CT Clergy Gather to Celebrate 25/50 Year Ordinands
Almost 100 Connecticut clergy gathered at the Four Points Sheraton in Meriden on Dec. 4 to celebrate the 25th and 50th Ordination Anniversaries of 18 church leaders, chaplains and educators. The attendees spent time in fellowship, shared a meal, and heard the words of keynote speaker The Rev. Kaji Spellman Douša, Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church in Manhattan.
Clergy receiving recognition for 50 Years of Ordination were: The Rev. David G. Christensen, Jr., The Rev. John M. Hay, The Rev. Edward R. Mayes, The Rev. Dr. Peter J. Meister, The Rev. Dr. John B. Pelletier (Posthumously), and The Rev. Gordon R. Vought.
Clergy receiving recognition for 25 Years of Ordination were: The Rev. Anne S. Alvord, The Rev. Sidat F. Balgobin (Posthumously), The Rev. Ruth Chartier, The Rev. Judith M. Cooke, The Rev. Paul J. Doyle, The Rev. Robert G. Faulhaber, The Rev. Dr. Jan C. Gregory-Charpentier, The Rev. Heather S. Hopkins, The Rev. Lynn S. Kramer, The Rev. David C. Nutt, The Rev. Audrey Philcox, and The Rev. Edythe Steele.
After lunch, Rev. Spellman Douša spoke about church as a Living Sanctuary. She began with a look back at the Abolitionist history of the church and gave a specific example of efforts at Darien Congregational Church (where Spellman Douša was an Acting Associate Minister in 2006-7). She recalled Darien’s former senior pastor, the Rev. Ronald Thomas Evans, giving tours of the sanctuary and revealing a secret area hidden under the floor of the sanctuary and used to shelter formerly enslaved Africans as they migrated north to find a new life.
Spellman Douša pointed to the risk of these architectural choices and the ways in which people today face risks with the question “is this safe?” She noted common concern: is it safe to express an opinion, is it safe to believe in the work of activists who speak truth to power, is it safe to call out the morality of the nation?
“As a Christian, is it safe to note the hypocrisy of a closed border when our Lord and Savior crossed some of the most notorious borders in the world?” continued Spellman Douša.
Moving on to the topic of migration, Spellman Douša called the current crisis a phantasm, a fantasy constructed to preserve white supremacy and power. She continued by illustrating how many who work in the service of others can be duped by that fantasy and the power struggle it aims to hide, losing the ability to see a path ahead.
“We are facing a crisis of imagination,” said Spellman Douša. “People directly involved in serving others, can get stuck fighting so hard against what is that we forget to think of what can be.”
Focusing on the current tensions at the U.S./Mexico border, Spellman Douša pointed to this lack of imagination by stating that the actions of the nation at the border are not the only way to act, and that the policies at our borders today have not always existed.
“The problem isn’t the migrants. It’s us. A border can delineate without having to discriminate.”
After speaking to some of the policies currently in place, and those past practices of offering services and a path to employment for migrants, Spellman Douša named a more pressing responsibility for Christians, saying that we all have a “solemn moral duty to defend the rights of migrants.”
“Why?” she asked. “Because our sacred texts, our Gospels are stories of migration.”
After returning to the scripture to show how rooted our faith is in migration, specifically the travels of Jesus, Spellman Douša suggested a “a new day is emerging,” one in which “guided by an imagination, fueled by possibility, and protecting the ability to love, we could do something else.”
“And just with the boldness of the church leaders who took on the risk to be abolitionists, we have to do the same.”