Peace fellowship honors Brownings

July 12, 2009

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) on July 11 honored former Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning and his wife Patti as "living examples of Christ's prophetic witness" with the John Nevin Sayre Peace Award. Surrounded by family, friends and former colleagues, the Brownings were given a copy of an icon originally commissioned for former Utah Bishop Paul Jones, a pacifist forced to resign his episcopate because of his opposition to World War I. The Sayre award is named after a founding member of the U.S. branch of the interfaith Fellowship of Reconciliation, which was instrumental in founding EPF in 1939. Both organizations advocate for peace and nonviolent conflict resolution. "You may think because of your young years that your grandparents are known as blueberry farmers who also have this interesting fascination with raising ducks and chickens," Brian Grieves, outgoing director of the Episcopal Church's advocacy center, told Browning's grandsons Noah Browning, 14, and Philip Winkle, 16, during the award presentation. "The two of you, I hope, [will] get the sense this evening of the immense love your church has for your grandparents and why we feel as we do about them." Grieves recounted how Browning went to a leper colony soon after arriving as bishop of Okinawa. "Receiving the instructions on how the service would proceed, he was told that the leprosy patients who would be confirmed would have a lovely linen doily placed on their heads, so the bishop could lay hands on their heads without touching them. "Ed Browning said, ‘I don't think we'll be needing the doilies,' and for the first time he laid his hands upon the confirmands and touched them," Grieves said. Grieves also described walking down Second Avenue in New York with Patti Browning. "There would be a homeless person on the side of the street. Patti would say, ‘Brian, give him a dollar.' And I did, although I was always a little skeptical." "Patti is not skeptical. Patti has such a passion for the marginalized and oppressed people and poor people and identified so deeply with them because she, too, has the heart of a pastor. And that's why were honoring these two people tonight, out of that deep sense of pastoral care." He also lauded the Brownings for their "deep commitment to justice for the Palestinian people" and recalled Edmond Browning's famous declaration when he accepted his election as presiding bishop at the last General Convention held in Anaheim, in 1985: "In this church of ours, there shall be no outcasts." Browning served through 1997. Accepting the award, Browning said, "I think this has been one of the most meaningful things that has happened during the course of our time together and our ministry together." "We feel extremely blessed and loved in a way that … has meant everything in the world to us," he said. "We both have shared that sense the last few hours."

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