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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Remembrance of Allan Burry

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When I was an undergraduate at the University of South Florida in the years around 1963-64, I was blessed with a counselor and Chaplain named Allan J. Burry.  I have previously written regarding some of the events that happened during our fellowship.  Tonight I just want to try and distill the essence of what Allan meant to me.  He continually challenged us students to be courageous and free Christians.  I think of Paul’s reference to being “slaves of Christ” (1 Corinthians 7:22) so maybe “free Christian” is an oxymoron in one sense.  But there is also a sense in which to become a slave of Christ one must be free from a multitude of lesser callings.  I will name but one example—that of the civil rights movement in progress at the time.  To affirm loving race relations required a freedom from many restraints and traditions of a well-established culture.  Allan flat-out challenged us to welcome a new day in race relations. This highlights a remarkable fact:  when one challenges you to do the right thing that constitutes one of the highest compliments available.  He was continually complimenting us in this way.  He was in the words of Zorba (from the movie with the same name) asking us to acquire “a little madness”—to take some crazy risks in the name of the Lord.  I will always be thankful to Allan for thinking so highly of us.    

[Photo (1963):  Frank Johnson, James Hood, Wayne Standifer.  On June 11 James Hood and Vivian Malone were stopped from entering the University of Alabama by Governor George Wallace.  Later that day, James and Vivian broke the color barrier at the University.  At a student conference held shortly thereafter at Lake Junaluska, Allan instructed Frank and Wayne to make James feel welcome.]

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