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Eileene MacFalls, a Presbyterian devoted to social justice, dies at 81

Each Wednesday she welcomed her church’s neighbors to lunch and prayer

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Eileene MacFalls

LOUISVILLE — The Rev. Mark Baridon remembers the Wednesday that Eileene MacFalls calmed tension during the midday prayer and lunch served up each week by a group of downtown Louisville churches. Those churches include Central Presbyterian Church, which Baridon serves as co-pastor and where MacFalls attended.

MacFalls, a longtime member of the national staff of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in the areas of mission and stewardship interpretation, died May 25 at age 81.

On that particular Wednesday, Baridon recalled, a man came off the street and refused to allow anyone to touch him because “he had killed a man in self defense earlier that week and felt he was so disgusting.” While several other guests fled his presence, MacFalls walked toward the guest, took his hand in both of hers, and told him, “I want to pass the peace of Christ with you. What happened to you was horrible and you need to know God loves you and we welcome you.”

“That brief encounter clearly showed who Eileene was,” Baridon said. “She reached out to all in God’s love. Her light and love will be greatly missed!”

The Rev. Ann Deibert, Central Presbyterian Church’s other co-pastor, said that throughout her 30 years in the church, MacFalls participated in three ministries the church is known for — its More Light stance, its work for social justice and its excellent music.

“She was generous with kindness, graciousness, and hospitality as well as with her administrative and organizations skills,” Deibert said. “All these she gave in service of sharing God’s wildly inclusive love.”

MacFalls was born in Coral Gables, Fla., graduated from Agnes Scott College in 1960 and did graduate studies at Princeton Theological Seminary. She retired as marketing manager for “Horizons” magazine in 2000 after 36 years of service to the PC(USA).

Upon retirement, she served Central Presbyterian Church as a clerk of session, as a member and librarian of the choir and as a driving force of the Wednesday lunch program that provides hot meals for more than 100 people from the neighborhood.

She also served on Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky committees. “Known for her common sense, wisdom and intelligence, she was often on committees requiring those gifts,” her obituary states, including working to alter prohibitive policies toward the LGBT community and assisting churches in crisis.

Throughout their lives, she and her husband, the Rev. Donald E. MacFalls, who preceded her in death, canoed the nation’s waterways. She went on safari in Kenya and was in Prague on 9/11.

Her funeral will be followed by visitation. The service begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 8, at Central Presbyterian Church, 318 W. Kentucky St., in Louisville, Ky. Burial will be at George Washington Memorial Park in Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

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