The Rev. John D. Sharick, who over a career in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) spanning more than 50 years served as a pastor, presbytery and synod executive and tireless advocate for social justice, died May 7 at his residence in Austintown, Ohio. He was 78.

Born in Athens, Ohio, Sharick earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of Wooster and his M.Div. from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1960. He later earned a doctorate from McCormick Theological Seminary.

Sharick began his ministry as associate pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati. He then served as pastor Loveland (Ohio) Presbyterian Church near Cincinnati before joining the staff of the Synod of the Covenant. In 1973 he was called to be executive presbyter for Eastminster Presbytery and remained in that position until his retirement on Jan. 1, 2001. In retirement, Sharick continued to serve as a consultant for synods and congregations around the PC(USA).

Throughout his career, Sharick was a committed advocate of social justice, primarily through the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA). He served on the PHEWA board of directors from 1990-2005 and was the association’s president from 2001-2003. He also served for a number of years on the leadership team of PHEWA’s Presbyterian Health Network. In 2007 he received the Rodney T. Martin Award, PHEWA’s highest honor, recognizing “an individual who has worked diligently and faithfully to preserve and advance the social justice vision, ministry, and mission of PC(USA) through PHEWA.”  

Sharick was also a staunch advocate of intentional interim ministry. In 1999 he received the inaugural “Governing Body Interim Practitioner of the Year” award from the Association of Presbyterian Interim Ministry Specialists (APIMS). As noted in the proclamation given to Sharick, he helped establish standards for certification of interim ministers, was active in the growth of APIMS and served on numerous panels that increased the church’s understanding and development of interim ministry as a key ingredient of healthy churches during times of transition.

Sharick was active in the life of First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown, Ohio, and enjoyed jazz, reading watching sporting events and wine tasting. He is survived by a son, J.D. Sharick; a daughter, Jennifer Doukakis; and a grand-dog, Booker. A memorial service will be held June 7 at 1:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown.

The PC(USA) has lost one of its really good ones.