September 22:Philander Chase Bishop of Ohio, and of Illinois, 1852

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, and then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.

About this commemoration

Born the youngest of fifteen children on December 14, 1775, in Cornish, New Hampshire, Philander Chase attended Dartmouth College, where he prepared to become a Congregationalist minister. While at Dartmouth, he happened upon a copy of the Book of Common Prayer. Next to the Bible, he thought it was the most excellent book he had ever studied, and believed that it was surely inspired by God. At the age of nineteen he was confirmed in the Episcopal Church.

Following graduation from Dartmouth, Chase worked as a schoolteacher in Albany, New York, and read for Holy Orders. Ordained a deacon in 1798, he began mission work on the northern and western frontiers among the pioneers and the Mohawk and Oneida peoples. The first of the many congregations he founded was at Lake George in New York State.

Ordained a priest in 1799, at the age of twenty-three, Chase served as rector of Christ Church, Poughkeepsie, New York, until 1805. He then moved to New Orleans, where he organized the first Protestant congregation in Louisiana. That parish now serves as the cathedral church for the Diocese of Louisiana. In 1810 he returned north to Hartford, Connecticut, where he served for six years as rector of Christ Church, now the cathedral church of the Diocese of

Connecticut. In 1817 he accepted a call to be the first rector of St. John’s Church in Worthington, Ohio. A year later he was elected the first Bishop of Ohio. He immediately began founding congregations and organizing the diocese. He also established Kenyon College and Bexley Hall Seminary.

In 1831 Chase resigned as Bishop of Ohio and began ministering to Episcopalians and the unchurched in southern Michigan. In 1835 he was elected the first Bishop of Illinois and served in this office until he died on September 20, 1852. During his time in Illinois he founded numerous congregations, together with Jubilee College, which included a seminary. As the senior bishop in the Episcopal Church, he served as the Presiding Bishop from 1843 until his death.

At a meeting of the House of Bishops in 1835, Bishop Doane of New Jersey said of him: “A veteran soldier, a Bishop of the Cross, whom hardships never have discouraged, whom no difficulties seem to daunt.”

COLLECTS

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith: We give thee heartfelt thanks for the pioneering spirit of thy servant Philander Chase, and for his zeal in opening new frontiers for the ministry of thy Church. Grant us grace to minister in Christ’s name in every place, led by bold witnesses to the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, even Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith: We give you heartfelt thanks for the pioneering spirit of your servant Philander Chase, and for his zeal in opening new frontiers for the ministry of your Church. Grant us grace to minister in Christ’s name in every place, led by bold witnesses to the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, even Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons

Isaiah 44:1–6,8

Acts 18:7–11

Luke 9:1–6

Psalm 108:1–6

Preface of a Saint (1)Text From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

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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9 Responses to September 22:Philander Chase Bishop of Ohio, and of Illinois, 1852

  1. Michael Hartney says:

    New New Testament reading: Although It ‘seems’ to fit well … it does require a bit of a stretch to say it matches up with the good Bishop.

    There is a interesting anecdote that is part of Kenyon College lore regarding Bishop Chase and the inclusion of African Americans at Bexley Hall. It is said that Bishop Chase made his statement about the rightness of inclusion by being the last to receive Holy Communion in the college Chapel – after the first African American student had received. Others were refusing to receive Holy Communion because of the African American student’s presence.

    • Michael Hartney says:

      An addition: Bishop Chase needs a ‘who he is’ and ‘why he is important’ statement in the first paragraph.

  2. Nigel Renton says:

    When the SCLM changed the former policy to allow for more than one commemoration on the same day, they understandably left in place some commemorations using the “nearest open day” approach. Here is a case in point.

    I suggest that in its report to GC 2012, the SCLM should announce its revised policy.

    They can recommend to GC 2012 whether or not to re-schedule the date of those (like Philander Chase) who were “bumped” in previous GCs.

    (Are there instances when more than two commemorations would fall naturally on the same day? If three, would all three share the day, or would one be “bumped”?)

    Bio. Considering TEC as a “Protestant” denomination is out of fashion. (I wince when I see it!) I would avoid the issue in line 4 of the third paragraph, where to substitute “non-Roman Catholic” would be accurate but ugly. I suggest simply stating “the first Episcopal Church in Louisiana”.

    • Steve Lusk says:

      If we’re not Protestant, we’re not Anglican . . . and we’ve lost all sense of where we came from:

      “You shall take principal order and care . . . that all atheism, prophaneness, popery, or schism be exemplarily punished to the honor of God and the peace and safety of his Church.” (Virginia Company Charter, 1606)

  3. Leonel L. Mitchell says:

    Chase’s work certainly deserves commemoration. He was a srewd out feller. Perhaps we shuld add that he was Postmaster in Gabia, Ohio, so he could sand mail free.

    The propes make sense and are a good addition. I like the collect.

    • Michael Hartney says:

      With a son who is a graduate of Kenyon College I have to note that it is Gambier, Ohio. A favorite quip of Kenyon graduates is “Kenyon is not a country in Africa.'”

  4. Tom Broad says:

    The addition of the Acts reading does seem to reflect Bp. Chase’s ministry.

    I was going to comment that it seemed there just too many dates in this bio, but then this was read aloud during MP today and I received two comments from people who had noticed that he was serving concurrently as Bishop of Illinois and as Presiding Bishop. So I stand corrected — the dates can indeed inform!

  5. Philip Wainwright says:

    ‘Considering TEC as a “Protestant” denomination is out of fashion. (I wince when I see it!)’–Nigel must wince every time he opens his Prayer Book; it’s on the front page of mine!

    And since it’s the only acknowledgement of Chase’s evangelical sympathies in the bio, I’d be sorry to see it removed. In a church which I have been assured still has room for Evangelicals, the few heroes we have in HWHM might as well be out in the open. The American National Biography says ‘As presiding bishop (1843-1852), he vigorously fought Catholic ritual and became spokesman for the evangelical party… the evangelical party became his home, as their battle cry, “No priest, no Altar, no Sacrifice,” best addressed his deeply rooted conservatism’.

    The ANB also tells us why he was important, speaking of ‘his major life work, bringing the Episcopal church to the Middle West.’ And as has often been said on this site, some such statement should be in the first paragraph.

  6. Dan Martins says:

    We observed this commemoration last night with a celebration of the Eucharist. The general consensus of those attending was that Bishop Chase is a worthy commemoration to maintain, due to his heroic persistence in the cause of mission in the face of constantly challenging circumstances. He is a model of fidelity to vocation. The readings and collect seemed quite appropriate.

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