Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The Spalding-Jefferd Correspondence: Clerical Life in the Missionary District of Utah, 1912

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The Spalding-Jefferd Correspondence: Clerical Life in the Missionary District of Utah, 1912

Article excerpt

The Archives of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah contains copies of an important series of letters that help shed light upon the Episcopal Church in the Missionary District of Utah during the early twentieth century. Typed on "onion skin" paper that has long since faded, the correspondence details the pastoral relationship between the Rt. Rev. Franklin Spencer Spalding, the district's missionary bishop between 1904 and 1914, and one of his clergy, the Rev. Frederick Arthur Jefferd, an English minister. The documents are remarkable in that similar written exchanges between bishops and their clergy in the early twentieth century are usually guarded and formal, leaving much unstated or ambiguous and thus leaving for historians the task of finding the exchange's true meaning by reading between the lines.1

Spalding's route to Utah and his role in this significant correspondence began in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he was born on 13 March 1865, the first of five children of John Franklin Spalding, the Episcopal rector of St. Paul's church in the Great Lakes port city, and his wife, Lavinia D. Spencer. Eight years later the elder Spalding was named missionary bishop of Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico, and the family headed west, although the younger Spalding returned to Princeton University and later the General Theological Seminary in New York City, for his education.2

At Princeton Spalding, whose family's New England roots on both sides were traceable to the seventeenth century, attended a school priding itself in turning out "young Christian gentlemen."3 An avid debater and amateur athlete, he played third base on the class team and won nearly thirty medals, most of them in track and field events. In 1898 Spalding spent his vacation in Wyoming climbing the Grand Teton, a treacherous 13,800-foot peak. Crawling their way along a slippery ledge with the possibility of a threethousand-foot drop a few inches to their side, Spalding and two companions pulled themselves along a narrow ledge, often hanging over open space. Spalding recalled the moment: "We had been climbing for eleven hours. It was a grand sight, one of the grandest on earth."4 A route to the top and a waterfall were later named for him.5

Spalding's interest in the western United States was enduring, and he was among seven General graduates who headed to Colorado as missionaries in 1891. Ordained a deacon by his father on 3 June of that year, his first parish was All Saints' Church, in a North Denver suburb. He was ordained a priest on !June 1892, and became headmaster of Jarvis Hall, Denver, the diocesan school for boys, where he worked until Easter 1897 when he returned to St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Erie, this urne as the church's rector.6

In the early twentieth century the House of Bishops elected missionary bishops to vacancies and an old family friend, Bishop Boyd Vincent of the Diocese of Southern Ohio, where he had been a bishop from 1889 to 1929, had advanced the bachelor rector's name for the Utah opening. Spalding, best known to later generations as a Christian Socialist, accepted the position in 1904 and during his ten-year episcopate became known among his clergy first and foremost as a pastor of pastors. He was there to meet the train when his clergy arrived in Salt Lake City and was solicitous of them and their families, remembering birthdays and anniversaries with generous letters. "We must plan together," he told clergy, or 'You're the bishop here." Spalding made frequent trips east to raise funds, as the missionary district was poor. Salaries were low and clergy turnover was high, Spalding's salary was $3,000, clergy salaries were in the $800 to $1,200 range, while women missionaries received half the sum men were paid.7

Spalding adapted his socialist theory from his own life experience, not from any special interest in political thought. He was a Christian first and a socialist second and his Christian Socialism was tempered by many New Testament passages such as the Sermon on the Mount. …

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