16 April, Mollie Brant

Konwatsi’jayenni
(Mollie Brant)

Matron among the Mohawks

16 April

c. 1736 – 1796

Commemoration (Green)

 
Today we recall Mollie Brant, an eighteenth-century Mohawk woman known among her own people as Konwatsi’jayenni, who sustained them with her example of loyalty to the British Crown and the Anglican Church when they were forced to make a new homeland in Canada. She was born into a family of chieftains and attended an Anglican mission school where she learned to speak English as fluently as her native tongue. In 1759 she became the companion of Sir William Johnson, the British agent for Indian affairs, and soon afterwards they were married according to Mohawk rites. Though the union was not recognized by English law, the white community admired her dignity and wisdom in the ways of two cultures, and continued to treat her with immense respect even after Sir William’s death in 1774. Mohawk matrons have an influential voice in the councils of their nation, and Mollie Brant played a decisive role in convincing her people to remain loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolution. But she and her family paid a terrible price for their loyalty, because the rebels destroyed her home and forced her to take her clan into exile. She eventually settled at Kingston, where the British government built her a new house and gave her a generous pension. She became a founding member of St. George’s Anglican parish and died at Kingston on this date in 1796, sincerely mourned by United Empire Loyalists as well as her own people.

Sentence

Where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Ruth 1.16

Collect  

Almighty God,
who by your grace surrounds us
with so great a cloud of witnesses,
may we, encouraged by your servant Molly,
persevere and run the race you set before us,
until at last, through your mercy,
we with her attain to your eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
the author and perfecter of our faith,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

 

 Readings

Ruth 1.6–18

6 Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had had consideration for his people and given them food. 7 So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. 8 But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.’ Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. 10 They said to her, ‘No, we will return with you to your people.’ 11 But Naomi said, ‘Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, 13 would you then wait until they were
grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.’ 14 Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
15 So she said, ‘See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’
16 But Ruth said,
‘Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
17 Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!’

18 When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

Psalm 80.1-7 

1 Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock; *
shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim.

2 In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, *
stir up your strength and come to help us.

3 Restore us, O God of hosts; *
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

4 O Lord God of hosts, *
how long will you be angered
despite the prayers of your people?

5 You have fed them with the bread of tears; *
you have given them bowls of tears to drink.

6 You have made us the derision of our neighbours, *
and our enemies laugh us to scorn.

7 Restore us, O God of hosts; *
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: * 
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Matthew 12.46–50

The True Kindred of Jesus

46 While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, ‘Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ 48 But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ 49 And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’

Concluding Collect 

Lord our God,
you endued your servant Mollie Brant
with the gifts of justice and loyalty,
and made her a wise and prudent mother
in the household of the Mohawk nation.
May we ever give thanks to you, our Maker,
and nurture one another
in the knowledge of your power;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

 

Links for Further Reading

More info at good old wiki:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molly_Brant

The history of the settlement of Cataraqui, now Kingston, Ontario:  https://www.carf.info/kingston-past/molly-brant

Entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography:  http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/konwatsitsiaienni_4E.html

Entry for her brother Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea):  http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/thayendanegea_5E.html

Sources 

Unless otherwise noted, all extracted material come from the following publications: 

Anglican Church of Canada. For all the Saints: prayers and readings for Saints’ days: a supplement to the Book of alternative services, revised, compiled by Stephen Reynolds, Anglican Book Centre, Toronto, 2007. 

Anglican Church of Canada. The book of alternative services of the Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Book Centre, Toronto, 1985.  

National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. The New Revised Standard Version, Anglicized Edition, 1989, 1995. Accessed at http://bible.oremus.org/ 

* Readings & Prayers prepared by Gerrit Both