Sunday, May 26, 2013

Tornado hits close to home

Whenever you drink a cup of coffee at a Congregational church function, you help desperately poor Latin American farmers stay on their land and support their families.

A theologian, economist, professor and prolific author, Rev. Dr. Stan G. Duncan initiated the United Church of Christ Coffee Project, a partnership between the worker-owned cooperative Equal Exchange and the UCC to promote the use and sale of fair trade coffee following Sunday services.

He currently serves as interim minister of First Congregational Church in Wareham, Mass.

I had the good fortune to meet Duncan last January, when I wrote a feature story about the humanitarian.

Raised in central Oklahoma in the Disciples of Christ denomination, he told me he received his call to ministry at age 6. He credited his vocation to a great mentor, Rev. Bill Alexander, who taught him that religion and God were not separate from the issues of the world.

In 1972, Duncan and a few buddies headed to Nicaragua to rebuild roads; and that’s when he saw little children begging in the streets.

Changed by the experience, he co-founded one of the first local chapters of the Christian hunger advocacy organization, Bread for the World, which today has half a million members worldwide.

Since that time, he has led delegations to visit small coffee farmers in third world countries. Six hundred million families lost everything when the price of coffee crashed.

This week I contacted Duncan after hearing the news about the deadly EF5 tornado that took a 50-minute 17-mile path through Moore, Okla., killing 24 people, including 10 children.

Recalling the interview, I knew that he and his family had lived in Oklahoma City, where he was pastor of Southwest Christian Church for five years.

“I did have some family members who were in the pathway of the storm,” he told me. “They are both safe but went through a lot. One cousin lost her roof and another lost her entire home. Both are now living with other relatives. They are all quite shaken up.”

Duncan had resided very close to Moore.

“We lived on the far south side of Oklahoma City, and all three of my kids went to Moore High School,” he said. “All of them reported back about friends of theirs who had their homes damaged. The amount of the damage is incredible – hard to believe.”

Duncan’s compassionate worldview is now focused on home.

He’s just an Okie from Moore.




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