C.S. Lewis, Florence Li Tim-Oi and Janani Luwum should be considered saints; Bishops Tikhon, and John Roberts may be on the route to sainthood; King Charles I is no saint.
That was the verdict of the House of Bishops, concurring with recommendations of the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music cognate committees on candidates for inclusion in the Calendar of Lesser Feasts and Fasts.
During committee hearings, Canon Christopher Hall of Christ Church, Oxford, traveled from England to testify on behalf of Florence Li Tim-Oi of Hong Kong, the Anglican Communion’s first female priest, whom his father ordained in 1944. He recalled her as “a delightful and very holy woman.”
She was a deacon serving in Macao who took over Eucharistic ministries when the Japanese invasion prevented priests from coming to celebrate Eucharist. Bishop Ronald Hall of Hong Kong, believing it improper for someone not a priest to preside at Eucharist, met with her and decided to ordain her, the younger Hall recounted. “He felt that what he was doing was simply what Peter had done with Cornelius, that here was somebody that God had already chosen, had endowed with the spirit and the charisma of priesthood.”
Working in China, the priest’s ministry was halted for 23 years following the Cultural Revolution. “She was confronted by the Red Guards and made personally to cut up her clerical robes,” Hall said. She resumed her ministry after churches reopened in 1979.
Bishops voted to approve her for inclusion in the calendar on a trial basis.
Bishops soundly defeated an attempt to name Charles to the calendar. Earlier the committees had heard spirited testimony on both sides of the issue.
“I don’t think we need another old English king in our lectionary,” deputy Nigel Renton of California, a committee member in past conventions, told the committees. Some would dispute calling him a martyr, considering his death a result of politics, he said. Either way, he said, “I do not think he is an appropriate model for us to add to our calendar in the 21st century.” He noted Charles had been considered at more than one previous convention.
The Rev. Shannon Johnston of Mississippi countered that “there’s a lot of baggage around Charles that really is irrelevant” to his being an appropriate model for today’s Episcopalian. “Charles died because he didn’t sell out to make the English church Presbyterian or Free Church,” he said. “He died to preserve the episcopate.”
In other business, the bishops voted to:
• Authorize continuing use of Enriching Our Worship volumes 1 and 2;
•Refer consideration for the calendar of the Rev. Dr. John Roberts, who ministered to Wyoming’s Native Americans, and Tikhon, Russian Orthodox bishop of Alaska and North America, to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music;
•Give final approval to including Enmegahbowh, Florence Nightingale and Philip the Deacon in the church calendar;
•Approve on a trial basis inclusion of Janani Luwum, archbishop of Uganda and martyr, William Temple, archbishop of Canterbury, Clive Staples Lewis, apologist and spiritual writer, and Philander Chase, bishop of Ohio and Illinois.