Thursday, December 4, 2008

Courage

I didn't know Rev. Kathleen Baskin-Ball. She was the Senior Pastor of the Suncreek United Methodist Church in Allen, Texas, who died of cancer Tuesday morning. I read her story in the paper Sunday and I was taken with her authentic courage and her generosity.

Rev. Baskin-Ball, shared her illness with her congregation. When I was a pastor I experienced at least two major illnesses and that makes me appreciate the courage of this pastor even more. While I let the congregation know of my challenges, it was difficult for me to demonstrate the vulnerability that Pastor Baskin-Ball did. It was difficult for me to refer to the diagnosis of a tumor, the removal of which could have left me either blind, speechless or paralyzed as an illness! I had never heard my role models in ministry express doubt or fear, so I figured that 'faithfulness' had something to do with always appearing 'strong'. Now don't get me wrong, there is a place for that. But I now understand better, that it is the sharing of both faithfulness and human frailty that inspires and encourages those in a congregation who face challenges. This woman of God understood this and was brave enough to spend her last days, saying good-bye to members and friends. An amazing woman. An amazing testimony.

A good friend of mine, Pastor E.K. Bailey, the late founder and Senior Pastor of the Concord Church here in Dallas, showed us all a similar grace and courage as he battled the cancer that eventually took his life, in October 2003. A sermon that he preached, 'Farther in and Deeper Down', explored the challenges that he experienced as he discovered a greater devotion to God through the adversity posed by his illness.

Dan Rather, former anchor of CBS Evening News, would end each evenings news broadcast with the word 'courage'. Pastors, Baskin-Ball and Bailey, both demonstrated this word in their lives and deaths. As a country we face very difficult times, that do indeed expose our vulnerability. The challenge is for us to allow them to expose our courage as well.

2 comments:

Eric Folkerth said...

Hi Gerald: Thanks for blogging about Kathleen. She was, as you note, a special friend to many of us in the UMC. You are right about her openness being a unique and beautiful characteristic of her life. I invite folks to read my own blog about my friend at the url below:
http://www.ericfolkerth.com/wheneftalks/files/inmemoryofkathleen.html

Thanks again for writing. Good to see you the Justice Revival meeting and hope we'll be working more on that soon...Eric

Gerald Britt said...

Eric,

Thanks so much for replying! And yours is a wonderful tribute to a magnificent friend! I wish I'd had a chance to meet her...