The Bishop’s E-pistle: Prudence Showing Prudence

I celebrated the Eucharist on Wednesday at Trinity Cathedral during our New Ministry Orientation Day, where new clergy and lay staff from around the diocese gathered to meet our diocesan staff and their bishop, ask questions, and learn about the resources we offer.

We observed the feast day for Prudence Crandall, a woman I admitted I was unfamiliar with. She has a fascinating story, though: born a Quaker in the early 19th Century, trained as a teacher, and opened a girls’ school in Connecticut around 1830. When a young African American girl wanted to join the school, Prudence allowed her to do so — but the white students and their families rebelled. Prudence decided that if white students would not study with African American students, then her school would now only serve African American students.

Her school then became the target of harassment and violence; the state passed a law to prevent its existence; Prudence spent time in jail and in legal proceedings; and eventually she had to close the school because of the danger to the students.

What fascinates me about her story is that she did not set out intending to integrate schools. She had no plan or vision for changing education, the world, or establishing equality and racial justice.

But when she was presented with the opportunity to do so, she took it. She didn’t turn away. She was faithful.

Some people know they have a vocation for working for justice and set their life goals accordingly; but many other people discover their call to work for the up building of the Kingdom of God in the midst of other tasks and other goals.

Have you ever had an experience like Prudence, where God set a choice before you in your vocation? Did you take up the call, or did you turn away? If you turned away once, did the call renew itself in some way a second or third time?

Learn more about Prudence Crandall.