August 31, 2006 – Vol. 41, No. 3
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Deval Patrick reaches out to where the people are

Serghino René

Nowadays, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick’s weekends are not his own. He spent last Sunday morning alongside longtime friend, Cambridge Mayor Ken Reeves.

Together they visited several black churches in Cambridge neighborhoods. For Patrick, it was about making a connection with the people.

“My job is to go where the people are — where they live, work and pray,” he said.

Reeves invited Patrick as a service to his community, feeling it was his responsibility to let members of the black church meet the man they may be voting for and help put a face to Patrick’s slogan, “Together We Can.”

“I want to be sure that all people in Cambridge have the opportunity to meet him. Massachusetts is a state with tremendous potential and past governors have been interested in everything but Massachusetts,” said Reeves.

Patrick is clearly interested. “Massachusetts has the potential to be a global leader in alternative and renewable energy, a leader in the true innovation of public education and the prime destination for the best ideas for people all over the world,” Patrick said.

Patrick is no stranger to the church. When he is able to attend service, he attends Harvard University’s Memorial Church. Patrick explained that social justice and worship can work hand-in-hand while still respecting separation of church and state.

Rev. Peter J. Gomes, the longtime pastor of Memorial Church, has known Patrick since he was an undergraduate at Harvard University.

“With [Patrick] in the corner office of the State House, we will have a new investment in civic virtue and a governor who actually wants to do the job,” Gomes said

Gomes went on. “[Patrick] takes his work seriously, but not himself.” “He will be an influence for good in a culture that has grown cynical of public service and suspicious of public servants. I am convinced that he will make others in government want to follow his good example and thus raise the standard for us all.”

During his early days in Chicago, Patrick was a member of Presbyterian Cosmopolitan Community Church.

“Coming to church today brings back those memories I have from the ’50s and ’60s,” Patrick chuckled. “I remember the women with the big hats who were always ready to greet you with a smile, but quick to cut you a look if you squirmed.”

The first stop was at the Christ Church of Cambridge in Harvard Square, where Patrick was greeted with warm smiles, handshakes and words of support from parishioners.

The plan was to view a plaque dedicated to the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he visited the church in the ’60s. But to the dismay of Reeves and Patrick, the door to the plaque was locked.

They quickly made their way to St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church on Harvard Street where City Councilor Denise Simmons accompanied them. He was again greeted with smiles and friendly nods as he made his way to the front of the church. Patrick listened to the pastor’s sermon on prayer and the importance of speaking to God on a daily basis.

Although it was hard for Patrick to leave the services, he moved on to his other destinations, the Massachusetts Avenue Baptist Church on Hampshire Street and the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church on Bishop Allen Drive.

Patrick and Reeves stayed for the remainder of the St. Paul service and members of the congregation eagerly introduced themselves to the candidate.

Nick Martin of North Reading came to service unaware that Patrick would be in attendance. Martin had had a conversation with his father some weeks ago, who mentioned that he went to school with Patrick back in Chicago. Knowing that, he introduced himself and to his surprise, Patrick remembered Martin’s father.

“He’s very positive, upbeat and brings energy to the table,” Martin said. “I think he is a prime candidate willing and ready to change current policies.”

Carla Elder, member of St. Paul and resident of Cambridge, introduced herself to Patrick as well, giving him her loyal support — and that of her 18-year-old daughter, who will be voiting in this year’s election in his favor.

“My daughter, Cleola Payne, goes to Belmont High School and she is excited about voting for the first time. She’s a proactive teen and we’re both ready to support [Patrick],” said Elder.

College Fellowship Director Ron Benjamin was more to the point. “Patrick wants to hear what the people have to say,” Benjamin said. “This is a 125-year-old church with a lot of roots and influence. Him coming here shows that he’s for our causes and us.”

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