Celebrating 175

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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April 24: Robert King Stone (1872)

Though only 49 years old when he died, Dr. Robert King Stone had long been considered “the dean of the Washington medical community.” He received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania and had visited major hospitals in London, Paris and Vienna before starting his practice in Washington. Dr. Stone also served as a professor at Columbian College Medical School (today’s GWU School of Medicine). When he came to Washington, Abraham Lincoln chose Dr. Stone as his family’s physician. Dr. Stone attended President Lincoln following his assassination. In the formal investigation of the crime, Dr. Stone was the only physician to give testimony about the president’s condition.

The family of Robert King Stone had been connected with Epiphany since it’s founding. His aunt, Mary King Lenthall, was the church’s first organist and Sunday school teacher. His mother, Elizabeth Lenthall Stone, gave money and land to Epiphany to found the Lenthall Home for Widows. For several decades following his death, members of Stone’s family were connected to Epiphany. The marriage and burial services of his two children were here. The baptism of four of his grandchildren took place here, including namesake Robert King Stone, baptized at Epiphany in 1892, twenty years after his grandfather’s death.

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April 23: Stilson Hutchins (1912)

Stilson Hutchins was a lifelong journalist and a millionaire philanthropist. A native of New Hampshire, Hutchins attended schools in Boston and eventually graduated from Harvard. He started his career as a reporter in Boston and later went to Iowa where he had charge of papers in Des Moines and Dubuque. Soon after the Civil War, he relocated to St. Louis and established the Daily Times. During this period he was also a member of the Missouri legislature. Soon after, Hutchins came to Washington, where he founded The Washington Post in order to advance Democratic Party views. It was first published in 1877 and within a year the circulation topped 6000 copies per day. Joseph Pulitzer joined the staff in 1880.

For many years, Hutchins was engaged in various business enterprises in Washington and did much to enhance the city. Hutchins presented the statue of Benjamin Franklin, which today stands at the corner of 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue NW in front of the Old Post Office. Hutchins also donated the Daniel Webster Memorial at Scott Circle. Webster was a fellow New Hampshire native. Hutchins associated with Epiphany somewhere along the way. The funeral of his second wife, Sarita, took place there as well as his own before interment in Rock Creek Cemetery.

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April 22: Fannie Gilliss (1926)

The May 1926 Parish Guide recorded the death of Fannie Gilliss: “On Thursday evening, April 22, Miss Fannie Gilliss entered into rest. There was perhaps no one connected with Epiphany Church who was better known or more universally beloved than this saintly woman who, as the close of her earthly life approached, went forth to meet death with a most triumphant faith and glorious serenity. Her passing was a veritable benediction and those who were privileged to be near her during her last few days will never forget her radiant face as she talked of the full life she had had and of the fuller life into which she was so soon to enter. Miss Gilliss was the first person to be baptized in Epiphany Church by the Rev. Dr. French, first Rector, and during a period of more than four score years she supplemented her faith with every kind of noble endeavor for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God in this dear old Parish she so truly loved.”

Fannie Gilliss was the fourth child of James and Rebecca Gilliss, founding members of Epiphany and present at the laying of the church’s cornerstone in 1843. During her life, Fannie served as the sponsor for at least 15 baptisms at Epiphany of non-family members. She lived through nine Epiphany rectors and was baptized, confirmed and buried from the church before her interment in the family plot at Oak Hill Cemetery.

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April 21: Edward Cary Walthall (1898)

Born in Richmond, Virginia to a family with roots going back to Jamestown, Edward Cary Walthall lived the life of a lawyer, soldier, and statesman. Walthall’s family moved to Mississippi when he was a boy. There he received his schooling and after being admitted to the bar, he was elected District Attorney. When the Civil War came along, he sided with the South and rose to the rank of general in the Confederate Army. After the war, he was elected to the U.S. Senate from Mississippi. In his autobiography, Senator George F. Hoar of Massachusetts wrote, “If I were to select the one man of all others with whom I have served in the Senate, who seems to me the most perfect example of the quality and character of the American Senator, I think it would be Edward C. Walthall of Mississippi. When he spoke, the Senate listened to a man of great ability, eloquence and dignity.”

Congressional records describe the funeral of Senator Walthall: “The casket containing the remains of the deceased Senator was brought into the Senate Chamber. The Vice President called the Senate to order at 12 o’clock meridian. At one minute past 12 o’clock the members of the House of Representatives entered the Senate Chamber. They were soon followed by the dean and members of the diplomatic corps, the Chief Justice and associate justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, the President of the United States [William McKinley] and his cabinet ministers, and the Commissioners of the District of Columbia. Rev. Randolph Harrison McKim, D.D., assisted by Rev. Louis G. Wood [Epiphany’s rector and assistant], read the burial service of the Episcopal Church.”

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April 20: Sarita Morrison Brady Hutchins (1884)

Epiphany’s records list the burial of Mrs. Sarita Morrison Hutchins with the cause of death being childbirth. Sarita was the wife of Stilson Hutchins, founder of The Washington Post. Her obituary is from that paper: “Her intellect was of that keen, penetrating kind characteristic of the best of Celtic blood, allowing her to take at a glance and with but little apparent effort the essence of whatever was offered either in books or men. Her memory, which was as unusual as her other mental endowments, held in readiness for her use all that she had thus acquired; the combination making her one of the most brilliant, entertaining and ready conversationalists Washington society has ever known. Her critical faculty was of the finest quality, and made her judgment upon literary matters a standard among those who were so fortunate as to be numbered as her friends. She had great learning, and her knowledge was not only wide but deep. Had the time and opportunity presented themselves the world would have felt and acknowledged the influence of her thought, which was as original as it was forcible and strong.”

“But if there was one quality in Mrs. Hutchins’ character which stood out, with greater clearness or in bolder relief than the rest it was her delicate sense of justice. Her sympathy and aid were always at the service of the oppressed, and she was ever ready to do battle with the weak against the strong. On this principle she molded her life even to its minutest details. Coupled with this sense of justice there was – as there is always in truly great minds – a wide charity which recognized and pitied the weaknesses and frailties of our imperfect humanity. Those who were privileged to enter the circle of her inner life will remember a card fastened to the corner of her mirror. On this card were these words: ‘I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any fellow human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.’ This was the guide of her life, and she followed it to the end.”

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April 19: Parish Symbol (1965)

On the front of the Easter Day 1965 bulletin, the Church of the Epiphany introduced a new symbol for the parish. Rector Edgar Romig gave the following description, “The new symbol of our parish appears here for the first time. It was designed by the Rev. Dr. Edward N. West, Canon Sacrist of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City. The large cross, which includes four smaller crosses, is called an “epiphany cross” because, like the love of Christ in the world, it reaches to the four points of the compass. The stars appear in the coat of arms of President Washington and in the seal of the Diocese. The walled crown, also included in the diocesan seal, is a symbol of this capital city. We are extremely grateful to Canon West for his fine gift to us.”

Canon Edward West was an authority on liturgical art. In addition to Epiphany’s symbol, he created the official emblem of the worldwide Anglican Communion, designed the coat of arms for the Diocese of Albany, as well as Episcopal rings, stained glass windows, altar frontals, processional crosses and religious vestments. Born in Boston, he graduated from Boston University in 1931. He was ordained a deacon in 1934 following his graduation from the General Theological Seminary and was ordained a priest in 1935. He served as curate and later as rector of Trinity Church in Ossining, N.Y., and later became the sacrist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

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April 18: Zachariah Deminieu Blackistone, Jr. (1982)

Upon the death of Zachariah “Zeddie” Blackistone in 1982 at age 111, The Washington Post concluded an editorial on him with this, “After all this time, it is an understatement, of course, to say that Mr. Blackistone will be missed in this town. But the countless pleasant memories he brought to so many will be remembered with lasting appreciation.” Blackistone was a descendant of a family that arrived with the first English settlers in St. Mary’s County, Maryland in 1634. He was born at Charlotte Hall, MD and while a youth, his mother urged him to take a riverboat to Washington and obtain a government job. While looking for work at the old Central Market in downtown Washington, he met Madame de Wattville, the name of an exquisite rose. Blackistone was so enthralled with the beauty of the flower that he made the decision on the spot to become a florist.

In 1898, with $10, Blackistone rented a store on F Street for his florist business and afterwards expanded to other locations. Mr. Blackistone worked seven days a week, except when he was out of town until 1976, when he moved into a retirement home. In an interview with The Washington Post in 1952, Blackistone said, “The sentiment of flowers is what makes them unique. They say more and mean more than anything else in the world.” Blackistone reported to work every day at 7:30am, except on Sundays when he could be found at Epiphany’s 8:00am worship service. For his 105th birthday, Epiphany’s choir did a special presentation of Haydn’s Creation in honor of the church’s senior communicant. Following his death, Zachariah Blackistone’s funeral was held at Epiphany before his interment at Rock Creek Cemetery.

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April 17: James Remington Fairlamb (1908)

A native of Philadelphia, James Remington Fairlamb received his first musical instruction at the hands of his mother. Although he was exceedingly fond of his music, while very young he was more fond of “dreaming” than of “practicing” at the piano. But at the age of twelve the boy came across a copy of Spohr’s oratorio ”The Last Judgment,” which seems to have satisfied his craving and shaped his career. When fourteen years of age he obtained a position as organist of the Western Methodist Church, the first of its denomination in Philadelphia to obtain an organ. He afterwards filled the same position in the Tabernacle Baptist Church and succeeded one of the best church musicians of that city as organist and choirmaster of the Clinton Street Presbyterian Church. At age 20 Mr. Fairlamb went to Europe and studied first in Paris and later continued his studies in Florence Italy.

Returning to America at the outbreak of the Civil War, and being incapacitated for military service by defective eyesight, Mr. Fairlamb accepted the position of Musical Director at the Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D.C. While there, he met and married Marian Kerr Higgins, the daughter of Epiphany’s senior warden. One of the Fairlamb’s children, Louis, was baptized at Epiphany in 1877. Fairlamb enjoyed the acquaintance of many notable people, including President and Mrs. Lincoln. Being appointed United States consul at Zurich in Switzerland by Mr. Lincoln, he returned to Europe and remained there four years. His compositions number about two hundred in all. His music is distinguishable by dramatic intensity and orchestral ideas.

April 16: Lincoln Assassination (Easter Sunday 1865)

The Rev. Charles H. Hall (Epiphany’s Rector) Like many preachers throughout the country, Hall’s 1865 Easter sermon had to be replaced at the last moment. The first and last paragraphs of Hall’s discourse, “A Mournful Easter” appear below. On the following Wednesday, Hall was one of four Washington clergy to lead Lincoln’s White House funeral.

“The words of the Burial service are the appropriate words of this troubled Easter morning. We had prepared to leave behind us the gloomier thoughts of the tomb, and decking it, as it were, with flowers and palm branches, to gaze with serene eye steadfastly on the glorious morning of the Resurrection; to forget for a while the instinctive repugnance of the human heart at the short interval of the grave; to look beyond it to the abodes of our expected reward, where tears shall be wiped from all eyes, and the disquieting fears which beset us here in the world of chances and changes would give way to eternal repose and joy. But we are called in the providence of God to look more at the sorrows than the joys that surround the Christian’s hope; to weep with those who weep rather than dwell upon the topics of our exulting hope.”

“May God give comfort to the afflicted families, whose losses will make Good Friday memorable in our national records. May He give repentance to the wretched criminals who have stained their hands, wantonly and stupidly in innocent blood, before they are called upon to meet the just punishment of their atrocities. May He give us grace to understand the seriousness and solemnity of our duties to the government over us; and as He only can, bring good out of this evil.”

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