Mon • Mar 25th, 2013 • by Tom Nees • Comments 5
One of the most influential religious leaders of our time, Gordon Cosby, passed away on March 20 at age 95, spending his final days in Christ House, a hospice for homeless people organized by the Church of the Savior, a ministry he and his wife Mary started 65 years ago following his service as a decorated WW II Army chaplain.
Several things made him unique.
There is no position to be filled after his passing.
The ecumenical Church of the Savior is a decentralized cluster of relatively small, separately organized ministries each with their own group leadership structure.
He leaves only a voice for the poor and a call to commitment amplified through those who were inspired by his prophetic vision of what a faith community might be and do.
As Jim Wallis in his Sojourner’s tribute mentions, Cosby could have travelled the world. He choose to stay near his ministry in the diverse Adams-Morgan neighborhood in Washington, DC, and as Wallis observed, “the world came to him.”
I have a little book of guidelines for mission groups he wrote years ago. Other than sermons, that was about it. His story and that of the C/S was written by Elizabeth O’Conner in several books beginning with “Call to Commitment,” and others including “Journey Inward, Journey Outward.” He let others tell his story.
At least in the years I knew him if you wanted to talk with him he would arrange to meet at the busy, often crowded Potter’s House, a C/S coffee house and book store. He could be seen at all hours at table with long-term partners and strangers alike.
He seemed energized as much by the people of the city as he was by the silence and solitude of Dayspring, the C/S center for spiritual retreat and renewal.
They recognized something profoundly important in his vision for an inward journey of spiritual discovery and an outward life of engagement with neighborhood and world needs.
I know. With his encouragement I participated in an inner-city housing project that evolved into the Community of Hope, my life’s work for over 20 years.
See my 2009 blog – A Tribute to Gordon Cosby – a servant leader.
No one can be like Gordon. He would not want us to try.
He inspired us to follow callings deserving of our own highest aspirations, nurtured by disciplined spirituality, in service to human need next door and around the world.