12/26/2006

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Home church Boston's Arlington Street was not my first church experience. I didn't begin to attend Arlington Street until I was nineteen. I had been part of at least four Unitarian churches before that, not counting the one I was christened in. But in those churches I was always Clyde and May's son Clyde Elliot. Arlington Street was a place where no one knew my parents, and I was one of the young people. Jack Mendelson was minister then. I was not a loyalist. I went to King's Chapel, First Church and Charles Street Meeting House. When I went to San Francisco to finish to college, I went to the Bay area UU churches. When I came back to Massachusetts in 1965 to go Crane Theological School I did my student ministry at Second Church of Boston up in the Fenway. But I always came back to Arlington Street when I had to think about my life. I first made the decision to go into the ministry there sitting in a pew. It was sitting in that same pew that i decided to leave theological school in 1966 and throw myself into trying to stop the Vietnam war. When I became disillusioned with the leadership of the Unitarian Universalist Association during the Black Empowerment Struggle in 1969 and 1970, I found folks at Arlington Street who agreed with me, and was able to "keep the faith" despite my anger with those who we had designated to lead us. For years I travelled as an organizer, kept myself busy as a justice advocate, and experienced that Arlington Street was there when I had a free Sunday, when I needed to touch base with that childhood faith that kept calling me home. Finally it was at Arlington Street all most twenty years ago now...
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Want to get a daily work out? Commute in New York Yesterday I traveled by way of the Number 3 train to 72nd and Amsterdam by subway, then walked from the subway stop over to Fourth Universalist Church (76th St and Central Park West) to pick up some items that I had lent Rosemary Bray McNatt,. I walked back to the subway and took the train to 42nd Street and then transferred over to S train and took it to Grand Central. I then walked to the Community Church at 35th and Park. I met with Janice Marie Johnson about some details for the Memorial Service for my late wife, Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley. Then I walked over to Sixth Street and got on the N to bring me back to Court Street in Brooklyn. The subways are wonderful ways of getting around the city, but the haven't been updated for ease of use, upstairs and downstairs and long corridors for transfers. I think I might have walked four miles during the course of the afternoon plus at least 12 flights of stairs. I am not in terrible shape, but not ready to hike up a mountain either — but New Yorkers do this kind of thing everyday. One can be car free in New York, get a good workout, and spend the money one would on a car on taxis when time is pressing. And save enough to retire to the Sun Belt, I can' t imagine doing those stairs for many more years. Of course I might have walked a few less steps if I had my sense of direction up and running. Marjorie always told me I could find my way anywhere, but I have found myself turned around more than once in this city. I got to corner of the 35th and Park Ave. yesterday and lo there was...