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Events honor William Sloane Coffin

  • The Rev. William Sloane Coffin at his home in Strafford, Vt., on Nov. 21, 2003. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/21/2019 10:00:01 PM
Modified: 3/21/2019 10:34:59 PM

STRAFFORD — The United Church of Strafford is inviting Upper Valley residents to the first of what pastor Tom Kinder hopes will become an annual weekend-long celebration, in words and music, of the late William Sloane Coffin, who lived in town after a long career as a theologian and peace activist.

“Bill Coffin was a huge part of Strafford’s life, its identity and place in the world, and yet we have some younger people in our congregation who do not know anything about him,” Kinder wrote of Coffin during a recent exchange of emails. “As with Strafford’s other, most famous resident, Justin Morrill, Bill had qualities and gifts and a purpose that are important to us now as much as or more than ever. This event is designed to help us consciously carry those forward.”

On Friday night at 7, pianist Annemieke McLane and cellist Emily Taubl will play a concert of works of Johann Sebastian Bach, of whom Coffin was particularly fond.

On Saturday afternoon at 1:30, the Rev. Jim Antal, a Norwich resident who advises the president of the national United Church of Christ on climate change, will deliver the inaugural William Sloane Coffin address. In his recent book, Climate Church, Climate World, Antal credits Coffin with inspiring his own career of environmental activism, In 2017, the Yale Divinity School, which Coffin led during the Vietnam War era, conferred its William Sloane Coffin Award for Peace and Justice on Antal.

On Saturday night at 7, Woodstock filmmaker Anne Macksoud will screen her 2004 documentary William Sloane Coffin: An American Prophet.

And during Sunday’s 10 a.m. worship service the church will play recordings of one of Coffin’s sermons and of some of his favorite music.

“He was able to form community across dividing lines,” Kinder wrote of Coffin, who died in 2006. “We need to remember this in our increasingly polarized society, and in a time when we need to work together to confront massive threats.”

David Corriveau can be reached at and at 603-727-3304.

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