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Kathy Lancaster, renowned advocate for social justice and peacemaking, dies at age 80

by Emily Enders Odom | Presbyterian News Service

Kathy Lancaster. Photo provided

Kathy Lancaster. Photo provided

(LOUISVILLE) – The Rev. Kathy Lancaster, (1935-2016), a teaching elder member of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery and a tireless advocate for social justice, died on Saturday, May 28, of complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Lancaster, who was ordained by Hudson River Presbytery in 1978, served the national offices of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) until her retirement in 2002. Following her retirement, she served as moderator of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery.

“Kathy’s passion for justice was always at the center of her life, especially as she did her superb, creative work as the editor of Church & Society magazine,” said the Rev. Vernon Broyles, a volunteer in the PC(USA) office of the Stated Clerk, who previously served with Lancaster in his capacities as director of the PC(USA) former office of Corporate Witness and Public Affairs in Atlanta, and as director of the former office of Church and Public Issues in Louisville.

“Alongside that work, she gave her energy to the witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in the field of criminal justice, leading the ecumenical community in embracing the concept of Restorative Justice as the only way, finally, to heal our broken communities,” said Broyles.

A graduate of Wagner College and Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, Lancaster was an active member of the Highland Presbyterian Church community since 1988 and a longtime member of its chancel choir.

“It is impossible to think about Kathy Young Lancaster without thinking about passion—passion for the church, for its ministry of social justice, for music and the arts,” said the Rev. Dr. Cynthia M. Campbell, pastor and head of staff at Highland. “Kathy’s life reminds us all to savor the beauty of life and calls us to deeper commitment to the dignity of all people.”

Lancaster is survived by the Rev. Lew Lancaster, her husband of nearly 30 years; and also by her children, stepchildren, and several grandchildren. A service of Witness to the Resurrection will be held at Highland Presbyterian Church on Saturday, June 4, at 11:00 a.m.

“I knew Kathy and Lew well back in the day,” said Ruling Elder Tony De La Rosa, interim executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “They were sweet and affirming, known for their gracious hospitality. Kathy will be missed beyond measure.”

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