United Church of Christ

UCC officers: We celebrate Cally Rogers-Witte

The national officers of the United Church of Christ are mourning the passing of their retired colleague, the Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte. As Executive Minister of Wider Church Ministries and co-executive of Global Ministries, the common world ministry of the UCC and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Rogers-Witte led with deep faith, enthusiasm and grace, furthering mission partnerships around the world. She died Tuesday, Nov. 12; a memorial service will be held Dec. 21 in Cocoa, Fla. In the following statements, she is remembered by the UCC leadership team as a pastor, leader, mentor and friend. A United Church News obituary is here.

From the three national officers of the United Church of Christ:

Greetings,

As the current officers of the denomination, we write to express the collective grief we all feel at the unexpected death of our beloved Cally Rogers-Witte. Along with the sadness comes the joy we all shared in having known her, the pride we all share in having been led by her, and the compassion we all feel for her family in their time of grief. 

Cally was a gifted leader with a vision for unity that had a global impact. From her time as pastor, through her years as a Conference Minister in the Southwest Conference, through her tenure as the Executive Minister for Wider Church Ministries, she was much loved and widely appreciated. 

Please take a minute in worship this Sunday to remember Cally, to pray for her family – her husband, Frank, and two children, Mary Ann and Beth. Give God thanks for the contribution she made to ensuring that the gospel would be proclaimed to all the ends of the earth. 

We ask our loving Creator to now embrace Cally in eternal arms of love and peace. May she find comfort in knowing the savior whom she spent her life worshiping and in service to is now glad to call her home to her eternal rest. 

  • John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President
  • Traci Blackmon, Associate General Minister
  • Karen Georgia Thompson, Associate General Minister

From the co-executives of Global Ministries, the Rev. Julia Brown Karimu (Disciples) and the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson (UCC Associate General Minister, Global Engagement and Operations):

May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace! – Psalm 29:11

We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of the Rev. Cally-Rogers Witte. We extend condolences to Frank, Mary Ann and Beth, to the rest of her family and to all who knew her as friend. We hold you in prayers and love, praying God's peace, comfort and presence with you as you celebrate the joy and gift of Cally's life and mourn the loss of her life.  

Rogers-Witte, Thompson, MoosCally is well known in the United Church of Christ, this church that she chose to call home and where she chose to live out her call to ministry. Her light and legacy continue in this moment. Her service across the settings of the UCC has made a difference among us. Hers was ministry of pastoral presence that spanned her journey with us as a pastor, Conference Minister and elected officer of the church.

She extended herself among us as friend, mentor and leader, greeting the world with a smile that showed her welcoming spirit and warm hospitality. She served the church well, and even in her years of retirement continued to be connected with and to be interested and concerned for the partners and ministries of Wider Church Ministries and Global Ministries. In her term as Executive Minister for Wider Church Ministries and Co-Executive for Global Ministries (2005-2011), she greatly impacted our relationships with 290 partner churches around the world. Our United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) partners join us in grieving Cally’s passing.

Cally will be missed! The world has lost a great light. And yet, her memory of having been among us inspires and comforts.

God of Peace, we pray for those who have loved and known the presence of Cally. Holy God, in this moment of grief and sorrow, we remember the many gifts that Cally gave to us. We ask your peace and comfort for her family and friends during this time of transition. Amen.”

From the Rev. John Dorhauer, who succeeded her as Southwest Conference Minister before later becoming UCC General Minister and President:

Rarely do I find a person as universally loved as Cally Rogers-Witte. Leaders who rise to prominence in any field have admirers and detractors. But Cally had a way of leading that engendered good will in and from all. She had a perpetual smile on her face and she exuded the joy that came to her from knowing her beloved Jesus. 

My deep admiration for her turned quickly to deep friendship in the years I served as the Conference Minister in the Southwest. For the first year or two, every church I visited took time to tell me how much they loved her. And she became a personal guide to me – ready to pick up the phone or answer an email any time I had a question about life in the Southwest Conference. Her advice as well as her encouragement became to me a source of wisdom and comfort.

Since being elected GMP, Cally has been there for advice, for encouragement, for comfort and to laugh with over a drink or two. On a recent trip to North Carolina, which she helped organize for me, she and Frank took me to a nearby restaurant for drinks and delightful conversation. Although we would talk on the phone again, it would be the last time I would see her. It is a delightful memory to keep. 

I have long admired Cally for her tenacity in hard times, but with that tenacity a composure that exuded confidence and hope. Her deep faith was always a hallmark of her leadership.

From the Rev. Traci D. Blackmon, UCC Associate General Minister, Justice and Local Church Ministries:

It was not my privilege to work intimately with Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte, and yet I am a beneficiary of the spirit of excellence, passion and deep love she embodied in her service to our beloved church. We are better because she journeyed this way. Cally's ability to hold central the needs and concerns of others, locally, ecumenically, and globally, leaves a legacy of servanthood I aspire to emulate. May God's love and light continue to surround her husband, Frank, her daughters, and all who were blessed to love her and be loved in return.

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