St. Paul's Foundation - giving Eric Lembembe, his family and friends, the ceremony and tributes they deserve

Eric Lembembe's brutal death in Cameroon has affected many of us this week. It was helpful to celebrate mass and preach this past Sunday -a kind of grounding for me. This week's gospel story was about Martha and Mary and I preached about finding balance in our busy lives. One was an activist and the other was a contemplative. The activist complained to Jesus that her sister was not helping her and she was resentful, even in the presence of Love. It is easy to become resentful that Eric Lembembe was brutally murdered last weekend for trying to live out the principles of Jesus and to be what most LGBT people in this country just want to be. His Archbishop condemned him and his community for "crimes against humanity" and his cold corpse lies in a Cameroon mortuary and will never have an autopsy, or his crime scene will never be investigated. 


What is most disturbing about Eric's premature demise, is that most people just do not care. When a government allows someone to freely murder someone and its injustice is even condoned by the church, we have all crossed a collective line. This is what is so disturbing about this particular death and it is so different from the international reaction to David Kato's murder.  So I found myself preaching about it all on Sunday and praying about it in a little church in the middle of the California desert.


It is easy to fall into resentfulness or despair, but there is a Mary and Martha in all of us and the secret is to let both of them co-exist, within us. It was good for the activist priest to become a contemplative one in the desert. I shared this poem by early gay advocate and religious leader, Edward Carpenter -it is one of my favorites and is helpful to me at this difficult time:You may also write your own tribute and share your pastoral care here:


 Eric Lembembe's Global Memorial Page 


The Lake of Beauty


Let your mind be quiet, realising the beauty of the world, and the immense the boundless treasures that it holds in store.


All that you have within you, all that your heart desires, all that your Nature so specially fits for you- that or the counterpart of it waits for you embedded in the great Whole, for you. It will surely come to you.


Yet equally surely not one moment before its appointed time will it come. All your crying and fever and reaching out of hands will make no difference.


Therefore do not begin that game at all.


Do not recklessly spill the waters of your mind in this direction and in that, lest you become like a spring lost and dissipated in the desert.


But draw them together into a little compass, and hold them still, so still.


And let them become clear, so clear- so limpid, so mirror-like;


At last the mountains and the sky shall glass themselves in peaceful beauty.


And the antelope shall descend to drink, and to gaze at his reflected image, and the lion to quench his thirst,


And Love himself shall come and bend over, and catch his own likeness in you.


Eric was an antelope and he was killed by a lion. We knew his hearts desire and the "Nature" of who he was and his life's dedication to helping others to live with dignity and security. The counterpart of his life -his murder and those who by their silence or by their condemnation, "is embedded in the great Whole" and we must learn to live with the questions or go mad. We will never know the answers to the questions but we are invited to find our own moral and spiritual compass and see our own natures and our own images that are about our own truth.


The St Paul's Foundation has been invited by his friends at CAMFAIDS and his family to help with the cost of giving Eric a dignified funeral and celebrating his life on Sunday 27th July. Some of us also feel  compelled to mark his early demise with demonstrations. Lots of unanswered questions need to be asked but first, we all need to raise the funds to bury him this coming Saturday.

We had raised $550 yesterday and a touching note from the largest contributor who described himself as an armchair activist who is now confined to a wheelchair yet and he knows his gift will do so much. We still need to raise another $4,000 immediately. All donations coming to our site this week are for him. CAMEROON GIFT HERE


Please send $10, $20, or whatever you can so we can send the funds to his family by mid week.


When Jesus died, there was no-one to take care of the funeral expenses either. Joseph of Arimathea, we are told in the gospels, hands over his expensive tomb and women friends come and embalm him. Little gestures of love all collected together to curse the darkness of death and despair and their simple sacrifices remain legend after 2,000 years. 


Eric's story is not over and we have the privilege of being a part of it I invite you to do what you can to honor this man and in the face of terrifying rejection, (even by those who claim to follow Jesus) and the inhumanity of it all.  In stilling the raging waters, may Love come close and may we see each other in the mirrored waters.





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The Lake of Beauty
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St. Paul's Foundation
2728 6th Ave
San Diego, California 92103
949 338 8830