Longtime Cherry Hill Seminary faculty member, James L. Bianchi passed yesterday after several weeks of illness. Jim taught for CHS for more than a decade, his signature course being “Religion and the Law.” He was scheduled to begin Monday teaching a new course, “Moral Advocacy: Overcoming the Divide,” about which he was enthusiastic.
Aline O’Brien (M. Macha NightMare) recalls Jim’s beginnings with CHS:
“The minute I met James, I knew he’d be great for Cherry Hill Seminary, if I could interest him. Fortunately, he was indeed interested, and he began teaching Paganism and the Law the next semester. He has remained steadfast in contributing his time, knowledge, wisdom, and support ever since.
“James also spearheaded efforts at getting volunteers to work with Pagan inmates and fostering networks of those who do. He drummed everywhere he went. He called the Quarters in Gaelic. He was a most generous and enthusiastic Druid. His loss to San Francisco Bay Area Pagandom and beyond is immeasurable. In love may he return again.”
Executive Director Holli Emore took Jim’s original course and remembers how he gave her the grounding to understand how the law underpins our American society, how to research case law, how to make a case when advocating for a cause, and more. “Jim has always been there for me, first when I was his student, and in the years since, after I became director. He was excited about the new summer course he had developed, called Moral Advocacy: Overcoming the Divide.* He helped CHS set a standard for excellence in our very early years. We will all miss him more than I can say.”
While the family has not yet released an obituary, son Matt Bianchi posted a message on social media which gives a glimpse of Jim’s many talents and interests:
“He is and was; a professor, a lawyer, a Druid, an artist, a writer, an advocate for the voiceless, a scout master, a tracker, a community leader, a stargazer, a wilderness survivor, a musician, a healer, a friend, a father, a husband, a son, a cousin, an uncle, a brother, a wanderer, fighter, a sounding board, a story teller, a mentor, an optimist, a realist, a comedian, a genius, a spiritual leader . . .”
Cherry Hill Seminary invites its students, faculty and volunteers to share their memories about Jim for an online tribute page; send these to CHS@cherryhillseminary.org. Gifts in memory of Jim may be made at https://cherryhillseminary.org/support-us/give-now/, or we will share any selected charities which may be announced by the family.
For more information, contact the office at CHS@cherryhillseminary.org. *Note that Moral Advocacy will run during the summer semester, taught by Deirdre Sommerlad-Rogers, Ph.D.