Celebrating 175

May 4: First Female Priest to Celebrate the Eucharist (1975)

In the mid 1970’s, the Episcopal Church was embroiled in debate about the role of women in the church. Two irregular ordinations of women had taken place. The Diocese of Washington was involved in a church court case in which one of its clergy was charged with allowing an irregularly ordained woman to celebrate in his church. The 1976 General Convention finally voted to allow women to be ordained with the first regular ordination in the American church taking place on January 1, 1977.

In the Anglican Communion, the province of Hong Kong had begun ordaining women in 1971. The Rev. Jane Hwang was one of the early women ordained there. In May 1975, she had been invited by the Diocese of Southern Ohio to attend their centennial convention. After arriving in the United States, her first engagement was in Washington, D.C. at the Church of the Epiphany on Sunday, May 4. She was originally just scheduled to preach, but at the invitation of the Rt. Rev. William Creighton, bishop of Washington, she celebrated the Eucharist. Thus she became the first regularly ordained woman to celebrate the Holy Eucharist in the Episcopal Church. In a speech during her visit to the U.S., Pastor Hwang stated, “If humanity is to be fully represented before God in the priesthood, it is logical to suppose that the ministry which is not limited to people of one tribe or race should not be limited to one sex.”

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May 3: Mary King Lenthall (1892)

There is a large portrait of Mary King Lenthall in Epiphany’s archives. An accompanying inscription reads, “Miss Lenthall was one of the oldest members of Epiphany Parish and connected with its Sunday school and other church work for nearly thirty years. In 1857, she organized the infant class as a separate school and it remained under her care until her resignation in 1871. This portrait is affectionately inscribed to her memory by some of her scholars, and others who assisted in her work, in grateful and devout recognition of her saintly and Christian instruction.” Mary Lenthall was the oldest child of John and Jane King Lenthall. Never married, she devoted nearly all of her life to church work. In addition to the infant class, Mary also had charge of a sewing school for mission work.

Mary Lenthall showed a decided talent for painting and drawing, as well as music. She served as Epiphany’s first organist. She was known to be a brilliant scholar. In later life she resented that she had not been given an education comparable to that received by the young men of her day. She was affectionately known by all as “Aunt Mary Lenthall.” Mothers brought their children to her “that they might come under the gracious influence of the gentle teacher.” She died on May 3, 1892, just months shy of her ninetieth birthday. After her funeral at Epiphany, Aunt Mary Lenthall was laid to rest in the family plot at Rock Creek Cemetery.

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May 2: +Alfred Harding (1923)

Alfred Harding was the second bishop of Washington, serving from 1909 until his death in 1923. He was born in Northern Ireland and came to the United States as a teenager when his parents settled in Brooklyn. He graduated from Trinity College, Hartford, CT and distinguished himself as class valedictorian and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. After attending Berkeley Divinity School, Harding became a deacon in 1882 and a priest in 1883. He served parishes in Geneva, NY and Baltimore, MD before beginning a long tenure at St. Paul’s, K Street, Washington. When the new Diocese of Washington was created, Harding became the first secretary of the diocesan standing committee, a position he held until he was elected bishop.

The president of the diocesan standing committee at the time was Epiphany’s rector, Randolph McKim. McKim had been Harding’s main opponent for the bishop’s seat, just as he had been for Satterlee 12 years earlier. It would not be until the position came open a third time that an Epiphany rector (James Freeman) would become bishop of Washington. Bishop Harding’s first official visit to Epiphany came two months after his consecration when he confirmed 52 candidates on Palm Sunday 1909. Two years later, the bishop dedicated Epiphany’s new parish house. In 1922, Bishop Harding consecrated the McKim memorial tower and chime of bells.

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May 1: John Stone Paine (1859)

Jott Stone Paine was born in 1798 in Portland, Maine. Later in life, by an act of the Maine legislature, he officially changed his name to John Stone Paine. At age 15, Stone had entered the U.S. Navy as a midshipman, rising to the rank of lieutenant after 12 years and finally commander 16 years after that. Paine played a minor role in the famous 1840 Amistad case, which involved the rebellion of enslaved Africans aboard a Spanish schooner. President Van Buren ordered the USS Grampus (depicted here), then under Lt. Paine’s command, to New Haven, CT and gave secret orders that if the federal judge hearing the case ordered the rebellious slaves deported, they were to be hustled immediately on the Grampus to sail for Cuba before any appeal could be filed. Van Buren’s plot was foiled because the judge ruled that the Africans had been illegally enslaved and must be returned to Africa.

The 1845 marriage of John Stone Paine and Ruth Theodora Bomford is recorded in Epiphany’s register. The officiant for the ceremony was the Rev. John W. French, Epiphany’s founding rector. The Rev. Mr. French and the bride Ruth Bomford were cousins, their mothers being sisters. John Paine and Ruth Bomford’s marriage took place at Kalorama, the Bomford family estate in NW Washington. The couple’s first child, Clara Bomford Paine, was baptized at Epiphany in 1846.

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April 30: John Moore McCalla, Jr. (1897)

Epiphany values all aspects of its diversity today, including sexual orientation. With the life of John McCalla, we get an example of that diversity from the 19th Century. When McCalla’s granddaughter, Helen Goldsborough, was organizing the family papers several years ago, she began to read her grandfather’s diaries and was astonished to find out that he was homosexual, or probably best described as bisexual. He seems to have had relationships with men both before and after his marriage to a woman. John McCalla moved to Washington with his family as a young boy. He studied at Columbian College (today’s GWU) and received a medical degree. Though never really successful in his various careers, McCalla is a fascinating character and through his diaries, gives us a glimpse into the complex social norms of the day.

McCalla’s greatest source of strength was his faith and particularly his belief in God’s unconditional love. He was a devout Episcopalian and attended church regularly. McCalla’s diaries detail his involvement with several men. He saw no conflict between his faith and his sexual activity. McCalla was baptized at Epiphany in 1860. Following his marriage to Helen Hill, all of the McCalla children were baptized at Epiphany. The two oldest boys died as infants and their burial services were at Epiphany.

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April 29: Commemorative Service for Pamela Chinnis (2000)

On Saturday, April 29, 2000, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church hosted a special service of Choral Evensong and reception at Epiphany in celebration of the ministry of Pamela Pauly Chinnis. Dr. Chinnis was about to complete her third and final term as President of the House of Deputies. This house, along with the House of Bishops, makes up the General Convention, the governing body of the Episcopal Church. Dr. Chinnis was the first woman to hold the position. She was a loyal daughter of Epiphany having served as the parish’s first female senior warden. She was the third person associated with the parish to lead the House of Deputies (joining the Revs. Randolph McKim and ZeBarney Phillips.)

The officiants for this service were the Rt. Rev. Ronald H. Haines, 7th Bishop of Washington and the Rev. Randolph C. Charles, 14th Rector of Epiphany and the preacher was the Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, 25th Presiding Bishop. The Epiphany Choir, under the direction of Eric Plutz, provided the music. In the Litany of Thanksgiving, the congregation prayed “for the many faithful leaders of your church, especially Pam Chinnis, who leads with wisdom, courage, and compassion.”

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April 28: John Henry Aulick (1873)

Upon his retirement in 1867, Commodore J.H. Aulick had 57 years of service with the U.S. Navy, of which almost half were spent at sea. A Virginian by birth, Aulick was appointed an officer in the navy from Maryland. During the War of 1812, he served on several ships, one of which was captured by the British and Aulick spent eight months in captivity. In the 1840’s, Aulick was stationed in Washington as commandant of the U.S. Navy Yard. In 1850, Aulick received orders to command the East India Squadron. Before leaving for his new posting, Aulick suggested a plan to Secretary of State Daniel Webster to open trade talks with Japan. President Fillmore designated Aulick as his envoy to negotiate a treaty of commerce. Due to some infighting, Aulick was relieved of the responsibility and Commodore Perry completed the mission.

Commodore Aulick’s family first shows up in Epiphany’s records with the marriage of his oldest daughter, Julia, to a naval officer in 1847. Aulick may have also witnessed the baptism and confirmation of several grandchildren at Epiphany. The funeral of Aulick’s oldest son, Richmond, took place at Epiphany in 1868. Richmond Aulick had been the first graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1846. John Henry Aulick’s own funeral took place five years later. Rector Wilbur Watkins read the burial service at the commodore’s residence, after which a funeral procession including the full marine band marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to Congressional Cemetery for interment.

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April 27: Aurelius Rives Shands (1941)

A beautiful stained glass window in Epiphany’s east transept illustrates Matthew 11:2-5. When Jesus is asked if he is the promised messiah, he responds, “the blind see, the lame walk …” The lame walking is an appropriate symbol for a window in memory of an orthopedic surgeon. Such is the case with this window in memory of Dr. Aurelius R. Shands and his wife, Agnes. A native of central Virginia, Dr. Shands studied in Baltimore and New York before settling in Washington. In addition to his practice, he was professor of Orthopedic Surgery at George Washington University. He was one of the founders of Emergency Hospital in Washington and was the Chief of Orthopedic Service.

The May 1941 issue of the Parish Guide recorded Dr. Shands’ death: “On last Sunday evening, shortly before midnight, our beloved Senior Warden, Dr. A.R. Shands, entered into the fuller life. For more than a score of years this valiant soldier of Christ had occupied the position of Warden of this church, which he loved more than anything in the world, next to his home and loved ones. He was quiet and unobtrusive, gentle yet firm, where firmness was necessary. He was not only a great Christian but a great physician, and hundreds of men, women and children rise up to call him blessed for the curative work he has done through the forty or more years of his practice here in Washington.”

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April 26: Philip Burke King (1987)

Philip Burke King was an American geologist, who is remembered for his pioneering and long-continued achievements in the theory and practice of preparing tectonic maps of nations and continents. A native of Indiana, King received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Iowa State University, where his father taught. After graduation, King went to work for an oil company in west Texas and quickly became fascinated with the geology of the region. A Yale University professor doing research there encouraged the young King to come to Yale for doctoral work. King received his Ph.D. in 1929, producing a major monograph of the Glass Mountains.

Most of Philip King’s working career was spent with the U.S. Geological Survey, headquartered in Washington. He taught at universities for short periods, including a stint as visiting lecturer at the University of Moscow. He was known for his extraordinary ability as a draftsman, almost an artist. Art had been his minor in college. All his major reports and books are illustrated by his own superb drawings. The precision and beauty of his work is admirable and contributed to the clarity, order and breadth of vision. King was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was awarded medals from the Geological Society of America and the U.S. Department of the Interior. On October 29, 1932, Philip King married Helen Carter, an accomplished poet, at the Church of the Epiphany.

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April 25: Visit of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (2010)

The Presiding Bishop is the chief pastor and primate of the Episcopal Church. He or she is elected by the church’s General Convention to serve a nine-year term. During her tenure as the 26th Presiding Bishop (2006-2015), the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori visited all 109 dioceses and regional areas of the Episcopal Church, beginning with the Diocese of Arkansas in January 2007 and concluding with the Diocese of Central Florida in March 2013. After completing this task, Bishop Katharine reported, “This Church is living faithfully into the next era of what it means to be Episcopal Christians. We are serving the least of these, teaching and forming new generations as partners in God’s mission, responding to injustice, and caring for God’s creation.”

During her visit to the Diocese of Washington April 23-25, 2010, Bishop Katharine visited the Church of the Epiphany and participated in the 8:00am Welcome Table Eucharist on Sunday, April 25. The service and the accompanying ministries of bible study, art, and breakfast primarily serve downtown’s homeless men and women. Leaving formality behind, Bishop Katharine eschewed her miter and crozier and sat with the congregation during the service. In the homily, the bishop told her audience, “Each and every one of you is a shepherd.” The service concluded with the Welcome Table Choir leading the congregation in a rousing rendition of the spiritual, “I’m Gonna Eat at the Welcome Table.”

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