Officers of the United Church of Christ expressed sadness, but also promised to remember the work of the Rev. Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause and former General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, who died suddenly Tuesday. He was 69.
In a pastoral letter, the five national officers of the UCC said that Edgar's "tireless efforts to reclaim democracy for all people and restore our government's commitment to the common good will be terribly missed." They also stressed that "Bob continually reminded us that 'We are the leaders we have been waiting for,' and our best tribute to Bob's work will be to continue to follow that call."
Edgar was elected a United States Representative from Pennsylvania in 1974 and served in Congress for 12 years. Beginning in 2000, he led the NCC during a time of restructuring because of a deficit before joining Common Cause, a nonprofit advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., in 2007.
The Rev. Chuck Currie, a UCC minister in Portland, Ore., said he was shocked and saddened when he learned that Edgar passed away after a massive heart attack. "Bob was a personal friend of many years," Currie said. "In his different roles – minister, U.S. Congressman, advocate – he stood up for the voiceless and spoke truth to power. My prayers are with his family today as I give thanks to God for the life of Bob Edgar and for all the gifts of his ministry."
Here is the complete text of the pastoral letter released by the United Church of Christ National Officers on Edgar's death:
It is with great sadness that we mark the loss of Bob Edgar, a stalwart justice leader deeply rooted in the faith community. Bob died suddenly at his home in Northern Virginia on April 23. He served as a member of Congress for 12 years, representing the Seventh Congressional District of Pennsylvania, went on to lead the National Council of Churches, and then became the president and CEO of Common Cause in May 2007.
His tireless efforts to reclaim democracy for all people and restore our government's commitment to the common good will be terribly missed. In July 2011, Bob organized a group of religious representatives, including leadership from the United Church of Christ, in a powerful, prayerful witness of civil disobedience in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in the midst of the heated debate around the debt ceiling, imploring that the voices of the most marginalized be represented in the decision-making process.
Bob continually reminded us that "We are the leaders we have been waiting for," and our best tribute to Bob's work will be to continue to follow that call. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bob's wife, Merle, his sons Andrew, David and Rob and their families, and his colleagues at Common Cause.
The UCC Collegium of Officers:
The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, General Minister and President
The Rev. J. Bennett Guess, Executive Minister, Local Church Ministries
The Rev. James A. Moos, Executive Minister, Wider Church Ministries
The Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, Executive Minister, Justice and Witness Ministries
W. Mark Clark, Associate General Minister