(with biographical notes) 31.08.2018
INTRODUCTION The Church celebrates the lives of particular people or particular events in Christian history. In some denominations, this list of commemorations is called a Calendar of Saints’ Days or a Sanctoral Cycle. Sometimes there is a table of Greater Holy Days when the disciples of Jesus and other well-known people from the New Testament are commemorated. Next there is a table of Lesser Festivals and Commemorations when less significant names in the New Testament and famous people in the story of the Church through the centuries are recalled.
This Calendar of Other Commemorations is a single table; it calls to mind a representative group of people from the communion of saints, that great company whom no one can number, who have been the servants of Christ in their day and generation. It makes no attempt to be all-inclusive, and has limited resemblance to similar calendars prepared by other denominations. This calendar includes some saints’ days which are of great antiquity and wide observance. But it also includes a representative list of the names of men and women across the centuries, from east and west. Some of the names give a particular emphasis to our Christian heritage in Australia and the Pacific. Synods and presbyteries, parishes and congregations are encouraged to add to this calendar the names of significant Christians and of important events.
This version of the Calendar offers biographical notes in relation to a number of those whose lives it celebrates. This addition of biographical notes is a work in progress. It is our intention to continue to seek further contributions and insert them into the calendar as they become available. A name in bold print indicates that a contribution for that person has already been promised. Anyone willing to assist by making a contribution is invited to contact the Convenor of the Assembly Working Group on Worship.
The calendar may provide helpful resources for worship services, for preaching, for congregations that hold services during the week, or in Bible study, fellowship, or house groups. It may stimulate ideas for Christian education programs, for the work of the Sunday school, or for an address to young people during the Service of the Lord’s Day. Further information in regard to the great majority of those whose names appear in the Calendar can be readily accessed via the worldwide web.
Each name listed in these commemorations is placed in one of nine groupings:
Renewer of society
Reformer of the Church
Person of prayer
Witness to Jesus
Appropriate Bible readings and collects that can be used in conjunction with the Calendar are provided as an appendix.
THE CALENDAR – SUMMARY
note: where short articles are provided, names are in bold font
20 John Williams & Thomas Baker Christian pioneers 22 Clive Staples (C.S.) Lewis Christian thinker and apologist
24 John Knox reformer of the Church
25 Isaac Watts, G. F. Handel & J. S. Bach faithful servants
26 Sojourner Truth renewer of society
29 Dorothy Day faithful servant
30 Andrew apostle DECEMBER 1 Charles de Foucauld person of prayer
4 Nicholas Ferrar person of prayer
6 Nicholas of Myra faithful servant
8 Richard Baxter faithful servant
9 Karl Barth Christian thinker
10 Thomas Merton (1915-1968) person of prayer
14 John Geddie & John Paton Christian pioneers
26 Stephen martyr
27 John witness to Jesus
28 The Innocents martyrs
31 Josephine Butler renewer of society
January 2 The Cappadocian Fathers: Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa
& Gregory of Nazianzus Christian thinkers The Cappadocian Fathers – Basil, brother Gregory Nyssen and friend, Gregory Nazianzen – dominated much of theological debate in the Eastern church in the latter part of the 4th century. Basil was the somewhat ruthless church politician and organiser of much monastic life in the East, his brother Nyssen a second-rate bishop but possessing possibly the finest theological mind of them all, and the somewhat hapless Nazianzenmaking perhaps the most significant contributions to Trinitarian thought in the fourth century, at least as recognised at the time. The younger sister of Basil and Gregory, Macrina, was also a recognised theologian and is sometimes thought of as the fourth Cappadocian.
Basil (c.329-379) was born into a wealthy Cappadocian family. Though not himself drawn to the solitary life, he embraced the communal one and established guidelines for this based on prayer and manual labour.. Basil attended the Council of Constantinople in 360 after which he became a fervent supporter of the Creed of Nicaea (325). While not as highly regarded as his friend as a theologian, his On the Holy Spirit and Contra Eunomium are read widely even today. He was an inveterate letter writer and three hundred of these are extant, indicating the esteem in which he and his writings were held.
Gregory Nazianzen (c.329-390) was a trained orator. His family were wealthy landowners and his father, a convert, became bishop of Nazianzus. While the son preferred the quiet and contemplative life, his father (and later Basil) preferred to employ him for their own ecclesiastical purposes. Basil ordained him in 372, against his will, as bishop of Sasima, a small but stragetically well placed town; he spent little time there and soon returned home to Nazianzus to assist his dying father. In 375 he withdrew to a monastery for a time. In 379 a synod at Antioch asked him to go to Constantinople to aid the Nicene cause there. In 380 he became bishop of that imperial city. After the death of the Meletius, bishop of Antioch, he was elected to preside over the famous 381 council. His influence on the language of its great Creed is acknowledged. Towards its end, however, he came under attack from those who challenged his episcopate and resigned. He returned to Nazianzus and later to the solitude of Arianzum. He wrote much and was known in antiquity as ‘The Theologian’. His Five Theological Orations, particularly the Fifth on the Holy Spirit, are masterpieces of erudition and continue to be influential into the modern era.
Gregory Nyssen (c. 335-395), bishop of Nyssa from 372 to 376, was not a manager and organiser like his elder brother, but in modern times his value as a first-rate thinker is firmly established. Like Nazianzen, he was quiet and reserved, a scholar by nature. He worked early on as a rhetorician but came into ecclesiastical preferment under the guidance and direction of his brother. He was an original thinker influenced by both Origen and Plotinus the Neoplatonist. His work shows the influence of the latter tradition much more than does that of his two more illustrious [in his time] brother and friend. His very originality is what makes him so acceptable to modern eyes. His primary works, such as the Contra Eunomium – written against Eunomius of Cyzicus – and That there are not three Gods bear close reading even today.
Rev Dr David Rankin
3 Gladys Aylward Christian pioneer Gladys Aylward was born in London in 1904 and through attending revival meetings dedicated her life to the service of God becoming convinced that she was called to preach the Gospel in China. At the age of 26, she travelled to China by the Trans-Siberian Railway and eventually met up a 73 year old missionary, Mrs Lawson in the inland city of Yangchen.
Yangchen was an overnight stop for mule caravans that carried coal, raw cotton, pots, and iron goods on six-week or three-month journeys. The two women decided to set up an inn and alongside caring for t heir travellers and their mules told stories about a man named Jesus. Gladys became fluent in Chinese but suffered a setback when Mrs. Lawson died after a severe fall. Gladys Aylward was left to run the mission alone, with the aid of one Chinese Christian, Yang, the cook.
A few weeks after Mrs. Lawson’s death, the Mandarin of Yangchen arrived in a sedan chair, and told her that the government had decreed an end to the practice of foot-binding. The government needed a foot-inspector, who would patrol the district enforcing the decree, and he offer Gladys the job, realizing that it would give her opportunities to spread the Gospel.
On another occasion Gladys was summoned by the Mandarin to deal with a riot in the men's prison. The convicts were rampaging in the prison courtyard, and several of them had been killed. The warden of the prison said to Gladys, "Go into the yard and stop the rioting." She said, "How can I do that?" The warden said, "You have been preaching that those who trust in Christ have nothing to fear." She walked into the courtyard and shouted: "Quiet! I cannot hear when everyone is shouting at once. Choose one or two spokesmen, and let me talk with them." The men quieted down and chose a spokesman. Gladys talked with him, and then came out and told the warden: "You have these men cooped up in crowded conditions with absolutely nothing to do. No wonder they are so edgy that a small dispute sets off a riot. You must give them work. Also, I am told that you do not supply food for them, so that they have only what their relatives send them. No wonder they fight over food. We will set up looms so that they can weave cloth and earn enough money to buy their own food." This was done. There was no money for sweeping reforms, but a few friends of the warden donated old looms, and a grindstone so that the men could work grinding grain. The people began to call Gladys Aylward "Ai-weh-deh," which means "Virtuous One." It was her name from then on.
Over the course of her time in China Gladys rescued several children from poverty by adopting them and giving them a home. In 1936, she officially became a Chinese citizen. She lived frugally and dressed like the people around her and this was a major factor in making her preaching effective.
In the spring of 1938, the Japanese bombed Yangcheng, killing many. The Mandarin gathered the survivors and told them to retreat into the mountains. He also announced that he was impressed by the life of Ai-weh-deh and wished to make her faith his own. There remained the question of the convicts at the jail. The traditional policy favoured beheading them all lest they escape. The Mandarin asked Ai-weh-deh for advice, and a plan was made for relatives and friends of the convicts to post a bond guaranteeing their good behaviour. Every man was eventually released on bond.
As the war continued Gladys often found herself behind Japanese lines, and often passed on information, when she had it, to the armies of China, her adopted country.
Gladys eventually gathered up over 100 children and walked with them for twelve days
to the government orphanage at Sian, eventually delivering her charges into competent hands at Sian, and then promptly collapsed with typhus fever.
As her health improved, she started a Christian church in Sian, and worked elsewhere, including a settlement for lepers in Szechuan, near the borders of Tibet. Her health was permanently impaired by injuries received during the war, and in 1947 she returned to England for a badly needed operation. She remained in England, preaching there.
Miss Gladys Aylward, died 3 January 1970.
Almighty and everlasting God,
we thank you for your servant Gladys Aylward,
whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of China.
Raise up in this and every land heralds and evangelists of your kingdom,
that your Church may make proclaim the unsearchable riches
of our Saviour Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
13 George Fox renewer of society 1624-1691 George Fox was first amongst Quakers, a weaver’s son, a revolutionary in his time, who lived in the power of the Spirit of Christ without compromise even to his personal harm. A man who suffered with gladness the often violent retribution of those who saw him as a devil intent on destroying their livelihood, the established church and by extension the state. Irascible for the truth and justice as he saw it, never loosing an argument, yet deeply empathetic to those who recognised the error of their ways. A charismatic figure, with a gift for debate and an encyclopedic knowledge of the bible much loved by his friends and followers.
Born in The small village of Fenny Drayton in Leicestershire, little is known of his early life except that he worked as a shepherd and that he was of a more serious nature amongst his siblings and contemporaries. He particularly stood out in religious matters.
At the age of 19 he went away seeking himself, wisdom and the calling God had laid out for him. He found no comfort from any he turned to, particularly priests and ministers, recognising that they did not possess what they professed. In his searching he became a man of sorrows, often alone and despairing until he realised that all his hopes in men were gone and he had nothing outwardly to help him. Then he had a revelation from his own experience “Oh then, I heard a voice which said ' There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition', and when I heard it my heart did leap for joy”1. This was the turning point of his life and also the kernel from which Quakerism would grow. He listened to his inward teacher and gained in truth and power that none could gainsay him. He lived and worked among ordinary people for several years after this gaining a small following.
In 1652 while alone in prayer on Pendle Hill in Lancashire, he had a vision of a great people gathered as sheep under the one shepherd and from this point onwards where ever he went he began to preach as the Lord commanded. Slowly but surely the 'Friends of the Truth', later simply Friends, began to evolve. There was however much opposition and consequently much suffering with assaults, estrangements of goods, imprisonment and even death common amongst these gathering people. George Fox was imprisoned 8 times during his life and he was beaten unconscious on more than one occasion, but he was fearless in these situations and would challenge his attackers to hit him again.
Later in 1652, while preaching in Ulverston in Cumbria, Margaret Fell, wife of the local Judge Thomas Fell became a convert and under her patronage and Thomas's protection, the Society of Friends began to grow.
In 1661 George met with Charles II and repeated his declaration to Oliver Cromwell of 1651 that he and all Quakers 'utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatever'2. He was attempting to halt the persecution of Friends and this happened eventually. This was the foundation of the Quaker peace testimony.
In 1669, 11 years after Judge Fell's death Margaret married George though they spent little time living together as they were constantly traveling and labouring in the Ministry when they were not in prison.
William Penn said of him “He had an extraordinary gift in opening the scriptures…. But above all he excelled in prayer….. And truly it was a testimony that he knew and lived nearer to the Lord than other men”3
Written by Anthony Buxton, Society of Friends 14 Monica Furlong Christian thinker Monica Furlong was a Christian feminist who began as a journalist and went on to a prolific late-twentieth-century output of books. She published poetry, a couple of novels, stories for children, biographies of remarkable Christians, collected volumes of primary and secondary texts, works on spirituality, and especially analysis of women's relations with Christianity in general and the Anglican Church in particular, both before and after female ordination became a reality.
But she was always on the lookout for good causes to espouse, and once she had thrown in her lot with the Movement for the Ordination of Women, and with the aims of secular feminism in general, she became to many women - and to many men as well, especially homosexuals - not just a beacon of light, more a flaming torch.
Like many intellectuals, her life was, in some ways, a protracted search for truth, accompanied by frequent disillusionment, most notably with the organised structures of society. In her book With Love To The Church (1965), she wrote, more in sorrow than in anger, of her disillusion with the apparent inability of the established Church to touch the hearts and minds of men and women of goodwill.
Born and brought up in Kenton, Middlesex, Furlong was particularly close to her father, who was a devout Roman Catholic. Monica was a second daughter, and her mother made no secret of the fact that she wanted a boy; Monica attributed the onset of a fairly disabling stammer.
She was baptised as an Anglican but became, at an early age, a potential outsider; even as a child, she felt herself instinctively in sympathy with non-churchgoers. After education at Harrow county girls' school and University College, London, she enrolled at Pitmans, and seemed destined for a dreary career as a shorthand typist.
In an attempt to break into journalism, Furlong sought a position with the Church Times but became instead secretary to a BBC talks producer, an employment for which she could not have been less well suited. In 1956, she joined Truth magazine as a feature writer and from 1958-60, she was the Spectator's religious correspondent. Following her time with the Spectator she wrote for the Daily Mail for the next eight years.
As a freelance journalist, Furlong worked for the Guardian between 1956 and 1961, where her contributions covered a variety of emotional and socio-sexual issues - as they had done at the Mail. They dealt, too, with her preoccupation and personal commitment to the Christian faith, a vocation she had gained the self-confidence to express from her parish priest, Joost de Blank, later bishop of Stepney and Archbishop of Cape Town.
Returning to the BBC in 1974, Furlong worked as a religious programmes producer, and, by 1978, had gained the self-confidence to write a biography of the Trappist monk Thomas Merton. Later books included novels both for adults and children, and biographies of John Bunyan and Thérèse of Lisieux.
In the 1980s she campaigned for the ordination of women and, served as moderator of the Movement for the Ordination of Woman. Furlong’s reputation for reasoned debate and determination gave that movement considerable moral authority. When that goal was reached she called for the appointment of women to senior Church positions.
In 1987, she became a founder of the St Hilda Community (named after St Hilda of Whitby). She described it as "a body which tried to model a form of cooperation between men and women in liturgy, which used inclusive language, and which invited ordained women from other countries to come and celebrate openly, rather than, as was usual at the time, clandestinely."
She has been called the Church of England's "most influential and creative layperson of the post-war period"
Monica Furlong died January 14 2003