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Adelaide Teague Case

By Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook


Adelaide Teague Case (1887-1948), an Episcopalian, was interested in "progressive" religious education from the perspective of the Christian active in the world. Some of her areas of interest included, the religious development of children, the teaching of religion for all ages, the Bible and religious education, social ethics, and peace education. Case became the first woman appointed to full professorial rank in any Episcopal or Anglican seminary in 1941 when she joined the faculty of Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts as professor of Christian Education. At ETS, where she remained until her death in 1948, Case taught a variety of courses in religious education and directed field work.


Early Life and Education

Adelaide Teague Case (1887-1948) was born on January 10, 1887 in St. Louis Missouri, with her twin sister, Mary Cushing Case. Their parents were Charles Lyman Case, American manger of the London Assurance Company, and Lois Teague Case; their complete family included six children, three daughters and three sons. While Adelaide was still an infant the family moved to New York - she considered herself a "native" New Yorker all her adult life-and eventually acquired a home in Bronxville, New York, and a summer residence in Paris Hill, Lake Sebago, Maine. Case was graduated from the Brearley School in New York City in 1904, and received a B.A. in mathematics and philosophy From Bryn Mawr College in 1908. She began her illustrious teaching career in 1909, as a teacher of mathematics and Latin at St. Faith's School, an Episcopal girl's boarding school in Poughkeepsie, New York. Always a gifted student, Case began graduate studies in history and sociology at Columbia University in 1910, but was forced to withdraw within a year after a reoccurrence of childhood tuberculosis of the bone. Case spent nearly a year in treatment at Saranac Lake, New York, and then toured Europe with her parents as a semi-invalid. Though a statuesque woman in adulthood, with a keen intelligence and vibrant personality, Adelaide Teague Case battled ill health for most of her life, and withstood many operations on her legs. In 1914 she re-entered the working world as volunteer librarian at the Episcopal Church Center in New York; she was eventually placed on salary and remained through 1916. Despite her physical disability, Case had tremendous stamina, and worked tirelessly as an educator from the time she returned to graduate school at Columbia University in 1917, this time to study religious education, until her death.

Baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church, Adelaide Teague Case's religious faith followed a conventional pattern until she experienced a conversion experience after college. Thereafter, the living Christ became the dominant force in her life and ministry. Though she continued within the Episcopal Church, Case became a devout Anglo-Catholic, and was strongly attracted spiritually to the sacramental and liturgical life of the church. While in New York, she attended the Eucharist daily at St. Ignatius' Church. In 1915 she became a member of the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross, a society of lay women in the Episcopal Church dedicated to intercession, thanksgiving, simplicity of life, annual retreats, Christian unity, and social justice. Case remained an active member of the "Companions" during her lifetime, offering programs based on her teaching and publishing, including an annual retreat on the theme of "Thanksgiving in the Psalms." In 1918 Case was one of a small group of Companions who wrote the Commission on Unity in support of an interdenominational petition for church unity.

Once committed to the ministry of religious education, Adelaide Teague Case moved quickly through graduate study. She pursued her M.A. at Columbia University (1917-1919), while also serving as an instructor at the New York Training School for Deaconesses. In 1919 Case became a course assistant in the religious education department at Teachers College, Columbia; she was made an instructor in the same department in 1920, and received her Ph.D there in 1924. Case's adviser at Columbia was theologian and educator George Albert Coe. Her dissertation, "Liberal Christianity and Religious Education," was later published as her first book. Her graduate studies focused on the recently developed "progressive" education movement and child-centered, as opposed to teacher-focused agenda and curricula. Case fundamentally believed that for religious education to be relevant to children, or to persons of any age for that matter, it must relate to their social environment. She also developed related subspecialties in Christian social ethics, and the role of the Bible in education and worship. Adelaide Teague Case's interest in social justice was further underscored in her involvement in the National Committee of the Episcopal League for Social Action, 1921-1948.

Colleagues and students alike praised Adelaide Teague Case for the deep sense of humanity and boundless compassion that emanated from her. By all accounts, she was an amazing teacher. Besides the influence of her adviser George Albert Coe, Case was influenced by the theory and teaching methods of John Dewey. Students from over fifty years ago not only remember details from Case's classes, they still have their research papers with her comments in their possession! As one former student noted, "She was a true believer in Christ and you saw him living in and through her." As a teacher, Case had the ability to challenge students to do their most creative work. She was a genius at sensing student needs and creating a productive learning environment. A popular graduate student and instructor, Adelaide Teague Case was offered a faculty position as assistant professor at Teachers College after completing her doctorate; she was made associate professor in 1929. Once on the faculty, Case developed and offered courses in the principles of religious education, the use of the Bible in religious education, professional problems in religious education, as well as a course designed especially for directors of religious education. Her classes were popular with students from diverse religious backgrounds, including Protestants from a variety of traditions, Roman Catholic laity, clergy and religious, Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Jews, as well as non-believers.

Adelaide Teague Case was appointed full professor and chair of the religious education department at Teachers College in 1935. The previous year, Hobart College conferred an honorary Litt.D. upon Case in recognition of her contributions to scholarship. Besides teaching, Case wrote all her books while on the faculty at Teachers College. These works include her doctoral dissertation, Liberal Christianity and Religious Education (1924), an extended bibliography for religious educators focused on books about Jesus, As Modern Writers See Jesus (1927), and two devotionally oriented books based on scripture, Seven Psalms (1935) and The Servant of the Lord (1940). Case continued to write chapters in books and sundry articles for publications throughout her career, yet it should be noted that professional writing was but one aspect of her ministry as a religious educator. Surpassing her published output were the countless workshops, conferences, and lectures that Adelaide Teague Case conducted throughout her career - often in addition to a heavy teaching and student advisement load. From 1928 until her death, Case was on the board of Windham House, a training school for women church workers. Beginning in 1930 she also served as part-time educational advisor for the Woman's Auxiliary of the Episcopal Church. In addition, Case was a voluminous correspondent to a global community of friends and colleagues, amounting to over 100 letters per month. Throughout her tremendously active professional life, Adelaide Teague Case was fueled by a deep interior life, nourished by corporate worship and private prayer and meditation.

During the 1930s Adelaide Teague Case became involved in peacemaking efforts and in peace education. For Case "peacemaking" was always more than an international concern; it was also practical and personal. As a pacifist, she worked for peace in relationships, in the classroom as well as through international organizations. Case served on the executive board of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (1930-1934); as a member of the Peace Action Committee of the New York Federation of Churches (1936), as well as vice-president of the Episcopal Pacifist Fellowship (1939-1948). In 1936 she and Paul Limbert conducted a study entitled "Around the World," that was the result of a survey completed by 373 school age children about their perceptions regarding other cultures and countries. "Around the World" was later published by the Associated Press. The resultant article, "Educating For Peace: A Study of Children's Opinion on World Affairs," was reissued in 1949 as part an of anthology on peacemaking dedicated posthumously to Adelaide Teague Case. Peace Is Possible: Essays Dedicated to The Memory of Adelaide T. Case, was published by Case's colleagues of the Episcopal Pacifist Fellowship, and included essays from a diverse group of scholars, activists, and bishops.

In the early 1940s, Angus Dun, the dean of the Episcopal Theological School (ETS) in Cambridge, Massachusetts recognized Adelaide Teague Case as the foremost religious educator in the Episcopal Church - if not in the United States - and persuaded her to resign her position in New York. As a way of introducing her to the school and alumni, Dun asked Case to come to campus as Kellner Lecturer in 1940-1941 to offer a course on "A Parish Program of Religious Education "on Monday afternoons. She was elected "Professor of Christian Education" in 1941, thus becoming the first woman elected to a theological faculty in an Episcopal or Anglican seminary. Though other women, particularly in the field of religious education, had taught theological students before Adelaide Teague Case arrived on the scene, none held the rank of professor previous to her.

"The problem of religious education" - as it was referred to by faculty administrators, alumni and trustees - was not a new concern at the Episcopal Theological School. The alumni urged the creation of a chair in "religious pedagogy" as early as 1917. By the time the trustees got the campaign underway in the 1920s, with $100,000 from the endowment set aside for the chair, the school couldn't find a "man" to fill it. The seminary experimented by hiring part-time lecturers, and recruited from the nearby Harvard School of education, but complained that the later lacked training in religion. As time passed and the financial pressures of the depression impacted the school, the intention of the trustees to set aside funding from the endowment was lost. It fell to Dean Dun to find both the funding and the scholar for the job. Adelaide Teague Case's reputation as an educator, scholar, and religious leader, along with her work at ETS as the Kellner Lecturer convinced Dun that she was the "man" for the job, and he proceeded to raise enough funding from private donors to cover her salary for three years.

Though Adelaide Teague Case later told friends that her years at ETS were some of the happiest of her life, there is evidence to suggest that establishing herself as a professor in the seminary community was a slippery slope. Case had the courage - in her fifties - to give up a professorship at Columbia University with a very good salary and students and colleagues who appreciated her, to move to Cambridge for a much lower salary at a seminary where some of the students refused to take her classes because she was a woman. To his credit, Angus Dun used his position as dean to insist that students study with Professor Case. Still, as friends indicated after her death, the transition for Adelaide Teague Case to the seminary community was slow and painful.

It was Adelaide Teague Case's genius for religious education and her excellence as a teacher that eventually moved the Episcopal Theological School to recognize the jewel in their midst. Former students in the present day write that working with Case was the most positive part of their seminary experience. While at ETS Case took her place on the faculty preaching rotation, and offered a variety of courses, including an introduction to Christian education, a course on the religious development of children and youth, a course on curriculum, a course on adult education, a course on education and the sacramental life, a course on "newer methods," a course on types of religious schools, and directed advanced study and research. In addition, during her last two years at ETS, Case directed a field work program which required weekly meetings, reports, and reading with each student. In this capacity, Case took it upon herself to visit students at their different field sites. Known by students as "Dr. Adelaide" or "Dr. A," Case became one of the most popular professors at the seminary, and was a mentor, counselor, and unofficial confessor for many. She shared her large faculty home with student families, and offered assistance to others who found themselves in a crisis; she provided housing and friendship to African American, Japanese American and Jewish families who were homeless. Her last faculty report at ETS - featuring goals that she did not live to implement - urged the creation of improved field work sites with more opportunities for supervision, additional courses in Christian education to meet the growing demand among students, and a plea for further integration between Christian education and other areas of the curriculum, particularly theology and church history.

During her residence in Massachusetts, Adelaide Teague Case was a member of the Church of the Advent, Boston, where she served on the parish council and on the adult education committee. The Rev. Whitney Hale, rector of the Church of the Advent, brought her the Eucharist daily during her final illness. Due to her health history, she dreaded hospitals, but nevertheless until the day of her death Adelaide Teague Case was teacher, mentor, and friend to many. Her last words to a member of her household, spoken the night before her death, were "What can I do for you?" Adelaide Teague Case died at the age of sixty-one on June 19, 1948 at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Bostom, of tuberculosis of the adrenal glands. Her remains were cremated and laid in the cemetery in Paris, Maine. The Burial Office was read at a simple service at the Episcopal Theological School on June 22; on June 23 a Requiem Mass was celebrated at the Church of the Advent, Boston.

Works Cited

Manuscript sources on Adelaide Teague Case are scattered. Some of her correspondence can be located in the files of the William Russell Collection, Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as in the George Albert Coe Collection and the Archives of the Religious Education Association at the Yale Divinity School. Files of papers related to Case and assorted clippings are located at Episcopal Divinity School (formerly Episcopal Theological School), the archives of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, the Episcopal Dioceses of Massachusetts, and the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross. Reports from Case during her tenure as education adviser for the Woman's Auxiliary, and an account of her work at Windham House in the Oral History of Helen Turnbull, are located in the Archives of the Episcopal Church, Austin, Texas. Published biographical information on Adelaide Teague Case can be found in the following sources:

  • Garraty, John A. &Mark C. Carnes (Eds.). (1999) American national biography. New York: Oxford University Press
  • Ohles, John F. (Ed.) (1978). Biographical dictionary of American educators. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press
  • Biography index. Vol, 1: January 1946-July 1949. New York: H.W. Wilson Company
  • Wallace, Stewart (Comp.). (1988). A dictionary of American authors decreased before 1950. Toronto: Ryerson Press; Ireland
  • Norma Olin (Ed.) (1988). Index of women of the world from ancient to modern times: A supplement. Norma Olin Ireland (Ed.) Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarerow Press James, Edward T.(Ed.). (1971). Notable American women, 1607-1950. Cambridge: Harvard University Press
  • (1941). Religious leaders of America, Vol. II. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Smyth, Newman. (1932). A Story of Church Unity. New Haven: Yale University Press EDS Alumni Bulletin (1941).
  • Obituaries and tributes, include ETS Bulletin (1984, July) XL, 4, 7-11; The Living Church (1948, July 11); School and Society (1948, July 3), 68, 1749; Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin (July 1948); Taylor, Charles L. (1948, August 8).Adelaide Teague Case: An appreciation. The Living Church ; Shepherd, Massy &Charles Taylor; (1948, June 19). Adelaide Teague Case. ETS, Minute for Faculty Meeting.
  • Turnbull, Helen. (n.d.). Adelaide Teague Case: unpublished tribute, Society for the Companions of the Holy Cross; Obituaries found in the New York Times (1948, June 20);
  • The Church Militant (1941, June); Boston Sunday Herald (1948, June 20); Bulletin of ETS (1948, July).
  • For Case's vitae, see Temple, Sydney (Ed.). (1949). Peace is possible: Essays dedicated to the memory of Adelaide Teague Case.) Deep River, Connecticut: The New Era Press, p. v.
  • For her appointment at Episcopal Theological School, see Muller, James Arthur. (1943). The Episcopal Theological School, 1867-1943. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Episcopal Theological School.

The author wishes to express her thanks to the following who shared their materials on and recollections of Adelaide Teague Case: Peg Aldrich, Charles Case, Charles Lee Clark, Phillip Douglas, Morgan Porteus, Owen Thomas, Fredrica Harris Thompsett, David Siegenthaler,

Contributions to Christian Education

Adelaide Teague Case influenced a generation of religious educators and was the leading authority in the field in the Episcopal Church of her day. As a scholar, Case was a pioneer in "progressive" education as it relates to religious education, and in the development of child-centered, as opposed to teacher-focused methodologies. Her deep love for children, and for the Christian faith, were cornerstones of her work and research. Her concern for social justice was a key motivation behind her ministry; she had little tolerance for injustice and the misuse of power. She fundamentally believed in the need for education to be mindful of social context. Moreover, her genius as a teacher endowed her with the capacity to communicate effectively to vastly different groups; she influenced children and youth, parish folk, graduate students, seminarians, activists, and religious leaders with equal alacrity. Moreover, as a deeply spiritual person, Case enabled her students to make connections between the academy and the life of faith. Her capacity to embody her beliefs endowed her ministry as a religious educator with a deep integrity.

During her twenty years as a popular professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, Case influenced an interfaith study body and gained an established place in the wider education scheme. There she advocated seven-day, child-centered, religious education, rather than the traditional and more narrow Sunday school approach. For instance, at a 1933 conference of the Religious Education Association, Case proposed - along with Rabbi Isaac Landman, editor of the American Hebrew --the abolition of Sunday school in favor of a community-based model that would maximize the leadership opportunities for a variety of individuals. While a professor at Teachers College, Adelaide Teague Case was much in demand nationally as a speaker and a lecturer, on a variety of topics, including "The Commonwealth of God," "The Mental Effects on Students of Military Drills," "Religious Education for the Modern Child," and, "The Place of the Church in Adult Education." At the same time, Case fused the roles of educator and activist as a leader of the Children's Peace Festival (1936) and educators against the peacetime draft (1940).

As the first woman elected to the faculty of an Episcopal or Anglican seminary, Adelaide Teague Case brought the depth of her experience to a new "mission field." In the seven years before her death, Case's work at the Episcopal Theological School increased the demand for Christian education courses within the seminary curriculum, gained full status for the field within the overall curriculum, and moved toward greater integration of religious education with other theological disciplines, Moreover, Case's teaching and supervision of field work students at ETS paved the way for the development of a more comprehensive program, with a full-time faculty member in the future. While at ETS, Adelaide Teague Case's favorite courses, "Use of the Bible in Christian Education," and "Education and the Sacramental Life," became popular electives. Although her biblical methodology was not text critical scholarship, the strength of her work in this area was in her ability to adapt scripture for "the person in the pew" in the contexts of corporate worship and personal devotion.

Adelaide Teague Case was a mentor for ETS students before their graduation and afterward. Given the unique circumstances of her appointment at the seminary, she was also an important mentor and symbol for women students. Earlier in her career, she was influential as a part-time educational adviser to the Woman's Auxiliary of the Episcopal Church for ten years, 1930-1940. Though she was a proponent for the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church, she did not write on the subject. Rather, Case used her position and status as a professor to provide women with greater access to a theological education. She kept the issue of opening the seminary's doors to women before the faculty, reminding her male colleagues that their admission was not simply a personal issue for her, but an issue for all theological educators. At a time when ETS did not accept women students into degree programs, Adelaide Teague Case proposed programs for women students or the admission of women into degree programs at least once a year from the time she arrived at the seminary until her death. Two of these creative proposals included a six-week summer session for women students, and a cooperative degree program with Radcilffe College and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Further, Case taught many women as "special students," when a formal seminary education was denied them, and helped them find a place in the church where they could exercise their gifts. Case was instrumental in encouraging women to obtain training at Windham House, and through other programs. Overall, Adelaide Teague Case was a religious leader in a generation of women who sought vocations in the church, such as Dora Chaplin, Frances Young, and Helen Turnbull, but who found few role models and even less encouragement for their aspirations.

Through her teaching and scholarship, Adelaide Teague Case brought to Episcopal Theological School a wealth of experience gained through years as an activist "in the real world" and member of religious and social welfare organizations. Always intolerant of racism and discrimination in any form, Case worked actively for the American Jewish Congress, the Women's Division of Beth Hayaled, the Riverside Colored Orphanage, and the National Y.W.C.A. Courageously, she housed and sponsored Japanese American students during the World War II internment camp period. She also served on the boards of the Religious Education Association, the Church League for Industrial Democracy (later, the Episcopal League for Social Action), the Childhood Education Association, the Episcopal Pacifist Fellowship, Windham House, the International Council of Religious Education, the Federal Council of Churches, the Church Society for College Work, and the Student Christian Movement. Case also was one of the few women who served on the National Council of the Episcopal Church, 1946-1948.

After her death in 1948, a memorial fund at the Episcopal Theological School (now the Episcopal Divinity School) was established in the name of Adelaide Teague Case. The fund was established as a living memorial in recognition of Case's contribution to the field of religious education; a student prize in her name is still given at the school today. Presently, the Episcopal Women's History project also gives an Adelaide Teague Case Award for achievement in writing, preserving and disseminating the history of women in the Episcopal Church.

Works Cited

A variety of sources speak to the legacy of Adelaide Teague Case, including:

  • Adelaide Teague Case. (1948, July). ETS Bulletin, XL, 4, July 1948, p. 7-11
  • Taylor, Charles. (1948, August 8). Adelaide Teague Case: An appreciation.
  • The Living Church. Episcopal women open sessions here. (1941, February 8).
  • New York Times; Theological seminary called woman professor. 1941, June 14).
  • New York World-Telegram; Educators assail peacetime draft. (1940, July 9).
  • New York Times; Peace parade here in Spanish section. (1936, November 12).
  • New York Times; $10,000 sought by churches in day. (1948, October 14).
  • New York Times; Lead in education urged on churches. (1937, August 23).
  • New York Times; Junior league to discuss child training in religion tomorrow." (1933, November 13)
  • New York Times; Deny military drill had value in school." (1930, December 12).
  • New York Times; 'The commonwealth of God' given at White Plains convention. (1923, October 28).
  • New York Times; Propose abolition of Sunday schools. (1933, May 5).
  • New York Times.. Faculty minutes, Episcopal Theological School, November 21, 1941; February 27, 1942; March 12, 1942; December 10, 1943; January 14, 1944. Episcopal Women's History Project, (Fall 1990). Timelines, X, 4.

Numerous books written by her former students are dedicated to Adelaide Teague Case, for example, see Chaplin, Dora P. (1948). Children and Religion. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.


Books and Monographs

  • (1924). Liberal Christianity and religious education. New York: Macmillian Company.
  • (1927). As modern writers see Jesus: A descriptive bibliography of books about Jesus. Boston: the Pilgrim Press.
  • (1935). Seven psalms: Suggestions for Bible study, meditation, and group worship. New York: The Womans Press.
  • (1940). The servant of the Lord: A devotional commentary on the servant songs in second Isaiah. New York: The Womans Press.

Chapters in Books

  • (1929). When is education religious? In Walter M. Howlett (Ed.) Religion: The dynamic of education (pp. 109-122). New York: Harper and Brothers.
  • (1932) Foreward. In Katharine E. Gladfelter (Ed.) Many moons ago and now. New York: Friendship Press.
  • (1932). Religion and the child's life. In Dorothy Canfield Fisher and Sidonie Matsner Gruenberg (Eds.) Our children: A handbook for parents (pp.307-317). New York: Viking Press.
  • (1934). The faith and education. In Frank Gavin (Ed.) Liberal Catholicism and the modern world (pp. 151-159). Vol. I. Milwaukee: Morehouse Publishing.
  • (1936).Christian education. In Samuel McCrea Cavert and Henry Pitney Van Dusen (Eds.) The church through half a century: Essays in honor of William Adams Brown (pp. 229-247). New York: C. Scribner's sons.
  • (1949). Educating for peace: A study of children's opinion on world affairs. In Sydney Temple (Ed.) Peace is possible: Essays dedicated to the memory of Adelaide Teague Case (pp.104-113). Deep River, Connecticut: The New Era Press.

Selected Articles

  • (1927, June). The religion of childhood. Findings in religious education, 3-6.
  • (1942, February). Women in defense of the church. The Church Militant. 3-4.

Excerpts from Publications

(1924). Liberal Christianity and religious education. New York: the Macmillan Company.

The liberal attitude toward the Bible and toward traditional theology has released Jesus of Nazareth alike from the machinery of a prearranged scheme of salvation and from the dead hand of pious superstition. (pg. 33)
While the activities for social betterment are often undertaken by individuals and organizations not avowedly religious, liberal protestants ascribe a truly Christian character to all such service and call upon Christian people intelligently and energetically to support measures for better health, better housing, sufficient recreation, fair wages and kindred items of social welfare. (pg. 39)
We need to know, not simply to guess, the information and attitudes of religious workers on such matters as: the use of the Bible in modern life, facts about the life of Jesus, the importance of religious dogmas, standards of sex relationship, war and peace, the organization and control of industry, property ownership, freedom of speech. (pg. 155)

(1927). As modern writers see Jesus: A descriptive bibliography of books about Jesus. Boston: The Pilgrim Press.

Many of us are convinced that the essential task of religious education is to make Jesus of Nazareth available for the students of our generation; to make it possible for children and young people in the modern world to share, as moderns, in the experience of Jesus, and to relate that shared experience to the problems of modern life. (pg. i )
Even in quarters where reforms in Sunday-school work are being carried out and there is genuine enthusiasm for up-to-date educational methods, one often finds the greatest unwillingness to adopt a free and intelligent attitude toward Christian history and literature. (pg. 73)

(1929). When is Education Religious? In Walter M. Howlett (Ed.) Religion: The dynamic of education. New York: Harper &Brothers. pg. 109-10, 122.

The question When is education religious?" has received four typical answers, each representing a major emphasis in everyday practice. Education is religious:
  • When the Bible is being taught.
  • When ideas of God are being shared and the experience of God is induced.
  • When character is being developed in the direction of Christian ideals.
  • When the teacher possesses a religious personality. (109-10)
I confess that I am not very sanguine about the possibilities of the ordinary church school with its short sessions, artificial atmosphere, and conscripted teachers. Very little constructive teaching can be expected in the modern home. If we are to go forward, we must look for new leadership within the church. Surely the time has come for church to set up a seven-day plan for religious education which will utilize the public school, the home, the playground, and the church school, integrating the religious aspects of all these experiences and directing them toward the realization of Christian purposes. (pg. 122)

(1932). Religion and the child's life. In Dorothy Canfield Fisher &Sidonie Matsner Gruenberg (Eds.) Our children: A handbook for parents (pp.307-317). New York: The Viking Press.

In no area of life is it so true as in the area of religion that we are living suspended between two worlds - a past that has gone and a future that is yet to be. The paraphernalia and forms of our fathers' faiths are all about us, but they are like the furniture and ornaments of an empty house. Children see them, of course, and wonder about them. They hear words associated with religious experiences - "God," "Jesus," "the Sabbath," "the Bible." They see around them in familiar pictures representations of the Jewish-Christian epic - the cross, angels and figures of Christmas legends. At certain seasons of the year their environment takes on a special coloring which is in some vague way connected with religious tradition. Quaint tales and curious fables find their way to them through all sorts of unsupervised channels - their playmates at school, the cook's sister. They may perhaps have received some formal instruction and enjoy the authorized fellowship of a Sunday school or some other religious group. But that is usually a dull business. For most children the passion and the beauty and the practical serviceableness formerly associated with religious symbols and religious experiences are no longer accessible. The shell is there but not the substance. Religion is a deserted house. The people who used to live in it are in a foreign country camping on the hills; they have built for themselves other shelters and their adventures lead them in other directions. Devotion and despair speak a different tongue from the spiritual dialects of the past. And the mysteries of birth and death are quite without emotional house room. (pg. 307).
Religious education is in somewhat the same situation today that sex education was several years ago. Most of the formal instruction is of a routine sort, without vitality and meaning. Parents and teachers are uninformed, embarrassed, double-minded, victims of their own miseducation. The result is that children's real learnings are of a causal and illicit nature, often inaccurate, exaggerated, unwholesome. Tremendous strides have been made in sex education. We need something of the same courageous attack on problems of religious education. (pg. 308)
Among intelligent groups in America, religion has been one of the most neglected of all the possible subjects for adult education. Recently, however, a new interest has sprung up and a new freedom in discussion. This is distinctly encouraging, for it is not primarily the children of this generation who need religious education, but their elders. (pg. 317)

(1934). The faith and education. In Frank Gavin (Ed.) Liberal Catholicism and the modern world (pp. 151-159). Vol. I. Milwaukee: Morehouse Publishing.

As a matter of fact, American schools have been at the mercy of whatever happened to be the ruling passion of the social group of which they were a part. Nationalism, the cult of social success, the exploitation of individual prowess, racial and religious superiority: these the schools served to foster, not because of an conscious purpose to do so on the part of teachers and officials but because the ideals of education itself were ambiguous, not closely related to the civilization in which they were to function, academic and anemic. In an age of universal self-deception, educators were perhaps the most self-deceived people. (pg. 151)
We can say with conviction that the Anglican Church in America has done little to put into practice the great educational principals of Catholicism. A patter of catechism; drill on ritualism; long lectures in biblical history; and in many parishes an elaborate graded system under inefficient teachers using a hodge-podge of material that reflects the well meaning, spiritual confusion of liberal Protestantism. This is about what we actually find. It is almost if not quite as bad as this! Yet every parish where the sacramental life of the Church is observed and where men and women draw with joy out of the wells of salvation is a potential center for religious education of the finest sort. In a few closely knit parishes, in Church boarding schools here and there, and in a handful of Church families, children are growing up in glad allegiance to the Catholic Church, finding freedom and expression within it. (pg. 158)

(1935) Seven psalms: Suggestions for Bible study, meditation, and group worship. New York: The Womans Press.

It is this central emphasis on the nature and purpose of God that makes the psalms so much needed in the present day. Surely we need to see our personal and social experiences in their Godward aspects. We need to find God in them. We need to learn to praise God in the midst of our common everyday life - not in spite of it, not outside it, but within in. (pg. 7)
As we come to know the psalms better we see that they reflect just the sort of worship that we need desperately in this generation. They are a fine corrective for the narrow individualism that has crept into our devotion and corrupted popular religion. For the psalms are always the aspirations not of a solitary individual but of a group. In them we have a healthy collectivism - the priesthood of every believer - which at its best, as in many of these ancient poems, transcends narrow nationalism and embraces the whole of nature and history. (pg. 7)

(1941?) Teaching that touches life. The Christian Register, n.p.

This Christianity has been divorced from life both by its opponents and its adherents. This would be an unhappy state indeed were it not for a group representing another strain in our religious heritage, a group which has insisted in season and out of season that religion has a direct bearing upon the problems of human life. Here are the prophets of Israel and leaders and martyrs from the earliest days to the present time. They tell us that the heart of the Christian message is in its belief in radically transformed relationships, in its insistence on human brotherhood. They declare that only in relation to this fundamental teaching can the nature of God and the character of the spiritual life be understood. (n.p.)
What then are the marks of Christian teaching which is in touch with life? It has at least these three characteristics, and it has them in all grades, from the kindergarten up to the adult classes. 1. It faces the ugly facts of our common life and judges them. 2. It encourages experiments in Christian brotherhood and participation in causes for social justice. 3. It studies our religious heritage as a great panorama of human experience where the will of God has been seeking to express itself. (n. p)(1949). Educating for peace: A study of children's opinion on world affairs. In Sydney

Temple (Ed.) Peace is possible: Essays dedicated to the memory of Adelaide T. Case (pp.104-113). Deep River, Connecticut: The New Era Press.

These children's sentiments when they salute the flag were for the most part (or at least they thought they ought to be!) in the direction of peaceful work of the United States as one among nations, although there were substantial minorities representing attitudes of jingoism and blind obedience to authority. (pg. 109)
This set of responses seen in conjunction with the ignorance of important facts already noted, is a glaring commentary on the character of our education for peace. Apparently we encourage children to express fine sentiments but to stand pat on live issues, where these sentiments might be effective. The best that can be said is that we "mean well feebly." (pg. 111)
But education, when it becomes socially dangerous, is surely beginning to be socially useful. (pg. 113)


(1924). Liberal Christianity and religious education. New York: The Macmillian Company.

This book is a revised edition of Case's doctoral dissertation, and thus represents some of her earliest held ideas about religious education. The central question of the book is "To what extent has protestant religious education adopted the educational objectives implied in the liberal movement." Case finds a disconnect between the system of religious education at the time, and the attitudes and conducted implied by liberalism. Her analysis includes religious education organizations, curriculum objectives, and the competency of religious workers. Throughout the study reflects the influence of Case's dissertation adviser, George Alfred Coe, particularly in the application of scripture and the appeal for a fundamental restructuring of the Sunday school experience.

(1927). As modern writers see Jesus. Boston: the Pilgrim Press.

Written for religious education teachers, parents, librarians, and parish committees, this extended and annotated bibliography on major works focused on Jesus is intended to help the consumer sift through a variety of works for all ages. The individual entries for prose, poetry, plays, and pictures gives a brief synopsis of the work, along with Case's suggestions for its use. The book conveys a clear sense of some of Case's more pragmatic opinions regarding religious literature.

(1935). Seven psalms: Suggestions for Bible study, meditation, and group worship. New York: The Womans Press.

This is a plan for the study and use during worship of psalms 19, 46, 51, 73, 103, 107, 122. The focus throughout is the use of psalms as devotional literature, and the reader is encouraged to see through them the activity of God in their own lives and within human history.

(1940). The servant of the Lord: A devotional commentary on the servant songs in second Isaiah. New York: The Womans Press.

As a devotional commentary for Christians, this work focuses on the application of the Servant Songs in Isaiah II to everyday life. Case emphasizes some themes common to her work throughout, including the Incarnation, God's love for all humanity, and God's reign of justice and peace.

Chapters in Books

(1929). Religion and the child's life. In Dorothy Canfield Fisher &Sidonie Matsner Gruenberg (Eds.) Our children: A handbook for parents (pp. 307-317). New York: The Viking Press.

In this article Case reiterates her belief in the centrality of religion to childhood experience, and argues for the need to find new ways to adapt the educational process to their needs with creativity and vitality. Case's dislike for boring educational methods unsuited to children's learning needs is evident here. Moreover, Case consciously writes for a religiously diverse audience, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish, beseeching adults to be conscious in not passing along their narrow and ignorant prejudices to children. Rather than providing children with religion based in prohibitions, Case urges adults to become educated themselves, in order to meet their children's questions in a spirit of freedom and appreciation of other religious groups.

(1932). When is education religious? In Walter M. Howlett (Ed.) Religion: The dynamic of education (pp.109-122). New York: Harper &Brothers.

The focus of this collection of articles from a symposium on religious education sponsored by the Greater New York Federation of Churches is the relationship between religion and education in a country based on the separation of church and state. The guiding premise throughout the collection is that religion - as the integrating force that gives life its value - is either integral to education or both the individual and the state have lost something of deep value. Case's article describes the parameters of religious education, and suggests the need for a seven-day plan that will integrate religious education into all aspects of a child's life.

(1934). The faith and education. In Frank Gavin (Ed.) Liberal Catholicism and the modern world (pp.151-159). Milwaukee: Morehouse Publishing.

In this article Case presents her sense of the priorities for (Anglo-) Catholic religious education. She specifically advocates for a sympathetic understanding of the social goals of public education in religious circles; the need for leaders to present the need for such education to parish clergy and parents; and, raising of the level of religious education in those congregations which already represent themselves as part of the Catholic tradition. Case's commitment to the sacramental and liturgical life of the church, her distrust of nationalism, and her belief in the role of education within the social order are evident here.

(1936). Christian education. In Samuel McCrea Cavert &Henry Pitney Van Dusen (Eds.) The church through half a century: Essays in honor of William Adams Brown (pp. 229-247). New York: C. Scribner's sons.

This article presents Case's overview of the role of Christian education in the liberal movement and in the twentieth century.

(1949). Educating for peace: A study of children's opinion on world affairs. In Sydney Temple (Ed.) Peace is possible: Essays dedicated to the memory of Adelaide T. Case (pp.104-113). Deep River, Connecticut: The New Era Press.

This article was actually written thirteen years before its publication, prior to World War II. It is based on a report written by Case in 1936 with Paul Limbert entitled "Around the World," and published by the Associated Press. In the study, Case and Limbert surveyed 373 children about world issues. Case writes about the results of the study in this article, and makes a case for the importance of peace education in a world where future generations often receive erroneous information about world events. The collection of essays was published posthumously in Case's honor by colleagues in the Episcopal Pacifist Fellowship.

Selected Articles

(1927, June). The religion of childhood. Findings in religious education, 3-6.

A synopsis of Case's understandings of the religious world of children with practical suggestions for leaders.

(1941?) Teaching that touches life. The Christian Register, n.p.

In this article Case discusses the characteristics of Christian teaching that is in touch with contemporary life and the search for truth. The vitality and urgency with which Case viewed the teaching office infuses this short piece in which she decries "pseudo-progressivism" among liberal groups which trivializes religious teaching and makes trivial connections between faith and life.

(1942, February). Women in defense of the church. The Church Militant, 3-4.

Case's explication of the mission and ministry of Christian women during wartime. In the article she details how women can work to strengthen their parishes, their homes and families, as well as the larger world through prayer and action.

Author Information

Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook

Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook, Ed.D, Ph.D, is the vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty and professor of practical theology and religious education at Claremont School of Theology. She also serves as professor of Anglican studies at Bloy House, the Episcopal Theological School at Claremont.