Rev. Russ Levenson's latest book discussed in great detail former presidential couple George and Barbara Bush's spiritual journey and the years leading up to their death.
The Acadiana Advocate said Reverend Levenson spoke about his latest book "Witness to Dignity: Life and Faith of George and Barbara Bush" at the Ascension Episcopal Church in Lafayette on Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.
A Witness to 'Exercise of Christian Faith'
Levenson, the former pastor at the Ascension Episcopal Church and current rector at Houston's St. Martin's Episcopal Church, explained that he saw firsthand how the Bush couple exercised their Christian faith abundantly.
The pastor said he felt it obligatory to serve as a witness to such a spiritual journey and said he was privileged to have befriended the former presidential couple.
The Acadiana Advocate disclosed that the friendship between Levenson and the Bush couple started in 2007 when news of the former's transfer to St. Martin's reached the latter. The report noted that the Bush family has been worshipping at St. Martin for the better half of a century.
"I really do think they in such wonderful ways witnessed the authentic Christian faith in word and deed. All of us could stand to do that," The Acadiana Advocate quoted Levenson saying in a phone interview.
Pastor Levenson recalled how former president George Sr. called him at his Pensacola home to extend his delight at the news of his imminent transfer to St. Martin's. The Bush couple also sent letters to pastor Levenson and his wife, Laura, as well as to the pastor's parents.
The report noted how such gestures characterized the former president as someone who extended "warm and personal communication."
Friends Until the End
The news outlet noted that the phone call and letters sparked a friendship that lasted for 11 years until the deaths of George Sr. and Barbara. The report said Pastor Levenson officiated the couple's funerals and was with them on their deathbeds.
Barbara Bush reportedly died on April 17, 2018, while George Sr. died barely a year later. According to Levenson, Barbara last said "home," while George Sr. told his son, former President George W. Bush, "I love you."
Levenson said he considers himself fortunate to have experienced such a long friendship with the couple and how he saw how they exercised their Christian faith.
"I observed a rich, wonderful story of deep and authentic faith. They revealed faith that was authentic, worthy of modeling and imitating," Levenson told The Acadiana Advocate.
Ultimately, Levenson reportedly decided he had to "give witness" to the Bush couple's display of faithfulness to Christianity and how they lived their lives.
About the Book
The article disclosed that Pastor Levenson approached the surviving Bush family members about his plan to write a book detailing the Bush couple's life and spiritual journey. His first draft comprised 500 pages, but the final manuscript had 352 pages. Jeb Bush, George Sr.'s son, wrote the book's foreword.
Levenson said he managed to complete his initial draft in just a month.