RIP: Edward Rodman, longtime Massachusetts priest and social justice advocate, dies at 81

Posted Apr 4, 2024

[Diocese of Massachusetts] The Diocese of Massachusetts and friends and colleagues across The Episcopal Church are remembering and celebrating the life and witness of the Rev. Edward W. Rodman, who died peacefully, according to his family, on April 2, at home in Framingham, Mass. He was 81.

Ed Rodman was known churchwide as a strategist, advocate and activist for social and racial justice, and as an educator and mentor across generations in The Episcopal Church.

Edward Rodman

The Rev. Edward W. Rodman, at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston, 2014. Photo: Diocese of Massachusetts

He was ordained a deacon in 1967 and a priest in 1968, and after initial service at St. Paul’s in New Haven, Conn., he returned to the Diocese of Massachusetts in 1971, where he went on to become canon missioner. He served over several decades under five Massachusetts bishops. After leaving the diocesan staff, he was the John Seeley Stone Professor of Pastoral Theology and Urban Ministry at Episcopal Divinity School until retiring in 2009, teaching homiletics and urban ministry and mentoring the first group of remote learners.

He was a longtime member of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, a founding member of the Union of Black Episcopalians and The Consultation, a former urban hearings coordinator for the Urban Bishops Coalition and the coordinator of the Episcopal Urban Caucus. While still in high school in Portsmouth, Va., he worked with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) as field secretary and organized the only high school-based sit-in movement in the U.S. At Hampton Institute he became a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). (Read more in the Episcopal Church Archives “The Church Awakens” Leadership Gallery here.)

“Canon Ed Rodman leaves an extraordinary legacy in this diocese and in the wider church,” Massachusetts Bishop Alan M. Gates said. “Fierce in his commitment to racial and economic justice, he was also fiercely loyal to his friends and companions. Lay and clergy leaders alike have been mentored, supported, challenged, chastened and finally made stronger by this remarkable man.”

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Gladys Rodman, and daughters Claire, of Manhattan, Alice, of Millbury, Mass., and Sarah, of Los Angeles, and his nephew, Michael Rodman, and niece, Karen Rodman, both of Indianapolis.

At this time, the family would appreciate privacy in their grief. In lieu of calls and visits, condolence messages are welcome and should be mailed to the Edward W. Rodman Family, c/o The Cathedral Church of St. Paul, 138 Tremont Street, Boston MA 02111.

A memorial service is being planned for May 25 at 10:30 a.m. at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston. Memorial donations may be designated to World Central Kitchen and Heifer International.