Local group organizes online gathering to honor life and legacy of Archbishop Desmond Tutu at 90

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Courtesy photo Archbishop Desmond Tutu

All are invited to gather online on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, at 4 p.m. for a virtual program of music, prayer and story sharing in honor of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who celebrated his 90th birthday on Oct. 7.

The Rev. Noble Scheepers, a co-chair of the diocesan Racial Justice Commission and interim rector of St. John's Church in Westwood, has gathered colleagues to plan the event, to include a talk by the Rev. Edwin Arrison, the development Officer for the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, and participation by both Diocese of Massachusetts bishops, Alan M. Gates and Gayle E. Harris.

Register to receive the event Zoom link here.

Founded in 2013, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation represents two of the world's most iconic leaders, according to Scheepers.

"The foundation strives to ensure their uncompromised bravery is celebrated, communicated and curated for posterity.  He and his wife, Leah Nomalizo, have left a powerful legacy of moral symbolism that has touched the heartstrings of every liberal aspiration.  I am proud to be an aspirant student of his divine, and political, leadership which brought about a changed moral order that transcends even the question for liberation.  I, and other clergy of color in South Africa, have been reminded by him that he is not a politician in the sense that his involvement was expected to lead to practical political reform only.  He believed that radical change of the dreaded apartheid structures needed to be transformed by a new order built on the foundations of justice," Scheepers said in an e-mail reflecting on his personal connection with the Tutus and the anti-apartheid struggles of his seminary years.

Scheepers recalled:  "Through it all, 'the Arch' is a powerful, dedicated pastor who was able to transform my own feelings of fear and frustration when I was head student at the Federal Theological Seminary in Kwa-Zulu, Natal, South Africa, in 1990.  The seminary was in the heart of the 'killing fields' of South Africa during the time of political and tribal conflict and massacres.  One of our professors was gunned down at the seminary gates, and soon after, a newly married fellow student who, unbeknownst to us, was also a police informant of a hit squad.  He was assassinated in full view of his wife and their newly born baby by members of the hit squad, using R4 rifles and AK47 machine guns.

"The seminary staff disappeared, and the students wanted to leave.  I ran to the seminary chapel and rang the bell to summon the students.  After an hour of prayer, song and counseling, I was called to the phone.  It was Archbishop Tutu.  His words of strength and compassion brought me to tears.  And then he prayed, closing with, 'My dear Noble, God is your shield, and tell the students that the God of peace is suffering with them.  Jesus said, "As they persecuted me, so they will persecute you." Be strong.'  I felt energized and empowered, as if the Spirit gave me new life.  I shared and prayed his prayer with the student body, and they were at peace.

"Prophet, priest, saint--'the Arch' has touched so many lives and brought transformation to the world.  Happy birthday, Baba Tutu!"

E-mail the Rev. Noble Scheepers with any questions about the Oct. 30 event at noble23r@gmail.com.