Archive for the ‘World Council of Churches’ Tag

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

Above:  Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey

Image Source = Library of Congress

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Source = Google Earth

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

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

Image Source = Google Earth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Homrighausen left a fine and faithful legacy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 8, 2019 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALTMAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PASSAU

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

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

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Elmer G. Homrighausen and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of 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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Feast of D. Elton Trueblood (December 20)   2 comments

Above:  Sign, Earlham School of Religion

Image in the Public Domain

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DAVID ELTON TRUEBLOOD (DECEMBER 12, 1900-DECEMBER 20, 1994)

U.S. Quaker Theologian

D. Elton Trueblood, U.S. theologian and academic, comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

The words “liberal,” “moderate,” and “conservative” are inherently relative; they have no fixed meaning for all circumstances, times, and places.  The record of Trueblood’s life reveals that all three applied to him.  Sui generis describes him well.

Trueblood came from Midwestern Quaker stock.  He, born on a farm near Indianola, Iowa, on December 12, 1900, was a son of Effie and Samuel Trueblood.  Our saint studied at William Penn College, Oskaloosa, Iowa (Class of 1922), then at Brown University and Hartford Theological Seminary before graduating from Harvard University with his Bachelor of Systematic Theology degree in 1926.  Eight years later, he graduated from The Johns Hopkins University, with his doctorate in philosophy.

Trueblood spent most of his life on college and university campuses, mainly Quaker ones.  He taught at Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina, before joining the faculty of Haverford College, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  During the summer of 1935, Trueblood served as the acting chaplain at Harvard University.  This experience led him to become chaplain at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, in 1936.  Trueblood was chaplain there for nine years.  While living in Palo Alto, he worshiped with former President Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) and former First Lady Lou Henry Hoover (1874-1944).  His friendship with them deepened, and he presided at their funerals.

Trueblood, preferring smaller professor-to-student ratios, moved to Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, in 1945.  There he remained for most of the rest of his life.  Our saint helped to open the seminary, the Earlham School of Religion, in 1960.  After he retired in 1966, Trueblood became Professor-at-Large.  He remained active in college life.

Trueblood married twice.  He married Pauline Goodenow in 1924.  The couple had four children–three sons and one daughter–from 1925 5o 1941.  Pauline died of a brain tumor in 1955.  Our saint married Virginia Hodgin, a widow with two children, in September 1956.  She became his partner in life and in publishing.  (He wrote 33 books.)  Virginia died in 1984.

Trueblood, who emphatically never identified with the Religious Right, made his objections to that variety of Christianity plain.  He was also critical of much of the Religious Left.  Trueblood opposed both “churchianity” and “vague religiosity.”  He, who helped to form the World Council of Churches in 1948, was an internationalist.  He was not, however, a strict pacifist; he concluded that some wars were necessary, especially in the context of the Cold War.  The sole foundation of a humane social order, Trueblood argued, was a reinvigorated faith.  He also supported civil rights for African Americans and members of other minorities.  Our saint, who drafted Thanksgiving Day proclamations for several presidents of both major parties, served as the Chief of Religious Policy at the United States Information Agency during the Eisenhower Administration and advised the Eisenhower Administration regarding religious matters.  Trueblood also founded the Yokefellow movement, which engaged in prison ministry and established halfway houses.

In 1988 Trueblood moved to Meadowood, a retirement community in Norristown, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to be closer to his family.  He died in Worcester Township, Pennsylvania, on December 20, 1994.  He was 94 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 5, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTONIO MARY ZACCARIA, FOUNDER OF THE BARNABITES AND THE ANGELIC SISTERS OF SAINT PAUL

THE FEAST OF GEORGES BERNANOS, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC NOVELIST

THE FEAST OF HULDA NIEBUHR, CHRISTIAN EDUCATOR; HER BROTHERS, H. RICHARD NIEBUHR AND REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIANS; AND URSULA NIEBUHR, EPISCOPAL THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH BOISSEL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND MARTYR IN LAOS, 1969

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O God, you Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Marc Boegner (December 18)   Leave a comment

Above:  Marc Boegner

Image in the Public Domain

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MARC BOEGNER (FEBRUARY 21, 1881-DECEMBER 18, 1970)

French Reformed Minister and Ecumenist

Marc Boegner had to make a difficult decision in the early 1940s.  He had to decide how best to save Jewish lives and resist Nazism.  His method led to his inclusion in the Yad Vasham, the Righteous Among the Nations, on November 26, 1987.

Boegner, born in Épinal, France, on February 21, 1881, came from a minority population–French Protestants.  He studied in Orléans and Paris, focusing on law before making the turn toward theology.  Our saint, ordained in 1905, became a minister in the Reformed Church of France.  He served in rural Aouste-sur-Sye, Drôme, until 1911.  Then he taught theology at the denominational House of Missions for seven years.  In 1918 he returned to parish ministry, at Poissy-Annonciation.  He remained in that post until 1952.  Boegner, the President of the Protestant Federation of France (1929-1961), doubled as the President of the Reformed Church of France (1938-1950).

The Nazi occupation of France created a quandary for many French men and women.  What was the best way to resist?  Many joined the Maquis and used violence.  Many French Christians–Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic–sheltered Jews; some of these Christians died for doing so.  Boegner, outwardly (to an extent) a collaborator, helped Jews and spoke out on their behalf.  He, a member of the National Council of the French State (Vichy State) and a recipient of the Order of the Francisque, sheltered Jews.  He also encouraged other Protestants to do the same.  Boegner also interceded in vain with “Black Peter” Pierre Laval (1883-1945) to spare the lives of young Jews.  Our saint’s outspoken opposition to anti-Semitic policies and to forced French labor in Germany placed his life and liberty at great risk.  In 1945, when Marshal Philippe Pétain went on trial for treason, Boegner defended him.

Boegner, a conciliator, was active in international ecumenism, starting in the 1930s.  He helped to create the World Council of Churches (1948) and served as its Co-President (1948-1954).  Our saint also served as an observer to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

Boegner died on December 18, 1970.  He was 89 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2019 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Marc Boegner,

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 William Louis Poteat, Hubert McNeill Poteat, Edwin McNeill Poteat Sr., Edwin McNeill Poteat Jr., and Gordon McNeill Poteat (December 12)   1 comment

Above:  A Partial Poteat Family Tree

Image Source = Library of Congress

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WILLIAM LOUIS POTEAT (OCTOBER 20, 1856-MARCH 12, 1938)

President of Wake Forest College, and Biologist

brother of

EDWIN MCNEILL POTEAT, SR. (FEBRUARY 6, 1861-JUNE 25, 1937)

Northern and Southern Baptist Minister, Scholar, and President of Furman University

father of

EDWIN MCNEILL POTEAT, JR., (NOVEMBER 28, 1892-DECEMBER 17, 1955)

Southern Baptist Minister, Missionary, Musician, Hymn Writer, and Social Reformer

brother of

GORDON MCNEILL POTEAT (APRIL 11, 1891-NOVEMBER 1986)

Northern Baptist, Southern Baptist, and Congregationalist Minister and Missionary

first cousin of

HUBERT MCNEILL POTEAT, SR. (DECEMBER 12, 1886-JANUARY 29, 1958)

Southern Baptist Academic and Musician

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A FAMILY PROFILE

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One name–Edwin McNeill Poteat, Jr.–opened the portals for this post to encompass five saints.  I found his name in The Interpreter’s Bible.  The rest was history.

The family story began, for the purpose of this post, with James Poteat (1807-1889) and Julia Anice McNeill (Poteat) (1833-1910), of Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina.  Two of their sons were William Louis Poteat and Edwin McNeill Poteat, Sr.

WILLIAM LOUIS POTEAT (1856-1938)

William, born on October 26, 1856, grew up and became a pioneering educator and biologist.  He, having earned his B.A. degree from Wake Forest College, then located in Wake Forest, North Carolina, in 1877, followed up with an M.A,. degree from the same institution in 1889.  Between graduation ceremonies he taught biology at Wake Forest College, starting as a tutor then advancing in stages, to full professor.  He was the first person in the South to teach biology via the laboratory method instead of the recitation method.  William, always a devout Christian of the Southern Baptist variety, caused great controversy by accepting the Theory of Evolution.  This did not prevent him from serving as the President of that Southern Baptist college from 1905 to 1927.  In 1925, he helped to defeat the proposed state law to forbid the teaching of Evolution in public schools.

On a conventional front, William was also active in the temperance movement.

William married Emma James Purefoy on June 24, 1881.  The couple had three children–Louise, Helen, and Hubert.

William, aged 83 years, died on March 12, 1938.

EDWIN MCNEILL POTEAT, SR. (1861-1937)

Edwin, Sr., born on February 6, 1861, also reconciled faith and science.  He graduated from Wake Forest College (1881) then the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1885).  Poteat, ordained in 1884, served as pastor of the Wake Forest Baptist Church from 1884 to 1886.  He resigned to study psychology and philosophy at The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, from 1886 to 1888.  While in Baltimore, Edwin, Sr., was the acting pastor of the Lee Street Baptist Church in that city.  Then he studied at the University of Berlin during the summer of 1888.  Studies at Yale University followed.  He was the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, New Haven, Connecticut, from 1888 to 1898.  Then Edwin, Sr., was the pastor of Memorial Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1898 to 1903.  He returned to the South to accept the presidency of Furman University (1903-1918).

Subsequent work entailed living in, at different times, the North, the South, and China.  Edwin, Sr., worked as the Executive Secretary of the General Board of Promotion of the Northern Baptist Convention.  After spending six years teaching philosophy and ethics at the University of Shanghai, our saint served as the Interim Minister of the First Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia, from 1927 to 1929.  Then he was the pastor of the Second Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, for two years, followed by a stint (1931-1934) teaching ethics and comparative religion at Mercer University, Macon, Georgia.  Finally, in 1934, Edwin, Sr., returned to Furman University to teach ethics.

Edwin, Sr., married twice.  On October 24, 1889, he married Harriet Hale Gordon.  The couple had seven children:  Edwin McNeill Jr., Gordon McNeill, John Robinson, Priscilla Isabella, James Douglass, Clarissa Hale, and Arthur Barron.  Harriet Gordon died in 1919.  Edwin, Sr., married Harriet Helen Brittingham, a Northern Baptist missionary to China, in that country in 1925.

Edwin, Sr., aged 76 years, died on June 25, 1937.

HUBERT MCNEILL POTEAT, SR. (1886-1958)

Hubert, son of William and Emma, was a scholar, athlete, and musician.  He, born in Wake Forest, North Carolina, on December 12, 1886, earned his Bachelor’s (1906) and Master’s (1908) degrees from Wake Forest College.  Between graduation ceremonies he taught Latin at the college.  Hubert had been musical from a young age, learning the violin and the organ.  He was sufficiently accomplished to perform at his father’s inauguration as college president in 1905.  Hubert also played sports (such as tennis and eventually golf) at different stages of his life.

Hubert was also a Freemason and a Shriner.  He, inducted as a Freemason in 1908, rose to high ranks in both organizations.

Hubert worked on his doctorate at Columbia University, New York, New York, in 1908-1912.  He found time to attend plays and operas, as well as to sing in the choir of The Brick Presbyterian Church; William Pierson Merrill (1867-1954) was the pastor at the time.  Hubert also performed solos at the Episcopal Church of the Intercession.

Hubert married Essie Moore Morgan on June 26, 1912.  The couple had two children:  Hubert McNeill Jr. and William Morgan.

Hubert returned to Wake Forest College to stay, from 1912 to 1956.  He was Professor of Latin then the Chair of Latin.  He also directed the Glee Club from 1912 to 1923.  Hubert, the organist of the college for more than four decades, published in the fields of hymnology and Latin literature and philosophy.  Hubert also taught at Columbia University during the summers of 1924-1942.

Hubert valued the liberal arts educational model.  The humanities, he understood, were vital.  Hence he looked on with dismay as many public schools in the South began to de-emphasize the humanities and to emphasize vocational training.

Hubert also had high musical standards.  He, who included pieces by Wagner in his organ concerts, dismissed gospel music as

jig tunes.

Hubert insisted that only

consuming fire

could improve them.  This strong opinion was consistent with his perfectionism in many matters.  Hubert was, for example, a stickler, regrading proper English grammar and usage.

When Wake Forest College moved to Winston-Salem, in 1956, Hubert remained behind in Wake Forest, North Carolina.  There he retired, and there he died on January 29, 1958.  He was 71 years old.

TWO BROTHERS:

GORDON MCNEILL POTEAT (1891-1986)

EDWIN MCNEILL POTEAT, JR. (1892-1955)

Edwin, Jr., son of Edwin, Sr., and Harriet Gordon, continued in the family legacy of supporting progressive causes.  Some of his activities overlapped geographically with those of his older brother, Gordon.

Gordon, born in New Haven, Connecticut, on April 11, 1891, grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, where his father was the President of Furman University.  Gordon, who graduated from Furman in 1910, earned his M.A. degree from Wake Forest College, where his uncle, William, was the President.  Then Gordon attended and graduated from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Next he spent 1915-1927 in China, first as a missionary in Kaifeng then (1921f) teaching ethics and the New Testament at the University of Shanghai.

Edwin, Jr., born in New Haven on November 20, 1892, became more prominent than his older brother.  Edwin, Jr., graduated from Furman (B.A., 1912; M.A., 1913) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1916).  He was a traveling secretary for the Student Volunteer Movement (1916-1917) then a missionary in Kaifeng (1917-1926) with Gordon (until 1921).  In 1921, Edwin, Sr., visited his sons in China.  He wound up accepting an offer to teach philosophy and ethics at the University of Shanghai, and remained until 1927.  He and Gordon–father and son–were faculty colleagues for six years.  Meanwhile, Edwin, Jr., remained at the compound in Kaifeng until revolution forced him to flee in 1926.  Then he joined the faculty of Shanghai from 1927 to 1929; he taught ethics and philosophy.

Gordon, back in the United States for a few years (1927-1930), worked as an Educational Secretary for the Student Volunteer Movement from 1927 to 1928.  Then he served as the pastor of the City Park Baptist Church, Denver, Colorado, from 1928 to 1930.  Next, from 1930 to 1937, Gordon was the representative of the Northern Baptist Convention to the University of Shanghai.

Gordon married Helen Anne Carruthers in 1915.  The couple had four children:  Anne Rose, Wallace Bagby, Nida, and Priscilla Hale.

Edwin, Jr., back in the United States, worked in churches, in a seminary, and on the public stage.  He was pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina, for the first time from 1929 to 1937.  Seven years as pastor of Euclid Avenue Baptist Church, Cleveland, Ohio, followed.  Then, in 1944, Edwin, Jr., became the President of the Rochester Divinity School, Rochester, New York.  Declining health forced him to resign in 1948.  Pullen Memorial Baptist Church had a vacancy at the time, and welcomed him back.  Our saint died in that job on December 17, 1955, as he prepared to conduct a wedding ceremony.

Edwin, Jr., was not afraid to take controversial positions.  He was a pacifist, a supporter of conscientious objectors, and an advocate for civil rights.  In 1946, he addressed the the American Association for the Advancement of Science; he was the first minister the organization had invited to speak to it.  Furthermore, in 1948, Edwin, Jr., helped to found and became the first President of Protestants and Other Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (now Americans United for the Separation of Church and State).  Separation of church and state has long been a Baptist issue, after all.

Edwin, Jr., had strong opinions regarding worship.  He made sure in 1950 that the new sanctuary of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church had a split chancel.  He also wore a ministerial robe.  Edwin, Jr., critical of both Evangelical informality and a fixed liturgy, maintained high standards for hymns and other service music.  He agreed with his cousin Hubert.  Edwin, Jr., complained about the

banality of the words of modern songs

sung in most Protestant churches in the United States.  The critic composed 23 pieces of service music, some of them included in the Northern Baptist/Disciples of Christ joint hymnal, Christian Worship (1941).  In 1948, he wrote a hymn, “Eternal God, Whose Reaching Eye,” for the first Assembly of the World Council of Churches.

Edwin, Jr., married Wilda Hardman on June 27, 1918.  The couple had four children:  William Hardman, Harriett Allen, Elizabeth McNeill, and Haley Gordon.

Gordon, author of books about Christian missions in China, became Professor of Social Ethics and Homiletics at Crozer Theological Seminary, Chester, Pennsylvania.  I have not been able to learn when he left that position.

Edwin, Jr., wrote 17 books.  The genres included sermons, original poetry, and theology.  Both he and Gordon wrote for The Interpreter’s Bible.  Gordon wrote the exposition on James in Volume XII (1957.)  Edwin, Jr., wrote the exposition on Psalms 42-89 in Volume IV (1955).

When Gordon wrote for The Interpreter’s Bible, he was the pastor of the Tourist Church (the First Congregational Church), Daytona Beach, Florida.  That congregation has become the Seabreeze United Church of Christ.

Gordon, aged 95 years, died in Ormond Beach, Florida, in November 1986.

CONCLUSION

Members of two generations of the Poteat family served God and did not fear controversy in doing so.  This post has summarized incompletely the faithfulness of some Poteats.  If, however, it has prompted you, O reader, to want to learn more, this post has accomplished my purpose.

Loving God, we thank you for the faithful service of

William Louis Poteat;

Hubert McNeill Poteat;

Edwin McNeill Poteat, Sr.;

Edwin McNeill Poteat, Jr.;

and Gordon McNeill Poteat

in a variety of disciplines, times, and places.

May their examples of fidelity to you inspire us to live boldly in your service.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 113

2 Timothy 1:3-7

Matthew 28:16-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 2, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WASHINGTON GLADDEN, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF FERDINAND QUINCY BLANCHARD, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRY MONTAGU BUTLER, EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JACQUES FERMIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST

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Feast of Gustaf Aulen and Anders Nygren (November 15)   1 comment

Above:  Flag of Sweden

Image in the Public Domain

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GUSTAF EMMANUEL HILDEBRAND AULÉN (MAY 15, 1879-1977)

teacher and colleague of

ANDERS THEODOR SAMUEL NYGREN (NOVEMBER 15, 1890-OCTOBER 20, 1978)

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SWEDISH LUTHERAN BISHOPS AND THEOLOGIANS

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After World War I, Neo-orthodoxy became a major theological movement in English-speaking Christianity.  A similar movement in Swedish-speaking Christianity at the same time was Lundensian theologyGustaf Aulén and Anders Nygren were architects of that theology.

Aulén, born in Sjungsby on May 15, 1879, became a minister, bishop, theologian, and liturgist.  He, an assistant professor at the University of Uppsala (1907-1913) then Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Lund (1913-1933), founded the Swedish Theological Quarterly in 1925.  He remained on the editorial staff into his retirement.  While at Lund, he wrote influential works (later translated into English):  The Christian Conception of God (1927), Christus Victor (1930), and The Faith of the Christian Church (1932).  Aulén, a student of Nathan Söderblom (1866-1931) at Uppsala, favored the Classic Theory of the Atonement over Penal Substitutionary Atonement, which St. Anselm of Canterbury favored, and the Moral Exemplar Theory, which Peter Abelard favored.  Aulén also taught Nygren at Lund then served with him on the faculty.

Nygren, born in Gothenburg on November 15, 1890, had a lifelong fascination with philosophy that influenced his scholarly and theological work.  He, ordained in The Church of Sweden in 1912, left parish ministry nine years later.  In 1921 he received his doctorate from the University of Lund and became a lecturer there.  Three years later, he became Professor of Systematic Theology, serving until 1948.  Lundensian theology incorporated philosophical methods and perspectives for the purpose of seeking to engage in theology in a scientifically responsible manner.  Lundensian theology was also moderate, avoiding anti-intellectualism on the right and disregard for tradition on the left.  That philosophical background was evident in Nygren’s Agape and Eros (two volumes, 1930 and 1936), which argued that agape and eros are polar opposites.

Both Aulén and Nygren became bishops.  Aulén became the Bishop of Strängäs, serving from 1933 to 1952.  He, as a bishop, contributed tunes to the new hymnal (1927) and helped to shape the new service book (1942).  Aulén also helped to form the World Council of Churches (1948), as did Nygren, the first President of the Lutheran World Federation (1947-1952).  Nygren served as the Bishop of Lund from 1948 to 1958.

Both Aulén and Nygren also continued to write after they retired.  Aulén wrote, for example, Eucharist and Sacrifice (1956) and Reformation and Catholicity (1959).  Nygren, in retirement, wrote Meaning and Method:  Prolegomena to a Scientific Philosophy of Religion and a Scientific Theology (1972).

Above:  The Title Page to Commentary on Romans

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Both men argued for continuity from Jesus to St. Paul the Apostle.  Nygren made that point in his influential Commentary on Romans (1944), a volume other exegetes of that epistle quote.  According to the Carl C. Rasmussen translation (1944),

Until quite recently it was customary for theology to draw a sharp line between Jesus and Paul.  Jesus preached the coming of the kingdom of God; but Paul, it was said, changed this to the doctrine of justification by faith.  Now there is room for no doubt that this view is false, and that the continuity between Jesus and Paul is essentially unbroken.  When, therefore, we seek to fix the basic thought in Paul’s view of the gospel, it is quite proper to point out how it has both its origin and its anchor in Jesus’ proclamation about the kingdom of God.

–9

Above:  The Spine of Commentary on Romans

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The bishops died within a year of each other.  Aulén, aged 98 years, died on December 16, 1977.  Nygren, aged 87 years, died in Lund on October 20, 1978.

Their contributions to theology have never died, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 28, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BINNEY, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND “ARCHBISHOP OF NONCONFORMITY”

THE FEAST OF ANDREW REED, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA JULIA HAYWOOD COOPER AND ELIZABETH EVELYN WRIGHT, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATORS

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH C. CLEPHANE, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,

and to another the insight of wisdom,

and to another the steadfastness of faith.

We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servants Gustaf Aulén and Anders Nygren,

and we pray that by their teaching we may be led to a fuller understanding

of the truth we have seen in your Son Jesus, our Savior and Lord,

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

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61

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Feast of the Martyrs of Melanesia, 1864-2003 (September 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of New Zealand and Melanesia, 1958

Image Scanned and Cropped from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1958)

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INTRODUCTION

The Feast of the Martyrs of Melanesia comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.  This feast overlaps with two other commemorations from various provinces of the Anglican Communion–that of John Coleridge Patteson and His Companions (September 20) and that of the Martyrs of the Melanesian Brotherhood (April 24).

1864-1871

The first Anglican martyrs in Melanesia were Frederick Lorenzo Fisher Young (usually known as Fisher Young) and Edwin Nobbs, who died in 1864.  Young and Nobbs were descendants of H.M.S. Bounty mutineers; Young was a great-great-grandson of Fletcher Christian (1792-1842).  Young, born on January 27, 1846, was a native of Pitcairn Island.  Nobbs was a son of an Anglican priest stationed on Norfolk Island, the headquarters of the Melanesian Mission.  In 1864 Young, Nobbs, and Bishop John Coleridge Patteson were on Santa Cruz Island when natives shot them with arrows.  Young and Nobbs contracted tetanus and lockjaw.  Young died on August 24, after having forgiven his assailants.

I have already written about the martyrdoms of Joseph Atkin, Stephen Taroniara, and Bishop Patteson in 1871.

1904-1926

Others came to wear the crown of martyrdom, also.

  1. Arthur Ako died in his garden in 1904.  In 1898 he and fifteen converts from Fiji founded a Christian village at Kwara’ae, Fiu.  Within two years, with the addition of non-Fijian Christians, the village’s population had increased to about 100.  Hostile neighbors harassed the villagers.  The village remained after Ako’s murder and became the center of the spread of the faith in the area.
  2. James Ivo, a teacher from Nggela, died (by shooting) at Ngorefou in 1906.
  3. James Sili, falsely accused of sorcery, was standing on the veranda of the mission-house when someone fatally shot him in 1910.
  4. Charles Christopher Godden, born in Violet Town, Victoria, Australia, in 1876, was a poet, as well as the first Australian missionary to die in Melanesia.  He, ordained to the Anglican diaconate in 1899 and the priesthood the following year, was briefly the Curate of St. Michael’s Church, Surry Hills.  He volunteered for missionary work.  On September 3, 1900, Godden left for Norfolk Island, headquarters of the Melanesian Mission.  He arrived in Omba, New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) in April 1901.  There Godden supervised the construction of a church building and some schools.  On December 12, 1905, while on leave in Sydney, Australia, he married Eva Dearin (d. 1964).  They returned to Omba the following April.  On October 16, 1906, an angry, vengeful Melanesian man, released from an Australian prison after serving his sentence for attempted murder, killed Godden, who had never done anything to him, but was of European ancestry.  Our saint’s murderer was angry at people of European ancestry, due to his incarceration.  Eva gave birth to a daughter, Ruth, in July 1907.
  5. Ben Teilo, from Matema, was the first native Reef Islander ordained to the Anglican priesthood, in 1919.  He met his martyrdom via an axe attack in 1926.

2003

1998-2003 was a time of crisis in the Solomon Islands.  Two rival militias, the Isatubu Freedom Movement and the Malaitan Eagle Force, fought over competition between ethnic groups for land and jobs.  Government instability ensued, the economy suffered, and natural disasters made bad manners worse.  Military forces from Australia and New Zealand helped to stabilize the situation and end the crisis by the end of 2003, three years after the signing of the peace treaty.

Nathaniel Sado was a novice in the Melanesian Brotherhood.  He, in charge of the piggery, liked the pigs very much and fed them sweet potatoes he had picked from his garden then cooked.  Sado and animals got along well; he was one of the few novices the donkey liked.  Our saint, a native of the volcanic island of Savo, enjoyed taking expatriates to the hot springs there.  Sado, who was naïve, had befriended Harold Keke, notorious leader of the Isatubu Freedom Movement, and a man responsible for the murder of two priests, one of them a Member of Parliament in 2002.  Sado thought he really knew Keke; he was terribly mistaken.  Sado, accused of being a government spy, sang hymns as guerrillas beat him death at Easter (April 20) 2003.

Six Melanesian Brothers went to ask for Sado’s corpse.  They paid with their lives on or about April 23, 2003.

  1. Robin Lindsay was the Assistant Head Brother.  He, a longterm member of the Melanesian Brotherhood, was, according to the Father Richard Carter, a chaplain to the Brotherhood, “the encourager,” and a man who had a gift for helping people build on their strengths.
  2. Francis Tofi worked for peace in the strife-torn Solomon Islands.  He organized an effort, in conjugation with police, to sink all the ammunition, explosives, and high-powered weapons they could find into the sea, beyond reach.  Tofi, an expert in peaceful conflict resolution and an advocate for disarmament, fearlessly spoke out against Keke.  Tofi had received an offer from the World Council of Churches to accept a place at the Bossey Institute in Geneva and to assist with a course on conflict resolution.  He, according to his own words, had no fear of dying for the sake of peace and in the service of God.
  3. Alfred Hilly, stationed for two years at a the Chester Resthouse in Honiara, was the epitome of hospitality, teaching an abandoned child to read, tending to visiting children, and reading blood slides at the local malaria clinic.
  4. Ini Partabatu was an actor and a courageous opponent of injustice.  He acted in dramas about development and health issues.  Partabatu also condemned brutal police tactics that disrespected the rights of the accused.
  5. Patteson Gatu, admitted to the Melanesian Brotherhood in October 2002, was usually quick to smile.  His sense of humor, combined with his faith, made him an agent of grace.
  6. Tony Sirihi, having lost his father at an early age, found a family in the Melanesian Brotherhood.  He grew into a bold Brother, a courageous man, and a good friend who participated in the process of disarmament.

In March 2005 Harold Keke and two former guerrillas received life sentences for the murder of Father Augustine Geve, M.P., in 2002.

CONCLUSION

These are sobering stories that remind one of the command of Jesus to take up one’s cross and follow him.  Some follow Christ all the way to their own Golgotha.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PETER OF CHELCIC, BOHEMIAN HUSSITE REFORMER; AND GREGORY THE PATRIARCH, FOUNDER OF THE MORAVIAN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GODFREY THRING, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JANE CREWDSON, ENGLISH QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NARAYAN SESHADRI OF JALNI, INDIAN PRESBYTERIAN EVANGELIST AND “APOSTLE TO THE MANGS”

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Creator God, whose majesty is in the storms as well as in the calm,

we thank you for those of every race who gave their lives in Melanesia for the sake of Christ;

may we your church always proclaim your gospel, live your commandments,

and overcome the powers of darkness; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.  Amen.

or

God, you call us, your missionaries, to carry our lives in our hands;

we praise you for many servants in Melanesia whose lives

were taken by those for whom they would gladly have given them.  Amen.

Isaiah 26:1-4

Psalm 97 or 149

Colossians 1:9-14

John 12:20-26

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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