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Notes about people

June 23, 2011

The Rev. Randall K. Bush, pastor of the East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, submitted the winning sermon in the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance’s (EAA) Food for Life Sermon Competition.

The competition, launched during the 2010 Food Week of Action, encouraged individuals to submit sermons reflecting on food and faith, as a basis of campaigning together for food justice. The prize is a trip to Geneva to deliver the sermon in the Ecumenical Center at the Oct. 17 worship service for the 2011 Churches Week of Action on Food.

“We were impressed and inspired by all the contributions and feel that, as we had hoped, the competition inspired some new thinking about how our faith is related to taking actions to tackle the root causes of hunger,” stated EAA Executive Director Peter Prove. “The sermon by Randall Bush stood out for its clarity, its interpretation of the story of Ruth and Boaz, and its inspiration for individual and collective action.”

The EAA’s Food for Life Campaign advocates for just and sustainable food production and consumption, and the realization of the right to food for all people.

Bush’s sermon, and other selected sermons from the competition, are available for inspiration and use at the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance website.

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The Rev. C. Benton Kline, Jr, who served as president of Columbia Theological Seminary from 1971-1976, died June 20 after a brief illness.

Kline also served Columbia Seminary as professor of theology (1969-1985) and as dean of the faculty (1969-1971). In addition, he served in various capacities at Agnes Scott College, Emory University, and Yale University.

Among his many contributions to the Presbyerian Church (U.S.A.), Kline served as moderator of the Presbytery of  Atlanta in 1968 and as a member of the Committee on Theological Education and the Committee on Theology and Culture for the former Presbyterian Church in the United States, 1973-84.

A memorial service will be held at North Decatur (Ga.) Presbyterian Church on June 25.

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The Rev. Jerry Deck, pastor of Heritage Presbyterian Church in Carol Stream, IL, has been named executive director of the Presbyterian Global Fellowship (PGF).

PGF was founded in 2006 with a goal of transforming churches into missional communities.  

Raised in the Pentecostal tradition, Deck received his BA from Lee University, his MA from Wheaton College and his M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. Following seminary, he receive a fellowship to study for a year in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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John C. Pritchard Sr., who for 40 years was instrumental in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s missionary service in the Congo, died June 8 at Westminster Woods Retirement Community in Jacksonville, Fla. He was 85.

Born in Lothair, Ky., Pritchard grew up around the eastern Kentucky coal mines and served two years in the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, he attended Davidson College and while there heard God’s call to the mission field.

For 20 years Pritchard, with his wife Helen, served in Kinshasa, Congo, as an educator and liaison between the PC(USA) and Congolese churches. In 1971, the Pritchards returned to the U.S., where he served as the PC(USA)’s area coordinator for Africa until his retirement in the early 1990s. He also did administrative work for the church in Europe and the Middle East. 

“John was a remarkable man who won’t be forgotten soon,” said Presbyterian World Mission Director Hunter Farrell, who also served in mission service in Congo.

A memorial service was held June 18 at Westminster Woods.

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Robert C. “Bob” Alter, who served as a Presbyterian missionary in north India for 47 years between 1947 and 1994, died June 19 in Wooster, OH. He was 84.

Alter was the child of Presbyterian missionary parents, born in Srinigar, Kashmir, India. He married Mary Ellen (Stewart) Alter as he was embarking on mission service in 1948.

In addition to his wife, Alter is survived by children Stephen, Joseph and Andrew; six grand-children; and sisters-in-law Barbara, Marian, Joyce and Sarah.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

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The Rev. Thomas Bradley Robb, who helped pioneer advanced pastoral studies programs and ministries with the aging during a career that spanned more than 50 years, died March 25 in California.

A Chicago native, Robb graduated from Arizona State University before earning his B.D. and Th.M at San Francisco Theological Seminary and his Th.D. at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif.

After serving two pastorates in Kansas, Robb returned to SFTS in 1964 as interim director of pastor studies, a position he held until 1970. The program evolved into the highly-regarded Advanced Pastoral Studies program ― a forerunner of the Doctor of Ministries programs now present on many seminary campuses.

After teaching for four years at Iliff School of Theology in Denver and then serving for two years at Westminster-Canturbury House in Richmond, VA, Robb’s growing interest and expertise in ministries with aging took him to Washington, DC, where for four years (1976-1980) he served as program director for the National Council on the Aging. He then served for eight years as the director of the PC(USA)’s Office on Aging, and then for two more years as executive director of the National Interfaith Coalition on Aging, based in Athens, GA. Two of his books on aging ― “The Bonus Years” (1968) and “Growing Up:  Pastoral Nurture for the Later Years” (1991) ― are still widely used.

Robb is survived by his wife, Beth Wilbanks Robb; daughters Marcia Sims, Judy Robb, Rebecca Hastings and sons Scott Robb, Jim Robb; former wife, Shirley Robb; 15 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren; stepmother Trudie Baird, siblings Bev Maxton, Roger and John Robb and several extended family members. A memorial service was held May 7 at Sunnyvale (Calif.) Presbyterian Church.

  1. It was our privilege to know Tom and his family while he was working in Washington, D.C. He led an active and productive life and he will be missed.

    by Tom & Libby Davidson

    June 24, 2011

  2. Bob Alter was an example of a great missionary. He was one of the finest people in all of India and helped build respect for the church. His good work will be remembered half way around the world for another generation. He has now gone to be with the Angels. Well done thy good and faithful servant.

    by Rev. Ron Hooker

    June 24, 2011

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