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Rev. Dr. Rodney Page Retires From CWS Director Post

            NEW YORK, May 31 ---- When the Rev. Dr. Rodney Page took the helm of Church World Service and Witness (CWSW) in 1996, the income was $42 million.  As he retires, CWSW income has swelled to over $62 million, thanks to his work broadening the streams of income to include government funds as well as to fundraise with foundations, major gifts and planned giving campaigns. 

            Of this record, Dr. Page has a sense of accomplishment, but he is more proud of the human side of his work, from hiring “talented, committed, creative people,” to encouraging a more collegial style of working, to visiting CWS projects all over the world in order to demonstrate “care for our common ministry.” 

The connections Dr. Page has forged both internally and externally are ones he hopes will be a “lasting legacy.” 

“He came in during a difficult period in the life of the Council and of CWS,” said David Weaver, Director of the Middle East Office.  “He managed to effect powerful transformations in the way CWS envisions and does its work, as well as increasing the revenue streams.” 

“What struck me about Rodney Page from the first was his energy and vision,” said Ronda Hughes, CWS Director of Program Information and Resource Creation.  “Rodney’s leadership and discernment have seen Church World Service through some important milestones.” 

The transformations to which his colleagues allude include a strategic plan process which has led to a plan calling for the complete reorganization of CWS.  Dr. Page describes the new organization as one which moves from “semiautonomous units” to a more “dynamic, collegial way of working.” 

Working collaboratively has served the council well in crises such as the war in Kosovo.  “Our meetings to share information, ideas and resources stood us in good stead to respond there,” Dr. Page said. 

Dr. Page is also satisfied that before he leaves, a new relationship between Church World Service and the National Council of Churches has been envisioned.  “This new structure will enhance and enrich both organizations to fulfill their missions in a much better way,” he said. 

Yet all of these accomplishments are only important to Dr. Page, a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) minister, because they demonstrate a commitment “not only to the distribution of food, aid and development,” but to “the ministry of Jesus Christ.”  He reflects, “there are two kinds of time, regular time and kairos time, and the real accomplishments only take place because of kairos, the fullness of time.” 

            He recalls a visit to the Burma/Thai border, where CWS is feeding and aiding refugees, and listening to the story of a refugee who had been an indentured soldier in the Myanmar army while aid workers were building the rudiments of a hospital out of bamboo.  “On every bed in that hospital was a blanket from CWS,” Dr. Page said.  He remembers with sadness visiting a children’s hospital in Baghdad, Iraq and seeing a baby die before his eyes because the doctors didn’t have basic medicine they needed to help because of the embargo. 

            In all these places, Dr. Page explains, CWS is present for the long haul and works with local partners to encourage empowerment of local people.  “Our work, through partners, builds up the church while also going to people of all kinds of faiths,” Dr. Page said.  “The work we do, as well as the relationships, are mandated by scripture.” 

            In his retirement, Dr. Page will be living in Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon.  He has taken courses to become a certified mediator and hopes to do some mediation work.   

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