August 19: Jonathan Daniels celebration service, Keene

On the Sunday closest to August 20, St. James Episcopal Church in Keene remembers the life and witness of Jonathan Myrick Daniels. He was a member of that congregation who went to study for ministry at Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge. In 1965, he responded to Martin Luther King’s call for clergy of all faiths to travel to Selma, Alabama and support the civil rights movement. Daniels did this, working to integrate the Episcopal parish of St. Paul’s in Selma.

In his work for integration and for voting rights, he was arrested with several others for organizing a demonstration against segregated stores. Following his release from jail, he and a young black woman named Ruby Sales tried to enter the nearby Cash Market to buy some sodas. There they were confronted by a white man named Tom Coleman who met them with a shotgun. Coleman shot Jonathan Daniels, who died instantly.

Daniels is often hailed as a modern martyr for Christian faith, alongside Martin Luther King, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Maximilian Kolbe.

Rev. Jason Wells, our executive director, was invited to preach at this year’s Jonathan Daniels celebration in Keene on Sunday, August 19. Here are some of the prayers and the sermon used in that service:

Prayers of the People, including a Confession Prayer based on Birmingham segregation ordinances.

Audio of a sermon on Galatians 3:28, “For all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”


Learn more about Daniels’s life, witness and living legacy at the Jonathan Daniels Center for Social Responsibility.