Brian Grieves honored for decades-long peace and justice ministry

October 19, 2009

The Rev. Canon Brian Grieves' 21 years of ministry at the Episcopal Church Center in New York have provided the underpinning of advocacy, peace and justice work throughout the Anglican Communion, according to recent tributes that have been pouring in from colleagues and friends. "Brian Grieves has served this church selflessly for decades, the last number of years in advocacy, peace and justice work as a member of the Episcopal Church Center staff," said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. "We are immensely grateful for his lengthy and broad perspective and the leadership he has provided through the transitions of the last few years. We give thanks for his ministry and pray that his retirement may bring new and rewarding opportunities to share his gifts." Grieves' ministry at the Church Center began in 1988 and officially came to an end October 16. Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu, in a personal message to Grieves, said: "I wish to commend you greatly for your leadership and service during your term of office in the church and wish you Godspeed in your retirement. We will miss you. You have earned it with your long and untiring service in the Episcopal Church and your devotion and commitment to upholding a vision of justice, peace, and social change as manifested in your fight against apartheid. God is smiling - saying 'Well done good and faithful servant!'" In 1993, Grieves was elected a lifetime honorary canon of St. George's Cathedral, Diocese of Namibia, in recognition of his long history of work against apartheid. During his tenure at the Church Center, Grieves served three Presiding Bishops as director of Peace and Justice Ministries, a portfolio that included the work of the Office of Government Relations, ethnic issues and anti-racism efforts, social and economic justice, international affairs and migration ministries, among other initiatives. Grieves has been director of the church's Advocacy Center and senior director for Mission Centers since January 2008. Canon Margaret Larom, who will now serve as interim director of the Advocacy Center, said that Grieves "has set the highest standards for servant leadership, and has provided steadfast personal witness to our church's commitment to justice and peace." On October 19, the Episcopal Church in the Philippines presented Grieves with the Bishop Robert Lee Longid Memorial Award for Peacemaking, a tribute to his decades-long ministry and an indication of the impact his ministry has had at a global level. Longid was recognized as a leading advocate in ECP's peacemaking ministry. Grieves will be the award's first recipient. "There are very few people in life one comes to know as both highly esteemed professional colleague and dearly loved personal friend," said Jenny Te Paa, convener of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network, which Grieves served as secretary for 19 years. "I enjoin my voice to all our friends across the world who will now be praying and knowing without doubt that your ministry beyond this time will be one of equally if not even more abundant blessing for the people of God to whom you have so unselfishly devoted your life -- especially those who are the least among us all," said Te Paa, dean of St. John's Theological College in Auckland, New Zealand. Prior to his appointment to the Episcopal Church Center staff, Grieves served for 10 years on the diocesan staff in Hawaii, where he became the founding chairman of the peace and justice commission. He was active in the struggle against the arms race and worked ecumenically in Hawaii with peace organizations. "Not only three Presiding Bishops, but also the entire Anglican Communion have been wonderfully served by your clear and consistent focus upon issues that hold humanity hostage to forces that tear down and destroy what God most deeply desires for this world and its peoples," former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold wrote to Grieves. "Your sense of urgency, and at times humor, have made you a rare and wonderful colleague, and I cannot imagine what my years as Presiding Bishop and Primate would have yielded without your support and help." Barbara Braver, Griswold's former communications officer, described Grieves as an "incredible colleague and friend, a gift to me and to those who were privileged to be your partners in our common enterprise. I have many memories but not one of a time when you failed to provide information, support, wisdom, resources, a listening ear and a wise heart." The Episcopal Peace Fellowship honored Grieves with the Francis Nevin Sayre Peace Award on July 21, 1997. In October 2004, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and in June 2006 was presented with the William Scarlett Award from The Witness for "devotion and life commitment to upholding a vision of justice, peace, and social change." The Rev. Canon Ed Rodman, John Seely Stone Professor of Pastoral Theology and Urban Ministry at Episcopal Divinity School, called Grieves "the consummate bureaucrat," noting that "he has been able to walk that thin line of loyalty to the boss and faithfulness to the values and ideals he shares with the various constituencies he has served in the church and the world." Rodman said that Grieves helped the government relations office "to be effective advocates for the causes of peace and justice and interpreted their work so as to position the several presiding bishops on the righteous side of the causes that the church has endorsed, and more importantly, enabled them to speak intelligently about them." Alexander Baumgarten, interim director of government relations, said: "Like many others, I find it impossible to imagine the Episcopal Church Center without Brian Grieves. The Church Center's self-understanding of mission and ministry derives as much from Brian's teaching and example as from any other source over the past two decades. Brian is a mission theologian, and a mission practitioner, par excellence, frequently reminding colleagues of the danger in understanding mission and evangelism as distinct concepts." Baumgarten said that that understanding of mission and evangelism, "carried forward by the Episcopal Church Center staff with Brian's leadership over the course of three primacies, undeniably helped transform the life of church and -- if I may venture -- the world itself over the past two decades. "While I scarcely can imagine the Episcopal Church Center without Brian Grieves' leadership, the glorious paradox is that I need not even try because the Episcopal Church Center will never be without him," added Baumgarten. "The Church Center, like the church as a whole and the wider world around it, has been indelibly marked by Brian's leadership."