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Comment of the NCC General Secretary
on the Death of Senator Paul Wellstone

October 25, 2002

On this sad day we join with many others in mourning the loss of Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota following his tragic death in the crash of a small plane. Americans of every political affiliation will acknowledge the loss of a devoted public servant who embodied the highest standards of his profession.

Senator Wellstone was fearless and faithful in his pursuit of justice for all persons. We at the National Council of Churches have more than once been grateful for his leadership on behalf of programs to assist the least, the last and the lost. His great heart and sharp mind placed him in the forefront of the cause of children, health care, environmental concerns, and the poor and marginalized. Even in what turned out to be the last days of his life, Senator Wellstone, despite a close political race for re-election, preserved his integrity in voting against the "Use of Force" resolution to enable U.S. action against Iraq. At the time we cited his courage and selflessness in placing conscience above self-interest.

We will miss his bright spirit as well as his leadership. We extend our most profound condolences to his two sons who have lost their mother and sister as well as their father. We pray that the peace that passes all understanding will surround and sustain them. May God have mercy upon all who mourn those who have been lost to us.

Not for the first time we have witnessed the sudden untimely and tragic death of those in public life in the closing days of re-election campaigns. We think of Mickey Leland, Hale Boggs and John Heinz, all of whom are among the more than a dozen public officials who have perished in such aviation accidents. My own family was deeply affected by my son's near fatal crash in a small plane. We hope and trust that appropriate officials will review once more the adequacy of safety standards and regulations for such aircraft.

-end-

The Rev. Dr. Edgar, a United Methodist minister, has served as NCC General Secretary since January 1, 2000. The NCC’s 36 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican member churches comprise 50 million adherents. Dr. Edgar served six terms (1975-1987) in the U.S. Congress, representing Pennsylvania’s Seventh District.


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