|The Rev. James L. Kidd|
PUNTA GORDA, FL (06/18/2012) -- The Rev. James Lambert Kidd, pastor emeritus of the Asylum Hill Congregational Church UCC in Hartford, died on May 19, 2012, after a short illness. He was 78.
"As a preacher and pastoral leader he is both skillful and compassionate, wise and winsome, with a gentle sense of humor," the late Rev. Nathael M. Guptill, then Connecticut Conference Minister, wrote of him in 1978, recommending him for what turned out to be his nineteen years of service at Asylum Hill. "Any church that calls him will be glad indeed it did."
His words came true, as Asylum Hill's associate minister emeritus, the Rev. Peter Grandy, testified on Rev. Kidd's retirement in 1998: "Jim helped us become a more Christ-centered church, encouraging us to accept the leadership and forgiveness of Christ and to know that we are all loved by God. But above all, he taught us to believe that in all things, God is always there with us, working for good, for those who trust in God."
He was born June 12, 1933, in Fall River, Massachusetts, to older parents -- the Rev. Thomas and Elizabeth Ann Kidd -- 20 years after their oldest and 12 years after their next youngest. He was spoiled by four siblings and two real parents.
Jim was a mediocre student, just getting by, until he had a major life crisis at 19, where he experienced the love of Jesus. He became a good student. He started dating Joann Hamilton at 17 and married the love of his life at 20. He was on the Dean's list at the University of Massachusetts, graduating in 1955. He received the top Junior Academic Scholarship as he entered Andover Newton Theological School, graduating in 1959.
Jim loved his three children and was crushed when he discovered his two boys had Cystic Fibrosis and would not survive to adulthood. Bruce passed away in 1968, at 13, and Peter in 1979, at 19. His daughter, Pamela, came through her teen crises a hero in his eyes, and is married to the Rev. Kevin Pleas, pastor of the First Congregational Church UCC of Camden, Maine.
Jim served in four churches: First Congregational Church of Pelham, New Hampshire, from 1957-1961; Wellington Ave. United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois, from 1961-1969; First Congregational Church UCC of Wilmette, Illinois, from 1969-1979; and Asylum Hill Congregational Church UCC in Hartford from 1979-1998. He served as Connecticut Conference Preacher in 1985 and 1986. All of his churches grew in membership and in a deepening faith and spirit.
Jim received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary in 1969 and many church growth awards over the years. He was a gifted preacher and many of his sermons and articles on church growth have been published.
On retirement, he relocated to Punta Gorda, Florida, where he could pursue his leisure loves: being with friends over a meal and on the tennis courts, reading and boating, and summering on Martha's Vineyard in the cottage he had built himself.
James was President of the Hartford Clergy Association, served on the Hartford Vision Project, worked to stop professional gambling in Hartford, was voted Citizen of the Year in 1999, and was given the Humanitarian Award from the National Council of Christians and Jews. He was actively involved in the Civil Rights movement in the '60s and '70s, was on the Board of Directors of Chicago theological Seminary, the Chicago Community Renewal Society, Andover Newton Theological School, and the Hartford Hospital. He was President of the Cystic Fibrosis organizations in Chicago and in Merrimack Valley, New Hampshire.
Jim is survived by his wife of 58 years, Joann; daughter Pam (Kevin) Pleas; grandchildren Sarah (Sean Gresh) Pleas and James Pleas; brother David Kidd; many nieces and nephews; and a host of people whom he loved.
A worship service in celebration of his life and ministry will be held at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church, 814 Asylum Ave., Hartford, on June 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm. Memorial donations may be made to Asylum Hill Congregational Church, 814 Asylum Ave, Hartford, CT 06105; to Andover Newton Theological School, 210 Herrick Rd., Newton Centre, MA 02459-2243; or to the National Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 6931 Arlington Rd. Bethesda, MD 20814.