In memory of David Parke

pikless.JPG

Peter Iver Kaufman: IF MEMORY SERVES

“David doesn’t email,” Kim Beach emailed me. I had hoped to offer David Parke a partnership: he would respond to the Dialog prompt about JLA, and I would append my getting to know him through David’s admiration many years ago. That won’t be possible–at least the first part–but i suspect the Dialog series has room for a revised second part.

If memory serves, Kim and I were waiting for David to alight from a train in Culpepper, Virginia a few years ago. David and I were about to impose on Kim and Barbara, to give them yet another opportunity to exhibit their exemplary hospitality. There was David–nearly un-aged–and we had a grand weekend. I can recall his lively curiosity, inexhaustible fund of knowledge–his wisdom; nonetheless, the memory I want to share pushed its way into that Madison County evening. Back we’ll go, fifty years.

Forrest Church and I conferred and came up with the idea of convening an association for liberal religious studies. We would call it Collegium. Forrest was completing his PhD at Harvard; I was doing the same at the University of Chicago. We took the idea to Ron Engel and John Godby–and Neil Shadle, if memory serves, and Collegium was born at Meadville/Lombard with drinks at the Windermere Hotel.

But before the launch, all involved agreed that the learned ministry was our foundation, raison d’être, and purpose. We wanted to draw folks from lecterns and pulpits. David came to Ron’s or John’s mind, of course, because he had graced both. We wanted collaboration not contention, the latter a staple at many scholarly conferences where colleagues attempt to outsmart each other and embarrass themselves. David came, then we came to him, relocating to Cape Cod’s Craigville Conference Center for many consecutive years. David Parke was the unofficial impresario and buoyant booster. Collegium has survived, and I hear from my good friend Jay Atkinson that a somewhat different version of its genesis is circulating. But its archivist, Neil Gerdes is gone; now David, its paladin. If memory serves, however, the learned liberal religious ministry has suffered an irreparable tear, as has our Foundation–as have I. David introduced me to James Luther Adams, to the possibility of being a church historian, historical theologian, and pastor; remarkably, he was all in one and one for us all.

Leave a comment