February 12: Charles Freer Andrews, Priest and “Friend of the Poor” in India, 1940
February 12, 2011 14 Comments
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About this commemoration
Affectionately called “Christ’s Faithful Apostle” by his friend, the Mahatma Gandhi, Charles Freer Andrews dedicated his life’s work to relief and justice for the oppressed and poor in India and around the globe.
Born in Birmingham, England in 1871, he converted to the Church of England while studying at Cambridge and was ordained a priest in 1897. An active member of the Christian Social Union since his college days, Andrews was inspired by the cause of social justice throughout the British Empire, particularly in India. In 1904 he joined the Cambridge Brotherhood in India and began to teach philosophy at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. His Indian students and colleagues, with whom he had grown close, referred to him as Deenabandhu, or “Friend of the Poor.”
Andrews openly criticized the racist mistreatment of the Indian people by British officials and, in 1913, he successfully mediated a cotton worker’s strike in Madras which had the potential to become violent.
He traveled to South Africa to help the Indians there in their dispute with the Government, and it was then that he met a young lawyer named Mohandas Gandhi. Andrews was impressed with Gandhi’s teaching of non-violence and with his knowledge of the Christian faith, and helped him establish an ashram, or Indian hermitage, devoted to the practice of peace. In 1915, Andrews helped convince Gandhi to return to England with him. He also aided Gandhi in his efforts to negotiate matters of Indian autonomy with the British Government.
Andrews’ work also took him to Fiji, where he advocated for indentured Indian workers and for the rights of oppressed sugar workers. He eventually returned to England, where he continued to teach about social justice and radical discipleship until his death in 1940.
I Gracious God, who didst call Charles Freer Andrews to empty himself, after the example of our Savior, so that he might proclaim thy salvation to the peoples of India and the Pacific Islands: By thy Holy Spirit inspire us with like zeal to bring together people of every race and class, that there may be one Body and one Spirit in Jesus Christ, our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
II Gracious God, you called Charles Freer Andrews to empty himself, after the example of our Savior, so that he might proclaim your salvation to the peoples of India and the Pacific Islands: By your Holy Spirit inspire us with like zeal to bring together people of every race and class, that there may be one Body and one Spirit in Jesus Christ, our Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Preface of a Saint (2)
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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