[Camp Session Info]

 

The
vFNCA 2020

Rev. Everett K. Bray
Visiting Lecturer:


 

Dr. Rebecca Esterson


 Dr. Rebecca Esterson             Rev. Everett K. Bray

 

The Rev. Everett K. Bray Visiting Lecturer program brings a prominent Swedenborgian scholar to the Assembly each year for two or more lectures. This person must also be someone who is beyond normal travel distance to camp and who isn't or hasn't been a regular lecturer at the Assembly in the past. The Bray Lecturer may also be invited to lead the Opening Weekend Program.
 


Dr. Rebecca Esterson

The 2020 Rev. Everett K. Bray Visiting Lecturer is Dr. Rebecca Esterson, Assistant Professor in Sacred Texts and Traditions and Dorothea Harvey Professor of Swedenborgian Studies at the Center for Swedenborgian Studies, our theological school in Berkeley CA. She is also the co-editor of the journal Teaching Theology and Religion, which is published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Dr. Esterson earned her PhD from the Graduate Division of Religious Studies at Boston University, her Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem as a visiting graduate student. After receiving her master's degree, she worked at Harvard's Center for the Study of World Religions where she was able to further develop her interest in comparative studies and interfaith learning.

Her teaching and research interests include: Swedenborgian thought and theology, the history of Biblical interpretation, hermeneutics, Jewish-Christian relations, interreligious pedagogy, eighteenth century intellectual culture, and comparative religious studies.

 

Past Rev. Everett K. Bray Visiting Lecturers

 


Rev. Everett K. Bray

© FNCA 2015
The Rev. Everett King Bray was born in Merrimac FL on May 17, 1881 into a family of orange growers. His mother and grandmother were both converts to the New Church after receiving a copy of Heaven and Hell. Family lore has it that he tamed wild horses when he was young.

After six years as a school teacher from age 17-23, he entered the New Church Theological School in 1904. After his ordination on October 20, 1907, he was called to the New Church in Portland ME, where he married Ida Leonora "Orah" Hutchins in 1908. He served there until 1911.

After a one and a half year pastorate in Indianapolis IN 1912-1913, he served the Virginia St. Church in St. Paul MN for 17 years where he was instrumental in building the Sunday School up from 5 children to 95.

In 1930, he was called to teach theology at the New Church Theological School in Cambridge MA, and moved his family there that Fall. In 1936, he became assistant pastor at the Cambridge Church, and full pastor the following year. In 1940, continuing in his other two roles, he also began serving as the General Pastor of the Massachusetts Association. In 1943, Rev. Bray was elected president of Convention and served in that position throughout the duration of WWII until 1946. During all this time, he continued teaching at the Theological School, serving as dean from 1953-1956, when he stepped down as dean to "focus on his teaching" until his retirement in 1961.

After a slipping and falling on ice in January 1947, he began to lose his eyesight. Despite being hospitalized for four months begining in October 1947, they were unable to stop the detachment of his retinae, and he gradually became completely blind.

According to an article in the February 1, 1962 issue of The New-Church Messenger:

He had been in the habit of writing his sermons, and delivering them without manuscript, and the memory-training this afforded stood him in good stead. Without learning Braille, he had at his command a wealth of Scripture and doctrine and could "find a passage" faster than it could be located in a concordance. Developing this ability, he continued his teaching at the School and his ministry to the Cambridge Society until September 1961, when, at the age of eighty, he retired.

On retirement in 1961, he moved to Greenfield MA to live with his daughter, Betty Guiu and her husband Ray, and his three granddaughters, Cecilia ("Lalla"), Tina, and Gloria. In 1966, with the two older grandchildren off to college, the rest of the family all moved to Watertown MA where Rev. Bray died in September of 1970.

"In Memoriam
Everett King Bray"
article in the Messenger

Rev. Bray is the author of several New Church pamphlets and two books: Why Do Things Happen (1920) and Where Heaven Begins (1955) which remains a favorite to many in the Church to this day. Over the years, many of his sermons and quite a few articles by him have appeared in a variety of New Church publications as well.

Again, from the same article cited above:

One cannot capture a personality in words, but the personality is more important than the biographical facts. It is the life that gives substance to events. No one who meets Mr. Bray is ignored or half-ignored, and no one comes away poorer. He counts himself blessed to have been given the Heavenly Doctrines, and he counts it a blessing to give them.

© FNCA 2018

Rev. Bray was a core lecturer at the Assembly from the 1930s through the 1960s and is the patriarch of five generations at the FNCA so far, many of whom have served the FNCA in various capacities over the years.

The Bray Cabin is named for the matriarch of this clan, his beloved wife "Orah" who passed on to heaven at the Assembly during the 1954 session.
 

[Camp Session Info]

84 Main St, Fryeburg, ME 04037 (map)