“I heard the voice of the Lord saying whom shall I send? Who will go for us? Then said I, Here Am I, Send Me.” Isaiah 6:8
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Jonathan Daniels, a saint and martyr in the Episcopal Church, who was assassinated on August 20, 1965 at the height of the Civil Rights movement. Daniels, a seminarian at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, went south that summer answering The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for clergy to help register black voters. While there, Daniels was arrested along with a number of Civil Rights workers. Upon being released from jail, he headed to a store to buy a cold drink. As he approached, a local deputy sheriff, Tom Coleman, raised his gun and fired. Daniels shoved SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) worker Ruby Sales out of the way, taking the fatal shot himself.
Daniels grew up in Keene, New Hampshire, where he worshiped at St. James Episcopal Church. To honor him and the beliefs he stood and died for, a Jonathan Daniels Commemoration Committee has hosted activities throughout the year locally, nationally and internationally to commemorate his life and death, with the theme, “Here I am, Send Me,” encouraging others touched by Daniels’ example to do one thing to make the world a better place.
From August 11 – 16, Bishop Hirschfeld will join the St. James, Keene, youth group on a Pilgrimage to Hayneville, Alabama, where Daniels was assassinated. The trip includes immersion in the history of the Civil Rights movement with a walk across the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge, tours of the National Voting Rights Museum, The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Rosa Parks Museum and visits to the sites of slave markets. A service project and March in Hayneville on August 15 will culminate with an afternoon of study at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Bishop Rob will be alongside the youth, learning and listening. You can visit his blog, tendingthevine.org, to read his reflections.
On Sunday, August 23, a Commemorative Worship Service will be held at St. James, Keene, officiated by Bishop Rob Hirschfeld. Ruby Sales, whose life was saved by Daniels, will offer the sermon. St. James is located at 44 West Street in Keene and all are welcome to attend the service, followed by a Walk of Remembrance to Jonathan Daniels’ grave, and a celebratory luncheon. RSVP’s are required for the luncheon only, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (603) 355-4760. Visit the calendar at http://www.jonathandaniels50.org to view additional events that are being planned.