At home, the best-known of Sojourners' Washington, D.C.-based ministries is the Sojourners Neighborhood Center, where Barb Tamialis has served as executive director and her husband Jim Tamialis has served on the board since the Center's inception. When Barb and Jim's 25th wedding anniversary rolled around, we threw these original community members a party and put into action another Sojourners ministry: We "published" a collection of memories and wishes from their friends and family.
Love, commitment, and faith come up often in 25 Years Together (a limited edition), as do references to Barb and Jim's adoption of three children over the years. The following excerpts testify to their witness in marriage, children, vocation, and community. The Editors
On the eve of her wedding to Jim, after the rehearsal and dinner, Barbie questioned her father about the mural wallpaper he had purchased to hang in the dining room. He had to admit that getting the yard in shape for the outdoor reception had taken all of his time and he had not been able to hang the wallpaper mural.
"No problem, let's hang it now," she said. So the mural was hung by Dad and Barbie on the eve of the wedding day and it still hangs there today, 25 years later. Mom and Dad Wallis (Barb's parents)
Twenty-one years ago, these two people gave me a gift that many children today only dream ofthey gave me love and they gave me a family. I cannot say, honestly, that I have returned to them that same generosity, but they have been there for me nonetheless. Mike Tamialis (Barb and Jim's son)
I am one of the very few people I know who can say, "I've got to stop past my PARENTS' house tonight," or "I'm going out with my PARENTS tonight." It's something that doesn't really hit you until you actually pay attention to it. So many people are getting divorces in this day and age that marriage might as well be considered prolonged dating.
But my parents, when they made their vows, actually seemed to hear the part about "'til death do us part," and probably actually enjoyed the idea of it. Nathan Tamialis (Barb and Jim's son)
I like when my mom and dad wake up in the morning and I can hear them talking. Then I get up out of my bed and go into their room and lay in their bed and talk with them, and that makes my day go well. Marquis Tamialis, 11 (Barb and Jim's son)
I like when my mom bakes chocolate chip cookies, and I like when my mom and dad get us a present, and I like when they both take us on trips. Anika Tamialis, 10 (Barb and Jim's daughter)
I will always remember those months when you were waiting to start your "second family"disappointment when a promised daughter didn't come to join you, and then the most wonderful excitement when finally Anika arrived home. I remember seeing her for the first time in Jim's arms, with a bottle in her mouth and her tiny fingers tugging on her ear. And I thought to myself, "How do they do it?" Joyce Hollyday (longtime community member)
Precious memories. We remember the dining room table and the long conversations into the night, talking about things that matter, sharing hopes, frustrations, and fears, feeling in deep places how much you care about your neighborhood, how much you dream its healing, how ready you have always been to place your own healing lives on the line, beginning right in your own living room, on your own couch, running into your own alley, in your own kitchen; beginning right there in your own family and reaching out to draw us all in, with hospitality and risk-taking love, and always with no-nonsense honesty, you work for healing. Rosemarie and Vincent Harding (longtime community friends)
One of the marks of a good administrator is that she/he puts people to work where they can really come to know their true vocations. Barb had to figure out what to do with two volunteer guests for a summer. She no trouble placing Anne, who had long worked with children, as a worker in the children's program. But what to do with a lawyer?
In those days the Center stored a lot of rice for its food distribution program. And that rice attracted some mega-rats. No one had been able to rid the Center of its unwanted visitors. But Barb, ever resourceful, knew that it took one to know one. I was put in charge of the rat riddance program. My efforts were successful, ridding the rice bin of rats for several years. And I came to know why I had gone to law school all those years ago. Anne and Uncas McThenia (longtime community friends)
There have been times when I've felt slightly frazzled by the sturm and drang of raising children, and Jim will make a witty remark in his soft-spoken manner that places everything in perspective. Forget Air Jordan. When I grow up, I wanna be like Jim! Larry and Francel Bellinger (church friends and neighbors)