Personally this is very sad for me. Although I never met Rev. Church, he had a profound influence on my life. When I was early in college I saw an interview with him on the Sunday Morning show. He struck me as a caring, intelligent and open individual. A few days later I found one of his many books, I believe it was Everyday Miracles, on the shelf at a discount bookstore. Of course I had to pick it up, and the compassion and understanding were immediately evident to me – as was the human-ness. This was no holier-than-thou preacher, this was a man who understood weakness, fear, and struggles.
That was over 20 years ago. Over the years my beliefs have grown and deepened, but I could always find comfort in the timely message of this Yankee preacher I had never met. From watching his children grow to figuring out how to deal with the doubt and fear that surrounded the 9-1-1 attacks, his sermons and writings were consistently what was needed at the time. Amazingly sometimes, he was as a much a part of his flock as he was shepherd of them. Reverend Church was one of the ministers at All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City for many, many years, and I always promised myself that I was going to get to one of his services someday or at least send him a letter expressing my gratitude for his writings. I should have followed through earlier, because now I will never get the chance.
The past three years Reverend Church had been struggling with cancer of the esophagus and liver, but those struggles ended yesterday, September 24, 2009. When he was originally diagnosed with cancer, he was given an estimated six months to live. He outlived that estimate by two and a half years during which time he published two books, saw his daughter married, gave a humanitarian award to former president Bill Clinton, and lived longer than both his father and grandfather.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 3rd, at All Souls in NYC. The official notice and memoriam from the UUA can be found at the UUA website.