Dr. Charles F. Bryan, Jr., a communicant of St. Mary’s and a member of the Adult Ministries Committee, will present a series on the history of death and dying in America. Presented in three sessions, Dr. Bryan’s series will explore the development of the distinctively American tradition of dealing with mortality. His presentations (see descriptions) will be on February 20, March 6, and March 13. St. Mary’s rector, Dr. John E. Miller, will offer a presentation focused on Episcopal burial rites on February 27. Each class begins at 7 p.m. in the New Parish Hall.
Charles Bryan is founding partner with Daniel P. Jordan of Bryan & Jordan Consulting, LLC, which specializes in strategic planning, fund raising, board and staff relations, and executive searches for nonprofit institutions and higher education.
Dr. Bryan retired in 2008 after a thirty year career as a public historian. He first served as assistant editor of the Papers of Andrew Jackson, a University of Tennessee documentary editing project. Then following stints as executive director of the East Tennessee Historical Society and St. Louis Mercantile Library Association, Dr. Bryan was appointed president and chief executive officer of the Virginia Historical Society in 1988.
February 20 “The Precarious Life—Death and Dying in Colonial America” [death ever present; high infant mortality rates; short lifespans; mourning was minimized; church services simple; burials in churchyards or in family plots near home; strong belief that final judgement of God would determine one’s eternal fate] – Led by Charles F. Bryan, Jr., Ph.D.
February 27 “The Anglican Way – burial Rites in the Episcopal Church” [The Book of Common Prayer develops burial rituals for American Episcopalians; comparison of the 1928 Prayer Book and the 1979 Prayer Book traditions; St. Mary’s Church and the churchyard sites for burial; growth trend in cremation vs. casket burial] – Led by The Rev. John E. Miller, Ph.D
March 6 “The Ritualization of Death—Death and Dying in 19th Century America” [emergence of elaborate ritual and formal practices of mourning; emergence of funeral home profession; the beginning of grand cemeteries (Hollywood); the effect of the Civil War; with increasing urbanization and increase in immigrations, funeral rituals and practices change as well]
-Led by Charles F. Bryan, Jr., Ph.D
March 13 “Delegating Death and Dying—the 20th Century to the Present” [with growth in hospitals and funeral homes, care of the dying and dead is delegated; mourning is again minimized; death is no longer a constant companion as people live longer; increase in cremations; hospice; the future of death and dying; latest polls on the afterlife] - Led by Charles F. Bryan, Jr., Ph.D