In the 1990s Bishop John Spong often came to Vancouver School of Theology and the Sorrento Centre in BC to lead summer courses--they were the most popular offerings of the School and the Centre at the time, attracting huge numbers of participants.
Those visits brought he and Christine to Vancouver where he preached in local churches including Christ Church Cathedral. One year Thomas Roach and I hosted a dinner party for the Spongs at our home and invited parishioners who had been influenced by his writing. Our Cathedral friends arrived looking forward to learning from him: but Jack turned the tables on us all. Sitting in our living room he said: "I want to know about you" and asked, each guest in turn this question "Where were you born and what have you being doing since?" Of course it turned out to be an extraordinary evening: we all learned more about each other.
He and Christine spoke about their lives as well--but what could have been an occasion where he could simply have held forth about his own views became an evening where relationships were built and conversations were deep and genuine. From that evening on I was convinced that this gracious, thoughtful man--an iconoclast for the way of love was a person not only to be admired but emulated. Words of Cynthia Bourgeault, in commenting on the death of a friend, come to mind,
"... I feel that the cosmos has just gotten that much more tender, gentle and courageous in direct measure to receiving his beautiful heart."
May flights of angels wing him to his rest.