Today the church remembers Philander Chase, Bishop of Ohio, and of Illinois, 1852.Born in New Hampshire in the early years of the United States, Philander Chase attended Dartmouth College where he was preparing to become a Congregationalist minister. While he was in college, Chase read The Book of Common Prayer, which made quite an impression. Soon he was confirmed in the Episcopal Church. He was ordained an Episcopal priest at age twenty-three. He served several parishes throughout the country, and he was called as rector of St. John's, Worthington, Ohio in 1817. Just a year later he was elected Bishop of Ohio. Chase saw the need for a seminary in the west, although there was opposition from those who believed that the General Theological Seminary in New York should be sufficient. But Chase was eloquent in championing his cause. "In short, unless we can have some little means of educating our pious men here, and here being secure of their affections, station them in our woods and among our scattered people, to gather in and nourish our wandering lambs, we have no reason to hope in the continuance of the Church in the west." Unable to raise funds in the United States, Chase secured support in England, and soon he founded Kenyon College and Bexley Hall Seminary, in Ohio. Chase resigned as Bishop of Ohio to work among the unchurched of Michigan. In 1835 he was elected Bishop of Illinois, where he founded another college and seminary. Before his death, he was also elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. His vision and tireless commitment- in opposition to the conventional wisdom of his day-made the Episcopal Church stronger in the west. Give us glimpses of your vision for us and for the church, and then grant us strength and courage to make them real. Amen.
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Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith: We give you heartfelt thanks for the pioneering spirit of your servant Philander Chase, and for his zeal in opening new frontiers for the ministry of your Church. Grant us grace to minister in Christ's name in every place, led by bold witnesses to the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.