Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rev. Dr. Eugenia Lee Hancock passes away

Our beloved colleague, the Rev. Dr. Eugenia Lee Hancock, Professor of Urban Studies and Spirituality and Director of the Center for the Study and Practice of Urban Religion (CSPUR) at the Seminary, died at home on Tuesday, June 1, 2010. Lee, as she was affectionately known, was an extraordinary spiritual presence in our midst. Her disarming smile and intense eyes communicated a genuine affection and sense of engagement with everyone she encountered.

Lee was relentless in her pursuit of academic excellence in the classroom. Students who worked with her during the years she served first as an adjunct professor then as a member of the Seminary’s core faculty will testify to that. But she also had a pastor’s heart. Her passion expressed itself in a real desire to integrate intellect and spirit in constructive, creative ways. She applied these gifts masterfully in a number of positions of community and institutional leadership beyond the classroom, including on the Seminary’s Board of Trustees where she served prior to joining the faculty.

Lee was born in Bluefield, West Virginia, and graduated from Mary Baldwin College before going on to Union Theological Seminary in New York where she earned her M. Div. degree, then to Drew University where she earned her Ph.D. While at Drew she served as the program officer for the Newark Project, a research program designed to enable students and community leaders to gain a better understanding of the role of religion in contemporary urban life. Her dissertation, which was completed in the area of Religion and Society, was an ethnographic study of those “infected and affected” by HIV/AIDS in Newark, NJ.

After graduating from Drew, Lee served as the Dean of Auburn Theological Seminary and the Director of Auburn’s Center for Church Life and the Center for Multifaith Education. One of the projects she developed at Auburn was the New York Sabbatical Institute, which brought together more than 60 working pastors from diverse theological and cultural traditions over a two-year period for work and play around pastoral excellence and self-care.

An ordained member of the Presbyterian Church USA, Lee previously served as a minister at Judson Memorial Church and Central Presbyterian Church in New York, as Associate Executive Presbyter for the Presbytery of the City of New York, and as Seminary Pastor at Union. She lectured widely and was well-known for her inspirational preaching. Lee was the editor of The Book of Women’s Sermons: Hearing God in Each Other's Voices (Riverhead Books, 2000). Her love for the city, for religious communities, and for humanity will continue to inspire us long into the future.

A private funeral service for family members has been planned. Further information on a public memorial service as well as suggested ways for contributions to be made in her honor will be announced in the days ahead.

1 comment:

  1. I am so sorry to hear of Dr.Hancock's death. Her work in Newark was extremely important,and her dissertation was crucial in helping me to understand my own dissertation work among HIV-positive women in Newark. I depend on her research and cite it in my book,"Surviving HIV/AIDS in the Inner City: How Resourceful latinas Beat the Odds". I had hoped to visit her in person some day and tell her how much she impacted my life and shaped my understanding.

    Sabrina Marie Chase