June 12: Enmegahbowh, Priest and Missionary, 1902

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About this commemoration

John Johnson Enmegahbowh, an Odawa (Ottawa) Indian from Canada, was raised in the Midewiwin traditional healing way of his grandfather and the Christian religion of his mother. He came into the United States as a Methodist missionary in 1832. At one point Enmegahbowh attempted to abandon missionary work and return to Canada, but the boat was turned back by storms on Lake Superior, providing him a vision: “Here Mr. Jonah came before me and said, ‘Ah, my friend Enmegahbowh, I know you. You are a fugitive. You have sinned and disobeyed God. Instead of going to the city of Nineveh, where God sent you to spread his word to the people, you started to go, and then turned aside. You are now on your way to the city of Tarsish….’”

Enmegahbowh invited James Lloyd Breck to Gull Lake, where together they founded St. Columba’s Mission in 1852. The mission was later moved to White Earth, where Enmegahbowh served until his death in 1902. Unwelcome for a time among some Ojibway groups because he warned the community at Fort Ripley about the 1862 uprising, Enmegahbowh was consistent as a man of peace, inspiring the Waubanaquot (Chief White Cloud) mission, which obtained a lasting peace between the Ojibway and the Dakota peoples.

Enmegahbowh (“The One who Stands Before his People”) is the first recognized Native American priest in the Episcopal Church. He was ordained deacon by Bishop Kemper in 1859 and priest by Bishop Whipple in the cathedral at Faribault in 1867. Enmegahbowh helped train many others to serve as deacons throughout northern Minnesota. The powerful tradition of Ojibway hymn singing is a living testimony to their ministry. His understanding of Native tradition enabled him to enculturate Christianity in the language and traditions of the Ojibway. He tirelessly traveled throughout Minnesota and beyond, actively participating in the development of mission strategy and policy for the Episcopal Church.

Collects

I  Almighty God, thou didst lead thy pilgrim people of old with fire and cloud: Grant that the ministers of thy Church, following the example of blessed Enmegahbowh, may stand before thy holy people, leading them with fiery zeal and gentle humility. This we ask through Jesus, the Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever.  Amen.

II  Almighty God, you led your pilgrim people of old with fire and cloud: Grant that the ministers of your Church, following the example of blessed Enmegahbowh, may stand before your holy people, leading them with fiery zeal and gentle humility. This we ask through Jesus, the Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy  Spirit, one God now and for ever.  Amen.

Psalm  129

Lessons

Isaiah 52:7–10

1 Peter 5:1–4

Luke 6:17–23

Preface of a Saint (1)

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

 

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15 Responses to June 12: Enmegahbowh, Priest and Missionary, 1902

  1. This commemoration is already included in the Calendar.

  2. Bio: He needs a ‘Who he is’ and ‘Why he is important’ statement. And, he needs a ‘He died in 1902’ statement.

    Interestingly this bio about a Native American never uses that nomenclature.
    Instead the names of the tribes are used often, except in the first sentence when it reads ‘an Odawa (Ottawa) Indian …’.
    Indian? How did that noun creep in? Everything else was so carefully phrased and worded, except this.
    Other commemorations of Native Americans could be strengthened by modeling the use of tribal names.

    • Surely, we also need a pronunciation guide. How do we say his name.
      Tom Van Burnt

      • En – meg – a – bow: with the emphasis on the second sylable. [bow, as in a bow in someone's hair]

        This is how the Diocese of Minnesota introduced him to the General Convention in Minneapolis in 2002. At least that is how I remember it …

  3. John Morrell says:

    In the first paragraph, “John Johnson Enmegahbowh” makes it seem that Enmegahbowh is his surname. I suggest changing the language to: “Enmegahbowh,” also known a John Johnson . . .”

    I agree with Tom about need a pronunciation guide.

  4. Michael Weylandt says:

    Is there any reason the Rite I collect departs from the usual relative clause structure:

    ” Almighty God, thou didst lead thy pilgrim people of old with fire and cloud: ”

    Wouldn’t this normally read: “Almighty God, who hast lead thy pilgrim people ….”?

    Seems an unnecessary break from the usual structure….

  5. John LaVoe says:

    I don’t have independent factual data so I could be offering a Rosanna Rosanna Dana skit in this observation, but the last sentence surprised me in that it sounded as if it meant that he made his tireless travels “throughout Minnesota and beyond, actively participating in the development of mission strategy and policy for the Episcopal Church” not in the capacity of doing “front line” missionary activities (e.g., evangelism, conducting worship, engaging in pastoral ministries, catechesis, corporal acts of mercy, etc.) but for the sake of more generalized administrative activities, i.e., developing strategies, adopting policies, etc., ABOUT missionary work. The word “and” might separaet the two halves of the sentence sufficiently to indicate that he did missionary work AND helped formulate policy for the whole church.

    • John LaVoe says:

      About the word “unwelcome” in the sentence quoted above — is there a difference any more between “unwecome” (or “welcome”) and “unwelcomed” (or “welcomed”)? I’ve been out of school a long time now, and I hardly ever see the distinction observed — but then they hardly ever say “Et tu, Brute” either.

      • John LaVoe says:

        Wrong box. It’s the sentence quoted below.

      • John Morrell says:

        I think (un)welcome can be either an adjective or a verb, so you can go either way in the context of this sentence. (You’re welcome for this comment and I welcome your response.)

  6. John LaVoe says:

    There is one sentence about which I’m uncertain if my problem is unfamiliarity with the terms used, or the sentence structure. (“Unwelcome for a time among some Ojibway groups because he warned the community at Fort Ripley about the 1862 uprising, Enmegahbowh was consistent as a man of peace, inspiring the Waubanaquot (Chief White Cloud) mission, which obtained a lasting peace between the Ojibway and the Dakota peoples.”)
    1) I don’t know anything about “the 1862 uprising,” the reasons for it, the parties to it, or the outcome of it. Does that matter? Should I take it to mean anything more nuanced than “A is going to (or did) attack B”?
    2) The part that says, “Enmegahbowh was consistent as a man of peace” — does that mean he “was consistently a man of peace,” and does “consistent (or consistently) add anything more than simply saying “E was a man of peace”?
    3) When it tells of the “Waubanaquot (Chief White Cloud) mission,” is that an event (mission as a process of achieving an objective) or a place (mission as a church building, or a community situated around or nearby such a place of worship)?
    4) When it tells of his, “inspiring the Waubanaquot (Chief White Cloud) mission, which obtained a lasting peace between the Ojibway and the Dakota peoples” — did he “inspire” it in the sense of precipitating its coming into existence (taking “mission” as a place), or did he “inspire” the peace treaty between Ojibway and Dakota people (taking “mission” as a process achieving an objective, i.e., accepting a treaty)?

  7. John LaVoe says:

    Two sentences in the third paragraph gave me pause:
    “Enmegahbowh helped train many others to serve as deacons throughout northern Minnesota. The powerful tradition of Ojibway hymn singing is a living testimony to their ministry. ”

    “Many others” — He was a priest, and no other deacons are referred to by this point in the narrative, so to what does “many others” refer? (Many other men, many other people, many other Native Americans, — any of these, presumably.) Instead of keeping the “many others” wording, might it not be better to say, “E helped train many deacons for service throughout northern Minnesota.”(?)

    Where the following sentence continues with, “The powerful tradition of Ojibway hymn singing is a living testimony to their ministry,” — it seems like a non sequitur since teaching people to sing is not one of the things closely associated with diaconal service. Is the intended point something like, “The powerful tradition of Ojibway hymn singing is a living testimony to the impact of this missionary activity”(?)

  8. Philip Wainwright says:

    ‘You led your pilgrim people of old with fire and cloud’—this doesn’t seem to relate to anything in the bio, but the fire motif is repeated later in the collect. Was something deleted from the bio that might explain this? If so, the collect should be re-written. If not, the collect should be re-written anyway, especially the ‘fiery zeal and gentle humility’ part. That’s not only a combination I can’t get my head round, but is expressed in cliches as well.

    ‘This we ask through Jesus’ etc is a common enough way of ending a spontaneous prayer, but seems too casual for a collect.

  9. Leonel L. Mitchell says:

    He made a great contribution to our work with the plains Indians, and was considered a co-founder of Seabury-Western Seminary., where they have celebrated his festival for yeears, and does he Diocese of Minnasota.,

  10. Nigel Renton says:

    I suggest that a more appropriate subtitle would be “Missionary to the Ojibway, 1902″.

    Add “born in 1807 and” after “was”.

    Add a final paragraph: “Enmegahbowh died at the White Earth Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, on June 12, 1902.”

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