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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wednesday Prayer: Feast of Jonathan Myrick Daniels, August 14

Jonathan Daniels was a seminarian at Episcopal Divinity School in New York City when he learned of Dr. Martin Luther King's call for for northern volunteers to march to Selma, Alabama in 1965. Then, he asked himself, “Can I spare the time: Do I want to spare the time? Do I want to go?” Reluctantly he concluded that the idea was impractical.But that evening, Jon changed his mind —  and he went to Alabama. His last act was to shove a black teenager out of the path of the bullet intended for her. As a civil rights worker he was shot and killed in August 1965.

Before he was killed, Jon explained his calling to go to Alabama: “I had come to Evening Prayer as usual that evening, and as usual I was singing the Magnificat with the special love and reverence I have always felt for Mary’s glad song. ‘He hath showed strength with his arm….’ As the lovely hymn of the God-bearer continued, I found myself peculiarly alert, suddenly straining toward the decisive, luminous, Spirit-filled ‘moment’ that would, in retrospect, remind me of others – particularly one at Easter three years ago. Then it came. ‘He….hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things…’
I knew then that I must go to Selma.”

 Source for text above & icon:

O God of justice and compassion, you put down the proud and mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and the afflicted: we give you thanks for your faithful witness Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and violence, risked and gave his life for another; and we pray that we, following his example, may make no peace with oppression; through Jesus Christ the just one, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Read more about Jonathan Myrick Daniels here and here

Lectionary for the Feast of Jonathan Myrick Daniels



  1. Thank you for this, Mary Beth. I had not known this story at all.

  2. The photo above was taken by fellow revgal Judith Upham when Jonathan and Judy decided to take their spring semester by correspondence in 1965. They knew that the white police would brutalize the Black community in Selma if there were no white witnesses. Judy and Jon stayed with the West family, the children seen in this picture.

    When Judy had to return to St. Louis in June to do her CPE, Jon continued to do voter registration in Loudnes Co. outside of Selma. It was there in Hayneville where he was shot by a deputy sheriff for coming on to the porch of his grocery store. He shot also a Roman Catholic priest, Richard Morrisroe who survived but only after 6 months in hospital. The man who shot him was no billed by the local white grandjury.

    Jon's death galvanized the north eastern Episcopal Church and others which led first to the federalizing of such crimes and also the Voter's Rights Act which was just dismantled. It also galvanized the classmates of Jon at Episcopal Theological School many of whom went on to be bishops in the Episcopal Church and in the UK.

    Judy went on to be one of the first regularly ordained women of the Episcopal Church.

    Jon's witness continues to be an important one to a world that is still ridden with racism. sexism,and homophobia. It was his prophetic witness that motivates our Caritas Community and many other organizations in the world.

  3. Muthah+, I am so grateful for you and Judy, and for Jonathan's courage. I have loved every minute of the privilege of hearing these stories from both of you amazing women, both in person and online. Thank you both for your continuing witness, and for being willing to share these stories even though they are so close to the heart. Love to you both!

  4. Muthah+, thanks for sharing that precious additional information.


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