Today’s match-up features two amazing people with six names between them (insert Trinitarian reference here). Charles Henry Brent, bishop and missionary vs. Julia Chester Emery, lay woman and organizer of what we now know as the ECW (Episcopal Church Women). We hope you enjoy getting to know them and then, well, sending one of them into Lent Madness ignominy.
Yesterday’s Lent Madness 2014 kick-off was a historic day in the annals of the Saintly Smackdown. Record turnout saw Basil the Great live up to his name while Christina the Astonishing was sent packing (given her penchant for levitation, we hope she’s aware of those steep extra baggage fees). Nearly 7,000 votes were cast as Basil defeated Christina 55% to 45%. He’ll now advance to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen to square off against the winner of Antony of Egypt vs. Mary of Egypt.
For those new to Lent Madness, congratulations! You’re now a seasoned veteran. If you tracked the nearly 300 comments you also know that Lent Madness isn’t just voting and learning about saints — it’s an online community where people share some pretty personal stories and connections as well.
Of course yesterday also saw the emergence of our first controversy. In the opening ceremonies video there was lively debate over whether Dean of the Washington National Cathedral Gary Hall’s cassock was purple, as he claimed, or blue. It’s a Lent Madness scandal!
Are you curious about when the various first round battles will take place? We thought so. Thus, you are invited to check out our handy Match-Up Calendar. Go ahead and print it out. Have a teenager add all the dates to the calendar on your smart phone. Put it on your refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, or have it tattooed to your spouse’s forehead. Once you do, you’ll know that tomorrow’s battle between Alcuin and Ephrem is the only Saturday pairing in the entirety of Lent.
In 1901 as the Philippine-American War drew to an end, Charles Henry Brent was elected as the first missionary bishop to the islands, arriving a year later on the same ship as its Governor-General, William Howard Taft.
Bishop Brent brought with him $100,000 that he had raised before his departure in order to build churches, schools, and a hospital. Instead of staying within the American enclave, Brent worked with a wide range of people, including the Chinese community in Manila and the Igorot people. He fought tirelessly against the opium trade, chairing the U.S. delegation to the International Opium Conference.
Twice elected bishop of Washington, D.C. and once of New Jersey, he turned down these appointments to remain in the Philippines. After the first election, he sent a telegram to the head of the standing committee that read, “Must decline. I would have gone, but God bids me stay. John 3:30.”
After serving as the senior chaplain of the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I, he became bishop of Western New York. Prior to this, he established himself as a leader in the ecumenical movement, having attended the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910. He continued to work for the cause of Christian unity, presiding at the World Conference of Faith and Order in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1927. He died in 1929.
Bishop Brent may be best remembered for this prayer that summarizes well his life and ministry:
Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer, p.101)
Collect for Charles Henry Brent
Heavenly Father, whose Son prayed that we all might be one: deliver us from arrogance and prejudice, and give us wisdom and forbearance, that, following your servant Charles Henry Brent, we may be united in one family with all who confess the Name of thy Son Jesus Christ: who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Julia Chester Emery (1852-1922) was an extraordinary woman. At age 24, she took over from her sister Mary the job of national secretary of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Episcopal Church. It was the only ecclesiastical post she ever held, and she held it for forty years (and not the Biblical kind of “forty years,” either). She was a missionary whose calling was to do the often unglamorous work of organizing, administering, educating, and supporting. Her work enabled thousands of women to realize their potential for ministry at a time when women’s roles were severely limited. And she encouraged the church to broaden its own understanding of faithful lay ministry.
The Women’s Auxiliary of the Board of Missions of the Episcopal Church was created by General Convention in 1871 mostly through the work of the four Emery sisters. Mary Abbott Emery was the first national secretary, and Julia stepped into the job in 1876. During her tenure, she visited every diocese in the United States and helped organize branches of the Women’s Auxiliary in more than 5,600 parishes—nearly two-thirds of all the parishes in the U.S. Many of these branches continue today as the Episcopal Church Women, or ECW.
The primary focus of the Women’s Auxiliary was to empower women for mission and address the issue of funding for women who felt called to dedicate themselves to mission work. Chapters raised money and awareness for the support of local, national, and international mission. The Auxiliary sought to connect women one to another, to encourage them to know that they each had something to do for Christ and the coming of the Kingdom of God, in the company of Episcopal women everywhere. “There are hundreds more earnest, faithful, devoted women who would be cheered if only they knew what is being done by their sisters in the church and see their offering, small and insignificant as it seems, increased and multiplied by the union with the gifts of others” (Spirit of Missions, volume XXXVII, 1872).
Emery also created The United Thank Offering, represented today by small blue boxes with slots for coins to encourage daily giving and thanks to God. The UTO is still under the purview of the ECW, having awarded $1,517,280 in grants for mission in 2012. Thanks to Emery’s foresight and diligence, the work continues.
Collect for Julia Chester Emery
God of all creation, you call us in Christ to make disciples of all nations and to proclaim your mercy and love: Grant that we, after the example of your servant Julia Chester Emery, may have vision and courage in proclaiming the Gospel to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our light and our salvation, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Charles Henry Brent vs. Julia Chester Emery
- Julia Chester Emery (73%, 4,449 Votes)
- Charles Henry Brent (27%, 1,642 Votes)
Total Voters: 6,091