Many people will be celebrating the life, music, and activism of Pete Seeger. The 94 years that he was on this earth was a blessing to many. I am certainly one of those.
I considered writing about his life, songs, and activism for civil rights, justice, peace, the environment, etc. So I’ll not repeat what others are doing. Rather, I shall share the story of the brief moment I met Pete Seeger.
I believe that the year was 1984. I was an older seminary student, having entered EdenTheological Seminary in
at the age of 39. During my first year I was selected to represent the students
of St. Louis on
United Church of Christ Board for World Ministries Council of Theological
The first meeting I attended was at the Board’s headquarters in
. Accompanying me was a visitor
to Eden, the Rev. Takia Nishizawa, who was junior pastor of the United Church
of Christ congregation and New York City Nishinomiya,
After one of the meetings, Taki and I went for a walk that took us
past the cathedral-like
where we noticed lots of people entering. We entered, too. Riverside Church
|The Riverside Church|
In the sanctuary we found a gathering of folks who were preparing to travel by bus all night to
, where they were to picket the South
African embassy in opposition to apartheid. At the front of the sanctuary, standing at a microphone with banjo in hand, stood Pete Seeger. Washington, D.C.
Taki and I stayed. There were speakers, prayers, and lots of songs, led by Pete and others. After about 90 minutes, folks began leaving the sanctuary to board the buses for the trip to D.C. With Taki at my side, I walked up to the chancel where Pete Seeger stood talking to the Rev. Dr. William "Bill" Sloane Coffin, Jr., whom I knew.
|The Riverside Sanctuary|
I introduced myself to Peter, said that I wished that I could go with them to D.C., and said I would be praying for their mission. My moment with Pete Seeger lasted three or four minutes; Still, I have carried them in my heart ever since. For in Pete Seeger I experienced a truly gentle and straightforward human being, truly passionate about his ideals and willing to walk the walk.
That was my moment. Now here is just a bit of Pete’s music:
Well done, Pete