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Pioneering missionary and pastor Elizabeth (Libby) McAliley passes at age 90

Former mission co-worker, World Mission staff leader remembered

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

Elizabeth (Libby) Dunlap McAliley. (Photo provided)

LOUISVILLE — The Rev. Elizabeth (Libby) Dunlap McAliley of Austell, Georgia passed away Wednesday, July 25, 2018. Born May 15, 1928, in York, South Carolina, to Robert Floyd and Edna Henry Dunlap, she married the Rev. William Samuel McAliley Sr. on Aug. 11, 1979.

A graduate of Agnes Scott College in 1950, she served for 23 years as a Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUS) missionary in the Belgian Congo. Her mission assignments included training young men and a few young women to become teachers in the first and second grades and teaching at the Theological School in the Congo.

She completed a Masters of Christian Education in 1959 and received a Master of Divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1973. That same year, McAliley became the first woman in South Carolina to be ordained as a minister of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.

After leaving the mission field in 1977, and until her retirement in 1993, she held staff positions in the national offices of the Presbyterian Church and was instrumental in guiding the mission agencies of the Northern (United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America) and Southern (PCUS) branches of the denomination through reunion in the late 1980s. She and her husband moved to Presbyterian Village Austell (Georgia) in 1996.

McAliley in the 1950s. (Photo provided)

Describing his first meeting with McAliley, Cliff Kirkpatrick, former director of worldwide ministries for the PCUS and PC(USA) Stated Clerk-emeritus, called her “quiet but incredibly thoughtful,” and commented on the hospitality and encouragement she provided as he assumed a leadership role in the church.

“It was a great privilege to work with Libby in the leadership team for Presbyterian world mission as we moved into, through, and beyond Presbyterian reunion,” he said. “In Louisville, her wonderful spirit helped to mold the team that shaped the new Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). Even in retirement, Libby was one of my closest confidantes and my finest mentor.”

She is preceded in death by her parents, husband and a sister (Kay D. Adams). Surviving her are sister Barbara D. Wilkerson, nephew Timothy Wilkerson, niece Kathy Adams and great-niece Amanda Adams. Surviving also are her husband’s five children, whom she loved as her own: Sam (Scotty) McAliley, Ruth (Dickie) Harper, Carl McAliley, Richard (Cheryl) McAliley, and Sarah (Naoki) Oba, 12 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held  Aug. 7 at 11 a.m. in the Presbyterian Village Activity Center, Austell, Georgia.

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