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Joseph Fort Newton (1876–1950) was an American Baptist minister. He was born in Decatur, Texas, the son of a Baptist minister turned attorney. He attended Southern Baptist Seminary, and Harvard University. While at Harvard he studied under William James. Newton held the honorary degrees of Doctor of Hebrew Literature (Coe College, 1912), Doctor of Divinity (Tufts University, 1919), Doctor of Humane Letters (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, 1926), and Doctor of Laws (Temple University, 1929). Newton was ordained a Baptist minister in 1895. He held Baptist pastorates in Texas, and led non-sectarian and Universalist congregations in Illinois and Iowa. While in Iowa, he taught English literature at the extension campus of the University of Iowa in Cedar Rapids. While in Cedar Rapids, many of Newton's sermons were published and gained wide circulation. Their popularity in England led him to be called to the pulpit of the City Temple (London) in 1916. During his four years at City Temple, he made trips throughout the British Isles and gained international fame through sermons in which he urged understanding between England and the United States as a basis of world order and abiding peace. In 1920, Newton returned to the United States and assumed the pulpit at the Church of the Divine Paternity, New York City, NY. He was ordained as a priest in 1926 at Christ Church, Philadelphia, PA. Newton remained at the Memorial Church of St. Paul until 1930. From 1930 to 1938, Newton assisted the Rev. Dr. John C. H. Mockridge at St. James Church, Philadelphia, PA. In 1938 he assumed the rectorship of Church of St. Luke and The Epiphany, Philadelphia, PA, where he remained until his death in 1950. In 1939, Newton was ranked among the top 5 Protestant Clergyman in the United States. From 1944 until his death, Newton reviewed religious books and wrote a Saturday sermon column for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. Newton authored over 30 books, perhaps his most famous being The Builders: A Story and Study of Freemasonry, published in 1914, and translated into six different languages. The Builders is still regarded as one of the best books on the topic.
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