Historical Society of the Episcopal Annual Meeting

Michael Utzinger

I had the pleasure of attending the annual meeting of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church (HSEC) in San Antonio, Texas on 10-11 June 2013 in San Antonio, Texas.

The Rev. Will Wauters delivered the keynote address to the Society. A graduate of Stanford University and Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Wauters has served churches in East Los Angeles, San Francisco, Jersey City and Trenton in New Jersey and currently serves at Santa Fe Episcopal Church in San Antonio. For seven years he was Chaplain and taught Religion and Ethics at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey. In San Antonio The Rev. Wauters (photo by Matthew Payne) also teaches at Haven for Hope, a transformational center for the homeless, and is a Chaplain with the Bexar County Detention Ministries. His address, entitled "The Borderland Cultures Encounter the Church and a Church Gave Birth to a New Chicano Culture," described how the Church of the Epiphany in East Los Angeles, the oldest standing Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, opened its doors in a new way to the revolutionary times of the 1960's in the barrio and how both the Church and Los Angeles culture and history were transformed by one another. 

Of particular interest was the way in which the Church of the Epiphany became a focal point of political activism among the Chicano rights movement.  Wauters charted the leadership of Revs. Roger Wood and John Luce.  Under their leadership the parish promoted grape boycotts; hosted Cesar Chavez, the United Farm Workers, and the Brown Berets; became the home of the newspaper La Raza; and was the focal point of the height of the Chicano Moratorium in East Los Angeles.   However, I equally appreciated that Wauters noted the way the Latino/a culture transformed this originally Anglo parish, particularly the way in which it expresses its worship.  The Church of the Epiphany has developed unique expressions of worship with the Episcopal church, including a mariachi masses and folklorico dancers in the liturgy.   It was an eye-opening story told by an insider of this local parish was shaped and shaped East Los Angeles and the Chicano movement in the 1960s and 1970s.

One of the missions of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church is to recognize and support scholarship that furthers historical understanding of the Anglican Communion.  The Nelson R. Burr Prize  recognizes the article published in the Society's quarterly journal, Anglican and Episcopal History, that best exemplifies excellence and innovative scholarship in the field of Anglican and Episcopal history.  This year Dr. Edward Bond, chair of the Publications Committee and editor of the Society's journal announced  John Wall and Zola Packman as winners of the Burr Prize for their article entitled "Worship at Trinity Chapel," which appeared in the June 2012 issue of the society's journal.  The selection committee commented  that Wall and Packman's work proved "a beautifully researched and written portrayal of the importance of prayer book worship in the 17th century." 

The HSEC's Grants and Research Committee, chaired by the Rev. Dr. Craig Townsend, announced that the Society would support four individuals for the next year.  Katherine Sawyer Robinson will receive a research grant for her dissertation, entitled "Networks of Nonconformity: A Prosopographical Examination of Early English Presbyterianism;" David Ney will receive a research grant for his dissertation entitled "Divine Oracles and Modern Science: Newtonianism, Hutchinsonianism, and the Old Testament."   Filmmaker Margo Guernsey will receive a grant to support continuing research of her latest project, a documentary on the life of Pauli Murray, lawyer, civil and women's rights activist, and Episcopal priest. And Daniel Loss will receive a grant to further his research on the controversy regarding liturgical reform in the 1960s and beyond to explore the public and cultural role of the Church of England among avowed non-believers.  I encourage those writing on topics related to the way the Episcopal Church has impacted American history and religion to look at the grants section of Society's website (under the "about" tab):



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