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Dear Friends,

Sad news. The Rev. Wallace S. Hartsfield, a longtime civil rights leader and preacher in Kansas City, died Thursday, January 23, 2020 at age 90.

Hartsfield, dubbed the “Godfather of Ministers” by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, was known for holding many posts and engaging in political activism that touched a variety of issues and policies in Kansas City over the years.

in addition to his civil rights leadership, Dr. Hartsfield was a strong voice for interfaith understanding. I first met him about 1976 at B'nai Jehudah when he presented a scholarly discourse there. In the 1980s, I remember visiting his church with teen-agers from New Reform Temple as the rabbi asked me to introduce them to the varieties of faith in Kansas City. After the interfaith Council was formed, I enjoyed visiting his church several times, and when the Protestant seat on the Council was vacant, I invited him to serve on the Interfaith Council.
At the sunrise observance of the first anniversary of 9/11, Dr. Hartsfield takes his turn contributing distinctive waters from his tradition along with others on the Interfaith Council to the pool outside City Hall. The mingled waters were then collected, with police escort taken to Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, where in an evening ceremony, he mingled waters were redistributed to each Council member to return to each community.
Here is the link to the story at the Kansas City Star, and there is more to read at the CRES website.

While I did not know him well, I was deeply affected by his scholarship, his sense of purpose, and his embrace. I cherish these and other memories and his contributions in many ways of building a community of understanding and mutual regard.

Funeral services for Hartsfield are scheduled for 11 a.m. Feb. 7 at Macedonia Baptist Church, according to his obituary.

Vern Barnet
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