Kirby Verret has earned the respect of many during decades of public service in Terrebonne Parish. As a spiritual leader and community activist, as well as holding various capacities including Chief for the United Houma nation, Kirby has long been an inspiration to many and continues to do work that that earns him well-deserved praise.
Sometimes getting to know someone over a period of many years results in an ability to learn about their thought processes, not through stilted interview situations but through other communications that burn through to a better understanding of things like character and commitment.
Recently Kirby, who is the pastor of the United Methodist Church Clanton Chapel in Dulac, traveled to Savannah with his daughter Kimberly son-in-law Robert and grandson Trenton.
Kirby had a chance to dig deeply into religious roots, as the family viewed first-hand places that relate to the life of the father of Methodism, John Wesley.
The British cleric, born in 1703, lived to the ripe old age of 87, an accomplishment even today.
At a time when the world was experiencing an explosion in religious and philosophical thought, Wesley embarked on a personal discovery of self and soul — concepts at times certainly interchangeable — and ended up changing the world.
A portion of his ministry at one point concerned the native people of the Americas.
“In Savannah we wished to see John Wesley’s impact of faith as a missionary to Native Americans,” Kirby said. “He failed miserably, and also had problems with a woman he had eyes for. He headed back to England a broken man but he had an experience that began his direction.”
“He left as a failure and got caught in a severe storm in the Atlantic returning to England,” Kirby related. “He was scared to death but he ran into Moravian monks who were calm and singing psalms. He said do you not realize we could all perish? And one said ‘Yes, but do you Know Jesus Christ?’”
Wesley laid out some of the dogma relating to the great teacher being known as the Son of God and a savior.
One of the monks, Kirby said, then said while all this was true did Wesley actually know him?
“That begn his move toward transofmation and becoming the father of Methodism,” Kirby said. “
And he stated all kinds of facts:Son of God Savior,etc.
And one said that is all true , but do you know Him?
“That began his move toward transformation and becoming the father of Methodism,” said Kirby, who has pondered on the randomness of events since returning.
And he was inspired to preach.
“God has a plan for all of us,” Kirby later told his congregants. “All we have to do is give in to his will. The plan was laid out before we were even born … There is an old saying, if you want peace work for justice. God planned for each of us to do something good in his name that no one else can do, and if you or I don’t like it, it will not happen. We are very much replaceable in the job market and other parts of life, but in the divine plane we are it.”
Kirby was reminded to take his own inventory on that count, one that he appears comfortable with. The plan, he said, was laid out before any of us were ever born. It is not necessary to subscribe to Kirby’s philosophy or theology to appreciate it from a process perspective.
My own take-away, after having these thoughts shared with me, was that I can take comfort we have such people in our community, who can embrace a new lesson from an old fact set, and that this is why our communities will yet prosper, even though circumstances may cause us to question whether that will be the case, or even if it should. The diversity of beliefs within our Bayou Region’s culture thus makes us that much stronger, and better able to cope with whatever challenges the future may bring.