The Irwin Phelps Conference Scholarship Fund
by Rick Fernández
It has been said that we stand on the shoulders of giants and so it is with
Irwin Phelps, former executive
director of Affirmation who was tragically murdered shortly after the 1992
Affirmation Conference. In response to the pain we felt from his loss, our
leaders chose, wisely, to create a conference scholarship fund that would
bear his name. I am deeply honored to be asked to share my thoughts on him
and the fund.
Conference for many of us is the annual high point of our experience in
Affirmation. Conference provides us with a singular opportunity to gather
in solidarity with each other and thereby gain renewed strength, vision,
commitment, and purpose. Creating and expanding on these is what Irwin Phelps
ardently worked for in his all too brief association with Affirmation. As
the struggling new director of the Affirmation chapter in Phoenix, I benefited
immeasurably from his participation in our chapter. His wisdom, counsel,
friendship and strength were my mainstays, and he provided them with his
distinctive patience and calming influence. His support was there, not just
in large matters, but also most valuably in the many small things that always
came up. We are weakened because he is no longer physically present with
us. However, we are also strengthened to the extent that we keep alive his
memory and are thus inspired to continue his good works.
Thus, it is fitting and right that his name be associated with the conference
scholarship program. Those whose attendance the Irwin Phelps scholarship
fund makes possible are chosen not only by financial need but also by their
willingness to contribute of their time and resources to Affirmation. It
is appropriate that it should be so. Irwin inspired many, including myself,
to have the courage to lead when inertia or apathy seemed the easier, if
not the wiser, course. The conference scholarship fund in his memory extends
and perpetuates that essential work.
This is no mere rhetoric. Virtually every chapter has someone, like the
Portland chapter to which I belong, who is in leadership and who would not
be there had they not been able to come to conference and experience Affirmation
at its best. The Irwin Phelps fund continues to foster new courage, new
generosity, and new commitment from which all of Affirmation benefits.
We can show no greater honor and appreciation towards Irwin than by
our own renewed commitment to furthering the work of Affirmation, not
only by great works and acts, but by the little acts of daily courage
and compassion that transform and renew our communities and our lives.
Tax-deductible donations and pledges can be made directly to Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons. Donations can be made by check or credit card, and should be sent to the address below. Please use this printer-friendly donation form.
Please send contributions to:
Affirmation c/o Irwin Phelps Scholarship
PO Box 898
Anoka, MN 55303
Or call or send e-mail for more information to our