An evangelical layman, Tom Isham of Trinity Episcopal Church in Marshall, Michigan, is working with the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to add the 19th century evangelical bishop, Charles Pettit McIlvaine, to the calendar of the Episcopal Church. The Commission is more likely to do this if there are already commemorations of McIlvaine taking place in some Episcopal Churches, and clerical readers of this blog are asked to consider using the propers below, and the brief biography, on or near March 12, the anniversary of his death.
Proverbs 4: 20-27
Psalm 119: 121-136
Romans 8: 31-39
Mark 8: 31-38
O gracious God, you kindled in your servant Charles Pettit McIlvaine a burning zeal for the salvation and sanctification of souls, and equipped him to those ends with great gifts of leadership, preaching and writing. Grant us to heed the example and teaching of this your servant Charles, that we too may have a hand in bringing to faith those whom you have called; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
As a man of great and varied gifts, Charles Pettit McIlvaine did many things and he did them well. Combining evangelical fervor and liturgical dignity in equal measure, he distinguished himself as a leader, author, scholar, educator, preacher, revivalist, reformer, ecumenist, and Sunday school pioneer. His literary and scholarly gifts advanced the evangelical cause in the Episcopal Church, defended Christian doctrine, and addressed social issues. He was an active delegate at the first Lambeth Conference.
Throughout his career, Bishop McIlvaine emphasized spiritual rebirth. Hence he preached at numerous revivals, conducting them in good Episcopal fashion, ‘decently and in order.’ His awakening at age seventeen matched the experience he recommended. ‘It was in the college of which I was a student,’ he recalled. ‘It was powerful and prevailing, and fruitful in the conversion of young men to God; and it was quiet, unexcited, and entirely free from all devices or means, beyond the few and simple which God has appointed… In that precious season of the power of God, my religious life began. I had heard before; I began then to know.’
Though raised in the East, McIlvaine served as Ohio’s second bishop for forty-one years. Earlier, he served churches in Washington, D.C. and Brooklyn, N.Y.; twice served as U.S. Senate chaplain; lectured on Christian evidences at the University of the City of New York, and served as chaplain and professor at the U.S. Military Academy, where he transformed the reigning secular ethos into one of Christian awareness, setting a new tone for the nation s officer corps.
During the first dozen years of his episcopate, he also served as president of Kenyon College and Seminary. He stabilized the college’s finances, built academic structures and faculty housing, and set the standard for racial harmony.
Early in the American Civil War, he served President Lincoln as envoy to Britain, where his wise counsel and diplomatic bearing assured the British would not ally themselves with the Confederacy. Later, he brought the Gospel to soldiers in the field, tended the wounded, and sought reconciliation between victors and vanquished.
It will be important to report any commemorations held to the SCLM; any reports added to this post as a comment will be forwarded to them, or you can e-mail Tom directly at ishamthomas [at] sbcglobal [dot] net.