“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu
We in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington remember Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s many contributions to Washington and join the world in reflecting on his distinguished life and gifted ministry.
Desmond’s message of faith and reconciliation found a home in Washington. During the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, the former Bishop of Washington, the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker, and Desmond formed a lifelong friendship. Thereafter, Desmond was welcomed in Washington throughout his life. On many occasions, the Washington National Cathedral offered Desmond its pulpit to share his soft but Godly voice against social injustice at home and around the world.
We in Washington listened to Desmond and saw his faithfulness. We watched Desmond fearlessly wade into a hostile crowd in South Africa to save a poor victim from “necklacing.” We witnessed his inspired leadership of the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission seeking to transform a nation beset by racial strife to a nation that embraces diversity – to a rainbow nation. We prayed with Desmond as he underwent medical treatment in NYC.
The earliest collaboration between Archbishop Tutu and Bishop Walker forged a lasting bond between the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and the Diocese of Washington. They united first in a common resolve against racism. This shared ministry later grew to develop a model for the compassionate response to those suffering from HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa and the United States. Today, this same shared ministry has evolved to combat climate change and its devastating impacts on communities in need throughout the world.
Washington also has been blessed by Desmond’s deep conviction to safeguard children and ensure their education. Desmond served on the first Advisory Board for the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys, established in memory of Bishop Walker. The tuition-free elementary school serves young boys living in underserved communities of Washington and seeks to nurture their intellectual, spiritual and moral foundations as exemplified by both Desmond and Bishop John Walker.
For these many blessings, we give thanks for Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. His immeasurable gifts have lifted up Washington to make us better people of God.
God Bless Africa and her native son Desmond and give comfort to his wife Leah and their four children during this difficult time.
This reflection was written by members of the Southern Africa Link Committee