Friday, October 23, 2009

St. Andrew Lecture, 2009

Introductory Remarks: St. Andrew’s Lecture, October 23, 2009

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, and Neighbors. My name is Bruce Robison. I’m rector of St. Andrew’s Church, and it is my great pleasure to welcome you to this Twelfth Annual St. Andrew’s Lecture.

St. Andrew’s has been a part of the City of Pittsburgh and the Episcopal Church in Pennsylvania, first in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania at our founding in 1837 and in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh since it was formed from Pennsylvania in 1867, so 172 years now, and it continues to be very much a part of our sense of identity and our mission and ministry to be a positive force for this neighborhood of Highland Park, where we’ve been since 1906, and for the Church in our diocese, our city and the whole region.

The St. Andrew’s Lecture was founded to build on and extend that mission, as we have been proud to bring guests and speakers of note from our wider community to talk about life and work, to reflect on the past, to describe the issues of the present, and to say something as well about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for us.

As a bit of historical review—and I don’t know for how many years more I’m going to be able to do this and still be able to leave a few minutes for our speaker: the series began in 1998, with Dr. John Murray, at that time President of Duquesne University and the Chair of the Commission that led the reorganization of Allegheny County’s form of government. In 1999 we heard City Councilman Sala Udin. In 2000, the Very Rev. George Werner, retired Dean of Trinity Cathedral and leader of the Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership. In 2001, George Miles, President and CEO of WQED. And the fall 2002, as I know we all remember with much good humor and affection, we heard from our good friend and former Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, the Hon. Sophie Masloff.

In 2003, economist and author Linda Dickerson. In 2004, Dr. Robert Page, Assistant Conductor and Director of Special Projects for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and for over 25 years Music Director and Conductor of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. In September of 2005, the Hon. Cynthia Baldwin, who was at that time judge on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and President of the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania State University, and who in the year after the lecture appointed by Governor Rendell and confirmed to complete an unexpired term on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

In 2006, we welcomed Pittsburgh Post Gazette columnist Tony Norman. In 2007, of course, scholar and journalist Jon Delano, who gave us great insight into Pennsylvania’s role in the unfolding political year, and of course the upcoming presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney! Finally, last year, we remember with thanks historian Jeremy Bonner, whose recently published book, Called Out of Darkness into Marvelous Light, chronicled the history of Anglicanism and the Episcopal Church in Southwestern Pennsylvania and was very helpful in setting an interpretive context for the opportunities and, let’s say, the challenges of our church life in recent years.

In any case, it has become a wide and varied and very gifted tradition, this lecture, and I’m glad we can build on it in such a positive way this evening. I would mention that the Lecture is funded entirely from special gifts, from the proceeds of our annual Summer Book Sale, and from contributions received in baskets at each Lecture. I’m glad in any case that the Lecture can continue to bea free event for the whole community, and I thus happily encourage you to be generous in leaving a Free Will Donation in one of the baskets at the door this evening.

As you leave your contribution, I would also encourage you to fill out and leave in the baskets as well the brief survey form included in this evening’s program, which helps us know who came and how you found out about the program. The incentive for returning the form this year, really quite fabulous: a drawing to give away a collection of books produced locally by our Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh –with our speaker this evening included as author or editor or publisher--and by the National Urban League . . . . I’m sure an authorial autograph would be provided as well!

The evening and program are planned and hosted by our Adult Programs Committee, chaired by Dr. Bob Gast, and our Vestry. Many thanks also to Peg Ghrist, for all the administrative management this program entails, and of course to Jinny Fiske and Becky Usner and all those of our St. Andrew’s Hospitality Team who have prepared the reception that will follow this evening’s program.

To say now a word about this evening’s speaker, our twelfth St. Andrew’s Lecturer.

Highland Park neighbor and friend of many in this neighborhood, in the parish, and of course across the region, Esther Bush is President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, and during her tenure that organization has initiated programs for home ownership, youth development, and adult professional development. She has been and is still the inspiring and guiding force in the founding and development of our Urban League Charter School, just down the street here on Negley Avenue. She is widely known and respected as an author and communicator, and she has been a key leader for over 15 years in the life of our city and region—serving in leadership with governmental, political, and non-profit organizations in what has been a very dynamic era of community life.

The global spotlight was of course very much on Pittsburgh recently at the time of the G-20 Summit, and it certainly was my take that what we were able to see in that light included both some very exciting accomplishments and achievements, but also a reminder of aspects of our common life that still require sustained attention and reform. Thus it seems to me exceptionally timely that this year we would welcome Esther Bush as our speaker.

The title of this evening’s presentation, For all who Share Our Vision of Equality and Justice. So again, with thanks to Esther and to all of you. Following the lecture we’ll have a good opportunity for questions and discussion formally here and then continuing informally at our reception next door in Brooks Hall.

Please welcome then our St. Andrew’s Lecturer, Ms. Esther Bush.

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