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                                                      PRINTER'S NO. 2320



No. 298 Session of 2002

           STACK, A. WILLIAMS AND O'PAKE, OCTOBER 16, 2002


                                  A RESOLUTION

     1  Expressing condolences on the passing of the Reverend Paul M.
     2     Washington.

     3     WHEREAS, The Reverend Paul M. Washington, 81, the elegant,
     4  energetic Episcopal pastor who became a relentless champion of
     5  the oppressed and such a steadfast acolyte of Christian
     6  liberalism that one political leader dubbed him "the high priest
     7  of the progressive movement," died Monday, October 7, 2002, of
     8  heart failure at Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood; and
     9     WHEREAS, As rector of the Church of the Advocate in North
    10  Philadelphia from 1962 until he accepted emeritus status in
    11  1987, Father Washington was to many the embodiment of that
    12  African-American pastoral tradition in which the struggle for
    13  human rights and social justice is the highest form of ministry;
    14  and
    15     WHEREAS, Mayor John F. Street was one of his admirers; and
    16     WHEREAS, "The passing of Father Paul Washington is sad news
    17  for Philadelphia's faith-based community and for the entire

     1  community," Mayor Street said in a statement yesterday. "Father
     2  Paul was a devout man of God, a man of strong convictions and a
     3  defiant voice against injustice in all its forms. His abiding
     4  faith, compassion for his fellow men and women, and profound
     5  love for this city will be his lasting legacy"; and
     6     WHEREAS, The Reverend Isaac Miller, who succeeded Father
     7  Washington at the Church of the Advocate, said: "Paul, first and
     8  foremost, no matter what arena he was operating in, was a
     9  priest. He did not function in a way that his identity as a
    10  servant of God and a servant of the church was ever confused.
    11  Everything he did flowed out of that"; and
    12     WHEREAS, With Philadelphia, the nation and the world as his
    13  pulpit, Father Washington conferred with Black Panthers in the
    14  1960s and lobbied for domestic-partnership benefits for gay city
    15  workers in the 1990's; and
    16     WHEREAS, He was jailed with homeless protesters and harshly
    17  criticized for demanding that Episcopalians pay reparations to
    18  the decendants of African-American slaves; and
    19     WHEREAS, He challenged canon law and ancient tradition when
    20  he opened the doors of his neo-Gothic, 1,500-seat church at 18th
    21  and Diamond Streets to the unprecedented, unauthorized
    22  ordination of the Episcopal Church's first women priests in
    23  1974; and
    24     WHEREAS, As a member of the panel that reviewed the city's
    25  1985 bombing of MOVE headquarters that left 11 people dead and
    26  destroyed 61 homes, he was unflinching in his criticism of
    27  police tactics and of the conduct of his longtime friend, then-
    28  Mayor W. Wilson Goode, and yet, even Goode remained so admiring
    29  of the priest that during a banquet later that year in Father
    30  Washington's honor, the former mayor remarked, "If I could be
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     1  like anyone in the world...I would want to be like you"; and
     2     WHEREAS, Although later in life he endured repeated bouts of
     3  ill health, including chronic muscle pain, Father Washington did
     4  not rest in retirement. In 1994, he was sent to serve as interim
     5  pastor of the historically black Church of the Crucifixion in
     6  South Philadelphia, where he had been ordained and married. The
     7  church was on the verge of closing. He revitalized the
     8  congregation and continued to say Mass and give sermons there
     9  until last November; and
    10     WHEREAS, In April, he returned to the Church of the Advocate
    11  for the groundbreaking of the Paul and Christine Washington
    12  Family and Community Center, to be built adjacent to the church.
    13  The center, named for him and his wife, is scheduled to be
    14  completed next year. It will house a summer camp and after-
    15  school programs for children; and
    16     WHEREAS, Lean and bespectacled, commanding but approachable,
    17  Father Washington was known as a compelling preacher with a
    18  deep, sonorous voice, whose highly refined speaking style
    19  encompassed both the thunderous expressions of the best African-
    20  American preachers and the cool restraint of the Episcopal
    21  liturgical tradition; and
    22     WHEREAS, Paul Matthews Washington was born May 26, 1921, in
    23  Charleston, South Carolina, and was raised a Baptist; and
    24     WHEREAS, Father Washington was ordained a priest in 1947,
    25  continued at the Church of the Crucifixion as assistant deacon
    26  for a time, then spent six years teaching at Cuttington College
    27  in the West African nation of Liberia; and
    28     WHEREAS, Familiar with tools for the hands as well as those
    29  of the spirit, he also served as head foreman for the
    30  construction of college buildings in the bush, and later made
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     1  repairs and improvements in his church and rectory in North
     2  Philadelphia; and
     3     WHEREAS, Father Washington returned to Philadelphia in 1954
     4  and became vicar of St. Cyprian in Elmwood, and then in 1962,
     5  rector of the Church of the Advocate; and
     6     WHEREAS, He soon was absorbed in civil and human rights,
     7  serving for seven years on the City of Philadelphia's Human
     8  Relations Commission, beginning in 1964; and
     9     WHEREAS, At a gathering in his honor of more than 1,000
    10  people in 1985, a succession of civic, political and religious
    11  leaders spoke of his deeds, celebrated his character, and
    12  showered him with honorifics. But perhaps none of the
    13  descriptions of the North Philadelphia minister seemed to suit
    14  him better or satisfy him more than the one afforded him by then
    15  United States Representative William H. Gray, III, who called
    16  him "the high priest of the progressive movement in
    17  Philadelphia"; and
    18     WHEREAS, Father Washington is survived by, in addition to his
    19  wife, sons, Michael, Marc and Kemah and a daughter, Donyor; and
    20  seven grandchildren; therefore be it
    21     RESOLVED, That the Senate note with great sadness the passing
    22  of the Reverend Paul M. Washington and extend condolences to his
    23  family; and be it further
    24     RESOLVED, That a copy of this resolution be transmitted to
    25  the family of the Reverend Paul M. Washington.

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