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As we mourn the loss of Dr. Vincent G. Harding, please share your memories of him.

May 20, 2014

As we mourn the loss of our beloved Dr. Vincent G. Harding, we ask that you share your memories of him and how he impacted your life. Iliff will prepare a book of memories for the family and provide it to them following the memorial services planned for July 25, 5-8 p.m., at Iliff School of Theology, and July 26, 4-7 p.m. at New Hope Baptist Church. Memorial service details.

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Donald E. Messer on July 02, 2014
We called each other "Brothers," having both arrived at Iliff in the summer of 1981 and because we shared a common commitment in the civil rights struggle and freedom movement. I miss our rides together to faculty retreats in the mountains, our many lunch conversations, our times together in one another's homes, and the meetings we spent dreaming and planning for Veterans of Hope. We had different roles and responsibilities at Iliff, but for years we worked together publicly and behind the scenes to transform Iliff, the church, and society. Rosemarie and Vince were beloved friends and our families grew close during both good times and moments of difficulty. Their love for Rachel and Jonathan was unmistakable, as they gave their lives to make a better world for them and for all God's children. I will forever cherish the plaque they gave me on October 28, 2003, that affirms our "many years of commitment to the struggle for a just America, a humane world and a creatively prophetic Iliff School of Theology." When one was in the presence of Vince and Rosemarie, you knew you were in the presence of greatness. I thank God for their caring and courageous lives. Donald E. Messer, President Emeritus, Iliff School of Theology (1981-2000)

Susan C. Carabajal on June 21, 2014
Words come hard to me right now. This man impacted my life in so many ways. I had the privilege of having been in his class, and just learning how to be a better human being in so many different ways. His presence in a room brought comfort, caring and deep, deep respect for all human life. He is and always will be a gentle giant in my memories. He will be deeply, deeply missed. He was so approachable and humble in serving others. His gift of love for all mankind radiated from every pore of his being. Human dignity and the right to be who we are was his battle cry. I place him among those who led us to freedom in every manner of living. Along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (who I am sure is delighted to have him in his company in God's Kingdom), Mahalia Jackson who is singing her praises to God and now he is among the heavenly choir too, and the Kennedy brothers, who also were Champions in the call to Justice & Equality. I am forever grateful for his being a small, but powerful, part of my life. May he always be remembered as one of the great Champions of Justice & Peace for all mankind. God Bless each of you his family and friends for helping to shape this great man.

Jeanette Baust on May 28, 2014
When I heard the word that Vincent passed, I was reminded that it was only a short time ago that Evelyn and I spoke with him. That day, he was orchestrating a powerful conversation at Montview Presbyterian Church on race in America. We all knew that Vincent would live fully until the day he died. He never seemed to want to rest from the work he embraced. When I first met the faculty core for my Jt. Ph.D. program, I said I wanted my area of study to be precisely "Religion & Social Change" (which was the name of the department). Everyone laughed & said, "No, you must pick a discipline, like history, ethics, etc." I was confused. "But Vincent is listed as a professor of "Religion & Social Change", I said, to which someone said, "Yes, and he is Vincent." I have never forgotten that moment. I went on to do sociology of religion & culture, by academic design. But the longer I knew Vincent Harding & his work, the more convinced I was that he wanted many more of us to be passionately engaged in religion & social change. Perhaps now, my brother, you can rest, for the rest of us have work to continue. I often use Vincent's favorite song as I teach at Ghost Ranch, in Abiquiu, NM. I sometimes even start off other classes and gatherings with his now famous questions: Tell us your full name? Where did you grow up as a child? and What was your mama's mama's full name? Now Vincent, in full baritone voice I can still hear you ... to the tune of Jacob's ladder. Those who come after you will not stop singing.... We are building up a new world, We are building up a new world, We are building up a new world, builder's must be strong. Courage brother, don't get weary. Courage sister, don't get weary. Courage people, don't get weary, Though the way be long. Rise, shine, give God glory. Rise, shine, give God glory. Rise shine, give God glory, Children of the light.... (and by that you meant all people, in all places). Many of us will miss you, Vincent, and hear you in our minds and actions. With tears and much appreciation. Jeanette

RON COSGROVE on May 28, 2014
The Poet, The Prophet, the Preacher the Teacher for Vincent Mathew 14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father/Mother in heaven.” Tell me what is Scripture without action? What is Scripture without our stories and our living example? You see; This time, we had the gift of years, Years for grey haired seasoning, Vintaged oak Barrel chested, Aged reduction Into the perfectly hued clarity and distillation of His message Delivered without waver, outside of time, without flaw He and his rolling ever now, and his ever kindness Sitting there together without the shield or the armor of our Practiced and treasured anonymity He couldn’t see you that way. Who could? “Tell me who you are” he said, uncluttered , unfiltered His voice could be a tickle in some other circumstance To his children, or to those needing their truth to be teased out of them and into a place they knew to be safe harbor Allay your fear safe harbor is in hand Weren’t we all his children? Not a hint of the rolling thunder from voices of past prophet Today’s reunions in the making Round and rich ever present, that forever spring voice Ever ending upward never quite finished Easy cadences caress like breezes and hold still hold nothing back Do you think he’s thinking what to say next in those grand pauses? Oh my friends and brothers and sisters Perhaps we should think again! Letting us catch up more like to be the cause Not to his words, but to him Do you remember the old religious song” Oh rest in the Lord, Wait patiently for him and he will give you your hearts desire” He too will wait patiently for you, to hear your hope He will wait patiently for you to hear your love He will wait patiently for you to find your peace He will wait for you to hear your call into loving action And when you hear it he will know, and then, he will speak He trusts the divine in you and waits patiently Sitting there letting the love fall like rain and the hope and peace and Freedom land gently and soak into the rich and fertile soil that is you His doctrine of encouragement! The doctrine of “be strong! My brother, sister, son, daughter nephew, Niece! What good are wonderful words and loving tomes if there is no faith in the Future and faith to change? Fellow Travelers! The greatest gift is that he has given us is the HOW, of it all It doesn’t take many courageous conversations before you hear a smiling response of “dear sister/brother I am so grateful that we have this opportunity to sit and be with one another learn from one another and on that last point I lovingly disagree.” Breaking free a dialogue of loved learning in how to gently directly lovingly nuance disagree into something entirely new. Not your or my way The new third way the our way forward way, The Good News way, Our poet teacher Into the to action and the gift of you The living faith of encouragement is Peaceful Trained Persistence Walk with me is in his every word We can do this and we must in every gesture, Now Because we are his charges! We are the Disciples! The Inheritors, the Beneficiaries, We are the heirs to the dream and to the reality. We are now the voices for the mountain top, and if we are not standing there together we have not heard him We are now the voices of challenge to the status quo, when it is Popular and Wrong. Whether it is Viet Nam or turning our backs on the 9th ward, whether it is hate crimes against our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters or another young man shot dead on the streets of Chicago. Or the subtle insidious snub or the shelving of an inconvenient elder! The voice of conscience calling! Calling us to highest selves, to link arms and lead We have walked and talked and listened and argued and laughed and wept with him Broken bread with our prophetic poet brother uncle father And we have heard his message of love and action Love your brother and your sister as your self and love your self Love yourself today who and how you are today and step onto the path of Peace without knowing where it will end, Your faith will take you there Step onto the path He was not some relic from a time and movement gone by He was not a “civil rights activist” riding on the tattered coat tails of history He IS a voice of compassion and grit, he IS a voice of hard earned truth, he IS a voice for the love we all desire and deserve from our selves from and for each other for our community and our country and for our world. Put down your guns, and your hate, and your fear, and Move the message of freedom for all, forward ! Move love forward Move forward, move forward, move forward, That was the message of an old man, still building history In the halls of Life and In the halls of this building He is us and we are in him he has carried us with him, we are with him now He has carried us with him, there! And we must never stop hearing him! Listening for him! We are his Blessed Community. And we must courageously step onto his path without knowing where it will end. As he said,” We can’t sit back and celebrate Martin King and ask when will There be another like him. No, no my dear young friends. We must join our Voices with that blessed poet June Jordan and demonstrate that “we are The ones we’ve been waiting for.” “We are the light of the world.”

Scott Schiesswohl on May 28, 2014
Few people have impacted my life and ministry in the gentle manner of Vincent. His spirit and scholarship always inspired me to dig deeper into the nature of life and the search for greater peace for the whole inhabited earth. Vincent sought a considered discourse in the public arena that would lift up rather than demean or fracture the common good. His respect and care for every individual never wavered even in times of conflict. His courage was palpable and highly contagious. From the very beginning of my time at Iliff in the early 80's Vincent was challenging and drawing me into the larger world of hope and promise. He leaves a personal legacy through the gift of teaching and mentoring, not found in the texts and lectures he shared, but in the text of a life generously given to all. What a blessing, he will be deeply missed and remembered.