Jonathan Myrick Daniels vs. Florence Li Tim-Oi

The Elate Eighty continues as Jonathan Daniels face Florence Li Tim-Oi. The winner will join Joanna the Myrrhbearer in the Faithful Four following her overwhelming victory over Blandina 78% to 22%.

To get to the Elate Eight, Jonathan defeated Rutilio Grande and Josephine Bakhita, while Florence took down Nicolaus von Zinzendorf and Enmegahbowh.

Vote now!

Florence Li Tim-Oi

When Florence last made it to the Saintly Sixteen in 2013, there was no kitsch to speak of. Thankfully, that’s changed, and there’s some solid Florence Li Tim-Oi merch out there. Kitsch can be funny and cute, and it can be inspiring and informative. I’ll let you decide which direction this kitsch goes.

Chris Corbin is one of the folks who solved our “I need a Rev. Li poster” needs with his drawing of Rev. Li. Vested, smiling, and ready to adorn your gear - thanks, Chris, for creating this opportunity to put Florence Li Tim-Oi on front street! Poster, postcard, t-shirt - Rev. Li will go where you take her. Which, of course, could be staying on the wall in your home. That’s fine, there’s lots of ministering needed there, I'm sure.

Katherine Mumey was like, hold on: I create minimalist saint icons. I’ve got a visual of Rev. Li for the people. She created this stylized image of Rev. Li, which you can get as a sticker, phone case, tote bag (my favorite - IYKYK), and pet bowls. Your pets already know about Florence; she’s on the bowl to remind YOU about deep faithfulness. Thanks, Katherine, for the opportunity to evangelize!

On eBay, you’ll find this 1984 photo from a newspaper archive on the 40th anniversary of Florence Li Tim-Oi’s ordination. The caption says that the celebrant was Bishop Gilbert Baker, Bishop of Hong Kong, and the preacher was the Rev. Joyce Bennett, a friend from Hong Kong who happened to be the first English woman ordained to the priesthood in 1971.

You can read Raindrops of My Life: The Memoir of Florence Li Tim Oi, First Woman Priest in the Anglican Communion by Florence Li Tim-Oi. Published in 1996, copies of the book are expensive and rare. If you can read Chinese, you can read the original version published in 1993. Or you can borrow it from libraries that own it using WorldCat.

You can get a copy of Much Beloved Daughter: The story of Florence Li by Ted Harrison. Getting your hands on this book is much easier and affordable. Perhaps someone needs to write another book about Rev. Li! I’m sure this one is great, it’s got some pretty good reviews. And it’s the only published book about her.

Finally, this piece of kitsch is a photo of an icon of Rev. Li at its dedication service in 2004. The details in the caption show great intention to bring relics from her ordination to this celebration. It reads: From right to left: the Revd Nicholas Holtam, then Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, now Bishop of Salisbury, who dedicated the icon, wearing the cope made for Bishop R. O. Hall who ordained Li Tim-Oi in 1944; the Rev. Dr. Ellen Francis OSH who wrote the icon; Canon Ruth Wintle, then chair of Li Tim-Oi Foundation, who presided at the eucharist, wearing a chasuble from Zimbabwe; Canon Christopher Hall, secretary and founder of the Foundation and son of Bishop R. O. Hall.

Miriam Willard McKenney

Jonathan Myrick Daniels

So, “kitsch”—not a word that springs easily to mind when considering the legacy of a murdered 26-year-old civil rights worker. I don’t think we need to hesitate, though. Jon was a serious young man, but that doesn’t mean he took himself too seriously.

Although Jonathan Myrick Daniels is a newer and lesser-known addition to our saintly pantheon, there are more than a few ways to remember Jon, and walk in his footsteps. But your search for JMD merch might be waylaid briefly by material related to Jonathan W. Daniels, a prolific author and White House Press Secretary for all of 45 days. Should you acquire one of his books on Confederate history, do what Jon M. Daniels did – hollow it out, and use it for storage.

Two calls brought Jonathan to Selma, Alabama. The first were the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday. The second call came during evening prayer, in the words of the Magnificat. Why not get yourself an icon so you can find yourself, like Jon did, “peculiarly alert, suddenly straining toward the decisive, luminous, spirit-filled Moment…I knew then that I must go to Selma.”

Jonathan and his classmate Judy Upham felt called to work with in Lowndes County, Alabama. There they joined SNCC workers in voter registration efforts; the county population was over 80% black yet there was not a single black person on the voter rolls. You can watch the documentary Bloody Lowndes, to learn more about the struggle for freedom and safety there. Here’s the trailer.

Despite the terror of Lowndes County, Jon and his friends sang songs of freedom, love, and the power of God’s justice. When he was arrested, Jonathan kept on singing in jail. Check out the 16th chapter of Acts and then scoop up a copy of the CORE sit-in songbook, published by the Congress of Racial Equality in Summer

When Jon was arrested for the last time, in Ft. Deposit, Alabama, bail for each participant of the sit-in was set at $100. Jonathan paid his bail but chose to stay locked up with his companions, in solidarity and out of concern for their safety. Perhaps you’d like to contribute to a bail fund in Jonathan’s honor, or spend some time learning about this complex issue and its relationship to racism and classism in our criminal justice system today.

Jonathan ultimately gave up his life to save another person, throwing a young Ruby Sales out of the way of a shotgun blast. This icon commemorates Jonathan and so many others who were murdered for the cause of legal equality and human dignity for black people in the United States. As we approach Palm Sunday, consider Jonathan’s words from a Texas Observer article, only published posthumously: “Death at the heart of life, and life in the midst of death. The tree of life is indeed a Cross.”

— Eva Suarez


* indicates required

Recent Posts



75 comments on “Jonathan Myrick Daniels vs. Florence Li Tim-Oi”

  1. This is the hardest one yet! I appreciate (and have voted for) both. An Asian woman clergyperson (the first!) is so important, but, again, I must vote for Jonathan Myrick Daniels, a martyr for our time. Timeless and timely, and (I hope) we'll see him all the way to The Golden Halo this year.

    1. Ann, I totally agree with you! It's just too bad we can't have two Golden Halo winners. I guess our comfort comes from knowing that they are both whooping it up in the Celestial Kingdom.

      1. We have had a Silver Halo Winner: in 2016 for Dame Julian of Norwich, in 2015 for Brigid of Kildare, and in 2022, Teresa of Avila. But Florence is out for this year, and we'll have to try again in the future.

    1. I don't know what that one looks like, but there's a lovely one available on Etsy, if you look up Jonathan Daniels and icon.

  2. This one was the hardest Lent Madness vote for me this season. Both are excellent Golden Halo finalists.

  3. Difficult choice but in the end I gave Florence Li Tim-Oi my vote figuring, correctly I see, she would be trailing. Her quiet courage and long steadfast service is possibly the harder and more inspiring sacrifice.

  4. Well, I hoped that Florence Li Tim Oi would win this Golden Halo, because I am so impressed by her life of service.
    However, the kitsch round is one of the things I love best about Lent Madness, and today's contest shows why!
    The CORE songbook is available in its entirety as a PDF.
    When I read through the songbook, it was clear to me that Jonathan Merrick Daniels was taking part in a movement that is far from over. The icon of him, surrounded by African American Martyrs, shows one thing that is troubling -- perhaps we are making much of him due to his whiteness, while he is one among MANY who died.
    The CORE songbook on its last page says "THE NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION APPROACH to racial discrimination assumes that a lasting resolution of problems can best be obtained through a spirit of good will and understanding. This spirit must be combined with a determination to end discrimination through action programs directed to specific problems. The ultimate goal is an integrated society where each member is judged solely on the basis of his individual worth." I do trip over that "universal" male pronoun, but this is a critical ongoing movement nonetheless.
    Jonathan Merrick Daniels and Florence Li Tim Oi are both outstanding saints and role models. But in 2023 I must vote for the martyr who gave his life standing up against violent racial injustice.

    1. Sorry for the misspelling of Myrick. I find it strangely difficult to hold his full name in my head!

    2. You ask an important question, whether we make too much of Jonathan Daniels because of his whiteness. I think the fact that he so clearly sacrificed his life to save another person when facing the business end of a shotgun, and was not simply a victim in the event, may be why his particular life & death are highlighted in our calendar of saints. That said, there are certainly other Christian martyrs of that time period who deserve our attention, among them the four girls who were killed in the Birmingham church bombing. Due to your comment, I looked up their names again just now: Addie Mae Collins, age 14, Cynthia Wesley, age 14, Carole Robertson, age 14, and Carol Denise McNair, age 11. May light perpetual shine upon them and all the others who were killed for the same reasons.

      1. So beautifully said, Amy. I had tears in my eyes as I areas the final paragraphs. Thank you so much.

  5. As others have said, the hardest choice yet this year: both so worthy. But I'm going with JMD for the articulation of his call to go to Selma in response to the Magnificat.

  6. Came here to vote for Florence (again), voted for Jonathan. I was a child during the height of the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s; I remember the songs, the reports and footage of the violence in the South (I grew up in the Northeastern US), and the general spirit of the time. It was in the air I breathed as a youngster, and I feel the pull of those years in making this decision. Jonathan made the ultimate sacrifice, and I feel compelled to vote for him.

    1. “Greater love hath no one than this: that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

      That’s straight from the mouth of Jesus.

    2. And BTW Jonathon IS a saint—in the Episcopal church. Everyone in this contest is a saint in one Church or another.

    3. In a different context with a different crowd, the "these are the same picture" meme would work perfectly here.

    4. John M. Carter, I disagree. I believe that we are called to the cause of social justice in the Christian scriptures. The two passages that leap to my mind right now are Matthew 25:31-48 and I John 4:7-21, and there are oh, so many more.

  7. A difficult choice. But had to go with Daniels. The issues he faced are still much with us today. The movement to not allow the accurate teaching about race and racism in our educational institutions is at the forefront. Seems some want to take us back to the days when schools taught that slavery was a relatively benign system and certainly not why secession and the Civil War resulted!

  8. Wow! what a great job by the celebrity bloggers today! They found ways to celebrate both saints. The kitchen round can seem kinda irrelevant but they maintained the dignity & purpose of both saints. The final quote from Jonathan Daniels touched me but I’m voting for Li Tim-Oi to get to a possible Flo vs Jo final.

    1. Jonathan did what he was called to do when he was called to do it. Let him rest, and let those of us who are here now carry on the work.

  9. As someone who grew up in the next county over from Lowndes County in the 60's, I had to vote for Jonathan Myrick Daniels. His story should be known more widely, especially not that we see efforts to restrict voting rights.

  10. I saw Chris's name and it made my day. I went to school with his father. Wonderful family.

  11. John 15:13 ”No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jonathan Daniels truly knew what it meant to love like Jesus, giving his life to save another. A Saint for our times.

  12. I have been a huge fan of Jonathan Daniels for many years now, so I have to vote for him, but I was shocked to see someone I know in the picture of the icon dedication for Florence. Sr. Ellen was good friends with my priest of many years and came to my church and filled in for him at least once. I became an associate of the Order of St. Helena (OSH), and she presided over the small ceremony we had welcoming me into the order. She gave me a small cross which I wore last fall as I hiked the Camino. Sadly, the sisters closed their house in NYC and all moved to the main house in Georgia, so I haven't seen her in years, but here's a shout-out to Sister Ellen Francis!

  13. Oh man. This is the hardest one for me yet. Why oh why??? (Wailing while tearing my hair out in despair )

  14. There is a brand new doc that streams on MSNBC/Peacock - Lowdnes County and the Rise of Black Power. It has a segment about Jonathan Daniels. Also Ruby Sales is a frequent speaker at the annual Revolutionary Love Conference put on by Middle Collegiate Chutch in NYC. You can register for the online conference.

  15. I voted for Florence Li Tim-Oi today … to my own surprise, because I was living in Boston at Jonathon Daniels time and went to Selma too. But what moved me is this, and it may sound awkward… Florence Lee Tim-Oi did what she did precisely NOT because she was going to be the first woman priest, but because it was what the church needed to survive. And in the end that’s what I find hopeful. There are lots of “causes” that are important… women’s rights and the civil rights are two of them. But for me, in the end they are not the gospel. They’re natural spinoffs… but not the ends to which all other agendas take second place. And being a “first” is nice, but a secondary step, to simply stepping up … for the sake of the message and the meaning that enables all the others.

    1. Exactly! She was ordained for the sake of others, as Daniels was killed for the sake of others. A difficult choice, but I'm influenced by the comment earlier that many Black people were killed for the sake of others in the struggle for civil rights, and out of them all, Daniels is famed because he was white. Florence Li Tim-Oi kept the church alive in the lives of many. Both show godly lives, but I'm voting for her.

  16. We still must work and keep our eyes on the prize of an end to all racist and bigoted violence and injustice. So I'm starting to keep my eyes on the prize of the Golden Halo for Jonathan Myrick Daniels.

  17. It is very hard to choose here. Florence Li Tom-Oi was indeed a first, and today women are a prominent part of Faith and the Faith community. I chose Jonathan because his cause is far from over, in fact hatred and hate crimes have become almost normal to many. Remembering Jonathan and his work can serve to bring reality to today's current climate.

  18. Both 20th century folk here are such inspirational examples. Although it busts my predictions, my heart calls me to vote for the briefer life of sacrifice today.

  19. I predict that Jonathan Daniels will win the Golden Halo this year. There, I said it.

  20. Well done, Chris Corbin, for you contribution to the cause! Not that I'm biased or anything. In all seriousness, this was once again a choice between two highly deserving candidates, but the artwork of my theological offspring helped sway my vote.

  21. Bravae, bloggers! Kitsch ex nihilo: the miracle of Lent Madness! As much as I honor Li Tim-Oi's service and witness, and hope that she will be back, I must vote for Jonathan Daniels in this era of organized right-wing assaults on education, voting rights, and gender-aware healthcare in the name of "anti-'woke'" (racist) ideologies. "Woke" is the new dog whistle for politicians and propagandists determined to drag the U.S. backward under the unholy guise of "culture wars" toward entrenched intolerance, economic inequality, and a legal system bent on criminalizing the poor. Edwards did the wokest thing imaginable: he died for his sister and his brother. Jesus was Woke. A jury of fellow racists acquitted Edwards' murderer and shook his hand, and once again justice was spat upon and trodden down in these United States. In the name of some future America, where "justice rolls down like the waters," I vote for Jonathan Edwards. And I believe, to borrow words from our current Presiding Bishop, his soul rests in peace and has risen in glory.

    1. I don't know why my brain jumped a track from Jonathan Daniels over to Jonathan Edwards. I suppose in thinking about the horrors of combatting slavery, segregation, the Klan, Jim Crow, neo-liberal economic devastation, and our endless (endless) mass gun slaughter, all of which are shotgun blasts to the guts of this fragile American democracy, I subconsciously began invoking Edwards' sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy. How do we respond?

  22. Jon Daniells was a dear friend of mine in seminary and I still miss him. His courage and faith still match with what we need for faithfulness in the current time.

    1. Mollie,you are blessed to have known Jonathan. Since I first read about him in "Holy Women, Holy Men", my heart went out to him. I guess it was the part of him experiencing a call during the singing of the Magnificat that resounds in me. I ask myself whether I would have done the same thing that he did. God's Peace.

  23. This year's Elate Eight series has been like asking me to choose between my two equally beloved children, and today is no exception! I actually resorted to the time-honoured custom of flipping a coin - heads for Florence, tails for Jonathan. Jonathan won the toss but I won't be disappointed if it is Florence who advances.

  24. This is the most difficult vote for me yet. I really love Rev. Li and Jonathan's stories a d find both of them incredibly inspiring. This is one where I can really say I wish I could vote for them both. In the end I had to go with the Rev. Li in solidarity with a woman of color.