Hannah Grier Coome vs. Richard Allen

In the closest battle of Lent Madness 2019 to date, Nicodemus edged James the Greater 51% to 49% yesterday to advance to the Saintly Sixteen where he'll face Martha of Bethany for a shot at the Elate Eight. See? Every (single) vote counts! But be aware that multiple voting will get you cast out into the outer darkness of Lent Madness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Remember, Big Lent is watching...

Today, we head up to the Great White North of Canada to meet Hannah Grier Coome and back down to Philadelphia to encounter the pioneering ministry of Richard Allen.

Yesterday, in addition to the nail biting Biblical matchup, we offered everyone a rare glimpse behind the Purple Curtain that is the Supreme Executive Committee. In case you missed it, you can catch up here.

Hannah Grier Coome

Hannah Grier CoomeHannah Grier Coome was born October 28, 1837, to the Rev. John Grier and Eliza Geddes in Carrying Place, Upper Canada, and is known as the founder of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine in the Anglican Church of Canada.

With her father serving as rector of an Anglican congregation, Hannah had ties to the church from the beginning of her life. On July 23, 1859, Hannah married Charles Horace Coome, a civil engineer working on the railroad. When his contract was complete, he took Hannah back to his native country of England. There, Hannah was influenced by the Oxford Movement and the local Community of St. Mary the Virgin. Hannah was immediately drawn to their works of service and their strong commitment to the mission of Christ’s church in the world.

While living in England, Hannah became pregnant but lost what would be her only child after a dangerous fall. Following a lengthy convalescence, Hannah and Charles left England and ended up in Chicago, Illinois, where her husband died a year later. Hannah returned to Toronto and connected with a group of devout Christians who felt the need to establish a monastic community for women. This group of men and women began working together to raise funds and find a permanent location to establish the sisterhood. Hannah left for upstate New York to train at the Community of Saint Mary in order to gain the education she needed to lead the order.

Sister Hannah returned to Toronto in 1884 to lead the newly founded Sisters of St. John the Divine (SSJD). The sisters were called to serve as nurses to soldiers in the Northwest Rebellion and returned to Toronto to grow the ministry; the Sisters of St. John the Divine continues to this day as a thriving monastic community.

Mother Hannah died on February 9, 1921, on an Ash Wednesday surrounded by her family of sisters. The order she founded lays claim to sister houses (past and present) in Quebec, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Toronto, British Columbia, and Alberta. The sisterhood is known for training nurses, providing rehabilitative care, opening hospitals, providing education and shelter, and care for the elderly. SSJD serves both urban and rural areas of Canada and founded St. John’s Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto.

Collect for Hannah Grier Coome
Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of your servant Hannah, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at last we may with her attain to your eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-Anna Fitch Courie

Richard Allen

Richard AllenMany Episcopalians have heard the name Absalom Jones; however, few know of Richard Allen, Jones’s Methodist counterpart and co-conspirator for racial justice.

Born as an enslaved man, Allen and his family were sold to a man who owned a plantation in Delaware. The plantation owner was convinced by a Methodist preacher that slavery was sinful and eventually offered his slaves the opportunity to buy their freedom, which Allen did in 1780, changing his name from “Negro Richard” to “Richard Allen.”

Credentialed as a Methodist minister in 1784, Allen eventually moved to Philadelphia to minister to the burgeoning population of free blacks. He became a minister at St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church but was relegated to early morning services for black congregants. This segregation was a constant source of tension between the white and black congregations of the church. While at St. George’s, Allen met Absalom Jones, another minister at the church, and the two founded the Free African Society.

In 1787, Allen, Jones, and other black worshipers were pulled from their knees during prayer, and the entire black congregation walked out, vowing never to return. While Jones went on to become an Episcopal priest and lead the Free African Society toward affiliation with the Episcopal Church, Allen founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church for those who wanted to continue in the Methodist tradition. Originally, the church operated out of a blacksmith shop and had to rely on white pastors for oversight and sacramental functions, but Allen was eventually ordained as a Methodist minister in 1799; in 1816, four other churches joined with what was then Bethel AME Church to establish the African Methodist Episcopal Church as the first independent black Christian denomination. Allen was elected as the first bishop, a ministry he served until his death in 1831.

In addition to making history as a religious protestor and founder and first bishop of the first independent black Christian denomination, Allen and his wife Sarah also operated a station on the Underground Railroad.

Collect for Richard Allen
Loving God, who makes us all your children by adoption in Jesus Christ: May we, following the example of your servant Richard Allen, proclaim liberty to all who are enslaved and captive in this world; through Jesus Christ, Savior of all, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-Marcus Halley

Hannah Grier Coome vs. Richard Allen

  • Richard Allen (61%, 5,586 Votes)
  • Hannah Grier Coome (39%, 3,568 Votes)

Total Voters: 9,154

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Hannah Grier Coome: Courtesy of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine
Richard Allen: By Daniel A. Payne [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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203 comments on “Hannah Grier Coome vs. Richard Allen”

  1. This clergyman born into slavery
    Methodically fought racist knavery.
    When prevented from prayer,
    He established elsewhere;
    So Allen gets my vote for bravery.

      1. I had trouble with these two saints. I know the SSJD has been a source of support for many over the yezrs. However,the struggle and bigotry Richard endured and kept on his path because of his faith and determination for justice confirmed my choice for him.

    1. I loved both these candidates and feel they are both worthy to progress to the next round. After struggling to pick a candidate between earlier contestants, I wish the matchups were picked a little better.

      1. Close match ups are the best in any competition! No one enjoys a blow out. As the SEC always point out , the Saints already have their infinite reward... advancing to the next round is simply icing on their saintly cake. I just enjoy the ride!

    2. John I whole hearted agree with you, the font is small, but my glasses get ne thru! I am from Canada, But did not vote for,my fellow Canadian, I also,have roots in England and Ireland! And some of my family are United Empire Loyalists, I am married to a Anglican Irish man whose mother was born in Circleville,Ohio, his father was from Hepworth Ontario'! My uncle Art Diesbourg was RUM RUNNER ! I am Irish Catholic, but choose to be Condirmed in the Anglican Church in Windsor, Ontsrio!
      I think personally that what the young man had to go,thru, was most more than anyone of us would handle,!
      I have had both knees and hips replaced and had an - ANEURSYM , ALL,IN FIVE YEARS,the last was in 2012, I will be 76!years young April 12,2019, and feel the need to live to,spread the word about the miracles around the world and that people, some very ordinary people like me have something to be happy to be still here! I will be married to my love Gary for 56 years June /29,2019, God willing! We are presently purging having just sold our HOUSE Feb. 14/19 that we have been infor 51 years! I don't always get to this madness in the early hours because we are moving March 18 to,our next HOME, till GOD TAKE S US TO,OUR FOREVER HOME!

    3. To the brief limerick above I should add that I hold the greatest respect for the SSJD's works, as well as for Canada and Canadians (both those I know personally and the nation itself). I have always felt a close connection (both by name and by inclination) to an admirable country that must find us a most troublesome neighbor at times.

      Greetings to my fellow communicants of the Anglican Church of Canada; I wish that I may have the pleasure of meeting you one day in my travels.

  2. Today's musical tribute is sung to the titular song (and 11 o'clock number) from Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" I hope you enjoy!

    Han-nah Grier Coome was a Pastor’s Kid from days gone by.
    First she wed a man –
    Moved to England
    Where the Oxford Movement caught her eye.

    Han-nah Grier Coome fell when pregnant. What a nasty blow!
    Lost her child. She cried.
    Her husband died
    So she went home to Ontario.

    She started an order this time:
    The Sisters of John the Divine!
    And we can say (Yow!)
    That to this very day (Yow!)
    This nursing order’s spread all the way across Can’da
    Due to Hannah! OK!

    Ri-chard Allen: born a slave who bought his liberty.
    When he heard God’s call,
    He gave his all
    To serve former slaves who now were free.

    Ri-chard Allen met a Piskie man named Absalom.
    They were in a lurch
    When, once, in church,
    White men said, “You black folks don’t belong!”

    Not letting his faith be restrained,
    Allen was Methodist Church ordained.
    And then with glee (Yow!)
    He starts the AME (Yow!)
    And Allen was the first bishop of the first black church!
    Richard Allen’s okay!

    CHORUS repeats on next verse:
    (Golden! Halo! Golden! Halo!)

    Both saints worked and stove fervently
    To found things that still thrive currently.
    So when we say (Yow!)
    The world’s better today (Yow!)
    For Rich and Hannah. Both should wear bright Golden Halos!
    Golden Halo!

    G-O-L-D H-A-L-O

    Golden Halos! Yow!

    1. I’m dead and this song killed me. What a way to start a Wednesday day! Now I’ll have this song stuck in my head all day! But tRayhank you for your wonderful talent in bringing their stories to musical life!

    2. "blow"/"On-TA-rio"
      "Lurch"/"church"
      "Restrained"/"ordained" -- These are the rhymes that really got me this morning! So funny. I think show tunes and Lent Madness are the perfect combination for this competition! Thanks again, Michael!

    3. I've been hearing Oklahoma all morning, and since I joyously cast my vote for Hannah Grier Coome, here is another verse for her to the same tune:

      Mo-ther Hannah is the Saint for whom to cast your vote!
      For she bore her cross, in face of loss
      When the world swept all her dreams away!
      Mo-ther Hannah took her grief and sorrow and with faith
      Formed a place of hope, and prayer and love
      Where the sick and needy could know care.
      She knew Christ had called her to serve.
      And from that call she never did swerve!
      And she sang “Yes! This life is joyful praise!”
      Her Sisters still sing,
      “Thank You, O Christ for Mother Hannah!
      Who helps us follow your way!”

      1. Thanks Diana. Hannah is singing too. Even with so many difficult journeys she traveled, found God and saints to lead others. West coast votes for our Canadian +Mother.

      2. Nursing is my bond with this amazing lady, she needed care and comfort for a time then went on to provide care and comfort to many. Hannah is my choice today.

    4. That makes much more sense--we are praying to God, after all. Still, I've never seen "God" as the antecedent for a plural pronoun. Maybe that's right theologically, but not grammatically.

  3. The Seven Joys of Mother Hannah

    The first good joy that Hannah had, it was the joy of one.
    One love as found in singleness of heart for God alone.
    She was baptised, and married too,
    Was widowed: free to heed God's call.
    Praise Father, Spirit and the Son, through all eternity.

    The next good joy that Hannah had it was the joy of two.
    When Jesus taught the ten commands were summed into just two.
    To love God and your neighbour too
    And this is what she strove to do.
    Praise Father, Spirit and the Son, through all eternity.

    The next good joy that Hannah had it was the joy of three.
    To sense her call was amplified to found community.
    The Sisters of St. John today
    Give thanks for willing hearts that say,
    Praise Father, Spirit and the Son, through all eternity.

    The fourth good joy that Hannah had, 'twas grace's joy to be,
    To have her time as Novice with the Sisters of Mary,
    She went to Peekskill, honed her skills,
    Then made her vows with strengthened will.
    Praise Father, Spirit and the Son, through all eternity.

    The fifth good joy that Hannah had it was the work of prayer.
    To start the new community whose first work was its prayer,
    All other work proceeds from it
    But prayer comes first no matter what.
    Praise Father, Spirit and the Son, through all eternity.

    The sixth good joy that Hannah had it was the joy of love,
    To found a woman's hospital where there was none before.
    The poor, the sick, the unloved too,
    Were nursed -- their troubles handled too.
    Praise Father, Spirit and the Son, through all eternity.

    The seventh joy that Hannah had it was the joy of sight,
    To watch her small community grow onward true and bright!
    And here today we love and pray
    And serve the world in our own way.
    Praise Father, Spirit and the Son, through all eternity.

    Mother Hannah gets my vote -- for the community she founded and for all the people she and the community she began has helped and goes on helping yet today.

        1. Where is the like button for Sister Elizabeth Ann's tribute to Mother Hannah

          1. I want a "like" button (more precisely, a "love" button) for Sr. Elizabeth Ann's tribute, too. How beautiful! I'm also cheering for Mother Hannah. Anyone who could start such a profoundly important, loving, creative, significant, active order as the Sisters of St. John the Divine deserves all the votes we can muster. Yay, Mother Hannah!

    1. Thank you, Sister, not least for the reminder that the life of prayer is at the heart of your community's life and ministry.

      I'm curious to know what (if any) is the relationship between the SSJD and SSJE communities. As I'm sure you know, the latter had a house in Ontario for many years. The similarity in names suggests some connection...

      1. There was no formal connection. Indeed, the SSJE Canadian House at Bracebridge wasn't even near any of the SSJD Houses. However, I happen to be aware that one of the last brothers at Bracebridge had been an Associate of the SSJD prior to pursuing his monastic vocation.

    2. As a long-time member of the Associates of the Sisters of St. John the Dive, my vote goes to Mother Hannah. I honour not only Mother Hannah this way, but all the devoted Sisters of St. John the Divine who have served our Lord in unstinting service to others.

      1. Not 'Dive'! Divine! (Sorry about that, Mother Hannah, Sister Elizabeth Ann - my mind works faster than my fingers.)

    3. Add me to the list of those wanting a "like" or "love" button for Sr. Elizabeth Ann's tribute to Mother Hannah! And I agree with Michael that both Mother Hannah and Richard Allen should have Golden Halos. A tough choice today, but as an Associate of SSJD, I have to vote for Mother Hannah! 😉

    4. As as Associate of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine of 30 years, my vote is for Mother Hannah! Thank you Sister Elizabeth Ann for posting the "Seven Joys of Mother Hannah", so divinely inspired and reflective.

    5. Amen!
      As an SSJD Associate Priest, I offer prayers daily for the community Mother Hannah founded - in gratitude for their devotion to a Rule of Life in response to the love of God, and which fosters their continued ministry of prayer, healing, and hospitality within this fractured world. "Deo gratia!"

    6. Thank you Sister Elizabeth Ann!! A wonderful tribute to Mother Hannah - Thank you for posting the "Seven Joys of Mother Hannah

      My love to all of you!! Marilyn Kennedy

  4. Richard Allen for me. He founded a sect that has brought public spirituality to millions along with education, child care services, etc., etc. when those were not available generally to African Americans. Plus, I teach in Delaware and there are so few historical figures with Delaware connections.

  5. This is a hard choice as both did many good works, without any indication of negative side effects. And both are from oft ignored groups. It is not fair to pit them against each other. I want BOTH to move forward.

  6. Despite the fact that "credentialed" was used as a verb I amgoing for Richard Allen.

  7. As the music from the local AME church gets carried to the nearby public school, I must vote that Richard Allen deserves a halo that shows sainthood to all around.

  8. As a member of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, I have to vote for Absolom Jones’ companion in faith.

  9. I look forward to the great limerick and song parody every day! They put a smile on my face and give my heart a lift. Thank you!!

    1. NO VOTE FOR HANNAH MAGGIE YOU ARE WRONG!!!!!!! Gods blessings to you though.....for everyone who sees this we are friends and i know her

  10. Tough one. Normally, I would go with any woman foundress of a religious order. Rebels all, even if the narratives don't say that. But this Philly girl could not say no to the founder of Mother Bethel AME. Richard Allen.

  11. Vote for Hannah she is a very holy and wonderful women. She stuck through the task God gave her and completed his will for her. God's blessings everyone

  12. Allen set precedence
    With boycott attempt
    Little did he know
    Not so long ago
    His brothers did the same
    With Civil Rights fame

  13. I found this vote harder to make than the one between Mary and Martha of Bethany. Both holy and qualified candidates with outstanding reasons to earn our votes. Good Job!

  14. Love the musical tributes, and poems and hymns...but today i am agonizing!! Was disappointed that John lost yesterday and that Chrysostom won before that...I'm not doing great this year in my choices. But i am being true to my beliefs, which is why Hannah vs. Richard is so darn tough!! Let me ponder further. I enjoy reading the comments so perhaps i shall be inspired!

  15. Richard Allen, "lesser known?" Not to us whose hearts are strangely warmed. Founder of the AME and a true hero of the faith.

  16. Hannah all the way! She had no desire to start a religious community, she just wanted to join one (in England). She tried to resist the entreaties of a pesky bunch of Toronto Anglicans to form the first Canadian-made community of sisters, but in the end, she decided the choice was God's, not hers, and invoked the words of Mary: "Do whatever He asks of you." Hannah bravely took the torch without any idea of what lay ahead of her. That takes guts, and faith.

  17. Voting for Richard Allen. Overcame so much as a former slave and gave hope and dignity to fellow African Americans in the Methodist tradition. The Methodists could use reminders of positive action just now.

  18. And let it be noted now, in case Hannah does not survive here for another day, that her community, SSJD, welcomed women of color as Sisters at a time when Religious communities in the USA would not do that.

    1. Thank you for this additional information, Sister Mary Winifred. I was compelled to vote for Hannah, since I am a Canadian, born in Toronto.