Ruth Marilyn Brandon
This page is part of the Genealogy Research being done by Samuel Antonio Minter. It represents the best information I have at this time on this individual. This site is a Wiki open to be edited by anyone. If you see errors, or have additional relevant information, feel free to update this page. If you are not comfortable editing the page directly, please email me with the information at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
- Versailles, OH, USA (1942)
- Hardwick, VT, USA (1942-1948)
- Westminster, VT, USA (1948-1963)
- Oberlin, OH, USA (1959-1963) (for college but "Home" was still Westminster)
- Irvington, NY, USA (Summers after Junior and Senior years at Oberlin)
- New York City, NY, USA (1963-1966)
- Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania (1966-1969)
- New York City, NY, USA (1969)
- Madison, WI, USA (1969-1973)
- Durham, NC, USA (1973)
- Bagamoyo, Tanzania (1974-1975)
- Ribáuè, Nampula, Mozambique (1975-1976)
- Durham, NC, USA (1976-1982)
- Indianapolis, IN, USA (1982-1983)
- Durham, NC, USA (1983-1984)
- Frederick, MD, USA (1984-1990)
- Maputo, Mozambique (1990-1993)
- Southampton, MA, USA (1993-1994)
- Greenfield, MA, USA (1994-1996)
- Pelham, MA, USA (1996)
- Amherst, MA, USA (1996-1997)
- Westfield, MA, USA (1997-2006)
- Bellbrook, OH, USA (2006-2013)
- Everett, WA, USA (2013-Present)
- At time of RMB's birth she, her brothers and Marion Vera Hurlburt were living with RMB's grandparents David Clement Brandon and Mary Evelyn VanTilburgh in Versailles, Ohio as her father Ralph Aaron Brandon had recently died.
- Selected paragraphs from My Faith Journey 1997 by Ruth Marilyn Brandon:
- Sometimes I think I was raised by God. Unlike most people, I have no memory of a time when I ever doubted or questioned God. I was a late arrival in my family, both of my brothers already in school by the time I came. I was a girl in a family where all the cousins were boys, except one who was adopted. Was I special or what!?! I think my family did treat me always as a gift from God, and from my infancy, when my mother carried me to church in a basket, I was always in church.
- Now if God raised me, God used the church to help. My father (Ralph Aaron Brandon), my uncle (Roderic Wright Hurlburt), my grandfather (Donald Paul Hurlburt) were all ministers of the Christian and later Congregational Christian churches, my uncle continuing on into the United Church of Christ. Yet I did not grow up in a parsonage. My father died in a pastorate in Ohio at a young age, six months before my birth, so I never knew him in person. My mother (Marion Vera Hurlburt), trained as a nurse, was left to raise three children alone. In the beginning, the church was critically important in insuring our survival. People in the national structures of the Congregational Christian Churches helped my mother move with her family to northern Vermont where a job as town and school nurse was available. There, for several years we were helped by that fund which has its appeal every Christmas - the Veterans of the Cross Fund. I am told that we three children were pictured in the promotion one year - children of a pastor who died tragically young and for whom the church still felt responsibility. Because of the national publicity, a grower in California decided to send us fruit regularly. It was a gift from heaven according to my mother who describes us as being very poor in those years - very poor indeed. Yet I never felt poor. A lesson I remember very well from school years, whether applied to us or to others, was : It is no crime to be poor. Rather the question always was how to do our best with what God had given us.
- Phase two (of her faith journey) probably began with junior high as I became a thinker and questioner and reached an age where I needed to be needed, and respected, and given responsibility. My small town Vermont church, served by a retired pastor and his wife, nurtured these needs. In that church I was involved in many ways - choir member, Sunday School pianist and teacher, and youth member of the church council among others, but especially important was the youth group.
- In junior high I became an officer in the Pilgrim Fellowship - and progressed through not only local but state offices until I was president of the Vermont Pilgrim Fellowship and as such attended a national youth meeting about the time the United Church of Christ came into being. Youth meetings and youth camps were formative and transformative. There I grew steadily in faith and commitment and knew the church and God s presence went far beyond my local experience.
- I was perhaps in junior high when I finally actually was touched by a sermon - listening and understanding and finding meaning. I was fourteen when I was baptized and joined the church and started taking communion - all my decision - for my family came out of the Christian part of Congregational Christian. Babies were dedicated and baptism was later when the child could choose.
- I preached my first sermon on a youth Sunday when I was a High School senior - the text was Lord, help my unbelief. The church respected me as a youth and asked my contribution and nurtured my growth. Morris Pike who will speak in the service later today was the Vermont Conference staff person who worked with the state Pilgrim Fellowship and camps and trained college youth as summer traveling Vacation School workers. He was very much a mentor for me through not only high school but also early college years, facilitating the deepening of my faith and broadening my practice of living out my Christianity. He let us know that such faithful living was not only a good choice, it was also fun.
- My sense of the world-wide presence of God was deepened by the reality that my family had friends who were in mission work in Angola. Their letters fascinated me as did their occasional visits.
- My family also was always connected to current social issues. Concerns with peace and justice and moral living were always part of my environment, from childhood although members of my family were not actively organizing or publicly demonstrating in those years as we did later. My school years included the era of Joe McCarthy. One exception was a brother (Donald David Brandon) who like the rest of the family was a pacifist and appeared before the draft board requesting status as a conscientious objector. It was granted and he served alternate service at the time of the Korean war. Another exception was my grandfather (Donald Paul Hurlburt), who until his death was very activist with the Prohibition Party. It was also from my grandfather that I learned what I much later discovered was considered an ethnic national anthem of the black community. Long before the sixties, in Vermont, where I had not yet met a black person, I was already joyfully singing that song of determination and faith, Lift Every Voice and Sing. My uncle (Roderic Wright Hurlburt) showed me the places in his Topsfield, Massachusetts parsonage where there were secret panels and hidden spaces where runaway slaves had been kept safe a century earlier. The role of church people in abolition and the underground railway and in peace issues over the years were normative for me. That is what Christians did. That is how we lived out our faith.
- From Vermont originally, Ruth is a graduate of Oberlin College (1963) and Union Theological Seminary NYC (MDiv 1966) and Christian Theological Seminary Indianapolis (STM 1983).
- Selected paragraphs from My Faith Journey 1997 by Ruth Marilyn Brandon:
- College and seminary came in the sixties and I think of myself as truly a sixties person. This was phase three - where I discovered new dimensions and depth of faith. In college I participated and was a leader in Ohio United Campus Christian Fellowship and in the campus YM-YWCA. I began to be involved with anti-apartheid efforts and that continued in seminary and expanded to include solidarity with the other independence struggles in Southern Africa. I actively related to on campus activity in solidarity with the civil rights struggle. I did not have money to be able to skip taking jobs so as to spend school vacations in the south or go to national lobbying days or big conferences but I listened to those who did. It was clear to me then (and still is) that God cares when there are oppressed peoples and calls us to be involved on the side of justice. The same sense of call spurred me in seminary to help found and run Student Interracial Ministry which placed seminary students from all over the country in summer jobs - black students in white churches and white students in black churches - an activity that seemed helpful and appropriate at the time.
- I spent two summers myself during seminary, living and working in black communities in the south. Perhaps I was some help and my presence was testimony to solidarity of us northern white church folk but mostly I learned and grew myself. Living inside the black community in the south during the civil rights period changed my life. Many of the qualities society had held up as defining people as of value, were simply proved irrelevant. It was clear that some folks with very little education knew very well indeed what was good for their lives and the lives of their children. They were beautiful people, faith-filled and courageous, who gave of themselves far beyond what seemed humanly possible. They were hospitable people who dared to risk many kinds of new behaviors, including letting us white folks live and eat in their homes and join them in their struggle, even though such mixing could bring them to the attention of local authorities and be dangerous.
- I think it is fair to say that my all-white Vermont youth experience left me with no real presumptions about black people. That context taught me prejudice toward French Canadians on the one hand, and against rich city folk on the other. But black people did not exist in my life before college and civil rights introduced them to me. In the south, living inside the black community, I learned the depth of feeling and commitment evoked there by the song I already loved, Lift Every Voice and Sing. I learned the realities that inspired such deep faith, and after two summers, the freedom songs - many derived from gospel music - were deep in my heart. They had become part of my own identity and culture.
- Yes, my faith understanding and understanding of the church was changed forever through my seminary experiences as a summer associate to a black Congregational pastor in Raleigh, NC and through another summer inside SNCC activity in Southwest Georgia. Those communities and some special people in them (such as the Rev. Charles Sherrod) were also my mentors. Thereafter, I understood better the wonderful and enriching diversity of God s people. And it was clearly good. I understood better the discrimination and inequalities and poverty faced by a large segment of our own country and I knew God wanted us to do better than that.
- Has had an extremely diverse and unusual ministry that included campus ministry, missionary work, and settling refugees for Church World Service. She has experienced and participated in the struggle for peace and justice from Mozambique to Nicaragua and in our own country s peace, anti-apartheid, civil rights and women s rights movements.
- As missionary with Mozambicans, Ruth served as ministry of presence, teaching in the FRELIMO school for five years during the war of independence, and later for three years taught Ethics at the Ricatla United Seminary, and pastored a new church start. Ruth supervised students who trained literacy teachers in rural Mozambique. They often played a major role in keeping girls out of early marriages and in school. At the seminary, she organized the first conference for Mozambican women pastors and seminarians. This became the catalyst for their ongoing link to the Circle of African Women Theologians. The seminary then had only 8 women students. Ruth was the only woman professor.
- Selected paragraphs from My Faith Journey 1997 by Ruth Marilyn Brandon:
- There (in Mozambique), I found myself in the midst of people who became my friends who had nothing - except each other and God, as known through Jesus Christ. Drought, disease, floods, war and human atrocities against each other were the expectations. They could not expect all their children to live to adulthood. They knew every morning as a time of grace because there might not be another one. Virtually everyone I knew had personal experience of atrocities and war, running from an attack, watching houses or buses burn, sleeping in holes in the bush to keep their family camouflaged at night, violent deaths of friends and relatives. The seminary where I taught three years was in a war zone and we evacuated every night, returning every day. For the first time in my life, I had to come face to face with the living reality of Evil, a palpable fearsome force that was very present and could not be avoided or ignored.
- In such a place, God s presence also became palpable and awesomely strong and life-giving. Grace came daily for my Mozambican neighbors and friends when the new day dawned and they opened their eyes and knew they were alive. Beauty came in small things such as the shared water or firewood or cassava. I have seen a similar heightened awareness of grace and the possibility of today here in the USA in advanced cancer patients, who also cherish every moment of every day, thanking God for each one. Mozambican church people lived constantly with that kind of gratitude for today. And they also expressed with a profound and unshakable clarity that without God at their side, they would not make it through today - they would not find that extra strength and courage needed to go on. Although they looked forward to a day when the pain and sorrow would end - and for them that was in heaven and after death - they were not just pie-in-the sky Christians. God was also with them right then and there holding them up through every calamity and showing them every possibility. God and the relationship to God was deeply important - for it sustained when nothing else did.
- In Southern Conference, Ruth worked with the Just Peace Task Force and both the traditional women s organization and a Christian feminist women s organization charged to help them understand each other and work together.In Central Atlantic Conference, Ruth s work included peace and justice organizing, teaching, and action. Earlier at the University of Wisconsin Madison, Ruth directed the Campus YWCA which served as a Women s Center and related to many justice activities.
- Was an Interim Pastor at Second Congregational Church in Greenfield, MA
- Former minister of Second Congregational Church, UCC in Westfield, MA (1997-2006)
- Was a 2005 winner of the Antoinette Brown Award
- Association Minister of the Southwest Ohio Northern Kentucky Association of the Ohio Conference of the United Church of Christ starting in 2006
- Personal Memory of Samuel Antonio Minter
- Direct info from Ruth Marilyn Brandon
- 'The Visitor' Second Congregational Church (pdf)
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- This page posted on Abulsme.com on 29 May 2006