Lay Episcopal Academics Reunite in New Mexico

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By Richard J. Mammana Jr.

The Guild of Scholars of the Episcopal Church has met for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The guild gathered at Santa Maria de la Vid Abbey and nearby St. John’s Cathedral, Albuquerque, October 27-30.

Two dozen members of the 84-year-old organization discussed papers, worshiped at the cathedral and the monastery, elected new members, and planned a 2023 meeting at the House of the Redeemer in New York City. Remote participation was available this year.

The Guild of Scholars was founded in 1938 at Hobart College in Geneva, New York, to bring together lay Episcopal academics annually for discussion, mutual encouragement, and fellowship. The guild was reorganized after the Second World War by the medievalist and philologist Urban T. Holmes Jr. (1900-72) with poet W.H. Auden (1907-73) and Vanderbilt-based literary critic Cleanth Brooks (1906-94). The guild includes scholarship in fields unrelated to church history or theology if the scholars are lay Episcopalians. Membership is open through application or nomination.

President Edward Hansen (geological and environment science, Hope College, Mich.) led the meeting and was succeeded by Mark Brown. Jameela Lares (English, University of South Mississippi) maintains social media for the group, and composer Robert Benson of Miami University edits its journal, Vox Scholarium. The guild plans to upgrade its website (guildofscholars.org) in the coming year.

The guild marked the deaths of several members, including its chaplain in perpetuity for several decades, the Rev. Canon J. Robert Wright of General Theological Seminary. Recent retirements include Robert Bruce Mullin, historiographer of the Episcopal Church, and Mark Duffy, canonical archivist of the church.

The guild welcomed three new members:

  • Kay Cook (psychology, Gordon College), a parishioner at Christ Church, Hamilton, Massachusetts;
  • Michael Krasulski (library and learning resources, Community College of Philadelphia), archivist and historiographer of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, and parishioner at the Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany;
  • Jeffrey Toliver (University of New Mexico), Diocese of the Rio Grande.

Six guild members have published books since 2018:

  • Nicholas Birns, Anthony Trollope: A Companion (McFarland, 2021)
  • Mary Chilton Callaway, Jeremiah Through the Centuries (Wiley Blackwell Bible Commentaries, 2020)
  • Philip Jenkins, A Global History of the Cold War, 1945-1991 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021)
  • Norman W. Jones, Provincializing the Bible: Faulkner and Postsecular American Literature (Routledge 2018)
  • Debora Shuger, Paratexts of the English Bible, 1525-1611 (Oxford, 2022)
  • Peter Williams, Religion, Art, and Money: Episcopalians and American Culture from the Civil War to the Great Depression (UNC Press, 2019)

Richard J. Mammana Jr. is a member of the Guild of Scholars. He is the ecumenical and interreligious associate of the Episcopal Church, and archivist of The Living Church Foundation.

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