Syngman Rhee, former GA moderator and current Outlook board member, died January 14 in Atlanta shortly after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
The family stated, “Dad was filled with the Holy Spirit and deeply grateful for God’s many blessings. We thank everyone for your prayers and support.” The family stated that Rhee “died peacefully this morning.” Rhee’s family plans to hold a private family funeral, but said details of a public memorial service would be forthcoming.
Rhee was former moderator of the 212th General Assembly (2000) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), president (1992-1993) of the National Council of Churches, and director of the Asian-American Ministry and Mission Center (1998-2011) at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. Recently, he had been serving as the distinguished visiting professor for global leadership development at Columbia Theological Seminary.
In 2010, the Outlook presented Rhee with the E.T. Thompson award and Dean Thompson offered a tribute to Rhee in the Outlook’s pages. In 2013, former Outlook editor Jack Haberer traveled with Rhee to Korea for the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches.
Clifton Kirkpatrick, former stated clerk of the General Assembly and president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, offered these words in honor of Rhee:
Syngman Rhee and I came from very different background, different cultures, different life experiences, and even different parts of the Presbyterian family, but we quickly became friends, colleagues, and brothers in Christ. Syngman is a dear, dear friend who has blessed my life in countless ways and who has been a blessing to the church – Presbyterian, Ecumenical, and Global. He was a gift of God to us and a great saint of the Church. I will miss him very much, but I give thanks that my life has been enriched by this remarkable man.
Syngman was a unique human being with whom God has deeply blessed all of us. It gives me great confidence, in the words of the Brief Statement of Faith, that “in life and in death we belong to God.” That great truth was at the core of Syngman’s being and is now his reality in a new way. Thanks be to God.