GRANTHAM — The Military Officers Association of America-New Hampshire Chapter held its annual fall meeting at Bistro Nouveau in Grantham on a beautiful fall day that attracted 99 members. The members enjoyed a meal and the camaraderie of fellow patriot members of the military family.
Guest speaker was Rev. Jay MacLeod, a 1979 graduate of Kearsarge Regional High School in North Sutton. Before being ordained, he was a community organizer and oral historian in rural Mississippi where he wrote a book, "Minds Stayed On Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle in The Rural South, An Oral History." It is based on experiences by Jay and his wife, Sally, during their four years in rural Mississippi.
MacLeod also wrote "Ain’t No Makin’ It," a highly respected sociology textbook on how social inequity is reproduced from generation to generation. The book is now in its third edition.
He went on to study at Harvard University, after which he received a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England, where he met his British wife, Sally Asher.
He trained for the priesthood at Lincoln Theological College, Lincoln, United Kingdom.
MacLeod came back to New Hampshire in 2013, after serving 20 years of ordained ministry in England. Prior to his service in England, he was a world traveler. He began his travels at an early age while at Harvard, when he went to India and Kathmandu to live for four months in a small Tibetan refugee village in Nepal just outside of Kathmandu. The family lived in a very small single-room home with animals as well as human.
He commented, “I never knew rats could climb up and down walls.”
He said he learned a lot from the Buddhist family while living with them.
After that, he informed his parents in a telegram that he was staying on, and he worked as an English instructor in a Tibetan resettlement camp in South India. Those experiences made him more open to religion, and, when he received a grant, he went to England to study Theology.
His most memorable assignment was in a parish in Bedford, England, where there is a large variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds in the communities around the church where he worked.
“It was the most culturally diverse square mile in Britain,” he said.
He went on to speak about the impact of England's July 2005 bombing on the church's diverse community members.
One interfaith connection he had occurred at a barbershop near the church that is owned by three young Pakistanis. They would engage in discussions about God. He said one of the barbers asked him, “What’s the trinity all about?” “God is only one.” “How can you say God is three?” Jay said he was lucky to be able to rise to the occasion with his response.
He used the example of the cola with ice that one of the barbers had, while an electric kettle was boiling water for tea, creating steam, and there was liquid water in the tap — three different versions of the same thing, water.
He said to them, “There you go; you have water in three forms; liquid, gas and solid, three in one. Just as we look at one God in three manifestations.”
He continued with other stories about interfaith engagement while serving in the Bedford church.
MacLeod is an enthusiastic and dynamic speaker, capable of holding the audience on every word. His talk provided a brief history of his life from high school to now, where he serves as rector of Saint Andrews Episcopal Church in New London. His children go to school at his former high school.
He focused on “interfaith engagement, listening, and understanding of each other’s point of view.”
MacLeod's presentation was very well-received by those attending the event.