Friday, April 29, 2005

Saint Stuart

Stuart Whitney Posted by Hello

Jesus said, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."

Dear Friends,
Reverend Stuart Whitney died last Tuesday afternoon. (You'll have to create an account with the Kansas City Star to view the article I have linked.) At last, this man, who has for decades been laying down his life for his friends, can rest. There will never be another Stuart. The cancer that robbed him of his body robbed him neither of his passion for the gospel nor his compassion for people in need. We are blessed to have known him, and to have walked the journey alongside him for a little while. Please pray; gratitude for the life of Stuart and healing for the grief in the hearts of the ones who love him.

Stuart decided to start a homeless shelter 20 or so years ago, and was not going to let a little thing like Kansas City's zoning laws stop him. When winter temperatures fell into single digits, Stuart opened the doors of reStart without the approval of the city. And because it was the right thing to do, no one stopped him. Stuart worked tirelessly for justice for the homeless, the hungry, the impoverished - anyone anywhere who had a need Stuart could meet, he worked to get it met. Grounded in scripture, shaped by the church, and formed by his own experiences with injustice and poverty, his compassion for his friends was unmatched.

And we all were his friends, you know? When I sat across the table over coffee, talking with Stuart, I knew that in that moment I was the most important person in the world to him. That's the way he treated everyone. No greater love. He was discipleship incarnate.

Stuart, we will miss you. We owe you so much. How many lives did you touch? How many broken souls did you help get put back together? How many people would not be who they are today without your impact? I want you to know that there are a bunch of young clergy who are ready to pick up where you left off. You go ahead and rest, we'll take it from here.

Grace and Peace,
Andy B.

1 comment:

Kathryn said...

Although most will remember Stuart for his work with the homeless, we here at First UMC NKC will remember that he came out of retirement to minister to us when we were in need. Many may have said, "No thanks, I'm retired. I've done my job." He, however, continued to serve us, in what turned out to be the last years of his life. We will be forever grateful. What a kind, compassionate and incredibly generous man.