This Sunday the Rev. Jill McAllister, minister at People’s Church in Kalamazoo, did what I thought was an outstanding job of addressing “The Great Mystery”—who are we, where did we come from, and what is the meaning of life? Several times, she quoted statements by
, a leading
Unitarian-Universalist minister, author, and theologian. Forrest
Those references set me thinking about one of the minor mysteries in my life—did I or did I not, meet
back in 1974? I pondered the question
briefly six years ago while writing a passage in Forrest Church
|Forrest's father, Sen. Frank Church (Wikipedia)|
Because my memory of the first encounter with the Churches was more concerned with a personal lesson in humility than precisely who all the characters in the story were, I spent no time researching the identity of the young man who was present. Here is an excerpt from the story in my book:
“Merely spotting or exchanging only a few words with a famous person is, of course, nothing like spending a little time talking with one. I've had only a handful of those opportunities. One momentarily inflated my ego, but then quickly took the excess wind out of my young sails.
“In 1974 (while serving as Public Information Officer for the Boise National Forest), I was directed to drive over to the Sawtooth National Forest from my duty station in Boise, hook up with my boss at Redfish Lake, and then attend a meeting with some other people at the lodge on the lakeshore. My boss was Forest Supervisor Ed Maw, a man with many years of service in
and other places in the Intermountain West.
“I got there early, and was the only person around as I stood outside the lodge having a smoke and waiting for Maw. Out of the lodge came a handsome man dressed in western-style clothes. A lovely woman and a young man accompanied him. They came directly to me (I was in uniform), and started a conversation about what my job was, why I was there, and what my thoughts were about some of the National Forest management issues of the time . . . .
“The whole situation put me on cloud nine. Here was little old me exchanging chit chat with members of one of the most prominent families in the state, and Senator Frank Church was among the best-known politicians in the country. He served in the U.S. Senate for 24 years, leading many national initiatives. He was a prominent contender for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1976, losing out to Jimmy Carter. His wife Bethine, the lady in our little discussion group that day, was the daughter of a former
Idaho governor and was engaged in
many high-profile activities of her own.
“By the time Maw approached us, I was pretty pumped up about the prospect of introducing my boss to my famous newfound friends. It didn’t happen.
stuck out his hand and said, ‘Hi, ya, Eddie.’ He and my boss were well
acquainted. I was treated to a good dose of instant humility.” Senator Church
About 30 years later, I read “The Jefferson Bible,” a document the famous president spent years assembling.
wrote a lengthy introduction to
the work. That caused me to wonder if the young man I met at Forrest Church
was Forrest. I started doing some research to determine that, but other
matters intervened and I never got back to it. Redfish Lake
Rev. McAllister’s sermon on Sunday caused me to wonder once again. This time, I checked some dates. The research proved conclusively that I could not have met
Church that day in 1974 at . He would have been quite a few years
older than the lad I talked with. It must have been his younger brother, Chase,
who Wikipedia tells us still lives in Redfish Lake Boise.
died at age 61 in 2009. Forrest Church
Although I’m slightly disappointed at learning I cannot claim a personal encounter with the famous cleric, it is always a pleasure to ponder some of the inspirational words he left behind.