Stained glass detail, St. Andrew’s-Birmingham, Alabama.
A miniature city skyline of the Magic City is captured
in exquisite detail in the bottom corner of the St. Andrew’s
memorial window in the Lady Chapel.
Civil rights revisited —
Hayneville, and Selma, Alabama:
a sobering pilgrimage, and a
hard reminder of
how far we yet have to go.
As part of EPF’s Year of Action, dozens of people visited the National Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Justice and Peace in Montgomery, AL (www.museumandmemorial.eji.org), and hundreds attended the annual Jonathan Myrick Daniels and the Martyrs of Alabama Pilgrimage to Hayneville, AL on August 9 and 10, 2019. EPF was proud to be a co-sponsor of these events with the Episcopal Dioceses of Alabama and the Central Gulf Coast. We are indebted to Dn. Carolyn Foster (Diocese of Alabama) and to Gary Moore and Joe McDaniel (Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast) for their leadership and vision. The weekend was packed full of hot, bothersome, haunting and convicting moments. All who came were moved and challenged.
Today, August 14, is Jonathan Daniels’ Feast Day. He died 54 years ago in Hayneville, Lowndes County, Alabama, for doing nothing more than the holy work of registering people to vote.
The "Lynching Memorial" as the Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice is known, is haunted. The memories of those heinously terrorized and murdered across the country following the Civil War hang from the ceiling like so many (more than four thousand) brown humans, and lie like caskets in the adjacent yard, waiting to be claimed. Blood and tear soaked soil is displayed in five gallon jars along a memorial wall — much like a columbarium. The National Legacy Museum powerfully makes the case that we still terrorize, exploit and murder our people of color at alarming rates, just as we did when the first slave ships hit our shores. We have so much work to do to make this country just for those we have wronged. And yet, we move as though our feet are still in chains.
Church of the Good Shepherd – Montgomery hosted Evening Prayer and a time for reflection following our visits to the EJI Memorial and Museum. Rev. Derrick Hill of St. Timothy’s-Chattanooga, TN presided, and The Rev. Dn. Tom Osborne of Grace-Sheffield, AL offered a challenging homily. We were also graced with the presence of Fr. Richard Morrisroe, who survived the blast of the second barrel of Tom Coleman’s shotgun on that fateful August day in 1965 when Episcopal Seminarian Jonathan Daniels was murdered.
Varner’s Cash Store, where Jon was murdered, was torn down some years ago, but it is still a site of veneration for pilgrims.
Jonathan Daniels was valedictorian at Virginia Military Institute the year he graduated. We were read part of his valedictory address, which was prophetic. His short life was as remarkable as his martyr’s death was tragic. Read "Outside Agitator: Jon Daniels and the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama" by Charles W. Eagles to learn more. (Above — my friend Martha Jane Patton’s commemorative t-shirt from the 50th anniversary commemoration of Jon’s death.) This is the 23rd year for the pilgrimage, which was started thanks in large measure to the efforts of Rev. Francis X. Walter of the Diocese of Alabama, former rector at St. Andrew’s-Birmingham.
Pilgrims from as far away as Trinity Wall Street, Minneapolis, MN, Denver, CO, San Antonio, TX, and Chattanooga, TN — just to name a few — comprised the more than 325 souls who processed through the streets of Hayneville, Alabama to commemorate Jonathan Myrick Daniels and the Martyrs of Alabama. The crowd marched to the jail where Jonathan and his friends and fellow voting rights advocates, Ruby Sales, Rev. Richard Morrisroe, and Joyce Bailey were held, then to Varner’s Cash Store where Jonathan was murdered and Fr. Morrisroe was shot in the back, then back to the Lowndes County Courthouse where Jonathan’s murderer, an off-duty sheriff’s deputy, was exonerated on charges of manslaughter by an all white male jury. The courtroom where the Eucharist was held is currently occupied by District Judge Adrian Johnson. Hear his compelling remarks here: https://www.facebook.com/dioala/posts/10156723798284007?sfnsw=cl. Fr. Richard Morrisroe was in attendance at the pilgrimage, as he often is. Hear his remarks here: https://www.facebook.com/dioala/posts/10156723797769007?sfnsw=cl
St. Andrew’s own Jonathan Daniel carries the Jonathan Daniels icon for the pilgrimage, as he does every year. The icon hangs in the chancel at St. Andrew’s-Birmingham when it is not on display for the commemoration.
Saturday after the pilgrimage, a few hale and hearty EPF pilgrims drove on to Selma, AL to walk to Edmund Pettus Bridge, to visit the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute (www.nvrmi.com) and to see the Selma Interpretive Center. It was a poignant end to a hard day.
EPF NEC Chairman Rev. Robert "Bob" Davidson preached a stirring, hopeful sermon on Sunday, August 11, at St. Andrew’s – Birmingham, AL. EPF is grateful to St. Andrew’s for serving as our home base for the weekend, and for welcoming the entire Birmingham Convocation to the Parish Hall on Thursday night to learn more about EPF. We had six different worshiping communities represented, including St. Andrew’s, Grace-Woodlawn, Trinity Commons, the Diocese of Alabama, Cathedral Church of the Advent, and St. Luke’s-Birmingham. It was good to be home!
Alabama EPF-ers joined us as we launched our Alabama Year of Action events in Birmingham on Thursday, August 8 at St. Andrew’s, Birmingham. We are so grateful to all who attended, especially Rev. Deacon Gerri Aston, who gave us access and support! The Parish Hall was packed!
Join us in Vermont in September!
Join the Diocese of Vermont at St. James Episcopal Church — Essex Junction, Vermont on Saturday, September 7 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. to celebrate EPF’s 80th anniversary and the Feast Day of our Beloved Bishop Paul Jones!
Our upcoming schedule:
Looking forward, EPF will be in:
August 18: Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC
August 25: Diocese of Newark, TBA
Sept. 4: Bp. Paul Jones’ feast day
Sept. 7: Bp. Paul Jones’ feast day observed, St. James, Essex Junction, VT
Sept. 8: Diocese of New Hampshire, TBD
Sept 15: Grace, Bath, ME
Sept. 27-29: Drone warfare initiative, Princeton, NJ
Oct 13-24: Palestine
Nov. 11: EPF 80th Anniversary, Providence, RI
Nov. 21-23: Borderland Ministry Summit, St. Philip’s in the Hills, Tucson, AZ
Dec. 4: National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence (TBD)
Dec. 22: National Day of Reparations (FOR) TBD
Are you near any of our planned stops and want to visit? Just shout! epfactnow
Until next time,
power to the peaceful!
How can we support EPF while Melanie is on the road?