1213 Court St.,
May 21, 1955
Rev. and Dear Comrade:
About forty eight hours ago I posted a respectful but frank letter to Bishop [Edward] Wells (sic) of Missouri, protesting his plans of ultimately placing the late Bishop Tuttle on the calendar of the American Church. My reasons given were these…
The uncanonical, irregular and invalid manner in which old Tuttle persecuted the young Bishop of Utah for taking the Christian religion so seriously as not to believe in war. I told Bishop Wells very frankly, that though we might canonize Bishop Tuttle and place him on the diptycs of the Church, I was and am positive that it simply would not ‘take’. That God has a virius against that kind of stuff, no matter how sincere it might be by the promoters.
It has occured to me that you and Rev. Dr. Shipler might be able to do something to squelch this illadvised move. It would make our generation look very redicilous (sic) to future generations. So mull it over and if you think the WITNESS can help any I know you will. As a matter of news, you very properly gave good space to reporting Missouri’s action. Maybe you might mention in a future issue that you have heard, or understand that protests have been sent in, and why.
You will know as editor if such is desirable, wise and diplomatic.
Am getting a great kick reading your ‘A Blind Man Searching’. The articles must be produced as a book sometime; though the mere fact that they are in the WITNESS is an evidence, a testimony to an element in the Church which in future history will be referred to probably as ‘A group ahead of its times.’ For such we are; in all humility I say it. My dear son who is rather charry of compliments wrote me a while back: ‘Pop, things I heard you sputter and talk about as a child and a youth are only just coming in now, as a part of our lives.’
I had to ‘snicker’ (good N.E. word, Vida Scudder used often) in reading your current installment. An onlooker does get a perspective the one cannot have: e.g. I never thought of that ‘from hand to mouth existence’ I adhered to while struggling to keep the old ‘SOCIAL PREPARATION’ and the League going as you describe it. But it was just as you say. Pay off the printers and start another period of struggle, with an awful big gob of faith.
If you ever land a file of the old ‘SOCIAL PREPARATION’ in a Public Library let me know. Both Dr. Fletcher and I have been trying to find one. When i had to give it up and turn our few subscribes over to ‘THE WORLD TOMORROW’ I filed complete copies of the periodical with our State Library in Albany. Now it somehow has disappeared. Both Dr. Fleltcher and I looked for it in Albany but in vain.
Don’t bother to answer the effusions of the Old Man; an editor is a busy man. If you can do anything to jar the Ordinary of Missouri I know you will.
A. L. Byron-Curtiss
Bill Jr. To this point, Bishop Daniel Sylvester Tuttle, who covered much of the Northwest in his early episcopacy, was translated to Missouri and, ultimately, became Presiding Bishop due to seniority. Mr. Byron-Curtiss’ letter of protest to Bp. Welles of Western Missouri probably meant nothing, but Bp. Tuttle is not in the list of ‘honored saints, martyrs and persons’ in the 1979 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. And Bp. Paul Jones’ inclusion was raised at the Phoenix General Convention and will be reconsidered for the second time at Indianapolis next time. It is being sponsored by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and allied groups. One of the ironies of Church history, of course. And the next Book of Common Prayer will list Bp. Jones in the calendar in September as an honored servant of Peace and Justice!
Bp. Ed Welles, who was fundamentally conservative in theological orientation, nevertheless was a strong supporter of the ordination of women to all orders of ministry and, when he died in 1992, THE WITNESS ran a laudatory story about his life and ministry.
I never heard talk about Mr. Byron-Curtiss when i was growing up, since obviously he was a significant leader and witness in the Social Gospel ‘mission’ with the Christian Socialist League. I have only seen one copy of ‘SOCIAL PREPARATION’ which he edited and it is as real loss if all other copies have disappeared.