Sunday, September 8, 2013

This Week's Feast Days

September 10th: Alexander Crummell [1819-1898]

Crummell was the founder of the Union of Black Episcopalians.  Shortly after being educated by the Episcopal Church of the United States he moved to the Church of England.  After being further educated by the C. of E., he moved to Liberia, where he hoped to become the bishop/president of a black Christian republic.  That didn't work out, so he then moved back to the United States, where he worked as a parish priest in the District of Columbia. 

He left behind little written work; no scholarly articles of his are available, or even listed, online.  A half-dozen or so of his sermons are to be found, though.  The best known is probably "Common Sense in Common Schooling", based on Proverbs 9: 12.  If it appears to be more of a speech than a sermon, understand that was Crummell's style and was reflective of the standard of his age.

At the request of the UBE and its supporters, Crummell was added to the calendar in 1994.

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Alexander Crummell, whom you called to preach the Gospel to those who were far off and to those who were near. Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

September 12: John Henry Hobart [1775-1830]

Without too much debate, Hobart is considered by many as the greatest churchman of his generation.  Certainly, without his endeavors, neither I nor half of my family would have received the formal education that we have enjoyed.

From the Diocese of Central New York's website:

After the American Revolution and the Independence of the United States, the Episcopal Church, under public suspicion in many quarters because of its previous association with the British government, did very little for about twenty years. John Hobart was one of the men who changed this.
John Henry Hobart was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 14 September 1775, the son of a ship's captain. He was educated at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University, ordained deacon in 1798 and priest in 1801. Called as assistant minister to Trinity Church, New York, in 1803, at age 36 he was elected assistant bishop of the diocese in 1811, becoming diocesan in 1816.
To look at John Henry Hobart, you wouldn't have predicted greatness. Height always distinguishes, and he was notably short. Blessed with attractive blue eyes, he was nearsighted and forced to wear thick glasses. In an age of marmoreal gestures in the pulpit, he was melodramatic. At a time of dignified eloquence, he spoke rapidly, with emotion. When most men were reserved, even with their families, he was warm, whether with ambassadors or farmers, to the point of being thought odd.
Most bishops were content if they bestirred themselves for episcopal acts a hundred miles from home. Hobart had the energy of ten men: horses dropped under his exertions and he thought nothing of a winter visitation of 2,000 miles in western New York or 4,000 at a more seasonal time.
Early in his career he tackled publicly issues still dubious in the American mind: episcopacy and apostolic succession, arguably besting in print a redoubtable Presbyterian opponent.
He founded two institutions: a college in Geneva (later Hobart College) and General Theological Seminary in New York City, breaking his health to get both off the ground.
He not only looked after the Diocese of New York (46,000 square miles and virtual wilderness west and north of Albany) he served as rector of Trinity Parish, the wealthiest and most influential church in the country. Agreeing to oversee the diocese of Connecticut, since its high- and low-church party roils had prevented the election of a bishop, he covered its parishes more thoroughly than any bishop ever had. New Jersey, similarly bishopless, appealed to him, and he looked after it as well.
He knew all the clergy in the Church generally and in his own diocese intimately. He was aware of their background, remembered their families, forgave their frailties, and appreciated their strengths. He watched over his candidates for Holy Orders with a paternal interest, meeting with them weekly.
His instinct for politics never overrode his principles. Once convinced of the rightness of his position, no wave of unpopularity would budge him. His friends adored him and even his enemies credited him with frankness and fearlessness. He held no grudges and played no games, two qualities that endeared him to many. In a turbulent New York State election for governor, a common saying was that only Hobart would have been easily elected.
He took 26 clergy at the beginning of his episcopate in 1811 and quintupled them to 133 by his death; watched the number of parishes increase from about 50 to almost 170; and confirmed roughly 15,000.
This lovable, indefatigable, type-A bishop went virtually nonstop from his ordination until his death. The only surprise was that he didn't die sooner. At midnight, September 7, 1830, a young clergyman rode in a stage through Auburn on his way to Binghamton. Passing the rectory of St. Peter's Church, he was puzzled to see a light so late. He rapped for the stage to stop and soon learned from the rector, John Rudd, that Bishop Hobart was ill. Francis Cumming remained to assist in any way he could.
Hobart's illness wasn't that surprising. Troubled for years with what was most likely a bleeding ulcer, with rest and medication he would generally rebound. In Auburn he had preached and confirmed and other than a slight cold, seemed fine. But soon the serious nature of his attack became clear and he cancelled the remainder of his visitation. Over the next few days, he frequently requested to hear portions of Lancelot Andrewes's litany, in which he would join.
The third bishop of New York is buried under the chancel of Trinity Church, New York.

Revive your Church, Lord God of hosts, whenever it falls into complacency and sloth, by raising up devoted leaders, like your servant John Henry Hobart whom we remember this day; and grant that their faith and vigor of mind may awaken your people to your message and their mission; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

September 13: St. Cyprian of Carthage [c. 250-258]

Two years after he was baptized, Cyprian became the bishop of Carthage in northern Africa.  Yes, they did things rather quickly in the 3rd century.  During a vicious persecution by the Roman emperor, Cyprian, rather than face certain death by creative torture, "bravely ran away".  [With apologies to Monty Python for that paraphrase from "...and the Holy Grail."]

He received much criticism for this, yet remained a bishop and served as a champion for those who had recanted their faith rather than face their own slaughter and that of their nearest and dearest.  Cyprian prescribed both a form of probation and some direct penance for those who wished to rejoin the flock.  What he prescribed for himself is not known by the sources I consulted. 

As was common for clergy of his day, he was involved in various theological disputes, more of which may be read of here.

When the second wave of persecutions came, Cyprian did not adjourn to the hills, as it were, but instead faced his persecutors and paid the martyr's price for such defiance. 

Almighty God, who gave to your servant Cyprian boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.