Reverend Russell J. Levenson, Beeson Divinity School graduate, recently published a book on the lives and faith of former U.S. President George. H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara. The book, titled “Witness to Dignity,” is an in-depth account of Reverend Levenson’s personal relationship with President Bush and his wife and his role as their priest in the final years of their lives.
Levenson completed his Doctor of Ministry from Beeson Divinity School in 1997, with a dissertation on Spiritual Formation in the Local Parish.
Levenson was the priest for George and Barbara Bush for over 11 years, starting in the summer of 2007. As their priest, he was able to minister to them and gain a personal relationship with the couple through the connection of faith.
Levenson described how both George and Barbara Bush were raised in the church.
“The President and Barbara were baptized and reared in the Church; he in the Episcopal Church and she in the Presbyterian Church,” Levenson said.
He also added that worship and prayer were central aspects of both their individual faiths and the faith they shared together as a married couple.
“As they grew older, they continued to rely on their faith in good times and bad,” Levenson recounted.
As a close friend to the former president and his wife, Levenson was able to see how their personal faith shaped every aspect of their lives, both personal and political.
“I do not think they wore their faith on their sleeve, nor did either of them ‘use’ their faith and religion to further their political inclinations or public roles – instead, I think their faith informed and shaped who they were and the heavy weight of public service they carried and rendered,” Levenson explained.
Levenson outlined the idea for his book in the fall of 2021, worked on and completed the rough draft from Nov. 15 to Dec. 17 of 2021, and published the final copy a year later on Nov. 15, 2022.
His motivation for writing the book came from witnessing how the Bushes bore their faith with unmatched grace and never doubted the importance of trusting in God.
“I felt like it was important for folks to know how devoted they were to their Church, their faith and our Lord,” Levenson said. “Even in the most difficult days, I do not think they ever questioned the existence of God and the central truths of the Christian faith, but as their years increased, their faith deepened.”
Levenson also expressed his concern for current political and religious leadership, both for the country and in the church, which was another reason for his desire to write the book. He hopes that his writing will inspire Christians both young and old to preserve their hope for the future.
“I think the book is an opportunity to honor these two great children of God, to lift up their faith, to lift up the faith and perhaps to call and encourage the reader to pray for and work for a more hopeful future,” Levenson continued.
Levenson encourages those interested in a detailed account of the lives and faith of George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush to read his book, which is available on Kindle, as an audio CD and as an audiobook.