Gordon Cosby (1918-2013)

GordonCosbyGordon Cosby, founder of Church of the Savior, a church which began in our DC neighborhood in the 1940s, passed away yesterday morning.

Four years ago, just before I moved to DC, Church of the Savior was featured in a Washington Post article as its time as a church came to a close–“Activist D.C. Church Embraces Transition in Name of Its Mission.” Over its sixty years of existence, though it never grew to more than 200 people, the church had an amazing way of birthing communities of people that cared about their neighborhood: Christ House, Jubilee Housing, Jubilee Jobs, Potter’s House, Christ House, Mary’s Center, Samaritan Inns, to name just a few of the dozens of ministries that were created to see more of the kingdom of God in the neighborhoods of Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant, Columbia Heights, and beyond.

Jim Wallis, my old boss at Sojourners, once described the Church of the Savior as having had “more influence around the country than any other church I know about.” Without Gordon and Mary Cosby’s commitment to Christ and to our neighborhood in decades past–long before it was a safe or popular place to be–Jim and Sojourners would not be who they are, our neighborhood wouldn’t be what it is, and neither The District Church nor I would be who we are.

I had a chance to meet and pray with Gordon last year (with Aaron). It was amazing–and amazingly humbling–to be in the presence of such a good and faithful servant, and I’m grateful that I got the opportunity to spend some time with him.

Thank you, Gordon, for your life and your faith; I walk in the path you carved and I follow in the footsteps you’ve left. Rest in peace.

Others have also written (far-more-eloquent) tributes to him, including:

Haiti, again

A couple things. First, a fascinating article tracing Haiti’s journey, including some of the reasons for its extreme poverty.

Second, a prayer by my Sojo colleague, Rose Berger:

Most Holy Creator God, Lord of heaven and earth,
we bring before you today your people of Haiti.
It is you who set in motion the stars and seas, you who
raised up the mountains of the Massif de la Hotte and Pic La Selle.
It is you who made her people in your very image:
Their gregarious hearts, generous spirits,
their hunger and thirst for righteousness and liberty.
It is you, O Lord, who planted the rhythms of konpa, Twoubadou,
and zouk in the streets of Cite-Soleil. You who walk the paths
outside of Jacmel and Hinche. Your people, O Lord, cry out to you.

Haiti, O Haiti: the world’s oldest black republic,
the second-oldest republic in the Western world.
You are a God who answers the cries of the suffering.
You are a God who sees, frees, and redeems your people.
“I too have heard the moaning of my people,” you spoke to Moses. Now, Lord, speak to Chanté, Agwe, Nadege, and Jean Joseph.
Speak now, O Lord, and comfort Antoine, Jean-Baptiste,
Toto, and Djakout. Raise up your people from the ash heap
of destruction and give them strong hearts and hands,
shore up their minds and spirits. Help them to bear this new burden.

As for us, Lord, we who are far away from the rubble and the dust, the sobbing and the moans, but who hold them close in our hearts, imbue us with the strength of Simon the Cyrene.
Help us to carry the Haitian cross; show us how to lighten the yoke with our prayers, our aid, our resources. Teach us to work harder
for justice in our own country and dignity in Haiti,
so that we may stand with integrity when we hold our Haitian families in our arms once again. We ask this in the name of Jezikri, Jesus Christ. Amen.

(c) Rose Marie Berger (Reprint freely. Downloadable version here.)