Jonathan Myrick Daniels was born in Keene, New Hampshire, in 1939. He was shot and killed by an unemployed highway worker in Hayneville, Alabama, August 14, 1965.
From high school in Keene to graduate school at Harvard, Jonathan wrestled with the meaning of life and death and vocation. Attracted to medicine, the ordained ministry, law and writing, he found himself close to a loss of faith when his search was resolved by a profound conversion on Easter Day 1962 at the Church of the Advent in Boston. Jonathan then entered the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In March 1965, the televised appeal of Martin Luther King, Jr. to come to Selma to secure for all citizens the right to vote drew Jonathan to a time and place where the nation’s racism and the Episcopal Church’s share in that inheritance were exposed.
He returned to seminary and asked leave to work in Selma where he would be sponsored by the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity. Conviction of his calling was deepened at Evening Prayer during the singing of the Magnificat: “ ‘He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things.’ I knew that I must go to Selma. The Virgin’s song was to grow more and more dear to me in the weeks ahead.”
Holy Women, Holy Men
Collect for this Remembrance
O God of justice and compassion, you put down the proud and mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and the afflicted: We give you thanks for your faithful witness Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and violence, risked and gave his life for another; and we pray that we, following his example, may make no peace with oppression; through Jesus Christ the just one, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In our prayer, we give thanks for Jonathan, a young man “who, in the midst of injustice and violence, risked and gave hiss life for another.” Jonathan did not die long ago and far away; he died less than 60 years ago right here in the United States. Sadly, the divisions and violence that marked America in his day continue in our own. So we boldly ask the God of justice and compassion to bless us that “we, following [the example of Jonathan], may make no peace with oppression.” May we say and do those things that are right and good and in accord with the mind and heart of Jesus Christ. ~Fr. Dan
Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.
- Jonathan Myrick Daniels (Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music)
- Jonathan Myrick Daniels (Encyclopedia of Alabama)
- The Lectionary Readings for the Commemoration (Lectionary Page)
- What is a Collect?
Image: The Encyclopedia of Alabama