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The Reverend Paul in Washington;
People’s Shepard 1921-2002

by Mumia Abu-Jamal Recorded 11/17/02

mp3: 2.8 MBs, 3:27

In the bible, Saint John, 10:16 Jesus is quoted as saying “In other sheep I have, which are not of this fold, them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice.” The good shepherd parable of the bible, which reflects Christ speaking before a disbelieving assembly of Jews, of the metaphor the shepherd who knows, and is known by and cares for the sheep, rather than a hired hand who cares not for the sheep, but only for his pay, is an ideal parable for the remarkable life of the Reverend Paul M Washington.

The Episcopal priest who served as Rector Emeritus of the Historic Church of the Advocate at 18th and Diamond Streets in North Philadelphia. Father Paul Washington, as he was affectionately and respectfully known, engaged in the great and tumultuous social struggles of the 1960s, well into the 90s, an era that marked Philadelphia and the nation as well. He always seemed to side with the powerless, against the powerful, on the side of the “other sheep”. As a young priest he remembered as a turning point when a tearful and distraught North Philadelphian named Jackie came to the church after being evicted from her home and hungry. When he began to soothe her with talk of God’s love, the mother of seven exploded: “Listen Mister, You can talk about God’s love because obviously he loves you. You live in that big comfortable house next door. You have food for your children and you are Pastor of this big church. Now you just show me, how God loves me...” Father Paul and his wife Christine were moved by the mother’s plea. They made room in the rectory for her until she found a job and got back on her feet. He would call her later, his best teacher, for she helped make his gospel teaching real. In the years to come, this tall, bassed voice, big-hearted priest would open the doors of his church to the Black Power conference, for the late Kwami Toure, then Stokely Carmichael in 1966. A memorial for the Chicago Black Panther party martyr Fred Hampton in 1969. A national Black Panther-led Constitutional convention in 1970. The ordination of women into the priesthood in 1974 and 1991 and beyond. He played a central role in the formation of the Move Commission and formed a group that condemned the police massacre of MOVE on May 13, 1985 and sought to prevent a repeat. He once described his feelings like an alien, as a Black man in a predominately White seminary as he studied for the priesthood. During his tenure at the Advocate, however, he saw it as his calling to alienate none, but to reach out and include all in the family of God. His was a social gospel, which stood for the poor, the powerless, the oppressed and the dispossessed. Those who were deemed the least of these in brought together in pursuit of social justice. Admired, respected and loved for his courage as well as his gentle compassion. Father Paul Washington is
gone, but will not be forgotten.

From death row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.


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Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa


Recorded 11/17/02
Copyright 2002 Mumia Abu-Jamal