As the sun rises, it’s worth noting that the church honors a 20th Century saint on this day who worked hard to unify the quarreling factions of the body: Saint Nathan Soderblom, Archbishop of Uppsala, Unifier of the Church.
St. Nathan was born in Sweden at the end of the 19th Century to a family helmed by a pietistic pastor father. He was ordained a minister in the Church of Sweden in 1893, and served as chaplain to the Swedish legation in Paris until 1901. While in Paris he studied comparative religion, and his mind and heart was expanded.
Upon receiving his doctorate he taught History of Religion at Uppsala while also lecturing in Leipzig. He was known for being highly intellectual, highly liturgical, and highly progressive in his theology.
Despite opposition from more conservative pastors, he was elected the Archbishop of Uppsala and Primate of the Church of Sweden. In his leadership and his writing he sough what he called “evangelical catholicity,” encouraging different factions of the church to work together for the social good.
You might remember a similar agreement between St. Peter and St. Paul…
Through his leadership and efforts the predecessor bodies that would eventually become the World Council of Churches began to form and do their work.
During World War I he vehemently sought the freedom of prisoners of war and refugees, arguing for peace on behalf of the people. In 1930 he won the Nobel Prize for peace.
He died on this date in 1931.
St. Nathan Soderblom is a reminder for me, and should be for the whole church, that education not only expands the head, but also expands the heart, and a church that can agree to serve the poor is like a tree standing by the water.
It shall not be moved.
Now, if only it could agree to that…
-historical notes from Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals & Commemorations
-icon written by Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG