Connecting one generation with another...

Today I had the privilege of sharing some wine and stories with the children of one of my dearest mentors in ministry: Sam Fogal. To be with Karin and Tim, whom I knew when they were little babies and are now strong, wise adults, was a joy. Sam died in early July after a long year of illness. He was my youth pastor in the 60s and one of my inspirations to go into ministry. He was a man who helped me make sense of the Christian faith when American cities were burning and war was raging in Vietnam. Later, Sam took me on as a seminary intern and gave me a chance to preach and teach during the days of US intervention in Central America. He knew in his soul that God was unleashing something new in 1967... and I have never been the same!

We shared love, prayer, conversation and study for over 40 years. We wept together when Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy were gunned down. We prayed and tried to understand what God was saying when students were beaten in the streets of Chicago in 1968. Sam encouraged me to bring contemporary music into traditional worship (and we did everything from the Mothers of Invention to Godspell) and gave me permission to explore a ministry with the Farm Workers rather than finish undergraduate school.

Sam always prayed for me and my ever changing family as my life matured. I had to miss his memorial service because our oldest daughter, Jesse, was being married. What made that day even sweeter is that one of our mutual friends, Malcolm Bell, was present for Jesse (her godfather) and we had the chance to hold Sam dear during the marriage. (NOTE: Malcolm was both my Sunday School teacher and Jesse's godfather - AND - he was the guy who broke the cover-up story about ATTICA while working as one of the state prosecutors!)

And now I get to rejoice with Sam's children as my friends. I can connect one generation with another and give thanks to God. Tim played drums at my ordination 27 years ago. Karin called me a few years ago after reading my doctoral dissertation with encouragement in my new direction of deep ecumenism. They are their own wonderful people - and a gift from Sam, too. Today was another blessing and I rejoice.

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