Support the Café

Search our Site

Bishop Jackson Kemper

Bishop Jackson Kemper

by Liz Goodyear Jones

“Here lies in hope the body of Jackson Kemper”

So reads the headstone at Nashotah House Cemetery, of The Right Reverend Jackson Kemper, (1789 – 1870)

It’s a simple enough epitaph, particularly in these complex times, for a man who was named first missionary bishop in the Episcopal Church in the US. He founded churches first in West Virginia, then moved West to do the same in Indiana and Missouri. He also founded Racine college in Wisconsin and Nashotah House in 1842, where he lived until his death at the age of 80.

Bishop Kemper was married twice, both times in his early years. His wives died in their twenties, the second Ann Relf, left him with three little children, whom he also carried West to the frontier, along with two sisters.

He is known for constantly urging outreach to the Native American people and translations of the scriptures and the services of the church into their language. His first official act as missionary bishop, of what would become Wisconsin, was creating the Hobart Church at Duck Creek, to serve the Oneida Indian Mission. Regularly invited to the Oneida reservation by Chief Daniel Bread, he ordained Enmegahbowh, of the Ottawa tribe, as deacon in 1859.

It is clear to me that this big, big life was fueled by a love for God and the  hope of the Gospel. 

I am currently in a study called Sacred Ground, born out of Presiding Bishop Curry’s mandate, Becoming Beloved Community. It is, of course, the re-listening, deep listening, heart-felt inner listening, to the stories of all of us who make up this country, whose voices have been silenced, marginalized, left out and unheard. Native American, African American, Asian American, Hispanic American-all parts of a whole quilt, that includes the rest of us, Jackson Kemper as well. 

This gorgeous tapestry of people, human beings, who make up what we call the United States. It is a privilege and an honor to hear their story. It gives me great hope. 

The Reverend Liz Goodyear Jones lives on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with her husband, a jazz musician and contemporary artist, as well as their two kitties, King Leo and Taj Mahal. 

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

1 Comment
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John-Julian

And the very last act of Bishop Kemper before he left the Midwest mission field and became the Bishop of Wisconsin was in Minnesota where in 1859 he ordained the Ojibwe Enmegahbowh (John Johnson) as Deacon—making him he only ordained person in the northern half of Minnesota——all “Indian/Country.”

Facebooktwitterrss
Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café