Celebrating 175

January 5 – Warren Edward Mace+ (1991)

The Rev. Warren Mace was associate rector at Epiphany for over a quarter of a century.  Even after retirement he continued his ministry as “associate rector emeritus” until his death. When he first came to the parish in 1949, he had the thought of staying only a few years. Once he got to know the place, he became fascinated with the challenge that a downtown city church presented. For 30 years, Mace also served as the Episcopal chaplain at Washington Hospital Center. After his retirement, the hospital’s department of pastoral care established an interdisciplinary lecture series in his name.

The parish’s affection for Warren Mace was strong, celebrating his ministry at the 15- and 20-year marks. To celebrate the latter, the parish funded a trip to Europe for Mace and his wife. One parishioner described Warren’s “warm friendliness, always open door, and ever present interest in each of us.” Another found Warren “always there like a rock, the one to turn to when the going gets rough.” Warren Mace served through three consecutive Epiphany rectors. He died on the eve of Epiphany, the feast day of the parish he served so faithfully.

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January 4 – Sarah Harrison Easton (1844)

Unlike their male counterparts, there is limited mention of the founding mothers in church records, but their contributions cannot be underestimated. On January 6, 1842, Sarah Easton hosted in her home the meeting of people who decided to form a new Episcopal congregation, later to be known as the Church of the Epiphany. Her father had been a close friend of George Washington and her late husband had been a churchwarden at St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square.

It’s hard to know what drew Sarah Easton into Epiphany’s founding circle, but her commitment to the cause seemed strong. Sarah lived through the first two years of the faith community’s existence. After having witnessed the founding, organizing, and the cornerstone laying of the new church, Sarah Easton died on January 4. She was buried from Epiphany on January 6, 1844, two years to the day after the congregation’s founding meeting.

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January 3 – John William Ferrill (2012)

Jesuits are known for being excellent educators and there is no better example of their efforts than John William Ferrill. His early studies were at St. Ignatius High School and the University of San Francisco, both Jesuit institutions. After obtaining his BA in Philosophy in 1943, John joined America’s greatest generation and served his country with distinction in the U.S. Navy. His service earned him a Purple Heart and the Navy Commendation Medal.

While his military career provided him with educational opportunities, John pursued studies on his own to increase his understanding of Christianity. He completed coursework at the University of the South and Virginia Theological Seminary, receiving a diploma in Theological Studies from the latter in 1991. John and his wife Ruth, a Protestant, found common ground for their faith journey in the Episcopal Church. Epiphany was a parish that welcomed them during trying times in their lives. Following his passing on January 2, a celebration of John’s life was held at Epiphany with memorial contributions designated for the church’s ministry with the poor, a fitting tribute to a life-long student of Jesus’ teaching.

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January 2 – Montgomery Cunningham Meigs (1892)

The Army’s general order upon the death of Montgomery Meigs stated, “There are few whose character and career can be more justly commended or whose lives are more worthy of respect, admiration, and emulation.” Meigs is considered the master organizer that helped the Union win the Civil War. Following Lincoln’s appointment of him as Quartermaster General, Meigs orchestrated equipping an army of 20,000 at the onset of the war to an army of 600,000 in 1863. As an engineer, Meigs was responsible for such DC improvements as the Washington Aqueduct, which brought fresh water to the city for the first time, the House and Senate extensions and the dome of the U.S. Capitol, and the Pension Building (today’s National Building Museum).

During his life, Meigs kept a shorthand diary of his public and private life. His church affiliation seems to vacillate between St. John’s, Lafayette Square and Epiphany. On a Sunday in January 1857, Meigs writes, “Mr. Hall preached this morning, the new pastor of Epiphany, Mr. French’s church. He is a good preacher. I should think a good man, earnest in his style, as he preached for an object, not to make fine words.” Several weeks later, Meigs records, “We had a communion service this morning. I feel my own unworthiness. I partook of it with a hope that I might be made more careful and more effective to my duties toward my God than I am.” The entry on April 18, 1858 states, “we have taken a pew in Mr. Hall’s Church of Epiphany.” (The term “taken a pew” refers to the practice at the time of renting a pew for a family’s use as a means of providing income for the church.) This is a month before his oldest two children were confirmed at Epiphany. In 1864, Meigs’ third son was confirmed at Epiphany, just weeks after his first son had been killed in the war.

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January 1 – New Year’s Day Greeting (1904)

The Rev. Randolph McKim served as Epiphany’s rector (clergy person in charge of a parish) for 32 years (1888 – 1920). Although ministering to a large congregation at the time, McKim seemed to maintain a caring, personal relationship with his flock. Every January he would publish his New Year’s Day greeting to the parish via Epiphany’s newsletter, the Parish Guide. The following example from 1904 provides some good advice even for us today.

“A Happy New Year to you all, dear friends. May each day bring a blessing to every one of you. Perhaps it will sometimes come to you in disguise, but if it does, be of good cheer, for often the richest are thus bestowed. If God sends you joy and gladness remember that it is a sacred trust to be used to lighten the lives of your fellow men and if He in His wisdom sees fit to let you be tried, do not forget that it is to the bravest and most trusted that the hardest tasks are given. Do not waste time in lamenting last year’s failures, but with strong resolve press eagerly forward to redeem them in the future. Cultivate a habit of thinking of other people. Let no day pass without in some way helping another. It is not great deeds of charity which bring happiness into the world, but the countless little things which are so easy to overlook and neglect. And it is in the doing of these trifles that one finds his own happiness and is permitted to draw near to Christ. Let us resolve not only to do more but to love more, not our own merely but every one, and let us earnestly say each morning, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”

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