Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Use the full names of Harriet Ross Tubman and the women honored with her

Originally posted in a slightly different form in July 2010. I'm reposting today in honor of Harriet Tubman who is paired with Nicholas Ferrar in today's Lent Madness matchup. You can vote here.

There are worse things in the world, I know, but it gets my dander up every year.

Here's the collect for the feast of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman whose feast is July 20:
O God, whose Spirit guides us into all truth and makes us free: Strengthen and sustain us as you did your servants Elizabeth, Amelia, Sojourner, and Harriet. Give us vision and courage to stand against oppression and injustice and all that works against the glorious liberty to which you call all your children; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
So what's the problem? Let's compare it with the collect for William Reed Huntington whose feast day is one week later.
O Lord our God, we thank you for instilling in the heart of your servant William Reed Huntington a fervent love for your Church and its mission in the world; and we pray that, with unflagging faith in your promises, we may make known to all people your blessed gift of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
So maybe it's because there are several of them on one day, you say. Let's take a look, shall we? Ah, here we go:
Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, after the examples of thy servants Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer; that we may live in thy fear, die in thy favor, and rest in thy peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
OK, so first of all, the Episcopal Church is breaking the style for the collects by leaving off the last names of these women. And secondly, they are doing it to four women who fought to see that women would be treated and respected as the equals of men.

Man, it ticks me off. I wrote to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to point this out a couple of years ago, hoping it would be duly noted and corrected at General Convention last year. No dice.

Please pass the word along to any liturgically-minded friends. And if you are marking this feast day, please amend the collect to include their full names. This July 20th, I would like to know that at least a few churches are showing these women the respect they deserve.


toni p1 said...

Thank you so much for pointing this out. It's the little things which sometimes show how much attitudes and perceptions still need to change. I will be sure to pass this along and hope you have luck getting it to change or at least getting people to think about why it's a problem.

Anonymous said...

Reading between the lines over at the blog for Holy Women, Holy Men (, I get the impression that individual people were in charge of particular prayers and that they worked without a common style manual.

See, for example, the comments about whether to honor Tubman, Stanton, Bloomer, and Truth separately on individual days or together all on one day (

and the comments on Anna Julia Haywood Cooper and Elizabeth Evelyn Wright's proposed day about whether to describe African-American women as black or Black (

If this is so, the resulting inconsistency is more accidental than intentional - but I don't know that that makes it any better. It would be nice to know more about how this committee worked and why they picked the process and made the decisions that they did!

I gather that the 2012 General Convention deferred approval of the final volume until 2015, so perhaps there will still be time to make some changes.