With great sadness, we at the Alban Institute mourn the unexpected death of our friend and colleague Anne Van Dusen. Anne died on Wednesday, June 25, 2008.
Given her youth, her energy, and her joy for life, her death stunned her family, friends, and her Alban colleagues.
Anne came to work for Alban late in 2003. As Senior Research Associate, she gave her full energies to building our Congregational Resource Guide (CRG) website. She made a wide variety of contributions to the CRG, improving its content, making it more user friendly, adding Wise Voices interviews, and developing many of the features that bring thousands of users to it every week. In addition, she was a consummate networker, quietly bulding relationships with content providers, resource centers, and the wider public the CRG serves. Anne traveled widely on behalf of the CRG, telling its story, demonstrating its usefulness, and finding ways to make it stronger. She worked well with her colleagues in the Alban offices and in the Indianapolis Center for Congregations. Millions of American congregational members have been touched directly or indirectly by her efforts.
At times like this we are reminded of the most important things, of the deepest sources of hope and comfort, and of the special gift of friends who share our journeys. We miss Anne, give thanks for all she meant and did, and marvel at the fragility and strength of Life.
James P. Wind
A Tribute to Anne
As I recall what was and is so special about my colleague and friend, Anne Van Dusen, the phrase that keeps coming to mind is “refrigerator soup.”
The best soup, hands down, I ever tasted was a container of homemade soup that Anne brought to work and shared. “What is the recipe? What are the ingredients? How did you cook that?” I asked.
Anne smiled, waved her hand, and said, “Oh, that’s refrigerator soup; I made it from the leftovers in my refrigerator.”
“But this is fabulous! I want to duplicate this!”
Well, Anne explained, every container of refrigerator soup is unique. It’s never the same from one cook to the next, and it’s never even the same from one cooking to the next. That’s the mystery and challenge of this soup. You need to go with what’s in your refrigerator on any given day, to accept those ingredients and work with them, to take their particular combination and make something delicious.
And once you do that, you need to share it; refrigerator soup is meant to be shared and savored with other people.
I think that, on some level, Anne felt that was the truth not only about refrigerator soup but also about life. Anne always, always emphasized that each of us has her or his own gifts, talents, strengths—her or his own “refrigerator ingredients”—that could blend together and create something wonderful. That was one of the things that made working with Anne such a joy. She would notice and affirm the possibilities in people, even if we couldn’t see those possibilities in ourselves.
Anne has left us—at least physically and at least for now. None of us can fill the empty space that remains. But we can honor Anne by opening our spiritual “refrigerator doors” now and then, accepting and respecting what we find inside, creating our unique “soups,” and remembering, as Anne always remembered, to share and savor them with others.
Congregational Resource Guide
ANNE’S LEGACY AT ALBAN