Dr. Swisher, Is There a Christian Connection to Father’s Day? Tyerica, South Toledo
Hi Tyerica. Thank you for this fantastic and topical question. Today is Father’s Day and I’m happy to respond to its importance and relevance. Two women are given credit for beginning Father’s Day in America. Interestingly, both are Methodist Christians and both have heartfelt stories. I am honored to mention both of them in our Column this week. On December 6, 1904 a mining accident occurred in Monogah, West Virginia where 360 people died of which 250 were fathers. Grace Golden Clayton was mourning the loss of her father and asked the Pastor of her Methodist Church to hold a special service for Fathers which occurred on July 5, 1908. The other Methodist woman named Sonora Louise Smart was from Arkansas. When Sonora was 16 her mother died in childbirth with her sixth child. Sonora was the only daughter and shared with her father William the raising of her younger brothers. She held her father in great esteem and while hearing a Mother’s Day sermon at Central Methodist Church, she felt strongly that Fathers should also receive a day of recognition. We can assume that both of these women were working independently for the same goal.
Both of these dynamic leaders Grace and Sonora were instrumental in making the day we celebrate Nationally a reality. We salute both of them and the drive they had to honor the men who meant so much to them. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson became aware of Father’s Day observances and sent an official telegram offering his support. The populist politician and orator William Jennings Bryan was also an early supporter. In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a Presidential Proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day. It wasn’t until 1972, however, until President Richard Nixon established a permanent National observance of Father’s Day.
What an amazing accomplishment for these two Women of Faith…sixty-eight years from the impetus of the idea to the fruition of the goal. We can all learn from their tenacity, drive and desire to honor their loved ones. Sonora was honored at the World’s Fair 1974 held in Spokane, Washington. he died four years later at the age of 96.
Throughout the Bible God is referred to as “our Father.” Jesus taught His followers to pray using the title, “Our Father who art in heaven…,” inviting believers into a very intimate relationship with God. Jesus further used this title in John 14:9 when he said, “Anyone who has seen Me has also seen the Father.” In addition, we read in 1 John 3:1, “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.”
All of this means, Tyerica that as believers we are all a part of the same family of faith and action. We have the power to make a real, significant difference in the world around us. One of the most important ways to do that is to honor those very special people in our lives called Fathers. We invite you and all of our friends who read this column every week to join us in Worship today at Epworth United Methodist Church at 8:30, 9:45, 11:00am and 6:00pm as we Celebrate Father’s Day at all services. Find all the details at epworth.com.