A memorial service will be held for Pamela McLucas Byers on Saturday, November 8, at 10:00 am at Old First Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. She died Oct. 27 after a recurrence of cancer.
Byers, 67, was a longtime ruling elder at Old First , sang in the church choir, and was founding executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, where she served from June 1997 until her retirement in June 2011.
The organization was founded in part to overturn the 1996 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly’s approval of G-6.0106b, a constitutional amendment to the denomination’s constitution that effectively barred the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians and unmarried heterosexuals as ruling elders, deacons and teaching elders.
Byers came on as staff for the Covenant Network as the amendment as was ratified by a majority of the denomination’s presbyteries. She retired the same month the PC (USA)’s presbyteries voted to remove that provision from The Book of Order 14 years later.
“I expect that you, like me, are in shock and are having trouble imagining life at Old First Presbyterian Church without Pam,” wrote the Rev. Maggi Henderson, pastor of Old First, on the church’s website. “We have been blessed to be recipients of her joy in life, her sense of welcome and hospitality, her love and passion for wholeness and justice for all of God’s people, and her appreciation of tradition and also anticipation of God’s future, God’s best time, that is yet to come.”
Earlier this year, Byers was honored as the 2014 Distinguished Alumna by San Francisco Theological Seminary, where she earned her degree over 10 years of part-time study while serving the Covenant Network full time.
“She embodied what came to be the ‘brand’ of the Covenant Network: she was, herself, just and generous. Pam’s gentle, yet tenacious commitment to an inclusive church made the difference. The PC(USA) was helped enormously by this elder who embraced God’s call on her life and lived it fully,” said the Rev. Tim Hart-Andersen, one of the founding board members of the Covenant Network and Pam’s pastor at Old First when the organization began. “Thanks be to God for Pam Byers’ witness to the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, the very love that now holds her forever.”
Pam is survived by her husband Jeff, daughter Katie, sister Susan McLucas, and brother John McLucas.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that the church is very simply a different place because of the hard work and faithful persistence of Pam Byers,” said the Rev. Brian Ellison, the current Covenant Network executive director who succeeded her in 2012. “She took the Covenant Network from being a group of people with a good idea to being a nationwide entity that achieved real transformation. It was service done from a place of passionate faith and abounding love, and in that she was a model for me and for us all.”