October 30: William Chauncy Langdon+ (1895)

William Chauncy Langdon was a patent law attorney, an Episcopal priest, and a leader in the YMCA movement. Langdon was born in Burlington, Vermont. His grandfather was a judge and a Congressman from Vermont. After graduation from Transylvania University, Langdon became a tutor in chemistry and astronomy at Shelby College in Kentucky. In 1851 he was appointed assistant examiner in the U.S. patent office in Washington, where he rose to be chief examiner. He resigned this office in 1856 and practiced as a counselor in patent law. He was one of the early organizers of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in America, and the leader in making it a national institution, being president of the first general convention. In 1858 he was ordained to the ministry in the Episcopal church, by Bishop Whittingham of Maryland.

In 1859 Langdon went to Italy, as chaplain of the U.S. legation, near the Holy See, in Rome, where he founded and became first rector of the American Episcopal church in that city, today called St. Paul’s Within the Walls. Returning to the United States at the outbreak of civil war, he served in Maryland, and at the close of the war he was sent back to Italy, as secretary of a joint committee of the general convention of the Episcopal church, charged to inquire into the religious consequences of the Italian national revolution then in progress. In 1873 he was transferred to Geneva, Switzerland, where he founded Emmanuel Church and co-operated with the German, French, and Swiss Old Catholics. During the latter year he returned to the United States, and served at parishes in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania when he withdrew from parish duty and went to reside in Providence, Rhode Island. From the beginning of his interest in the project of forming a Young Men’s Christian Association in Washington, he worked all his life for the cause of church unity. Langdon died in 1895 and was buried from the Church of the Epiphany prior to his interment in Glenwood Cemetery. His tombstone reads, “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

< Previous      Next >

No comments yet

Add comment