The Rev. James Thompson Brown, a contemplatively grounded priest who served for a decade and a half as chaplain at the Diocese of California’s retreat center, died on July 31, aged 92.
Thompson was a native of Utah, and served in the Navy before beginning his studies at Yale, where a junior year abroad developed into a lifelong love of France. A graduate of General Seminary, after ordination in 1960, he served parishes in Alabama, Tennessee, and Virginia, as well as at the Navajo mission of St. Christopher’s, Bluff, Utah, at All Hallows-by-the-Tower in London, and at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Salt Lake City. Brown moved to San Francisco in 1971, and served St. John the Evangelist Church in the Mission District for 15 years. There he was admired as a teacher of spirituality, led several trips to Taizé, and became a leader in the development of The Bishop’s Ranch, near Healdsburg, Calif. After his retirement to a nearby farm in 1986, he began his service as chaplain at The Bishop’s Ranch. He also became an accomplished potter, delighted in long walks in the woods, and welcomed a wide circle of friends to the home he shared with a succession of cherished cats and dogs. He died at home, surrounded by his friends, and is survived by several nieces and nephews.
The Rev. Vance Clark, a Vietnam War military chaplain and civic leader, died August 22 at the Veteran’s Home in Hollidaysburg, Pa., aged 93.
Clark was a native of Altoona, Pa., and a graduate of Wesley Seminary. He was ordained to the ministry of the Methodist Church in 1950, and entered the U.S. Air Force as a chaplain in 1952, serving as a base chaplain in Florida, Alaska, and Tennessee for four years. After a year of study at Sewanee, he was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1958, and served at two parishes in Georgia before re-entering military service as a reserve chaplain in 1958. He served on active duty in the Army Chaplain Corps during the Vietnam War, from 1962 to 1971. After his discharge, Clark became rector of Trinity Church, Tyrone, Pa., and served there until his retirement in 1986. In Tyrone, he was a borough councilman for two terms, helped to write the borough’s home rule ordinance and founded the local food bank. He assisted at a number of other Central Pennsylvania churches in retirement. He is survived by his son, the Rev. David Clark; two daughters, Diana Myers and Penny Tibbs; 16 grandchildren, and 42 great-grandchildren
The Rev. Ronald Dale Gerber, a leader in ministry to people suffering with HIV and AIDS, died August 19, aged 80.
Gerber was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Christ, and served parishes in Ohio and Pennsylvania before being ordained to the ministry of the Episcopal Church in 1972. He served first at Holy Trinity, Hollidaysburg, Pa.; and then at two parishes in the Capital District of Albany, N.Y., St. John’s in Troy, and Grace and Holy Innocents in Albany. In 1990 he co-founded Albany’s Damien Center, a drop-in facility for people with HIV and AIDS, and he was a case manager with the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York from 1993 to 1997. In retirement, he assisted at St Andrew’s in Albany, and most recently at St. Peter’s, Lewes, Del. He was preceded in death by his husband and spouse of 42 years, John W. Saupp.
The Rev. Gwynne Marlyn Guibord, who devoted her life to cultivating interfaith understanding, died of cancer on August 15, aged 75.
After a career as a psychotherapist, she was ordained in the Diocese of Los Angeles in 2005. She served as the diocesan officer for ecumenical and interreligious concerns from 2003 to 2009, and was a consultant for the Episcopal Church on interfaith matters. She was also president of the Interreligious Council of Southern California, the California Council of Churches, and Progressive Christians Uniting.
In 2011, she founded the Guibord Center in Los Angeles, which sponsors public lectures and immersive events to foster interreligious understanding. One of the center’s most notable projects was Saving Grace, a public service announcement campaign that featured men from many different religious backgrounds testifying to the respect afforded to women in their respective faiths.
Dr. Lois M. Sprague, Guibord’s wife, recently succeeded her as the center’s president. She said on the organization’s website, “Gwynne is and will always be the heart and the inspiration of The Guibord Center. It is she who has modeled how to be there for one another, how to stand up for one another, how to be curious and kind and courageous and caring. Gwynne had the capacity to see the Holy in ‘the other’ and understood that helping one another to do so could change the world.”
The Rev. Denniston Rupert Kerr, a Jamaica-born priest who served as a Church Army evangelist and as the first rector of Tampa’s St. James House of Prayer, died on August 11, aged 79.
Born in Hanover, Jamaica, he first worked as an industrial arts teacher in Montego Bay before being trained as a lay evangelist at the Church Army’s Wilson Carlile College in Blackheath, England. He returned to Jamaica, and served as a parish-based evangelist and teacher in a series of parishes on the island. After his ordination in 1979, Kerr was rector of St. George’s Church, Westmoreland, Jamaica for 12 years, and served of the boards of numerous church-affiliated schools.
He was called to Tampa in 1992 to serve as rector of Saint James Church, which had historically served the Caribbean immigrants who worked in the city’s cigar factories. Several years into his ministry, Saint James Church was forced to relinquish their building for the construction of a public high school. Kerr presided over the congregation’s merger with The House of Prayer, a mostly white church that had been the first in the city to integrate. The united parish, Saint James House of Prayer, developed an inspiring social ministry under his leadership. Kerr was especially active in Cornerstone Kids, an afterschool program sponsored by the church, where he became a valued mentor to many troubled children.
Kerr is survived by his wife, Clarissa, and two children. Burial services were held in his native Jamaica.
Mama Mary Luwum, the widow of martyred Ugandan archbishop Janani Luwum, died on August 6 in Kampala, aged 93.
Born Mary Lawinyo, she was an orphan living with relatives near Kitgum when she met her future husband in 1947, who was then a teacher in the local primary school. The couple had nine children.
While serving as the Church of Uganda’s third archbishop, her husband became a vocal critic of the violent regime of dictator Idi Amin, who came to power in Uganda through a military coup in 1971. Luwum refused to back down when threatened by government officials, though Mama Mary and their children fled to Kenya for safety. Archbishop Luwum was killed in cold blood, allegedly by a high civic official, on February 16, 1977. He is honored as a martyr on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church and many other churches of the Anglican Communion, and the anniversary of his death is a civic holiday in Uganda today.
Last February, on the anniversary of her husband’s death, Luwum and members of her family participated in a dramatic reconciliation ceremony with kinsmen of Idi Amin, the man who ordered her husband’s death. A group of Christians from Amin’s Kakwa tribe led by Canon Stephen Galenga offered an emotional apology on behalf of the tribe. The two families prayed together and the Kakwa delegation spent the night with Luwum’s family in their ancestral home, a powerful cultural sign of forgiveness.
The current Ugandan archbishop, Stanley Ntagali, said in tribute to Mama Mary, “She will be remembered as not being ashamed of the Gospel and as one who supported her husband’s decision to not flee Uganda when threatened by then-President Idi Amin. That decision ultimately led to his martyrdom on February 16, 1977. In the 42 years following her husband’s assassination, she continued to dedicate her life to preaching the Gospel and supporting the social-economic growth of the Church of Uganda.”
Luwum was mourned by the nation, and her body lay in state in Uganda’s Parliament Building before being flown to Kitgum, where she was buried next to her husband. She is survived by six of her children and many grandchildren.
The Rev. Servio Moscoso, a Dominican-born priest who had an extensive ministry in Elizabeth, N.J., died on August 25, aged 69.
He was born in San Pedro de Macoris, D.R., and was a graduate of the University of Santo Domingo, D.R., and St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary in Mexico City. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1980, he served at San Marcos in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and then as vicar as two churches in the Dominican Republic. He began his ministry in Elizabeth in 1985 at Grace Church, and then became vicar of San Jose in 1989. For the past five years, he had served at St. John’s Church, Elizabeth. Moscoso is survived by his wife, Angela, and by three daughters.