Rev. Gorge E Todd. Obituary 杜佐志牧師訃音
On January 14, 2019, the Reverend Dr. George Edward Todd passed away after a brief period in hospice care in Leeds, Massachusetts.
George was born in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, along with his twin brother, Roland, on June 7, 1925. His parents were Arthur R. Todd, a newspaper publisher, editor and reporter; and Grace A. Sheets Todd, an English teacher and the daughter of a prominent American Baptist minister. He was predeceased by two sisters, Patricia (Mrs. Russell Greenbaum) born in 1927, and Doris L. Todd, born in 1929.
After graduating from Lew Wallace High School, George worked in the steel mills in Gary, Indiana. Drafted in 1943, he served in World War II seeing combat in Europe with the Eighth Armored Division. Near the end of the war, his unit liberated a oncentration camp near Buchenwald.
After the war, George earned degrees from Denison University ('48) and Yale Divinity School ('51). He was ordained as an American Baptist minister in 1950 at Judson Memorial Church in New York City and was received into the Presbytery of New York as a Presbyterian pastor in 1953.
In 1953, he married Kathleen Lee Franklin Todd (Wellesley '51), daughter of Japanese missionaries Sam and Dorothy Franklin, at a wedding officiated by Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr. Kathleen, active in the Christian social justice movement in her own right, was a tireless supporter and true partner in George's work in every sense of the word. He and Kathleen had four sons - John Franklin, Peter Christopher, Samuel Arthur, and Adam George.
In the early 1950's, George joined the newly formed East Harlem Protestant Parish (EHPP) in New York City where he and others committed to social justice activism created a ministry built with and for the residents of East Harlem. EHPP garnered national and international attention for its progressive mission, inspiring mainstream churches to take seriously their responsibilities in the inner city.
In 1959, he and Kathleen moved to Taiwan where George served as a missionary, teaching at Tainan Theological Seminary. Among his activities there, he introduced courses in Christian social ethics, had Saul Alinsky's classic community organizing book, Reveille for Radicals, translated into Taiwanese and promoted indigenous Taiwanese art and music in Christian worship. n 1963, George became the Director of the Department of Urban and Industrial Mission at the Presbyterian Board of National Missions. There he was instrumental in the Presbyterian Church's work in the 1960s in civil rights, urban engagement, economic justice, ecumenism, labor organizing, and the creation of urban training institutes. He was a catalyst in ecumenical efforts such as the Joint Strategy and Action Committee (JSAC); the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR); the Interfaith Foundation for Community Organizing (IFCO); Interfaith Worker's Justice (IWJ), and IMPACT, a lobbying effort for justice issues in Washington. During this time, George befriended Saul Alinsky and, with his help, created the emerging congregation-based community organizing movement. To this day, the Presbyterian Church (USA) continues to be the largest Protestant supporter of congregation-based community organizing.
In 1974, George moved to Geneva to join the World Council of Churches staff as Director of the Office of Urban and Industrial Mission (UIM). There he worked to help churches in Europe and the U.S. support efforts in developing countries, especially those with colonial legacies, to empower urban and rural communities around economic justice, tenant's rights, labor organizing, and community organizing. He created a worldwide web of connections with emerging leaders in education, economics, and community empowerment. As well, he supported theological dialogue in many emerging communities in Latin America, Africa, Asia and India. He worked directly in supporting the causes of internationally well-known social activists such as Desmond Tutu; Caesar Chavez; Nobelist and Korean President Kim Dae-Jung, and Zimbabwe President Canaan Banana. But more important to George were those people working on the grassroots level in their local communities on the front lines of social justice. He and Kathleen opened their home and kitchen to many of these people creating life-long friendships nurturing their work in myriad local communities across the globe.
In 1981, George accepted the position of Executive Director of the Wieboldt Foundation, a progressive foundation in Chicago that primarily funded community organizing efforts. Then in 1986, he and Kathleen returned to New York City, where George was called to be the Executive Presbyter of the New York City Presbytery. There he worked with racially and ethnically diverse congregations and communities to address pressing urban issues such as homelessness, housing, and public education.
George retired in 1996 to enjoy with Kathleen their life on the upper Westside of Manhattan. George pursued his love of theater-especially Shakespeare--music, and art in New York's many museums and theaters. Their apartment was a global B&B providing comfort for a steady stream of friends and colleagues from near and far. In retirement, among his honors, George was recognized by Yale Universityas a distinguished alumnus, and by the Korea Democracy Foundation for his and Kathleen's effort and contribution towards advancing democracy in Korea. He and Kathleen were awarded the John Park Lee Prize for Outstanding Service In Social Ministry and Justice by the Presbyterian Church USA Health, Education and Welfare Association, and he was awarded an honorary doctorate of divinity from the Tainan Theological Seminary.
In addition to his wife and children, George is also survived by John's wife Dorothy Jean Nemetz and Adam's wife Cynthia Denise Richards and four grandchildren Hannah Grace Nemetz Todd; Abraham Milton Nemetz Todd; Lilith Doris Richards Todd; and Samuel Earl Richards Todd. George often expressed his pride in his family. He was much loved by them, inspiring through his example, a love of the arts and a commitment to social justice.
George believed the life of faith required "exposure and risk" in opening one's life to God's call. He saw the autonomous spirit of God at work in those around him. The power of his faith came from an "obedience to Christ's call to take up the cross and follow him to the places where hunger, poverty, injustice and despair seem to rule." George possessed a wry sense of humor and a love of a good story. An avid collector, he shared his love and appreciation of life's splendors with all who had the fortune to know him. The reach of his legacy of justice and compassion is global and his larger-than-life spirit will be missed by friends and colleagues near and far.
Contributions in George's memory may be made to Stony Point Center at https://stonypointcenter.org/get-involved/support-us/donate
Cards may be sent to Kathleen Todd at Linda Manor, Apt 315, 345 Haydenville Road, Leeds, MA 01053. More about George's life is documented in the book "Exposure and Risk: The Great Coming Church." http://amzn.to/2dg38Wv
Ahearn Funeral Home
783 Bridge Road
Northampton, MA 01060
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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Jan. 18, 2019