You can watch the entire talk given by Jim Antal on our church YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxGeSIQMOi0.
The Rev. Jim Antal: “He Asked of Us Something Great”
United Church of Strafford, Vermont, March 23, 2019
Introduction by the Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
Jim Antal talks about the model, influence and legacy of William Sloane Coffin in his own life and in the world. He urges us all to rise to the greatness Bill asked of us, especially now in a world that climate change is challenging as never before. His talk is roughly a half hour followed by twenty minutes of questions and comments.
The Rev. William Sloane Coffin was a prophetic voice and activist working for peace, justice and the care of God’s creation. He gained prominence in the 1960s in the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War movements and remained engaged in social issues until his death in 2006.
The United Church of Strafford, Vermont was Bill’s home church in the last part of his life. He lived two doors away and preached, played piano concerts, sat in the pews and participated fully in the life of the church and village of Strafford. He had many outstanding gifts—he was inspiring, encouraging and comforting, he gave us vision and hope, but most of all he formed beloved community everywhere he went with the good humored affection of his great heart even for strangers and enemies.
The William Sloane Coffin Address was part of a weekend of events intended to keep his spirit alive and help us all carry forward those qualities of Bill that we value and need so much today.
The Rev. Jim Antal delivered the 2019 Address. Climate activist and author Bill McKibben says, “As long as there has been a serious climate movement in the United States, Jim Antal has been at the forefront…. He is on the short list of heroes who have given their all…. Jim’s never-ending witness is the best incitement to optimism that I can imagine…. The world owes him a mighty thanks.” The Rev. Jim Antal serves as Special Advisor on Climate Justice to the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ.
In Antal’s superb, timely and much needed book, Climate Church, Climate World, he cites Bill Coffin as an inspiration and model. From 2006-2018, Antal led the 350 UCC churches in Massachusetts as their Conference Minister and President. In 2017, Yale Divinity School honored him with the William Sloane Coffin Award for Peace and Justice. Antal was a local pastor for twenty years, in Newton, Massachusetts and then Shaker Heights, Ohio. In the mid-80s he served as Executive Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (USA), an interfaith pacifist organization.
The Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder is the pastor of the United Church of Strafford and has had the pleasure of knowing Jim and working alongside Bill over the years for peace and for marriage equality for all.