Rest in Peace: Jack Sparks, 1928-2010

Sadly we have received word that our friend and brother Fr. Jack Sparks passed away recently at his home in Alaska. He was 81 years old. He is pictured here on the left with our founding editor Duane Pederson.

Jesus People from the Berkeley, CA area as well as those who attended UC Berkeley in the 1970s will no doubt remember Fr. Jack and his work. As a Campus Crusade for Christ missionary he started the Christian World Liberation Front (later called the Berkeley Christian Coalition), and began publishing one of the first Jesus People newspapers, Right On! (later renamed Radix).

While much of the Jesus Movement, including our own Hollywood Free Paper, was sometimes criticized as simplistic and superficial, Fr. Jack's group attempted to engage Berkeley's radical intellectuals, attempting to "contextualize the Christian message for radical and revolutionary university students" and presenting the peaceful "inner revolution" of Jesus as a rational alternative to violent political revolution. He patterned his strategy after a then-popular radical movement the Third World Liberation Front, and drew up a strong 13-point manifesto of the CWLF's beliefs.

Many Jesus People will also remember Fr. Jack as a speaker and leader at the Spiritual Revolution Day event held in Sacramento, CA in February, 1971.

He was one of several leaders in the Jesus Movement who later joined the Eastern Orthodox church, eventually becoming part of the Antiochian Orthodox church. "My feeling," he said at the time, "is that we need to start right at the end of the New Testament and find out precisely where the New Testament church went."

Duane Pederson said of Fr. Jack, "his friendship, wisdom and care helped sustain me through many years, for which I will always be eternally grateful. May his memory be eternal."

Godspeed, dear friend.

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