Archive for the ‘World Council of Churches’ Tag

Feast of Eugene Carson Blake (November 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  My Copies of the Presbyterian Books of Confessions, from 1967, 1985, and 2007

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The Book of Confessions (1967), of The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

The Book of Confessions (1985, 2007), of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

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EUGENE CARSON BLAKE (NOVEMBER 7, 1906-JULY 31, 1985)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Ecumenist, and Moral Critic

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Boasting about our heritage of freedom, we allied ourselves with some of the worst dictators all over the world, as long as they were, in our judgment, anti-communist.  We have justified all sorts of immoral political acts either because we thought they would weaken communism or (even a more immoral excuse) that since the communists were doing them, so must we….These, and other such actions, have been occasioned far more by fear of communism than by concern for justice.

–Eugene Carson Blake, quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 554

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Eugene Carson Blake comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Cady and Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Blake came from Midwestern Presbyterian stock.  He, born in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 7, 1906, was a son of Lulu Blake and Orville Prescott Blake.  Our saint graduated from Princeton University with a degree in philosophy in 1928.  Then he taught the Bible, English, and philosophy at Forman Christian College, Lahore (then in India; now in Pakistan), for a year (1928-1929).  Next, Blake studied theology at New College, Edinburgh (1929-1930).  He matriculated at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1930 and graduated two years later.

Our saint, ordained in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (PCUSA) in 1932, embarked upon his ministerial career.  He was, in order:

  1. the assistant pastor (1932) then the senior pastor (1932-1935) of the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas (Reformed Church in America), New York, New York;
  2. the senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), Albany, New York (1935-1940); and
  3. the senior pastor of the Pasadena Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), Pasadena, California (1940-1951).

Blake left parish ministry in 1951.  He served as the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1951-1958).  As such, he helped to execute the merger of the PCUSA with The United Presbyterian Church of North America (UPCNA) to form The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA) in 1958.  Then he served as the President of the Stated Clerk of the UPCUSA (1958-1966).

Above:  The Logo of the UPCUSA

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

On the ecumenical front, Blake also served as the President of the National Council of Churches (1954-1957) then as the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (1966-1972).

Blake’s ecumenism led to the founding of the Consultation on Church Union (1962-2002), the predecessor of Churches Uniting in Christ (2002-).  In 1960, at Grace Episcopal Cathedral, San Francisco, California, he preached a famous sermon.  Our saint advocated for the merger of The UPCUSA (1958-1983), The Methodist Church (1939-1968), The Episcopal Church (1789-), and the United Church of Christ (1957-) into one denomination truly both Catholic and Reformed.

The Consultation on Church Union included ten denominations in 1967:

  1. the African Methodist Episcopal Church,
  2. the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church,
  3. the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),
  4. the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church,
  5. The Episcopal Church,
  6. the Evangelical United Brethren Church (merged into The United Methodist Church, 1968),
  7. The Methodist Church (merged into The United Methodist Church, 1968),
  8. the Presbyterian Church in the United States (merged into the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 1983),
  9. the United Church of Christ, and
  10. The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (merged into the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 1983).

The successor organization, Churches Uniting in Christ, consciously confronts racism.  The members are:

  1. the African Methodist Episcopal Church,
  2. the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church,
  3. the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),
  4. the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church,
  5. The Episcopal Church,
  6. the International Council of Community Churches,
  7. the Moravian Church in America,
  8. the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),
  9. the United Church of Christ, and
  10. The United Methodist Church.

That anti-racism is consistent with our saint’s legacy.

Blake was active in the Civil Rights Movement.  On July 4, 1963, he went to jail for trying to integrate the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park, Baltimore, Maryland.  The following month, he was prominent at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which he had helped to organize.  Our saint was one of speakers at that great event.  And, at the World Council of Churches (1966-1972), Blake led a global anti-racism program.

Blake’s opposition to the Vietnam War earned the ire of two Presidents of the United States of America.  He became persona non grata with Lyndon Baines Johnson (in office 1963-1969).  Richard Nixon (in office 1969-1974) had a list of 576 enemies, subject to official harassment, such as tax audits and F.B.I. investigations.  “Enemies” included actor Paul Newman (1925-2008), journalists Daniel Schorr (1916-2010) and Mary McGrory (1918-2019), and U.S. Representatives John Conyers (1929-2019) and Ron Dellums (1935-2018).  That list also included Blake.  Newman described being on Nixon’s enemies list as a great honor.  Schorr, whom the F.B.I. investigated, spoke to Nixon at a social occasion years after Nixon left office.  The journalist referred to that investigation.  The former President, apparently not apologetic and repentant, replied:

I damn near hired you once.

Blake was in very good company on Nixon’s list of enemies.

Blake also helped to make the United Presbyterian Book of Confessions and Confession of 1967 possible.  The first edition of The Book of Confessions debuted in 1967.  The emphasis on reconciliation in Christ in the Confession of 1967 was consistent with our saint’s work.

In Jesus Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.  He is the eternal Son of the Father, who became man and lived among us to fulfill the work of reconciliation.  He is present in the church by the power of the Holy Spirit to continue and complete his mission.  This work of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the foundation of all confessional statements about God, man, and the world.  Therefore the church calls men to be reconciled to God and to one another.

–From the Confession of 1967, quoted in The Book of Confessions (1967), 9.07

In retirement, Blake worked for Bread for the World.  Feeding starving people was consistent with decreasing poverty, another social justice issue and long-time cause of our saint.  He had worked on economic and social development at the World Council of Churches, too.

Blake, aged 78 yeas, died in Stamford, Connecticut, on July 31, 1985.  By then The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the Presbyterian Church in the United States had merged to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in 1983.

Blake got more right than wrong–a daunting task and a great accomplishment.

I am an ecumenist.  Denominational structures exist because of human nature.  We in the Universal Church should, of course, strive to reduce the number of denominations via well-reasoned and feasible mergers.  And, when organic union is not feasible, perhaps cooperation is.  So be it.

I am also an Episcopalian.  I have definite Roman Catholic tendencies.  What passes for corporate worship in most of Protestantism leaves me uninspired.  I want to ask:

Do you call this a proper liturgy?

My denominational Plan B is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), in full communion with The Episcopal Church.  This is a good fit, given the historical relations between Anglicanism and Lutheranism.

Blake’s proposed United Presbyterian Church-United Church of Christ-Methodist Church-Episcopal Church union was not feasible.  For example, in 1993, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) published its most recent Book of Common Worship.  It was a vast improvement over The Worshipbook–Services (1970), incorporated into The Worshipbook–Services and Hymns (1972).  Many Presbyterians objected to the new Book of Common Worship.  It was too Episcopalian, they said.

A denomination has a character.  Some denominations are better fits with other denominations than with others.

Blake issued his proposal at a different time.  Most Christian denominations in the United States of America were growing in membership, for example.  Also, The Episcopal Church had yet to bear the full fruits of liturgical renewal in 1960.  Nevertheless, his vision for a more united institutional church has become more relevant when, in the United States of America and the rest of the Western world, “none” has become the fastest-growing religious affiliation.

Sadly, Blake’s foci on reducing poverty and racism are more germane than ever.  Related to them is another one of his favorite themes.  We need reconciliation with each other and God more than ever.  Reconciliation is difficult to achieve when mutually hostile camps cannot even agree on what constitutes objective reality.

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Loving and righteous God, who transcends all religious denominations,

we thank you for the faithful ministry, social witness, and legacy of your servant, Eugene Carson Blake.

May we also seek to bring the world closer to the high calling of the fully-realized Kingdom of God,

and embrace our brother and sister Christians in other denominations;

for your glory and for the common good.

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

Leviticus 19:9-18

Psalm 133

1 Corinthians 1:10-17

John 17:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 24, 2021 COMMON ERA

GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE

THE FEAST OF SAINT EGBERT OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND SAINT ADALBERT OF EGMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN, CAPUCHIN FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1622

THE FEAST OF JOHANN WALTER, “FIRST CANTOR OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MELLITUS, BISHOP OF LONDON, AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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Feast of John Harris Burt (October 20)   1 comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOHN HARRIS BURT (APRIL 11, 1918-OCTOBER 20, 2009)

Episcopal Bishop of Ohio, and Civil Rights Activist

Bishop John Harris Burt comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via his connection to his father, Bates Gilbert Burt (1878-1948), already here.

John Harris Burt was a native of Michigan.  He, born in Marquette on April 11, 1918, was a son of Father Bates Gilbert Burt and Abigail Gilbert Bates Burt.  Burt, Sr., was the Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Marquette (1904-1922).  Burt, Sr., was later the Rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Pontiac, Michigan (1922-1947).  Our saint, after graduating from high school in Pontiac, matriculated at Amherst College (B.A., 1940).  Then he studied social work for a year at Columbia University, followed by further studies at Virginia Theological Seminary (Class of 1943).

Then Burt began ordained ministry.  He, ordained to the diaconate (1943) then the priesthood (1944), was the canon of the Cathedral chapter of Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral, St. Louis, Missouri, as well as the Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, St. Louis (1943-1944).   He met Martha May Miller at St. Paul’s Church.  Next, Burt served as a chaplain in the United States Navy (1944-1946).  He married Martha on February 16, 1946.  Our saint was also the Episcopal chaplain at The University of Michigan (1946-1950).  He left that post to become the Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Youngstown, Ohio (1950-1957).  As the Rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Pasadena, California (1957-1967), Burt made that parish a leader in social activism.  He was, for example, a prominent ally of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez.

Above:  The Flag of Ohio

Image in the Public Domain

Burt became a bishop.  He, elected in 1966, became the Bishop Coadjutor of Ohio on February 4, 1967.  He succeeded to become the Bishop of Ohio by the end of the year.  Burt served until he retired in 1983.  Our saint was outspoken and active.  He opposed the Vietnam War.  In 1967, Burt spoke at the International Inter-Religious Symposium of Peace in New Delhi, India.  Following the collapse of the steel industry in Youngstown, Ohio, our saint co-founded the Ecumenical Coalition of the Mahoning Valley.  This earned him the Thomas Merton Award, previously given to luminaries, such as Dorothy Day and Daniel Berrigan.  Burt, an early advocate for the ordination to women to the priesthood, promised to resign if the General Convention of 1976 did not approve such ordinations.  It did, much to the consternation of many a traditionalist Anglican.

Burt was active in Christian ecumenism and interfaith relations.  He was, for a time, the President of the Southern California Council of Churches, as well as a representative to the National Council of Churches at another time.  Our saint chaired the denominational Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations (1974-1979).  He worked on Jewish-Christian relations at The Episcopal Church, the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, the United States Holocaust Museum, and the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel.

Burt understood that loving one’s neighbors had practical applications.  Therefore, for example, he worked on energy independence, as well as solutions to economic problems in Ohio and seven nearby states.

Our saint, aged 91 years, died in Marquette, Michigan, on October 20, 2009.  Martha, their four daughters, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren survived him.

Burt said:

The world alters us as we walk in it.

He worked to alter the world for the better as he walked through it.

May each of us do likewise.

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God of Shalom, we thank you for the ministry, international work,

and community development work of your servant, John Harris Burt.

May we also, in the Name of Jesus, pursue peace with our neighbors near and far away,

and build up each other spiritually, economically, and concretely.

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

Amos 8:1-10

Psalm 1

James 2:14-26

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DONALD S. ARMENTROUT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HADEWIJCH OF BRABERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF KATHE KOLLWITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN ARTIST AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VITALIS OF GAZA, MONK, HERMIT, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 625

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Feast of Ernest Edwin Ryden (September 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  Ernest Edwin Ryden

Image Source = Hymntime.com

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ERNEST EDWIN RYDEN (SEPTEMBER 12, 1886-JANUARY 1, 1981)

U.S. Lutheran Minister, Hymn Writer, Hymn Translator, and Hymnal Editor

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Eternal God, before thy throne we bend,

Thy grace to seek, thy holy Name to bless;

Humbly our hearts in grateful praise ascend

To thee whose ways are truth and righteousness.

With all the hosts of heaven we thee adore,

Holy art thou, the same forevermore!  Amen.

–Ernest Edwin Ryden, in the Service Book and Hymnal (1958), #178

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Ernest Edwin Ryden comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via hymnody.

Ryden, born in Kansas City, Missouri, on September 12, 1886, was of Swedish heritage.  He, raised in the Augustana Synod, graduated from the Manual Training High School, Kansas City, in 1904.  During the next three years, our saint worked in a newspaper office and in the office of the Kansas City Railway.  Ryden matriculated at Augustana College in 1907.  He graduated in 1910 then spent a year working as a telegraph editor for a newspaper in Moline, Illinois.  Then, in 1911, our saint matriculated at Augustana Seminary.  He graduated three years later.  In 1914, Ryden also married Agnes E. Johnson, a graduate of Augustana College and the organist at Salem Lutheran Church, the Augustana Synod’s congregation in Wakefield, Nebraska.

Ryden, ordained in the Augustana Synod in 1914, became the pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Jamestown, New York, starting that year.  Grace Lutheran Church was the Augustana Synod’s first English-speaking congregation east of Chicago.  In 1915, Holy Trinity English Lutheran Church, Jamestown, also called Ryder to serve as its pastor.  Holy Trinity was a congregation of another synod within the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (extant 1867-1918).  The two congregations thereby merged.  Our saint doubled as the pastor at Camp Wadsworth, New York, during World War I.

[Historical Note:  The General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America was a federation of Lutheran synods, including the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church (extant 1860-1962).  In 1918, when the General Council merged into the United Lutheran Church in America (extant 1918-1962), it did so without the Augustana Synod.  Yet, the United Lutheran Church in America and the Augustana Synod merged into the Lutheran Church in America (extant 1962-1987).]

Ryden served as the pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, St. Paul, Minnesota, from 1920 to 1934.  He built up the young congregation (founded in 1908) into one of the largest and most influential churches in St. Paul.  Ryden also engaged in ministry via radio; he presented programs about hymns on KSTP.

Above:  The Title Page of The Hymnal and Order of Service (1925)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Ryden also served on the denominational level.  He was the chairman of the hymnal committee for The Hymnal and Order of Service (1925).  Our saint edited Lutheran Companion magazine from 1924 to 1961, when the publication of that periodical ceased.  He led the English Association of Churches of the Augustana Synod.  As the President of the Board of Christian Service, Ryden presided over the construction of three orphanages (in Duluth, Mankato, and Red Wing, Minnesota) and one hospital (in St. Paul, Minnesota).  He also edited the Junior Hymnal and Suggested Order of Worship (1961).

Ryden was also active on the inter-Lutheran front.  He served as the President of the American Lutheran Conference from 1934 to 1942.  For five years of his tenure as the Editor of the Lutheran Companion, he doubled as the Editor of the Lutheran Outlook, a publication of The American Lutheran Church (1930-1960).  And our saint served as the secretary of the joint commission (of eight denominations, quickly merged into two denominations in 1960-1963, that produced the Service Book and Hymnal (1958).

[Historical Note:  The American Lutheran Conference (1930-1954) consisted of the Augustana Synod, the American Lutheran Church (1930-1960), the Norwegian Lutheran Church in America/the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Free Church, and the United Danish Evangelical Church (the Pietistic “Sad Danes,” according those other U.S. Danish Lutherans, the “Happy Danes”).   The American Lutheran Conference was to the right of the United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA; extant 1918-1962) and to the left of the denominations of the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America (extant 1872-1963).  The American Lutheran Conference disbanded in 1954, in the context of Lutheran ecumenism, marked outwardly by merger negotiations and the creation of the Service Book and Hymnal (1958).  As time passed, attitudes changed and hostilities faded.  Three members (The American Lutheran Church of 1930-1960, the “Sad Danes,” and the Evangelical Lutheran Church) of the American Lutheran Conference merged to constitute The American Lutheran Church (extant 1960-1987).  Four other denominations (the ULCA, the Augustana Synod, the Suomi Synod, and the “Happy Danes”) merged into the Lutheran Church in America (extant 1962-1987).  The Lutheran Free Church merged into The American Lutheran Church (extant 1960-1987) in 1963.  The American Lutheran Church (extant 1960-1987) and the Lutheran Church in America (extant 1962-1987) were two of the three denominations that merged into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).]

Ryden’s other contributions to writings about hymnody included:

  1. The Story of Our Hymns (1935);
  2. The Story of Christian Hymnody (1958); and
  3. “Lutheran Hymnbooks Since the Reformation,” an article in the Lutheran Encyclopedia (1964).

Furthermore, Ryden wrote, translated, or paraphrased at least twenty-eight hymns, including:

  1. Eight in The Hymnal and Order of Service (1925),
  2. Eleven in the Service Book and Hymnal (1958),
  3. Six in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978),
  4. One in Lutheran Worship (1982), and
  5. Three in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006).

Ryden, active in bringing Scandinavian hymnody to the attention of the English-speaking churches, received the Royal Order of the North Star (from the Swedish government), in honor of this work, in 1949.

Our saint, an ecumenist, was a delegate to the founding Assembly of the World Council of Churches (1948).

In 1964, Ryden became the pastor of Emanuel Lutheran Church, North Grosvenordale, Connecticut.  He retired from that congregation.

Our saint died on January 1, 1981.  He was 94 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 23, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GREGORY THE ILLUMINATOR AND ISAAC THE GREAT, PATRIARCHS OF ARMENIA

THE FEAST OF MEISTER ECKHART, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN AND MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF SAINT METODEJ DOMINIK TRCKA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1959

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICTORIAN OF HADRUMETUM, MARTYR AT CARTHAGE, 484

THE FEAST OF SAINT WALTER OF PONTOISE, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND ECCLESIASTICAL REFORMER

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Ernest Edwin Ryder and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

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

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

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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

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Feast of Raymond E. Brown (August 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  Books by Father Raymond E. Brown, from my Library

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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RAYMOND EDWARD BROWN (MAY 22, 1928-AUGUST 8, 1998)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Biblical Scholar

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To

a remarkable group of doctoral candidates

who studied at Union Theological Seminary (NYC)

in the years J. Louis Martyn and I taught New Testament

and who now teach me by their writings

–The dedication from An Introduction to the New Testament (1997)

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Father Raymond E. Brown comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via my library.  I own copies of some of his books, most of which are thick.  Brown’s commentary on the Gospel of John, for example, consists of two tomes.  Furthermore, his commentary on the brief 1-3 John is 812 pages long.

 Brown was a great Biblical scholar.  Cardinal Roger Mahoney, of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, called our saint,

the most distinguished and renowned Catholic Biblical scholar

ever to emerge in the United States.  Brown also carried on a prolonged academic debate with John Dominic Crossan.  Our saint avoided doing what Crossan did frequently, expecially in Crossan’s The Historical Jesus (1993); Brown never made anything up.  (Aside:  I have read Crossan’s The Historical Jesus.  I have concluded that the first half of the book is excellent.  That is the part of the book in which Crossan established the socio-economic-political background in which Jesus lived.  Then, at the halfway point, Crossan started writing about Jesus and making up content.)  Yet our saint was too liberal for the theological tastes of traditionalist Catholics and many conservative Protestants.  And Brown was too conservative for the Crossan corner of theology, of course.  Our saint, who has informed my Biblical studies for years, was about right.

Brown came from a Roman Catholic family.  He, born in New York, New York, on May 22, 1928, was a son of Robert H. Brown and Loretta Brown.  When our saint was 15 years old, in 1943, Pope Pius XII began to reverse Pope Piux X’s restrictions on Biblical scholarship.  Pope Pius XII permitted the use of the historical-critical method.  Brown grew up to become one of the foremost practitioners of that method.

Brown was a priest and a scholar.  His family moved to Florida in 1944.  Therefore, our saint went to St. Charles Seminary, the Catholic University of America, and the Gregorian University (in Rome) from the Diocese of St. Augustine.  Our saint, who joined the Society of Saint-Sulpice in 1951, became a priest in 1953.  Then he earned two doctorates–a Doctor of Sacred Theology (St. Mary’s Theology, Baltimore, Maryland, 1955) and a Ph.D. in Semitic languages (The Johns Hopkins University, 1958, under William F. Albright).

Brown taught at St. Mary’s University until 1971.  During these years, he continued to work on the Dead Sea Scrolls.  (He had started work on them while at Johns Hopkins.)  Our saint, an ecumenist, was the Roman Catholic advisor to the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches (1968-1993).  He also participated in official Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogues and received honorary degrees from Protestant institutions.  And Brown taught at Woodstock College (1971-1974) and Union Theological Seminary (1971-1990).  He became the first Roman Catholic priest to serve as a tenured professor at Union Theological Seminary.

Brown, whose breadth and depth of knowledge he made obvious in thick commentaries, specialized in the Johannine tradition.  He argued, for example, of several layers of authorship in the Gospel of John.  According to Brown, there was the first layer, with direct experiences of Jesus.  Then a Johannine community contributed to the Fourth Gospel.  Finally came the third and last draft, the one we read.

Brown frequently raised the hackles of many to his right.  For example, he argued that the infancy accounts of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are historically inaccurate.  He pointed out that the census in Luke never happened and argued against the plausibility of the story of the Magi in Matthew.

None of this disturbs me.  I conclude that, if ancient Roman imperial records do not indicate the census from Luke, so be it.  Objective reality is what it is.  Besides, I have read enough about historical Jesus scholarship to know that many scholars of the New Testament admit what Brown did regarding that census.  More conservative scholars tend to struggle to explain the historicity of that census.  I am not a Biblical literalist, so this knowledge does not ruin my Christmas every year.  However, I disagree with Brown regarding the  story of the Magi.  I do not pretend to read a purely accurate account at the beginning of Matthew.  Nevertheless, one can explain the “star of Bethlehem” scientifically, to a point.  (I detect some embellishment in the account.)  And the story of the Magi arriving seems plausible.

Brown sought to determine what the original authors intended to communicate to the original audiences.  Doing so fulfilled his understanding of his vocation as a priest and scholar.  Biblical interpretation should begin with the authors’ intention, Brown insisted.  He was correct.

(Aside:  Some people criticize me for focusing so much on the authors’ original intention and how the original audience understood texts.  I agree with Brown and push back against excessive relativism in Biblical interpretation.  A text says, in original context, what it says.  It means, in original context, what it means.  We moderns can–and should–apply these texts to our contexts and interpret these texts in that light.  Yet me must ground ourselves in historical perspective and objective reality.  My training in historical methodology tells me that.)

After Brown retired from Union Theological Seminary, in 1990, he moved to Menlo Park, California, and went into residence at St. Patrick’s Seminary.  During the final eight years of his life, Brown was productive.  He updated The Birth of the Messiah (1977, 1993).  He wrote The Death of the Messiah (two volumes, 1994).  And our saint completed his final major work, An Introduction to the New Testament (1997), considerably longer than the New Testament.

Brown, aged 60 years, died in Menlo Park, California, on August 8, 1998.

I wonder how many more major works he would have completed had he lived long enough.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 1, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANNA OF OXENHALL AND HER FAITHFUL DESCENDANTS, SAINT WENNA THE QUEEN, SAINT NON, SAINT SAMSON OF DOL, SAINT CYBI, AND SAINT DAVID OF WALES

THE FEAST OF EDWARD HODDER, ENGLISH BIOGRAPHER, DEVOTIONAL WRITER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WISHART, SCOTTISH CALVINIST REFORMER AND MARTYR, 1546; AND WALTER MILNE, SCOTTISH PROTESTANT MARTYR, 1558

THE FEAST OF JEAN-PIERRE DE CAUSSADE, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROGER LEFORT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF BOURGES

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Raymond E. Brown 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 G. Bromley Oxnam (August 13)   1 comment

Above:  The Cover of the Dust Jacket to A Testament of Faith (1958)

Image Source = archive.org

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GARFIELD BROMLEY OXNAM (AUGUST 14, 1891-MARCH 12, 1963)

U.S. Methodist Bishop

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INTRODUCTION

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Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

–John 14:15, Revised Standard Version (1952)

Bishop Oxnam liked to quote that verse.  For him, Christian faith was not a doctrinal confession one signed at the bottom of the page.  No, Oxnam’s Christian faith was a love-infused lifestyle. This lifestyle entailed obeying Matthew 25:31-46.

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

–Matthew 25:40b, Revised Standard Version (1952)

Oxnam was, in many ways, a counterpoint to his fellow bishop and contemporary, Gerald Kennedy (1907-1980).  Yet both men had much in common.  And both of them earned their places here, on my Ecumenical Calendar.  (I admit, though, that I feel more affinity for Bishop Oxnam than with Bishop Kennedy.)

Richard Brookhiser, writing derisively of Oxnam in the February 1992 issue of First Things, commented:

Theologically, Oxnam was a liberal by default, since he barely thought of theology at all.

Yet, as I have written repeatedly in lectionary-based devotions at some of my other weblogs, deeds reveal creeds.  As one thinks, one is.  And as one thinks, one acts.  In Hebrew theology, God is like what God has done and does.  Ergo, we are like what we have done and do.  And, as the Letter of James tells us:

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.

–2:26, Revised Standard Version (1952)

Oxnam showed his faith by his works (James 2:26).

I could continue to paraphrase Oxnam, but his words are better than mine in expressing his faith.  So, without further ado:

I find it hard to understand men who “accept Christ” and then become sadistic as they deal with others who try to “love God with heart and mind and soul, and brother as self,” but who cannot in honesty accept the obscurantism that is presented as “the faith,” especially when the presentation is accompanied by the clanking of Inquisition chains and the fires at the stake.  The coercion by the bigoted is in itself a rejection of the spirit of Christ.  He relied on the compulsion of love.  If I were called upon to choose one word to describe Christianity, it would be love.  I believe nothing can separate us from the love of God.  I believe God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.  I believe God sent Jesus because He “loved the world.”

A Testament of Faith (1958), viii-ix

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THE FIRST FORTY-THREE YEARS

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Oxnam, born in Los Angeles, California, on August 14, 1891, moved away from his family theological roots.  They were conservative.  Our saint’s father, a mining engineer and a mine owner, oversaw the construction of chapels for inhabitants of mining camps.  Oxnam’s mother was a charter member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.).  At age 17, at a revival, our saint vowed to become a minister.

Oxnam left the conservative religion of his youth behind and embraced the Social Gospel.  He graduated from the University of Southern California (B.A., 1913) then Boston University (S.T.B., 1915).  Our saint, who married Ruth Fisher on August 19, 1914, had joined the Southern California Conference of the old Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939) as a licensed preacher the previous year.  The Conference ordained him a deacon in 1915 then an elder in 1917.

After serving in Poplar, California, Oxnam became the pastor at the Church of All Nations, Los Angeles, California (1917-1926), in the Eastside.  The Church of All Nations was a multi-ethnic, immigrant, and impoverished flock.  Our saint presided over an extensive network of social services, openly identified with labor unions, opposed nativism and xenophobia, suggested that teachers’ informed opinions should influence educational policies, aroused suspicions that he was a communist, and ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the school board.  He also taught social ethics at the University of Southern California.  In fact, Oxnam was neither a communist nor a Marxist; he was a Christian Socialist.

Then Oxnam turned to academia full-time.  He was a Professor of Social Ethics at Boston University (1927-1928).  Next, our saint made his mark as the President of DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana (1928-1936).  Oxnam, a pacifist, first made participation in the R.O.T.C. optional.  (It had been mandatory.)  Then, in 1934, he presided over the end of the R.O.T.C. at DePauw University.  He also helped students to find jobs in New Deal programs, expanded library holdings, and increased attendance at voluntary chapel services.  These were dignified services; Oxnam insisted on that.

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BISHOP OXNAM

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Oxnam became the then-youngest Methodist bishop in the United States in 1936; he was 45 years old.  (Gerald Kennedy broke that record, at age 40, in 1948.)  Our saint was based in, in order:

  1. Omaha, Nebraska (1936-1939);
  2. Boston, Massachusetts (1939-1944);
  3. New York, New York (1944-1952); and
  4. Washington, D.C. (1952-1960).

Our saint was active on the denominational level of the old Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939) and the merged Methodist Church (1939-1968). 

  1. He chaired the Division of Educational Institutions, the General Board of Education (1939-1944).
  2. He chaired the Division of Foreign Missions, the General Board of Global Ministries (1944-1952).
  3. He led the Methodist Crusade for World Order (1944-1948).  The Methodist Crusade for World Order opposed a return to pre-World War II isolationism, favored an internationalist foreign policy, and supported the United Nations.
  4. He was active in the Methodist Federation for Social Service (later Social Action), which Frank Mason North (1850-1935) had helped to found in 1917.  The Federation, a target of conservative elements within the denomination, suffered a strong rebuke in 1952.  “Methodist” ceased to be in its name, and The Methodist Church established the new Board of Social and Economic Relations.

Oxnam was also an ecumenist.

  1. He served as the President of the old Federal Council of Churches (1946-1948).
  2. He helped to found the National Council of Churches (1950).
  3. He was one of the Presidents of the World Council of Churches (1948-1954).
  4. He sat on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches.
  5. Oxnam’s ecumenism had its limits.  It did not extend to fundamentalists and pre-Vatican II Roman Catholics, who thought he was going to Hell anyway.

Despite what Red-baiting conservatives claimed, Oxnam was a patriot. 

  1. He was a staunch man of the Christian Left.
  2. He was a member of the Civil Advisory Committee to the Secretary of the Navy during World War II.
  3. After the war, he chaired the Commission to Study Postwar Relief Conditions in Germany.
  4. He opposed mandatory military training and service in peacetime.
  5. He argued that using atomic weapons was immoral.

In July 1953, Oxnam testified before the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee, which was itself un-American.  He rebutted allegations that he was and ever had been a communist or a Marxist.  Our saint produced evidence to document that charges to the contrary from Representative Donald L. Jackson (1910-1981) were objectively false.  Oxnam also condemned McCarthyism and those who practiced it.

A new breed of self-appointed un-American vigilantes threatens our freedom.  Profaning our American traditions and desecrating our flag, masquerading as defenders of our country against the infiltration of communism and the aggression of Russia, they play the red game of setting American against American, of creating distrust and division, and of turning us from the problems that must be solved in order to become impregnable.  These vigilantes produce hysteria, prepare sucker lists, and live upon the generous contributions of the fearful.  They exploit the uninformed patriot.  They profiteer in patriotism.  These vigilantes do not carry the noosed rope, but they lynch by libel.  They prepare their lying spider-web charts.  They threaten educators and ministers, actors and broadcasters.  Unthinking boards and commissions bow to their tyranny, forgetting that to appease these forerunners of Hitler, of Mussolini, and of Stalin is to jeopardize freedom, and to prepare the wrists for the shackles and the mouth for the gag.  In the name of law, vigilantes break the law.

–Quoted in A Year with American Saints (2006), 281-282

Above:  Wesley Theological Seminary, American University, Washington, D.C,

Image Source = Google Earth

Bishop Oxnam, while based in Washington, D.C., helped to build up the denomination-affiliated American University.  In 1958, he supervised the relocation of Westminster Theological Seminary, Westminster, Maryland (founded in 1882) to the campus of American University.  The relocated seminary became Wesley Theological Seminary.  That year, our saint also helped to found the School of International Service at American University.

Above:  The School of International Service, American University, Washington, D.C.

Image Source = Google Earth

Oxnam, suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, retired in 1960.  He, aged 73 years, died in White Plains, New York, on March 12, 1963.

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EVALUATION

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When evaluating a historical figure, one ought to avoid two opposite errors:  relativizing everything or too much and relativizing nothing or too little.  Timeless standards exist, of course.  Yet context remains crucial.  Also, people change during a lifetime.  To be fair, one must consider that fact.

Oxnam was mostly correct.  He was correct to favor the rights of workers, for example.  He was correct to condemn the greed of those who exploited workers.  He was correct to oppose McCarthyism and to challenge practitioners of McCarthyism to their faces.  Like most Americans, traumatized by World War I, he overreacted in ways that seemed reasonable between the World Wars yet came across as naïve in retrospect after World War II.  

Just as I stand to the left of Bishop Gerald Kennedy, I stand slightly to the right of Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam.  I am a Neo-Orthodox, after all.  I stand with Reinhold, Ursula, and H. Richard Niebuhr in recognizing the limitations of the Social Gospel.  I do so while affirming what was positive about the Social Gospel.

Yet, as I have written in this post, I feel more affinity with Oxnam than with Kennedy.  And I count both of them as members of my family of faith.

I invite you, O reader, if you are so inclined, to read Oxnam’s writings available at archive.org:

  1. “The Mexican in Los Angeles from the Standpoint of the Religious Forces of the City” (1921),
  2. Contemporary Preaching:  A Study in Trends (1931),
  3. Personalities in Social Reform (1941),
  4. Preaching in a Revolutionary Age (1944), 
  5. I Protest (1954), and
  6. A Testament of Faith (1958).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 23, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH, BISHOP AND MARTYR, 107/115; SAINT POLYCARP OF SMYRNA, BISHOP AND MARTYR, 155/156; AND SAINT IRENAEUS OF LYONS, CIRCA 202 

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALEXANDER AKIMETES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL WOLCOTT, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, MISSIONARY, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEFAN WINCENTY FRELICHOWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MAINZ; AND SAINT BERNWARD, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF HILDESHEIM

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us [like your servant G. Bromley Oxnam] to use our freedom

to bring justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of R. B. Y. Scott (July 17)   3 comments

Above:  R. B. Y. Scott

Image in the Public Domain

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ROBERT BELGARNIE YOUNG SCOTT (JULY 18, 1899-NOVEMBER 1, 1987)

Canadian Biblical Scholar, Hymn Writer, and Minister

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What Israel’s prophets said long ago when they condemned the manner of this world and pointed men to the city of God, is directly and profoundly relevant for us.  They concerned themselves with political and economic issues because of their human consequences.  They laid bare the moral facts involved, in the light of Yahweh’s will as the supreme fact with which man in this life has to do.  They traced society’s troubles to the inverted order of material and spiritual things, to man’s self-interest and self-exaltation even against God, and to the denial of his own nature in denying human kinship.

–R. B. Y. Scott, The Relevance of the Prophets, 2nd. ed. (1968), 233

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R. B. Y. Scott comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via my library.  I own a copy of The Relevance of the Prophets (1968), a copy of The Way of Wisdom in the Old Testament (1971), and a copy of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes (1965).  I can also easily consult The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume V (1956), which includes Scott’s exegesis of and introduction to Isaiah 1-39.  I own all twelve volumes of The Interpreter’s Bible.  I also own the four original volumes (1962) of The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible:  An Illustrated Encyclopedia, to which Scott contributed.

Above:  Some of the Germane Books from My Library

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Scott, one of the greatest Biblical scholars in the twentieth century, was a Canadian.  Robert Belgarnie Young Scott, born in Toronto, Ontario, on July 18, 1899, grew up in the Presbyterian Church in Canada.  Our saint’s father was John McPherson Scott, a minister in that denomination.  Scott studied at Knox College, the University of Toronto (B.A., 1922; M.A., 1924; Ph.D., 1928).  His dissertation (later published) was “The Original Language of the Apocalypse.”

Scott, ordained in the United Church of Canada (formed via merger in 1925) in 1926, spent most of his career in academia.  After two years as the minister of Long Branch United Church, Long Branch, Toronto, Ontario, our saint became a professor.  He was Professor of Old Testament at Union College, Vancouver, British Columbia (1928-1931).  Then Scott taught at United Theological College, Montreal, Quebec (1931-1945).  During this time, Scott helped to found the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies (1933) and served as its Secretary-Treasurer (1933-1940).  Our saint, the Dean of McGill University, Montreal, Quebec (1945-1955), then the William H. Danforth Professor of Religion, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey (1955-1968), served as one of the translators of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Scott was also active in the World Council of Churches from 1949 to 1955.

Scott took the Bible seriously without falling into fundamentalism.  His Social Gospel orientation was evident in many of his 24 hymns, the majority of which dated to the Montreal period.  Scott also argued for multiple authorship of the Book of Isaiah.  Furthermore, our saint insisted that Solomon was not Koheleth, author of Ecclesiastes, due to the presence of Greek literary forms and philosophical terminology (from a subsequent period) in the text.

Scott retired in 1968.  He served as the President of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies in 1971.  Our saint’s first wife, Kathleen Cordingly, died in 1979.  After Scott, aged 88 years, died in Toronto on November 1, 1987, his widow was Ruth Tretheway Secord.

The Canadian Society of Biblical Studies offers an annual award in Scott’s honor.  The Scott Award recognizes

an outstanding book in the areas of Hebrew Bible and/or the Ancient Near East, written in English or French by a member of the CSBS and published in the current and previous two years.

The Scott Award is a properly-named prize.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 7, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS RALPH MILNER, ROGER DICKINSON, AND LAWRENCE HUMPHREY, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1591

THE FEAST OF FRANCIS FLORENTINE HAGEN, U.S. MORAVIAN MINISTER AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HEDDA OF WESSEX, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF LEO SOWERBY, EPISCOPAL COMPOSER AND “DEAN OF CHURCH MUSIC”

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HELMORE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND ARRANGER AND COMPOSER OF HYMN TUNES

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [R. B. Y. Scott 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 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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