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H. Boone Porter Papers

Call Number: RG 230
Scope and Contents

This manuscript group provides extensive documentation of the work of H. Boone Porter, an important figure in the Episcopal Church. A tribute to Porter written by Ralph N. McMichael, Jr. for the May 16, 1999 issue of The Living Church, which is reproduced below succinctly outlines the role that Porter played in his long career. All of the activities noted in McMichael's tribute are well documented in Porter's papers.

Ralph N. McMichael, Jr. wrote: "Any student of the Episcopal Church in the latter half of this century would be hard pressed not to come across the name of H. Boone Porter. In fact, his name and influence can be traced in so many places that the student should not give up the task too soon. For just when you think you have a grasp on how Boone Porter has shaped the Episcopal Church, you find out that he is doing or has done something completely different."

"Canon Porter's ministry has been, and continues to be, so rich and varied that it is hard to designate his legacy in just one or two ways. He is liturgical scholar, professor, pastor, editor and missioner. He has shaped our liturgy, our parishes, our prayer book, our publications, and our view of the ministry and mission of the church."

"A good place to begin is with the liturgy of the Episcopal Church. Urban T. Holmes once wrote that the most significant event in the education in liturgy in the Episcopal Church in this century was Boone Porter's becoming professor of liturgy at the General Theological Seminary. After having taught church history at Nashotah House, he began teaching liturgy at General in 1960. While there, he started a doctoral program in liturgy, and he supervised the graduate work of Leonel Mitchell, Thomas Talley and Marion Hatchett. All three became professors of liturgy at seminaries of the Episcopal Church. As a liturgical scholar, Canon Porter has written books on such topics as ordination rites, Sunday, Jeremy Taylor, and the liturgical seasons. However, his influence on the liturgical life of the Episcopal Church was not limited to the classroom and to publications."

"He was one of the main architects of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. He shaped both the prayer book and the way we think about the liturgy. He served for several years on the Standing Liturgical Commission that oversaw the development of the '79 BCP. He wrote many prayers in the book, including Eucharistic Prayer A and part of B. As an active member of the Council of Associated Parishes, and a stint as its president, he shaped how we understand and live the liturgy. Again, this shaping of liturgy and life was not confined to the sanctuary. His horizons were expanding into the realm of the mission to small and rural parishes."

"Canon Porter left General in 1970 to become director of the National Town and Country Church Institute (Roanridge). In this position, he sought to deepen and expand the conversation regarding the mission of the church. He promoted the thought of Roland Allen, and he sought the development and support of local ministry, including ministry in Native American communities. He also worked on the restoration of the diaconate as a permanent order and not just a step toward priesthood. Now retired and living in Connecticut, his shaping of the church's ministry continues today with next month's Living the Covenant Conference. He has been the chief organizer of this event, which seeks to address the development of ministry within a baptismal context."

"In becoming editor of The Living Church in 1977, Canon Porter's influence expanded even more widely. As editor, he sought to inform and provoke the life of the Episcopal Church. However, he carried out this ministry not as an advocate who only offers polemics. This approach to the life of the church would be against his nature. For above all else, he is someone who lives and shares the peace of Christ. His journey has not been one of ambition and restlessness. It has been, and continues to be, one man's pilgrimage of faith. He has shaped the church because he has been shaped by Christ."

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the children of H. Boone Porter, 2010

  1. I. Correspondence, 1940-1998
  2. II. Sermons, 1953-1999
  3. III. Writings of HBP, 1951-1999
  4. IV. Research Materials, 1977-1984, n.d.
  5. V. Course-Related Materials, 1947-1996
  6. VI. Major Organizations Served, 1954-2003
  7. VII. Other Organizations Served, 1963-1999
  8. VIII. Collected Materials, 1957-1995
  9. IX. Biographical Documentation, 1958-1999
  10. X. Audio-Visual Material, 1950s-1999
Majority of material found within 1954 - 1999
35 Linear Feet (84 boxes)
Related Names
Porter, Harry Boone, 1923-
Language of Materials