August 30: Charles Chapman Grafton, Bishop of Fond du Lac, and Ecumenist, 1912
August 30, 2010 13 Comments
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.
About this commemoration
Charles Grafton was born April 12, 1830 in Boston, and attended Harvard Law School. He was confirmed at Church of the Advent— then a leading parish implementing the principles of the Oxford Movement—where he began seriously to explore his vocation. After graduation he moved to Maryland to study with the Tractarian Bishop William Whittington who eventually ordained him deacon on December 23, 1855, and priest on May 30, 1858.
Grafton served a number of parishes in Maryland but experienced a growing attraction to the religious life. In 1865, he left for England specifically to meet Edward Bouverie Pusey. In the following year, after a series of meetings held at All Saints, Margaret Street, Grafton and two others took religious vows and the Society of St. John the Evangelist had its beginning. In 1872, Grafton returned and was elected fourth Rector of the Church of the Advent, Boston.
In 1888, Grafton was elected second bishop of Fond du Lac. His consent process was difficult as many thought him too ritualistic, but he soon became known not only as an Anglo-Catholic but also as an ecumenist, deeply committed to improve relations with the Orthodox and Old Catholics. He founded the Sisters of the Holy Nativity.
Perhaps the most famous event during Grafton’s long episcopate was the ordination of his successor in 1900. He invited the Russian Orthodox Bishop Tikhon and the Old Catholic Bishop Anthony Kozlowski to participate. The service stirred up furor across the country with the publication of a photograph (called derisively “The Fond du Lac Circus”) that showed all eight Episcopal bishops and the two visiting bishops in cope and miter. It caused a church-wide furor over ritual and vestments that lasted for over six months, with accusations and threats of ecclesiastical trial flying from all corners, and with scurrilous attacks and virulent justifications. When the dust finally settled, the legitimacy of traditional catholic ritual and vestments had thereafter gained a permanent place in the liturgy in the Episcopal Church.
Bishop Grafton died August 30, 1912.
Collect of the Day
Loving God, you called Charles Chapman Grafton to be a bishop in your Church and endowed him with a burning zeal for souls: Grant that, following his example, we may ever live for the extension of your kingdom, that your glory may be the chief end of our lives, your will the law of our conduct, your love the motive of our actions, and Christ’s life the model and mold of our own; through the same Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, throughout all ages. Amen.
Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 50:16–21
Preface of a Saint (1)
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.