Jimmy Warren in 1969

Last night I could not sleep.  I was agitated because when updating my computer, it seems to have created a new protocol for accessing my photos in cloud storage and I was becoming frustrated.  So, doing what maybe you have done at one point or another, I googled the name of a fellow I met when I was 17 years old on the 1st day of first year orientation at Boston University.  His name was Jimmy Warren.   For the first two years, Jimmy and I had fun.  My first year I lived on campus.  The second year I lived in an apartment in Roxbury, but spent 2-3 weekends each month flying home to perform with a band in Detroit.  The 3rd year, I transferred back to Wayne State University and lost track of Jimmy.

The first week of orientation, he and I got together with another fellow, Bruce Brock, and climbed the fence that separated the University from the ghetto, looking to play pick up basketball.  We were doing pretty well, when Bruce, who was tall and eventually played on the school basketball team, said, “Time to go.”  It confused me, because I thought we were doing pretty well.  The next thing I knew, Bruce, Jimmy and I were being chased by a bunch of guys and barely made it back to safety!  Jimmy and I went to church a couple of times on Sundays, and my second year when I went off the dining hall meal plan, he would sneak me into his dorm sometimes to eat.  Once, when passing through Boston, Denise and I stopped by his apartment, and that was the last time I saw Jimmy or talked with him – about 50 years ago. I have not seen Jimmy Warren for about 50 years!  With modern google searches I could not find him.  The thought crept into my mind that maybe he was dead.  Rolling over in bed, Denise asked had I searched obituary’s or death notices in his name.  Sure enough, I found him.  I still am creeped out and feeling a little bad, because I learned Jimmy died last year.  But 50 years?  That is a long time.  Friendship is a two way street.  But still, I feel creeped out and empty.  I learned Jimmy had a 30 year career as a school teacher, but also suffered a long term illness.  I am including a photo from his youth when we met, and a mature photo prior to his death.  Not to be outdone, Denise googled one of my classmates from Divinity School who encouraged us to date.  Actually, Denise and I had already met, the first day of school for me, 2nd hour, when I walked downtown in New Haven, Connecticut to buy sheets, and she was also there buying sheets.  I had already met Denise, but George Kates and his friend, Joe Stevens kept hounding me about meeting Denise.  The three of them, Denise, George and Joe, were founders of the Black Church at Yale.  In my 2nd and 3rd years at Yale, I served as pastor of the Black Church at Yale and the director of the Yale Gospel Choir.  I would have gotten together with Denise anyway, but they wanted to make sure!

Jimmy Warren as an adult
Rev. George Kates

The same thing happened.  We learned that Rev. Geoge Kates had also died last year.  George had served in the army during the Vietnam War as a medic and eventually became a minister.  Like Jimmy, I have not seen George since I graduated and went about my life and work.  I am sharing this with you because it is so important to keep in touch with people we care about.  Blessings,


Questions for Reflection:

  1. Have you ever googled an old friend to find out they were dead?
  2. What are your thoughts about friendship and ways to keep in touch?
  3. What are the boundaries and expectations of friends?
  4. Other thoughts on this subject?

Prayer:  Lord, make me a better friend.  Encourage me to keep in touch, maintain contact, and build upon the relationships that mean the most.  Show me how to be a better friend and a better person.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.                                                                                

Written by Pastor Nick Hood3                                                                   

Photo by Pastor Nick Hood3                      

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