Thursday, August 14, 2008

Remembering Jonathan Myrick Daniels

The Episcopal Cafe's Daily Reading commemorate's Jonathan Myrick Daniels, an Episcopal seminiarian who was martyred during the Civil Rights struggle in the US. He's on the right in the photo.

Daily Reading for August 14 • Jonathan Myric Daniels, 1965

As soon as [ESCRU’s executive director, the Rev.] John Morris learned of Daniels’s death, he made arrangements for the body to be flown back to Daniels’s home in Keene, New Hampshire, for burial. In place of a formal eulogy at the funeral service, excerpts from Daniels’s theological writings were read aloud to the mourners gathered at St. James’ Church. In one of those selections, he wrote that he had stopped being afraid of death in Alabama, for he realized that “I had truly been baptized into the Lord’s death and Resurrection, that in the only sense that really matters I am already dead, and my life is hid with Christ in God.”

Stokely Carmichael, the SNCC organizer with whom Daniels had worked most closely in Alabama, was deeply upset by the murder and remarked that Daniels had “lived like Christ.” In tears at the interment following the funeral, Carmichael joined hands with other mourners, who softly sang “We Shall Overcome” beside the grave.

At the same time, memorial services were held in many other churches throughout the country, and the slain seminarian received numerous tributes. Frank Mathews expressed shock at what had happened and offered prayers at St. Paul’s. William Stringfellow, who had been one of Daniels’s mentors, called him “an authentic Christian” who had died simply for doing what the gospel demanded; Judith Upham believed his witness demonstrated that “God requires not extraordinary people, but ordinary people with an extraordinary commitment as channels for His grace-full action in the world.”

From Episcopalians and Race: Civil War to Civil Rights by Gardiner H. Shattuck (The University Press of Kentucky, 2000).

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