The Guild of Scholars of the Episcopal Church

updated April 11, 2016

The Guild of Scholars is an association of lay Episcopalian academics who meet annually every year. The membership contains prominent people in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and science, as well as in religious studies. Prominent past members have included W. H. Auden, Ursula Niebuhr, Cleanth Brooks, Frederick Pottle, and Charles Forker. The group offers collegial intellectual exchange win the context of fellowship and prayer.

After investigating several possibilities, the officers have scheduled the 2016 meeting of the Guild for October 14-16. Please enter this date in your calendar and try to keep the date clear so that you can join the group if at all possible. And thanks to those who took the trouble, earlier this fall, to notify Tom Wortham that you could not make it this time. We look forward to your fellowship next year.

The Haworth Inn and Conference Center on the campus of Hope College in Holland, Michigan, has been selected as the site. . The Inn has WiFi throughout. Downtown shops and restaurants are within easy walking distance. Holland is served by the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Grand Rapids (GRR), which, though by no means among the busiest airports (not in itself a bad thing), is not so remote as you might think: it has more than 120 daily nonstop flights to and from cities across the country. The Inn provides a shuttle service at reasonable cost for those whose schedules make it possible to share the ride (approximately 45 minutes).

The 2015 meeting of the Guild took place at the Community of the Convent of the Transfiguration, Glendale, Ohio. Talks included


The 2014 meeting took place at the College of Preachers, Washington National Cathedra Umit Singh Dhuga was proposed by Nicholas Birns and accepted into membership. Papers were given by Karen Bruhn (on the sermons of Henry Smith and The Merchant of Venice), Ben Brabson (on climate change), David Middleton (on the poetry of Wilmer Mills , and David Holmes, on how ethics and academics triumphed over athletics at William and Mary)

> In Memoriam

In memoriam Charles Forker (1927-2014), exemplary Guildsman, kindly mentor, beloved colleague, elegant man-about-town, outrageously high Anglo-Catholic, and above all eminent Shakespearean and prayerful Christian <

Member News

In memoriam Lillian Robinson MD (1918-2012), a healer, an intellectual stalwart, and an exemplary member of the Guild.

Here is a full Necrology of the Guild

John V. Fleming has published The Dark Side of the Enlightenment

Nicholas Birns has published Barbarian Memory with Palgrave; the book is about the attitude of the early modern period to the era in which Christianity consolidated its strength in Western Europe, in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries. In 2015, a new book of his, Contemporary Australian Literature: A World Not Yet Dead , appeared from Sydney University Press.

Charles Huttar has a forthcoming article, "C. S. Lewis's Appreciation of T. S. Eliot," in T. S. Eliot and Christian Tradition, ed. Ben Lockerd. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. Forthcoming, 2013.

Past Guild Meetings

The 2013 Guild meeting

took place in in the Cincinnati area, at the Community of the Convent of the Transfiguration in Glendale, 25-27 October 2013. Papers included David Holmes (presidential religion), Jayne Lewis (Isaac Watts), Norman Jones (Faulkner and the Bible), Nicholas Birns (on the Episcopal-Methodist dialogue). The 2015 meeting also take place at the Convent near Cincinnati

Schedule for 2012 Guild Meeting. November 9-11, 2012


5:30 pm Evensong at GTS, Chapel of the Good Shepherd; followed by free-time for dinner

7:30 pm Charles Forker on Shakespeare and the Prayer Book III (GTS: Sherred 1B)


10 am Thomas Wortham, The Radical Howells (Sherred 1B) Followed by business meeting

12 noon Free-time for lunch

2 pm Peter Williams, 'Louis Comfort Tiffany and the Art of Devotion,' Museum of Biblical Art (1865 Broadway, corner of W. 61st street)

4:00 pm Reception at Fr. Wright's, 177 Ninth Avenue (Chelsea Enclave, adjacent to GTS at the SW corner of 21st street)

5:30 pm Evening Prayer at GTS, Chapel of the Good Shepherd

Organ Recital by David Hurd, including music by Frescobaldi, Bach, Scarlatti, and Rossi

7 pm Dinner at Moran's


Grace Church (802 Broadway, corner of 10th street)

11 am Eucharist at Grace Church

The Guild mourns the losses of Richard Bailey 1939-2011 and David Evett 1936-2011 . These great philologists, men of letters, and churchmen will be much missed. May Heaven welcome them.

Guild President Thomas Wortham adds:

I am especially pleased that the bishop of the Southern Ohio Diocese, the Right Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal accepted our invitation to join us on Friday evening for a cocktail reception and dinner at St. Mary's Center, following which he shared with us further thoughts on issues of assembly in the church and the Emergent Church/Fresh Expressions Movement that he has had in regard to some of the themes he touched on in the DuBose Lectures he gave at Sewanee last fall (the texts of the lectures are printed in recent issues of Sewanee Theological Review and posted on the Southern Ohio diocesan website ; and a summary on Sewanee's website ).

Other speakers included Debora Kuller Shuger of UCLA on the life and death of Archbishop William Laud and John Krantz of Hanover College, on the human visual system and how it helps us see what we need to see, and David Holmes of William and Mary on Virginia churchmanship and the interplay between high and low in the Episcopal Church.

The end of October was a glorious time in Southern Ohio , and the grounds of the convent (which have been undergoing major renovations this year) provided lovely spaces for both quiet contemplation and cordial fellowship. And no less important, the kitchen at St. Mary's was quite respectable (and received several standing ovations from the guests). Our traditional Saturday night dinner was held at a nearby Glendale restaurant, the Grand Finale , a short driving distance from the convent.

2010's Guild of Scholars meeting took place at General Seminary, November 12-14, 2010. At 10 AM Friday morning, November 12, The Anglican Society lecture featured the Director of the St Mark's Library at GTS, Fr Andrew Kadel , who spoke on "The Permanent and Variable Characteristics of the Prayer Book" as seen in the recent discovery that has been given to us: William Reed Huntington's personal copy of the 1878 Book of Common Prayer containing his own notes that influenced the subsequent American Prayer Book and their relationship to liturgical revision in the 21st century.

Talks at the 2010 Guild meeting included (in, alas, his final talk to us) David Evett on "The Queene in the Tempest: Manuscript Instructions from a Patron to a Painter for an Elizabethan Political Allegory."

, Tom Wortham on "Ain't It a Shame What's Been Done to Mark Twain: The Selling of Huckleberry Finn." Marsha Dutton, "Saints Refusing to Leave: Aelred of Rievaulx's Saints of Hexham as an Inverted Translatio. , Charles Bailey on "The Legacy of Dioxin" at 10 AM.
The Guild of Scholars of the Episcopal Church is an interdisciplinary group made up of Lay Episcopalian academics, from fields in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, who meet annually at the General Theological Seminary in Manhattan. All members are elected upon recommendation of other members, and all members must be Episcopalians. Past members have included such figures as Frederick Pottle, W. H. Auden, and Cleanth Brooks. The organization's values include academic rigor, fellowship, service, and responsibility, and in the past we have been associated with generous financial support of scholarships at General Seminary.

The Guild mourns the loss of its much-cherished member, Pardon Tillinghast . As a teacher, historian, and churchman, he represented the values and ideals of the Guild at their finest.

A festschrift honoring Guild chaplain, the Reverend Canon J. Robert Wright is published by Eerdmans Press. The book includes contributions by Guild members Marsha Dutton, E. Rozanne Elder, John V. Fleming, and Robert Bruce Mullin, and is co-edited by Marsha Dutton.


The Guild's David L. Holmes has his book reviewed in the New York Times Book Review

Speakers for the 2007 meeting, held November 9-11, 2007, included Marsha Dutton (on Aelred of Rievaulx's Life of Edward the Confessor ), Alec Valentine ("Walter Anderson: Artist and Nature Realized"), Karla Britton (Constructing the Ineffable: Contemporary Sacred Architecture), and George Spagna, "Towards A Quantum Theology".

For a list of past papers please click here .

Current membership of the Guild is:
  • Nicholas Birns , Literary Studies, Eugene Lang College , The New School,
    Deceased members of the Guild are listed in the Necrology

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