A Prayer for the [Provisional] Feast Day of Samuel Shoemaker

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Holy God, we offer thanks for the vision of Samuel Shoemaker, priest and co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous; and we pray that we may follow his example to help others find salvation through knowledge and love of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer

5 Comments
Posted January 31, 2012 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. TomRightmyer wrote:

For most AA members Dr. Bob of Akron was co-founder with Dr. Shoemaker of AA. The collect would be improved by adding “a” before co-founder. Shoemaker was an Episcopal leader in the Oxford Groups (later Moral Rearmament) to which Wilson and others belonged in the 1930’s.

January 31, 6:21 am | [comment link]
2. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Tom+ (#1),

You’re right, of course, both about the desirability of revising the collect and about Sam Shoemaker’s close affiliation with the rather theologically dubious “Oxford Group” (aka “Moral Rearmament”).  But that said, I firmly believe that Fr. Shoemaker was one of the greatest Christian leaders, much less Episcopal leaders, of the 20th century.  He examplifies the evangelical wing of TEC at its best.

Back in the 1950’s Shoemaker was called by Newsweek magazine one of the best preachers in America, and he was.  He not only helped found AA (with Dr. Bob), but together with his dear wife he helped found the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Faith at Work, and the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer, three other once-dynamic movements that bore much spiritual fruit.

I love Shoemaker’s classic, folksy book with a now unfortunately politically-incorrect title, Extraordinary Living for Ordinary Men.  Shoemaker only pastored two churches in his long and productive ministry, both named Calvary.  Calvary Episcopal in Manhattan (where Bill W. knew him and attended), and Calvary in Pittsburgh (alas, now in the unworthy hands of the notorious liberal rector, Harold Lewis+).  Both became spiritual powerhouses during his long tenures.  He was an ordinary man in many ways, with a truly extraordinary impact for Christ that reached far and wide.

Above all, I dearly love and have memorized Shoemaker’s autobiographical (free verse) poem, composed shortly before he died around 1965, “So I Stay Near the Door.”  It concludes the book I mentioned earlier.  Shoemaker had the heart of an evangelist, as well as the heart of a pastor.  Billy Graham once described him as one of the greatest evangelists in America, although as far as I know, he never held a Graham-style crusade.  Instead, he led literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people to Christ individually, one by one. 

How desperately we need God to raise up faithful pastors and evangelists like him!  Thanks be to God for his faithful life and extraordinary witness.

David Handy+

January 31, 11:01 am | [comment link]
3. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

The collect would do better to focus on the larger picture of Sam’s gifting, rather than on any particular accomplishments within those giftings.  He was an evangelist, a preacher (some say the best in the mid 1900’s), and a small group visionary.
Everything else came about because of those giftings.
As well, the number of men who claim they were inspired to head off to seminary as a result of hearing Sam Shoemaker speak is quite remarkable.
Who does that in the Church today?

February 1, 8:51 pm | [comment link]
4. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

Sorry, David.  I didn’t read your expanded comment, obviously.

February 1, 8:52 pm | [comment link]
5. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Fr. Rob (#4),

No problem.  Apology accepted.  I’ve made the same mistake on T19 more than once.  I’m glad you added the point about lots of men (and it was only men back then) being inspired to go into ordained ministry because of Sam Shoemaker.  The harvest is plentiful, but the Shoemakers are few.

David Handy+

February 3, 1:51 pm | [comment link]
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