Why John Coleman Campbell chose to participate in the Living Into Inclusivity dialogues
Being a Methodist pastor and son of a Methodist pastor means I have moved about every 6 years of my life, and have lived in 10 different communities across Washington and north Idaho. They have been rural, urban and suburban communities…farming communities, logging communities, a military community, an Indian reservation…Wherever I have been, I have come to love and appreciate each one’s unique culture, history, economy, traditions…challenges and achievements, Six years, and I have come to feel the same for the Wenatchee Valley.
As a pastor, it has been my pleasure and great privilege to hear the stories of people’s lives. I have heard marvelous stories of faith and courage and devotion…stories about how people came to be where they were…and do what they did…and the challenges they faced…and the obstacles they overcame…and what it meant to them, and to those whom they touched.
Spady Koyama was the son of Japanese immigrants, living in Spokane at the time of Pearl Harbor. The next day, he joined the United States army, and fought in the Pacific, rising to the rank of colonel, serving under General Douglas MacArthur. One day, he was riding in a jeep when a bomb exploded. The next thing he knew was that he needed to scratch his nose…which he tried to do, but could hardly move his arm to get his hand to his face. But that was enough that someone noticed, and it saved his life. At the time, he was just a body lying on the beach waiting to be loaded onto a truck with other bodies. Taken to a hospital instead, he received several pints of blood from an Irish fellow…which made him at least, part Irish. So he said.
There is power in a good story. The best stories to tell are the ones we know best—our own. Yet I can hardly tell you who I am without telling you about the people and experiences that have made me who I am. And of course, not every story needs to be told in public. As Donald Davis observes: “Some of our stories are, like a new baby, only beautiful to the relatives.”
But I see this endeavor as an opportunity to gather with people to talk and listen…to tell the stories of our lives that we find important…to hear where we come from and how we got here, and where we’d like to go, and maybe some of the things that are preventing us from doing so…as individuals, and as a community. If I listen well, someone else’s story will become part of my story.
Somebody said, ‘We are all under construction. None can say the work is done.’ Just so, our stories are not complete. Now, we are given a chance to write a new chapter, if we will take it. Together, we might discover an itch that needs to be scratched…that just might save us.