Friday, November 27, 2009

Sad news from Nicaragua

Louie Crew received the sad news of the passing on Thanksgiving Day of Grant Gallup ... presbyter in the church of God and the first Integrity chaplain. Here is Louie's moving tribute to a true Giant of Justice.

A friend just called to say that Grant Gallup+ died last night. He was a charter member of Integrity's first chapter, in Chicago, and served as chaplain to that chapter. For several years in the 70s and 80s he edited Integrity Forum. For many years he was vicar of St. Andrew's on the near Westside of Chicago, and since about 1988 he has been a missioner in Managua, Nicaragua, where he founded Casa Maria.

Grant wrote frequently for The Witness and other progressive journals.

In 1976 he was president of the Episcopal liturgists association. His liturgical reflections Homily Grits (2000-2007) remains very popular.

He was known affectionately by his close friends as Sister Mary Rattle Beads, and rattle them he did. He was one of the first out priests in the USA, speaking on the Studs Terkel radio program.

I remember asking Grant how those at St. Andrew's were dealing with his openness. "The same way I deal with theirs." When someone's son was arrested for using crack, Grant was there to help the family cope. When someone needed groceries to make it to the end of the month, Grant was there for them. His larder was never empty. On some days half the block seemed to show up in his dining room for a meal. He had the gift of endless, joyful hospitality. He kept polished the silverware

Few people have influenced me as much as Grant. I loved him dearly. He taught me much about justice and about courage. He was a strong friend when I had few. He constantly pointed me to gospel imperatives. He eschewed pettiness.

For example; When we lived in Fort Valley, Georgia, Ernest was a hairdresser, and in our tiny apartment did the hair of some of the poorest women in Peach County. One of them called me down from my study to tell me that Dr. XXXXX, senior warden at my parish, was about to become a father again by his mistress. A couple of years before, Dr. XXXXX had collected vestry signatures for a petition asking me to "find some other place of worship more in sympathy with your concerns about gay people."

I called Mary Rattlebeads. "Shall I send Dr. XXXXX a Father's Day card?" I asked.

"You will do no such thing! A new life is coming into the world. If you say anything at all, you might call the mother and offer to sponsor the child at baptism, but only if you are prepared to meet the obligations of doing so. This is no time for pettiness!"

In the winter of 1978 when I was visiting him in Chicago, Grant was summoned to a shelter to comfort a wino whose Native American lover had committed suicide by drowning himself in the Chicago River. I went with him. The deacon who ran the shelter had a huge sign in gold gothic script: "Love your neighbor today: leave him alone".

After brief introductions, in a tiny office made into a parlor, Grant and I sat in silence with the grief stricken man for at least ten minutes. The man broke the silence: "It's a tough world for a girl these days."

"We two girls say Amen to that!" Grant said.

That passed the man's test. Then he trusted us and poured out his heart.

Pray for those of us who now pour out our hearts.

Louie, Quean Lutibelle

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

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