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About this commemoration
Born in 1847 in Brixton, England, Wilson Carlile was from an early age afflicted with spinal disease, which made his education difficult. He entered his grandfather’s business at the age of thirteen and soon became fluent in French, which he used in his own silk trading endeavors in Paris. His business was eventually ruined in the economic depression of the 1870’s. The collapse of his business resulted in physical and emotional distress, and it was during this time that Carlile turned to religion for comfort and a new sense of direction.
After serving as an organist in Dwight L. Moody’s evangelistic missions, Carlile was ordained a priest in 1881, serving his curacy at St. Mary Abbots, the parish church in Kensington. He had long been concerned with the church’s lack of presence among the poor and working classes, and as a curate, he encouraged soldiers, grooms, coachmen, and other working laymen to preach the gospel among the residents of some of the worst slums of London. Many among the church establishment accused Carlile of “dragging the church into the gutter.”
In 1882 he resigned his curacy and devoted himself to the formal establishment of the Church Army, an organization dedicated to the proclamation of the gospel among the least of society. Despite great resistance, he sought official approval for his organization and its work from the Church of England Congress in 1883. In 1885, the Upper Convocation of Canterbury passed a resolution officially approving and recognizing the Church Army. Carlile served as rector of St. Mary-at-Hill, Eastcheap, London, from 1892-1926, where he continued his administration of the Army’s ministry. In 1905 he was honored as a Prebendary of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Today, Church Army evangelists are admitted to their offices on behalf of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, both of whom are vice-presidents of the society. They are licensed to operate within the Anglican system by individual diocesan bishops within the United Kingdom and Ireland.
God of boundless energy and light: We offer thanks for the courage and passion of Wilson Carlile who, after the example of thy Son, sought new ways to open thy Church to diverse leaders as beacons of the Gospel of Christ. Quicken our hearts to give bold witness to Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
God of boundless energy and light: We thank you for the courage and passion of Wilson Carlile who, after the example of your Son, sought new ways to open your Church to diverse leaders as beacons of the Gospel of Christ. Quicken our hearts to give bold witness to Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
2 Corinthians 9:8–15
Preface of God the Holy SpiritText From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.
We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?
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