I first met Jim on July 4, 2009. I will remember that day forever, as I was leaving a difficult past behind, coming back to my hometown, and it was the first time I stepped into St Mark’s Episcopal Church, the church that would become my sponsoring parish for ordination to the priesthood.
It was Jim who welcomed me that day and made me feel a part of the service. Over the following year, he was my guide, as I learned more about the Episcopal church, was confirmed, and then started on the path toward discernment for ordination. He was kind, he was always interested in what I was doing, and he always went out of his way to support the path I found myself on.
When I left for seminary, St Marks (and Jim) stayed in touch, paid for my health insurance, and cheered me on.
On my return, St Mark’s was still there with open arms and so was Jim. When I started Chaplains on the Harbor, he generously agreed to keep the books. I’m sure he (or I) had no idea what we were getting ourselves into! For the next eight years, Jim kept our books, from the days when I wasn’t even paid to our graduation as an incorporated organization with 16 people on staff, a farm, a community center, extensive outreach, and six feeding programs. It was a heady eight years and, in one of my last conversations with Jim, we reminisced on how far we had come.
Jim wasn’t just there for COH, though. He has also been there for me over the years– always the cheerleader, at my wedding when my own parents didn’t come, a father figure I appreciated perhaps more than I was ever able to tell him.
Jim was one of the most direct communicators I have ever known, be it in face to face conversation, facebook, or email. It occasionally got him into trouble, but I adored him for it. He provided a compass for me in the Episcopal Church, where communication styles are so much more unemotional than the ones I grew up with.
When I got the call that Jim had died suddenly while talking to his daughter on the phone, when I prayed over his body and talked with Bonnie, it still did not feel quite real.
Jim leaves a huge legacy: a family he loved and cherished, the extensive work he has done in the Diocese of Olympia on committees and boards and with the Circles of Color allies group. He was ever seeking ways to practice his faith that were more in tune with the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth and he constantly and consistently chose to be on the side of poor and oppressed people whenever he found them.
I will miss him. I am so grateful for him. I will really miss him.
Rest in peace, Jim, and rise in power.