- Posted May 14, 2012 by
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Chuck Colson Remembered: a Life of Service and Faith
(Washington) There are two things that well-mannered, civil individuals are never to bring up in mixed conversation – politics and religion.
Former White House aide, convicted felon and founder of the non-profit Prison Fellowship, Charles (Chuck) Colson, apparently missed that particular Miss Manners’ lesson and created a legacy that masterfully blended those seemingly antithetic topics.
Colson’s legacy and life will be honored during a public memorial service scheduled for 10 a.m. at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, May 16th - the public will be welcomed and seated on a first-come, first-served basis.
It’s expected to be a standing-room-only event to commemorate the life of the 80-year old Marine Captain who died on April 21st from a brain hemorrhage.
He was interred shortly thereafter at the Quantico National Cemetery in Virginia during a private service for family and close friends.
While not in attendance at the graveside service, John Stonestreet was one of those friends.
He worked closely with Colson during the past several years as a speaker and author for The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview.
Stonestreet is also the voice of the daily radio commentary segment, The Point and co-host of Breakpoint this Week.
He says there’s little doubt regarding the most enduring aspect of Colson’s life.
“His greatest legacy will be his work in the prisons, which has absolutely no parallel anywhere else,” said Stonestreet. “Chuck not only impacted millions and millions of lives of prisoners that often go unnoticed once they are incarcerated, he regained a credibility that allowed him to speak to the moral and spiritual issues facing this country.”
Stonestreet alludes to the credibility lost following Colson’s guilty plea and conviction during the 1970’s on a felony obstruction of justice charge while serving as a White House aide, tangential to the Watergate affair, which ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
Prior to his seven-month incarceration at an Alabama prison, Colson became a committed Christian, which Stonestreet asserts enabled Colson to blend politics and religious belief for the betterment of others.
“It wasn't that he gained different personalities after his conversion, it's that the things that made him so successful in the White House were redeemed for the better,” said Stonestreet. “Chuck was not a mouthpiece of the religious right - any objective evaluation of his life and work makes that obvious. His work for prisoner reform meant he worked across the aisle with those on both side of the political spectrum.”
Stonestreet goes on to say that Colson was compelled by moral issues of right versus wrong, rather than political issues between the right versus the left.
“He had a tremendous ability to bring people together,” said Stonestreet. “He was able to lock in on things that were most important. He embodied Mere Christianity, which of course is the title of the book that drew him to Christ in the first place.”
However, beyond Colson’s public persona and legacy that comprised more than a dozen bestselling books, as many honorary doctorate degrees as well as the Presidential Citizens Medal, Stonestreet says his most enduring memory of Colson occurred far from public view.
“Chuck hosted my wife and me in his home. He and Patty [Colson’s wife] were wonderfully gracious to us; he was that way all the time. But what I remember was the simple picture Chuck drew to explain baptism to his autistic grandson Max. Chuck baptized Max in his swimming pool. It's one of the more beautiful things I have seen...I certainly wish I had more time with him.”
For those unable to attend the memorial service in person, it will also be streamed live at nationalcathedral.org.
In lieu of flowers, the Colson family has requested donations be made to the Charles Colson Legacy Fund.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons - ccopix