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Notes about people

January 20, 2010

Margaret Montgomery, who devoted much of her life to the Presbyterian Church’s refugee resettlement ministry, died of cancer Jan. 11 at her Decatur, Ga., home. She was 88.

A native of LaGrange, Ill., Montgomery grew up in Texas, graduating from the University of Texas and then the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Va. She served as a Christian educator in churches in Texas before marrying J. Howard Montgomery in 1949. She then served for 10 years as director of alumni relations, communications and public relations at PSCE for 10 years.

In 1974, she became director of refugee resettlement for the former Presbyterian Church in the United States based in Atlanta  and later directed the Refugee Resettlement Service for the Christian Council of Metropolitan Atlanta. 

Ministry with refugees was Margaret’s life calling, said her son, the Rev. Stephen Montgomery of Memphis, who called it “radical hospitality — as exemplified in Matthew 25:35-36, where Jesus talks about giving the stranger food, clothing and shelter.”

Her pastor for many years, the Rev. C.P. Enniss of Atlanta, now retired, said of her, “In every dimension of her life, Margaret seemed to have an ear for the cries and an eye for the hurts of those whom others often seemed to overlook: children, the poor, the hungry and homeless, refugees, all those deprived of a voice.”

Survivors include her husband, Howard Montgomery; a daughter, Dorothy Murphy of Atlanta; two other sons, the Rev. James Montgomery of Decatur, Ill., and the Rev. David Montgomery of Murray, Ky.; 11 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

 A memorial service for Margaret Montgomery was held Jan. 17 at Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.

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Celebrated author Katherine Paterson has added the title of National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature to her list of accolades.

The two-year post of children’s ambassador was created by the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council and the Library of Congress’ Center for the Book to raise national awareness of the importance of young people's literature.

A six-member selection committee chose Paterson based on her contribution to young people's literature and her ability to relate to children. She has chosen “Read for Your Life” as the theme for her term.

Paterson is perhaps best known for the novel Bridge to Terabithia. She has written 16 novels for young readers, four “I-Can-Read” books for beginning readers and countless stories, articles, and curriculum resources.

Paterson, who grew up in the mission field in China, claims that Professor Sara Little at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, VA, was her “prodding angel” who led her to writing.  

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Joe R. Engle, 87, of New York City — a lifelong Presbyterian who generously supported theological education, died Jan. 17.

The Ohio native, who pursued a successful business career after graduating from The Ohio State University and serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II,  endowed three chairs in homiletics at Princeton Theological Seminary and also a chair in homiletics at Union Theological Seminary in New York on whose board he had served for nine years.

At Princeton Seminary he also endowed the Joe R. Engle Institute of Preaching whereby each summer 50 young preachers are brought back to campus and provided with an intense refresher course to improve their preaching skills. It is now in its seventh year. He also provided scholarships for needy students in his native Coshocton County, Ohio.

Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth and  a stepson, Graham Barr, both of New York; and a sister, Mary E. Ehrich, and a nephew, William Ehrich, both of Bloomington, IN. a memorial service will be held Jan. 30 at First Presbyterian Church in New York City.

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Hal Mischke, who with his wife, Sheila, helped launch Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission work in Albania, died Jan. 17 of a massive stroke suffered the previous day at his home in Gig Harbor, Wash.

After the collapse of communism in eastern Europe, Hal Mischke was instrumental in the development of the diaconal program of the Albanian Orthodox Church. Sheila Mischke served as  a teacher and principal of GQS Missionary Children’s School. At the time of their service they were members of University Presbyterian Church in Seattle.

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