Commemoration: William Reed Huntington

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Tuesday July 27, 2021 All Day
Annually on July 27

William Reed Huntington,

Priest and Ecumenist,

d. 1909


PRAYER (traditional language):

O Lord our God, we thank thee for instilling in the heart of Thy servant William Reed Huntington a fervent love for thy Church and its mission in the world; and we pray that, with unflagging faith in thy promises, we may make known to all peoples thy blessed gift of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

From the Society of Archbishop Justus:

W R Huntington, although never a bishop, had more influence on the Episcopal Church than most bishops. He was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1838, the son of a physician, studied at Harvard, and was ordained a priest in 1862. In each of the thirteen General Conventions (held every three years, in years that have a remainder of 2 when divided by 3) of the Episcopal Church that met between 1870 and his death, he was a member, and indeed the most prominent member, of the House of Deputies. In 1871 he moved for the restoration of the ancient Order of Deaconesses, which was finally officially authorized in 1889. His parish became a center for the training of deaconesses. Huntington's was the chief voice calling for a revision of the Book of Common Prayer (completed in 1892), and his the greatest single influence on the process of revision. The prayers he wrote for it include the following, used during Holy Week and on Fridays.

Almighty God, whose dear Son went not up to joy but first he Suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

In his book The Church Idea (1870), Huntington undertook to discuss the basis of Christian unity, and he formulated the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, a statement adopted first by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in 1886 and then, with slight modifications, by the Bishops of the world-wide Anglican Communion assembled at Lambeth in 1888. The statement set forth four principles which Anglicans regard as essential, and offer as a basis for discussion of union with other Christian bodies.

I append the preface as adopted by the House of Bishops in Chicago in 1886, followed by the Four Points in the slightly different wording adopted by the Lambeth Conference of 1888.

We, Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United

States of America, in Council assembled as Bishops of the

Church of God, do hereby solemnly declare to all whom it may

concern, and especially to our fellow Christians of the

different Communions in this land, who, in their several

spheres, have contended for the religion of Christ:

(1) Our earnest desire that the Saviour's prayer: "That we

all may be one," may, in its deepest and truest sense, be

speedily fulfilled;

(2) That we believe that all who have been duly baptized

with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of

the Holy Ghost, are members of the Holy Catholic Church;

(3) That in all things of human ordering or human choice,

relating to modes of worship and discipline, or to traditional

customs, this Church is ready in the spirit of love and

humility to forego all preferences of her own;

(4) That this Church does not seek to absorb other

Communions, but rather, co-operating with them on the basis of

a common Faith and Order, to discountenance schism, to heal the

wounds of the Body of Christ, and to promote the charity which

is the chief of Christian graces and the visible manifestation

of Christ to the world;

But furthermore, we do hereby affirm that the Christian

unity... can be restored only by the return of all Christian

communions to the principles of unity exemplified by the

undivided Catholic Church during the first ages of its

existence; which principles we believe to be the substantial

deposit of Christian Faith and Order committed by Christ and

his Apostles to the Church unto the end of the world, and

therefore incapable of compromise or surrender by those who

have been ordained to be its stewards and trustees for the

common and equal benefit of all men.

As inherent parts of this sacred deposit, and therefore Essential to the restoration of unity among the divided branches of Christendom, we account the following, to wit:

[Here I switch to the Lambeth wording]

(A) The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as

"Containing all things necessary to salvation," and as being

the rule and ultimate standard of faith.

(b) The Apostles' Creed, as the Baptismal Symbol; and the

Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian


(c) The two Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself --

Baptism and the Supper of the Lord -- ministered with unfailing

use of Christ's words of Institution, and of the elements

ordained by Him.

(d) The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the

methods of its administration to the varying needs of the

nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of the Church.

A personal observation: The reader will notice that the four points of the Lambeth Quadrilateral: Scriptures, Creeds, Sacraments, and Ministry, correspond roughly to the points listed in Acts 2:41f, where Luke speaks of those who received the Gospel as it was preached on Pentecost.

+ So those who received his word were baptized, and there were + added that day about three thousand souls. + And they continued steadfast in the apostles' doctrine and + fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.

These early Christians were in the apostles' doctrine. That is, they believed what the apostles taught about the Resurrection of Jesus, and about His victory on our behalf over the power of sin and death. That is to say, they believed the doctrine summarized in the Creeds.

They were in the apostles' fellowship. That is, they did not seek to serve God as unattached individuals, nor did they form groups of persons of like minds with their own in whose company they might worship. They joined themselves to the existing band of believers, whose nucleus was the apostles. That is, they were united by participation in the ministry of the apostles and those whom the apostles deputized to carry on their work.

They participated in the breaking of bread. That is, they were regular participants in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. (That they had received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism has already been specified.)

They participated in the prayers. As far back as our records go, Christian services of worship have consisted principally of two things: (1) the reading of the Holy Scriptures and preaching based on them, accompanied by prayer, and (2) the celebration of the Lord's Supper. The pattern was set by Our risen Lord at Emmaus (L 24:13-35), when He first opened the Scriptures to His companions, and then "was known to them in the breaking of bread." The former part, the prayers and readings and sermons, would often be referred to simply as "the prayers."

End of personal observation.

Despite his involvement in the national affairs of the Church, Huntington was foremost a parish priest, for 21 years (1862-1883) as All Saints' Church in Worcester, Massachusetts, and for 26 years (1883-1909) at Grace Church, New York City. He died 26 July 1909.














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