Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Rev. Judy Upham: Love and the long haul

As you may know, I'm one of the so-called Celebrity Bloggers for Lent Madness, the yearly competition where saints fight it out to see who wins the Golden Halo. I'm writing up the bios for my first round picks and this morning was doing some research on Jonathan Myrick Daniels, an Episcopal seminarian shot and killed in 1965 while participating in the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama.

Photo taken by Jonathan Daniels
But as I did so, I noticed that he had not been the only seminarian there, and I wondered what happened to his fellow seminarian, Judith Upham.

God bless Google, which led me to this interview with the Rev. Judith Upham, now 70, who still serves as an assisting priest at St. Alban's, Arlington, TX. And I found myself moved to tears as I realized that, after leaving Alabama, Upham had far more to fight.
Upham spent time as a director of religious education, then earned a degree in social work. When General Convention approved ordaining women as deacons in 1970, she said, “for me it was like bells ringing.” 
She began working for women’s ordination to the priesthood, becoming a founding member of the Episcopal Women’s Caucus and serving as an alternate deputy at the 1973 General Convention. She was ordained a deacon in 1975, a priest on Epiphany 1977.
Note, too, that Arlington, where Rev. Upham now works, is in the Diocese of Fort Worth which Episcopal Church watchers will know was a diocese that refused to ordain women and whose bishop decamped, claiming the diocese was under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Not surprisingly, her work there is reconciliation.

On Sunday, when we heard the reading from 1 Corinthians 13, I was struck by how many descriptors of love include the long haul. It's not "love is kind, love is patient," but "love is patient, love is kind," and it struck me that this was key to understanding the work of love. That the work of love requires endurance and a grasp of the big picture, rather than instant gratification. The arc of the moral universe is long, as Martin Luther King said, but it bends toward justice. Because, I would say, the arc of the moral universe depends upon love which "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

I am not about to take anything away from Jonathan Daniels and his witness and sacrifice, but I want especially today to celebrate the long work of love exhibited by the Rev. Upham and wish her every blessing in her continued ministry. Thank you for your endurance.


joan s s said...

Thanks for a great entry....rev Judy served our parish here in New York State. Wishing her all the best.

it's margaret said...

Thank you for this.

Chris Yaw said...

Thanks for tracking this down!

Mary Beth said...

Brilliant! Thanks. I'm blessed to have her as my EFM mentor now.