July 19: Adelaide Teague Case, Teacher, 1948

Welcome to the Holy Women, Holy Men blog! We invite you to read about this commemoration, use the collect and lessons in prayer, whether individually or in corporate worship, then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.

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About this commemoration

Adelaide Case was born in Missouri in 1887, but her family soon
moved to New York. She received her undergraduate education at
Bryn Mawr and her graduate degrees from Columbia University. By
the time she completed her doctorate a position had been created
for her on the faculty of the Teachers’ College at Columbia and she
quickly rose to the status of full professor and head of the department
of religious education. She is remembered for advocating a child-centered
rather than teacher-centered approach to education.

In 1941, while her professional accomplishments were at their height,
the Episcopal Theoogical School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was
able to convince her to leave her distinguished and comfortable
position at Columbia and join the faculty as Professor of Christian
Education. Although other women had taught occasional courses in
the seminaries of the church, Adelaide Case was the first to take her
place as a full-time faculty member at the rank of Professor. Although
Case spoke well of her time in Cambridge, her early years there were
difficult. She continued to teach at ETS until her death in 1948.
Students and faculty colleagues remember her contagious faith in
Christ, her deep sense of humanity, and her seemingly boundless
compassion. Although she carried herself with style and grace, Case
had struggled with health issues her entire life, but those who knew
her testify to the fact that in spite of those challenges she was spirited,
energetic, and fully devoted to her work. “She was a true believer in
Christ and you saw him living in and through her,” is an oft-repeated
accolade.

Case believed that the point of practicing the Christian faith was
to make a difference in the world. As an advocate for peace, she
believed that Christianity had a special vocation to call people into
transformed, reconciled relationships for the sake of the wholeness of
the human family. She is said to have discovered these things not in
theology or educational theory, but in a life of common prayer and
faithful eucharistic practice.

Collects

I Everliving God, in whose light we see light: We offer
thanks for thy teacher and peacemaker Adelaide Case,
who inspired generations of students with a love of
learning that built up the Church and their communities.
Grant that we, following her example, may serve thee
tirelessly as learners and teachers, laboring for the
transformation of the world toward thy reign of peace,
through the companionship of Jesus thy Saving Word; who
with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.

II Everliving God, in whose light we see light: We thank
you for your teacher and peacemaker Adelaide Case, who
inspired generations of students with a love of learning
that built up the Church and their communities. Grant
that we, following her example, may serve you tirelessly
as learners and teachers, laboring for the transformation
of the world toward your reign of peace, through the
companionship of Jesus your Saving Word; who with you
and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for
ever. Amen.

Lessons

Proverbs 4:1–9
Hebrews 5:11–6:1
Mark 4:21–25

Psalm 119:33-40

Preface of God the Son

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

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Links related to Adelaide Teague Case

Case’s Liberal Christianity and Religious Education on Google Books

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We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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8 Responses to July 19: Adelaide Teague Case, Teacher, 1948

  1. Suzanne Sauter says:

    This is an aside. I have always thought it particulary sad when persons die from infectious diseases which are treatable. The health problem which one often hears about in connection with her name was tuberculosis. She had tuberculosis of the bone as as child and young adult, and she died from tuberculosis of the adrenal glands. She died about 10 years before really effective drug therapy started to become available and the first effective treatment, streptomycin, might not have been available.

    Being an Episcopalian of a certain age, I grew up with the Seabury series though it was considered shocking liberal in the parish of my elementary and junior high years.

  2. 2nd paragraph: It reads “In 1941, while her professional accomplishments were at their height …” It could read “In 1941, when her professional accomplishments were at their height …”. I like the latter; but it does seem to leave it to speculation that ‘her personal accomplishments” eventually diminished!

    Collect: The first sentence has 36 words. The second sentence has 50 words. (and then Amen, thank goodness). Can you say “shorter sentences are good”?🙂

  3. Margaret K. Zeller says:

    Suzanne, I didn’t know Adelaide Case was involved with/responsible for the Seabury Series. As one who also grew up with that series, I wish Case’s biography said more about her work, particularly if it included the Seabury series.
    Michael, are you advocating for periods rather than commas? Yeah, these sentences are too long and skew the collect form more than a little.

  4. Celinda Scott says:

    One of Isabelle Teague’s books, _Liberal Christianity and Religious Education: A Study in Objectives of Religious Education_ , written in 1924 when she was at Teachers’ College, Columbia University, can be read on-line at least in part. (John Dewey was very active there at the time, and being asked to visit Turkey –Attaturk wanted his ideas on education as he made changes to language–new alphabet–and other things in Turkish society–, Japan, and China. He gathered those lectures into a book called _Reconstruction in Philosophy_ in the 1940s: they were about making substantive societal change). Teague’s chapter titles in LCRE are similar to what I’ve read about Dewey’s secular educational mission: “II. The Distinctive Position of Liberal Christianity and the Implied Educational Objectives….V. Objectives as Defined by Leading Writers in Religious Education: To What Extent do These Express the Position of Liberal Christians?…VII The Competence of Religious Workers to Deal with the Objectives of Liberal Christianity. Are the Workers Who Are in Direct Touch with the People Prepared to Deal with the Facts and Standards Involved in the Liberal Movement ?” I agree with much of what Dewey stood for (like “continuous inquiry”, the role of the public in decision making, etc.) , but there are also things he said that I disagree with; for instance, he really did say that public schools should educate students away from “supernaturalism.” Similarly, I think Teague–especially as the SCLM bio represents her–did some good things for religious education. But as the titles in her Table of Contents indicate, it wasn’t just faith in Christ she was teaching: it was faith in what she called “liberal Christianity.” She also wrote a book about Christ, and I imagine she presents him primarily as a leader of social change. a loving teacher, etc. but not as “savior and Lord.”

  5. Celinda Scott says:

    ADELAIDE Teague Case, not Isabelle, and not simply “Adelaide Teague.” Sorry!

  6. Celinda Scott says:

    Although Adelaide Teague Case was very dedicated to her cause, and persisted in the face of physical adversity, I do have a problem with her inclusion in _Holy Women, Holy Men_ because her stated emphasis and goals in Christian education revolve around “Liberal Christianity,” which I think is limiting. It seems to privilege one part of our church at the expense of others. Here are some of the chapter titles again from the book cited above: “II. The Distinctive Position of Liberal Christianity and the Implied Educational Objectives….V. Objectives as Defined by Leading Writers in Religious Education: To What Extent do These Express the Position of Liberal Christians?…VII The Competence of Religious Workers to Deal with the Objectives of Liberal Christianity. Are the Workers Who Are in Direct Touch with the People Prepared to Deal with the Facts and Standards Involved in the Liberal Movement ?” I’ve heard that there are churches where some rectors won’t allow people who are not “liberal” in their theology to teach in their Sunday Schools, just as there are no doubt some rectors won’t allow people who ARE “liberal” to teach. I don’t think any one “party” in our church (liberal, anglo-catholic, evangelical) should be set up over against other “parties” when we choose our saints.

  7. Nigel Renton says:

    If the entry for Adelaide Case is retained, which is likely, although to me her acceptability is marginal, I would like to see some tightening of the biography.

    In the first paragraph, “quickly rose to the status of full Professor” seems clumsy. Why not state that she was “soon appointed a full Professor”?

    In the first paragraph, the third sentence would, I suggest, be improved by adding a word so that it reads “by the time she had completed…”.

    In the second paragraph, the words “join the faculty” seem redundant. Why not “and was appointed Professor…”?

    In the third paragraph, I hope we can avoid the cliche of “health issues”. We could say that she had struggled with her health, or that she struggled with health problems.

    In the third paragraph, “she was a true believer in Christ and you saw him living in and through her,” – I question whether those words were “oft-repeated” in that precise form. I also suggest that “accolade” with its usual connotation of formality is inappropriate for this characterization. I suggest the following wording (without the quotation marks) “It was often said of her that she was a true believe in Christ, and that you saw Him living in and through her.”

    In the last sentence of the fourth paragraph, the introductory words “She is said to have discovered” seems weak. Do we know who said this? If it can be shown that this was her own opinion, it would be simple to say simply that “She discovered”.

    I can understand how this entry is important to EDS Graduates, and especially for those who attended the Cambridge seminary when it was ETS.

    However, when I compare the entry for July 19 with that for July 20, the group of wonderful women, sometimes called jokingly “The Four Troublemakers”, seems to me to list four Saints, any one of whom would be more important to us than Adelaide Case.

    These observations lead me to suggest that, if Adelaide deserves her own day, we need more than one day for the “troublemakers”. I want to suggest that the SCLM consider two commemorations, one for Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Amelia Jenks Bloomer, and another for Sojourner Truth and Harriet Ross Tubman. Incidentally, I found the biographies of these four women inspiring, as I am sure many others will.

    The coupling of Stanton and Bloomer is natural, as they were friends and contemporaries, and both have connections to Trinity, Seneca Falls.

    Likewise, Truth and Tubman are a natural pair, for their Quaker connections and struggles against slavery.

  8. Nigel Renton says:

    Line 1, first paragraph: substitute “on January 10,” for “in” after “Missouri”.

    Last line, second paragraph: substitute “on July 19,” for “in” after “death”.

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