Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rev. Otis Young

Rev. Otis Young, Emeritus Minister of First-Plymouth Church, Lincoln, NE, died last week. I attended First Plymouth in the 1990s. Otis developed a ministry at this church that focused on our social responsibility to each other. He did not talk about guilt or life after death or appeasing a vengeful god. He did talk about caring for each other, helping each other, and realizing, accepting and addressing our own shortcomings. He would take a brief bible section and apply it to life situations. Usually his biblical references were about how helping each other was at the heart of the Christian message. Personal redemption through acts was also a theme in Otis’ sermons. Such redemption was not just to please god but to make our lives happier and healthier. I also liked that Otis understood the value of music in helping to establish a spiritual space. He understood the value of making sermons focused and mercifully brief, about 20 minutes. He did not waste time on theological minutiae, in part because I think he realized that we were not seminary students. Otis never used the pulpit to advocate for his political views or those of “the church”. He was indeed welcoming of all. I admired Dr. Young and am grateful that he enabled me to understand what caring for each other is all about.

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