Born in Memphis TN, and raised across the Mississippi River in Blytheville AR, the Rev. Dr. Stuart Hoke is a priest of the Diocese of New York who retired in 2008 as Executive Assistant to the Rector of Trinity Wall Street and Missioner to St. Paul's Chapel at Ground Zero. After graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Dr. Hoke attended the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he received the Master of Divinity degree. Ordained in 1972, Hoke has served congregations as a parish priest in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and New York.
In 1996, Dr. Hoke completed the Master of Sacred Theology degree at New York's General Theological Seminary, and was awarded the Doctor of Theology degree in the spring of 2000.
In his extensive work for the past 30 years in the ministry of recovery, Hoke has been a frequent conference and retreat conductor throughout the Episcopal Church; and currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at New York's General Seminary where he has pioneered two courses on the Church's role in the treatment of alcoholism and addictive illness. He also works with congregations and church judicatories when and where there are issues with impaired clergy. Recently the Episcopal Church presented him the “Sam Shoemaker Award” for service in the field of addiction and recovery.
Dr. Hoke now resides in Little Rock where he serves as a volunteer priest associate at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and as an active participant in the city’s recovery community.
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[0:00:03.2] TB: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Be sure to stay tuned till the end of the show to hear how you can get a copy of this program and other helpful documents.
Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[0:00:37.9] KM: For me to get up in your business, if right? now you're sitting at your computer, you might want to watch us live on flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page. It's fun to see what goes on behind the scenes. Today, a lot is going on behind the scenes. If you're a fan of the show and you've watched it before, you can see that it's a little hectic. We've changed our studio from – not from KABF. We're still in KABF, but we've changed from the studio we were in on one side of the hall to a new studio on the other side of the hall, and it's Corey’s studio. What's the name of it, Corey?
[0:01:10.3] C: The Artist Lounge Studio.
[0:01:12.1] KM: That's right. We've got a little bit of technical difficulties, because it's our first time, but our guest is being very patient with us. We’re here being very team-oriented and we're all working together really good. Tune in to Facebook Live, so you can see all the chaos and see the new studio. It's really fun.
This show Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy began with entrepreneurs in mind, a platform for me, a small business owner and a guest to pay forward our experiential knowledge in a conversational way. As with all new endeavors, it's had some unexpected outcomes. For instance, this show began with entrepreneurs and want to be entrepreneurs in mind, but we found it has a much wider appeal, because after all, who isn't inspired by everyday people's American-made stories? Another discovery I find interesting is that many, many of my guests have a spiritual bend and the heart of a teacher. Last, that business in of itself is creative.
My guest today is all of the above. He has an inspiring life story, knows a lot about creation, has a big heart of a teacher and his spiritual bend is more than most, because he's an episcopal priest who has hailed from all over the United States, including Wall Street, that became ground zero when the twin towers fell.
Today, we're going to visit with Father Stuart Hoke, who recently moved back to Little Rock, Arkansas and became the assisting priest at Trinity Cathedral in Downtown, Little Rock. If you're just tuning in for the first time, you may be asking yourself what's this lady's story and why should I listen? Well my newest co-host Corey, is here to tell you.
[0:02:51.0] C: Over 40 years ago, with only $400 Kerry McCoy founded Arkansas Flag and Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed dramatically from door-to-door sales, to telemarketing, to mail order and catalog sales. Now Flag and Banner relies heavily on the internet, including the newest feature, live chatting.
With time and experience, Kerry’s business and leadership knowledge grew. As early as 2004, she began sharing this knowledge with her weekly blog. Today, she’s used her skills to found the nonprofit; Friends of Dreamland Ballroom, as well as the in-house publication Brave Magazine and now, this very radio show.
Each week on the show, you’ll hear candid conversations between her and her guests about real-world experiences, on a variety of businesses and topics that we hope you will find interesting and inspiring.
If you would like to ask Kerry a question, or share your story, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
[0:03:55.4] KM: Thank you, Corey. My guest today is episcopal priest and doctor of theology, Father Stuart Hoke. Dr. Hoke was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but raised across the wide Mississippi River in Blytheville, Arkansas. He is a Mustang, tender in that in a while, having graduated from SMU, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He then went on to receive his Master of Divinity degree from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Father Hoke spent most of his ministry serving congregations in Arkansas and Texas. Until in 1996, he got the academic bug and completed the master of sacred theology degree at New York's General Theological Seminary. For the next eight years, he would serve as executive assistant to director of Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City and missioner to St. Paul's Chapel at Ground Zero. I can't wait to talk to him about that.
For the past 30 years, Dr. Hoke has not only been spreading the good news of God's grace, but also that of AA's 12-step recovery program. In his ministry of recovery, he has pioneered two nationally recognized courses on the church's role in the treatment of alcoholism and addictive illness. He is renowned for his workings with congregations and diocese of impaired clergy.
Dr. Hoke has now moved back to Arkansas where he's the assistant priest at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Downtown, Little Rock and he continues his active participation and ministry in the 12-step recovery program. It is a pleasure to welcome to the table Reverend Dr. Stuart Hoke. Hello father.
[0:05:31.8] SH: Good morning. Good afternoon.
[0:05:34.6] KM: Blytheville, Arkansas, that means either your parents were at the Air Force Base, they were farmers, or they worked at the steel plant. Which one?
[0:05:43.0] SH: My father was stationed at the Army Air Force Base during the Second World War. Met my mother who was the daughter of one of the first stores in the city, the Hubbard Furniture Company.
[0:05:56.5] KM: Oh, you're kidding.
[0:05:57.8] SH: We were –
[0:05:58.8] KM: You were rich.
[0:06:00.5] SH: We were just absolutely not rich, but we were comfortable.
[0:06:05.9] KM: Yeah. You are the small-town furniture owner in a small Blytheville, Arkansas.
[0:06:09.4] SH: You pronounce it correctly. Blytheville, Arkansas.
[0:06:12.3] KM: I have friends from Blytheville. I've been there. The Air Force Base I think has moved out though.
[0:06:17.7] SH: Air Force Base is gone now. The city is much smaller than it was when I was growing up.
[0:06:22.6] KM: It's got great fertile ground, it's on the Mississippi River. It's great farming country. I just heard the other day that Bill Gates was buying up some Delta land in Arkansas. You knew that?
[0:06:35.3] SH: Black dirt. Wonderful place. Yeah.
[0:06:38.6] KM: After reading about you, it seems like you always knew you wanted to be a priest, because you went to college to be a priest. You went to SMU?
[0:06:44.6] SH: Went to SMU. I knew I wanted to be a clergy person long, long time ago. I didn't tell anybody. That's not the thing you tell your teenage friends, but that was – that's what I wanted.
[0:06:56.1] KM: How’d you know that?
[0:06:57.1] SH: Well, my parents were active Episcopalians. We were in church every Sunday. The Episcopal priest in town, even in that little town was always the educated [inaudible 0:07:06.3]. He knew the –
[0:07:08.3] KM: The what?
[0:07:09.1] SH: The [inaudible 0:07:09.3].
[0:07:10.1] KM: Yeah, see these episcopal preachers, they're just so educated. What does that mean?
[0:07:13.8] SH: He knew his salad fork, from his entree fork. Ate well, he took me to the opera in Memphis. Just, it meant that educated, worldly, had been around, gave me a good model. I said I want to do that, so I did.
[0:07:31.5] KM: That's a lot of responsibility for you guys to follow in his footstep.
[0:07:34.8] SH: Which SMU, my father insisted that I'd be an engineer. I fixed that by making my first and only D in calculus. That was the end of my engineering career and I wanted to study religion and language. My father thought that was not a good idea, whatsoever.
[0:07:52.4] KM: Latin, I guess?
[0:07:53.8] SH: Latin and Greek, yeah. Latin and Greek and religious studies at SMU, most exciting courses I've ever taken.
[0:08:01.9] KM: Okay. After you graduated from college in the most exciting Latin and Greek courses you've ever taken, you decided to go on and get a masters, and you went to Cambridge Massachusetts.
[0:08:16.9] SH: I did. It was the Vietnam War. I had a medical disability, because I had tried to go into the service and that was not possible. Went to Cambridge Massachusetts from Dallas, Texas in the fall of 1968.
[0:08:34.1] KM: Wow. Right in the middle of it.
[0:08:35.5] SH: Right in the middle of it. Was in Cambridge for four years doing all the riots and the colleges in the nation. I was happened to be on the street when tear gas fall on two occasions. I really learned something about the life of the church in the streets, as well as in the church building itself. It was the war and we were really doing whatever we could to see that the war could stop. Many of our friends had died and so many more were going to die. We were very sensitized to that at the time; a great place for a theological education during that period.
[0:09:12.9] KM: Did you work while you were there?
[0:09:14.5] SH: I did. I was a chaplain, student chaplain at the Bunker Hill Community Mental Health Center, which was in Charlestown, Massachusetts. It was an Irish ghetto, it was called at the time. My job was to go around and meet the community and introduce them to the health center, as well as to some dynamics of spiritual living, spiritual health. There was a lot of talk about alcoholism at the time, because Charlestown was full of it.
[0:09:45.2] KM: And Irish.
[0:09:46.5] SH: And Irish, exactly. Yeah, exactly. I listen closely. I'd grown up in alcoholism.
[0:09:53.5] KM: Your parents were?
[0:09:55.0] SH: It was in my family. Very close in my family. I wanted to know as much as I could about it. In fact, I got a job, my first job in Cambridge Massachusetts was a student chaplain at the Long Island Center for the Chronically Alcoholic. These were the Skid Row bums, and my first job there was to be an orderly. I helped clean them up after they got up the –
[0:10:17.4] KM: Were they Vietnam vets, a lot of them?
[0:10:19.0] SH: Some of them, yeah.
[0:10:20.4] KM: Seems like that's a lot of the homeless people are veterans of some sort. I think this is probably a great place for us to take a break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with Reverend Dr. Stuart Hoke, assisting priest at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. We'll hear about the role, his New York City Trinity Church on Wall Street played after the fall of the twin towers that became ground zero. Last, we'll do an in-depth dig into the 12-step recovery program that he champions and shares. He started to give us a little taste of it then, but I think we got some technical difficulties. We're going to take a little break right now, see if we can fix them. Stay tuned. More to come.
[0:10:58.3] C: You're listening to All Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. If you missed any part of this show, or want to learn more about UIYB, go to flagandbanner.com and click the radio show, or subscribe through your favorite podcast application. We'll be right back.
[0:11:45.8] KM: Into Up In Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with Reverend Dr. Stuart Hoke, Episcopal Priest at Trinity Cathedral in Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.
Before the break, we were talking about how Dr. Hoke became a preacher, how I always knew he wanted to be one, and it's not really in your family, but it's in you, and that people in your life can really affect how you grow up to be and that you had a great example of a episcopal priest in Blytheville, who really set a great example for you on how to be.
Now after receiving your masters of Divinity degree in Cambridge Massachusetts, you worked and ministered all over Arkansas and Texas before you moved to New York City and 9/11 happened. How did you go from Cambridge Massachusetts back to Texas in Arkansas to minister?
[0:12:39.6] SH: I was ordained in the Diocese of Oklahoma.
[0:12:43.3] KM: Really.
[0:12:44.5] SH: By hook and crook, I was invited by the bishop of Oklahoma to be a part of that crew over there, and he stationed me after ordination in a church in Tulsa. I was there for two years, and then a man from Little Rock called me and said, “I want you to come work over here.” The bishop over here said, “I want you to move across the state line.”
[0:13:03.9] KM: Who is the bishop?
[0:13:04.8] SH: The bishop was Christoph Keller.
[0:13:06.2] KM: Oh, yeah.
[0:13:07.3] SH: I moved to Arkansas and this is home for me and it felt so good, and I was at St. Mark's here in Little Rock for three years and then I moved to St. John’s Church in Harrison –
[0:13:18.2] KM: Arkansas?
[0:13:18.5] SH: I was there for six years. Yeah. St. John’s and Harrison at the time was a very conflicted church. I had grown up in a conflicted family and I knew some of the dynamics of how to fix situations like that, so I employed them.
[0:13:34.2] KM: Did you fix it?
[0:13:35.1] SH: No. They fixed me.
[0:13:38.0] KM: You can't fix humans. We're just unfixable.
[0:13:41.0] SH: Yeah. Then I had a call to a big church in Texas, and I moved to Amarillo, Texas, spent 10 years there.
[0:13:47.7] KM: Where's that? Amarillo, did you say Amarillo?
[0:13:49.4] SH: Way out of the panhandle. Yeah.
[0:13:50.8] KM: Oh, Amarillo.
[0:13:52.7] SH: After that, in Houston. After 29 years in parish ministry, the minister of parish, I got the education bug and I thought I would really like to go back to school. Feared that I couldn't even write a footnote, but I thought, “Well, I'd love to do that again.”
[0:14:09.6] KM: How old are you now?
[0:14:10.9] SH: I'm 72.
[0:14:11.7] KM: Not now, but I mean then when you decided to go back?
[0:14:13.3] SH: 49.
[0:14:14.4] KM: You’re 49, you decided to go back to get a PhD, I guess, right?
[0:14:18.2] SH: Yeah, got a master's degree just to try it out, see if I could do it, and then spent the next four years working on a PhD, like a PhD, or in doctorate, yes. Had no idea what I would do with that, but it's opened so many doors.
[0:14:34.4] KM: Really?
[0:14:35.4] SH: Just so many doors. It gave me a credential that I've needed in order to do some of the things that I've done. Not only write, but preach and teach, hither and thither and the degree has helped do that.
[0:14:50.5] KM: You were in Amarillo and then you moved to Houston to really another big church, you got the academic bug.
[0:14:56.9] SH: Moved to New York City.
[0:14:57.8] KM: You moved to New York City.
[0:14:58.9] SH: Absolutely love living in New York.
[0:15:00.8] KM: In your early 40s.
[0:15:02.2] SH: Yeah. In my late 40s.
[0:15:04.0] KM: In your late 40s. Went to school for how long?
[0:15:05.7] SH: Went to school for six years, until I was 55. That's when I was awarded the doctoral degree. Simultaneously got a job at Trinity Church Wall Street, which is probably the biggest Episcopal Church in North America. Budget and outreach.
[0:15:27.1] KM: There's nobody goes there.
[0:15:28.5] SH: Pardon?
[0:15:29.0] KM: There's not even hardly parishioners. I've been there actually. I went to service there one time. Matthew, you remember going to service there when we were in Wall Street? He was too young. We went there. It may have been you that was there. It's been so long ago, because it was right after 9/11 and we went to church in there, but there wasn't hardly anybody in it.
[0:15:43.8] SH: After 9/11, it was scary what had happened. No one was coming down.
[0:15:49.9] KM: Literally, there were 20 people in this big beautiful church.
[0:15:53.5] SH: Now it's packed to the gills Sunday morning.
[0:15:55.8] KM: That's nice.
[0:15:56.4] SH: Yeah. Many of our people died in the tragedy. Much fear about being down on Wall Street at the time, so it was – it had a below, a year before it was back in full swing.
[0:16:08.3] KM: You had been there for how long when 9/11 happened?
[0:16:10.6] SH: I was there for a year and I lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, took the subway to my office every day. The office was about a 75 yards from the first tower, from the North Tower.
[0:16:25.2] KM: Where were you when the planes hit?
[0:16:27.3] SH: I was on the subway when the first plane hit and the subway conductor said we are approaching Chamber Street where you'll need to get off and get on the other side to take the local train to get to Wall Street. Then he said, “Stay on the train. There has been an incident at the first tower.” Then he screamed, “Stay on the train.” All of us stayed on the train. We had no idea of what was going on. Got off at Rector Street near Wall Street, came up out. Out of the subway tunnel it was a beautiful day when I've gotten on the train and it was very cloudy when I got off. There was debris in the air, there were women's clothes coming down from the sky and it was – people were screaming. A friend of mine said, “A small plane has just hit the first tower. Let's go down and see what's happened.” I said, “Well, let's go. I mean, I always want to see what's happening.” We went down. If you know New York at all, we stood at the corner of Greenwich and Liberty Street at the entrance of the North Tower, watched the South Tower burned three floors. Kept hearing people saying, “It's only a small plane that's hit it. It's only a small plane.” Yet, we could see three entire floors engulfed by flame.
About that time, it was two minutes till 9:00, another plane from the west came from out of the blue. It was right over our heads a thousand feet above us hit the tower at an angle right where we were standing and the debris began coming down. The woman next to me had the most incredible question. She said, “Is this a setting for a movie?”
[0:18:15.6] KM: Oh, my gosh.
[0:18:16.8] SH: I thought immediately Bruce Willis. I thought, “Well, of course this is one of his disaster movies.” I said yes, and we just stood there. Until another friend came up to me, shook me literally by the scruff of my neck and said, “Stuart, run for your life.” It dawned on me I was in trouble and I ran for my life. Many didn't. Some of that debris covered some of the people with whom I was standing.
[0:18:44.2] KM: Killed them?
[0:18:44.7] SH: Mm-hmm.
[0:18:45.7] KM: With whom you were standing?
[0:18:47.4] SH: Not too far away. All of that debris from the impact of the plane and what came down, the jet fuel and the debris. I ran into the basement of the American Stock Exchange and then the church office was right next door, Trinity Wall Street. Trinity has been there since 1689, so it's been a fixture on Wall Street. Ran in there and the rector said to me, the rector is the pastor, I was his assistant. He said, “People are screaming down Broadway.” Broadway, the major street in the city and they're looking for shelter and they're running into the church. “Go over there and do something immediately.”
I said, “What do you want me to do?” He said, “I don't know. Just get there. Go over there.” He spotted the organist and he said to the organist, “Go with Stuart. Go to the church and you all do something immediately. People are coming in.” We went over and we did a spontaneous impromptu service of scripture readings and hymns and prayers, mostly as crowd control. You could hardly call it worship and yet, it was that too.
Some really amazing thing happened in that 45-minute segment between us getting there and the fall of the first tower. When it fell, the windows fell out of Trinity, the lights went off, people got under the pews, some of the people got under the pews. We had 45 really good minutes there to sing and to pray and to read sanely at pieces of scripture, like the 23rd Psalm. I read the 23rd Psalm, the Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.
There was a man of the congregation who did something I've never had done in all my years of ministry. He jumped up and said, “Do that again.” He loved that portion of, “Ye, the walk to the valley of death.”
[0:20:44.6] KM: The walk to the valley of death. It's very comforting. It's so comforting.
[0:20:48.5] SH: Yeah. He appeared again, but I've never had anyone do that, especially in an episcopal service.
[0:20:54.1] KM: Yeah, right.
[0:20:56.9] SH: I did make a huge faux pas at one point. I said, “The next hymn we’re going to sing –” I was trying to choose very familiar hymns, like –
[0:21:05.2] KM: Onward Christian Shelters.
[0:21:06.6] SH: Well, I wanted to do that, but I thought twice about that. I said, “The next hymn will be Nearer my God to Thee.” Well, this man said, “No, not that one.” If you're old enough, you remember that the first movie, the Titanic as the ship was going down and to the drink, the little brass band was playing Nearer my God to Thee. Well, a bunch of the people in the congregation remember that. Amidst all of this cacophony and craziness and sirens and the darkening of the church, people laughed occasionally. It reminded me of something about humor and humanity and humility. We were really depending on God's grace to whatever what happened. The humor was part of it and it was – I think about that a lot. That was such a gift at that moment.
[0:22:00.9] KM: We're coming up on 9/11.
[0:22:02.9] SH: Coming up soon. It's what? Six weeks away.
[0:22:06.9] KM: Not that you're counting.
[0:22:09.0] SH: Well, I do this every year. I was really involved in that day, and I was – when that tower fell, I was leading that congregation when some of them got under the pews. It was a moment of horror, because the lights went out. It got dark. There was a woman on the front row who was screaming at the top of her lungs, “Jesus, Jesus.” There was someone at the back of the church going, “Anthrax, Anthrax.” Me thinking, “Well, is he prescient? What's he doing? Does he a mind reader?”
Then the verger, the guy that handles all the services in that big church, he was going, “Shut up. Shut up.” It was my job to try to settle things down and to keep right on going, be faithful to what was at hand. Then the policeman came in and he said, “You all need to get out of here quickly.” If that second building falls, and he told us what had happened, this time it may fall right on the top of Trinity. “There are boats of all shapes, models and kinds down on the harbor waiting to evacuate the island, so get down there as fast as you can,” and people fled.
[0:23:22.4] KM: I didn't realized people fled the island.
[0:23:24.4] SH: They did. It's now known as the biggest naval evacuation in the history of evacuations.
[0:23:31.4] KM: I did not know that.
[0:23:32.8] SH: Over a 100, maybe 200,000 people were evacuated.
[0:23:36.4] KM: Did you evacuate by boat?
[0:23:37.3] SH: Mm-hmm.
[0:23:37.7] KM: Where’d you go?
[0:23:38.8] SH: Well, I ran. What I did, I ran back into the office building before I went to the boat. We had a day school at the time, and it was early in the morning. We had 150 children, only 90 had been there, had gotten there that day. If the terrorists had come just a little bit later, so many more parents would have been in the World Trade Center.
Anyway, it was a cold day. It was the first cold day of the year. Staff members wrapped the little tiny babies and children up in their coats, and at a given signal, we ran down the street. We ran toward the Staten Island Ferry. The second building fell at that particular moment. You've seen pictures probably of the dust ball that comes down the street, well it be engulfed us. It was 240 miles an hour, I think it was clocked at that particular ball of terror and it knocked everybody all over the place.
[0:24:36.5] KM: You all got separated? You all got separated?
[0:24:39.2] SH: Mm-hmm. We could hear babies crying and someone said, “Am I dead? Am I dead?” Well, we picked ourselves up, got our bearings, and thanks to a wonderful young business manager at the church itself, led all of us again on the road to the Staten Island Ferry, and we got there eventually.
There were boats of all kinds leading people to one place, or another. The fascinating thing is two buses came down the sidewalk. You have to imagine all the streets were gridlocked. People had jumped out of their cars, even leaving the cars running. They were everywhere, but two buses came down the sidewalks, stopped where we were, city buses and said, “We can take your children and your day school teachers to shelter. We know a route up the FDR freeway. We will take them to St. Roses in the Bronx and there they'll be safe. Use your walkie-talkies, use your cellphones while they'll still last. Leave a message, so that when parents call say that your children are located hither and thither.”
By 10:00 that night, every single child had been reunited with every single parent. Well, this was amazing, because 80% of our parents in that school were World Trade Center parents. They had either not gotten to work, or they were not in harm's way when disaster hit.
[0:26:06.7] KM: 80%?
[0:26:07.7] SH: 80% of those children's parents were World Trade Center parents. I went to Staten Island on a boat on the ferry. The ferry was so crowded, they made us sit down and wear life preservers, which had not ever been used.
[0:26:24.0] KM: You were probably over the limit and weight.
[0:26:25.5] SH: Absolutely over the limit. There were rumors that Dallas had been hit, Washington, Baltimore, all kinds of rumors. People were saying, “Who hit us? Who did this?” Even rumors about the Chinese Air Force possibly –
[0:26:41.1] KM: How long before you got back home?
[0:26:43.0] SH: I didn't get home until the next day, because they wouldn't let us back into Manhattan. I had to sleep – I slept at the Marine recruiting station, because one of them saw me and said, “Are you a priest?” I had on mine basic black and he said, “You're covered in all that dust.” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Well, you look terrible. Why don't you come in and clean up and take a rest?” I said, “Please tell me what's happened.” He filled me in and I spent the night there. The next day was able to get back into the city.
[0:27:13.2] KM: What was that night like? Could you sleep at all?
[0:27:15.6] SH: No, because my son lived in Washington at the time, near the Pentagon. I was frantic trying to get in touch with him, and he me. I had talked to another son and I talked to him, I was married at the time, talked to my wife and we couldn't find this other son. He called at 2:00 in the morning. The phone systems had opened up to an extent, and we just cried on the phone with each other, just in gratitude that we were alive and had been through hell.
[0:27:47.2] KM: Do you have lung issues from it? Lung?
[0:27:50.6] SH: I have not had the lung issues. Although, many of my contemporaries did. The Environmental Protection Agency told us that the air was fine.
[0:28:01.0] KM: Yeah, what was that all about?
[0:28:01.6] SH: Then they came back two years later and said, “We didn't tell you the truth. That was very toxic.”
[0:28:06.4] KM: No kidding.
[0:28:07.0] SH: Many of our people had the lung ailment, and so many were afflicted with cancer, including me.
[0:28:13.7] KM: Oh, really?
[0:28:14.3] SH: A virulent form of – I had a virulent form of prostate cancer, which was a direct result –
[0:28:19.4] KM: Of being there. How many days before you got back to the church?
[0:28:23.3] SH: Got back to the church in three days.
[0:28:26.1] KM: Started, because you ended up working at the St. Paul's next door?
[0:28:32.8] SH: Not immediately, but I was – we were all there constantly. St. Paul's that night, on the 11th, the policemen and women, firemen and women, rescue workers came in and took over that church. They thought, “Oh, we know this is going to be an open and friendly space.” They knocked the door down. They put a porta-potties out front. Parishioners came, illegally set up BBQ pits and began serving these guys and these women hotdogs and hamburgers. By in 24 hours, that had become a respite center and it continued for the next 11 months.
[0:29:11.8] KM: I thought you were going to say that it was the church where they all – the firemen hung their boots on it, while they changed their boots out.
[0:29:18.8] SH: It was the church. That was the church.
[0:29:20.6] KM: For our listeners, son Matt, you remember going up there and all the boots that were hanging on the fence that were left?
[0:29:28.0] M: Yeah, I think so.
[0:29:28.8] KM: For our listeners, the firemen and the rescue people would come back, first responders would come back, change their shoes out and they would hang their old boots on the iron fence there.
[0:29:42.5] SH: On the old iron fence, and there were 300 pairs of boots.
[0:29:46.5] KM: Then they never came back.
[0:29:47.1] SH: They never came back. They never came back.
[0:29:49.1] KM: They left them there, because I saw – we went up there to see ground zero a year later in Psalm and it is just a overwhelmingly emotional.
[0:29:57.5] SH: It is. It is. St. Paul's Chapel became that too. We had 40,000 visitors a week for almost a year, because it was the only place to grieve. The city didn't provide a place to mourn. The church was a safe place. People knew that they could cry there and no one would try to take that away from them. It became quite a place.
[0:30:20.6] KM: Okay, let's take a break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with the very interesting and knowledgeable reverend. Keep on. Let's take a break.
[0:30:34.5] AM: Arkansas Flag and Banner is proud to underwrite Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. McCoy began this broadcast with the intention of offering a mentoring platform for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Their candid conversations and interesting interviews with business and community-minded Arkansans, listeners gained insight into starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk taking and the commonalities of successful people.
Kerry McCoy, Founder and President of Arkansas Flag and Banner believes in paying knowledge and experience forward and developed this radio show as a means of doing so. The biographies, life experiences and wisdom of her guests would likely go unheard if not for this venue.
Rarely do people open up for an hour to an audience about their life, mistakes, triumphs and pitfalls. This unique radio show allows the listener intimate access into the stories of prominent leaders in our state.
I am Adrienne McNally, Manager of the Arkansas Flag and Banner Showroom and Gift Shop located on the first floor of the historic Taborian Hall on the corner of 9th and State Streets in Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.
In business for 43 years, we offer an old school shopping experience with front door parking, clerks to help you and department store variety open to the public Monday through Friday, 8 to 5:30 and Saturday 10 to 4.
[0:31:54.0] KM: All right. You’re listening to Up In Your Business With Me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with Reverend Dr. Stuart Hoke, Episcopal Preacher at Trinity Cathedral in Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. If you have a question, you can send an e-mail to email@example.com, or you can tweet a question @AskKerryMcCoy, or if you shy, if you're shy, you can just creep on my weekly soap opera blog about life as a small business owner at flagandbanner.com. You can get there by going to flagandbanner.com and clicking on my blog, where I always post something.
I'm going to talk about you Stuart, because you got me all upset. Before the break, we were talking about being at ground zero, or being – yeah, being in Wall Street when 9/11 happened, and everything that happened to all the people there and how – really, how wonderful humans come together when they really need to, you were talking about it. We were talking about how this time every year, it's hard on you. I imagine them nightmares are terrible.
We can lighten it up a little bit by talking about something really wonderful, which is substance abuse. That's not really wonderful, but we can talk about something that you've had great success with. Substance abuse affects so many people in so many ways. When did you first realize that you had an issue?
[0:33:17.6] SH: I started to realize that sometime around 1984-85, I was suffering such terrible depression. I kept going to one therapist after another, and they medicated me for it. No one ever said, “Are you pouring a depressant on your depression?”
[0:33:33.9] KM: Why don’t people not realize alcohol is a depressant?
[0:33:36.0] SH: I don't know, but I'm a smart person. The first and foremost symptom of the disease of addiction is denial, refusing to acknowledge what in my heart I know to be true. That was me. I mean, practicing denial to the hilt. It's like that woman saying, “Is this a movie?” When the sky was falling and the rug was being pulled out from under me, I was saying, “Well, yes. It is. It’s just a bad movie.”
[0:34:00.3] KM: Yeah, denial. Was there something that happened that you just said, “This is the day”?
[0:34:07.9] SH: It was a confluence of things. It was the strangest thing. One was a dream that I'd had. One of the therapists that I'd gone to deal with depression, she was really good about dream analysis. I was attending to dreams, but not crazy about that. One was a dream, one was a book called I'll Quit Tomorrow, written by an episcopal priest named Vernon Johnson.
[0:34:32.6] KM: Well, you were reading that already?
[0:34:34.1] SH: Mm-hmm. It was sitting on my bedside table, and somehow it went from the bottom to the top. Now my wife may have had something to do.
[0:34:42.5] KM: You were already suspicious.
[0:34:45.2] SH: Already suspicious and I’ve grown up with it.
[0:34:46.4] KM: Just living in denial.
[0:34:48.8] SH: I used to take those 20 questions. You would find them in red book, or a Reader's Digest, or Dentist's Office, magazines. Are you having trouble with alcohol? Have you lost your car and not knowing where it is? Yeah, there were 20 questions and now every year, I take them to build my character. I would always say, “Isn't it amazing, I can answer 14 out of the 20 affirmatively and not be an alcoholic?” That's utter denial. This time, that year, I thought, “I'm in trouble.”
[0:35:19.5] KM: What happened that year that made you think you're in trouble?
[0:35:22.2] SH: The depression had been so bad and I had been hospitalized as a matter of fact, with depression. I had someone come see me in the psychiatric hospital and said, “Stuart, your problem is not your psyche. It may be off kilter. Your problem is you drink too much and you drink too often and you're trying to medicate your feelings.” Get to the right place and get the right treatment.” Somehow, I heard what he was saying.
[0:35:49.4] KM: Was this before 9/11?
[0:35:51.5] SH: This was 30-some years before that.
[0:35:54.3] KM: How old were you when you quit drinking?
[0:35:56.1] SH: I was 39.
[0:35:58.4] KM: Oh, so you've been sober a long time.
[0:36:00.5] SH: 31 years. 31 years.
[0:36:02.1] KM: You've never had a slip?
[0:36:03.1] SH: No.
[0:36:03.8] KM: You're kidding.
[0:36:05.0] SH: No. No, and it’s –
[0:36:06.1] KM: No desire to go back?
[0:36:07.0] SH: It has been the very best thing that's ever happened to me.
[0:36:10.0] KM: You went through 9/11 and weren’t – didn’t drink.
[0:36:12.2] SH: Absolutely. First thing I did when I got back to the city was to go with my friends, to one of my meetings. Many of my – not so many; some of my friends on the meeting had died at 9/11. That group just was so close to one another in our sobriety. It's been 31 years and it's been a gift. I did go to treatment, and the day I got home from treatment, I met this man and he said, “I'm going to be your sponsor.” I said, “I don't need one.” He said, “Yeah, that's not any of your business. I'm going to be your 12-step sponsor.” I said, “Well, I've been teaching spirituality for years. I don't need that.” He said, “And look where your spirituality has gotten you.” He said, “To a drunk farm?” Well, that was humbling.
[0:37:03.4] KM: How long were you at the drunk farm? 30?
[0:37:05.7] SH: Four weeks, four weeks.
[0:37:07.8] KM: Where were you living, what city at the time when you got a first sponsor?
[0:37:11.4] SH: Amarillo, Texas.
[0:37:12.6] KM: They drink down there in Texas.
[0:37:14.0] SH: Oh, I'm telling you, they're cowboys and they act like the Marlboro Man. Except in recovery, they show another side and it's very, very caring, very faithful and very loving.
[0:37:25.1] KM: Why do you think that people are so resistant to joining the 12-steps and following the practice that has worked for decades for people?
[0:37:36.9] SH: I think there's still a shame element, even though it's better than it was 31 years ago. If I admit I'm alcoholic, then I'm seen as well, especially true for women, there's a double standard. A man can say, “I'm a drunk. I had trouble with alcohol.” They say, “Oh, yeah. You've been drinking too much. Blah, blah, blah. You’re just another jock.” A woman can say that and immediately people say, “Oh, she's a slut.” There's another side to it.
[0:38:01.4] KM: Which one do you think is worse for, women or men?
[0:38:03.8] SH: I think it's harder for women to get –
[0:38:05.7] KM: See, I think it’s harder for men, because they have egos so much bigger than ours.
[0:38:10.2] SH: Well, there it is. There it is right there. Ego, shame. Ego, do what the acronym for ego is by the way?
[0:38:16.4] SH: Edging God Out.
[0:38:18.6] KM: Oh, no.
[0:38:20.6] SH: You know what the acronym for shame is?
[0:38:21.9] KM: No.
[0:38:22.3] SH: Should have already mastered everything.
[0:38:26.3] KM: That’s another good one. Those are tweetable. I don't know where Arwin is. She used to be tweeting those acronyms.
[0:38:31.2] SH: I use those all the time for me. It is hard.
[0:38:36.5] KM: It’s in the clergy a lot.
[0:38:38.5] SH: That the secret to it though is pain.
[0:38:41.9] KM: Is what?
[0:38:42.5] SH: Pain. We say pain is the touchstone for all spiritual growth. If I’m in enough pain as I was at the time, I'm really ready for relief. If you come to me and say, “A flight to the moon will give you relief,” I might say, “Take me. I’m yours.” I had some good people surround me and say, “We really, do you think you can find what you're looking for and you can become the priest you were called to be in the first place.”
[0:39:08.7] KM: You can fulfill your destiny.
[0:39:09.9] SH: Yeah. That's been so true. I've been open about my recovery. I've done a lot in the church trying to bridge the gap between two facets of spirituality. They're very similar, but they're different. One meets in the basement sometimes of the church and one meets upstairs and the two never meet, but there's been some reproachment that’s going on.
[0:39:33.7] KM: By that, do you mean the congregation and then the clergy?
[0:39:37.1] SH: Well, no. The people in the basement that were having their meetings; their AA, or Al-Anon, or celebrate recovery, or whatever it is. Then upstairs they're doing their worship.
[0:39:51.4] KM: Oh, that's what you mean by the basement.
[0:39:53.2] SH: Exactly. Exactly.
[0:39:55.3] KM: Well, I think a lot of people a have a problem with the – what step that you've got to turn your – something about religious. Which step is that, about religion? Two?
[0:40:07.1] SH: Let’s see. Made a decision to turn my life and will over to the care of God.
[0:40:11.9] KM: Is that step two?
[0:40:12.6] SH: That's three.
[0:40:13.2] KM: Three.
[0:40:14.3] SH: Surrender.
[0:40:14.9] KM: Surrender. I think a lot of people have a problem with that. Who cares? Just do it.
[0:40:19.5] SH: Just do it. I keep saying is just do it.
[0:40:22.1] KM: I mean, really. Who cares if you're miserable? Just do it and see if it works. If it doesn't, you can always go back, but you can always try it.
[0:40:28.3] SH: If the pain is great enough, you'll do it.
[0:40:30.6] KM: That's interesting that you have to have being so much pain to move, but people are very resistant to change.
[0:40:35.9] SH: They say you have to get a – you have to reach a bottom. These days they say, “Well you know, you can stop the elevator at any floor. You don't have to go all the way to the basement. You can get off.” Alcoholism is a progressive disease, it's chronic, it’s fatal.
[0:40:51.7] KM: I think that's true too. A lot of times, people do your 20 questions that you did and say, “Well, I didn’t answer all 20 of them, so I'm okay.”
[0:40:59.2] SH: Exactly.
[0:41:00.0] KM: I mean, I've even seen that in people I know, they go, “Well, I never had – I never had a car wreck and killed anybody. I never had a blackout, woke up in the wrong town. Some other people I know have, so I'm not as bad as them.” They compare their alcoholism to other people's alcoholism.
[0:41:16.6] SH: Use that adverb yet. “I I haven't had that happen yet.” We talk about people who have the case of the yets. “I haven’t killed someone yet. I haven’t wrecked my car yet. Don't have a DUI yet.”
[0:41:29.4] KM: Then there's the ones that have a good reason for not just drinking, but for lots of things in life. They have a good reason why they don't want to do it, when really it's not an excuse. It's just a reason. You may have a good reason to misbehave, but that's not an excuse to keep doing it.
[0:41:50.2] SH: Yeah. If you're suffering consequences, it's ruining the quality of your life and other people around you, I mean, the signs and symptoms are there.
[0:42:00.7] KM: Is there really – let me tell everybody, tell everybody that they're listening to Up In Your Business with me Kerry McCoy and I'm speaking today with Dr. Stuart Hoke, Episcopal Priest at Trinity Cathedral in Downtown, Little Rock. We've been talking about how Dr. Hoke was at the ground zero. What in ground zero then, but was it Wall Street when the twin towers fell, and we spent the first half hour of the show. If you missed it, you should go listen to the podcast next week and hear it. You also have a – there's a lot about you online, and you have a – it's not a TED Talk, but you have a video about you talking about your experience during 9/11.
[0:42:38.1] SH: Yes.
[0:42:38.7] KM: How do you get to that?
[0:42:40.2] SH: It’s WRAC in Raleigh, North Carolina.
[0:42:46.1] KM: WRAC.
[0:42:47.2] SH: WRAC.
[0:42:48.4] KM: That's the name of the radio station?
[0:42:50.2] SH: Television station.
[0:42:51.4] KM: TV station.
[0:42:52.0] SH: It's easily findable on Facebook and just Stuart Hoke and video about –
[0:42:56.4] KM: Well, if anybody Google's your name, they're going to find tons about you, because of your recovery work that you've done, your ministry and recovery and then, because of this life experience that you lived through. Hoke is spelled H-O-K-E and we will put links to that on flagandbanner.com’s website next week when we upload this podcast.
You did two recovery ministries that you're famous for making a program, I think. Or at least, I read that you did two and made two type of programs for the congregation and the clergy. Can you speak to that? We don't have much longer, but –
[0:43:31.7] SH: Across the country, I've been invited to come and do parish workshops on the symptoms of alcoholism, the places one can find recovery, what it's like, how to recognize it, and what it's like on the other side, what recovery is like spiritually. I talk a lot about – I'm not a doctor and I'm not a psychiatrist, but I can talk eloquently about the spiritual aspects of the disease, denial, resentment, isolation, fear, guilt, shame and this deep longing for connection with something greater than I am, or with just another human being. I have a lot to say about that. I think the church and programs of recovery, not just AA, but programs of recovery speak to that.
[0:44:18.4] KM: Are you doing that here in Little Rock?
[0:44:20.0] SH: I did. I’ve done it twice. I've done it at St. Mark’s and I'll do it again soon, I think .
[0:44:27.1] KM: If someone was to find out about that, how do they find out? Will it be on the Trinity Episcopal website probably?
[0:44:33.7] SH: Yes. Yeah, yeah.
[0:44:35.9] KM: I guess, I could sign up for the Trinity Episcopal newsletter and get –
[0:44:38.8] SH: Or just Google Trinity Episcopal Cathedral newsletter.
[0:44:41.7] KM: Yeah. It's not in there right now, because you haven't planned it.
[0:44:44.6] SH: Not yet.
[0:44:45.2] KM: Yeah. You'd have to Google that a lot, or they could just sign up for the newsletter and then finally find out something about you, because you're pretty interesting about recovery. You're funny. I listened to one of your – very first time I heard you preach, you preach about recovery and you're just downright funny.
[0:45:05.2] SH: You told me that one time. I said, “Wa?” Like Miss Piggy, “Wa, wa.”
[0:45:11.9] KM: If you wait too long, is it true you get wet brain and you can't get well?
[0:45:17.0] SH: Yeah.
[0:45:18.0] KM: That's true?
[0:45:18.8] SH: Yeah. It's a chronic, progressive and fatal disease. We say if it's not treated, if you're alcoholic, you may be a heavy drinker, which you can quit anytime, but if you're alcoholic, and cannot quit on your own without some spiritual, emotional and physical help at times, then the end result is going to be jail, or insanity, or it's going to be the graveyard. That's usually the case. It goes so unrecognizably. I mean, we call it by every other name. We call it bad communication, child abuse, we have all kinds of names. Look at the root, if you look under every rock, there's probably some alcoholism there that's the root of the problem.
[0:46:02.7] KM: Poor work ethic.
[0:46:04.4] SH: So many church conflicts are based in somewhere there's an alcohol problem in the church, or an addiction problem.
[0:46:12.2] KM: Well, in Episcopalians and Catholics, we're historically known for over-serving ourselves.
[0:46:20.3] SH: They used to say about Episcopalians, wherever there are four gathered together, there's always a fifth.
[0:46:27.0] KM: What does that mean?
[0:46:28.5] SH: Like a leader?
[0:46:29.0] KM: Oh, a fifth. Oh, I just got it.
[0:46:32.7] SH: They've changed the term to later now.
[0:46:35.2] KM: Later. There’s always a fifth. Never heard that before. I've been called a whiskopalian before, you probably heard that one before. Who inspires you, besides Jesus Christ, of course?
[0:46:47.4] SH: One of the spiritual writers that’s just made a difference in my life as a man named Frederick Buechner, Presbyterian writer, has just really helped me over the years, even before recovery. Another one named James Hollis, who is a Jungian psychologist, and he's been very help me – help me about living in the heart not all the time in the head, trying to put those two together. If I have a legacy in life, it's going to be, I want to be remembered as being a man not only in the head, I'm smart person, but a person in the heart, where relationships are really important.
[0:47:24.7] KM: That is so hard to do.
[0:47:26.2] SH: So hard to do.
[0:47:27.3] KM: Speaking of legacy, what do you want your legacy to be?
[0:47:29.9] SH: I want to be remembered as someone who was transparent and open. I certainly want to be remembered for my work in recovery, if that's possible, because that's an ongoing problem and it's getting worse and worse and worse and worse.
[0:47:43.8] KM: It seems like it's a societal problem.
[0:47:45.5] SH: It is. It is. It’s as if society is addicted.
[0:47:52.8] KM: It is kind of.
[0:47:53.6] SH: Suffering addictive illness.
[0:47:55.1] KM: It’s like, it’s okay to be drinking all the time.
[0:47:57.7] SH: To live in denial.
[0:48:01.1] KM: If you could tell yourself, well of 20 years ago something, what would it be?
[0:48:06.7] SH: 20 years ago, I was getting, finishing that THD. I just been hired at Trinity Wall Street. I was had been sober for 11 years. I was moving toward the top of my game. I don't know that I would have changed the thing at the time.
[0:48:24.3] KM: Lovely.
[0:48:24.9] SH: Living in New York. Now, I realized I wasn't at the top of my game then. I am now. It's just that I'm older. I'm 72 now and I've had limitations, including some joint problems. The last five years for me have been the richest time in my entire life. Part of that excitement has been the last year, of moving back to Arkansas and reconnecting with friends and family all over the state. Connectedness is what I longed for. Some of that's I've had realized. Things like this just are thrilling to me.
[0:49:03.3] KM: You think it was providence that you ended up in New York when the towers fell?
[0:49:07.2] SH: Yeah. You know I do in so many ways, because I was able to contribute immediately and right on target with a number of things. We don't need to go into what they were, but my pastoral skills, what I have been through in my own life, which has not been without struggle. I mean, I was able to just walk right into the situation and do good ministry.
[0:49:33.8] KM: How'd you decide to leave and come back?
[0:49:36.3] SH: To Arkansas?
[0:49:36.9] KM: Mm-hmm.
[0:49:39.8] SH: This problem, I have – my brother's a physician in the state.
[0:49:43.2] KM: Oh, your joint pain?
[0:49:44.0] SH: Uh-huh. I called him one day and he said, “That's serious.” He said, “You're going to need some medical help.” I said, “I cannot get it where I am. I'm trying.” He said, “Why don't you come here? Why don't you just move over here and I'll navigate this world for you.”
[0:50:01.0] KM: Oh, would somebody say that to me, please?
[0:50:02.3] SH: I called him back the next morning and said, “I think I'll just move.” He said, “Well, that’s a great idea.”
[0:50:07.4] KM: I love your brother.
[0:50:09.5] SH: My brother inspired me.
[0:50:11.4] KM: I’d love that. I'm going to give for you – Matty, hand me that. This is for you. It's flags. It's a desk set of all the places you've ever lived. That's the United States, that's Tennessee, in case you don't know.
[0:50:24.4] SH: I do.
[0:50:25.4] KM: That's Texas.
[0:50:26.8] SH: Arkansas.
[0:50:27.2] KM: That's Arkansas and there's your episcopal.
[0:50:29.4] SH: The USA.
[0:50:30.6] KM: Right in the middle.
[0:50:31.3] SH: I love it.
[0:50:31.8] KM: Got to be in the highest spot. Ain’t that great?
[0:50:33.8] SH: Yes
[0:50:34.3] KM: Thank you for coming on today. I’ve so enjoyed, even though you made me cry.
[0:50:38.8] SH: Well.
[0:50:39.8] KM: I could cry again thinking about it. I don't start talking about it, I’ll start crying again. I'll be like Oprah. I’ll be crying all the time every time she goes on TV. Tired of seeing her cry.
All right, who is my guest next week, Corey? Do you have it over there? I think it is Roy Dudley, estate sales. Yup, Roy Dudley, estate sales. He is an awesome guy. You’ve ever been in any of his estate sales? Well, he's famous here in Little Rock. If you ever get to go to Roy Dudley Estate, you should go. He's got good, good stuff. He's been a collector all of his life. His family were collectors. He worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield and still had a part-time job with antique stores, so I can't wait to have him on and we're going to talk about antiques and your old stuff.
If you have a great entrepreneurial story you would like to share, I would love to hear from you. Send a brief bio and your contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally to our listeners, thank you for spending time with me. If you think this program has been about you, you're right, but it's also been for me. Thank you for letting me fulfill my destiny.
My hope today is that you've heard or learned something that's been inspiring or enlightening and that it, whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence or your life. I'm Kerry McCoy and I'll see you next time on Up In Your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:52:04.7] C: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, production of flagandbanner.com. If you would like to hear this program again, next week a podcast will be made available online with links and resources heard and discussed on today’s show. Kerry’s goal, to help you live the American Dream.