Bishop’s Day with Wardens, Vestry Members, and Treasurers, Church of the Resurrection, Franklin

“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27).

Our gathering today is graced by the observance of Charles Todd Quintard, whose memory we celebrate today. Bishop Quintard was our second bishop in Tennessee, elected in the aftermath of the Civil War, and following the death of Bishop Otey almost two years previously. Quintard was from Connecticut, a medical doctor who had come south to practice and teach medicine. While in Memphis he came under the influence of Bishop Otey, and was ordained deacon and priest to serve the Church in Tennessee.

Tennessee was a battlefield during the Civil War, and the conflict hit the Church hard in our diocese. Property had been damaged; the life of parishes disrupted; and a whole new missionary situation created by the emancipation of previously enslaved persons. During the conflict it was impossible to elect a new bishop after Otey’s death, and the Church lagged without apostolic leadership. When the Diocese was able to gather again, it elected Quintard, newly released from service as a surgeon and chaplain with Confederate forces, as bishop for a new day in Tennessee.

Indulge me in a long quote from the sermon preached at Quintard’s consecration service, by his friend and mentor William Bacon Stevens, the Bishop of Pennsylvania.

“The field to which you go is one demanding of you your best energies–your holiest zeal–your most self-sacrificing spirit. You will find in it no room for indolence or ease, but the downright toil, the hard day labor of a working Bishop will be required of you. The honors of the Episcopate will repay no true Christian for its toils and cares. Even in the best organized dioceses it is a yoke grievous to be borne, and which many a Bishop, consulting solely flesh and blood, would gladly take off from his galled neck. Your work is peculiarly hard. The surging tide of war has swept away nearly all the church’s landmarks, the heritage of the Lord has been laid waste, and the vine of God’s planting is uninclosed and unprotected. You need much of prudence to act wisely in building up the waste places of Zion. You need great faith to enable you to toil where toil will be for the present so little rewarded. You need a heart brimful of love to Jesus to serve you with holy zeal in proclaiming his blood-bought salvation. You need powers of government and self-discipline, which can only come from God, to enable you to think, act, and speak as be-cometh a Christian Bishop. But, brother, the promise is “my God shall supply all your needs;” and the Apostle says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Seek of God by prayer through Christ for the all-needful powers and grace–lean now and always on the right arm of Jehovah, and He will make thee a wise master builder–a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, enabling you to fulfill the Episcopate which you shall receive, to the glory of God–the good of men–the welfare of your diocese, and the upbuilding of the Holy Catholic Church on the one and only foundation, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Thus Quintard’s work began, and it was work that proceeded in multiple areas. Our reading today reminds us that St. Paul in his ministry did not shirk from declaring the “whole purpose of God” to the people among whom he ministered. Bishop Quintard, in a time of great challenge for the Church, did not hesitate to charge the members of his diocese with advancing on a broad front. He believed that a large work had been set before them by God. They needed to rebuild the parochial network after the ravages of war; they needed to pay attention to Christian education, and particularly the re-foundation of the great university in Sewanee; and they needed to train apostolic leaders for ministry amongst African-Americans in the diocese. For the Diocese of Tennessee, this was “the whole purpose of God.”

God calls us today to follow in the footsteps of St. Paul and of Bishop Quintard: to move forward in mission and ministry in our own time and in our own circumstances. Surely the challenges are not as great; at the very least they are different. We too have a network to rebuild, people to form; new work to begin. God has given us all the grace we need for the answering of the call! We know that he will bring all this to fulfillment through Jesus Christ our Lord, who has himself risen from the dead, and now sends us in mission and ministry.

  • The Rt. Rev’d John Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee