The Annual Jonathan Daniels Pilgrimage
Jonathan Myrick Daniels, a Martyr from Alabama, a Saint of the Episcopal Church
On Saturday, August 10, you are invited to join Saint Stephen’s, the Diocese of Alabama and others around the globe making pilgrimage remembering the martyrs of Alabama in Hayneville, Alabama.
Who and why is this man important to us?
After a moving Easter Service at the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1962, Jonathan Daniels decided to leave Harvard University to enroll at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge. After hearing a speech by Martin Luther King in the Spring of 1965, he felt called to come to Selma and help with voter registration and secure the rights of all citizens to vote. He was granted a leave from the seminary. As he lived among the black families around Selma and worked with others who were working for racial equality, his convictions and faith grew as he saw and felt the oppression and intimidation of the status quo. He was arrested along with others on August 14thfor joining a picket line of an all-white store and held in a jail without air conditioning. Six days later they were released and still sensing they were in danger, four of them walked up to the local general store for refreshments. As they were about to enter, an unpaid deputy with a shotgun told them to keep out. He then trained his gun on 17-year-old African American, Ruby Sales. Jonathan pushed her down to shield her and was shot, killing him and wounding another. The shooter, Tom Coleman, put the gun down and left. He was later tried by an all white jury and found not guilty.
Although Jonathan is recognized by the Episcopal church as a Saint and Martyr, there were many others who we will never know that lost their lives in this struggle to break down the barriers of segregation and injustice. Jonathan’s name is listed along with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King and Archbishop Oscar Romero at Canterbury Cathedral in the Chapel of Saints and Martyrs of Our Own Time. This is to honor all who have given their lives, from all Christian traditions living out their faith in Christ in the face of tyrannies.
We continue to struggle today with racism, the generational wounds that run deep, and we struggle to uphold reconciliation, civil rights and justice. The way of Jesus is difficult to walk, but he gives us a choice. As we heard recently in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, do we walk silently past the man who was beaten like the Levite or do we take a leap of faith and reach out as the Samaritan? So, for about four hours on a hot Alabama Saturday, strangers and friends from around the country gather to walk honoring this young man and the martyrs who were killed by lynching and other acts of terror and oppression. We are given the opportunity to join our voices with theirs.
Come join a group from St. Stephen’s who will be reliving Daniel’s last days and remembering this young man and others on Saturday, August 10th in Hayneville, Alabama. This annual walk is one of the most sacred and moving events in the wider Episcopal Church. The pilgrimage begins at 11am, and Holy Eucharist follows at noon in the very courthouse where Tom Coleman was tried and acquitted. If you would like to go from Saint Stephen’s, we will leave at 9am. Wear comfortable shoes, and I usually wear a fanny pack and have a little money for food vendors or to buy a t-shirt. They will have water there.
Please contact CJ firstname.lastname@example.org by August 8th if you plan on attending.
The Rev. CJ Van Slyke, Deacon