Statement on the Passing of Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt, Jr.


October 29, 2013

The nation lost a great moral leader and Ecumenical Giant on Sunday, October 27, 2013, with the passing of Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt Jr, Senior Bishop of the historic Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, New Testament Scholar, former President of the National Council of Churches, national leader in the Ecumenical Movement, and most importantly a beloved pastor, professor and mentor to countless people of all walks of life across this country and world. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his inspiring wife Mrs. Ocie Hoyt, his family, the CME Church and all his friends.

In addition to being the national leader of the CME Church, Bishop Hoyt was also the Presiding Prelate for the Seventh Episcopal District, which included North Carolina, in addition to the New York-Washington DC Region and South Carolina.

For anyone who had had the honor of meeting or knowing Dr. Hoyt, it was clear that he was a tremendous man of God, committed to all God's people and the struggle for justice and a more loving and humane world. While a professor at Hartford Seminary, Howard University School of Religion and the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA, Bishop Hoyt impacted scores of students, many of whom now pastor churches in North Carolina.   

Bishop Hoyt's roots in North Carolina's struggle for justice run deep. Early in his ministry, Bishop Hoyt pastored St. Joseph CME Church in Chapel Hill, NC while he pursued his Ph.D. in Religion from Duke University. Bishop Hoyt was a major figure during desegregation in the late 1960s and early 1970s in Chapel Hill. 

In January of this year, the North Carolina NAACP had the honor of Bishop Hoyt signing the official letter of support by the CME Church to the NC NAACP-led Historic Thousands on Jones Street People's Assembly Coalition (HKonJ), committing its over 1 million members across the nation to the cause of uniting a broad-based, anti-racist, anti-poverty, anti-war and pro-justice Movement in North Carolina.

            Bishop Hoyt's moral leadership will be sorely missed in our nation. We take this time to honor him by re-committing ourselves to fighting for the rights and lives of the most marginalized in our society

Quotes from Bishop Hoyt:

"I look around and see our mandate is to bring unity to the people of God-not only for the churches but for humanity. That's the challenge for me ... that's the emphasis I bring to the ecumenical network ... bringing people together around their humanity, not around their skin color, gender, class or disability." 

"When I hear people talk about poverty ... it has to be coupled with the fight against racism and gender inequality. And it has to be accompanied with concrete action." 

Bishop Hoyt's Biography:

Bishop Hoyt earned a BA degree from Lane College, Jackson, TN in 1962, a M.Div. degree from Phillips School of Theology of The Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA, a S.T.M. degree from the Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1967, and a Ph.D. degree from Duke University, Durham, NC in 1975.  He was awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree from Trinity College in 1994.

Before being ordained as a bishop in 1994, Hoyt had established a reputation as a distinguished scholar in theological education. He is a former Professor of New Testament at Hartford Seminary, Hartford, Ct. (1980-1994); Howard University School of Religion, Washington, D.C. (1978-1980); and Interdenominational Theological Center (1972-78). Earlier he pastored CME churches in North Carolina and New York. He also served as pastor in United Methodist and Presbyterian congregations. He is the author of three books and over forty articles.

On November 6, 2003, in a festival service in Jackson, Mississippi, Bishop Hoyt was installed as President of the National Council of Churches for 2004-2005.  As a former teacher, Bishop Hoyt's role at the NCC placed him in a sort of "national classroom" that debates issues of peace, justice and unity.  He took up his responsibility as president at a time when the NCC was engaged in a multi-year Poverty Mobilization. The Mobilization lifts up best practices in the struggle against poverty, works to change common wisdom about the inevitability of poverty, and includes partnerships with many anti-poverty organizations for collaboration in education, advocacy and service.

Bishop Hoyt also supported high-profile environmental efforts, which take seriously the responsibility that lies with people of faith to be stewards of God's creation. And he lifts up the value of the NCC's program for better interfaith relations, particularly its work toward better Christian-Muslim understanding. Promoting good relationships among Christians, Jews and Muslims was high on his agenda. He recently served as a vice-chair on the National Board of Directors of the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), an organization formerly known as the National Conference of Christians and Jews, which works for understanding and respect among all races, religions and cultures.

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