Remembering Horace T. Allen (1933-2019)

My friend Horace Allen died on February 5. Horace was an important ecumenical Christian scholar of worship and liturgy.

The Reverend Doctor Horace Thaddeus Allen. Jr. received his B.A. from Princeton University, his M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and his Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary.

Ordained by the United Presbyterian Church in the USA he served a number of churches in both the US and the UK. For several years he served his denomination as the Director of Worship and Music. Later he was Professor of Worship at Boston University School of Theology from 1978 to 2003, at which time he retired and was named Professor Emeritus. He was also a guest lecturer on worship at Andover Newton Theological School for many years.

Horace delivered the prestigious Lyman Beecher Lectures on Preaching at Yale Divinity School (I was present) in 1986 on the subject of: “Preaching in a Christian Context-Scripture and Sacrament”

One of his most salient positions was as Warden of the Iona Community in Scotland. He was friends with Iona’s founder George Macleod, who I recall sent him a “good luck” telegram when Horace delivered the Beecher Lectures.

He was the author of A Handbook for The Lectionary, Geneva Press, 1980. Horace was very committed to helping local congregations better understand the rich liturgical traditions of the ecumenical church from across the centuries. He didn’t drive, but was always ready to take a train to offer his services.

I first met Horace on a van trip a number of clergy took from Andover Newton Theological School in Boston to the first Mercersburg Society meeting in Pennsylvania in 1984. Among the riders were Horace, Professor Gabriel Fackre, hymn-writer Ruth Duck, and Pastors Jim Crawford, Joseph Bassett, Jim Chase and Charlie Ford. Later Horace became one of the first Presidents of the Mercersburg Society and continued to be active in it.

Horace came several times to lecture and preach at the congregation where I served in Pittsfield, MA. He was a creative, engaging and effective preacher. The flock always asked him to come back.

Horace was long a member of The Consultation on Common Texts, “an ecumenical consultation of liturgical scholars and denominational representatives from the United States and Canada who produce liturgical texts and curate a three-year lectionary in common use by Christian churches worldwide.”

Everyone who uses the Revised Common Lectionary or uses liturgies from the Consultation on Common Texts owes a debt to Horace.

Horace used to tell his students that one of the keys to good liturgy was to “say what you do, and do what you say!” For example, he said when the celebrant says “This is the joyful feast of the people of God” in a solemn voice and wearing a black robe, a youngster might wonder “I would hate to see one of your sad feasts!” And when the celebrant asks “Do we not all drink of the same cup?” one might truly answer “No, we drink out of these little shot glasses.”

When the Inclusive Language Lectionary substituted “Sovereign” for “Lord” Horace opined that “I have seen the Sovereign!” (in John 20:18) “reminded him of the parable of the lost coin.”

Horace was a wonderful character, with a witty anecdote for every occasion. He was always great company. He was a kind and gentle man with a great capacity for friendships. I give thanks to God for him. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, March 3, 2019 at 2:00 PM in the Marsh Chapel at Boston University, 735 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. Relatives and friends are kindly invited.

“Small Beginnings” A Baptismal Sermon on Mark 4:30-34

Jesus also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it?  It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade. With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.” —Mark 4:30-34 Continue reading

Gabriel J. Fackre (1926-2018) A Remembrance

I head down to Cape Cod this weekend to mourn the death and celebrate the life of my friend Gabe Fackre. Gabe was very important to my life. I knew him first as my seminary teacher, then my mentor, later a faithful colleague and a life-long friend. Most of all he encouraged me again and again in my ministry. Continue reading

“Cheering for Jesus!” A Daily Devotional

chering“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” —Hebrews 13:8

My friend John, an ophthalmologist and former congregant of mine, led several dozen trips to Ecuador on “eye missions.”

I went with him on a couple of them. Our team worked together with area churches, and one day he introduced me to a local pastor, who immediately invited me to preach at their Sunday evening service. Continue reading

A Tribute to Meredith Brook “Jerry” Handspicker 1932-2016

Jerry(We had a beautiful and moving Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving for the life of Jerry Handspicker this afternoon at the Second Congregational Church, UCC, of Bennington, Vermont. The Pastor, the Reverend Mary H. Lee-Clark, presided and delivered a fine homily. Jerry was Professor of Practical Theology at Andover Newton Theological School for 36 years, my former teacher, colleague and a family friend. I was asked to give one of the remembrances. Here are my remarks:)

I’m Rick Floyd. Jerry was my teacher, my colleague and my friend. I knew Jerry for 45 years through many ups and downs and changing experiences of life.

I met him when I arrived at Andover Newton in 1971. That very first week I applied for a field education position, running a coffee house (that dates me!), at the Newton Highlands Congregational Church. There were two token youths on the search committee, Amy Handspicker and her best-friend Martha Talis. By Amy’s telling they judged I was hip enough for the job, and convinced the skeptical grown-ups that I was their man.

Thus began a long association with that congregation, where Jerry was the associate pastor, and with the Handspicker family. Jerry and Dee embodied what today we would call “radical hospitality,” and I had many a dinner with them and Amy, Jed and Nathan. I once briefly lived in their attic! (And I wasn’t the only one.) Continue reading

“He’s Back!” A Christmas Story with a Happy Ending

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 2.55.33 PM

My friend and former Pittsfield colleague Karen Gygax Rodriguez is the Pastor of the Federated Church of Green Lake, Wisconsin. On the Second Sunday of Advent, December 6, the baby Jesus figurine was stolen from the church’s nativity scene.

The police investigated, but had no leads. They speculated that the thief was from outside Green Lake, since “everybody knows everybody here, and it would have been returned by now.” Continue reading

“The Cross and the Church: The Soteriology and Ecclesiology of P. T. Forsyth”

Forsyth(Note: This article first appeared in the Andover Newton Review in 1992 (Vol 3, No. 1). It is the fruit of essays I wrote for my tutor the Revd. Donald Norwood during my 1989 sabbatical at Mansfield College, Oxford. I want to thank Professor Max Stackhouse for inviting me to submit it. This is the first time it is available on the Internet. RLF)

Part 1 The Church and Our Redemption

 The British Congregationalist P. T. Forsyth, 1848-1921, is above all a theologian of the cross, and it is this soteriological focus that dominates his understanding of the church. The church was created by the saving work of Christ, and, therefore, for Forsyth, it has no other principle or foundation. Everything in, of and about the church is informed by the work of Christ; questions of polity, ecumenism, church and state, ethics, the ministry, the sacraments, all these are seen through the lens of Christ’s atonement. Since Forsyth’s view of the atonement is profoundly corporate and universal, so too his understanding of the church is corporate and universal. This understanding of a corporate and universal church created by a divine act in the atoning cross of Christ gives Forsyth’s theology a truly catholic and truly evangelical character and accounts for his continued appeal to several branches of the church as a significant ecumenical theologian for our time. Continue reading