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Death in our diocesan family: The Rev. Dr. Charles L. Rice

Votive candles

The Rev. Dr. Charles L. RiceWith sadness we share the news of the death of the Rev. Dr. Charles Lynval Rice, 81, peacefully at home on October 8, 2018, surrounded by just some of the many people who loved him. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 17, 11 AM at St. Peter’s Church in Morristown.

Born on December 12, 1936, in Chandler, Oklahoma, the son of William Clyde Rice and Dorothy Alene Moore, his boyhood years were divided between his grandparents’ homes in Chandler and his mother’s new home in Costa Mesa, California. He graduated from Newport Harbor High School in 1955 and went on to receive degrees from Baylor University, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, and Duke University. His published works include: Interpretation and Imagination, Preaching the Story and The Embodied Word. In 2017 his novel Sea Camp was reworked and published, after 35 years in a bottom drawer.

At the age of 19, Charles was ordained a Baptist minister in his grandparents’ church in Chandler. He served as pastor of Iredell Baptist Church in the hill country of Texas from 1956 to 1959, while at the same time serving as a student pastor in Kentucky and New Jersey. While a graduate student at Duke, he became a minister of the United Church of Christ and served parishes in Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina.

After receiving a Ph.D. in religion at Duke, Charles served as chaplain and taught at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (1967-8), as a missionary teacher at the Federal Theological Seminary of Southern Africa (1968-69), and as Acting Dean of Students and visiting professor of American Christianity at Duke Divinity School (1969-70). In 1970 he joined the faculty of the Theological School of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, where he taught for 32 years. He retired as Professor of Homiletics in 2002.

During his early years at Drew, Charles served as interim minister of Stanley Congregational Church in Chatham, New Jersey, and Union Congregational Church in Upper Montclair. He came to feel that his calling was with the Episcopal Church, into which he was confirmed in 1987, ordained deacon at the Church of the Messiah in Chester, and ordained to the priesthood in Grace Church, Madison, in 1988. Bishop John Shelby Spong confirmed and ordained him. He served at St. Peter’s Church in Morristown as priest associate from 1988-96 and as interim rector from 1996-97.

In addition to his ministry at St. Peter’s, Charles served as interim priest or priest-in-charge at St. Luke’s, Hope; Christ Church, Short Hills; St. Dunstan’s, Succasunna; St. Thomas’, Vernon; and St. Mark’s, Mendham. He also served at Trinity Church, Mt. Pocono, in the Diocese of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and The Church of All Saints-by-the-Sea in Maine. He served two terms on the Commission of Ministry of the Diocese of Newark. For 20 years he was a member of the Board of Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center, near his home in Bangor, and he continued to teach there after retirement. He also led groups of adults and young people to Taizé, the retreat center in France to which he had made a life-changing pilgrimage in 1984.

Over the years, Charles enjoyed his relationships with Union Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the Chicago Association of Theological Schools, where he taught on various occasions and served as president of the Academy of Homiletics.

In 1975 Charles met Robert Barker, with whom he subsequently lived in Madison, New Jersey, Bangor, Pennsylvania, and most recently Tuscon, Arizona. Together they renovated two old houses and a barn, tended gardens, and enjoyed entertaining their many friends. In their 42nd year together, Charles and Bob were married in St. Peter’s Church on Epiphany Day, January 6, 2014. Soon after, they moved to their new home in Tuscon, Arizona.

Charles is survived by his husband, Robert Barker, his brother Wayne, of Owen, Wisconsin, three nieces, five nephews, many grandnieces and nephews, and a host of friends.

In lieu of flowers Charles asked that memorials be sent to St. Peter’s Church, Morristown or The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, 1359 Broadway, Suite 1509, New York, New York, 10018.

Condolences may be sent to Robert Barker at 1815 N. Placita Buendia, Tucson, AZ 85749.

Good and gracious God, the light of the faithful and shepherd of souls, you sent your servant Charles to be a priest in your Church to feed your sheep with your word and to guide them by his example; give us the grace to keep the faith he taught and to follow in his footsteps. We entrust him into your unfailing mystery of Love and Hope through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.