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Hines – A Saint of the Church

By Ken Kesselus

John Hines, among other things, was a great opportunist. The story goes that the Rather and Villavaso family wanted a denomination to take over their property as a memorial to the only offspring of the two couples. The much-loved young man had died from injuries sustained in an accident in a local swimming pool.

The Rather daughters’ father had moved to Austin from Gonzales, Texas to build the wonderful house at Duval and 32nd Street as a place for them to live while attending the University of Texas. Both married UT professors and they lived in that great house together. With the boy dead, there was no one to inherit the house.

When Hines heard about the offer, he called to say he was planning to build a seminary and would be interested in the property. Some say he only had a vague idea about a seminary, but the chance to have property so near the UT campus was too tempting to pass up, and so he invented the project in response.

Regardless, he created the Seminary and provided its vision for the first decade or so, seeding it with leadership who would promote the highest values of cutting edge theology and build a place to train clergy to fill the needs of the post-World War II environment of rapid church growth.

This theology also led him to become an extraordinary champion of racial integration in Texas and, after becoming Presiding Bishop, to promote a radical plan to empower the powerless in American society during a period when the country seemed to be coming apart at the seams over the issue of haves and have-nots.

His legacy led the dioceses of Texas and Newark to place Hines on their list of saints. It is high time that the Episcopal Church catch their spirit and include John Hines on the list of Holy Women, Holy Men.

Who will step up to make it happen?


Ken Kesselus currently serves as the mayor of the City of Bastrop. Ken earned a Master of Divinity from Seminary of the Southwest in 1972.   


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