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January 19th Reflections

January 19, 2015

By Rev. Alan Mead
I remember a conversation with my father’s Uncle Eddie that took place at his kitchen table just after his wife Charlotte’s funeral. I was rector of a small parish in upstate NY and my father and I had traveled to be there as soon as we heard the news. The funeral was beautiful, with Gospel music and a church packed to overflowing with people. My family and a few others who had traveled to be there were the only white people. Later, as we sat around Uncle Eddie’s kitchen table I listened carefully as my father and his cousin and Uncle Eddie spoke softly of family. Stories that were all new to me and gave definition to parts of my family that I didn’t know very well. I asked Uncle Eddie about his church and his community and why I didn’t see other white people. Uncle Eddie responded that he and Aunt Charlotte had moved there when they were married and raised their daughter in this house in Queens. They became active in their church and he became a lay leader, Sunday school teacher and pastoral visitor. He said that in the 1960’s a black family bought a home on his block and soon another black family moved to his neighborhood and within a short time after that every other white family had left that neighborhood. He said his neighborhood and his church became almost totally black. And then he said something that I will always remember. He said when his neighbors changed he and Charlotte decided they would have new neighbors and as his church changed they would have a new church family, and as his friends moved he would make new friends. I reflected on the love I had seen expressed for Uncle Eddie by his neighbors and church community and realized suddenly that he was one of those ordinary heroes who make a difference in the world by simple example as he lived through a time of profound transition.

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