Magazine article Anglican Journal

The Charisma and Complexity of Ted Scott

Magazine article Anglican Journal

The Charisma and Complexity of Ted Scott

Article excerpt

ONE OF THE many memorials during the summer for Archbishop Edward W. Scott--known simply as "Ted" in church and interfaith circles around the world--provided a glimpse into a phenomenon seldom seen outside the secular world: something akin to celebrity.

It was evident at the Toronto service, held at St. James Cathedral, around the person of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the former archbishop of Cape Town. Throngs of people, from priests and archdeacons to lay people and even non-churchgoers, mobbed the retired prelate, a hero to so many for his role in ending apartheid in South Africa and for his support of the downtrodden in his country and elsewhere. Whether they wanted a photograph with him, to shake his hand or simply get as close as possible, it is clear that the archbishop has "it," the charisma and magnetism that makes others want to draw near.

It is something more than celebrity. It is not just a matter of being well known. Often, it is the ability to make connections, to make a person feel like he or she is the only one in the room.

Not everyone who accomplishes great things necessarily has "it." Introverts and there are many in the church--often lack that kind of presence. It is a quality that cannot be forced. That is not to take anything away from those not similarly blessed--the word charisma, after all, comes from the Greek charis or gift.

Like another church leader a couple of millennia ago, Archbishop Tutu's friend, Ted Scott, also had "it." The man, small in stature, unassuming in nature, is remembered as a leader who eschewed the trappings of his office. He declined membership in elite business clubs and invited transients into his home. He held an office that obligated others to call him "Your Grace," but asked simply to be called "Ted."

(Similarly, and even less reverently, Desmond Tutu once reportedly donned a purple T-shirt that read "Just call me Arch.")

That charisma and Archbishop Scott's ability to make each person he met believe that they had made a connection, were also the ingredients that very likely brought so many people together in dioceses across the country to remember him. The Toronto service gathered the religious and the unchurched, interfaith and ecumenical partners and friends and colleagues with whom he crossed paths in his social justice and human rights work. Most could say they had met Archbishop Scott and many would also remember a connection they had made with him. …

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