Episcopal Priest’s sacrifice led to 1889 Flood death

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The couple had arrived in the city in March or April of 1885 and, according to reports, found the parish disorganized and the church building in deplorable condition.

“[The] (Rev. Diller) went at once to work, and out of the chaos brought forth and restored a beautiful house of prayer and parish building of excellent design and a united and happy parish,” wrote his bishop, the Rt. Rev. Cortlandt Whitehead of Pittsburgh.

The congregation grew to more than 200 communicants.

Diller also was active in outreach ministry to other small municipalities in the area including a fledgling mission church in Ehrenfeld.

“He was particularly loved and honored among the lowly and the success of his ministry among them was most remarkable,” his bishop wrote.

“Among the coal miners he had made himself the personal friend of all.”

Diller wrote of the young church to his fellow clergyman.

“It would do your heart good to see such a crowd of men, chiefly, all shining with soap and cleanliness that cost miners a great deal, all attentive to my long services and explanations and addresses in a hall without a particle of heat, when it was nearly zero and one’s breath looked more like steam from an engine.

“There were two fatal catastrophes at the mines, besides a couple of other deaths, since I have been going there and they were all so grateful for my simple ministries,” he continued.

“They are so poor that there is no hope of their building a church.”

It was the love of a shepherd for his flock that kept the sincere man of God from instantly accepting the call to a better position.

“I so fear my successor will abandon these dear sheep in the wilderness,” he wrote.

But Diller was exhausted, conducting half a dozen services a week in addition to numerous funerals. He wrote of his frequent illnesses and of the isolation he sometimes felt.

“I am so alone here ... 40 miles from the nearest clerical neighbor. And I am so terribly tired ...”

But the challenges he faced did not compare with his commitment to his people. And so, a little more than a month before the flood, Diller made his decision.

“O, sir, I do not want to go away; my people are so kind and foolishly fond of me,” he wrote.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry

3 Comments
Posted May 31, 2007 at 6:03 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Timothy Fountain wrote:

“Greater love hath no man…”
What a moving report. MSM are capable of good religion coverage when they want to be.

May 31, 8:00 am | [comment link]
2. mellowmama wrote:

a beautiful story of commitment, calling, and sacrificial love - for his parish, also for his family..

May 31, 2:55 pm | [comment link]
3. Karen B. wrote:

A really nice change to read this after all the latest Anglican News!  Thanks Kendall

I identified very much with what this pastor wrote re: declining his call to P’burgh:
“I declined formally the last call – to St. Luke’s, Pittsburgh – feeling so encouraged in my present happy, but sometimes a little overwhelming work.”

happy work, but sometimes a “little overwhelming!”  Bingo!  I think I feel that way about my work in Africa most days, even after 15 years.  The overwhelming need, both physical and spiritual never relents.  But God’s grace is real & sufficient.

And even though this minister sacrificed his life in the cause of serving Christ, it is clear he had an enduring legacy “fruit that will last”—may it be true of our lives as well.

May 31, 9:20 pm | [comment link]
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