No one wants a gift to become a burden.
In the early part of the 20th Century, Mary Hawley made a gift of funds to build Hawley School, the C.H. Booth Library, and Edmond Town Hall. She also included what she felt was a means of supporting those buildings into the future. That she could not have realized the cost of upkeep in a world three-quarters of a century later is no fault of hers. She made a noble attempt at stewardship. It is only in recent years that her gifts have become a fiscal challenge.
Other large gifts recently bestowed on the town have had rockier relationships, including a multimillion-dollar bequest from GE that divided the town on how it was spent; the proper appropriation of money earmarked for a permanent memorial to 12/14; and the rockiest of all, the Rock of Angels granite memorial behind St John’s Episcopal Church.
A vision of Florida resident Richard Gray brought to fruition by the donation of materials and craftsmanship of Maine artists, it was installed behind St John’s in August 2013. Although never sanctioned by the town, the ten-ton homage to the tragedy of 12/14 has been visited by many wishing to pay respects to the lives lost that day.
Once settled into its place behind the church, its creators walked away, assuming the future was secure. But with the closure of St John’s this past year, the Rock of Angels seemed a stone around the neck for those invested in the property on which the decommissioned church stands.
The Episcopal Diocese offered last winter to donate the land and memorial to the Town of Newtown.
Town officials, in turn, unsuccessfully suggested to the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission that the Rock of Angels be considered as the permanent memorial — under which condition the town would consider the diocese’s offer and store the memorial until a site was selected for a permanent memorial. The religious component of the angels engraved about the Rock, as well as lack of input in its crafting from any of the 26 families directly affected by the tragedy, led commissioners to believe it is not the memorial they have been commissioned to put forth.
Rev Timothy Hodapp, Canon for Mission Collaboration for the Episcopal Diocese, however, says the church is committed to the craftsmen and former St John’s parishioners for the intention behind the Rock of Angels — as a point of hope and prayer. The diocese has faith that an ideal situation for the Rock is imminent.
The heavy fate of the Rock of Angels remains in the hands of the diocese; and with utmost faith, Rev Hodapp says that a positive outcome is foreseen.
Faith as small as a mustard seed can move a mountain, we are told. It may also move a rock.