Profiles of People: Pastor Darrell Goodwin - “Inclusivity”
Pastor Darrell Goodwin takes a moment to pose in the sanctuary
of the Everett United Church of Christ prior to his sermon last
Inclusivity is defined as the “intention or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who are handicapped or learning–disabled, or racial or sexual minorities.”
Darrell Goodwin exemplifies a person who, even
though he’s a young man, has dedicated himself to living a life that includes all people. He is a busy man who still found time to take his
beloved 82-year-old grandmother, Roberta Harris, and his 90-year-old great aunt Ethel on a road trip from Chicago to Mississippi this year.
He is juggling a new position as reverend of the Everett United Church of Christ, plus at a second church in Seattle, and a fairly new marriage to Marshan Goodwin, who is a licensed marriage and family therapist. On top of that,
he recently recognized one of the happiest moments of his life by walking his youngest adopted sister across the Seattle University stage as she graduated.
Goodwin is an accomplished human being who holds advanced degrees from major universities from both the west and east coasts.
But his accolades really don’t do him justice or define him as a person.
As a small child, he was so sensitive he would cry if not allowed to go to church each day with his grandmother. He loved worshiping, singing, praying and being part
of the fellowship that embraced this way of life. His great-grandfather was a preacher. His father died when he was just a baby, but before he died the father asked his mother, Goodwin’s grandmother, to raise
Darrell. She has done a wonderful job. Just the idea that a young professional, in the prime of life, with a stellar career, family, ambitions, and goals, will stop everything to take his grandmother and aunt on a road trip from Chicago to Missouri this
summer speaks volumes about his character and respect for humankind.
Goodwin has always taken an unconventional path. At 15 he was preaching. Now, with degrees in theology and psychology, he is dedicated to being an LGBT person of color whose role is
to create a welcoming place
for all people and their intersections in life.
“I’ve always wanted to do work with people on the margins,” he tells me over coffee at the Snohomish Bakery.
“What better hope is there to give people on the margins than this big, welcoming, loving guy who seeks for them.”
His mantra, his affirmation to those he comes in contact with is, “God loves you. God accepts you. You are whole.”
In six years, he would like churches such as Everett United Church of Christ, which believe in an inclusive God, to be featured on CNN and all the major networks; at the White House, praying
for the President; and affirming everywhere that this country is an accepting and inclusive nation.
And he would like to be in the middle of all that change at the national level, he said.
In 10 years Goodwin hopes to be a change agent nationally for communities of faith. He already has
the kind of diverse life/work experiences and advanced educational qualifications.
He is someone who should have a place at any table.
He’s active in his own life and others in a positive, non-violent manner.
When he and his husband met on their first date in a restaurant several years ago, the waitress came by to see if they were okay, as they were both crying. The reason for the tears was what his date had asked him: “What was the most important thing in the world to him?”
Goodwin had responded: “Serving the least and the last.” They were both crying because they realized their mutual goals were one and the same. Finding each other gave them mutual strength of purpose and that made them happy. Conversely, one of Goodwin’s greatest sadnesses to date was hearing about Michael Brown’s body in Ferguson, Missouri being left uncovered in the sun for many hours and having to acknowledge the lack of humanity shown by people who should have offered care, respect, and protection, but instead left this precious human being all alone.
Raised Pentecostal and conservative in Chicago; attending Jesuit University for an advanced degree; being a person of color; being an LGBT human being; being young; having held prestigious jobs; and primarily being a social activist trying with his entire being to spread love in his professional and personal life help qualify him as someone to listen to.
He certainly gives me pause and hope that these generations after mine are not to be discounted or disrespected as selfish and self-centered — as I too often hear. He and his husband have both “stepped up.” They work to serve those who need help. I respect that.
I’m not saying I understand much of what it would be like to walk in someone else’s shoes, but I respect anyone who chooses a life of service.
Those younger than I are indeed different. They are connected to life in ways that I will never comprehend, but that’s okay as long as they are doing so with love and compassion.
Author Patricia Therrell’s column traditionally runs on the third week of the month.
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