Colleagues remember late Conference Minister Douglas Anders’ gift for detail
The Rev. Douglas E. Anders, a retired Conference minister in the United Church of Christ, died March 22 in hospice care at his home in suburban St. Louis. He was 68.
The cause of death was cancer, said the Rev. Ginny Brown Daniel, Conference minister of the Missouri Mid-South Conference.
After 26 years as a local church pastor and eight as leader of the South Central Conference, he retired in 2015 to St. Louis, his hometown. He stayed active in local government and civic groups as well as in ministry.
‘Kind, fair, compassionate’
Attention to detail — including regular notes of encouragement to others in ministry — was one of Anders’ gifts, UCC leaders said.
“Douglas was a personal friend of mine,” said the Rev. John Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president. Dorhauer was on the Missouri Mid-South staff when Anders — a pastor in St. Louis at the time — chaired its Committee on Ministry. “He was precise, meticulous, and fastidious in his record-keeping — all because he knew the importance of the church’s need to keep accurate records of all actions taken,” Dorhauer said.
“He loved doing that. It was his way of giving back to a church he loved.”
Later, Dorhauer and Anders led two neighboring Conferences, Southwest and South Central — and met regularly with their counterparts from throughout the U.S. “He was so loved by his peers and his colleagues in the Council of Conference Ministers,” Dorhauer said. Clergy and lay leaders in South Central “appreciated the time he spent with them, getting to know them and caring for them.
“He was kind, fair, compassionate, quick with a smile, and knew and remembered every detail about every responsibility he had,” Dorhauer said. “He never, ever missed a deadline or failed to follow through on a promise he made.”
Career of service
Douglas Earl Anders was born Feb. 16, 1953. He focused on accounting as a student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1975. He enrolled at Eden Theological Seminary in 1976. There he did field work at a nursing home and a mental hospital and as a student pastor at First Congregational UCC, St. Louis, and Faith-Salem UCC, Jennings, Mo. In 1980 he received his M.Div. and was ordained to the ministry in the UCC.
For most of his career, he served local congregations:
- United Church of Christ, Midland, Mich., as associate pastor from 1980 to 1983.
- First Congregational UCC, Marseilles, Ill., as pastor from 1983 to 1990.
- Calvary UCC, St. Louis, as pastor from 1990 to 2006.
As Conference minister in South Central (2007-2015), Anders provided “oversight and encouragement to 70 United Church of Christ congregations, six UCC new church starts and over 150 clergy,” he said in his profile at LinkedIn.com. The Conference includes churches and ministries in Texas, Louisiana, and Biloxi, Miss.
Even after his formal retirement, he stayed active in ministry by serving:
- The UCC’s Illinois South Conference, as acting Conference minister in 2015 and 2016.
- Zoar UCC, New Hanover, Ill., as summer sabbatical pastor in 2017.
- Concordia UCC, Belleville, Ill, as interim minister in 2017 and 2018.
- The Missouri Mid-South Conference as staff liaison to its Committee on the Ministry from 2017 to 2019.
Eden granted him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 2015.
‘A wonderful colleague’
Daniel first observed Anders’ gifts in South Central. She was a UCC pastor in the Houston area — and, for a time, moderator of the Conference — during his years there. By the time he moved back to St. Louis, she was the leader of Missouri Mid-South.
“The United Church of Christ is a more robust denomination because of his passion, organization, commitment and energy,” Daniel said. “He was meticulous in nature because of his love of the church.
“His pastoral heart cared especially for clergy. When he was the chair of the St. Louis Ministerium, he would write personal notes to each clergy every month to invite them to their monthly meetings. As a minister in the South Central Conference, he made sure the churches celebrated their clergy in October for Clergy Appreciation Month.”
“Douglas loved God, God’s people and the United Church of Christ,” said the Rev. Kent Siladi, UCC director of philanthropy. He was a Conference minister in Florida and Connecticut (now Southern New England) during Anders’ South Central and Illinois South years. “He was a wonderful colleague who was quick with a kind word or an affirmation. He paid attention to details.”
Anders was a joyful presence at Conference ministers’ gatherings — and was partial to a certain soft drink, Siladi said. “He loved Diet Dr. Pepper and would go to great lengths to find a supply for the meetings that we attended.
“Douglas was a gentle soul and he will be sorely missed by all who knew him.”
A civic leader
In civic affairs since his retirement, Anders served for two years on the Board of Aldermen — “Alderpersons,” he preferred to call them — of Bel-Nor, Mo. Elected in 2018, he gave leadership to an annual citywide yard sale, the formation of a Neighborhood Watch program and distribution of recycling information — in addition to his regular meeting duties. He also served on the city’s Human Rights Commission, starting in 2016.
Bel-Nor Mayor Bill Hooks, in a post at the city website, said Anders’ service to the city was “a measure of his selflessness.” “We lost a good friend, neighbor and colleague with Douglas’s death,” he wrote. “He was a consummate gentleman who fought a courageous battle against illness but worked hard for the city and his other causes as long as he was able. He will be sorely missed.”
Also in the St. Louis area, Anders was on the boards of directors of the:
- Kiwanis Club of Normandy, where he served as president and vice president.
- Deaconess Nurse Ministry, including a term as vice chair of its board.
He was also active at Kirkwood UCC, where he became a member in 2016. And he never stopped cheering on others.
“As his Conference minister, he would send me personal notes of encouragement,” Daniel said. “He would say that no one knew the immense responsibility that Conference ministers carry.
“I will miss his compassion.”
Survivors, memorial gifts
Anders is survived by his mother, Fumiko Anders, and his siblings, Joseph Anders, Susan Petruso, John Anders and Michael Anders. Condolences to the family may be sent to Fumiko Anders, 90 Greendale Dr., Normandy, MO 63121. The family suggests that gifts in Douglas Anders’ memory may be made to these organizations:
- Habitat for Humanity, St. Louis, 3830 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63118, designated “United Church of Christ congregations Habitat Houses”
- Deaconess Nurse Ministry, 3159 Fee Fee Rd., Suite 225, St. Louis, MO 63044, designated “Ongoing work of DNM”
- United Church of Christ Child Sponsorship Program, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115, designated “Family Village Farm in Katpadi, India”
- Eden Theological Seminary, 475 E. Lockwood Ave., St. Louis, MO 63119, designated “Annual Fund”
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