December 2: Channing Moore Williams, Missionary Bishop in China and Japan, 1910

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:

Bishop Williams, a farmer’s son, was born in Richmond, Virginia,on July 18, 1829, and brought up in straitened circumstances by his widowed mother. He attended the College of William and Mary and the Virginia Theological Seminary. Ordained deacon in 1855, he offered himself for work in China, where he was ordained priest in 1857. Two years later, he was sent to Japan and opened work in Nagasaki. His first convert was baptized in 1866, the year he was chosen bishop for both China and Japan. After 1868, he decided to concentrate all his work in Japan, following the revolution that opened the country to renewed contact with thewestern world.

Relieved of his responsibility for China in 1874, Williams made his base at Yedo (now Tokyo), where he founded a divinity school, later to become St. Paul’s University. At a synod in1887 he helped bring together the English and American missionsto form the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Holy Catholic Church of Japan, when the Church there numbered fewer than a thousand communicants. Williams translated parts of the Prayer Book into Japanese; and he was a close friend and warm supporter of Bishop Schereschewsky, hissuccessor in China, in the latter’s arduous work of translating the Bible into Chinese. After resigning his jurisdiction in 1889, Bishop Williams stayed in Japan to help his successor there, Bishop John McKim, who was consecrated in 1893. Williams lived in Kyoto and continued to work in the opening of new mission stations until his return to America in1908. He died in Richmond, Virginia, on December 2, 1910.

Collects
i Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for thyservant Channing Moore Williams, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to the people of China and Japan. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land evangelists and heralds of thy kingdom, that thy Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

ii Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Channing Moore Williams, whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of China and Japan. Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons
Isaiah 49:22–23

Acts 1:1–9

Luke 10:1–9

Psalm

96:1–7

Preface of Pentecost

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

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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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5 Responses to December 2: Channing Moore Williams, Missionary Bishop in China and Japan, 1910

  1. Michael Hartney says:

    Bio. Bishop Williams needs a ‘who he is’ and ‘why he is important’ statement.

  2. John LaVoe says:

    A remarkable Christian with a remarkable ministry. In the collect, why not include in the petition something about every Christian’s baptismal promise to “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ”? Otherwise the petition amounts to nothing more than a “to do list” for God rather than a response that personally involves those praying: “NOTE TO GOD — Send someone else to do evangelism; I’m an Episcopalian.” (Or, in the exact wording of the petition, “Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ….”) More succinctly, “Here am I, Lord; send him.”

  3. John LaVoe says:

    In the readings, Isaiah 49:23a seems rather distainful towards the nations: (“23 Kings shall be your [Israel’s] foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet.”) With only two verses for the whole lection, it hardly expresses a sense of missionary compassion or zeal. Evanglism is, after all, working for the spiritual well being of the other; not the subjugation of aliens for purposes of personal advantage and self-aggrandizement. Can’t we find a passage about light to the nations or something similar?

    The Psalm is a good selection. I don’t know why the whole psalm isn’t selected. It’s not long. There are no hard words in it. It won’t make people late for work. The coffee won’t get cold. It’s a beautiful and glorious praise of God, and only adds 6 more verses. I realize it’s a response to the reading and not a daily office psalm, but at least make the additional verses optional with parentheses: 96:1-7(8-13).

    Acts of the Apostles: I can see where the summary of resurrection appearances, the promise of Pentecost, vagueness about “restoring the kingdom,” and mention of witnessing to Jesus to “the ends of the earth” would all be appealing. Ending with Jesus ascending into heaven, nevertheless, seems a little out of context for the commemoration. (Shouldn’t the emphasis be on receiving him instead of his departure, as the last word in the reading?)

    Luke 10:1–9. Excellent selection for the commemoration.

  4. Pegram Johnson III says:

    Channing Moore Williams is one of my heroes. He has found his way into more than one of my homilies. I share with him the College of William and Mary and the Virginia Theological Seminary and my first job was teaching in Anglican schools in China. The suggestions for improvement of the celebration given above seem appropriate.

  5. Reblogged this on Hear what the Spirit is saying and commented:
    December 2nd the Episcopal Church remembers Channing Moore Williams.On his gravestone some Japanese friends placed this touching epitaph: “During his fifty years in Japan he taught Christ’s ways and not his own.” So: In all things, may we seek Christ’s ways, not our own ways, to the glory of God.

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