In Memory of Bishop Moses
by Rev. Stanley Bullock on the Inauguration of the Moses Lectures, 1995
I am saddened that my responsibilities do not allow me to be present on this historic occasion. It was certainly my intention to be with you. I can think of no more fitting tribute to a modest man (who probably would have shunned such recognition) than the institution of a lecture series dedicated to his memory and achievements.
My relationship with Bishop Walter Vivian Moses began in April of 1964 in St. Augustine, Florida. I had just arrived to take the position of Assistant Rector at Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Augustine. As with most other things in St. Augustine, this particular church claimed to be "the oldest" in the state of Florida. My wife (who was expecting to deliver our third child in July), our two older children (ages two and four), and I arrived at our destination on April 1, 1964, April Fools' Day. It was also the day that the wife of the Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts, Mrs. John Burgess, and the mother of the then Governor of the State of Massachusetts, Mrs. Endicott Peabody, were arrested and jailed for attempting to integrate Trinity Parish. Mrs. Burgess was the wife of an African-American bishop of the Episcopal Church. There had been other integration-related events in the town, but none so attractive to the news media as this; and none which arouse higher emotional response in the small community.
All of the major activist organizations having racially oriented concerns were in town; NAACP, SCLC and others on one side, and the KKK and the White Citizens' Council on the other. Demonstrations became the order of the day and night. Violence was not uncommon. Shortly after my arrival in town, black college students attempted to worship at a regular Sunday service at Trinity Parish, drawing a hostile group who prevented their entry into the church. A later such demonstration was arranged, and the church staff was made aware. The group arrived and participated in thes ervice, to the anger of some of the members of the congregation. Such events continued through the early summer. In short, the summer of 1964 was quite stressful.
One of the most calming influences in the midst of such social turmoil was Bishop Walter Vivian Moses. I knew nothing of him until he arrived in my office one day and introduced himself. He immediately set about extending his considerable pastoral care to me, a young inexperienced cleric suddenly dropped into a most trying environment. From that moment on, Bishop Moses was a regular caller whose presence bourght appreciated balance to my otherwise somewhat distraught life.
Of course, in due time, the heat died down, new laws were passed, and the community settled into other activities. But, withough the personal ministry of Bishop Moses in the more tumultuous times, I am not sure my outcome would have been the same. I continued on in St. Augustine for eight years as Rector of Trinity Parish. (Yes, my wife had the third child, and all the children grew and began school in St. Augustine!)
I later learned the my experience with Bishop Moses had not been unique. The pastor of the Lutheran Church in St. Augustine told me that, prior to his own arrival, Bishop Moses had seen to it that the Lutheran Church and its small congregation remained alive in a community strongly committed to the Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, and Presbyterian persuasions. Pastor Harvey Hartman said that, without the ministry and leadership of Bishop Moses, the Evangelical Lutheran Church probably would have disappeared during the interim. "He held it together all by himself until I got there," said Pastor Hartman.
Several years ago, I had lunch with your President and the Dean of the School of Theology. As we began the meal, I suggested that someone say, "Grace." To which, one of the two said, "Stanley, you can say whatever you wish; we Moravians pray silently." Indeed, a silent presence is often more powerful and healing than a plethora of well-meant words. Bishop Moses affirmed that many times over.
Throughout all of this writing, I have been conscious of speaking mostly about myself, as though I was the most important element in these comments. But, all of what has been said has been intended to honor Bishop Walter Vivian Moses, who was the singular and gracious support that makes the "I" possible.
Allow me, an Episcopal priest, to join with all of you in the Moravian Theological Seminary in the warmth, joy, and pride of establishing the Walter Vivian Moses Lectures in Moravian Studies.
"Our Lamb Has Conquered—Let Us Follow Him"
Yours in Christ,
A. Stanley Bullock, Jr.