March 13, 2009

James Theodore Holly

Category: Communion of Saints — Micah @ 12:00 am

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Good day, and welcome to Communion of Saints from I’m your host, Micah Jackson. Today is March 13th, 2009: the feast of Blessed James Theodore Holly.

When Jesus called his disciples, they couldn’t have had any idea how differently their lives would end. Sent into all the world, the places they saw and the people they loved would have been unimaginable before Christ came into their lives. And so it was for the man we remember today, James Theodore Holly. He was born in 1829, and though he was born free in Washington, D.C., he still grew up before the Civil War, and endured all the hardships that time and place held for African Americans. As a result of following Jesus, he died far away from his birthplace, as the bishop of Haiti and of the Dominican Republic.

In his life he did many things which must have seen unthinkable to him, and certainly to those he encountered. He was the first Black man consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church, and therefore the first Black man to attend the Lambeth Conference, which he did in 1878. He founded the Protestant Episcopal Society for Promoting the Extension of the Church among Colored People, which was one of the precursor organizations of the Union of Black Episcopalians. He was a friend and colleague of Frederick Douglass, and one of the leaders of those African Americans who chose to settle in Haiti.

This dedication to the Church, alongside his willingness to follow God’s call no matter what strange things he was asked to do, is why when we remember James Theodore Holly, we also remember Philip and his meeting with the Ethiopian eunuch. “Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south tot he road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road) So he got up and went.” As a result of Philip’s witness to the Gospel, the eunuch was saved. So James Theodore Holly served countless thousands by the sacrificial witness of his life.

Let us pray: Most gracious God, by the calling of your servant James Theodore Holly you gave us our first bishop of African American heritage. In his quest for life and freedom, he led your people from bondage into a new land and established the Church in Haiti. Grant that, inspired by his testimony, we may overcome our prejudice and honor those whom you call from every family, language, people, and nation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thank you for listening to Communion of Saints. Please join us on March 23rd at for the feast of Blessed Oscar Romero. I’m Micah Jackson. May God be with you.

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