Apartheid: Campus Ministry with the University Community by Bill Ng

Bill Ng

Director, Unitas Campus Ministry at UC Berkeley

It was spring 1985 when the anti-apartheid movement for South Africa was heating up at UC  Berkeley.  This was the second year of demonstrations for the university to divest.  Radical students and other concerned individuals were gathered together on campus ground sleeping overnight until the University system divested its investment in South Africa.

They challenged the police on one particular morning as they vented their emotions.  I recall getting up early that morning to watch as the campus police broke up the demonstrators who were sleeping overnight in their make-shift wooden houses.  Trash cans and other articles were tossed on the grounds as demonstrators scattered in many directions chased by police.  Violence began to escalate.

At that point I felt the spirit of Christ calling on the faith community to act.  It was time for the religious community to be present.  I got on the telephone and called a number of my clergy friends to be present the next day as a symbol of non-violence.  They came in the afternoon and we stood at strategic places.  The mood changed and that particular demonstration by clergy was a significant witness.  There were  no more violent acts by either side after that day.

Clergy presence made a big difference during the rest of the anti-apartheid movement.  A member of the University staff forwarded to me a letter of commendation from Chancellor Ira Heyman’s office for our clergy’ s non-violent action.  Several months later the University system divested.  Clergy presence can and did make a difference.  It was one of the most spiritual moments in my years as a campus minister. I thank God for that special “kairos” moment.

(written in March, 1998)

 

Obituary for Bill Ng March 12, 1934 – July 22, 2014

Born at the Chinese Hospital in San Francisco, CA to the late Lily and Edward Ng, Bill was the adoring father of Jeremy and Grace Dolezal-Ng; caring partner/friend of Carol Dolezal.

A strong person of faith and a dedicated Presbyterian pastor, Bill was actively committed to a lifetime of social justice and working for the disenfranchised. He lived out Martin Luther King’s vision of the Beloved Community and worked to inspire others to do the same. His first call as pastor was to serve Faith Presbyterian in South Central LA when demographics were changing and racial tensions high. Bill was nurtured by the San Francisco Chinatown communities at the Presbyterian Church and Cameron House. His career also included service with Mental Health Services at Manzanita House and Director of the Indian Welcome House in LA in the 1960’s which provided social services to Native Americans who had been forced off their land to urban areas.

For many years, he was Campus Pastor for Unitas, an ecumenical ministry at UC Berkeley.

He served as Resident Director of Berkeley Presbyterian Mission Homes, from 2001 to present. Prior to that he was Executive Director of the IndoChinese Housing Development Corporation in SF Tenderloin. Concurrently, he volunteered as President of the Cameron House board and was a major force in bringing to light the pastoral abuse there. As a survivor, he worked tirelessly to help heal that community’s wounds.

Bill graduated San Francisco State University, followed by a M.Div from San Francisco Theological Seminary and MSW from UC Berkeley. Bill was a lifelong student and loved sports. He was an avid fan of the Giants and 49ers, but it all started with the SF Seals . When Bill met Carol, he said with all his accomplishments, he missed out having children. In 1998 twins Jeremy and Grace were born and remain Bill’s greatest accomplishment and legacy.

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