A pilgrimage to remember Jonathan Daniels

The Diocese of Alabama says that the woman for whom civil rights advocate Jonathan Myrick Daniels gave his life to protect in 1965 will participate in Saturday's annual pilgrimage in Hayneville, Ala., honoring Daniels and others who lost their lives during the 1960s movement.

Ruby Sales, founder and co-director of Spirit House, an organization working to bring diverse peoples together to work for racial, economic, and social justice, as well as for spiritual maturity, will join the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan as featured guests at the pilgrimage. Ousley and his wife Ann, after having their first child, adopted two African American babies who were born addicted to crack.

Daniels was an Episcopal seminarian who answered the call of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to help register African-American voters in Alabama. He was shot and killed on Aug. 20, 1965, while shielding then 16-year-old Sales from a shotgun blast as she attempted to enter a store to buy something to drink. Daniels was added to the Episcopal Church Calendar of Saints and Martyrs in 1994 to be remembered each Aug. 14.

The pilgrimage begins at 11 a.m. at the Courthouse Square in Hayneville. The procession will go to the old county jail where Daniels and Sales were among those detained for a week and then will move to the old Cash Grocery Store where Daniels was killed. The pilgrimage will end at the Courthouse where a service of Holy Communion will take place in the courtroom where the man who killed Daniels was tried and acquitted. Sales and Ousley will speak during the service.

Over at Dirty Sexy Ministry, there is a reflection on Daniel's witness and its meaning for us:

August in lower Alabama is hotter than twelve hells. Maybe even twenty hells. Miserable, sweaty, wring-out-the-air hot and humid, so one can easily see the practicality of gathering hundreds of faithful together at high noon in August in Hayneville, Alabama, to march through the town, such as it is. Hayneville isn’t much of a town. There’s a grassy town square with a few trees, a courthouse, and a few nondescript stores. I’m sure there’s a Baptist church. It’s the South. Every town in the South has at least one Baptist church. And a liquor store and a jail.

I’ve been in the jail. Remarkably, not for anything criminal I did. On this particular day in August, I’ve gathered with other Christians, Jews, and Muslims, even some who claim no faith other than recognizing the witness of love. We all stood in the cells that day. Small and dark, with limited plumbing and even more limited views of justice. We stood in the cells because one very important person lived in a jail cell here.

Jonathan Myrick Daniels.

Here are the propers for the feast from Holy Women, Holy Men:

Psalm 85:7-13
Proverbs 4:20-27

Galatians 3:22-28
Luke 1:46-55
Preface of a Saint (2)

PRAYER (traditional language):
O God of justice and compassion, who dost put down the proud and the mighty from their place, and dost lift up the poor and afflicted: We give thee thanks for thy 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 with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

PRAYER (contemporary language):
O God of justice and compassion, who put down the proud and the mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and 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.

Comments (1)

Wow. Jonathan Myrick Daniels' story hit me like a ton of bricks:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Daniels

What a moving example of faithful witness to the Lord who said: "The greatest love you can show is to give your life for your friends" (John 15:13). What a saint for our times! May he rest in peace and rise and glory!

Gregory Orloff

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