S.9, E.1: “This Fantastic, Historic Space”

Learning for Life @ Gustavus host Greg Kaster interviews Gustavus alumnus and vicar of Old North Church in Boston, Mass., Rev. Dr. Matthew Cadwell '95
Posted on April 6th, 2021 by

The Rev. Dr. Matthew Cadwell ’95, on his journey from Scandinavian Studies and Religion major (Phi Beta Kappa) at Gustavus to Vicar-in-Charge at the venerable Old North Church in Boston, the impact of Covid-19 on Old North, his “theological hero,” the English Christian socialist F. D. Maurice, and the history of and his vision for Old North’s congregation.

Season 9, Episode 1: “This Fantastic, Historic Space”

Greg Kaster:

Hello and welcome to Learning for Life @ Gustavus, the podcast about people teaching and learning at Gustavus Adolphus College and the myriad way at Gustavus liberal arts education provides a lasting foundation for lives of fulfillment and purpose. I’m your host, Greg Kaster, a faculty member in the department of history.

“I first visited Old North Church as a tourist in 1995. I couldn’t have imagined that a life would unfold 25 years later.” So observed my guest today, the Reverend Dr. Matthew Cadwell, about becoming the new Vicar-in-Charge at the historic church in Boston’s North End, a position he began this past November. As someone who first visited Boston with my own family as a high school senior, and then fell hard in love with it as a PhD student at Boston University, eventually teaching the history of Boston course there. Imagine my delight when I learned that Reverend Cadwell is a Gustavus [inaudible 00:01:03].

He graduated at Gustavus Phi Beta Kappa in 1995 with a double major in religion and Scandinavian studies. Ordained as a Deacon and priest in the Episcopal Church USA in 2004 and ’05. He also holds a master of divinity degree from the Episcopal Divinity School and a PhD in theology and ecclesiology from the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. Immediately prior to Old North, he was Rector of a manual Episcopal church in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Reverend Cadwell is also an accomplished teacher and scholar. He taught Anglican theology at Trinity College in Toronto, and currently teaches theology to those and the Deacon training program with the Episcopal diocese of Massachusetts. He’s authored two books as well as numerous book chapters, essays, articles, reviews, and invited papers, lectures, and sermons. Virtually, the moment I learned about him at Gustavus connection some weeks ago, I emailed to ask if he joined me on the podcast happily for all of you listening and me, he readily accepted. And it’s my pleasure now to welcome you. Welcome Reverend Cadwell. It’s great to have you on the podcast.

Matthew Cadwell:

Oh, thank you, Greg. That’s a fantastic introduction.

Greg Kaster:

My great pleasure. Yeah. I was just literally thrilled [inaudible 00:02:14] proud, thrilled, love Boston as you and I have been communicating back and forth. We know that already, but let’s begin with Old North. Let’s start there. What are the circumstances right now? Is it open to the public, our services coming on or services online? What’s the story? [A mid 00:02:33] COVID of course.

Matthew Cadwell:

Amid COVID. Yeah. So, we are not open to the public for tourists, so that’s probably how you first saw Old North. The church closed for COVID and then reopened briefly over the summer, but it was determined that it wasn’t either safe nor financially sustainable to pay the tour guides and things for the few number of tourists were there. So, it’s been closed for tourists for quite a while essentially since March with a brief window of reopening and for services… So I came in November. Before that they were recording services and then in the summer early Fall, moved to having in-person outdoor services. And then by later Fall, they were indoors again, you had to make a reservation to be there and things… And so, that was the circumstances under which I came, but in fact, the Thursday before my first Sunday, we received a message from the Bishop’s office saying, we think you shouldn’t have in-person services anymore.

So, we did that first Sunday, so I could meet a few people and then shifted to just a live stream service. So only those necessary to run the service where in the building. So 10 people, something like that.

Greg Kaster:

[inaudible 00:04:08] doing the service out of the church?

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. So, well, that’s how it was. And then, right before Christmas, several of us were in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID. And so we were forced to self-quarantine and things and so we shifted to Zoom and doing the services by Zoom. So that’s where we’re at right now, where I’m sometimes in the church, sometimes I’ve been at home depending on the weather. One Sunday, the door was frozen closed, so I couldn’t get in. So, it depends, but the Zoom was actually really nice in the sense that people can participate fully from home. So the readers and the intercessors can still be at home and participate and people can visit and talk with each other. You miss the drama of the space. But on a community end of things it’s quite nice.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. You’re reminding me too, as I’m listening. There are some professors who not just [inaudible 00:05:17] this is their first year, let’s say in the Fall. And this is how they’ve never taught online before. And there they are. And I’d never taught online before, but I do, I’m using Google Meet and as long as I can see the students and you’ll make it. I feel it’s not ideal, but I mean, we’ve had some really good discussions, conversations. I liked that. When I spoke to another pastor who’s on the board [inaudible 00:05:41], is that big ELC church near Stillwater and same sort of thing. I think he’s using Zoom also not ideal but look, it’s not 1918. We have this technology, my podcast I’m in Minneapolis, you’re in Boston, so. And you sent me some news articles yesterday about what’s happening at the church as we speak.

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. Well, we’re not open for tourists and we’re not open for services, but as of a couple of days ago, we are open for vaccinations. So, there’s a local health clinic related to Mass General Hospital in the North End. And they contacted us to see if we would be willing to serve as a vaccination site for them. And we immediately said, yes, we were thrilled to do that. So it allows a space to be used as often as possible to help people. And when I’ve written about it and reflected on it to bring new life and hope in a different way than we would on Sunday mornings or to tourists. And so we’re really proud of that. Right now, it’s only for seniors. So those who are 75 and up but as the phases change and they lower the age requirement, the younger people will be invited in too.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. Well, I like your point about hope or different contexts, but yeah, it was a little startling, but also interesting to see people with their sleeves rolled up, sitting in the pews [inaudible 00:07:20].

Matthew Cadwell:

Right. No. I know. The first day there was this much press there. I think, there were people getting shots and all excited about this Old North doing vaccinations for seniors and yeah. I felt a little uneasy about all the photographs and things but the photographers must have gotten the permission from all the people since they had their names attached to it. And I think I imagined that some of them were thrilled to be on the news or in the paper. So even if it was just to have them having an injection.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. No. It’s like we’ll take whatever vaccine sites we can get at this point. That’s good-

Matthew Cadwell:

That’s it.

Greg Kaster:

So let’s go back in time a bit. We’ll come back to Old North for sure but-

Matthew Cadwell:

Sure.

Greg Kaster:

Tell us a little bit about your background and where you grew up [inaudible 00:08:11] and then why Gustavus? How you came to Gustavus?

Matthew Cadwell:

Sure. So I grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs. We lived in Minneapolis when I was born and then moved to Brooklyn Park and eventually to Maple Grove. So my family, the homestead, I guess, is Maple Grove at this point, and went to Osseo High School. And so that’s where I was. I was Lutheran, like most Minnesotans and actually baptized at Mount Olive in South Minneapolis and my parents were married there. And yeah. So why Gustavus? Well, I had intended to be a German major. That was my goal. And I studied… I was in a boys’ choir called the Land of Lakes Choirboys, when I was at youth and we toured Europe one year. So we went to England, and Wales, and Germany, and Austria, and Switzerland.

And so I fell in love with the German culture and things like that, and started studying German in high school. So I took German for three years of high school and had intended to be a German major in college. And so I applied to Gustavus and to Concordia, which at the time had its German Institute up in the Bemidji. And now that’s not there anymore, but now it’s just one of Concordia’s Language Villages sites. So that was my goal. And I visited the German Institute and Bemidji, but that seemed a little far. And Moorhead, seemed a little far and somehow I fell in love with Gustavus when I went and I think I first visited on a seniors’ day weekend thing. And or actually I think it was Presidents’ Day and I think there was a blizzard, as I remember.

But somehow I fell in love with it and decided that, that was that’s where I could see myself feeling at home. And so, I started in ’91 and I didn’t end up being a German major. That year, the German department had a reorganization, I guess, and a lot of several faculty members left in quick succession and it was a little tumultuous and so I took Germany my first year, but then switched to Swedish my second year. And then that’s how I became a Scandinavian studies major. But before that, I took a required religion class. I took religion in America with Claire Johnson, somehow that opened a new world to me. So I declared a religion major fairly quickly.

And then, the Scandinavian studies later, but the religion America was such a fantastic class because for me, I mean, I think a lot of people found it dry because it was a required class and so many people took it, but I felt like my world was opened in the expression of Christianity that I was used to as a Minnesota Lutheran. I learned wasn’t the only one that there was, and you could be Christian and be more liberal, or you could be more conservative, or more liturgical or less, or whatever. And I found that just a fascinating thing and really eye-opening. So that was how I started down this path. I guess, [inaudible 00:12:23].

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. I remember professor Claire Johnson, well. I don’t know if he’s still teaching. Might’ve been retired at [inaudible 00:12:29] by the time Kate and I came in ’86. Couple of things-

Matthew Cadwell:

I think he taught till ’95. So he retired my senior year, the year I graduated was since last year.

Greg Kaster:

Picture him perfectly with a nice white hair, I guess.

Matthew Cadwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. First of all, couple of things, one, I love… Well, I’m not an expert in the field just given, they’re taught about 19th century reform movements and the role of even you bump into religion. There’s no way to study U.S. history one period without coming to grips with that and its importance. And you may know this, Sydney Ahlstrom who wrote the religious history, the American people, something like that long taught at Yale. He went to Gustavus, this long since passed away. And I remember having to plow through that huge book for my PhD orals, one of the many books, yeah, and his brother, I think Millard was his name was maybe a pastor in the St. Peter area. And actually grown up in the suburbs of Chicago. I had not heard of Gustavus. I don’t remember. I think I maybe had heard [inaudible 00:13:36] in Carleton. I’m not sure, but I heard him say this.

And I remember asking my PhD advisor when I was applying for the job in [Gustavus 00:13:46] College. And he mentioned Sydney Ahlstrom, and he mentioned James McPherson, this is the great civil war historian and I don’t, I’m like, yes, I’m happy I’m going to go there. Absolutely.

Matthew Cadwell:

Right.

Greg Kaster:

No. Literally, one of the great historians of American religion coming out of Gustavus. The other thing you mentioned, the second point I did, my second reaction is what you said about falling in love with a place. And honestly, I think I really got to work on this. If we could get every college age person to come to Gustavus, I think we’d start having to turn people away. There’s something about the place, that’s a constant theme in this podcast. And I felt it, not just some of people who grew up in Minnesota. And I remember coming, having interviewed those coming to Gustavus and just feeling so, I don’t know. So at home, and it’s just felt so good to me. I wanted the job. I wasn’t sure I was going to get it, but I joined the faculty I was meeting, the students I was meeting. It was really something about it. I don’t know, I used to think, Oh, we just say that it’s just [inaudible 00:14:51] but it’s not, there really is something real.

Matthew Cadwell:

No. There’s something really special about, I don’t know, it’s the campus, the people there’s a lot that’s… The Hill overlooking the Valley there. And whenever I come back, and if I bring anybody, if I have anyone in tow it’s invariably Winter, and I say, well, we have to go look up my favorite view down the Valley, of course, it’s 40 below or whatever it is. And no one else is all that interested in my favorite view.

Greg Kaster:

Because I don’t care, it’s still beautiful even though in the cold. So, before we come to the religion major let’s scan studies a little more, was it just okay, that’s the substitute for German? Had you already been interested in Scandinavian in high school even or?

Matthew Cadwell:

Not that much. I mean, my the family story, ethnic background, which is different than the ancestry DNA background, is that I’m a quarter Swedish, a quarter German, a quarter Finnish and a quarter Irish, though Cadwell is English not Irish. So, there’s must be some English in there too. So a Minnesota person, essentially. So I remember thinking that at some point I might want to study Swedish too. I think I even wrote that in my application essay, to Gustavus.  But yeah, I guess just, yeah, I think it just started as a substitute or maybe I think I knew some people who… Because obviously everything that Gustavus is Swedish. I met some people and I thought, well, that might be interesting. I also was attracted by the idea of learning about a culture that had embraced the social welfare aspects of life. And so that was really appealing to me to learn more about that. And so Swedish seemed a good entry point into that.

Greg Kaster:

Yes. That part of the college’s heritage. I basically grew up in the Episcopal Church in the suburbs of Chicago, but that part, you just mentioned this Swedish, that the welfare state, whatever you want to call it, also for me, my age, the Sweden stands during the Vietnam war, also Swedish film, all of that stuff. The Swedish [sweatbox 00:17:19]. Yeah. All of that attracted me to the Gustavus in the peace education program. That-

Matthew Cadwell:

[inaudible 00:17:24].

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. My attraction to it. So what you’re saying resonates with me quite strongly. Did you manage to go abroad to Sweden or Scandinavia while you’re there?

Matthew Cadwell:

I didn’t when I was a student. Because I was a religion major and because I didn’t start Swedish until my second year, it was hard figure out how to study abroad. I probably could have, but I might’ve had to sacrifice somehow one of the majors to get all the courses and to do a double major, I had a minor in political science, it required a lot of balancing to meet all the requirements.

Greg Kaster:

Sure. Yeah. That can be hard. I always joke with students to have my ideal world there would be no. Or at least you couldn’t double major, but I understand [inaudible 00:18:17]. So with the religion major, I mean, as you got deeper into that, was there a point at which, I mean, as an undergraduate, you were already thinking of the ministry or priesthood?

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. So in fact, I had thought of it when I was a youth. So we were, as I said, at Lutheran in the suburbs. And I thought about it as a youth. So my father died in 1988 when I was 15 and quite suddenly unexpectedly. He was 38 at the time. And our church, we were founding members of a new ELC congregation in Maple Grove. And the church was really important to us and lifted us up. And we had a youth pastor who was a tremendous influence on my life. And so I had thought about it. Well, maybe it’s something I would want to do. And he actually took me to a high school students visiting day at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. And actually one of the speakers at that was Mark Anderson from the Gustavus admissions office, as I remember. When I went to that, I thought, man, this is not something I wanted to do. Everyone was so earnest, and Holy, and pious. And I was a teenager in high school. I wasn’t really interested in being earnest, and Holy, and pious.

So, I put it out of my mind. And then, was thinking, I was going to be a German teacher or something like that. That’s what I thought I was going to do. But of course, Gustavus had the required religion class. And so that reignited it for me to a great degree. Simultaneously, I went to chapel a lot probably every day, most days, on weekdays and then on Sunday, and I was inspired by chaplain LV, his preaching and his liturgical drama and sense of the world and things that was really, I mean, it was just so eye-opening, I guess, and inspiring and, what’s the word? Transportative I think for me, to be in Christ chapel and with LV, liturgical leadership, which was nothing like I had ever seen in my home church, not that there’s anything wrong with my home church, but it was nothing like that. And-

Greg Kaster:

[inaudible 00:20:57], I don’t know if there’s, to me, like high Episcopal or high Lutheran and the drama, as you said, he was great. I mean he was just a major figure in the history of the modern history of Gustavus. Actually, and hope to get snagged in for a podcast. I mean, I heard him preach. I got to speak in chapel a couple of times when he was leading the service, Yeah, it’s incredible, I’m sure you went to his office and saw all [inaudible 00:21:24] the books and most of it at the library-

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. I was a little intimidated by him. I was pretty shy at the time. And so I didn’t really get to know him very well. But I was inspired by him and I knew we talked about Claire Johnson. I knew Claire. I got to know Claire very well. So he was my advisor and I spent a lot of time with Claire. And LV was more my obsession from a far. I guess, someone I wanted to emulate. So I was Lutheran, but that’s in part how I came to the Episcopal Church was because as you say, this high church Lutheran was nothing like anything I had experienced at home or in any Lutheran Church that I had been in. And I found that, that was the faith expression that spoke to me the most. And so simultaneous without learning about other denominations and traditions, the Episcopal Church seemed like possibly a good landing place at the time-

Greg Kaster:

At that did you attend the Episcopal Church in St. Peter at all, or was that-

Matthew Cadwell:

I did eventually, I think for awhile, I mean, you could walk there, but I didn’t always have a car and that’s a really nice church, but it’s also not high in the way that LV was. And so, it’s a balance. But I tried out a lot of different Episcopal churches. I mean, I went to the one in Mankato, a few times with some friends and I did go to the one in St. Peter quite a bit, my senior year. I think I went more often there. And when I was at home, I went to the cathedral in Minneapolis. And that actually is what sold the deal for me was the St. Mark’s cathedral in Minneapolis, which is right across from Loring Park. And by the sculpture garden things, I mean, it’s spectacular place.

Greg Kaster:

It’s incredible. I’ve never been to a first service, but yeah, inside and that’s actually what the church of the Holy family, Park Forest, at Loring. I think it was a modern church, but there was something about the space. You said you alluded to this earlier thing, maybe you were talking about Old North of space. Yeah. When you were talking about holding a service. There’s science there. Yeah. It matters just like it does for a class. I think what the space is like, it does make a difference. Yeah, St. Mark’s has just [inaudible 00:24:05] from where Kate and I live here downtown. It’s just spectacular. I always thought with LV that the only thing missing is incense. I wanted that-

Matthew Cadwell:

What we had it once or twice. We had it. I remember my freshman year, we had it, at least once.

Greg Kaster:

Okay. I miss, I wish I had known about that. So what was it? You’re out gay man, married, gay man. What was it like, I don’t know where you were at that point at Gustavus. But when I think of Gustavus in that period, when Kate and I came in ’86, it was very closeted. I remember a Lutheran minister who himself gave in coming to campus and meeting secretly Kate and I were invited to join the students. But talk a little bit about just in general, your experience at Gustavus.

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. Well, I mean, that was part of my decision to go to the Episcopal church as well, because at that point, the Lutheran church wasn’t as welcoming as it is today. Thankfully, today that you’ll see is a lot better, but in the ’91 to ’95 range, when I was at Gustavus it was not that… So yeah, Gustavus was not, I wouldn’t say it was an open and affirming community at that point, eventually, I mean, I certainly got to know some other gay and lesbian, I don’t think the [T 00:25:40] was much on people’s minds at that point. I had a few relationships with people and things, but it was a challenging environment I’d have to say. I mean, some of it, it’s our own stuff too. That we have every individual has to work through. And so even if the environment is quite accepting, every individual has to work through it, him or herself as well. In terms of being comfortable with who they are.

And yeah, I remember my freshman year, there was a flyer for the, what was it called? The gay lesbian, bisexual network. That’s what it was called at that point. And it was like a little, saying that meetings would happen, but they weren’t public when they would happen. And you had to call a number and so there was one student who was willing to have her number out there that people could call or they give her name, but you could call and find out when gatherings would happen. So I remember it took a lot of courage to try that. And it honestly, it didn’t never really got much off the ground because I think there just weren’t that many people at Gustavus at that time. So, it was a challenging environment, I would have to say. I mean, I eventually did come out to some friends, not to everybody, so it was this weird life where some people knew about you and some people didn’t and just depended where you were comfortable with people knowing and things like that.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. That’s true. Kate and I felt that was true even though with some faculty or some faculty knew about another faculty or pretended not to know, and it was so strange and understandable, and it’s so odd, especially coming from Boston at that point where things were a little different in a better way, not completely different, but somewhat better, but yeah, what a difference now. [inaudible 00:27:46].

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. I’m inspired by the number of kids in middle school who were able to say who they are in a way that was absolutely not possible when I was in high school.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. Exactly. That, I mean, that’s progress. I was mentioning to you before we started recording that, my wife Kate taught in the history department until she retired recently. [inaudible 00:28:14] five, seven years ago, maybe did with students in her, I think it was a history course that really made the students mainly did an incredible exhibit on LGBTQ history at Gustavus with alumns writing in. And that was quite amazing. I think there’s a video record of that. I hope I’ll try to send it to you because I think [inaudible 00:28:37].

Matthew Cadwell:

There was a powerful, I think it was my freshman year, there was a vote that the board of trustees was making to include sexual orientation in the non-discrimination statement-

Greg Kaster:

Yes. I remember that well. Yeah.

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. And as I remember, you may remember it better, and it was maybe a reason I chose Gustavus too. In one catalog, the sexual orientation had been included in the non-discrimination statement, but I guess it was included erroneously. And so it was taken out the next year. And then, so the trustees were taking a vote on it. And so I remember a bunch of people, wore pink triangles back as he did in those days and made a ring around the chapel. So the trustees were in service in the chapel and a many people stood together outside the chapel holding hands, or whatever we were doing and I’m passing out pink triangles to trustees as they came out of the service, the day that they were going to vote on whether to change the non-discrimination rule.

Greg Kaster:

[inaudible 00:29:55] forgotten about that. And I know Kate was there for sure. She was very, and I may have been there as well. That’s funny, I completely forgot about that, whatever you want to call it, protest. That was a huge issue. I remember it well and again, it’s someone I talked to newer faculty whether they’re LGBTQ or not in students who did talk about some of this history there, they can’t believe it. So I feel like I’m a grandfather [inaudible 00:30:23].

Matthew Cadwell:

Right.

Greg Kaster:

Of course [inaudible 00:30:26] but yeah, the college has just so… And the students were amazing. All the students that the LGBTQ community is fantastic. And our faculty, my own department, an alum Professor Glenn Kranking-

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. Well, he was a classmate of mine in not Scandinavian studies.

Greg Kaster:

Oh, I think Glenn mentioned that to me. Yeah. That’s right. He now teaches Scandinavian studies, right?

Matthew Cadwell:

Yes.

Greg Kaster:

His [inaudible 00:30:53] Mark. Yeah. It’s just a different world for the better. So from LV religion and Scandinavian studies, where’d you go to? Was straight to-

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. I went straight to seminary, so I went to the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. So it’s in Harvard Square or it’s not there anymore, but yeah. So I went there directly from Gustavus and I was naive about how things worked, so I didn’t really understand ordination processes or anything like that. And initially I just went as a master of arts student, just to do more school and explore. And so I had decided to join the Episcopal Church and was received in the Episcopal church and had read from different Episcopal [inaudible 00:31:50] and Boston seemed like an exciting place to go. And Cambridge in the Harvard neighborhood and my father must have died when I was 15, but he loved American history. Well, he loved two things besides his family, he loved American history and he loved the Kennedys.

And so, Massachusetts seemed like a good place to land for that reason. And so I went to school there and they had a strong emphasis on social justice and inclusiveness and certainly on LGBT issues also anti-racism multicultural issues. And so that seemed like an exciting place to go right out of college.

Greg Kaster:

It does sound exciting. The building is not there or is it-

Matthew Cadwell:

Oh, the buildings are there. But in a few years ago, it left the school reorganized. I guess, and left Cambridge and merged with Union Seminary in New York. So that was a traumatic process. I was the president of the alumni association when that happened. So that was a traumatic process. But yeah, so the buildings are now owned by Lesley University which is a Cambridge University.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. So were you ordained first and then the M.Div and PhD?

Matthew Cadwell:

No. So, I don’t know. So I went to school, and as I said, I was really naive about how this worked. So I came up to Massachusetts and was studying really just to get a master’s degree, maybe go onto a PhD, was my thought. And as I said earlier, I hinted earlier. I was shy and whatever. So I knew that I probably needed to grow a bit and decided that maybe the master of divinity would be a better degree program for me, because it required field education and more than just academic work. And so I switched to that program and did a field education unit at a church in Jamaica Plain here in the Boston area. And that was a fantastic experience for me. So then I decided that, well, maybe I could go down this ministry path with a little more intentionality.

But because I wasn’t from here and didn’t have a strong relationship with the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, either. It took a long time before I had established myself well enough to be accepted in the ordination process. So, yeah, it was a little protracted, I would say.

Greg Kaster:

In JP, wow, that must have been interesting because I know. Now I’ve been there a long time, but it was such a diverse community, such an interesting community-

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. JP was fantastic. I loved it there.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. I have friends who lived there and both Kate and I we still miss Boston try to get back as often as we can. That was really a neat and Dorchester too. We now have a friend who lives in Dorchester. So it’s such an interesting, just to say those names. I mean, they conjure up.

Matthew Cadwell:

Right.

Greg Kaster:

So you did go on for the PhD. What, I mean, one of the things I was going to say earlier, when you were talking about your time, at Gustavus. This is something, I’m not sure going, I guess I would consider myself spiritual in some general sense. And I, of course, used to play priest with my brother. We would put more bathrobes and because we’d like to imitate father, it’s a church, the Holy family is sonorous- [crosstalk 00:35:47]. Yeah. But anyway, and I am allowed to teach. Teach, preach service. That’s what I wanted to say is the thing that as always struck me about the status and this was true of LV two. Dick LV, the chaplain.

I mean, the way religion gets combined with science gets combined with serious academics. And you in your career you’re an example of this already at Gustavus you were in Phi Beta Kappa. But also in your [inaudible 00:36:18] go on for the PhD and you worked on, it’s historical and systematic theology and ecclesiology just briefly, layman’s explanation or lay person’s explanation of what that’s about. What [inaudible 00:36:33].

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. So, well, ecclesiology that’s probably the easiest one. So that’s the study of the church and show the church has structured and operates and make sense of itself. And systematic theology is really… So, I mean, if you understand in general, what systematic theologies systematizes it essentially. So you put things into categories. And so, you have sin, and you have grace, and you have redemption, and you have Trinity. And so systematic theology is studying those different aspects of theology and then historical theology, it would be looking at how theology has evolved over 2000 years, I guess.

Greg Kaster:

And your dissertation was you’re focusing on these certain individuals, right?

Matthew Cadwell:

Yes. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Greg Kaster:

[inaudible 00:37:29].

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. So, my dissertation is called, you can tell me if I remember right.

Greg Kaster:

[inaudible 00:37:39].

Matthew Cadwell:

In Search of Anglican Comprehensiveness: A Study in the Theologies of Hooker, Maurice, and Gore.

Greg Kaster:

Perfect.

Matthew Cadwell:

Okay. Right. And so, Anglican comprehensiveness is this idea within, and so the Episcopal church is of course, part of that broader Anglican communion or the Anglican world. Sorry, the phone is ringing there. And so within Anglican, there’s a strain of thought within Anglicanism that we are a comprehensive church in that we comprehend or include people who have different beliefs and different practices. So we have low church and high church, or we have people who churches that are in favor of women being priest, in some that have a harder time with it, or certainly LGBTQ issues are a challenge right now. And so, my dissertation is looking at where that comes from with it within the Anglican tradition. I had read a book in my PhD program, called, The Integrity of Anglicanism, his name was Stephen Sykes. He was a Bishop in England.

And in general, opposed to this idea of comprehensiveness and things that it’s just being nice for niceness is sake and doesn’t have any integrity to it. And doesn’t have theological integrity.

Greg Kaster:

Making me think of Minnesota nice here, but that’s-

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. It Kind of. And-

Greg Kaster:

[inaudible 00:39:20].

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. And so, my dissertation, I had got all hot under the collar when I read that book and I said, that’s not true. And so my dissertation is looking at actually historically, where this impulse toward comprehensiveness or inclusiveness comes from. And I argue that it goes back to the reformation era as one of the founding theological principles within the Anglican tradition. And so-

Greg Kaster:

[inaudible 00:39:54]. Go ahead. Sorry.

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. And so I look at three theologians who I think exemplify that. So one is Richard Hooker, who was in the 16th century, basically during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the first, and then I’m leaping ahead, a bit to the 19th century, there’s F. D. Maurice, he’s my theological hero, founder of Christian socialism within England and the exemplar really of Anglican comprehensiveness. And then, Charles Gore, who was a late 19th, early 20th century, high church Anglo-Catholic, Anglican theologian who maybe is less good, but still support would still support the argument in a general way. So, yeah, it’s a study of that.

Greg Kaster:

It’s theology, but it’s also intellectual history. It seems to me, it sounds [inaudible 00:40:55]. Is Richard Hooker, was he a Puritan or-

Matthew Cadwell:

No. He was an Anglican. So he actually argued against the Puritans. So, what he did was, he argued in favor of, what’s called the Elizabethan Settlement. The way the church of England had evolved. So after the tumultuous period of Henry the VIII and then Edward, and then, Mary Tudor, who was Catholic, so that’s when so many Protestants were deemed heretics and burned at the stake happened during Mary Tudor reign. So then, when Elizabeth came, there wasn’t much appetite for all this killing, I guess, and an appetite for trust trying to live together. And so, one of Queen Elizabeth the 1st famous sayings, whether she really said it or not, I’m not sure, is that she would not create windows into men’s souls. Meaning that if people just kind of followed the Anglican prayer book as it was at that point, they could believe whatever they wanted to believe. She wasn’t going to like study what your motivations were, how you interpreted things, if there’s just a degree of outward conformity, I guess.

And there were Puritans were arguing against that and saying that the church of England was still too papist. And hadn’t abolished enough of its Catholic past. And so, Richard Hooker was arguing in favor of the Elizabethan Church.

Greg Kaster:

Okay. Thank you. I mean, I know Hooker’s name and probably because a little bit of reading about puritanism. I actually studied with a leading story of David D. [inaudible 00:42:57] who taught at BU and then was at Harvard divinity for a while. Was actually has a brand new book out huge book. So I knew the name, Hooker. What about more F. D. Maurice? What is it about him that makes him your theological hero?

Matthew Cadwell:

Well, there’s a lot. So when I was doing my MDF in seminary, I was introduced to him. I had written a paper about Jesus in a Christology course. So Christology would be the study of Christ. And I guess I wrote something about heaven and hell or salvation or something along those lines. And I must have sounded Universalist in. So the idea that there’s a universal salvation, that salvation, isn’t just for a few of us, that God offers it to everyone. And so, I wrote something along those lines. I don’t remember what, but the professor, she said, “You should really read F. D. Maurice. Because he, within Anglicanism was one of the first articulators of that position.”

So he wrote a controversial… He lived from 1805 to 1872. And he argued against the concept of eternal punishment in terms of time. So, that you be in hell for eternity kind of thing, and spoke about it instead as a depth of being and offer that God is always working to draw us in. And essentially that God never gives up on us and never gives up on the fight against evil that God isn’t against us, but God has for us, what God is against is evil. And essentially what he argues in one of his books and basically throughout his works. So that was my introduction that book’s called Theological Essays.

He was a professor at King’s College in London at the time and was fired because of that book. I guess they, they felt that if you take away the threat of hell and eternal damnation from young men, any number of evils could occur.

Greg Kaster:

[inaudible 00:45:32].

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. So that was one aspect of his, but another is that he was a founder of the Christian Socialist Movement in England. I mean, it wasn’t like Marxist socialism, more cooperative societies and that sort of thing. He also was the founder of the Working Men’s College thinking that education should be freely available to working people as well as to those who are upper classes. These fascinating story he was raised at Unitarian and then became an Anglican later in life. And-

Greg Kaster:

[inaudible 00:46:19] So you just started when you just said the word, I forgot. That’s how I know through the Working Men’s College. Because I was doing 19th century U.S. labor history as part of my dissertation. I had an intellectual history. Yeah, that’s the connection. I knew his name was familiar, that’s it? He’s a really interesting guy. And I just wrote down the title of the books, Theological Essays, which I will try-

Matthew Cadwell:

Well, you can take a stab at it. It’s pretty dense. I mean, it’s like reading piece soup but if you get through that… I feel like you just have to read them enough and then you figure out how he is, and then you can work your way through it. It’s hard. The first goal was a little challenge.

Greg Kaster:

And honestly, it sounds like a fantastic topic and work of scholarship your dissertation. By the way, as you’ve been back to Gustavus to give talks at all, we need to get you back if no.

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. Let’s see. I mean, I’ve come back to visit a few times a number of times, but I was back in 2019, in the Fall for the Scandinavian Studies department, we had their first annual alumni panel. And so I came back to speak to Scandinavian Studies students at that.

Greg Kaster:

You probably know, or know of these professors, Sarah Ruble, in the religion [inaudible 00:47:38] she’s amazed. She tells me, American religious history and just incredible. You’d love her. Great scholarship. Great work. So, you’re now you’re all degreed up. I mean, you’re a deacon. Sure. You’re a deacon, you’re a priest, you’re a PhD. How did you get the gig at Old North? Which, I mean, maybe I’m wrong. I would think that’s a pretty plum job in your field. But [inaudible 00:48:05].

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. I hope it, I hope it turns out to be that. I mean, I’ve only been there for three months, so we’ll see how it is. So I was ordained in the diocese of Massachusetts, even though I was doing my PhD in Toronto and I came back in 2008 as to be Rector, which is the sort of senior pastor of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Wakefield, which is about 12 miles North of Boston. And I’d been there for 12 years, and a little more than a year ago, the bishops here in Massachusetts approached me to say that Old North was going to be open and they wondered if I might be interested in taking on that new challenge. And I was certainly interested for a million reasons. Obviously it’s a neat location and an opportunity.

I love history and church history and things. But then of course COVID hit. And so it took a long time to get it sorted out and to get me there. Everything was closed down for a while. And eventually we got to the point where they were doing search processes and appointments again and things. So, in this case, Old North is not a regular parish. It has a congregation, but it’s not a regular parish. So, rather than being the rector, which would happen in a normal Episcopal church, I’m the vicar because the Bishop is the rector. And so it has this special status that the Bishop is the rector. And so, it’s more of a Bishop’s appointment than would be true in a normal search process though. I mean, I did interview with the vestry, the church leadership, so that we could both decide that it was a good choice.

Greg Kaster:

I was so excited again, as I said to learn that then their [inaudible 00:50:11] which is incredible. I think it may be the oldest if I’m remember, [inaudible 00:50:17] the oldest standing church in the whole city. [inaudible 00:50:21].

Matthew Cadwell:

Yes. It is. It’s the oldest standing church. It’s maybe not the oldest congregation in Boston, but well, it’s definitely not the oldest congregation. King’s Chapel for example is older, but it is the oldest standing church. So it was built in 1723. And it’s the oldest Episcopal church also in Boston.

Greg Kaster:

Okay. And it’s beautiful. And of course, one thing. So it was the lanterns, and [inaudible 00:50:44] when they were members of the church, the two fellows, the [inaudible 00:50:48] and Sexton.

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. It was the Sexton, Robert Newman, and then the [Vesterman 00:50:55] Captain, John Poling who… It was originally thought, I think that only Robert Newman carried the lanterns up, but I know you said that you remember going up there? I don’t see how it would be possible for one person to carry two lanterns up those steps. So, it had to have been two people.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. I think so too. Yeah. I’m not crazy about Heights, but I did it with my wife and another friend who got us in there. It’s just amazing. It’s so cool. So, I mean, yes, you listened to imagine there was no COVID, hasn’t been, or won’t be, I mean, are you able to set an agenda vision for the place and if so, what are your long-term goals as the deacon?

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. So, my predecessor who ironically, or coincidentally, I guess, had also been the rector of Emmanuel church in Wakefield when he was called the Old North. He served as both the Vicar and eventually as the executive director of the Old North foundation, which oversaw the tourist side of things. My job is more focused just on the congregation. So I’m not doing the grant writing and that thing that he was responsible for. So that frees me up to focus in part on building up the congregation and focusing on them and having it is a vibrant, lively 21st century faith community, but in this fantastic historic space. So, that’s on the basic level that’s my responsibility is to be pastor to this wonderful community that’s been around for nearly 300 years.

So celebrating its 300th anniversary in a couple of years. But at the same time, there’s a lot to it in terms of welcoming visitors from all over the world. And obviously working with our partners in the foundation to make sure that the building is as welcoming as possible. And we’re doing a lot of study in fact, started long before I got there of even what it looks like. So anybody alive, essentially, who’s been there has seen the church look the way it does where it’s painted white with some gray accents. But in fact, they’ve done some paint studies, whichever revealed that probably in the colonial era, it was multicolored it wasn’t all white and the white church is just what people in 1912 thought a colonial church looked like. In fact, it was and that’s what a Puritan church looked like, but Old North was an Anglican church. And so, it was more elaborate, I guess, than more fantastic than was imagined.

Greg Kaster:

That’s cool.

Matthew Cadwell:

Yes.

Greg Kaster:

[inaudible 00:54:07] imagine history as a whole nother story. It’s interesting. Even the Puritans, I mean, they certainly drive, we think it was about like the pilgrims now, the periods as they wore colorful clothing, excuse me. I think, and I saw there’s a new foundation director, maybe. I think more so that’s exciting. You mentioned, your goals for the congregation, so are there services Sunday only? Is that how else imagine we were in normal times or anything?

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. Normally there are services at nine and at 11 o’clock on Sunday mornings.

Greg Kaster:

And how would you describe the, I mean, demographically, the congregation currently, is it mostly older people? I’m thinking of like that the Catholic church, which is [inaudible 00:54:52].

Matthew Cadwell:

Right. I’d say it’s a really eclectic mix of people. Some are neighbors, people who live in the North End and for whatever reason are not Italian Catholics and find Old North to be a fun place to go, because our neighbors and some of them are older and some are younger because there’s a lot of young professionals who also live in the North End. So that’s a part of the congregation. There are people who may be first came as tourists and fell in love with the space and were just in so inspired by that and just everything it is and means that they wanted to call it home and travel from some distance. There’s quite a few parishioners that come from some distance to be a church there.

And then, we have a really excellent group of young adults. I don’t know what young adult means. I’m 48, they’re younger than me and who are in leadership positions in the church. And I think hopefully their job circumstances will allow them to stick around and propel us in exciting new directions. So I’m looking forward to working with them. I should say, one of our projects, as a congregation and one that the foundation is working on is uncovering our history with regard to slavery.

Greg Kaster:

Literally taking the words out of my mouth, honestly. Yes. Go ahead. Yeah.

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. So-

Greg Kaster:

I knew Mark, was it Jackson? Anyway, yes-

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. Captain Jackson. So, he was a parishioner and he was also a slave smuggle in the 18th century. And apparently he, wasn’t the only one there were a few slave ship captains who were parishioners there, who met there and donated money to the church. And so it’s part of the foundation of the church, that we have that history also, just that. A lot of people, particularly if you’re from Minnesota, I wouldn’t have known that there was slavery in Massachusetts at that time, as well as slavery wasn’t abolished in Massachusetts until 1783. And so, throughout the church’s early history, there were enslaved people who went to church there, sat up in the balconies, they were baptized and they were considered members of the church. But it’s hard to know how voluntary that was. I mean, if you’re enslaved, nothing is really voluntary in your life. And so we’re just starting to do more work on uncovering that and discerning what our Christian responses as a congregation to that complicated history.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. As you well know other institutions, universities doing that. And yeah, the point you just made is important. I mean, slavery was, it was an all star team of the original English colony. He said it was in every one of the States. It wasn’t Southern only, New York’s a Boston, for sure. And you think of Boston, well, you think of abolitionism and fugitive slave rescues in the 19th century. Now slavery is a part of that issues. Yeah. I did have to see that online and preparing that’s a project of the, I guess the foundation and the church. And I was excited to see that. It was best one. So go ahead.

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. Old North is such a part of the fabric of American history and the American story of freedom and Liberty. And this aspect of the history is a reminder that freedom in the American story is always partial, I guess, and all what we’re hopefully growing toward greater expressions of it all the time, but we haven’t got there yet.

Greg Kaster:

[inaudible 00:59:04] speaking here as a historian. Absolutely right. There’s a debate at least amongst some of the stories, whether we should call slavery the America’s original sin or not, but slavery and freedom. They went together. It’s not just that they were contradictory. They actually went together. The freedom of some dependent on the enslavement of others. And that’s hard for me that Harvard has been reckoning with that Brown, lots of schools. There’s whole scholarly literature know about that, including in, along to stay as long as not history, professor [inaudible 00:59:38] actually. Once UMass Amherst, Mike [inaudible 00:59:41] because his name is working on abolitionism among people. But anyway, you got young people in schools in the 19th century. Yeah. That’s exactly right. I mean, I was chuckling when I was, I don’t know, maybe a video or someone, welcome to this temple of freedom, Old North, but it freedoms, there was slavery too, as you’re [inaudible 01:00:01].

Matthew Cadwell:

That’s right.

Greg Kaster:

That’s Important. The as we wind down here, I wonder if you, I’m going to ask you to make your pitch for your alma mater. I mean, if you were speaking to a prospective student, maybe even a prospective student in Boston. Wow.

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

What’s your pitch for the place? What would you say about why choose Gustavus or at least consider it?

Matthew Cadwell:

It’s hard to put into words I think, because it meant so much to me. I think what’s fantastic about Gustavus is the opportunity there to study so many different things with rich op options in across the academic departments, that you can build relationships that will last you a lifetime, not only with friends, but actually also with faculty. I talked about Claire Johnson a little bit and before he died, whenever I came to Minnesota, I would go down and visit him in the assisted living place where he lived. I would spend time visiting with him. Just as I did when I was a student. I would go to his office and just say hello and visit. And I used to do the same with Roland Thorstensen and the Scandinavian studies department.

So I think Gustavus allows the opportunity to build extraordinary relationships. And that’s exciting. And I think also the focus on the whole person at Gustavus is critical to being a fantastic adult, I think, where you can have fun in school and just be a part of a community of support. And we talked earlier about some of the challenges that I and a lot of other people felt in earlier generations and from everything I can tell it’s gotten a lot better. We’re moving toward freedom, I guess, in an important way. And so that’s exciting for me to know that that’s true at Gustavus as well. So those are the things that I think I would… I was in orchestra the whole time I was there. So, I was playing music and I was in religion class. And I was in Scandinavian studies class. And I was in doing political science and going to chapel.

And you’re not just doing one thing. I think at Gustavus there’s so much that you have the opportunity to be involved with and make fantastic relationships with fellow students also with faculty and with, um, staff to even.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. All well said this, I couldn’t agree more about the relationship piece. That’s so true and true of me. And I think more so that would be the case at other institution of higher ed. Maybe some other liberal arts colleges, but certainly true at Gustavus. And that what you just said about the whole person, or the whole student, as they sometimes say we should, which at first, I did not attend a liberal arts college. I went to Northern Illinois University then being my wife with the [inaudible 01:03:29] college, small liberal arts college in upstate New York. But it’s really true, so I was a little skeptical. I hear the whole suit, what’s that even mean? But now it’s true. And it’s important to leading a fulfilling life. I think it makes one more human at least potentially, or, and I don’t mean this just as flattery it all, but you’re an example of it.

You got another example. I love, I love meeting with in person when I can alumns or doing this podcasting with alumns, because you’re all reflecting the best of Gustavus. You really are. And I can’t wait to meet you in person and I’m [inaudible 01:04:10] listeners who are connected to Gustavus you can say the session, go see our reference Cadwell, and you’d probably emailing, Greg. What have you done?

Matthew Cadwell:

That’ll be fantastic.

Greg Kaster:

[inaudible 01:04:21] seriously. Lunch on me at the Daily Catch, which I love there on over [inaudible 01:04:26] that was my second home. I’m a [inaudible 01:04:29] scene and I sure miss the North End a lot in Boston, but in all seriousness, congratulations on the position, everything-

Matthew Cadwell:

Thank you.

Greg Kaster:

And you’re in Quincy, right? Is that what you’re living with-

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. I live in Quincy right now. Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

Jeffrey. Yeah. And then, I may have mentioned email. I used to go to something called the Clam Box. I think-

Matthew Cadwell:

Oh, You did. Yeah. So it’s just down the street, actually.

Greg Kaster:

Oh, yeah. Oh, my God.

Matthew Cadwell:

Yeah. I could walk there. I mean, I don’t, but I could.

Greg Kaster:

What I wanted to procrastinate, you wrote a dissertation. I’d love going to the John Adams homestead or whatever it’s called there. And then I would go the Clam Box and I’ll take a picture of it when I’m in my office and send it to you. It’s a picture of my brother and me much younger. He was visiting and we’re at the Clam Box there. So say hello, eat some good fried clams for me if you can.

Matthew Cadwell:

Okay. That sounds great.

Greg Kaster:

Thanks so much. All of us. Take good care.

Matthew Cadwell:

Thank you.

Greg Kaster:

Bye-bye.

Speaker 3:

Learning for Life @ Gustavus is produced by JJ Akin and Matthew Dobosenski of the Gustavus office of marketing. Gustavus graduation, Will Clark class of 20, who also provides expertise to the podcast and me, the views expressed in this podcast are not necessarily those of Gustavus Adolphus College.

 

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
jakin@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

 

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