Thursday, July 28, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - One Family, Many Denominations

My paternal grandfather, Howard B. Matthews, was baptized and raised in the Methodist Episcopal Church. His father was choir director at the M.E. Church in Pittston, PA for many years.

My paternal grandmother, Dagmar Alice Viola Anderson, was baptized and raised in the Swedish Lutheran Evangelical Church, specifically Emmanuel Lutheran, in So. Manchester, CT.

During his time living in Manhattan in the 1930s, my grandfather attended The Riverside Church, not far from the Columbia campus where he lived.

I don't know anything about my grandparents' church affiliation while they were living in East Orange, NJ the first few years of their marriage, but I was very surprised when I learned recently that after moving to Chicago they attended Hyde Park Baptist Church in their neighborhood. I learned this upon opening this Bible of my dad's.

Although the cover has a permanently dusty appearance, the Bible overall is still in fairly good condition and has beautiful illustrations.

Shortly after Dad received this Bible, my grandfather accepted a position at his alma mater, Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and the family moved in early 1950. There they attended South Church, a congregational church that is now part of the United Church of Christ.

In 1957, while Dad was in his junior year at Wesleyan, he received this Bible for his twenty-first birthday from his mother's brother Axel and his wife Anna, for whom I am named. (Anna's given name was Elizabeth Ann, some called her Betty and some Anna.)

It was sometime during his years at Wesleyan, we don't know exactly when, that Dad said he woke up one morning knowing that he was meant to be an Episcopal priest. That was all he would ever share about this revelation, so that is all we know. What I can say is that this must have happened before the beginning of his senior year because he gave his mother this Episcopal prayer book for her birthday in October of 1957, near the beginning of his final year at Wesleyan. Actually, there were two of these prayer books in the basement. The one on the right belonged to my grandmother; obviously well-worn and much read.

Having made the decision to enter into the priesthood in the Episcopal church he was off to General Theological Seminary the following year. More about that in my next Treasure Chest Thursday post.


Wendy said...

Giving Bibles as gifts was a strong tradition in your family.

Anna Matthews said...

I had no idea until last September, but it certainly was.