Mahatma Gandhi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” For me, these words epitomize the now late Rev. Dr. George H. Tooze, Jr.
Dr. Tooze (“George”) died on Saturday, August 3, in Farmington, ME, surrounded by family and friends after a valiant battle with stomach cancer. George served American Baptist congregations for 40 years and since 1997 George gave much time to the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board serving as president of the Board of Managers since 2003.
Among George’s many contributions to American Baptist Churches, USA, his magisterial seven-volume series, The Life and Letters of Emily Chubbuck Judson (Mercer University Press) will be for a very, very long time the sole, scholarly source on the life of a remarkable force within our baptist history.
George was a force of history himself. George was an ally to the LGBTQ community. He inspired me to learn as if we will live forever and to live as if we are to die tomorrow. Through my own coming out journey, George was right there encouraging me, affirming me, loving me through. When I doubted my future, George, in his ever so magnanimous way, would say, “Keep on going Brian. You’re doing the right thing no matter what any one else says, feels, or believes.” Keep on going Brian. I will not soon forget these words.
Perhaps these are words for us all. Keep on going. George keeps going now for sure…going to a place we too will one day experience. For the present, however, may we keep living as if we’ll die tomorrow and learning as if we’ll live forever.
Be encouraged. You’re doing the right thing. Keep on going.
I love you George.
Rev. Brian Henderson, DMin is AWAB's Development Coordinator. He lives in Denver, CO and is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Denver.