Posts tagged converts
I do not intend to provide full book reviews here at this time, but I do think it is nonetheless appropriate to inform our readers about two new books that discuss American Orthodox converts. Studying converts was the area of my own dissertation research (may I get that published some day!) and I hope it will be an area of interest to our readers as well. First, what spurred this posting was receiving the following announcement:
Dn. Gregory Roeber has co-authored a book with Mickey L. Mattox. Mattox presents why he converted to Roman Catholicism and Roeber why he converted to Orthodoxy. Both discuss it within the context of what Lutherans see in those churches (as both are former Lutherans) and what the larger theological issues are. This event will happen tomorrow (March 8th) at Marquette University.
Likewise, last fall Amy Slagle published The Eastern Church in the Spiritual Marketplace: American Conversions to Orthodox Christianity which is an ethnographic study of converts from parishes in the Pittsburgh area and Mississippi. I have read this and would highly recommend it.
I realize neither are strictly historical studies but I do believe they have relevance (directly so) for those of us looking at this question historically and hopefully these books will be of interest to many of our readers.
Today being a Monday, I normally would publish the next edition of my “This week in American Orthodox history” series (in which I would say, among other things, that today marks the 97th anniversary of St. Raphael Hawaweeny’s repose). But that will have to wait until tomorrow, because I need to report on a pretty exciting development.
On Friday, ROCOR’s Eastern American Diocese announced that Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of ROCOR, has blessed the parishes of his diocese to hold an annual panihida (memorial) service for Philip Ludwell III on March 14, the anniversary of his repose. (ROCOR being on the Old Calendar, the panihida will take place on March 27 — that is, March 14 according to the Old Calendar.) Regular readers of OrthodoxHistory.org are no doubt familiar with Ludwell, the first known Orthodox convert in American history. Here is how the ROCOR article describes him:
He converted to the Orthodox faith at the Russian Church in London on December 31, 1738, several days after his twenty-second birthday. He was blessed by the Holy Synod of the Russian Church to return to Virginia with the Holy Gifts and increasing evidence now points to the existence of a lay Orthodox community headed by him in mid-eighteenth century Williamsburg.
Beyond dispute, he brought his three daughters up in the faith, and they were formally received into the Church in London in 1762. Some of their descendants also appear to have remained in the Church for several generations following Ludwell’s repose. He died in 1767 while resident in London. His funeral was served at the Russian Church in London on Monday, March 19/30, 1767 (at that time the calendar difference was only 11 days.)
Whilst still in Virginia, Ludwell translated The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom as it is performed without a deacon and The Liturgy of St. Basil the Great as it is performed without a deacon. He also translated The Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church, which was published in 1762, and penned what appears to be a short work of his own, entitled How to behave before, at, and after the Divine Service in the Church.
In all of these labors, he demonstrated an evident love for God and the Orthodox faith. He was also known for his cheerful and vivacious disposition, given to hospitality and to contributing to the needs of the poor. He also played a vital role in strengthening the defense of the Commonwealth of Virginia through tireless intercession with the British military authorities in his capacity as a member of the Royal Governing Council.
Ludwell’s story was uncovered by the indefatigable researcher and OrthodoxHistory.org columnist Nicholas Chapman. To read Nicholas’ articles about Ludwell (plus a couple less impressive pieces by me), click here. Also, be sure to visit the Eastern American Diocese website to read the full story on the upcoming panihida.
All of this prompts me to ask: are any other jurisdictions, bishops, or priests interested in participating in this annual memorial? I mean, Ludwell is, in a real sense, a forefather for all of American Orthodoxy, regardless of jurisdiction. If you’re a priest, would you consider serving a panihida (or pannikhida, if you prefer), or a trisagion service, for Ludwell’s soul? I’d love to see others in American Orthodoxy follow the lead of Metropolitan Hilarion and ROCOR.
January 16, 1924: Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow — former Archbishop of North America, and future canonized saint — issued an ukaz removing Metropolitan Platon Rozhdestvensky from his post as primate in America for “public acts of counter-revolution.” Of course, Tikhon was under pressure from the Soviet government. Really, “pressure” is an understatement; I have no doubt that he was compelled to issue that ukaz. Because this ukaz and stuff like it, later in the same year, the Russian Archdiocese declared itself independent from the Moscow Patriarchate.
January 17, 1869: Former Episcopal priest James Chrystal was ordained to the Orthodox priesthood in Syra (Greece). This would have been the eve of Theophany on the Old Calendar. Chrystal had only recently been baptized into the Orthodox Church, and very soon after returning to America, he left Orthodoxy, saying that he couldn’t tolerate the veneration of icons.
January 21, 1957: Greek Archbishop Michael Konstantinides delivered the invocation at President Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration. This was the first time that an Orthodox bishop was invited to participate in a presidential inauguration. In the years surrounding this event, Orthodoxy came to be recognized by dozens of states as the “fourth major faith,” along with Roman Catholicism, Protestantism (treated as a generic whole, in spite of its myriad divisions), and Judaism.
If you know of another major American Orthodox historical event that occurred between the 16th and 22nd of January, let us know in the comments!
Matthew has mentioned the first English speaking Transfiguration parish here:
One of the converts he mentioned was a gentleman named Reginald Wright Kauffman. Kauffman lived from 1877-1957 and was a noted author. He also served as a newspaper editor for a time. He was raised Episcopalian and apparently considered Mormonism for a time. He and his wife Ruth authored a book on it in 1912. You may still purchase a reprint from the University of Illinois Press. Despite this, he became Orthodox at the Transfiguration parish in New York in 1920. Here is a newspaper description of that event:
To the best of my knowledge, he remained Orthodox, but I am not sure of that. Fr. Daniel H.B. Montgomery mentioned Kauffman as a “pioneering convert” in “Your Orthodox Mission to America” Word Magazine (1957): 207-8, 212. This need not mean Kauffman remained Orthodox and if anyone has any information on Kauffman that relates to his Orthodoxy, we welcome feedback.