The Rev. Deborah A. Block has been elected to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC). Block, a member of the PPC board since 2004, becomes the first woman to serve as chair in the history of PPC. She succeeds Kenneth Godshall, who has been chair since 2006. She begins her term this month.
"PPC has been blessed to have had an impressive series of strong board chairs since its incorporation in the mid 1990s," said PPC President and Publisher, Marc Lewis. "Deborah Block's historic appointment, as the first woman chair of the PPC board, follows in that same tradition of exceptional quality and strength. Deborah brings vision, leadership, support and a wonderful knowledge of PPC's mission and its constituents. Her thoughtful guidance and wisdom will enable PPC to continue on its path to becoming an ever more helpful servant of churches, members, leaders, and future leaders of the PC(USA) and the larger ecumenical Christian community. The PPC staff has come to greatly admire and respect Deborah during her service on the board and we are ecstatic about her selection to lead us forward."
Deborah Block is pastor and head of staff at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, where she began her ordained ministry in 1978. Ordained by the Presbytery of Milwaukee in 1977, Block writes about her struggles as one of the few women in ministry at the time in the book Celebrating Our Call: Ordination Stories of Presbyterian Women (Geneva Press, 2006). "I had been admonished not to do this, for reasons ranging from unbiblical to impractical to unprecedented," she writes. "The college chaplain had refused to write a letter of recommendation for seminary and urged a consideration of Christian education. The seminary president had called women in ministry 'a passing fad.'" Despite the difficulties, she pursued what she believed to be her calling. After receiving her Master of Divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1977, she went on to earn a Doctor of Ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary, where she taught as Mohr Professor of Ministry in 1992–1993. She has served as a member of McCormick’s Board of Trustees for ten years.
PPC board member Dr. Laura Mendenhall, former president of Columbia Theological Seminary and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), stated, "We are pleased that Deborah Block is willing to accept the responsibility for chairing the board of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Deborah has already demonstrated leadership on the board as well as leadership in the PC(USA). Her extensive experience as a pastor and leader will prove to be invaluable gifts to the work of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation."
In 2005, Block received McCormick’s Distinguished Ministry Award and in 2006 she was endorsed as a candidate for moderator of the General Assembly by the Presbytery of Milwaukee. She is also a trustee of her alma mater, Carroll University, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and a director and former comoderator of the Board of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians. In addition, she has been a conference preacher and leader at Ghost Ranch, Montreat, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and McCormick Theological Seminary. She has contributed to several books, including Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Celebrating Our Call: Ordination Stories of Presbyterian Women, Proclaiming the Great Ends of the Church: Mission and Ministry for Presbyterians, and the forthcoming A Spiritual Life: Perspectives from Poets, Prophets, and Preachers.