August 17: Samuel Johnson, 1772, Timothy Cutler, 1765, and Thomas Bradbury Chandler, 1790, Priests
August 17, 2010 16 Comments
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About this commemoration
Born in Connecticut in 1696, and ordained a Congregational minister in 1719, Samuel Johnson as a young man had already developed serious doubts about the Congregationalist way of life. He had come to believe that the true connection to the faith of the primitive church was found in episcopal orders and in apostolic succession. He viewed the ordered liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer and Anglican polity as the proper alternative to the rampant dissent and local power struggles of the Congregationalist culture in which he lived and worked.
It was shortly after his ordination that he and others sympathetic to his cause began to meet and discuss the Anglican alternative. Among those gathered with Johnson was Harvard graduate Timothy Cutler, who was rector of Yale College. In September of 1722, the “Yale Apostates” confronted the trustees of Yale College and announced their intention to shift their allegiance to the Church of England.
In December of that year, Johnson, Cutler, and their friend Daniel Browne reached England, and in March they were ordained to the Anglican priesthood by the Bishop of Norwich.
Returning to New England as a missionary for the Society of the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), Johnson became the rector of the first Episcopal congregation in the colonies, in Stratford, Connecticut, where he served until he became the first President of Columbia University (then King’s College) in New York. Cutler, after doctoral studies at Oxford and Cambridge, served as rector of Christ Church, Boston, where he tirelessly advocated for the appointment of an Anglican Bishop in the colonies.
Johnson’s pupil, Thomas Bradbury Chandler, also an ardent advocate for both the Anglican way and for the presence of bishops in the colonies, continued the work. Chandler, the father-in-law of Bishop John Henry Hobart, served for 43 years as the rector of St. John’s, Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth), New Jersey, and was himself appointed the first bishop in the Americas, in Nova Scotia, but was unable to accept the appointment due to illness.
Collect of the Day
God of your pilgrim people, you called Samuel Johnson, Timothy Cutler, and Thomas Chandler to leave their spiritual home and embrace the Anglican way: We give you thanks for their devoted service in building up your Church and shepherding your flock in colonial times; and we pray that, like them, we may follow where your Spirit leads and be ever eager to feed the hearts and minds of those entrusted to our care, in the Name of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 24:1–8
1 Peter 2:1–10
Preface of Advent
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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From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.