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Statement by Archbishop Iakovos on the Occasion of the Memorial Service for Rev. James Reeb

 

"I came to this Memorial Service because I believe this is an appropriate occasion not only to dedicate myself as well as our Greek Orthodox Communicants to the noble cause for which our friend, the Reverend James Reeb gave his life; but also in order to show our willingness to continue this fight against prejudice, bias and persecution.

''In this God-given cause, I feel sure that I have the full and understanding support of our Greek Orthodox faithful of America. For our Greek Orthodox Church and our people fully understand from our heritage and our tradition such sacrificial involvements.   Our Church has never hesitated to fight, when it felt it must, for the rights of mankind; and many of our Churchmen have been in the forefront of these battles time and time again.

''The great poet John Milton said in the closing lines of 'Samson Agonistes’:

                                ‘All is best, though oft we doubt,

                                What the invisible dispose of highest wisdom brings about.'

"I would like to believe that these words have deep relevance to the meaning of the tragic and violent death of the Rev. James Reeb. The ways of God are not always revealed to us, but certainly His choice of this dedicated minister to be the victim of racial hatred and the hero of this struggle to gain unalienable constitutional rights for those American brethren of ours who are denied them, and to die, so to speak, on this battlefield for human dignity and equality, was not accidental or haphazard.

“Let us  seek out in this tragedy a divine lesson for all of us. The Rev. Reeb felt he could not be outside the arena of this bitter struggle -- and we too must feel that we cannot.       Let his martyrdom be an inspiration and a reminder to us that there are times when we must risk everything, including life itself, for those basic American ideals of Freedom, Justice and Equality, without which this land cannot survive.

                  "Our hope and prayer, then, is that we may be given strength to let God know by our acts and deeds, and not only by our words, that like the late Rev. James Reeb, we too are the espousers and the fighters in a struggle for which we must be prepared to risk our all.