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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight


Word has been received of the death of the Rev'd Dana Rose, first (and to my knowledge only, to date) honestly Gay Black man to be ordained priest in the Diocese of Newark, Saturday afternoon, August 12, 2006, at Mountainside Hospital, Glen Ridge, NJ, where he had been hospitalized for some time with complications due to hypertension and kidney failure.

It is reported that a memorial service will be held at Trinity and St. Phillips Cathedral in Newark, most likely in September.

Ms. Lyn Headley-Deavours and Deacon Cy Deavours, who have been ministering to Dana, are working with Dana's family, all of whom live out of town, to arrange a date.

It was my honor and privilege to sponsor Dana for ordination when I was Priest in Charge of House of Prayer in Newark, NJ. He had tried to be ordained in two diocese prior to Newark, but had been turned down. No one wanted to deal with an 'out gay' priest - much less an 'out gay' Black man in the late '70s. The paucity of Black priests in the Episcopal Church, much less honestly gay Black priests, would cause one to believe that we have not made the progress we'd like to think we have.

He did not wait for the church to provide him with a ministry or sanction his vocation. For many years, he did important works of ministry as an Counselor and Educator working with people with addictions and HIV/AIDS and later, as Multicultural and Diversity Trainer at the LGBT Center in New York City.

Dana and I worked together when I was Canon Missioner to The Oasis, doing Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Training. He picked up a lot of flack from both the Black and Progressive community for not doing "just" Anti-Racism training.

He remained firmly convinced that racism could not be effectively dismantled unless you started where people lived AND placed it within the spectrum of prejudice and oppression.

It was he who first said to me, "There is no hierarchy of prejudice and oppression."

He also coined the phrase, "Foot-on-neck-disease," in speaking about the dynamic of the interrelated nature of prejudice and oppression. "In climbing up the ladder of success," he taught, "it is important to keep one foot on the rung above you and one foot on the neck of the person just below you."

Dana was a poet and also wrote short stories. Anyone who knew Dana also knew that he kept a journal in his backpack in which he recorded his reflections and thoughts, his hopes and prayers.

He had the voice of a very angel. I will never forget his singing Aaron Neville's lyrics "Good night, my brother," to the tune of a traditional Bahamian gospel song, at the bedside of the Rev'd Bernie Healy in my home just hours before he died of AIDS.

He also sang that same song at Bernie's Celebratory Wake and Visitation at House of Prayer in Newark, where Bernie had been a most beloved rector and pastor. I have included the lyrics of that song as a tribute to Dana.

I learned so much from our brother, Dana. By his life and his bold, brave witness, he made the path easier for those who follow in his footsteps.

I shall miss him, but he will be missed by many, many more whose lives he touched.

He told the truth and lived the truth, and paid dearly for both.

May his soul and all the souls of the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

I bid you goodnight, Dana. Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight. May you rest in peace and rise in glory.


"I Bid You Goodnight"

Aaron Neville lyrics
(traditional bahamian gospel song)

Lay down my dear brother, lay down and take your rest
I want to lay your head upon your saviorÂ’s breast
I love you, but jesus loves you best
I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight
I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight

Lay down my dear brother, lay down and take your rest
I want to lay your head upon your saviorÂ’s breast
I love you, but jesus loves you best
I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight
I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight

One of these mornings bright and early and soon, goodnight
Now theyÂ’re pickinÂ’ up the spirit to the shore beyond, goodnight
Go walking in the valley of the shadow of death, goodnight
HeÂ’s riding a staff, gonna comfort me, goodnight
Join the wise, thereÂ’s a soul to find, goodnight
Lord send a fire, not a flood next time, goodnight
To leave for the ark, that wonderful boat, goodnight
She really loaded down, getting water to float, goodnight
Now pray for the beast at the ending of the world, goodnight
He loved the children that would not be good, goodnight
I remember rather well, I remember right well, goodnight
I went walking to jerusalem just like john
Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight
Lay down my dear brother, lay down and take your rest
I wanna lay your head upon your saviors breast
I love you, but jesus loves you best
I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight
I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight

3 comments:

revsusan said...

Dana was sweet, brave, gentle soul. May he go from strength to strength in a life of perfect service.

Capri said...

Hi,
I am Dana's sister, Capricia. Thank you for the letter and words of kindness during this time.

A memorial service celebrating the life of the Rev. Dana Rose will be held at Trinity and St. Philip's Cathedral in Newark on September 16, 2006 at 3:00 p.m.

Trinity and St. Philip's Cathedral
608 Broad Street
Newark, NJ 07102

Peace and Blessings,
Capricia G.

Anonymous said...

I'm just finding out about Danas desth 10nyears after. I found an old program from my church in the Diocese of Long Island where Dana came before he became a priest and most likely one of the ones that turned him down. I loved him. He was a young and current person who was relatable to the younger generation of our parish. He was current on music and the trends. I'm truly saddemedbto learn of his life being cut shortest before his time