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Jun 24, 2011 | Carol E. Barnwell

Sally Rutherford Retires Role as Diocesan Outreach Coordinator

Bishop Andy Doyle, Bishop Don Wimberly (ret), Bishop Rayford High (ret), Sally B. Rutherford, the Rev. John Bentley (St. Martin’s) and Barbara Payne at the Houston Club, June 23, 2011, following a dinner honoring Rutherford for her work as diocesan outreach coordinator. 

After nearly three decades of dedicated ministry -12 at St. Martin’s, Houston, and 15 with the Diocese of Texas- Sally B. Rutherford has retired from her career as an outreach coordinator.


“Sally is for me the personification of our Baptismal promises to ‘seek and serve Christ in all persons’ and to ‘respect the dignity of every human being’,” said former Bishop of Texas Don Wimberly at a dinner, June 23 honoring Rutherford. Bishop Wimberly is one of three bishops for whom Rutherford has worked.


As a founding board member of Episcopal Health Charities and as diocesan liaison, Rutherford helped that organization become the premier health care grant-making institution in Texas. Within the diocese, she initiated a program to name an outreach coordinator in every congregation, documented all outreach programs in the diocese (nearly 1600 programs) and created a searchable database on the diocesan website. She used this information to help prepare bishops for their visitations at churches throughout the diocese, while encouraging local start up ministries and helping to award grants to many clinics, after school and feeding programs. One of her most valuable skills was networking people across denominational and secular lines, to strengthen all program offerings.


“The Diocese of Texas gives more than two million dollars annually to organizations that directly serve their communities like Ubi Caritas in Beaumont, El Buen Samaritano in Austin, Lord of the Streets in Houston and St. Vincent’s House in Galveston. There are hundreds of others as well. Reaching out and serving others is a core value of the diocese and that is in no small measure to Sally’s attention and devotion to outreach ministry,” said the Rt. Rev. Andy Doyle, Bishop of Texas.


Rutherford held her position at St. Martin’s and at the diocese without remuneration. The Rt. Rev. Claude E. Payne (ret) noted her humility in a letter read at the dinner. “Sally has never been one to bask in the limelight of recognition,” he said. “Her life reveals a heart and passion for serving,” he said, adding, “She leaves tracks of hope wherever she goes … [and] is absolutely devoted to serving her Lord and the Church. The only rival passion is the adoration she has for her children and grandchildren.”


In her diocesan position, Rutherford was a member of the diocesan commission, Episcopal Community Outreach Ministries, awarding grants to new outreach initiatives within the diocese. Clark Moore, director of Ubi Caritas and chair of ECOM, has worked with Rutherford for more than a decade. “Sally is a model for all of us,” Moore said.


Bishop Doyle noted that the hours “devoted to the poor, the homeless, those without voices, the needy, are uncountable and immeasurable by human standards.” Everyone who has worked with Rutherford agrees hers will be a hard act to follow.


According to the bishop’s office, Archdeacon Russ Oechsel will assume oversight of outreach ministries for the diocese while plans for an Office for Mission and Service are developed to reflect a growing “missionary church in the emerging culture of Texas.”


“Sally’s legacy will provide the bedrock of our outreach ministry that will continue to grow into the future, making our communities a better place to live because the Episcopal Church is there,” Bishop Doyle said.