Today we remember Samuel Ferguson Missionary Bishop for West Africa, 1916
Readings for Samuel Ferguson Missionary Bishop for West Africa, 1916
“First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:20 – 21)
I really love these words from 2 Peter. I have it read at every graduation of our local Education for Ministry closing Eucharist in late May. It speaks of our seeking God and of God providing. We have to knock, but the door will be opened. Samuel Ferguson believed in seeking and learning.
“Samuel David Ferguson was the first African American bishop in The Episcopal Church accorded the full honors due his position. While there had been other African American bishops before him, Bishop Ferguson was the first to be seated in the House of Bishops, and he took his role in the House with utmost sincerity and integrity, as an example to those around him. From celebrating the opening Eucharist of the 1910 General Convention to attending society events in the South, Bishop Ferguson modeled a dignity and strength that communicated his equal stature as an Episcopal bishop despite the discrimination he faced.” (From Great Cloud of Witnesses for August 2)
Bishop Ferguson emphasized education first and foremost. “Consistent with his first vocation as a teacher, Ferguson emphasized the importance of education throughout his ministry. He founded schools throughout Liberia, assisted financially by the Women’s Auxiliary [later to be the United Thank Offering (UTO) of The Episcopal Church Women], and his passion for education influenced other parts of West Africa.” (From Great Cloud of Witnesses for August 2)
My own spiritual inquiries came to me as a result of secular undergraduate studies. At one point I took philosophy and chemistry during the same period. It was then that I pondered which came first: thought, or atomic structure? I came out on the side of thought and therefore, confirmation of the Great “I AM.” “Ferguson believed that establishing a strong spiritual and educational foundation was the best way for Liberia’s young people to transform society.” (From Great Cloud of Witnesses for August 2) I believe establishing a strong spiritual and educational foundation is the best way for ALL young people to transform not only their society but indeed, the world.
“Bishop Ferguson remained in Liberia for the rest of his life. He died in Monrovia on August 2, 1916.” (From Great Cloud of Witnesses for August 2)
I like this remembrance of Bishop Ferguson because it makes manifest the truthful saying “give a man a fish and you feed him for the day; teach him to fish and you have fed him for life.” Teaching, I believe, is the most important gift one person can bestow upon another. “Teacher,” is how Mary Magdalene identified Jesus after he called her name after the resurrection (John 20:16).
I believe the most important vocation in the world is that of teaching. The men and women who assist in shaping the minds of the future of our planet can’t be over emphasized. Personally, and currently in America, I don’t think we treat them with the respect they should be accorded in either financial compensation or political clout. While we do hear reports of less than satisfactory teachers occasionally, most are decent, caring, loving and very smart tutors of our young ones and I thank God for them. Teachers teach us to seek and learn, to knock and to enter.
Let us ponder anew what the Almighty can do (and is doing). John+