Memories of Bishop Pike

Dr. Louie Crew has gathered memories of Bishop James Pike at his Do Justice website. Twenty writers remember their experiences of the inspirational and controversial bishop.

The Revd Robert Brueckner, a Lutheran says, “I met Bishop James Pike on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1960, at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City. I heard his outstanding sermon delivered with deep faith and conviction. His words reverberated so that they constantly come to mind even today: “I can’t explain to you the mystery of the Holy Trinity. But, I believe it. I can’t explain to you the mystery of the virgin birth – how the Holy Spirit hovered over the Virgin Mary, and ‘she gave birth to her first born Son.’ But I believe it.”

The Revd Dr Kenneth R. Clark of Albuquerque, NM remembers,

“In the late 60’s Bishop Pike was keynote speaker at the Disciples annual state conference in Wichita Falls, Texas. I was in Vernon, Texas, at the time and the Episcopal clergy in Wichita Falls invited me to a meeting they had arranged with the bishop the afternoon of the speech. I could bring one layman so I invited Bill M. We met in a motel and the bishop chained smoked as he outlined what he thought were the major issues of the day. When he ran out of cigarettes he turned to Bill and asked him for some smokes, which he provided. The bishop told us about involvement in the civil rights movement and how he and others had confronted Bull Conner and his police dogs. He made great sport of the police chief (recall that Conner had attacked the marchers in Birmingham). When he paused to light another cigarette, Bill asked, “ Bishop, did you or any of those other clergy who were with you give any attention to Bull Conner’s immortal soul?” The bishop said, “ What is your name boy!” “ Bill, sir.” “Stand up Bill and let me shake your hand. You are the only one who has ever noticed that we were totally oblivious to Bull Conner’s needs.”

Others remember his personality, his deep convictions, his passion for social justice, and his ability to remember people as well some more difficult times. I remember when he preached at our public high school baccalaureate in 1959. I was drifting away from the church in my late teens but his sermon was so memorable it carried me through my “prodigal” years and back into the church. It was about how we may not be able to see the big picture but we had a place in it and were meant to be here in this time and place to make the picture complete.

Read it all here

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