Noble Powell and the Episcopal Establishment in the Twentieth Century

Noble Powell and the Episcopal Establishment in the Twentieth Century

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The quintessential man for his own season, Noble Powell (1891-1968) was an episcopal priest and then bishop who epitomized the cultural and ecclesiastical epoch before the tumultuous sixties. This volume, the first biography devoted to a dynamic churchman often referred to as "the last bishop of the old church", fills a major gap in American religious historiography while illuminating the strengths, flaws, and eventual decline of the Protestant establishment in the United States. Deeply influenced by the beliefs and practices of a mix of southern denominations, as well as by the principles and codes of the southern planter class, Powell was raised a Baptist and confirmed (to his family's chagrin) in the Episcopal Church. As parson at the University of Virginia, Powell led a flourishing student ministry before serving as rector of Emmanuel Church in Baltimore and as dean of the National Cathedral. As bishop of the Diocese of Maryland, as in all of his earlier work, Powell distinguished himself by sustaining his human, pastoral focus.
" [Although] the Church is a big business," he said, " let us be sure that we never come to think that [a bishop] is primarily an executive or business administrator. His duty is to shepherd his flock". Hein sketches the spiritual depth, self-discipline, sense of humor, and personal magnetism that anchored Powell's unwavering commitment to the human side of the church. He shows how Powell's outlook as bishop dovetailed with the prevailing temper of his time and also discusses how Powell's leadership style, marked by patience and an aristocratic civility, diminished in effectiveness amid the upheaval of the 1960s. "A tall man with a soft answer", Powell emerges as a person of integrity and humanity, one who throughout his long career drew others in and affirmed their best selves.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 200 pages
  • 162.1 x 236.7 x 20.1mm | 537.46g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252026438
  • 9780252026430

Review quote

"To this story Hein ... brings balance, sensitivity and exhaustive research. As 'the last bishop of the old church,' Noble Powell will be remembered longer than many of his predecessors." -- James H. Bready, Baltimore Sun ADVANCE PRAISE "This warm, positive appreciation of 'the last bishop of the old church' illuminates an era too often neglected by historians of religion in American culture. Noble Powell was a nurturer and guardian of spiritual values, embodying the pastoral qualities of moderation, order, patience, and peace-down-to-earth virtues that affected more people and policies than doctrine ever did. Hein's elegant prose and sound interpretive judgments portray an exemplary leader whose tact and gentle charm persisted into an age increasingly characterized by disillusionment with traditional institutions and insistence on radical change." - Henry Warner Bowden, author of The Dictionary of American Religious Biography "This is a vivid and persuasive account of an old virtue long seen as a cornerstone of the Christian life: friendship, binding together believers with one another and all of them with their risen Lord. The life of Noble Powell, longtime bishop of Maryland, is eloquent advocacy for the transformative power of Christian friendship, because he so powerfully embodied the message he preached. David Hein's beautifully written and entirely accessible biography chronicles one man's determination to keep faith with what he perceived to be the unchanging essentials of the Episcopal Church... This is a splendid book." -David Baily Harned, author of Patience: How We Wait Upon the World
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