The Covenant Network of Presbyterians has announced that its executive director, Pamela Byers, will retire in summer 2011. Byers has held the position since the founding of the Covenant Network in 1997.
The group was originally formed to remove the constitutional language about ordination standards that indirectly but effectively prohibited gay and lesbian Presbyterians from serving as elders, deacons, and ministers of the Word and Sacrament. "This year's General Assembly adopted all but one of the Covenant Network's recommendations, including sending Amendment 10-A [to repeal the provision] to the presbyteries," Byers said. "In the next months, I'll be working very hard with colleagues all across the church to pass this amendment and return the church to its traditional means of discerning and approving the calls of qualified and gifted Presbyterians."
An Executive Search Team of the board will solicit applications for a new executive director to begin in summer 2011.
Byers is an elder at Old First Presbyterian Church in San Francisco and is actively involved in her presbytery. A graduate of Wellesley College, she earned a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree from the San Francisco Theological Seminary in 2009.
An initial celebration of her leadership was part of the Covenant Network's Nov. 4-6 conference in Houston.
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A memorial service was held Oct. 31 in St. Louis for the Rev. Evlyn Wehling Fulton, executive presbyter of Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery during the crucial years before and after Presbyterian reunion in 1983 and a tireless advocate for mission, ecumenical cooperation, women's rights, and gender equality during her entire 60-year career in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She died Sept. 19 in St. Louis at age 87.
Born in Bellevue, Pa., Fulton graduated from Chatham College (1944); Carnegie Mellon University (1946); and Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary (1949), seven years before the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) began ordaining women. She was finally ordained in 1978.
Fulton served in a variety of church posts, visiting more than 40 countries during her years of ministry. She served Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery from 1979-1988 — she was named executive presbyter emeriti when she retired — and then moved to the newly-established PC(USA) national office in Louisville as coordinator of middle governing body relations. At the Presbyterian Center she was also trusted friend and valuable mentor to this reporter.
Following her "retirement" in 1997, Fulton served two years as temporary pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, and continued worshiping there until her death. Her memorial service was held at Northminster Church.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will not see another like Evelyn Fulton again.
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Mary Emma Allison, who with her husband, Presbyterian minister the Rev. Clyde Allison, founded "Trick or Treat for UNICEF," died Oct. 27 in Chicago. She was 93.
In 1947, after a busy Halloween night, Mary Emma reportedly told Clyde: "It's too bad we can't turn this into something good." This notion grew into the nation's longest-running youth service program, which has raised nearly $160 million and helped save millions of young lives throughout the world.
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A number of transitions were noted at the recent meeting of the General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC) in Louisville:
- Two retirements: the Rev. Curtis A. Kearns Jr retired after 16 years on the national staff of the PC(USA), first as director of the National Ministries Division and most recently as executive administrator for the Office of the GAMC Executive Director; and Nancy Hamilton, who served as executive associate in that office for more than 21 years, beginning in February 1989, shortly after the Presbyterian Center opened.
- The Rev. Mark Koenig, former coordinator for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, has moved to New York to assume his new work as United Nations representative in the Presbyterian United Nations Office.
- The Rev. Jon Brown has resigned as director of mission interpretation in Communications and Funds Development to accept a call as pastor of Old Bergen Presbyterian Church in Jersey City, NJ (Palisades Presbytery).
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O'Neal Harris Lannon, an educator who also served as a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) missionary in Japan in the 1960s, died Oct. 26 in her home in Greensboro, N.C.
She was married to the Rev. Donald Lannon for 49 years until his death in 2005. Following their mission service, Don Lannon became pastor of Guilford Park Presbyterian Church in Greensboro in 1972. O'Neal was a member of that congregation until her death.
A memorial service was held at Guilford Park Church on Oct. 30.