Badgers, Gamecocks, and Episcopalians

The University of Wisconsin and the University of South Carolina will meet for the first time on the gridiron in the Capital One Bowl on New Year’s Day. No doubt there are many connections between the two universities but their football teams share at least one connection, the Rev. Hope Henry Lumpkin, who played for the Gamecocks (he graduated in 1904). Lumpkin was an assistant coach for the Badgers in the 1920s while also serving as Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Madison.

A graduate of the School of Theology at Sewanee, Rev. Lumpkin served parishes in SC and then went as a missionary to Alaska in 1914. He became rector of Grace in 1920. He took ill in 1931, apparently caused in part by exhaustion. In the summer of 1932, he returned to Columbia, SC, where he died on October 11.

Coincidentally, I came to Grace Church, Madison from Greenville South Carolina in 2009 where I was neither a South Carolina or a Clemson fan and the only college football game I’ve ever attended was between UW and Wofford College which is located in Spartanburg, SC, where I lived for several years.

I’m quite confident that many more Episcopalians will be rooting for the Gamecocks than for the Badgers on New Year’s Day but perhaps we can join in a toast to the memory of Hope Henry Lumpkin, who is described in a history of Grace as:

a man of rare and varied talents; an orator of exceptional gifts, the possessor of a beautiful tenor voice and a speaking voice of great sweetness; he could play the piano, draw, paint, write poetry, and preach a wonderfully uplifting sermon

All that, and a football coach, too!