A Farewell After 26 Years
By Bishop Don diXon Williams
It is hard to put into a few words what my time with Bread for the World has meant to me. My heart is bursting with thanksgiving. First, I thank God for a place like Bread, which for 40 years has been faithful to God's call to work on policies that have affected the lives of hungry and poor people at home and around world. Secondly, I thank God that Rev. Art Simon allowed God to use him as the instrument that brought Bread from an idea into reality.
On June 1, 1988, I walked into Bread, thinking only that I was starting a new job and not realizing that I had actually found my unique niche in ministry. Our office then was in an old warehouse on Rhode Island Ave. NE in Washington, D.C., where break-ins were fairly normal. Some staff were even caught in the middle of a shoot-out one day! Three office moves later, Bread now resides on the 12th floor in an office building a few blocks from the Capitol, and it is an awesome location. In an odd kind of way, each location has become the physical manifestation of the growth and importance of the work that is done within its walls.
Among the things I am most proud of are the AFRIConferences we held from 1995 to 1997. I have also been honored to work with other important church leaders in Christian Churches Together in the USA as they formed this much-needed entity as well as with the committee to craft a program that, after 50 years, finally responded to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s letter from a Birmingham jail and presented it to Rev. Bernice King, his youngest daughter.
Last but certainly not least, I am happiest about the role I was able to play in bringing Lazarus: The Musical back into the life of Bread. Recently I was honored with a performance. In the cast was my daughter, Dee, and my grandson, Galen, which represented three generations of my family who took part in that production.
I am now moving on to other endeavors, but to be honest, no one ever really leaves Bread. I have come to appreciate the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians when he said, "Finally, brethren and sisteren [my word], whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which you have both learned, and received and heard and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."
Bread for the World, thank you for allowing me the honor to be of service. I look forward to the day when we can say: "We did it! We finally ended hunger."
Bishop Don diXon Williams retires on July 31 after 26 years as national associate for African-American church engagement.