I grow nostalgic as each year’s 3e Restoration Celebration comes around. I think about all who make 3e possible. I remember God’s faithfulness extended through WCC, without whom there would be no 3e. I remember the neighbors living through social displacement I’ve had the joy knowing and loving prior to moving here—they taught me so much. I remember all who welcomed them as if they were welcoming Christ himself, people like Mama Lily.
This season I’ve been thinking a lot about David Benedict. Maybe it’s because his birthday is in March. Or maybe it’s because I keep seeing him in the same spaces where hospitality and justice are valued and enacted. Regardless, he remains one of my greatest local heroes—a prophetic presence and tireless lover of the marginalized among us.
With DB our city is a better place. He doesn’t receive accolades, although he deserves them. He doesn’t want them. He knows Who holds his reward. But I cannot help but remember that without his advocacy, much in Williamsburg would be different, including 3e. Some other organizations would not even exist. DB’s prophetic leadership, faithful presence, and good-trouble-making ways opened up conversations and connections that led to movements of hope and justice, especially for our marginalized neighbors. His commitment to peacemaking over peacekeeping organized some, and confronted others, and was always carried out in genuine love for all. He’s never wanted to build an empire. He’s only wanted to build a beloved community.
My life is better because of him. I’ve learned more from him than he will ever know. He stands in the company of a small few who have shown me what prophetic witness looks like. He models grace in the face of dismissal and disregard. He relentlessly and fearlessly speaks truth to power and puts his hands and feet to his words, even in his 80’s. He has also shown me what it looks like to love someone faithfully in this life and into the next. He’s one of the better men I’ve ever known.
There’s so much more I could say, but I won’t. All I wanted to do was “take delight in honoring” a faithful man of God and leader among us (Roman’s 12:10).