Bishop’s Cross Presentation: Sandra Squires
(The following is Fr. Benedict Varnam’s presentation of the Bishop’s Cross at Annual Council to Sandra Squires.)
Right Reverend Sir; members of the Annual Council; friends and family and visitors;
One of the greatest privileges that clergy experience is to have a set of tiny windows into lives that are so richly lived by the people in the communities we serve.
I am very happy to assist Bishop Barker in presenting here someone living that kind of rich life, who has truly taken up the commitments of our baptismal promises, especially the great love of neighbor that we commit to in our vows, to seek and serve Christ in all persons and to respect the dignity of every human being.
When Bishop Barker invited me to assist him in presenting this year’s recipient, he not only reminded me urgently of the secrecy of the award – and the great tradition of building only slowly to the revelation of who will receive it this year – but he also wrote about this year’s recipient in particular, that this person
“is and has been an extraordinarily faithful servant of Jesus and the Episcopal Church in innumerable capacities and over many, many years.”
But let’s try to enumerate the innumerable, just a bit.
Let me begin by saying this recipient is a faithful member of our congregation at St Augustine’s.
- This is someone whose life of prayer and presence at worship are visible and steady.
- This is someone who clearly cares about the people in our church family, and listens well over the conversations at coffee hour or after an event.
- This is someone who is faithful in encouraging others, in celebrating the joyous, in comforting the hurting, and in serving as a champion for those facing real challenge.
- This is someone who always notices the visitor or stranger in our church, and makes time to say hello and learn more about them.
This person sees the needs in our community, often bringing to my attention someone who is quietly struggling and might need a visit. And I have also seen the impact of our recipient’s own work offering comfort and support to members of our church and members of our diocese. This is faithful companionship in the holiest tradition of Christian community: to walk with others through the hardest parts of their journeys.
I have also rarely seen someone this dedicated to personal growth and study. Although possessing several degrees in a rich field of study, this person continues to read, to attend adult formation studies, and to reflect with me and others on the texts from Sunday, the content of sermons, and books, DVD lessons, and other work.
Our recipient also understands that there is a natural political life to any group of organized people, but who has been able to look at that political life within the church, and see in it not a place for gossip, not a possibility for self-promotion, but rather the opportunity for us to do more together, as Christ’s Body the Church, than we could accomplish as individual persons or individual parishes.
That has been true in our parish; that has been true in our diocese; that has been true in a professional career; and that has been true in work done with national groups.
Let me speak about our recipient’s professional career, spent in a field that was dedicated to others. This work celebrated diversity, and also engaged it honestly, asking hard questions about who was not part of the conversation and why. This work sought to help those who held power and authority understand the realities of those who did not.
The field of study was education, and our recipient holds a Doctorate in it, with special attention to older youth and adults with disabilities.
Throughout a career in education, this work also included teaching on special education administration, women’s studies, Native American studies, and human relations.
It is to her credit that she did not remain satisfied merely with teaching others on these topics, but also spent time challenging the enrollment structure at her own university, calling into question how they might ensure that opportunities to take up teaching as a career were presented in a way that promoted a diverse student body to be trained as the future leaders of higher education.
Suffice to say that her professional work was done with a set of commitments that we honor within the church: that Christ’s Body has many members, all of whom need one another.
But if you need further clues, let me tell you where you might have glimpsed her tireless, effective work closer at hand:
- Our recipient has steadily been a member of this Annual Council, offering her voice to the conversations we have here.
- Our recipient is an avowed member of the Daughters of the King, and regularly works with others throughout the Greater Omaha area.
- Our recipient has served in the Women’s Ministries of the Episcopal Church, including recently as a president for ECW of Province VI, and as a member of the Episcopal Church’s delegation this year to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
- And our recipient has faithfully served on the board of the United Thank Offering, currently as its president, in which role she not only convenes international conversations covering everything from creating a culture of gratitude to assigning particular grants, but also spent her time this week gathering table stands from St Augustine’s to borrow for this Council, so the resources of UTO wouldn’t have to be spent buying them up.
Our recipient is Sandra Squires, who fills her free time with gathering others into community and fellowship.
Our recipient is Sandra Squires, who made the work of her career the needs of those our world would rather not slow down long enough to consider.
Our recipient is Sandra Squires, who has given her time, talent, and being to a generation of young people who have grown up in this diocese.
Our recipient is Sandra Squires, who has over and over again taken up the responsibility of positions in our diocese, province, and national church in order to move us closer to God’s coming Kingdom.
And our recipient is Sandra Squires, who told me mere days ago that she knew long ago that she could do more ministry as a layperson than if she had become a member of the clergy.
She loves God; she loves neighbors:
Friends, please join me in honoring the ministries of Sandra Squires, well-deserving of this year’s Bishop’s Cross.