St. Andrew's Episcopal ChurchAyer, Massachusetts

Parish History:Angus Dun

ANGUS DUN, son of Henry W. and Sarah R. (Hazard) Dun, was born 4 May 1892 in New York, New York. His father was associated with a cousin, Robert G. Dun, in the credit-rating firm of R. G. Dun & Co. (later merged to become Dun & Bradstreet). He was born with deformed hands and feet, and spent most of his childhood shuttling from hospital to hospital. Then, at the age of 11, he was paralyzed by polio. Complications led to the amputation of one of his legs. Despite his handicaps, he prepared for college at The Albany Academy in Albany, New York. He graduated from Yale University in 1914 with a B.A. degree. At Yale, he was a member of the Elihu Club and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Religion had been a casual interest for him until when at Yale he came under the influence of Dr. Henry B. Wright, Professor of Theology. Although he had grown up in the Dutch Reformed Church, he joined the Episcopal Church and decided to become a priest. He graduated from Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1917 with a S.T.B. (Bachelor of Scientific Theology) degree. He was ordained a deacon 17 May 1917, and a priest 20 November 1917, by the Rt. Rev. William Lawrence, Bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts. He was married to Catherine Whipple Pew, daughter of Brig. Gen. William A. and Alice (Huntington) Pew of Salem, Massachusetts, 22 June 1916 in Salem. They had two sons.

Soon after graduating from Episcopal Theological School, he became vicar at St. Andrew's Church in Ayer, Massachusetts and of its mission in Forge Village (now St. Mark's Church in Westford, Massachusetts). The nature of his work here was altered by the fact that the United States had declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. Several miles from the church, 5,000 acres of wood lots and fields were almost immediately transformed into a complete city for 10,000 men with barracks and training buildings, named Camp Devens (later known as Fort Devens). Construction, commenced on 19 June by the largest labor force ever assembled in the United States, raced at the rate of 10.4 new buildings every day. By 4 September, the military base was ready and the first draft inductees arrived. On 15 September 1917, the Rev. Angus Dun and the Rev. Dr. Endicott Peabody, headmaster at Groton School, conducted the first services, sponsored by the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), for the newly-arrived men. In the course of the first year, over 60,000 inductees were processed. Rev. Dun's principal work was as a civilian chaplain to the service men; the parish assisted him as they could. During the war, union services of the Federated, Unitarian, and St. Andrew's parishes were held at the YMCA on West Main Street in Ayer. After what must been an exhausting year and a half as vicar, he left in the spring of 1919 to continue his studies at the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh.

From 1920 to 1940, he was an instructor, assistant professor, and professor of theology at Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. From 1940-1944, he was dean of the School. He was known for his very strong pacifist views. In a November 1922 sermon he stated, "The time may come when patriotism and Christ will stand face to face and men will have to choose which they will follow. If the Christian Church does not develop men with the courage to choose Christ, mankind will find no abiding peace and the church will lose its soul." He was also known for his distinctly Modernist beliefs. In January 1924, he co-signed a letter sent to alumni of the Episcopal Theological School proposing that the creeds be reconsidered--"The Church is greater than the creeds. The central faith in God as He is found in Christ, upon which the Church is built, is not destroyed or diminished by doubts concerning the method of Christ's birth, of His return to God or His future judgement. The Church made the creeds. The creeds did not make the Church."

On 23 November 1943, the Rev. Angus Dun was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. He was consecrated at the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul (better known as Washington National Cathedral) in Washington, D.C. on 19 April 1944 in a service attended by 10 bishops, including the Archbishop of York. During the 18 years of his episcopate, Bishop Dun confirmed more than 31,000 people, ordained 105 deacons and 91 priests, and visited two and sometimes three parishes every Sunday. Most important, he was a strong proponent of the ecumenical movement. He served for 10 years on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, founded in Amsterdam in 1948. He was named an Honorary Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. He retired from his position as Bishop 6 May 1962 at the age of 70.

He was the author of nine books, including "King's Cross: Meditations on the Seven Last Words," 1926; "Meanings of Unity," 1937; "Studies in Church Unity," 1938; "We Believe: A Simple Exposition of the Creeds," 1938; "Not By Bread Alone." 1942; "Prospecting for A United Church," 1948; and The Saving Person," 1957.

The Right Rev. Angus Dun died 12 August 1971 in Washington, D.C. Funeral services were held at the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in Washington, D.C., where a delegation of eight bishops, including the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Right Rev. John E. Hines, led the clerical and lay mourners. His ashes were later interred in a niche in the wall of Bethlehem Chapel in the Cathedral. The carved inscription reads:


In an editorial about his life, The Washington Post wrote, "During the 18-years as the Bishop of Washington, Angus Dun was a force for tolerance, for interracial understanding and for freedom. Behind the austerity of his official mein, there lay a wealth of humor and kindness. He was concerned more to help than to punish, to heal than to condemn.... Such a life must bring its own rich sense of duty done and of rewards that lie beyond any earthly grasp."

1. "Angus Dun,"The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 15 August 1971, B6.
2. "Angus Dun, Episcopal Bishop of Washington, 1944-62, Dead," New York Times, New York, 13 August 1971, 32.
3. Bennett, Mrs. Frank Silas History of St. Andrew's Church: Ayer, Groton, Forge Village 1892-1942 (Ayer, Massachusetts: St. Andrew's Church, 1944), 18.
4. "Bishop Dun Retires in Washington," New York Times, New York, 7 May 1962, 36.
5. The Clerical Directory of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA 1968 (New York: The Church Hymnal Corporation, 1968).
6. "Consecrate Dr. Dun to Washington See," New York Times, New York, 20 April 1944, 21.
7. "Declares Church Must Risk Its Life in Opposition to War," New York Times, New York, 13 November 1922, 11.
8. "Faculty Suggests Permissive Creeds," New York Times, New York, 6 January 1924, 18.
9. "Gen Pew's Daughter Weds," New York Times, New York, 23 June 1916, 6.
10. Harvard Alumni Directory - A Catalogue of Former Students Now Living (Cambridge: Harvard Alumni Association, 1919), 204.
11. Lindheim, Burton "A Liberal Episcopalian," New York Times, New York, 13 August 1971, 32.
12. MacKaye, William R. "Bishop Dun of Washington Dies," The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 13 August 1971, C4.
Original author: Richard C. Dabrowski. This text is released under GFDL.


Physical address
7 Faulkner Street
Ayer, Massachusetts 01432

Mailing address
St. Andrew's Church
PO Box 298
Ayer, MA 01432

Disability services

St. Andrew's is handicap accessible. We also have large print bibles and Book of Common Prayer available upon request

BSA Pack 32

St. Andrew's is a proud sponsor of Cub Scout Pack 32. Contact them at ObscureBSA for more information.