We are a country divided, that’s for sure. Hell, we’re divided among family and friends, with relationships forever torn because of politics. I’ve often heard that there’s more that unites us than divides us, but the more we push forward with political strife, the wider the divide among us seems to be.

We all want to be heard, but fewer each day want to listen. We seek out and champion those that agree with us, then turn off and jeer those that have a dissenting opinion. While none of this is new or a surprise to you, the reader, it seems to make us all a bit more cynical of humanity with each passing political tweet, politically charged social media post, or even the political letters to the editor.

Regardless of what aisle you fall on, I’m here to extend an olive branch in which we all can find common ground. Here goes: For the next 18 months or so, we all can be thankful that radio commercials no longer end with “I’m (fill in every political candidate name) and I approve this message.”

The Madison Church, Cook Memorial Library and Madison Library hosts “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North” on Monday, Nov. 23, at 6 p.m. via Zoom. Please register at madisonlibrary-nh.org for the Zoom link.

This film traces the journey of Katrina Browne, the filmmaker, and nine of her cousins into the dark past of the slave trade which enriched their white New England family. We will begin with a screening of the award-winning documentary followed by a conversation on race, reconciliation and healing facilitated by Dain Perry (one of the nine cousins), his wife Constance and Sean Dunker-Bendigo.

“Traces of the Trade” is both a geographical and psychological retracing of the industry of the largest slave traders in American history — the DeWolf family of Bristol, R.I. — and an exploration into racism in America, a legacy of slavery that continues to negatively impact the country even today.

All are welcome.

Peter Stevens is back with an art exhibit at the Madison Library. The exhibit is open during regular Madison Library hours in the downstairs John F. Chick Room through the month of January 2021

From Stevens himself: “At first glance, these pictures may seem pretty abstract. They don’t seem like natural forms. And yet they are natural forms. They describe how crystals arise from the limited number of ways to pack atoms. The two-dimensional packings of atoms fall into exactly 17 different Crystallographic Groups, a few of which are illustrated here. Following the rules of crystallography, each of the illustrations are generated from exactly the same line. Have fun following its trail.”

At a dear friend’s funeral nearly 15 years ago, friends and colleagues gathered at the Madison Church to pay last respects and say a farewell to someone who was taken too young in a car accident. The sanctuary was packed to standing room only with a tense and emotional crowd that tearfully awaited the start of the service.

After a few moments, the pastor approached the altar, looked out among us, and with a half smile stated, “Man, I do not want to be here.” We sorely needed the tension to dissipate, and he instantly delivered before providing us with a beautifully dignified service for our friend.

Sean Dunker-Bendigo is Madison Church’s longest-tenured pastor in its nearly 230-year history, and his time has come to move on. At 25 years, he’s beat the average of roughly four years per pastor that has served the congregation in that time. My attempt is not to diminish those who have come before him, but rather to accentuate his devotion and community spirit that is contagious to those around him.

Over the last 2½ decades, he has become a cornerstone in our community. He has served as our fire chief, (often affectionately referred to at that time as “Reverend Red Light”), but more importantly, he has been there for us anytime we reached out. He has been the officiant at our weddings, then would be available to help us find the pieces when the marriage fell apart. He would rejoice with our families in good times, and would preside over funerals of our friends and relatives at their passing. He would lead church suppers and other gatherings in the spirit of community, and never seemed to tire of it, much to the benefit of all of us.

What Sean has brought to Madison will not easily replicated. He has set the bar sky-high in his approach to his calling and his profession. We all wish him nothing but the absolute best moving forward. I hope you’ll join me in our fondest of farewells to Pastor Sean before he heads on to new adventures after Jan. 4.

That’s certainly what life’s supposed to do: Move on!

I’m Bob King, and I approve this column.

Bob King can be contacted at rjking203@outlook.com.

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