A Remembrance of Ima Jean Kidd from Jensene Godwin Payne
A FRIEND FOR ALL SEASONS
Who will remember in the depth and with the constancy of our remarkable friend now that she has left us? Ima Jean kept up with EVERYBODY; we often remarked that there should be some way to download her wealth of people-memory. Without fail, greetings would come on your significant dates. She would take cryptic notes at important church meetings and send them to keep you in-the-loop. As well as keeping up with the newest members and visitors to Park Avenue Christian Church, she had a data base of generations of church personalities in her own mental computer bank.
Her infallible memory was an invaluable resource when she spearheaded the rescue of the fragmented collection of church records into the well-organized archive properly named in her honor. In this enterprise she enlisted Sarah Harwell, the tireless archivist from the Disciples of Christ Historical Society, and Evan Mastroiani, a helpful student she discovered.
Related to this activity was the belated recognition of Elizabeth Bartlett Grannis, an early twentieth-century pioneering suffragist, humanitarian, active church member. Grannis was rediscovered by John Wade Payne in the course of writing the bicentennial history of the Park Avenue Christian Church. Her dramatic story and belated reinstatement to church membership was chronicled by the New York Times.* Consonant with this reevaluation of Grannis’s history, the Elizabeth Grannis Award for significant contributions to church and society was established. Ima Jean was a recipient of the award, in recognition of her signal achievments at the National Council of Churches and at PACC. Audrey Platnick also received the award for her activities with the National Organization for Women and as a long-time devoted Elder. It is to be hoped that that this award will be offered again in the future.
She found ways to involve you. Although we are not full-time New Yorkers, whenever we were in town, Ima Jean would schedule us to serve as elders at Communion. Creative in applying her prodigious memory, she would think outside-the-box to suggest how the talents of people could be employed. A firm proponent of the importance of “process,” Ima Jean insisted on the deliberated and orderly pursuit of any task. Over and over, this approach proved effective.
Now that her chosen Sunday-morning seat in the church is empty of her physical presence, we who loved her will have to attempt to fill it with the living presence conjured by thoughts of her kindness, generosity, and grace. What a blessed legacy of love you have given us, dear Saint Ima Jean…
*David Dunlap, “A Crusading Suffragist Restored to Church Membership,” March 11, 2012.
David Dunlap, “City Room; 86 Years After Her Death, a Church Exile’s Work is Vindicated,” March 12, 2012.
PLEASE SHARE YOUR REMEMBRANCES OF IMA JEAN
The church is collecting remembrances of Ima Jean to share with members, family, and friends. Please upload your remembrances using this online form, if possible. Remembrances can include images and video. Hard copies (printed, typed or handwritten) can be given to Stephanie Wilson on a Sunday morning at the church, or mailed to Park Avenue Christian Church, 1010 Park Ave., New York, NY 10028-0903.
Remembrances are being collected in a volume, and deposited in the Ima Jean Kidd Archives at Park Avenue Christian Church, and are also available on the church website.