Polly Delivers a Speech on National Television

[Polly] This RE-Imagining became such a thorn-in-the-flesh of we who were very upset about it that they gave opportunity—well, they do anyway at General Assembly—you can sign up to speak whether you’re, you know, what you feel about it. Then the Committee was to . . . they were really asking the Presbytery as a whole to censor this whole thing. Well it sort of pushed it down underground. It’s still around, but a bit, this Sunny Davison [sp?] women’s groups and stuff. But anyway, at that point, at that particular Assembly they were saying, “This cannot be. Our church, our denomination cannot accept this kind of thing. This is heresy. This is, you know.” And so we had opportunity to speak to them. Well, I did. There were so many. . . .

[Virginia] Did television programs cover your speech?

[Polly] It happened because it was such a controversy. Yeah, thank you for bringing me to the point of what I am really trying to get to. It was such a controversial issue that—well like homosexuality and abortion issues and so on would all be—that the news media, the major news media, wanted to cover this. They sent in a crew to the General Assembly meeting, which was down in Baltimore at that time. Never dreaming—we didn’t even know it was there, so it wasn’t anything. I was absolutely flabbergasted when someone called up, some family member—I’m not even sure it was Barbara Duncan—but somebody and they said, “Did you realize that Polly is on TV?” Major TV!

[Virginia] Oh, really? Oh, my word!

[Bob] So we have a copy of that.

[Polly] Yeah. So I have a copy of it. I mean we knew that the church, you know, would cover it and the news media, even in the local area, never dreaming that it would be that.

[Bob] National TV.

[Polly] But they didn’t do—they were just covering—and I happened to be called up, like about the second or third person.

[Virginia] Oh, so they weren’t doing one-on-one with you? It was when you were. . . .

[Bob] Oh, no. It was when she was making her speech. I’m making it sound a little bit bigger than. . . .

[Polly] Yeah. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I was absolutely. I had no idea. None whatsoever. But it was just that they—and then they only covered so much of it and then they moved onto other things. It just happened to be: da-te-da-te-da!

[Bob] I didn’t know about it. I mean I was even at that General Assembly as a commissioner, but we didn’t know about it.

[Polly] Again we didn’t know and that was a good thing or I would have died right on the spot.

[Bob] We didn’t watch. . . . The program was shown when we were still at the Assembly. I mean it was shown the next night or something.

[Polly] Just a quick aside on this: One of the friends, the main people that I had like chummed with there had been people that we served with at Fort Square Church in Quincy. Those are the friends that I started going to these meetings with and stuff. One of them is my friend June Newman, who she is a person. . . .

[Bob] A free spirit if there ever was one.

[Polly] She is such a fun person to be with. You just never know what’s going to come out of her. But anyway, she was writing her little. And I can’t tell you how long I labored over this speech. I mean, it just, and you can only make it two minutes. They said to us it might even be cut back, so have a one-minute version or something. I mean, what can you say in that that means anything? You know.

[Virginia] Yeah, right.

[Polly] But anyway and I am more and more weird, you know.

[Bob] Oh, not too.

[Polly] But I worked so hard at this thing. And then June comes in and I knew she was going to speak, too. What they do is there somebody for and somebody against and they alternate. June said, “I’m not quite finished.” She’s got a blank piece of paper in front of her! She said, “I’m going to go out in the hallway and finish my speech.” She hadn’t even started the thing. And she got up and she was, I mean I don’t, he says it was wonderful. She got up and she was boom, boom, boom—like this! Oh, some people have it and some people don’t. But she didn’t get on TV, either.

[NB: General Assembly met in Baltimore in 1991 and voted down the report of Task Force on Human Sexuality. In the fall of 1993, the RE-Imagining conference took place in Minneapolis. General Assembly met in Wichita in June of 1994 and condemned the RE-Imagining conference as going “‘beyond the boundaries’ of Reformed theology.”]

full transcription of a story told by Bob and Polly (his wife) to Virginia (Lee’s daughter) and Lee and Ken (Lee’s second husband) during a visit to California in January 2004

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • Polly says they were at Baltimore General Assembly (1991) but she was opposing RE-Imagining. However, the Baltimore General Assembly pre-dated RE-Imagining. Was she actually opposing the Task Force on Human Sexuality report? Or was she at Wichita in 1994?
  • Do you have a copy of her speech that you can share?
  • Do you have a video clip of her speech that we can post?
  • Were Polly and Bob still at Fort Square in 1991 and 1994? Or were they just meeting up with Fort Square friends at General Assembly?
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