The Rev. Robert E. Black, a priest who also worked as a reporter and had a long career as a family therapist, died May 14, aged 98.
A native of Lima, Ohio, he was a veteran of World War II, serving in the 290th Infantry in the European theater. He earned degrees in history, journalism, and clinical pastoral counseling, and prepared for the ministry at Bexley Hall. Ordained in 1957, Father Black served congregations in Missouri, Maine, and Connecticut.
He worked as a reporter for local newspapers in Rockford, Illinois, and Saint Louis, edited a business and tourism journal for the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and was the founding managing editor for Episcopal Life, a former official publication of the Church that was folded into Episcopal News Service.
In 1970, he opened a private practice in personal and family therapy, while also working as a therapist and chaplain at Undercliff Mental Health Center in Meriden, Connecticut. He became an advocate for community planning for mental health care, and served on an advisory committee for the Connecticut State Department of Mental Health. He later set up a community mental health clinic in Grafton, North Dakota.
In retirement, Father Black worked as a consultant and wrote short stories and novels, while travelling widely. He is survived by his wife, Patty, a son, and two stepchildren, and a grandson.
The Rev. Edward Charles Thomas Midyette III, who served North Carolina parishes for more than 40 years, died June 1, aged 79.
A native of New Bern, North Carolina, he was a graduate of the University of the South and Virginia Theological Seminary. After a curacy in Goldsboro, he was rector of St. Paul’s in Clinton, and St. Paul’s in Beaufort before becoming rector of St. Philip’s in Durham, where he served for 16 years. He also founded Durham’s Urban Ministry Center and took AIDS patients into his home during the peak of the crisis in the 1980s and 1990s. His final call was to St. Paul’s in Greenville, where he oversaw the construction of a new church building.
Father Midyette’s family said, “he loved God, family, good scotch, telling stories, classical music and the water – sometimes, but not always, in that order. Most of all, he loved God’s people.” He also had a great sense of humor, fostered by a tendency to encounter the ridiculous during the most solemn occasions. He once fell under the casket into an open grave during a burial service. During the 100 car-procession of another high-profile funeral, his cincture, hanging out of the car door, got caught in a raising drawbridge. When notified that a woman planned to object at a wedding he was set to perform, the bishop exclaimed, “why do these things only happen to Midyette?!”
He is survived by his wife, Peg, his daughter, Margaret, and a granddaughter, Emma.
The Rev. Dr. Peter C. Moore, a prominent evangelical Anglican leader who served as dean of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and founded the student ministry FOCUS, died May 30, aged 83. His obituary in the Charleston Post & Courier described Moore as “a man who served under the Bible and not above it, fighting to keep the church he knew and loved in a place of obedience to Scripture. Peter also had an unrelenting passion to reach the next generation for Jesus Christ.”
Born in Scarsdale, New York, Moore was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, and trained for the ministry at Episcopal Theological Seminary. He later earned a doctorate from Fuller Seminary. After his ordination, he served at All Soul’s Episcopal Church, East McKeesport, Pennsylvania. In 1961, he established FOCUS (Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools), a non-denominational ministry to students at East Coast independent schools. He directed the organization for 23 years, before moving to Toronto to serve as rector of Little Trinity, a historic evangelical parish. He was an early leader in the Essentials Movement within the Anglican Church of Canada, which aimed to promote the historic faith in the face of widespread challenges to orthodox teaching. He wrote several influential books, including Disarming the Secular Gods; One Lord, One Faith; and Can A Bishop Be Wrong? Ten Scholars Challenge John Shelby Spong.
His connection to Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, as it was then known, went back to its founding in 1976, when he served as the first chairman of its board. He became its fourth dean and president in 1996, serving in that role for eight years.
Dean Moore retired to South Carolina, where he assisted at Saint Michael’s Church in Charleston, and wrote a column for the Carolina Compass, a local religious newspaper. In 2016, he established the Anglican Leadership Institute, which hosts intensive leadership development sessions for leaders from across the Anglican Communion, a ministry that grew naturally out of a lifetime dedicated to mentoring young leaders. He was still serving as its director at the time of his death. Dean Moore is survived by his wife, Sandra; three children, and two grandchildren.
The Rev. Dr. Ben H. Smith, who left his work as a professor of English literature to answer a call to ministry in middle age, died May 7, aged, 88.
A native of Richmond, his parents were both teachers, and fostered an early love of literature and music. He studied English at Randolph Macon College and the University of Edinburgh, and earned a doctorate in the subject from the University of North Carolina in 1962. He taught Chaucer and Shakespeare at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia, for nearly 20 years, and was chair of the English Department, and active in college and community theater (a favorite role was Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night).
He was driving over the Blue Ridge to a job interview in Charlottesville in 1979 when he was surrounded by an other-worldly light and heard God’s voice saying to him, “Why aren’t you doing what I want you to do?” He took a leave of absence from Mary Baldwin and enrolled at General Seminary, and was ordained as a priest in 1983.
Father Smith was first an assistant at historic Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia, before answering a call to serve as rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Ruxton, Maryland, until his retirement in 1999. For much of that time, he was also caregiver for his beloved wife, Lilly, who suffered with Alzheimer’s disease for 11 years.
In retirement, he assisted at Baltimore’s Cathedral of the Incarnation, singing in the choir, and hosting a series called “Reel Spirit,” which explored religious themes in mainstream film at the city’s Charles Theater. He is survived by a son and four daughters, and eight grandchildren.