Thursday, May 22, 2008

Saint of the Week -- Jackson Kemper

No, he's not the founder of an insurance company. Jackson Kemper, whose saint's day is on Saturday, was the first missionary bishop in the Episcopal Church.

In 1835, General Convention made all the members of the Episcopal Church members also of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (this is still the legal name under which the church is incorporated -- we are all members of a missionary society.) It provided at the same time for missionary bishops to go into the wilderness. Jackson Kemper was the first such bishop.

Consecrated shortly after this decision in 1835, Kemper immediately headed west. He was assigned to Missouri and Indiana, but also planted churches in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska and Kansas. He had a hard time finding missionaries to join him in his ministry -- most Episcopal clergymen came from plush, well-to-do Eastern families and they could not handle the harsh Midwestern conditions.

Kemper also cared for the native Americans under his care, urging translation of our services into more native languages, and respecting their cultures and traditions.

How are you following in Kemper's footsteps this week as a missionary to the Midwest?

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