In Memoriam: Rev. Polly L. Guild
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) joins the family and friends of the Reverend Polly L. Guild and the entire global community of Unitarians and Universalists in mourning Polly’s death on November 7, 2009. Polly was an incredibly talented, deeply committed, and always wise woman who served UUA congregations as a spiritual leader, and the entire world as a tireless ambassador of faith, hope and love. We will all deeply miss her warm heart, kind smile, keen insight and loving spirit.
In the early 1990s Polly and her husband, Ted Guild, served as the international program staff of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and together they forged relationships with emerging Unitarian Universalist groups all over the world. Polly was the perfect choice for this position due to her long association with the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) and her history of concern for all members of the international Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist (U/U) family. Later in the 1990’s, she was integrally involved with the establishment of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, and served as its volunteer Program Director. For the rest of her life she advocated forcefully for Unitarian Universalist (UU) commitment to faithful global citizenship.
During this time of grief the UUA’s deep sympathy is extended to all who loved Polly. We hope that the deep love and respect that people all over the world felt for Polly will be a balm for her family. And, we recommit ourselves to being led by Polly’s light in our international engagement.
A Candlelight Service of Remembrance will be held on Tuesday, November 10th at 7:30 p.m., and a Memorial Service on Wednesday, November 11th at 2 p.m. Both will be held at Follen Church in Lexington, MA.
—Rev. Eric M. Cherry,
Director of International Resources, UUA
Messages from Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists from Around the World
From Rev. Doris Hunter, Co-Chair of the U.S. Chapter of the International Association of Religious Freedom
The Rev. Polly Guild died today, November 7th, at her home in Weston, MA. She was cared for by her devoted family and friends.
Polly had a deep affection and regard for the International Association for Religious Freedom and attended the Congresses beginning in 1958. She was an active member of the United States Chapter of the IARF and served on the present board and also on a previous board when it was located in Boston, MA.
As her friend and colleague, I will miss her and I know that the international community will also miss her presence and her devotion to the cause of interfaith understanding. She was a remarkable Unitarian Universalist Minister and devoted friend.
From Reverend Rebecca Sienes, President of the UU Church of the Philippines
My dear friends,
Though it is expected, it is very painful to hear this news! The loss of Polly is indeed a great loss of a dear friend in the Philippines. She will be remembered forever just like Ted. Their lives continue to provide hope to our people seeking for a better future. We will greatly miss Polly.
From Rev. Helpme H. Mohrmen, General Secretary of the Unitarian Union of North East India (UUNEI)
The Unitarian Union expresses its deep sorrow at the demise of kong Polly, she is remembered by all those who knew her. I personally felt close attachment with Polly and Ted when I stayed with them during my visit to the U.S. She presented my son with a teddy bear which we still keep although my son is 17 years old now. We still have in the many rooms of the HK Singh School, Polly and Ted's picture and I hope the photographs will remain. I would also like you to know that my son graduated from this School and had the opportunity to use the rooms that Polly and Ted generously donated so also my two daughters who are still studying in the school and more that 700 students who are currently studying in the school. I know a woman of Polly's stature would have many important people who will remember her, but rest assure that the Unitarians in the Khasi Jaintia Hills, will always remember her as their beloved sister.
Churches in the Unitarian Union will observe the death anniversary of Hajom Kissor Sing on the 13 November and many churches will have a special memorial service on the 14, we will try to inform as many churches as possible to remember Polly also during the service.
I will right away inform [former UUNEI General Secretary Carlywell Lyndough]about the demise. He will certainly be saddened by it.
To Nang Roi
From Rev. Joseph Ben-David, International Coordinator for the Development of the Religious Society of Czech Unitarians
We Czech Unitarians who knew Polly Guild are very saddened by her passing. We vividly remember her strong interest and assistance during the devastating seven years when two corrupt clerics hijacked the Czech Unitarian Association, taking over the denomination and its church buildings and excommunicating many founding and life-long members. Polly and her late husband Ted stood at the helm of the seven-year campaign that ultimately restored to the Association its property and its spiritual legacy.
Many meetings of the Friends of the Czech Unitarians were held at the Guilds' home, and Polly was also particularly helpful in empowering the present Senior Minister of the denomination, Petr Samojsky, to ably assume leadership of the association once the take-over ended.
We shall always remember her as one of the main saviors of Czech Unitarianism.
From Rev. Máthé Sándor, Brassó, Transylvania
We all who have known Polly are saddened learning about her death. It has been a privilege to know her.
She will be missed, but she'll live on in our souls and hearts through our memories.
May she rest in peace!
From H.K. Singh Secondary School, Jowai, India to Rev. Guild's Family
The members of the school managing committee, the teaching staff and students’ community of H. K. Singh Memorial Secondary School, Jowai learned with deep sorrow the demise of Rev. Polly Guild. Our deepest sympathy goes out to you for the loss of your mother.
In the emergent meeting held in the school premises in presence of the members, Teachers and students, the Chairman highlighted the generous contributions made by your Late beloved mother which has enable the managing committee to construct a good number of additional classrooms, computer lab, chowkidar shed , latrine for the teacher and students of the school including sanitary facilities. Your mother shall ever be remembered as a most wonderful and kindest person that had visited and contributed towards the growth and development of our school.
A one minute silence prayer for the eternal rest of the departed soul was conducted during the assembly followed by a declaration of one day holiday as a mark of respect and gratitude to your mother.
The meeting further resolved to convey its condolence message to the members of the bereaved family.
May her soul rest in peace.
From Inderias Bhatti, Pakistan
Polly Guild was an America Lady of 85 years who had long relations with the people of Pakistan regardless of Caste, color, creed, race and religions.
She had never been to Pakistan but always was supportive in the needs of the excluded and ignored and isolated individuals both at individual and collective levels through her adopted son Mr. Inderias Bhatti.
Her main concerns were widows, orphans and people in disaster. She contributed for the shelter homes in Earthquake 2005 of Pakistan.
The people in the NWFP always remember her as of their refuge and passion. The people of Mansehra District and specially Balakot remember her as an angel who had been reaching not only with material support but with passionate words and phone calls in their native language.
The Internally displaced persons in Tahat Bhai of District Mardan, NWFP also remember her phone calls especially to the widows and children.
The news of her death reached on yesterday (09 November, 2009). Her mourn started from than and finished today at 7: 30 (PM Evening).
The Muslims did Quran Kawani (reciting of the Holy Quran) and Duwaay Magfrat (the prayer petition of the forgiveness of sins and eternal rest of the dead) with long mourns fast which ended today at 8: 30. (P.M Evening) Mr. Mohammad Ikhlaq led the Muslim mourn.
Inderias Bhatti led the mourn of the Christians who did the whole night prayers and joined their Muslim brethrens in long mourns fast which ended today at 8: 30. (P.M Evening).
Along with them the Hindus, Balmeeks, Bahais and other scheduled castes offered special prayers for the rest in peace of Mrs. Polly Guild.
The Muslims, Christians, Hindus , Balmeeks, Bahais and other scheduled castes are lightening candle and placing flower tomorrow with the CANDLELIGHT SERVICE of in her LOVING MEMORY at the same time as per of the Follen Community Church, USA.
Mr. Mohammad Ikhlaq said that they will do her “Ghibana-Nimazay-e-Jinazza” (A Muslim memorial funeral service on Wednesday, November 11, at the same time as per of the Follen Community Church, USA.
May her soul rest in peace!!!
From Rev. Richard Boeke, UK
To Polly Guild
(with thanks for her smile)
tune: an old gospel hymn
In Polly, there’s no East or West
In her, no North or South.
But one great Fellowship of Love
Across the whole wide Earth.
With her do true hearts everywhere
A Flower Communion find.
Her kindness is a Golden Cord
Close binding UU Kind.
“Keep on Progressing,” Khasi Friends,
We will win the day.
Before Ted’s through, there’ll be a loo,
And I. T.’s on the way.
Palinka now from Kolozsvar,
Rhine wine from Oberweisel,
From Pakistan a shining star,
From all the World, her people.
Let bells of Lexington ring OUT,
Bring Mistletoe and Holly.
A joyous SHOUT as we all toast
Our praise to our dear Polly.
From Rev. Brian Kiely, Minister of Unitarian Church of Edmonton and President of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists
On November 7 we lost one of our strongest and most persistent advocates for international Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist connections. Rev. Polly Guild of Massachusetts died after a period of illness. While her death was expected, it was still a great loss to all who knew her and to Unitarians and Universalists around the globe who may never know the effect of her pioneering work.
As member, leader and friend of the IARF, the ICUU [International Council of Unitarians and Universalists], the Partner Church Council and hundreds of individuals around the world Polly helped grow our sense of community across borders, oceans and continents. It always seemed that if there was a gathering, she was there. A former Executive Member of the ICUU, Polly in recent years sat in as our resident historian and archivist. As new leaders emerged, she helped us learn the history and the context so that we could do our best work.
Sadly, Polly was not able to attend our most recent Council Meeting in Transylvania. However thanks to a little creativity and the help of her family, we were able to send live birthday greetings to Polly over the internet. For a too brief few moments she was with us one more time.
She was a great soul and is greatly missed.
On behalf of the Executive Committee and Staff of the ICUU I send the warmest regards and condolences to Polly's family and to all who are missing this special woman this day.
From Cathy Cordes, Executive Director of the UU Partner Church Council
It is with much sadness that we note the death of the Reverend Polly Guild. Polly and her husband Ted were serving as UUA International Program Directors in 1990 when the Partner Church program was started. She was also instrumental in starting the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists and was an active member of the International Association of Religious Freedom. She truly ministered to the entire international Unitarian Universalist community. The partner church community has lost a great friend and she will be dearly missed. Her devotion to the international community of UUs was a driving force in her life. She was a friend to so many around the world. I am sure all of you join me in wishing her family peace at this time.
From Rev. Koichi Barrish, Chief Priest of Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America
Okuyami mosiagemasu...Now I know we are all so sad to learn that the Rev. Polly Guild has returned to Great Nature. Today I could pray her name before the enshrined Kami of progressing in harmony with Divine Nature at Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America.
The meaning of these Mitama Shizume is to pacify and calm the mitama/soul and actually aid in the process of raising the spiritual vibration of the mitama as it returns to Kami realm. Of course the Mitama of Rev. Guild possesses the type of integrated spirituality and clarity that enables the conscious and clear movement between realms but these words are still useful.
Mitama Shizume no Kotoba—Words to Calm the Soul
The ancient kami reside in the connection between heaven and earth.
Our parents and grandparents and ancestors are descendants of the kami.
The kami spirit has divided and divided and has been handed down to us by our parents.
You have passed on from the present generation
And have returned to the eternal home, the birthplace of mitama,
The land of the kami.
The land of the august kami no different than life on heaven and earth.
Yet it is a land where you neither hear with ears,
Nor do you see with eyes.
This land is along the water’s edge, a pure, clear shore with lapping waves.
Gather and come to this eternal realm
Of white clouds in the land of heaven
Where brilliant rays push through thousands of white clouds
From the Great Shrine of the Sun, the shrine of Amaterasu Ōmikami.
In the Great Shrine of the Sun,
Descendents from generation to generation don bright clothing of the sun’s rays
And wear great, auspicious jewels of adornment.
In this quiet place may you settle your mitama and reside in tranquility.
I pray earnestly, together with your family and your friends,
That you will be settled and find calm in this place.
I believe with deep sincerity in the true path, the way of the kami.
We pray before you—
Myself, your parents, your children, your friends—
To tell you that we are well.
We receive the pure brightness of the kami, so have no worries.
May you soar from the heavens to see that our lives and homes are in order.
May your mitama be raised high and secure.
Please reside and settle with calm in the eternal place of the kami.
Please protect our family that we may prosper.
Please protect our family that we may prosper.
With humble soul, I trust in the way of the kami and will fulfill life’s purpose with sincerity.
Faith is as eternal as Heaven and Earth.
Restore us to our original brightness, and grant us strength that we may overcome life’s difficulties and live in harmony with the divine spirit of Great Nature.
Sweep the impurities from my being and purify my spirit;
Grant me protection; grant me happiness.
Bring brightness to my soul and give me guidance.
Every day and every night, may we be purified, refreshed and in good health.