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Packard ’66 Featured

Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012

"I came home and I felt a moral call to do something that stood on the side of life, rather than stood on the side of death," Bishop George Packard '66 is quoted in a recent article in the Finger Lakes Times. He was explaining his decision to pursue a life of ministry after returning from Vietnam as a decorated veteran.

Packard spoke to Finger Lakes Times reporter Heather Swanson the day before coming to campus to speak at the celebration of the 150th anniversary of St. John's Chapel.

"He served at the Pentagon as full-time chaplain during Operation Desert Storm, remaining to work on policy development in race relations, multi-cultural diversity and grief-loss programs," the article states.

"He has since retired and most recently has been active with the Occupy Wall Street movement - a commitment that began with a simple attempt to deliver water to protesters, when a police officer detained him and threatened arrest."

Packard is quoted as thinking at the time. "There's something morally wrong with a system that has order and power lined up against people just receiving jugs of water to relieve their thirst."

The full article about Packard follows.


The Finger Lakes Times
HWS marks 150 years of St. John's Chapel

Episcopalian bishop, a Hobart grad, will speak
Heather Swanson • September 21, 2012

GENEVA - Hobart and William Smith Colleges are celebrating the 150th anniversary of St. John's Chapel tonight. The gothic revival chapel was built in 1862 by English-born architect Richard Upjohn.

To honor the occasion, the Rt. Rev. George Packard will speak tonight at the chapel. Packard, a Hobart alumnus, is an Episcopalian bishop, a decorated Vietnam veteran, and, most recently, a member of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

He graduated from HWS in 1966 and recalls the chapel as a source of comfort.

"I thought of it as a place that was a sanctuary and a refuge, and that's as Richard Upjohn wanted it to be," said Packard.

During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, he recalled students gathering there for solace: "Many, many students flocked to the chapel. We thought nuclear war was imminent."

Packard plans to speak tonight about the chapel's importance to HWS. Like the Colleges at large, St. John's serves to comfort and assure students, but also "to challenge and provoke you to live dangerous and important lives," he said.

It is a challenge Packard took seriously.

Leaving the protective walls of St. John's Chapel on graduation, he went on to serve with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam. There, Packard earned the Silver Star and two Bronze Stars.

He pursued the ministry upon returning.

"I came home and I felt a moral call to do something that stood on the side of life, rather than stood on the side of death," he explained.

He served at the Pentagon as full-time chaplain during Operation Desert Storm, remaining to work on policy development in race relations, multi-cultural diversity and grief-loss programs.

He has since retired and most recently has been active with the Occupy Wall Street movement - a commitment that began with a simple attempt to deliver water to protesters, when a police officer detained him and threatened arrest.

"There's something morally wrong with a system that has order and power lined up against people just receiving jugs of water to relieve their thirst," he recalled thinking.

Packard has since been arrested several times as a result of his involvement with the movement.
The irony is not lost on the decorated veteran.

More importantly, his experience led to a realization of how little power the average person has in this country, he explained.

"In fact, we have no power at all. The banks have the power, the drug companies have the power, the large corporations have the power," he commented.

Of late, Packard has spent time at another house of worship designed by Upjohn - Trinity Church, Wall Street.

The church is just a couple blocks from Zuccotti Park, and Packard has led Occupy demonstrations in nearby Duarte Square.

 

 


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