A Memory of My Father

My mom was telling me recently that dad was doing some recent advocacy work by calling the conference office and asking them to include the resources that the multicultural committee he serves with had worked on in their list of anti-racist resources. As a followup, he called the leaders of the committee, to let them know that their work was going to be included (and in fact, the bishop highlighted their work in a later communication). 

On the phone, the Black female leader told dad that she appreciated him for this specific act, and for his continued acton within the conference over the past three decades.

And said, yes, we’ve seen that work, and that’s why you were black-listed. 

It’s a heck of a thing to be recognized for, getting missed and skipped and excused and pushed to the back over and over and over again in a system of white cronyism. 

Fourteen years ago, dad and I went driving to a landscaping company and asked if we could have three hundred stones, and the person was like, these? That are super expensive? Or those, the run-of-the-mill river stones. And we said, those, can we have three hundred? How much will they cost? And the guy was like, oh, those? Those I’ll just give you. 

So dad and I bent over in the rain and picked out three hundred smooth stones so that members of his congregation could take them and put them as a foundation on the land where the church was building a new property. But then he was moved, and the new pastor that moved to that place listened to the guy that nearly gave dad a heart attack and that place that we prayed over is not united methodist anymore, even though it is a place where the people of God worship. 

I’ve lost count of the number of stories like that about my dad. 

But he doesn’t stop. He also makes it in the paper as the faster pastor, and the running community defacto chaplain. The savannah mayor knows who he is. The imam and the rabbi know who he is and are glad when he is with them. 

The work we do isn’t glorious. It is hard, and relentless, and never-ending and doesn’t earn us praise or a better salary or institutional recognition. But that doesn’t make it not worth it. It is worth it. We just gotta keep showing up.