1930 - 2007
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Virginia was the first friend I made when I moved to California. Not knowing anyone here, I called the MFSA national office to look for a church (CA/NVadian Cherie Emery was national MFSA intern at the time). She did not even hesitate to recommend we visit Albany UMC where Virginia was pastor at the time. Long story, but I soon became minister of music there and I have never had the pleasure to work with a more confident, collegial, strong, nurturing professional who absolutely embodied radical inclusiveness and unconditional acceptance and grace. Virginia, Bruce, and the whole family lovingly became the accepting family I never had. My prayers are with the family and I will never cease to be full of gratitude for the gift of having known Virginia so well. She was a gift and her example of radical acceptance and inclusiveness will always be one small part of her gift to me and many others. I could go on and on, but Virginia has been, and will continue to be, one of the primary influences on my life.
This past year in which Virginia spent as our leader and guide for the United Methodist Women Bible Study class at St. Mark's was so appreciated. Her insight was most valuable. Also, Ankh Circle recently enjoyed an evening with her, sharing her experiences in the Mississippi Delta with Bruce and the children. She was a very special person and was a wonderful example of what we should strive to be. She will be missed by all of us.
When I picture Virginia I see a person of compassion who reached out to all of those in need. It knew no boundaries. I see a person of amazing energy who was always there when someone was needed. I see a person who was consistent in her beliefs and actions. I see a person of commitment to Jesus and the incredible love of God, whether walking picket lines, teaching bible studies and Sunday School classes, confronting hypocrisy at General Conference, offering rides to people, supporting Family Promise ministry of outreach to homeless families with children, bringing food to hungry people and regularly being at worship whether Sunday or at mid-week scantly attended services. She was there for us all.
It was a blessing, mixed with much sadness, to be with Virginia during much of her losing battle with cancer. She was a fearless veteran in the various wars against bigotry, prejudice and inequality wherever her voice and person was needed. I learned much from her. She was. and always will be, a valued member of our United Methodist clergy.
I have many memories of Virginia,beginning with the 1st week I livedin Sacramento and was looking for aMethodist church to attend. As I was passing by Faith Methodist, shewas updating the marquis, and I said to myself, "There looks like a real NEAT person, I think I'll attend here." And in every way shefulfilled that idea.Also, while attending Faith, I had the privilege of reading liturgy on a regular basis, and helping her with special services when asked. It was special that she encouraged participation.Then there was the time that my brother was found to be terminal with a brain cancer, and before leaving to visit him for the last time, she prayed with and for me.Most recently I was especially honored that she obliged to the invitation to attend the Easter Vigil of 2007 when I made a transition to Roman Catholic tradition, and the vigil is the 'induction of new members.'Although different from her own tradition, she was genuinely happy for me that I'd 'found my place' so to speak. She had always worriedthat I hadn't found 'community' which she tried ever so hard to instill in every organization she was a part of. While at Faith, she had 'taken me under the wing' as well. Although I will miss her, the memories will be immortal. In many ways I am enriched to have known her all this time.
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