It’s an aged book which doesn’t typically make many appearances.
Usually, the bible that belonged to Father Paul Wattson, SA, sits in a safe at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Massey, Maryland. The King James Version of the holy text is considered sacred among its curators.
“It’s a very old bible,” said Linda Dyekman, Graymoor’s Major Gift Officer. “We aren’t usually thumbing through it. It’s not moved or touched very much.”
On Sunday, January 23, the book left its resting place and was read from on a pulpit donated by Father Paul’s family, during an evensong at St. Clement’s – the parish at which Father Paul’s father, Reverend Joseph Wattson, served as pastor for 25 years. The service, ecumenical in nature, took place on the sixth day of Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an annual celebration Father Paul conceived.
Father Jim Gardiner, SA, Director of Special Projects, was on hand for the ceremony. Father Jim called it a “solemn” affair, with Rt. Reverend Santosh Marray, Episcopal Bishop of Easton, Maryland, presiding. Father Jim served as a guest homilist with Rt. Reverend Thomas Mercer serving as the intercessor. Lay pastor Dr. Mark Hanson also participated.
The gospel reading came from Matthew 2:1-12, in accordance with the theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: “We saw the star in the east, and we came to worship him.”
The evensong included a special remembrance and invocation to Father Paul, as well as a responsive prayer calling for Christian unity.
“It really was a beautiful ceremony,” said Dyekman, who was also in attendance.
In 1908, Father Paul founded Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, after having corresponded with The Reverend Spencer Jones, a clergyman from Moreton-in-Marsh, England. Jones suggested a day be reserved for prayer for Christian unity. Father Paul agreed, but expanded upon the idea, suggesting it be an octave, or period of eight days.
Ever since, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been celebrated each year.
St. Clement’s is located in Massey, Maryland, less than six miles from Father’s Paul’s hometown of Millington, Maryland. Father Paul was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1886 and founded with Mother Lurana White, SA, the Society of the Atonement in 1898.