News from AllianceQ: January 2015
Wayne Bennett: Well done, good and faithful steward
This eulogy was given by Nancy Brink at Wayne Bennett’s memorial service. Nancy is a GLAD member and Director of Church Relations at Chapman University. About this eulogy she writes “Wayne Bennett has been part of the GLAD movement from the very beginning. For many of us he exemplified the power of showing up, again and again. And he was so often the one that bought the first round of drinks in the after sessions. At his memorial, I had the deep honor of speaking about Wayne as a steward.”
I first met Wayne Bennett in 1987 when I was newly coming out. I had nervously gone to the Gay, Lesbian and Affirming Disciples event at the General Assembly, fearing that I might be seen by someone who would out me. We were divided up into discussion groups and I will never forget one of the men in my group—Wayne Bennett. I confessed my fear and he patted my hand, giving me the sweetest smile, “Anyone who is here will guard your privacy. Remember you could just as easily out them!” I relaxed immediately and took it all in.
I continued to see Wayne at General Assemblies and GLAD events through the years.
Fast forward to January, 2009. I was in my first day as Director of Church Relations at Chapman and the first piece of mail that I opened was from Wayne. No, that is not correct. It was from Wayne’s bank. It was a check and the money was designated for scholarships for Disciples students in my program. It wasn’t long before I looked up his phone number and gave him a call. I asked him what his connection to Chapman was and he was delighted to fill me in. He was a 1948 alumni and he told me all about our former Los Angeles campus and the wonderful memories he had from his student years. Wayne helped me learn an important part of our history.
A month into my job and again I am opening mail. Another check from Wayne’s bank.
March came and so did another check. That’s when I got it. He was giving quite generously—EVERY MONTH. It was in that moment that a new idea hit me—to develop a circle of Chapman Disciples on Campus supporters who pledged to give monthly support. Inspired by what Jesus managed to do with 12 as well as our beloved Wayne Bennett, the Fellowship of the Twelve was born that day. With his enthusiastic permission, I called 9 other strong Disciples on Campus supporters and challenged them to join Wayne in moving from annual to monthly giving. No one turned me down—they all wanted to follow Wayne’s lead. By the end of Founders Day that month many more had joined the effort and more student scholarship money began pouring in.
A few years later I called Wayne to make an over-and-above one time gift. He turned me down, but not before sharing with me some of the many other commitments that he had with other congregations and ministries he loved. Wayne’s generosity was widespread: congregations, GLAD, regions, Disciples Seminary Foundation, Chapman. And I am sure that this is not an exhaustive list.
Many years ago I heard that one of the best ways to tell what a person’s real values are is to take a peek at their check book. What we spend our money on tells us what we value, what we love, who we are. Laurie, I am not going to ask for you to publish your father’s checkbook. Frankly, I don’t need to. I know without a doubt that this room is filled with beneficiaries of Wayne’s love and financial blessing.
During these last six years I kept running into Wayne at church events. And every time I would decorate his name tag with two red ribbons: Chapman University Alumni and Chapman University—One of the Twelve. He would always beam at me—won’t we all miss that famous smile? And when I was done he would look down at them and pat them happily.
Well done, good and faithful steward.