D028 Addition of Laurence Whipp to Lesser Feasts and Fasts
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring,
That the 80th General Convention authorize the inclusion of Lawrence Whipp in Lesser Feasts and Fasts.
To quote from pages 58-59 of Hal Vaughn's 2004 book Doctor to the Resistance: “The story of Lawrence Whipp is extraordinary. In an article about him in Time magazine from March 12, 1945 (“The case of the missing organist”, http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,797254,00.html), he is described as “an impeccable ornament of Paris' pre-war community, a man aloof yet religious and deeply committed to his vocation.” Time goes on to explain how Whipp, “served the Cathedral for twenty years – even under the Wehrmacht during the German occupation – as the organist and choirmaster. When most Americans fled Paris – including the Cathedral's Dean, the Very Rev. Beekman – Whipp stayed at his post as lay reader. He is said to have been caught listening to the BBC by the Gestapo, arrested and imprisoned. But there was still a rumor, at least at the American Cathedral in 1999, that Whipp, a homosexual, had been imprisoned to make him cooperate with the Gestapo. Apparently the Gestapo was still trying to recruit Whipp in 1944. A letter bears the notation in Whipp's handwriting, “Gestapo—I refused!” Whatever the case, after the liberation of Paris in August 1944, Whipp mysteriously disappeared. Some say Whipp was killed by zealots of the Resistance who accused him of siding with the Nazis. After the liberation, he had given sanctuary to a French Wagnerian opera singer, Mme Lubin, who had sung for the Nazis and was thus considered a traitor. Having found out Whipp's “compassion” for the woman, the Resistance would have killed him in her place. But other theories abound. In any case, his body was found floating in the Seine in late April 1945.”
This story shows how Lawrence Whipp fits each of the criteria for inclusion in Lesser Feasts and Fasts. In this time when the “greatest generation” of those who lived through World War II is disappearing, the example of this man who retained his faith and continued his ministry of Episcopal worship and presence during the German occupation of Paris is worthy of remembrance. He not only embodies historicity, Christian discipleship, significance and (as a gay man in a time when that was a great risk and a representative of Americans and Episcopalians serving overseas) inclusion, he also represents the courage of Christians throughout the centuries who have sustained the Church in times of adversity and made choices to do the right thing even knowing their lives might be at risk. Having his day on August 25 would not only honor the liberation of France (August 25, 1944). Combining that day with Louis, King of France would honor the French people and the great Christian history of that country. It would also provide the calendar with both an organist and a member of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, where he is much remembered.