By Mary Klein, diocesan archivist
The Rev. William Augustus White
“O Christian souls, mark now the time: –
High time to wake from sleep;
The night is past; the day-spring dawns,
Let us our vigils keep.
Awake, awake, though all around,
Are lost in slumbers deep;
Arise, and with repentant heart
O’er sin and folly weep.”
One verse of a 40-stanza poem written by the rector of a country parish on Maryland’s Eastern shore about 1850, “Advent Poem” numbers among the many pieces of poetry, devotional tracts, books, articles and pamphlets penned by the Rev. William Augustus White. White came from Pennsylvania to Spring Hill Parish in 1844, at a salary of $350 per year. In 1845, the Rev. J. A. McKenney wrote to Bishop Whittingham saying, “Our brother White and company passed through here (Cambridge, MD.) on Tuesday. Poor fellow! I trust he is not entirely dependent on his salary at Salisbury to supply seven mouths with food and seven bodies with raiment.” (White and his wife Catherine had six children: Herbert, Alice, Clement, William, Augustus and Laura.) In 1847, White organized the Claggett Society of Salisbury, and said he wished the Society could obtain Claggett’s mitre, and that he would write a poem about it if they did.
Like many of his fellow High-Churchmen, White came under attack for practices which, in the eyes of some, smacked of “popery and unsafe Romanising”. Bishop Whittingham, in an 1855 letter to the Episcopal Recorder, defended White, saying that reports of “profuse decoration of the altar with flowers” have been exaggerated, and that “flowers have been used only on Christmas, Easter and Whitsunday,” and few at those times. As for “wax candles on the altar,” they were in reality “fluid lamps conveniently arranged for the night services the rector must have in Salisbury since the other five churches in the rector’s care are being served in the day time.” The charges of “chanting and singing” by the rector were defended by the bishop who said White was merely singing “the customary chants and metered Psalms of the Prayer Book.” White was even charged with “ringing the Angelus” with the church’s bell. Whittingham’s explanation was that the bell was rung morning, noon and night, as a condition of the donor, and that “For the name ‘Angelus’ and the innuendo which it conveys, the malice of the popish spy is unanswerable.” In the most damning accusation, the paper reported that Mr. White dressed in “soutane and surplice with something like a stole around the neck;” but Whittingham replied, “Neither he nor his parish know what a soutane is.” During the service, the rector wears the common surplice and scarf, and nothing else.” The furor seems to have died down, and in 1861, William Augustus White left the Eastern Shore to become rector of St. James’, Monkton, where he stayed until 1865 when he returned to Pennsylvania. He retired to Philadelphia in 1896, and died about 1899.
by The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
The Season of the Nativity (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany) is a time when a lot of good films are released. I enjoy going to the movies. In Advent, movies often provide time for quiet for me, as well as rich topics for reflection in the season of waiting. Some congregations have movie groups where they view a film together and discuss faith themes they see in the film. My hope is to recommend films for your personal reflection or your movie group. You might even want to consider starting a group at your church. A movie group brings parishioners and community members together through fellowship and engages people in theological reflection. Movies help us to see where God is speaking and acting in culture, in our daily lives.
I commend these films and discussion to you. My list of recommendations will grow throughout the season. You can follow it on the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland webpage (episcopalmaryland.org), as well as on Facebook @EugeneTaylorSutton. I hope you enjoy the movies and that they give your rich fodder for reflection. Below are the recommendations, followed by discussion questions.
BOY ERASED – Recently I saw the film, Boy Erased. About the teenage son of a Baptist preacher in the South, this coming out story goes beyond the societal struggles associated with coming out, reaching theological challenges so big a father feels he has to question whether he can love his son as he is, his faith beliefs being in tension with his love for his son. The young boy, Jared, is sent to a cruel conversion camp where he wrestles to understand himself, his family and his beliefs.
Questions for Discussion:
1) Have your religious convictions ever been in tension with your desire to love unconditionally?
2) When did you first encounter a person of faith who was publicly open about their sexual orientation to the same gender?
GREEN BOOK – My next recommendation is the Green Book. This is also a personal recommendation for me, as my parents grew up in areas of strict racial segregation. I remember traveling with them in the South and finding out as a young boy that we could not eat or stay in some establishments because of the color of our skin. Did you know?… There really was a published Green Book. In the film, both of the main characters, one white and one black, are transformed in significant ways because of their friendship.
Questions for dIscussion:
1) Have issues of race ever come up in any of your relationship? Why or why not?
2) Is racial equity, injustice or insensitivity, and issue in your church?
You can follow my movie recommendations and suggestions for movie groups in one place on our diocesan website, EpiscopalMaryland.org.
6 December 2018; Nicholas, Bishop of Myra
TO GOD’S BELOVED IN THE DIOCESE OF MARYLAND
Growing up in a Navy family, I absorbed the cultural practices of Hail and Farewell, and to this day I remember the duties of a “short-timer.” Not only did we wear a small blue and gold ribbon, we made a list of people to whom thank you letters would be ideally hand-delivered. We thought about who should receive personal effects which exceeded the capacity of our military cargo container. We made our lists of memories to cherish. We planned our “send off” and made sure the invitation list was complete. The rituals urged that we publicly articulate how we wanted to be remembered. And we disclosed as much as possible about our next posting as we said Farewell.
Saying Farewell is not easy work, but it’s important work: it honors time shared together on this grace-filled and challenging journey called life. The bonds we have built with one another are sacred and holy. We have, as Diocese of Maryland and Assistant Bishop, spent a good season together, and I am deeply grateful. Memories I will cherish, to mention only a few:
The utter joy of working with a devoted diocesan staff – true colleagues in every way
Ribbon-cuttings and groundbreakings for new additions, environmental projects, renovations, new church furnishings and rededicated facilities
Confirming and receiving hundreds of people, young and old, and seeing how their faces change as they experience that sacramental moment
Celebrating New Ministries as clergy and people commit to shared ministry in a new chapter
Regional and diocesan clergy gatherings where, increasingly, we were honest and bold in sharing with one another our truths
Walking the path of racial reconciliation and truth-telling with you in a number of contexts
Being at Claggett for so many programs, retreats, seminars, vestry days and youth events
The wide-open road trips to sturdy, faithful congregations in the western part of our diocese
The tenacity and vibrancy of our small churches, and their new community with one another
Welcoming Michael Curry, our Presiding Bishop, “home” to the Diocese of Maryland, and the wondrous night we had with him at our 2017 Diocesan Convention
The many moments with people discerning and pursuing vocational promptings, as ordained or as intentional lay ministers
Welcoming folks into the new Deacon Formation Program, and feeling the vision take hold
Being with elected General Convention deputies in Austin this summer for the work of the whole church.
As we end this season in ministry, I want to tell you all how gratified I have felt as we’ve spent time together. It’s been the best three years of my ministry. I will begin assisting the Bishop of Washington in mid-February, and look forward to that next chapter. But you will always be in my heart and in my prayers. I love you so much, Diocese of Maryland. Goodbye and thank you.
Ever in Christ,
From Grassroots to Government: A Climate Assessment Presents a Moral Opportunity
A recent U.S. climate assessment made headlines last week for its conclusion that the victims of climate change are no longer some future generation, but us — and we’re feeling the effects now.
Three days after the Trump administration published the report — on the biggest shopping day of the year — Katharine Hayhoe, one of the authors, appeared in a webinar hosted by nonprofit news network, Climate Central, where she stressed that climate change is real, serious, and the “window of time to prevent widespread dangerous impacts is closing fast.”
Climate change will not affect everyone equally, the report shows, but no one is slated to be left untouched.
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