Order of Service, November 10, 1960

While I was going through the RMC chapel material, which is extensive, I came across this program from a service held there in the fall on 1960. It looks like the standard fare of the era and was initially notable to me mostly for the inclusion of the great Psalm 151:

Then I noticed the speaker: Bishop James A. Pike, about whom words simply fail me. His papers are at Syracuse and here is the Biographical Note to that collection:

James Albert Pike (1913-1969) was an American clergyman, lawyer, and author. He wrote and spoke extensively on the church and social problems, Christian and legal ethics, pastoral psychology, psychical research, and spiritualism.

Pike was born February 14th, 1913 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to James A. Pike and Pearl Agatha Wimsatt Pike. After his father died he moved to California with his mother where he graduated from Hollywood High School in 1930 and attended the Santa Clara University for two years. From 1932-1933 he attended the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), then transferred to the University of Southern California (USC), where he received his BA in 1934 and an LLB from the university’s law school in 1936. That same year he was admitted to the California bar.

Pike received a Sterling Fellowship and spent part of 1936-1937 studying for a doctorate in law at Yale, where he was awarded the JSD in 1938. He served as an expert in federal procedure at Catholic University Law School (1938-1939) and in civil procedures at George Washington University Law School (1939-1942), then with a fellow lawyer he established the law firm of Pike and Fischer, specializing in the publication of books on federal judicial and administrative procedure.

Pike married Jane Alvies in Los Angeles on August 14, 1938. They separated at the beginning of 1940 and were divorced in October 1941. On January 29, 1942, he married Esther Yanovsky, whom he had met while she was attending his law class at George Washington. He and Esther had four children: Catherine, James Jr., Constance, and Christopher.

In 1942 Pike joined the Office of Naval Intelligence and later sought and received a commission as Lieutenant (jg) in the Naval Reserve. In 1943 he was accepted as a postulant in the Protestant Episcopal Church. In 1944 he moved to the United States Maritime Commission, War Shipping Administration, but then requested and received inactive duty status due to his ordination as deacon in December of that year. His first appointment in the Church was as curate at St. John’s Church in Washington. At the same time, he served as chaplain to Episcopal students at George Washington and studied at Virginia Theological Seminary.

In 1946 he left Washington to become a fellow and tutor at the General Theological Seminary in New York, and a few months later (November 1, 1946) he was ordained to the priesthood of the Protestant Episcopal Church. In 1947 he was appointed rector of Christ Church in Poughkeepsie, New York; he also served as chaplain to students at Vassar College. In 1949 he became chaplain at Columbia University in New York; together with Professor Ursula Niebuhr he established Columbia’s Department of Religion.

In 1952 Pike became Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, where he made the pulpit a place for discussion of the religious and social problems of the day. He became known as a spokesman for liberal Protestantism and in 1955 was invited by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) to host a series television programs. In 1956 he participated in a trip to Israel to study and report on Arab refugee problems, and in 1957 he was appointed to the Zellerbach Commission, which studied refugee issues across Europe.

He was selected bishop-coadjutor by the annual convention of the diocese of California and consecrated to the position May 15, 1958; later that year, following the death of Bishop Karl Morgan Block, he became the fifth Bishop of California. He held the position for seven years, until he resigned in 1965 after a sabbatical at Cambridge. Shortly thereafter (1966) he joined the staff at the Center for Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, where he established a foundation to aid people experiencing a transition in their religious lives and began an extensive schedule of speaking engagements.

A series of inexplicable events following the suicide of Pike’s son James Jr. in 1966 convinced Pike that his son was attempting to communicate with h im from beyond the grave, and he turned his investigative attention to the field of psychic phenomena. This capped an increasingly contentious career, as Pike’s outspoken views on theological and social issues (including ordination of women, racial desegregation, and acceptance of lesbians and gays within mainline churches) had already disturbed his fellow clergy. Pike was charged with heresy three times (though the charges were dropped) and was formally censured by his fellow Bishops in October of 1966.

In 1967 Pike and Esther were divorced and Pike married Diane Kennedy, who had been his assistant at the foundation and who had helped him complete a book on psychic phenomena. In early 1969 Pike announced that he and his wife were officially ending their connection with the Episcopal Church in particular and with all forms of organized religion in general. Pike’s continued interest in the early Christian church led him and Diane on a research trip to Israel in 1969 where they were lost on an expedition into the desert between Jerusalem and the Red Sea. Diane found her way to safety but Pike’s body was found by a search party. He was buried at Jaffa in Israel on September 8, 1969.

This history is thorough although perhaps a bit bloodless so if you want more of a feel for Pike here’s a link to a short 1976 New York Times piece, The Death and Life of Bishop Pike. 

I had to laugh when I turned the program over, though, because however interesting I might find Pike whoever held this piece of paper that evening in 1960 had other things on his mind:

Bonus: Some unidentified person recently  returned this sugar bowl that he or she boosted from Lovett Hall some time ago. Whoever it was didn’t identify himself so we’ll just have it dusted for fingerprints.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding! We’re glad to have it back and would encourage any other such miscreants to do the same.


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6 Responses to Order of Service, November 10, 1960

  1. William A. Wheatley says:

    Philip K. Dick’s science fiction novel, THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER, was based on Bishop Pike. read the biography of Pike in Wikipedia, and then read Dick’s book, and you’ll immediately grasp the connection.

  2. Galloway Hudson - Wiess '60 says:

    November 10, 1960, was a Thursday, so I wonder if these services were held every day back then. If so, were they discontinued at some point? I was still on campus then, pursuing my B. S., but I don’t recall knowing about those services, and would not have been able to spend the time there, if I had known. 1960 was early in Bishop Pike’s tenure as Bishop of California. He became much more controversial later.

    • William A. Wheatley, Weiss '66 says:

      I was at Rice from September 1962 through the end of the 1965-66 school year. While I was there, if memory serves, the chapel services were held about once a month on a Thursday. The speaker was always some noteworthy theologian, often controversial. The services were non-denominational in nature.They addresses (they didn’t call them sermons then) were recorded on tape, and students could buy copies of the tapes. I bought a couple of them, which I still have, although I don’t know anyone with a tape player.

  3. Steve Lukingbeal, Hanszen 76 says:

    What a biography. I had never heard of him, but it is obvious that he didn’t experience one quiet or non contentious year in his life.

  4. William Johnson, Jr '57, '58 says:

    It may have been in October 1957, when a group of First Presbyterian Church , Rice Students, went to a large auditorium in Houston for a Reformation Service and Bishop Pike spoke. He was a dynamic speaker. I read and followed him for some time. He was truly an interesting man.

  5. It was that type of foreign language displayed on the program that prompted me out of the study of Physics.

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