Broad Bay service focuses on different paths, reconciliation
Waldoboro — On Sunday, Oct. 21, during Broad Bay Congregational United Church of Christ worship service, two members will tell their very different stories — but both stories of patriotism, love and faithfulness — in the tumultuous times between 1960 and 1980, and beyond. Despite the different directions their convictions led them, Steffie Belcher and Ted Smith have listened to each other’s experiences and are growing in their understanding of the possibilities and power of reconciliation.
In 1963, Smith followed his heart and the words of President John F. Kennedy and enlisted in the United States Navy. He served the country with devotion from 1963-1993. In 1967-68, he served in Vietnam with the Riverine Forces, including the combat-intensive 1968 Tet Offensive. When he returned home from Vietnam, Smith saw firsthand that support for the war had vanished. The anti-war movement was very strong and, in many cities, had turned violent. Vietnam vets were vilified. This subsided only when the military draft was ended in 1973 and in 1975, after the fall of Saigon, Congress established the “all-volunteer military.” Smith’s continued Navy service took him through changes in military culture and several international crises — racial strife in the Navy, the Iranian revolution and embassy hostage-crisis, the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism, the first Gulf War and the resultant profound changes in the landscape of diplomacy and war.
Through the late ‘60s, Belcher followed intently the war in Vietnam, the draft and all the upheaval in this country. She was raising two small sons. Galvanized by the draft, the news of the Tet Offensive and what she saw as the insanity of war, she joined the peace movement by becoming very active in the organization Mothers for Peace. She has been a peace activist ever since and has demonstrated against our recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She has found inspiration for her anti-war stance in many places, including lyrics of Jimi Hendrix which she thinks speak eloquently to the topic of war: “Someday, when the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
In 2011, Smith and Belcher found themselves sitting in the same church sanctuary, separated by only a few pews. Belcher came to church decked out in bright colors and red sneakers; Smith wore his well-pressed jacket and carried himself with the upright posture of a military man.
But, through opportunities for conversation and honest sharing, the two people, who strongly identify as Christians and Americans, experienced the budding of a surprising friendship and a shared vision for the future.
Rev. Nancy Duncan will lead portions of the Oct. 21 service, which starts at 10 a.m., and Carroll Smith will play the organ. All are welcome. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 832-6898.