Tag Archives: Cynthia Bolbach

Advent 12: Hope

Toasting Cindy

I have resisted including explanations with my posts in the Advent-photo-a-day. This one is different. It calls for some words.

One year ago, December 12, 2012, Cindy Bolbach, moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), died.

In the sure and certain hope of the resurrection, I posted an invitation to my friends to pause wherever they were and lift a toast in thanks for the life and witness of Cindy Bolbach at 20:10 that evening. Many people participated. My son Sean joined me at a spot off Times Square where we took this photo.

The hope we celebrated one year ago holds Cindy and all of us still. Thanks be to God. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

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You ran, Irene, you ran

Irene's Arm13.1 miles.

My friend Irene Pak, and her friend Abby Mohaupt, ran 13.1 miles today.

They call it the Santa Cruz half-marathon.

I call it a long, fricking way.

Irene ran in memory of our mutual friend Cindy Bolbach. Then, child of grace, she made the offer to others to provide her names of loved ones and she would run in their memory as well. She placed their names, temporarily, on her arm.

As  she ran, Irene raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I contributed to the cause. It appears that you still can too.

Irene and AbbyI stand in amazement at this accomplishment – amazed not only by the feat of the feet, but by the beat of the hearts that gave of themselves in memory and in honor. I am grateful to Irene and Abby and all who give of themselves for others.

13.1 miles.

See you along the Trail.

Photos used by permission from Irene Pak.


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Run, Irene, run

IreneMy friend Irene will run her first half-marathon on April 7: the Santa Cruz half-marathon.

She will run in memory of our mutual friend Cindy Bolbach.

In Cindy’s memory, Irene will raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

I have contributed to the cause. You can too.

After she learned of my contribution, Irene sent me a message of thanks.

“What more can I do to support you,” I asked.

Irene was online at the time as well. She replied, “As part of my training, I will not eat sweets or dessert until I run. You could do that, too.”

I stared at the screen a long, long time before responding. The folly of asking questions when he answers might be acceptable occurred to me.

But I have a deep admiration for Cindy. And cancer has claimed too many friends and people I do not know through the years.

After what must have seemed like an eternity to Irene, I responded. It took about three or four days of sporadic electronic conversation before I agreed.

On January 1, I started. No sweets. No desserts. And I have done it. I wish I could say I cut out those categories all together. But I have not. I simply have replaced them with nuts and crackers and chips.

Guiness Jameson ShakeA chocolate Guinness Jameson shake identified by my friends Bruce and Nancy has tempted. Sorely tempted me. But I have resisted.

Several late nights I have wanted to head to the local convenience store and exchange a fistful of dollars for a sackful of chocolate. But I have prevailed. Sometimes I go and get more nuts. But I have prevailed.

For almost a month I have resisted and prevailed. It has been a challenge. But not as difficult a challenge as I thought at the beginning.

Ice CreamI do really miss Ben and Jerry’s though.

However, the point of this is not about me, remember. I told you at the beginning:

My friend Irene will run her first half-marathon to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory Cindy Bolbach.

I have contributed to the cause. You can too.

See you along the Trail.

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On the steps, in the streets, with the people

Ministry comes in a variety of forms.
Followers of Jesus do not all look alike nor do we all do identical work.
Pillars of the Church come in many different shapes.

On December 12, 2012, Cynthia Bolbach died. A former moderator of our General Assembly, Cindy was well-known and loved by many across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Teddy MapesOn December 17, 2012, Teddy Mapes died. The sexton at West-Park Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, Teddy was known and well-loved by the West-Park community and by many in the neighborhood of Amsterdam and W. 86th Street.

A gentle bear of a man with a heart overflowing with compassion, Teddy came to West-Park a little over a year ago as the congregation connected with the Occupy movement. He quickly fit into the community. He took part in Bible study and worship and became a member.

Teddy cared for the physical building of the church. More importantly, he cared for the spiritual building – the community – the Body of Christ. He helped negotiate the creative chaos that the Spirit so often stirs at West-Park. Teddy became one of the public faces of the church.

I had only met Teddy a couple of times – but in those brief encounters, I could tell the significant role he played in the community. So today, I walked to West-Park to talk to my friend Bob Brashear, pastor of the church, about Teddy. Teddy’s biggest contribution, his most profound ministry, Bob noted took place “on the steps, in the streets, with the people.”

On the steps. In the streets. With the people. What a ministry, what a legacy.

Teddy’s death has ripped a hole in the West-Park Presbyterian Church community. I cannot imagine how painful the tear is – nor how challenging their ride through the ragged reality of grief will be – nor how long the rebuilding process will take.

But this I know: God who loved Teddy Mapes in this life continues to love Teddy Mapes and has welcomed him home. I give thanks for Teddy’s life and love and witness and faith.

And this I know: it will take time, it will be challenging, there will be tears, there will be fits and starts – but somehow, some way, some day, “every little thing gonna be all right” for the people of West-Park Presbyterian Church. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

See you along the Trail.

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Reflections on a life well lived

I am not alone in trying to articulate my deep appreciation for Cynthia – Cindy – Bolbach. Here are some other reflections:

Former GA Moderator Cindy Bolbach Dies at Age 64 by Presbyterian News Service

Advent: What Are We Waiting For? by Theresa Cho

Dear Madame Moderator … by Bruce Reyes-Chow

What I Continue to Learn from Cindy Bolbach: We Hate Cancer by Jan Edmiston

Life Is Fragile by Ruth Everhart

Former GA Moderator Cindy Bolbach Dies at Age 64 by Michael Kruse

Madam Moderator Cynthia Bolbach by Krista Phillips

Advent day 11: Rest in Peace by Derrick L. Weston

Fell Sergeant, Strict in His Arrest by Fr. Mike White, Cindy’s nephew

Cynthia Bolbach, Moderator of the 219th General Assembly, passes away by The Presbyterian Outlook

If you have written something – if you see something – that should be added, please make a comment and I will do so.

See you along the Trail.

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Utter chaos

Five years. The vagaries of time make it feel like yesterday and like a lifetime ago, all in the same moment.

Ruling Elder Cynthia Bolbach, moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) died on 12-12-12 in the afternoon. This post was written on that day at a time before I knew of her death. Thanks be to God for her life! Alleluia. Amen.

Here are reflections from friends and colleagues on her life and death.

I did something today I have never done before.

I stood in silence for five minutes.

I am not big on pomp and circumstance and formality. A South African friend once observed that I can be a bit “cheeky” to those in authority. For some reason everyone who has heard that assessment has agreed with it. Go figure.

I stood in silence today for five minutes in honor of Cindy Bolbach.

The tradition in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is to stand when the General Assembly moderator of enters the room. Almost every moderator in my memory has encouraged people not to do so. Most of the time most of them meant it. Yet the tradition persists – in honor of the person and even more so in respect of the office. And while it is not my favorite thing, I take part.

Today, without being asked, without being prompted, I chose to stand in silence for five minutes in honor of Cindy Bolbach – moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010).

I watched her election from the back of the auditorium in Minneapolis. My son Sean and I leaned against the wall.

A period of questions and answers precedes the voting. Commissioners (the folks with the votes) pose questions and the individuals standing (we’re Presbyterian, we don’t run) respond. The questions deal with theology, issues before the church, and issues in the world.

At one point, a question was posed along the lines of: “What would happen to the church, if you were not elected and one of the other candidates were?”

One by one the candidates offered replies praising the others and noting that the church did not depend on their election. Then Cindy Bolbach stepped to the mike. I do not remember her exact words, but the essence was:

There will be utter chaos.

The Assembly erupted in laughter. Sean turned to me and said, “She just won, didn’t she?”

The Assembly still had to vote. But Cindy did win. And I believe her sparkling humor that bristles with wisdom played a key role.

I stood in silence today for five minutes in honor of Cindy Bolbach.

Cindy is a woman of incredible faith, deep love, amazing grace, and an incredible wit. She lives daily her commitment to Christ, to the Church, to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) , to all people, and to God’s world. She mixes simplicity and profound sincerity with a capability to navigate complexity and controversy. I am privileged to know her. The Church (in all its manifestations) is blessed by her presence.

For most of this year, Cindy has struggled against cancer. The struggle cut short her ability to attend events but it never dampened her spirits (at least in public). She wore a fedora to the 220th General Assembly (2012) and she wore it well.

This morning came the news that Cindy has entered hospice care. And I stood for five minutes in her honor.

But in the silence it came to me that another way – a better way – to honor Cindy Bolbach – is to give thanks to God for Cindy – to entrust Cindy to God’s merciful care – to pray for her without ceasing – then to get back about the business of ministry. I am pretty sure that is what she would want. So it is what I have done.

When Cindy returns to the dust, as we all will someday do, I will shed more tears. But I will also proclaim “Alleluia.”

When Cindy returns to the dust, as we all will someday do, there will be utter chaos. But in the chaos there will be love and there will be grace and there will be God. And all will be well for Cindy. And all will be well for us. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

See you along the Trail.


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