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Constance Parvey, pioneering Lutheran and ecumenical leader


Cambridge, Mass., May 25, 2011 -- The Rev. Dr. Constance Parvey, one of the first women admitted to Harvard Divinity School and one of the first women ordained in the Lutheran Church, died late Saturday in her apartment here.


Parvey was the author of the now-famous Sheffield Report on the community of Men and Women in the Churches for the World Council of Churches (1983), and was the longtime chaplain of the ecumenical Lutheran-Episcopal ministry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Ordained on December 3,1972, Parvey began work as Associate Pastor at University Lutheran Church (UniLu) and chaplain at MIT. She left UniLu to begin work at the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland in 1978. Parvey returned to Cambridge as Lutheran Chaplain at MIT from 1996 until her retirement in 2001.


Parvey was honored in November by the Circles of Names gathering of ecumenical women in Boston. Parvey was formally named by the NCC General Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, to the Circles of Names when the campaign launched in November 2009.


Dr. Diana Eck, chair of the NCC’s Interfaith Relations Commission, who had herself been present at the Sheffield conference, paid tribute to Parvey’s work at the Circles meeting in Boston.


“It is such an honor to name [Connie’s] name so many times this morning,” Eck said.


At the same meeting, Parvey had lifted up the ecumenical witness of Bishop Krister Stendahl and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, demonstrating how women’s ministries and gender justice is the work of women and men together.


NCC President Elect Kathryn Lohre, the local host and chair of the planning team for the Boston event, shared her own experience of being mentored by Parvey and encouraged participants to think of mentoring as “what makes our circles concentric.”


Lohre said Monday she felt a sense of deep personal loss at Parvey's passing. "I had written down in my notes last night to call her on my way home from work today," Lohre said. "I felt her presence so strongly at a wedding we attended yesterday evening at UniLu, her longtime home congregation, and wanted to share this experience with her."


Lohre's husband, the Rev. Timothy Seitz, is currently serving as the Lutheran Chaplain at MIT.


A service of thanksgiving for Parvey's life will take place on Tuesday, June 28 at 2 P.M. at University Lutheran Church.


Gifts in Constance Parvey's memory may be directed to:


"Generation to Generation" Endowment Fund
University Lutheran Church
66 Winthrop Street
Cambridge, MA 02138


Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services
700 Light Street
Baltimore, MD 21230

Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell),


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