Monday, January 12, 2009

Being Bishop Garfield Thomas Haywood

Bishop Garfield Thomas Haywood (1880-1931), my paternal great-grandfather, was a great man. Not only was he a pastor of the largest church in Indianapolis, Indiana of 1500 members, half of which were "white brethren" in the state where the KKK was founded, he was also a respected architect, composer, author, painter, and businessman of a large printing press that he and his brother, Orville, ran. He is honored still in Indianapolis where a large section of Fall Creek Boulevard has been re-named Garfield Thomas Haywood Boulevard. There are signs of his likeness gracing the boulevard for miles.

Bishop Haywood traveled the world extensively and when he could not make it, his writings did. I remember traveling abroad once and just happened to meet an elderly lady with whom I struck up a conversation. I began to tell her that I was there doing missionary work and she thought that was the greatest thing. Come to find out her parents knew my great-grandparents, as they had come to that country many years ago and built a church and community center in the midst of abject poverty.

This kind lady told me many stories that her parents shared with her. She spoke of my great-grandfather's willingness to bring people together and of his great compassion and love for others. She told me of his ability to talk with government officials and businessmen in her country as well as the kids in the community in which he was building. She told me of his brilliance and humility. She told me of his songs that they still sing that Christian artists still record today. She told me of his fairness and determination not to see the bad in people but to choose to honor the good in them. I honor my great-grandfather today in the light of his great work, and for believing in the goodness of people even when he himself faced incredible odds.

5 comments:

dave Wheeler said...

If one had any doubt about why real and lasting change is possible in any community, Bishop Haywood's story is one that would erase that doubt. The very qualities that he possessed strong work ethic, ability to work with folks of all persuasions and the ability to see the good are qualities that are sorely missing in many of our political "decision makers".

Judith, thanks again for another inspiring story. I do believe if there were any person who could bring the spirit of Bishop Haywood to elected office and get things done it would be you!

judith ellis said...

Thank you, Dave -- much appreciated. I am always happy to share and equally as joyous to hear and read of the lives of others.

Bishop Haywood was indeed a remarkable man. He had only one daughter, my grandmother, who had 5 children. My great-grandmother, Ida Haywood, was also pretty awesome. I hear stories about her often about the impact she had on people's lives, even today.

My great-grandparents only had one daughter, my grandmother, who had 6children, including my dad. He was not present for us as he should have been, but he was incredibly beautiful in spite of some shortcomings.

As I have said here, my mother loved my father immensely and taught us to do the same. (She could have been incredibly embittered.) My mother also saw to it that we participated in our father's family events for our sakes, and saw to it that we understood our paternal legacy.

Regina Daniels said...

Amazing. Truly amazing. Despite all of the everyday distractions your mother was able to see the importance of knowing your heritage and paternal history. That is something I personally struggle with. It has been difficult for my son to bond with his father's parents which saddens me deeply at time. I've grown to understand from personal experience how important it is to know where you came from before you can decide where you want to go.
Definitely inspiring. Keep them coming Judith!!!

judith ellis said...

Regina, your words are encouraging and I am appreciative. We are helpers one to another; this I am absolutely certain of. Thank you.

Everybody's situation is not the same. My mother counseled a great many single parents and married couples alike on a great many issues, including the importance of respect, in spite of differences and in spite of who was right in any matter. We can be right, but dead wrong.

I'm sure you will find the balance for your family. No one can understand your situation better than you. I do, however, hope the very best for you. Be aware that your little one is observing and experiencing every little thing-- the corners of your mouth, the inflection of your voice, the light or lack thereof in your eyes, and the love in your heart.

Find the love to love, Regina, if only for your son's sake. I know you will.

Mack said...

I know I'm late to the conversation, but thanks for sharing!