June Z. Gillespie Award - Response (4/29/2000)
I am, of course, immensely honored and pleased to receive this award. My sense of appreciation is magnified by it being the first in what I trust will be a never ending series, and by the fact it is named after my good friend June Gillespie who could, as easily be the recipient of this award, as its namesake.
I said to Carolyn last night, “What should I say? I need a subject besides myself.” “Why not the years since you were on the District Board,” she said. “A few things must look different.”
It was 1968. Our church was just completing a search for the new minister; I had just completed two terms as Board Chair; had been to one GA and felt a strong sense of need for more glue in our relationship with the denomination.
Then came a notice about a meeting - the Metropolitan New York District - I went - spoke to folks from other societies. Those of you sitting here can see it coming - I didn’t - would I run for the District Board? I have modified slightly a widely used slogan - and it has governed my denominational involvement over the years - “Just say yes.”
Those were days of fiscal austerity at 25 Beacon Street. We are now served by two full-time religious professionals, then we shared one with the Joseph Priestly and Connecticut Valley Districts through an awkward, contentious structure called the Interdistrict Council.
Now, instead of being a struggling dependent, our District - and others, as well - has become an important focus of power and accomplishment within our Association, an important link between the grass roots growing in our individual congregations and the continental organization which serves and speaks for our common concerns.
What this award is all about - if I understand it correctly - is that connectedness. And with the granting of it we don’t honor Bob Lavender as much as we honor ourselves and our commitment to this organization, about which we all care so much, at all the levels of its life.
Diane Connell tells me that another award will be give to those awardees who complete their responses within two minutes, and so I close with these words which speak to the theme of this award.
We separate to go our separate ways
And yet, in some mystery of time and space,
We remain together.
We separate to live our separate lives
And yet, in some mystery of connectedness,
Our lives are entwined.
We separate to hold our separate thoughts
And yet, in some telepathic mystery,
Those thoughts are held in common.
And so turns the earth. So let it be.