Beacon Street Diary blog

Remembering Arvel Steece

The Congregational Library & Archives celebrates the life and mourns the loss of a great friend and scholar, Arvel M. Steece.

Arvel first came to the Library in 1947 as a Harvard Divinity student, joining the American Congregational Association in 1967. Arvel acted as President of the American Congregational Association from 1975-1999, as Director of the Congregational Christian Historical Society. He was named Director Emeritus of the American Congregational Association in 2000.

A devoted student of Congregational history, Arvel was eager to share his enthusiasm with everyone around him. In addition to his work with the ACA, he served as the NACCC historian from 1980-1988.

Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Mauro knew Arvel well. She says, "Arvel was a keen scholar of extraordinary breadth and depth with a passion for Congregationalism. He immersed himself in books, creating an extensive personal library, and he had the intellectual gift of remembering all he read. He was keen to share his considerable knowledge to all who cared to learn from him and was a constant help and resource to seminarians preparing for ministry in Congregational churches. He was a bright light in Congregationalism and will be dearly missed."

"I stood in awe of him, always," said Jim Hopkins, a current member of the American Congregational Association Board of Directors. "He spoke with learned authority while eloquently championing the Congregational Way. I'm grateful to have lived in his time."


As our friends in the East

As our friends in the East say, "Eternal Memory and a Blessed Repose to the Servant of God, Arvel M. Steece"! (One never left the 'M' out of his name without a word of correction....gentle, but corrective none the less!)

I was privileged to know him and to call him my friend. It was Arvel who nominated me for the Congregational Library Board and I had the joy of serving with him on it for several years. He and I shared a keen interest in liturgics and I joined him in being a "Prayer Book Congregationalist." His passing to glory, while a blessing for him, is a loss for the Library and for the NACCC. 

Eternal rest grant unto him, oh Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon him! 

V. Rev'd Steven A. Peay, PhD

Dean and President

Professor of Homiletics and Church History

Nashotah House Theological Seminary

Nashotah, Wisconsin

In asking Arvel to give the

In asking Arvel to give the invocation at a Congregational gathering, one was asking to be transported to the times of our forbears, to be seated in your 16th or 17th century pew.  It was transforming.

His many gifts to us included a ready ear, and he would listen to both etymology and context, seeming to more deeply comprehend what you were saying.  His responses were both high-minded and gentle, somehow delivered in a strident tone -- always intended to stretch your mind and feed your Soul.

Arvel was a Master -- unmistakeable, unforgettable. May he find eternal peace.  He was truly One for the Ages.  

Bill Ghormley, Past Chair

The American Congregational Association