CHICAGO: Remembering Claire Evans

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CPTnet
15 February 2012
CHICAGO: Remembering Claire Evans

Claire_Evans_portrait-color[Note: CPTer Claire Evans died on the morning of 9 February  2012, five weeks after being diagnosed
with pancreatic cancer.  She spent
her last days with her twin sister, Sue, in Lansing, Michigan.]

Claire Evans was not the most public personality in the
wider CPT organization, but she was one of its most influential workers.  As the Delegations Coordinator, she was
often the first person that people who were interested in exploring involvement
with CPT met.  Her handling of
finances brought her into contact with all of the full-time CPTers who
submitted their expenses to her. 
Her commitment to Undoing Oppressions within CPT changed not only how
delegations were conducted, but also how support team and all the teams in the
field functioned.  CPT Reservist
Jerry Stein wrote of her,  “She epitomized for me, as I was entering the
CPT world, what a member could be and become…”

 Before joining CPT in 1998, Claire was a member of four
Catholic Worker communities in Norfolk, VA, Duluth and Moorhead, MN and
Bloomington, IL.  She was also
librarian at New Moon Publishing, Bread for the World, the Congressional
Quarterly, University of Maryland, and Gallaudet University.  During her years with Christian
Peacemaker Teams, she served on projects in Chiapas, Mexico, and Palestine,
Iraq and with Indigenous peoples in Northern Ontario.

 Tributes pouring in have praised her quiet wisdom, her
integrity, her competence, her steadfastness, her caring heart, generosity, and
hospitality.  But variations on the
word “passion” occur most often. 
In recent years, much of that passion was directed toward Undoing
Oppressions within CPT, to make the organization a welcoming place for people
whom society marginalizes.  She
scrutinized her own life for unearned privileges, and voraciously read every book
she could get on the topic.  In the
introduction to a reflection about her occupation of land in Chicago that once
belonged to the Miami and Potawatomi Nations, she wrote:

In the process of researching
and writing the following piece, I more than once thought that my role as a
white settler should be asking questions rather than presuming to speak with
authority on the topic.  How differently would the Miamis and Potawatomis
describe the movement of their own people?  Have there been any efforts by First Nations people to
reclaim land in Chicago?  Could I
just not find any evidence of it because of the limitations of internet
searching?  It is not even clear to
me whether the Miamis or the French explorers decided to name the area for the
wild onion!  It is in the spirit of
questioning, rather than providing answers, that I submit this small attempt to
raise my own and other’s consciousness of the land on which we live.

 Claire took charge of seeing that important CPT publications
and notes were translated into Spanish, and several CPTers who had experienced
discrimination both within CPT and in larger society have said they could rely
on her to be their ally.  Any CPTer
with unearned privileges who spent time with Claire could expect at some point
a thoughtful challenge to his or her oppressive behaviors.

 But her warm soprano speaking voice would soar up an octave
more often in amusement and pleasure than in anger or judgment.  Adriana Cabrera Velasquez wrote about
Claire jumping for joy after getting the autograph of 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate
Leyma Gbowee.  She reported to Cabrera afterwards, “It is not every
day that you get your thing signed by a saint.”  

 If saints can live and walk among us, then too, can members
of the Cloud of Witnesses referred to in Hebrews 12.  Claire was part of that cloud during her life, bearing
witness to the power of Christ’s love, the power of nonviolence, the power of people
to repent and lay aside their sins of oppression and domination.  And now she has become more completely enveloped
in that Cloud.

 At the end of several of her fundraising letters, Claire
wrote, “Peacemaking is too big an undertaking for any of us to do alone, and I
carry you with me on my journey!” 

Those of us who worked with Claire thank her for taking us
this far and look forward to hearing more about the journey she is on now when
we meet her among the rest of the Witnesses in the life to come.

 A memorial Service for Claire Evans will be held on
Thursday, February 23, 7:00 pm, at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.  The church is located in Chicago at
1218 Addison, near the Red and Brown lines.

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