Melish, William Howard, 1910-

John Howard Melish was born in Milford, Ohio in 1874; attended the University of Cincinnati, Harvard Divinity School, and the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Mass.; became associate rector of Christ Church in Cincinnati in 1900; and came to Brooklyn to serve as the rector for the Church of the Holy Trinity in 1904. In 1915-16, he gained some fame within the church for his efforts to give women the right to vote in the annual parish meetings of the Episcopal Church. He was also a fraternal delegate to the Central Trades Labor Council of Greater New York and Chairman of the Brooklyn Committee for Better Housing. His son, William Howard Melish, was born in Brooklyn in 1910; attended Harvard, Union Theological Seminary, Jesus College at Cambridge University, and the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Mass.; began his ministry at Christ Church in Cincinnati in 1935, and joined his father as assistant rector at the Church of the Holy Trinity in 1938. At various times he served as the Chairman of the Cincinnati Forum Committee, Vice-President of the Kings County American Labor Party, and Chairman of the National Council for Soviet-American Friendship. It was this last position in particular that led to the famed "Melish Controversy."

The Attorney General of the United States in 1948 labeled the National Council for Soviet-American Friendship a subversive organization. Soon after, the vestry sought to persuade the elder Melish to dismiss his son from the position of associate minister because they considered "that certain outside activities of the Assistant Rector were most detrimental to the interests of Holy Trinity Church." The elder Melish declined, and the vestry attempted to remove them both. The ensuing battle involved the parishioners of Holy Trinity church and Bishop James Pernette DeWolfe, the Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Long Island, and wound up going to the New York Supreme Court twice in the course of the ensuing decade. Increasing conflict between the bishop's new rector and some parishioners brought about the closing of the church in 1957, by order of the Bishop. After a few years spent in an effort to re-open Holy Trinity, William Howard Melish was called to be the rector of Grace Church, in Corona, Queens. Holy Trinity was eventually re-opened by the congregation of St. Ann's, and was henceforth known as the Church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity. John Howard Melish lived in the rectory of Holy Trinity Church until his death in 1969.


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2016-08-09 10:08:42 pm

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2016-08-09 10:08:42 pm

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