“I am proud of this award, and don’t feel particularly sinful saying it,” said the Rev. Dr. Forrest Church, accepting the 2008 Annual Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism at the Saturday morning plenary. Church, who was senior minister at All Souls Church in New York City for more than 20 years, and is one of the best-known contemporary UU theologians and authors, described pride in its good sense: “When pride brings us together, it is cause for celebration.” This award, he said, demonstrates this kind of pride. “It sets its recipient not apart from but as part of the great Unitarian Universalist tradition.”
The author of 13 books and editor of 10, Church has distinguished himself through his ministry, public service, and scholarship. His most recent undertaking is facing his own death. When Church learned that his cancer had returned and that he had but months to live, he wrote another book called Love and Death. Death was much on his mind when he told the crowd, “Anyone who boasts privileged insider information on the creation or creator is, from a cosmic viewpoint, stretching presumption to its outer limits. When we die none of us is going to have but the faintest notion what this mystery was all about.” He also thanked the gathering and UUs everywhere for their ongoing support. “You have helped me bring God home when my faith was homeless,” he said. “When I was down you have taken me and lifted me up, guiding me, walking with me, kneeling with me when I could only kneel and lifting the fear from my heart.”
At the conclusion of his remarks, the audience gave Church a long standing ovation.
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Jane Greer is a former senior editor of UU World magazine.