Burgess Carr, former All Africa Council leader, dies at 76

By ENS staff
Posted May 14, 2012

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Burgess Carr, a Liberian-born priest who in the late 1980s served as the Episcopal Church’s partnership officer for Africa and who for seven years in the 1970s headed the All Africa Council of Churches (AACC), died May 14 in his sleep, according to an announcement from St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Snellville, Georgia.  He was 76.

“During his tenure as General Secretary of AACC, he brought a new energy to the work of the Anglican Church in Africa and made a few enemies, including Idi Amin. May his soul rest in peace,” said the Rev. Canon Petero Sabune, the church’s global partnerships officer for Africa, in an e-mail sent to church center staff May 14.

In that same e-mail, Margaret Rose, the Episcopal Church’s deputy for ecumenical and interfaith collaboration, said: “Many here at the Church Center knew Burgess Carr when he was on staff here.  In addition to being one of my professors in Divinity School and the preacher at my ordination, he was an executive director of the All African Council of Churches, a great ecumenist and a negotiator of one of the first peace agreements in the Sudan.”

Carr graduated in 1958 with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture from Cuttington College, in Suakoko, Bong County, Liberia, and earned a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1961. He was ordained a deacon in 1961 and a priest in 1962 in the Diocese of Liberia, which was a diocese in the Episcopal Church until 1980, when it became part of the Anglican Province of West Africa.

Additionally, Carr served as the secretary for Africa with the World Council of Churches; Geneva, Switzerland, from 1967-1970. He was the executive director of Episcopal Migration Ministries from 1990-94; held various teaching appointments over the years at schools including Union Theological Seminary, Harvard Divinity School, Boston University, Episcopal Divinity School, and Berkeley Divinity School at Yale; and was a consultant to The World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, and the Economic Commission for Africa. In 1972 he served as moderator on the Addis Ababa Agreement on Southern Sudan, which ended 17 years of civil war in Southern Sudan.

Carr moved to Georgia sometime in the 2000s and served as vicar of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Decatur, Georgia, for three years.  Carr and his wife, Francesca, had five children.

The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Friday, June 1, at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta. Bishop of Atlanta J. Neil Alexander will preside.


Comments (11)

  1. Katerina Whitley says:

    So sad to read that Burgess is no longer with us. An erudite and cosmopolitan man, Burgess was a fine facilitator and companion on our visit to South Africa with Presiding Bishop Browning in 1989. One of his sons was also with us. My condolence to the family.

  2. Leon Spencer says:

    What a fascinating man, “notorious” for his engagement in a call for a moratorium on Western missionaries to allow African churches to find their own way as the continent became independent of colonial control and the churches became independent of missionary society control. On the centenary of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, I heard him say that true ecumenical unity was found not in formal structural unification of denominations but instead in praxis. He was always challenging and perceptive. May his soul rest in peace.

  3. The Reverend Rick Britton says:

    Burgess Carr was a man of God who served the church and the world. He was a role model for priests, a saint for peace and a native son of Liberia who brought pride to his country. All who knew him were treated with kindness and respect as he shared his faith and trust in God, his humanity, his intellect and his wisdom. I felt privileged to be in his company.Thank God for Canon Carr’s life and ministry.

  4. The Rev.Canon Gordon Okunsanya says:

    It is a shock to hear of the death of a brother in Christ and a faithful priest of the Church. He was a true role model of what he preached and worked diligently for, peace and justice for all. He was bold , firm and outspoken on what he believed in. He respected all even those he disagreed with.

    He will be greatly missed.

    May his soul rest in perfect peace and light perpetual shine on him.Amen.

    Our heartfelt condolences go to Francesca and their children. You will all be in our prayers.

    Message sent from England.

  5. Rick Callaway says:

    Burgess Carr was a man of deep spirituality that manifests in some in the African Christian experience. To be in his presence meant laughter, and then is his quiet way he would remind us of the roots of our faith: the journey through wilderness, the province of a loving God, the hope in our future healing. He was a gentle giant of our faith.

  6. The Rev. Dr. Matilda E.G. Dunn says:

    The Rev. Canon Burgess Carr was a classmate at Cuttington University of my late brother Nehemiah C. Greene and my cousin, the late Archbishop of West Africa and Bishop of Liberia, Geaorge Browne. I grew up viewing Burgess as a brother figure in my life.Shortly following my marriage, he inquired whether it was alright to call me by my middle name, Eeleen which he knew from association with my brother and cousin. Following my ordination, be had a brotherly conversation during which he offered useful advice about the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church. I thank God for his many and outstanding contributions to his family , friends, the Liberian Church, and the Episcopal Church at large in the United States, Africa, and the world. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in perfect peace.

  7. Carolyn Coil says:

    Burgess Carr was such a blessing to St. Matthew’s, Snellville, when he chose our parish to be his church home during the last eight or ten years of his life. He was one of the most spiritual men I have ever known and also one of the most humble. Our entire parish loved him and his wife Francesca. Praise to God for his earthly life and his continued life now in heaven.

    1. Christopher Szarke says:

      Amen! Amen!

  8. Karen Steanson says:

    One of my life’s enduring blessings is having Burgess as my friend and priest in the early ’80s at St. Andrew’s Church during his time at Yale. I remember someone in a class asking him how to tell the difference between right and wrong. His answer: “I always ask myself,” he said, “does this build up community or does it tear it down?” No blather–just a practical and memorable guide. I rejoice in having known him, Francesca and the children. My prayers are with them, as I join you all in giving thanks for his life.

  9. Ronke Rwagaju (nee Lardner) says:

    Rev. Burgess Carr was my boss at the All Africa Conference of Churches, at it was known then, and we knew him as the Reverend Canon Burgess Carr. A very hard working, dedicated and inspiring person with a great sense of humour and a kind heart. God bless his wife Frances and their children and God bless the Canon.
    Ronke Rwagaju (nee Lardner)

  10. Neville Callam says:

    I met Burgess Carr when I was a student at Harvard. He taught a course on Two- thirds World Theologies. Informed, insightful and kind, he was a wonderful teacher and guide. He’s gone but not forgotten.

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