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Notes about people

April 26, 2013

LOUISVILLE

The Rev. Bob Edgar, a Democratic congressman and United Methodist minister who went on to lead the National Council of Churches through a painful series of restructuring cuts, died suddenly April 23 at age 69.

Edgar suffered a heart attack at his home in Burke, Va., said Mary Boyle, spokeswoman for Common Cause. Edgar became president of the Washington-based nonpartisan advocacy group in 2007 after serving two terms as the general secretary of the NCC.

Elected to Congress from southeastern Pennsylvania in 1974, Edgar was one of the reform-minded wave of Democratic “Watergate babies” who swept Capitol Hill in the wake of the Watergate scandal. After losing a Senate race in 1986, he was president of Claremont School of Theology for 10 years before he started leading the NCC in 2000.

At the NCC, his tenure began with intense news media attention during the Elian Gonzalez case as he helped ferry the boy's grandmothers to and from Cuba. He soon turned to dealing with the NCC’s growing multimillion-dollar deficit. “This is the hardest job I’ve ever had," Edgar told Religion News Service early in his NCC tenure. “About every other day it’s the most fun I’ve ever had, but it’s the hardest job.”

Early on, Edgar sensed that the venerable ecumenical agency was losing its public voice, and was one of the early supporters of Christian Churches Together in the USA, which brought the NCC’s mainline Protestant, Orthodox and black churches together with evangelicals and Catholics for the first time.   

"I thought that should be every aging person’s goal ― to be as physically fit as Bob Edgar,” said Philip Jenks, retired communications officer for the NCC, who was four years younger than his supervisor. “Sometimes God’s sense of humor catches up with us.”

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The Rev. Ben F. McAnally, Jr. died March 8 in Tyler, Texas, after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease.

The Texas native graduated from Bethel College, McKenzie, Tenn., Memphis Theological Seminary (B. D.), and Vanderbilt University (M.A., Sociology of Religion). He was ordained by the Presbytery of Dallas of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1952. In 1962, McAnally was received as a member of Northeast Texas Presbytery of the former Presbyterian Church in the United States, where he served (including its successors) until his retirement in 1997.

From 1971-2008, McAnally served six congregations as interim pastor, five congregations as moderator of session, Palo Duro Presbytery has interim executive and Grace Presbytery as associate executive presbyter for church development

Between 1971 and 2008 he served six congregations as interim pastor, five congregations as moderator, Palo Duro Presbytery as Interim Executive Pastor and Grace Presbytery as Associate Executive Presbyter for Church Development.  Because of his keen interest in church development, McAnally helped orgainize the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program (PILP), which he also served as chair of the board.

Ben wrote once, “My journey of faith has found blind alleys, both appropriate and inappropriate guilt, unmarked roads, delightful surprises and kindred friends at each juncture.  As no point has there been all the light I might wish, but always enough light to continue.  God’s hand has most often been more definitive in retrospect than in prospect, forcing me to utilize all the faith that could be found.”

McAnally is survived by his wife, Janell and four children: Ben McAnally III, Bill McAnally, Tai Glenn, and Tami Glenn Fink.  A memorial service was held March 16 at the First Presbyterian Church of Tyler, Texas.

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The Rev. H. Russel Botman, rector and vice chancellor of Stellenbosch University in South Africa, has been named recipient of Princeton Theological Seminary’s 2013 Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life.

Botman, a renowned South African theologian and anti-apartheid leader, served the PC(USA) as an international peacemaker in the early 1990s. An ordained minister in the Uniting Reformed Church in South Africa he has long been active in ecumenical affairs, serving as president of the South African Council of Churches and as a research consultant to the former World Alliance of Reformed Churches (now the World Communion of Reformed Churches), among others .

He holds a Ph.D. in theology from the University of the Western Cape. He was installed as rector and vice chancellor of Stellenbosch University in 2007, and was reappointed for a second term in 2012.  

Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920), for whom the award is named, was probably the greatest and most controversial figure in the Calvinist renaissance that took place at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century in the Netherlands. Trained as a theologian at the modernist University of Leiden, Kuyper converted to orthodox Calvinism during his first pastorate. In 1872 he founded a Christian newspaper, De Standard, and was elected a member of parliament in 1874. He was instrumental in the organization of the Anti-Revolutionary Party, a Christian political party, and helped in 1880 to found the Vrije Universiteit (the Free University of Amsterdam), where he regularly served as a professor of theology. In 1901, Kuyper became minister-president of the Netherlands.

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Carol Rose Ikeler, 92, one of the first women ministers in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), died Feb. 16 after a brief struggle with cancer.

A native of Hartford, Conn., Ikeler graduated from Mount Holyoke College, Union Theological Seminary in New York and Yale Divinity School. She was ordained in 1955 by the United Church of Christ and in 1958 was received into membership of Philadelphia Presbytery ― its first ordained woman minister.

Ikeler served pastorates in Honolulu and Garden City, N.Y. In Philadelphia she helped develop an innovative inner-city ministry. She served 32 years on the PC(USA) national staffs in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Louisville, first as an editor of the Faith and Life curriculum, and later as founder and director of the Family Ministries office.

Keeping her membership in Philadelphia Presbytery, she contributed to the work of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery. She led a monthly book review on the campus of Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. At Highland Presbyterian Church she served on the worship committee and annually led the Horizons Bible Study. 

In 2005, she was honored at a celebration in Chicago for being among the first ordained women ministers of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in 2011 for her contribution to Yale Divinity School. She married the love of her life, Bernard Ikeler, in 1966. He preceded her in death.

A service of witness to the resurrection and celebration of her life was held Feb. 22 at Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville.

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