devotional Treasure from the Early Church (1968),
  24. Grace Abounding (1969),
  25. The Ministry of Reconciliation (1971),
  26. Women in Church and Society:  A Historical and Theological Inquiry (1972), and
  27. Understanding the Kingdom of God (1974).

For the sake of clarity, I make clear what Harkness meant by “liberal” and “liberalism” before I continue.  She described herself as a “chastened liberal,” standing between the overly optimistic Social Gospel of Walter Rauschenbush (1861-1918) and the Neo-orthodoxy of Karl Barth, Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) and H. Richard Niebuhr (1894-1962).  Harkness, writing in Toward Understanding the Bible (1952), noted the common ground between liberalism and Neo-orthodoxy (acceptance of science, rejection of fundamentalism, et cetera) then argued that the difference was one of emphasis.  She wrote that Neo-orthodoxy emphasized human weakness and sinfulness but that liberal Christianity emphasized that

man is made in the spiritual image of God, and, as God’s supreme creation, is a living soul with a great, God-given responsibility to honor and obey him.

–124

Consistent with Harkness’s stance vis-à-vis Neo-orthodoxy, she stood with the Eastern Orthodox by rejecting original sin.  She told The Christian Century, regarding original sin,

The faster it goes, the better.

Yet Harkness, like Reinhold Niebuhr, recognized the power of sin in people and in social institutions.

By theological position, by the way, is Neo-orthodoxy.   I also describe myself as a theological, social, and political liberal.  I use “liberal” more broadly than Harkness did.

Harkness, 83 years old, died in Claremont, California, on August 21, 1974.

Engaging with writings of Georgia Harkness will provide one with much food for ethical and theological thoughts.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 5, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KARL RAHNER, JESUIT PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF AMBROSE PHILLIPPS DE LISLE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CONVERT, SPIRITUAL WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF SPIRITUAL WRITINGS; FOUNDER OF MOUNT SAINT BERNARD ABBEY

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER MACASSOLI OF VIGEGANO, FRANCSICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT EUSEBIUS OF CREMONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ION COSTIST, FRANCISCAN LAY BROTHER

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Georgia Harkness,

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), 60

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Feast of John S. Stamm (March 21)   1 comment

Above:  Bishop John S. Stamm, 1939

Image Source = Raymond M. Veh, Thumbnail Sketches of Evangelical Bishops (1939)

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JOHN SAMUEL STAMM (MARCH 23, 1878-MARCH 5, 1956)

Bishop of the The Evangelical Church then the Evangelical United Brethren Church 

Bishop John S. Stamm comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible, for which he wrote the introduction to and the exegesis of Galatians for Volume X (1953).

Stamm belonged to an Arminian tradition.  The Church of the United Brethren in Christ (1800-1946) and the Evangelical Association (1816-1922) began as German-speaking counterparts to the English-speaking Methodist movement.  The ironically-named United Evangelical Church (1891-1922) reunited with the Evangelical Association, from which it had broken away, to create The Evangelical Church (1922-1946).  The Church of the United Brethren in Christ merged with The Evangelical Church to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968).  This denomination merged with the reunited Methodist Church (1939-1968) to create The United Methodist Church.

John Samuel Stamm was a son of Swiss immigrants.  His parents were Hans (George) Stamm (1854-1918) and Anna Maria (Mary) Stamm (1854-1950).  Our saint, born in Alida, Kansas, on March 23, 1878, grew up in the Evangelical Association.  The first two decades of his life were not conducive to education; he had completed five grades before his twentieth birthday.  Stamm, who had a conversion experience at age 18, matriculated at North Central College, Napierville, Illinois, in 1898.  The college, like many similar institutions at the time, had a preparatory academy attached to it.  Our saint started at the academy before moving on to the postsecondary program.  In 1909, at the age of 31 years, he completed his undergraduate degree.  The following year, he graduated from Evangelical Theological Seminary, attached to North Central College.  Then he earned his M.A. degree from The University of Chicago.

Stamm, a minister, spent most of his career above the congregational level.  He served in churches in Missouri (Bloomington and Glasgow) and Illinois (Manhattan, Downers Grove, and Oak Park) before becoming a professor at Evangelical Theological Seminary (1918-1926).  Then he became a bishop in 1926.  Stamm worked first out of Kansas City, Missouri (1926-1934), then Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (1934f).  Along the way, he fell in love with Priscilla Marie Wahl (d. 1955).  He wed her in Manhattan, Illinois, on March 9, 1912.

Stamm was active on the Conference level of his denomination.  He was, at different times, the President of the Sunday School Board, the Chairman on the Commission on Policy and Program, and the Missionary Secretary of the Young People’s Alliance.

Stamm was active on the denominational level, beyond his duties as a bishop.  He was the President of the Evangelical School of Theology, Reading, Pennsylvania (1934-1941).  As of 1939, our saint also led the denominational Board of Publication, the Superannuation Fund, the Church Extension board, the Christian Social Action committee, and the Commission on Church Federation and Union.  Stamm was, therefore, deeply involved in the 1946 merger that formed the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

Stamm, the author of Evangelism and Christian Experience, was also an ecumenist.  He served as the President of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches (1945-1949), the Federal Council of Churches (1948-1950).  Furthermore, Stamm helped to found the World Council of Churches (1948) and sat on its Central Committee (1948-1954).  If that were not enough, he also helped to create the Revised Standard Version (1946, 1952) of the Bible.

Stamm received more degrees later in life.  These were:

  1. Doctor of Divinity (1927), Evangelical Theological Seminary;
  2. Doctor of Laws (1936), Albright College;
  3. Doctor of Humane Letters (1949), North Central College; and
  4. Doctor of Sacred Theology (1951), Dickinson College.

In 1950, at the age of 72 years, Stamm retired from episcopal ministry.  He remained active in other capacities for years.  Our saint died on Kansas City, Missouri, on March 5, 1956, at the age of 77 years.  The cause of death was pneumonia, after a pelvic fracture.

Bishop John S. Stamm got a late start to his ministry, but he did much once he got underway.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN JULIAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER MEN, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1990

THE FEAST OF LADISLAO BATTHÁNY-STRATTMANN, AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND PHILANTHROPIST

THE FEAST OF LOUISE CECILIA FLEMING, AFRICAN-AMERICAN BAPTIST MISSIONARY AND PHYSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, THE UNION OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, AND THE SISTERS OF THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant John Samuel Stamm,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock;

and we pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by grace grow into the full stature of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  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

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978). 38

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Feast of John Meyendorff (February 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  Logo of The Orthodox Church in America

Fair Use

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IVAN FEOFILOVICH, BARON VON MEYENDORFF (FEBRUARY 17, 1926-JULY 22, 1992)

Russian-French-American Orthodox Priest, Scholar, and Ecumenist

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In America, both of their numbers and the quality of many among its clergy and laity, the Greek Orthodox community deserves a position of leadership….The mission of all Americans regardless of ethnic background (as required by the Gospel itself) cannot wait for changes occurring in Istanbul, Turkey.

–John Meyendorff; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 66

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A theme common to Old World immigrant Christian denominations in the United States of America is metaphorically redrawing the map of the Old World in the new country.  Therefore, one can read of long-lasting ethnic divisions that continue (or have continued) to define otherwise similar denominations after language has ceased to function as a barrier.  Cultural attachments, comforting to many, impede the Great Commission, though.

John Meyendorff understood this.

Ivan Feofilovich, Baron von Meyendorff came from a Russian family living in France.  He, born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, on February 17, 1926, remained in France until 1959.  He studied at the Sorbonne in the late 1940s and at the École Pratique des Hautes Études from 1948 to 1954.  Our saint earned his doctorate in Letters in Theology from the Sorbonne in 1958.  His dissertation became his first book, A Study of Gregory Palamas (French, 1959; English, 1964).  Meyendorff also taught at St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Seminary, Paris, and became a Fellow of the Centre National de la Rechereche Scientifique.

Meyendorff, ordained to the priesthood, moved with his family to the United States in 1959.  His primary academic home from 1959 to 1992 was St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary, Yonkers, New York.  Our saint was the Librarian, a professor, the Director of Studies, and the Dean (from March 19784 to June 1992), as well as the Editor of St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly.  Furthermore, Meyendorff held joint academic appointments to Harvard University, Fordham University, Union Theological Seminary (New York City), and Dumbarton Oaks.

Meyendorff’s books included the following:

  1. The Orthodox Church (1963),
  2. Orthodoxy and Catholicity (1966),
  3. Christ in Eastern Orthodox Thought (1969),
  4. Byzantine Theology (1973),
  5. Marriage, an Orthodox Perspective (1975),
  6. Living Tradition (1978),
  7. Byzantium and the Rise of Russia (1980),
  8. The Byzantine Legacy in the Orthodox Church (1981),
  9. Catholicity and the Church (1983), and
  10. Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions:  The Church, 450-680 A.D. (1989).

Meyendorff was an Eastern Orthodox ecumenist.  He represented his tradition in the World Council of Churches.  Our saint also encouraged Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions within the United States to merge across ethnic lines.  The Russian Orthodox groups that broke with the Moscow Patriarchate after 1917 did not heed our saint’s advice to lay aside their differences, but Meyendorff did play a role in the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America becoming independent of the Moscow Patriarchate in 1970 and becoming The Orthodox Church in America (OCA).  The OCA has expanded beyond its Russian roots to include Albanian, Bulgarian, and Romanian dioceses.

Meyendorff, Rector of Christ the Savior Orthodox Church, New York, New York, from 1977 to 1984, was also active on the denominational level.  He advised the OCA’s Holy Synod and edited The Orthodox Church, a monthly newspaper.

Meyendorff, recipient of the Order of St. Vladimir, Second Class, from Patriarch Alexei II in 1991, retired from St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary in June 1992.  His retirement was brief; pancreatic cancer claimed our saint’s life on July 22, 1992.  He was 66 years old.

The cause of transethnic unity of Eastern Orthodoxy in the United States remains unfinished work.

I compiled a list of the twenty-eight Eastern Orthodox congregations and chapels, as well as the one monastery, in Georgia, where I live.  I counted eight jurisdictions, with the following counts:

  1. Greek Orthodox–10,
  2. Orthodox Church in America–8,
  3. Antiochian Orthodox Christian–4,
  4. Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia–3,
  5. American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox–1,
  6. Serbian Orthodox–1,
  7. Romanian Orthodox–1, and.
  8. Ukrainian Orthodox–1

Not surprisingly, most of these are in the Atlanta metropolitan area, where the majority of Georgians reside.

Denominational inertia persists.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 21, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATTHEW THE EVANGELIST, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Almighty God, we praise your name for your servant John Meyendorff,

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 whom 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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Feast of Elmer G. Homrighausen (January 19)   2 comments

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 Eivind Josef Berggrav (January 14)   1 comment

Above:  Eivind Josef Berggrav

Image in the Public Domain

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EIVIND JOSEF BERGGRAV (OCTOBER 25, 1884-JANUARY 14, 1959)

Lutheran Bishop of Oslo, Hymn Translator, and Leader of the Norwegian Resistance During World War II

Born Eivind Josef Jensen

Also known as Eivind Josef Jensen Berggrav (1907-1917)

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Mighty God, to thy dear Name be given

Highest praise o’er all the earth and heaven.

All saints distressed,

All men oppressed,

Their voices raising,

United in praising

Thy glory.

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God is God, though all the earth lay wasted;

God is God, though all men death had tasted.

While nations stumble,

In darkness fumble,

By stars surrounded,

Countless aboundeth

God’s harvest.

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Highest hills and deepest vales shall vanish,

Earth and heaven both alike be banished.

As in the dawning

Of every morning

The sun appeareth,

So glorious neareth

God’s kingdom.

–Petter Dass (1647-1707), translated by Eivind Josef Berggrav; quoted in Service Book and Hymnal (1958), #357

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Bishop Eivind Josef Berggrav comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).  January 14 is his feast day, according to the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006).

Philip H. Pfatteicher and Carlos R. Messerli, Manual on the Liturgy:  Lutheran Book of Worship (1979) inform me that the correct pronunciation of our saint’s surname is BEAR-grahf.

Eivind Josef Berggrav was originally Eivind Josef Jensen.  He, born in Stavanger, Norway, then under Swedish rule, on October 25, 1884, was a son of Marena Christine Pederson (1846-1924) and Otto Jensen (1856-1918).  Otto was a minister in The Church of Norway, as well as  a teacher.  The father served as the Minister of Education and Church Affairs in 1906-1907, at the dawn of Norwegian independence.  He went on to serve as Dean of Kristiania (now Oslo) (1912-1917) the Bishop of Hamar (1917-1918).  Our saint legally changed his surname to Jensen Beggrav (in 1907) then to Berggrav (in 1917).  “Berggrav” had been his grandfather’s surname.

Our saint followed in his father’s footsteps.  He studied theology at the University of Kristiania (now Olso), starting in 1903.  Ordained in 1908, Jensen Berggrav taught until 1918.  He also worked as a newspaper correspondent during World War I.  Berggrav’s early political involvement in linguistic controversy entailed advocating for the integration of East Norwegian (Østnorsk) and the national written form of Norwegian.  In 1924 Berggrav became a prison chaplain in Oslo and a parish minister in Hurdal.  From 1928 to 1937 he served as the Bishop of Hålogaland.  Our saint became the Bishop of Oslo and the primate of The Church of Norway in 1937.

Berggrav became the Bishop of Oslo during challenging times.  Nazism, on the ascendancy to the south, ascended to the north, also; the Third Reich invaded Norway in April 1940 and occupied the country until May 1945.  For a few months in 1940, Berggrav led the national Administrative Council, which sought to save lives by discouraging interference with German rule.  Before the end of the year, though, our saint became the leader of the Norwegian resistance.

Berggrav, as the primate of The Church of Norway, was in a special position to lead the resistance.  All clergymen of The Church of Norway were civil servants, so when the state church resisted the Nazis and the Norwegian puppets, that action carried more weight than when ministers of other denominations did.  Resistance from the state church constituted rebellion within the Norwegian government.  Berggrav led the ecumenical Christian Council for Joint Deliberation, formed in 1940.  The Bishop of Oslo defied orders from the Nazi overlords that interfered with the state church.  One of these orders mandated changes to the liturgy.  On February 1, 1942, Nazis invaded Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim; an unauthorized service followed.  A crowd gathered outside the cathedral and sang “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”  Soon thereafter, all the bishops of the state church resigned in protest against the invasion of the cathedral.

Berggrav, the main author of the resistance movement’s declarations, spent much of the war as a prisoner.  Authorities arrested him on Good Friday in 1942.  He was not the only prominent church-based prisoner; other members of the Christian Council for Joint Deliberation were also inmates at a concentration camp.  Our saint, nearly executed, spent the rest of the occupation in solitary confinement north of Oslo, in a wooded setting.  His guards, however, helped him escape periodically, to meet with members of the resistance.

Katherine Seip (b. 1883), Berggrav’s wife, died in 1949.

Berggrav remained active after the liberation of Norway.  He, leader of the Norwegian Bible Society since 1938, continued in that role until 1955.  He retired as the Bishop of Oslo in 1950.  Our saint was a leader of the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches until his death in Olso on January 14, 1959.

Berggrav had to make difficult decisions and endure hardships during the occupation of Norway.  We who have never been in such circumstances have been fortunate.  May we draw positive lessons from Berggrav’s example and do our duty in circumstances better than those in which he labored faithfully.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 3, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOANNA, MARY, AND SALOME, WITNESSES TO THE RESURRECTION

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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servant Eivind Josef Berggrav.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

through 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

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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