Ordained minister. Freedom Rider. World traveler. Newspaper columnist.
The Rev. Ralph Lord Roy was anything but an ordinary clergyman. He was arrested in 1961 for working for civil rights and again in 2002 for working for world peace. Over the years, as a minister of the United Methodist Church, he served parishes in New York City’s Harlem and Brooklyn, and in Clinton, Milford, Meriden, Thomaston, East Berlin, New Haven, Hartford and New Canaan, Connecticut.
Rev. Roy worked with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights struggle of the 1960s and later led Meriden’s United Methodist Church for 15 years. After his retirement, his weekly columns appeared in the Record-Journal for 20 years. He was honored along with other Freedom Riders on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 2011.
From his columns, our readers became acquainted with a learned, widely traveled and undogmatic man of the cloth. He was also an avid fan of the TV show “Jeopardy,” and tried out for it twice.
Rev. Roy died on Feb. 3 at the age of 91.
Here is an excerpt from his column that ran in this newspaper on May 7, 2011:
What I find troubling is that too often religion has preached love, humility and peace while promoting prejudice, arrogance and hostility. I personally embrace a "big tent" faith, where we respect variations, dialogue with one another in the spirit of goodwill, learn from traditions different from our own, and work together to make a better world. God is interested in our hearts and not in our diverse doctrines nor in our sectarian, tribal affiliations.
No wonder a reader wrote to this newspaper, on learning of his death:
He was an intelligent and thoughtful man who lived life doing what was right, gently and selflessly, and trying always to uplift others.
It’s hard to think of greater praise than that. This newspaper, and this community, will miss him.
Finally, this, from the same 2011 column:
We live in a mammoth, marvelous and mysterious universe. How can inquisitive minds not have doubts? Maybe there's 10 million stars, or even a billion solar systems. No religion can provide a sure and detailed answer to some ultimate questions. Why are we here? Why do the innocent suffer? What awaits us beyond death?
Questions for which all of us seek answers.
Thank you for your service, Ralph Lord Roy, and rest in peace.