PC(USA) mourns loss of gifted presbyter
by Emily Enders Odom | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE – Commissioned Ruling Elder (CRE) Theodore “Ted” Hickman, moderator of the Presbytery of New York City, died unexpectedly in his sleep at the age of 51 at his home in Brooklyn, New York, overnight on September 9.
“I mourn my brother Ted Hickman’s untimely passing,” said Ruling Elder Tony De La Rosa, interim executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, who previously served as interim executive presbyter of the Presbytery of New York City. “He was an exemplar in everything he did, whether as a wise presbytery moderator, as a passionate Commissioned Ruling Elder, as a faithful Christian, or as a loving family man. He embraced the gift of life with gratitude to a God he served so well. I shall miss his gentle smile, his statesmanship, and his compassionate demeanor to all he met.”
Hickman, a member of the Bedford Central Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, who served the Duryea Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, as a CRE for the last 10 years, was featured in “Raising Up Leaders,” a video produced by the Presbyterian Mission Agency—formerly the General Assembly Council—as part of its Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide initiative. He led a workshop related to his service as a CRE at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Big Tent event in Indianapolis in 2011.
The website describes the video, “Raising Up Leaders,” as follows: “In exploring together how larger churches can help to empower smaller, neighboring congregations, Bedford Central Presbyterian Church and Duryea Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., discovered an exciting new way to grow Christ’s church deep and wide by sharing resources for ministry. Key among those resources are the church’s leaders, especially Ted Hickman, a financial management executive and an elder at Bedford Central, who heard God’s call to go deeper into ministry by supplying Duryea’s pulpit. Hickman, a Commissioned Lay Pastor, has been instrumental in helping to turn the small, fragile Duryea church around. Not only has the partnership energized and renewed both congregations, it has strengthened Christ’s witness in the community.”
Hickman, a research scientist with NYU-Langone Medical Center, was installed as Moderator of the Presbytery of New York City on June 14, the first CRE to serve in that capacity. According to an email sent on Sept. 9 by the Rev. Dr. Robert Foltz-Morrison, Executive Presbyter, Hickman “traveled to the General Assembly just days later as one of our overture advocates.”
“Ted has been deeply committed to this presbytery’s people and our mission in New York City,” wrote Foltz-Morrison, “and looked forward to the year he would be serving [you] as our Moderator.”
At the time of his death, Hickman was also serving on a Synod of the Northeast Working Group on Race. He previously was on the presbytery’s Committee on Ministry, its Transition Team for implementation of the strategic plan, and a member—and later chair—of the presbytery’s Committee on Congregational Ministry and Nurture.
“Ted was an amazing and faithful man who embodied the gifts of leadership and service so very well,” said the Rev. Andy James, former Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of New York City and pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone, Queens, through August 31, 2016, who now serves as Associate Presbyter for Small Church Ministry and Technology for the Presbytery of New Hope. “He brought wisdom and hope to every conversation and situation, and his passion for the church was contagious with everyone he met. Even when he disagreed with his sisters and brothers, he sought to embody the church’s call to reconciliation and stayed connected to everyone along the way. More than anything, Ted embodied his ordination vows to ‘be a friend among [his] colleagues in ministry’ and ‘to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.’ He will be deeply missed.”
Hickman is survived by his wife Celeste. A service witnessing to Hickman’s life and resurrection will be held Sunday, September 18, 2016, 5:00 pm at Bedford Central Presbyterian Church, 1200 Dean Street, Brooklyn, NY 11216. A viewing will precede the service at the church from 2:00 – 5:00 pm.
“In life and in death we belong to God,” said the Revs. Jan Edmiston and Denise Anderson, Co-Moderators of the 222nd General Assembly (2016), in a Sept. 9 Facebook post by Edmiston. “We give thanks today with broken hearts for the life of Ruling Elder Ted Hickman, Moderator of the Presbytery of New York City. Ted passed away unexpectedly last night. We reach out in love to his family and friends and to our colleagues in New York City.”
Foltz-Morrison, who preached at the Duryea Church on the Sunday, Sept. 11, following the news of Hickman’s death, said that his words “drew a lot of nods about Ted.”
“Jesus said, ‘The world will know you are my disciples by your love for one another,’ especially in such a time as this,” Foltz-Morrison preached. “You know that was the way of our brother Ted. Some have described him as the calm in the presbytery, the one in whom everyone seemed to find a friend. You know how much he loved Jesus. And Jesus loved him. Jesus filled his heart with God’s love. Can we not sense how grieved even Jesus is for us?”
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