1 to 8 August 2004
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In our last
week's letter, we asked about Anglican heroes. This week we're
delighted to share with you all the people we were privileged to read
about in our correspondence. Have one you'd like to share? Let us know.
priest and theologian with generosity of heart and soul
response to your question about 'Anglican Heroes', let me weigh in
with a vote for Frederick Denison Maurice, mid-Victorian English priest
and theologian whose magisterial books The Kingdom of Christ and Theological
Essays exemplify the kind of astute thinking, clear writing and
-- most importantly -- generous attitude that is so often missing from
our contemporary debates.
committed to Anglican Christianity and unafraid to call error by its
name when necessary, his unswerving dedication to finding common ground
wherever he could, within the framework of classical Christian truth,
should be an inspiration to all of us. Perhaps the most topical aspect
of the example he sets us is his diligence in acquiring an 'inside'
understanding, even of opinions he would then sharply criticise. Even
where one disagrees with him, it is almost impossible to feel slighted
by his treatment of one's own position; rather he calls the reader
to radical reappraisal with a come-let-us-reason-together humility
which is hard to resist, and which blends graciously with his wide
erudition and sharp intellect.
many important thinkers before and since, was disparaged in his own
day from two directions: from the secular world, as a man who wasted
his considerable talents on theological niceties that mainstream society
already viewed as quaintly outmoded; and from the church, as a dangerous
liberal (his writing in Theological Essays against traditional
notions of hell as eternal punishment lost him a lucrative professorship).
For all that, his writing remains an inspiration (and perhaps, in a
gentle sort of way, a rebuke) to many of the shriller, lazier theologians
of our own day.
Daryl M. Hutchings
Christ Church Cathedral
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
3 August 2004
A godmother of
prayer, faith, and love
I am a Vancouver-born
Canadian of Japanese ancestry. A woman from the Isle of Wight, Ida
S. Withers, was my godmother. My mother, before she was married, was
Ida's roommate. They were both kindergarten teachers.
For the first
ten years of my life we lived in Vancouver, and my godmother, along
with several women missionaries, were regular visitors in our home.
When Pearl Harbor occurred in December 1941, the regular routine was
severely disrupted, and in a few months hence the Japanese community
and our congregational life was dislocated.
decided to keep in touch with me by letter in the 'ghost town' of Slocan
City. Her letters of spiritual counsel and advice to an elementary
school-age child miraculously came regularly to 'Master Timothy Nakayama',
undefiled by the black strokes of the censor. What she wrote did not
contain any sensitive information, but they were filled with spiritual
sensitivity and care!
After we were
relocated in the immediate post-war years to Coaldale, Alberta, on
the wide open treeless prairies, she continued writing to me to tell
me about her prayers of intercession for me and the baptismal promises
she had made for me in 1931. I remember that she wrote to me when I
graduated from high school. She kept in touch by post, especially at
anniversaries, and my graduation from university and seminary. She
was overjoyed to know that I was to be ordained deacon, and then priest,
at the pro-Cathedral in Calgary. She kept in touch with me by her prayers
and her letters, and died shortly after Keiko and I were married in
1961. She was ever more faithful than I, and I thank God for her faithful
and loving ministry to me of over thirty-five years, many that were
fraught with uncertainty. I cherish having received her steadying regular
letters over all those years with the assurance of her prayers! Thanks
be to God!
Timothy Makoto Nakayama
St Mark's Cathedral, Seattle
Seattle, Washington, USA
2 August 2004
A parish priest
of reverence and enthusiasm
My wife and
I agree that Father Noel Delbridge is our modern-day Anglican hero.
Working as a locum priest, this stately looking gentleman (who is probably
eighty years old or there about) could warm the coldest of days with
his sincere warmth and friendliness. Father Noel is a leader who can
manage a situation with all concerned feeling listened to and respected.
His faith is an inspiration and he is always ready to lend an ear and
dispense wise counsel. During mass, to watch him consecrate the host,
one would think that this was the first time he had ever performed
this sacred duty, such is his enthusiasm and reverence during such
time with Father Noel, you leave him with a renewed desire to be a
better Anglican and a better Christian.
Like all true
heroes, Father Noel would probably deny all of this and tell you he
is just being himself ... and this is why we consider him so special
and our modern-day Anglican Hero.
Christ Church, Essendon
Essendon, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
2 August 2004
An African archbishop,
an ECUSA bishop, and an American lay theologian
The Right Reverend
Coleman McGehee, activist Bishop of Michigan, who took risky positions
on both civil rights and the gay and lesbian issues back in the 1970s.
He's now retired but still active.
author of Equipping the Saints and Dream of God. Biblical
scholar with much to say about the issues of inclusively following
Jesus rather than exclusively worshipping him.
Tutu, for all that he has done and all that he has written and the
various stances that he has taken in the face of criticism.
Joel G. Hill
St John's Church, Hagerstown, Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
2 August 2004
An Anglican writer
and scholar who asked questions of depth
I don't think
I would call him a hero, per se, and he himself would absolutely deny
it: Clive Staples Lewis.
He is my spiritual
mentor, certainly, and I suppose (knowing myself as I do) that qualifies
him for 'hero' status. His insight and intellect have broadened my
view of my faith, and added a depth to it I don't think anyone else
could have done. I've read most of his apologetic works, collections,
and of course, the Narnia series. Often, he is not easy reading. A
few paragraphs are often all I can read, mark, and inwardly digest.
Very dense writing; certainly not the cotton-candy fluff and sweetness
one finds in many current apologetics.
I am not a person
who is swayed by emotional appeals. It works for many, but has had
no staying power with me. Lewis, on the other hand, is the one whose
appeal to me is in what happens after the 'feel-goods' run out and
you're left wondering what happened, what you did wrong, why the good
feelings left (see Surprised By Joy). In his writings, he answered
numerous questions I never even thought to ask. He has made me examine
and question my faith and see it in a far different way from the faith
of my childhood -- '... when I was a child, I thought as a child ...
when I became an adult, I put away childish things'.
A hero? More
like, heroic. A saint? He would be first to deny it, but I suggest
a small-s saint, rather than a capital-S saint. Such as many of us
St Andrew's Episcopal Church
Panama City, Florida, USA
2 August 2004
An American bishop
whose life and teachings are unforgotten
What would life be without them.
hero was the Right Reverend Robert Bracewell Appleyard, late Bishop
of Pittsburgh. He was someone I could look up to, and someone who could
look into me and help me be a better Christian. One of his sons was
my parish priest.
I will never
forget the feeling of his strong hands grasping my head at my confirmation.
And I will never forget what he taught me, by words and deeds, about
being a Christian.
Christ Church, Los Altos, California
Palo Alto, California, USA
9 August 2004
An early 20th-century
parish priest whose energy and achievements inspire
hero is Dick Sheppard. Sheppard was appointed Rector of St Martin in
the Fields, Trafalgar Square, in 1914. This web page, by the Peace
Pledge Union, http://www.ppu.org.uk/learn/infodocs/people/pst_dick.html provides
a great short biography of the man.
It is his energy
in the face of chronic illness and depression that inspires me, and
the wonderful vision and creativity of the parish priest whose mark
is still on St Martin's almost 90 years after his arrival.
In the summer
of 2002, on Jubilee Day (June 4), I was privileged to celebrate the
Eucharist at St Martin's in the tiny little Dick Sheppard Chapel. Fittingly,
it is a small cave-like room cut under the sidewalk next to the crypt.
Painted white, with its simple memorial to Vera Brittain (another of
my heroes), the ceiling is glass block, letting in the light from above
and the shadows of the city dwellers and tourists above as they move
in and out of St Martin's. It was a simple moment that I will carry
with me always.
great landmark that it is, is still an organic part of its space and
time, it is a living, breathing parish and inspiration to the church.
The Peace Pledge
Union was and is a wonderful accomplishment, but is is Dick Sheppard's
vision of how a parish could be integrated with its community that
captures my imagination and inspires me in my own ministry.
The Greater Parish of Gaspe
Gaspe, Quebec, CANADAs
2 August 2004
bishops, one presiding
Three of the
Anglican heroes who have most inspired my own spiritual life are: 1)
Bishop Charles C. Grafton, second Bishop of Fond du Lac [Wisconsin
USA], whose autobiography, A Journey Godward, remains a too-little-known
gem of the Catholic Movement. Grafton was, in many ways, a progressive,
and very much shaped the most creative strain of American Anglo Catholicism.
2) Bishop William H. Brady, fifth Bishop of Fond du Lac, a wise and
holy man who continued Grafton's tradition and made many of us into
more mature Christians. 3) Bishop Frank T. Griswold, whose deep spiritual
life shines like stars and who continues to demonstrate what it is
to be a truly Catholic Christian.
St Augustine of Hippo, Rhinelander (Diocese of Fond du Lac)
Three Lakes, Wisconsin, USA
2 August 2004
A martyred bishop
and Anglican saint
I have recently
finished reading Charlotte Mary Yonge's biography of John Coleridge
Patteson, first Missionary Bishop of Melanesia.
The facts of
his life are impressive: leaving family and the comforts of England,
he worked tirelessly, under conditions of great physical hardship,
and finally lost his life in the cause of bringing the Gospel to those
who had never heard it. But the letters and journals which make up
most of the book reveal an equally impressive inner life, deeply recollected,
free of any sense of cultural or racial superiority, stengthened with
might by the Spirit in the inner man. So it is particularly moving
to see this saintly man nourished by things recognisably Anglican.
He comments on the appropriateness of the readings for Morning or Evening
Prayer on a particular day. He quotes BCP collects. He prays the long
prayer from the Ordering of Priests every day to strengthen himself
for his ministry. He discusses liturgical developments in the English
Church circa 1870 with his correspondents in England, including John
Keble, and moves to weekly Communion as the norm for baptised Christians.
In short, an
Anglican saint, not a saint in spite of being an Anglican.
St Mary Magdalene Toronto
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
3 August 2004
A bishop with
the courage to fight for the right
The late Bishop
Paul Moore of New York. To learn about his life you can read his autobiographies,
Take a Bishop Like Me and Presences. A man of courage and vision
and an advocate for justice.
All Souls, Point Loma
San Diego, California, USA
9 August 2004
an inner-city priest, and a multitude no-one can number
The late David
Watson, who has inspired me through his writing (One in the Spirit, Discipleship,
etc.) and through his example as an evangelical, charismatic Anglican
who remained loyal to the Anglican Church and found ways of renewing
and developing parish life without 'kicking over the traces'.
the Vicar of the parish in which I found my first Christian home: A
faithful parish priest in an inner-city parish in London. He set me
an example of a spirituality that was not afraid to face up to the
real world and that could cope with the messiness of human existence.
Graham Corneck helped me to believe in a God big enough to be able
to handle my and others' weakness, so that it was possible to be honest
with oneself and with God.
I suppose that
CS Lewis should also get a mention, but I guess that he will be mentioned
by quite a few others!
Thanks for prompting
me to remember not only the heroes I've mentioned, but also others
(both women and men) who have been great influences in my Christian
Church of Sweden (Lutheran, but I was ordained in the Anglican Church)
2 August 2004
Two bishops who
Tutu, has been undoubtedly my Anglican hero. He has shown what I have
lacked in facing the stupidity and unfairness of the apartheid system,
risking everything to live the Gospel.
Shelby Spong, for the courage he has shown to be honest to God and
to himself. For the joy of thinking in a fresh way in this eternal
search for meaning, for the rigour and seriousness he has developed
at doing it.
San Andrés de La Reina (St Andrew, La Reina)
4 August 2004
A priest who
Hero: the Reverend Samuel Shoemaker. (Calvary Church, New York City;
Calvary Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) The inspiration for the book Alcoholics
Anonymous, he was given credit as a co-founder of that organization
by Bill Wilson. Any comparative study of that book and the earlier
writings of Samuel Shoemaker will leave the impression that Shoemaker,
rather than Wilson, is the one who should get the credit for using
the Sermon on the Mount and the Book of James to create a 20th-century
roadmap to sobriety and eternal life. Apparently he was too humble
to claim or accept the credit for his role in helping millions of alcoholics
(and many others) to not only recover but also to find God.
can regularly be found in ECUSA undercrofts throughout the United States.
I do not believe that ECUSA has ever received recognition for this
hugely successful ministry, but the Reverend Mr Shoemaker probably
preferred it that way.
educated at Princeton and became a leader of the Oxford Movement in
the United States. He later moved to Pittsburgh where his important
work continued in that city. He died in 1963.
His work made
an enormous difference in my life. It continues to lead others, many
of whom were not born during his lifetime, to discover that God is
very much alive.
St Peter's Church
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
2 August 2004
A bishop who
Spong, a man who dares to ask why.
St Stephen's Church
2 August 2004
A hero out of
Give me a shout
when you get around to the old-timers. I'll happily nominate William
Tyndale. Yes, dears, I know he predated the 'Separation', but he was
St Michael & All Angels, Diocese of the Rio Grande
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
3 August 2004
bishop who confronted war in all its forms
I have so many
heroes of the Anglican Communion that it is hard to choose just one.
But I would like to commend in particular Bishop George Bell of Chichester
was a remarkable and courageous Christian. He was an early and vocal
critic of the Nazi regime of Germany. After Pastor Martin Niemoller
was arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo in 1937, Bell wrote a series
of letters in the British press about Niemoller's plight. His public
intercession very likely saved Niemoller's life. Bishop Bell was also
a friend and confidant of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
While a critic
of Nazism, Bishop Bell was not reticent to critique his own country.
It took no little courage in the midst of WW II to insist that the
Kingdom of God was a higher cause than patriotism and that the Church
was 'not the state’s spiritual auxiliary.' He was a vocal critic
of the use 'area bombing' in which whole cities and civilians were
targeted to reduce enemy morale.
On 10th May
1941, Bell made a speech where he described the 'night-bombing of non-combatants
as a degradation of the spirit for all who take part in it'. He was
thus an early critic of what has come to be called 'collateral damage'.
Bishop Bell recognized that, however noble, just, or righteous the
cause, any time we decide that some can be killed for the sake of others,
it is a devil's bargain. And those who participate in such a logic
of death diminish their own souls. It is a perennial but timely Christian
Glen Ellyn, Illinois, USA
4 August 2004
bishop who witnesses to self-sacrificial love
hero is Bishop Gene Robinson. Instead of hiding who he is, he has been
open about his identity as a gay man in a long-term loving relationship.
He did not let those who opposed his sexual orientation keep him from
accepting his consecration as bishop, a consecration during which he
had to wear body armor because of the threats made against him. He
didn't set out to be a hero; he simply lives out the honesty that Christianity
demands even though it has put his life and the lives of those he loves
I also think
that his partner, Mark Andrew, is a hero as well. What he and Gene
have gone through in the past year would have been enough to shatter
even the strongest covenant relationship. Yet Mark has remained by
Neither of them
are heroic because they set out to be that way; they were honest with
themselves and with the Church. And honesty is a hallmark of the Christian
life. So too is sacrificial love, being willing to give up things for
the good of another. For the good of the Church, for the sake of being
witnesses of Christ's sacrificial love for us, they have given up their
security and their esteem in the eyes of many and become targets for
the worst kind of insults and threats. And Bishop Robinson's consecration
has served as a witness to our GLBT brothers and sisters that the Episcopal
Church in the USA has doors wide enough for everyone and love enough
for every hungry heart. I thank God for them both.
All Saints Episcopal Church
Gastonia, North Carolina, USA
4 August 2004
who would not limit the love of God
heroes include the Reverend Dr Thomas Gallaudet, who established the
tradition of sign-language ministry among deaf people in the Episcopal
Church in 1852. Also the Reverend Henry Winter Syle, ordained in 1876
as the first deaf ordained Episcopal priest and, I believe, the first
deaf priest of any denomination. For more information, go to Episcopal
Conference of the Deaf website at www.ecdeaf.com.
Syle and Thomas Gallaudet share a feast day (August 27th). My parish,
St Barnabas' Episcopal Church of the Deaf in the Diocese of Washington,
is hosting the Episcopal Conference of the Deaf convention later this
month -- and where would we be without Gallaudet and Syle?
St Barnabas' Episcopal Chuch of the Deaf
Rockville, Maryland USA
4 August 2004
bishop (yes, we know...)
request for news of inspiring lives, I cannot resist pointing out an
apparently little-known bishop from the twelfth century who deserves
better recognition in these troubled times of conflict. In seeking
an exception to your time limit, I appeal both to the great need of
such examples today and to your avowed love of tales of Bishops that
have gone before.
I refer to Hugh,
Bishop of Lincoln (died 1200). He inspires me in part because of his
commitment to lofty principles, including the defence of the poor and
the helpless, which led him to defy mobs as well as kings. All well
and good. However, it is the stories of his conduct during his disagreements
with Richard the Lion-Heart which are most moving to me.
His first interview
with King Richard concerned in part the pursuit of overdue payments
from the King for the monastery he was building in remorse for the
murder of Thomas a Becket. Hugh is reported to have said, 'I do not
despair of you. I know how much your many occupations interfere with
the health of your soul.' He settled another argument with a kiss,
and a third (over refusing to appoint a royal favorite to a post) by
making a gentle joke.
to demonstrate his love of his adversaries, while still bitterly divided
over important issues of principle, that I seek to imitate. I have
said many a silent prayer to St. Hugh on the way in or out of vestry
There is a brief
biography of Bishop Hugh in James Kiefer's Lives of the Saints.
St Paul's on the Hill
St Paul, Minnesota, USA
5 August 2004
A parish priest
who became a hero for an adult who wasn't sure she needed one
As an adult,
I never really thought much of someone being 'my' hero. This is usually
the thought of children. I have responsibilities, a child to nurture,
a job for survival, clothes to wash, floors to vacuum, groceries to
buy. Who has time for such nonsense? And then, despite the busy-ness
of life, somone captures your thoughts, more importantly, your prayers.
began a new chapter in the life of the Rector of St Thomas Episcopal
Church. He was abruptly struck with the loss of sight, primarily in
one eye at first. In the months that have followed he has lost considerable
eyesight in both eyes. Now the 'good' eye has become the 'bad' eye,
and the 'bad', the 'good'.
I ponder the impact on his life, his family's, the church's, and even
selfishly, my own. Can one reach an end, a finality to their faith
-- somewhat like thinking the earth is flat and one can reach a point
of falling off, or falling into (hopefully) the arms of God? Each day
is new. Each moment, by moment, faith so small (mine), as in a grain
of mustard seed, but faith so powerful (his) that it can move the mountain.
I now know you're
never too old for a 'hero'.
Cathy S. Faw
St Thomas' Episcopal Church and School
Houston, Texas USA.
7 August 2004
We launched our 'Letters to
AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our