Episcopal Church Convention Approves Thurgood Marshall and Pauli Murray as Permanent Members of its Calendar of Saints

NAACP chief counsel Thurgood Marshall in serious portrait outside Supreme Court Building in 1955. (Photo: Hank Walker, The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty)
NAACP chief counsel Thurgood Marshall in serious portrait outside Supreme Court Building in 1955. (Photo: Hank Walker, The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty)

Three 20th century figures are now a permanent part of the Episcopal Church’s calendar of saints.

Thurgood Marshall on May 17, Pauli Murray on July 2 and Florence Li Tim-Oi on Jan. 24 “are already very widely commemorated within the Episcopal Church,” the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music told the 79th General Convention in proposing the three’s permanence.

Marshall, the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court, lived in New York while serving as an attorney for the NAACP, and joined the historically black St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Harlem in 1938.

Murray was an early civil rights activist, fiery feminist and the first African-American woman ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church.

Tim-Oi was the first woman ordained a priest in the Anglican Communion when then-Hong Kong Bishop Ronald Hall, made her a priest on Jan. 25, 1944, in Macao. Her ordination caused much controversy after the end of World War II, and she decided not to continue exercising her priesthood until it was acknowledged by the wider Anglican Communion.

Both houses of the convention agreed July 13 to bypass (via Resolution A066) the normal expectation that people would not be added to the church’s Lesser Feasts and Fasts calendar until at least two generations have have passed.

(Lesser Feasts and Fasts is a collection of proper collects, lessons and psalms for the Eucharist on each of the weekdays of Lent, weekdays of Easter season and each of the lesser feasts of the church year. It is used in addition to the major feasts and saints included in the Book of Common Prayer.)

All three people have been on the calendar of saints since the General Convention added them on a trial basis in 2009. Normally they would have been permanently added at a future convention, but none of the calendars on which they were listed passed convention in 2012 or 2015.

Resolution A066 was crafted in light of the trajectory of movement on Resolution A065 to authorize a news version of Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 for trial use over the next three years. The action ensures that Marshall, Murray and Tim-Oi remain on the church’s calendar regardless of what the next meeting of convention in 2021 decides about the 2018 edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts.

SOURCE: Mary Frances Schjonberg
Episcopal News Service