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In Memoriam

It is with profound shock and sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Sammie Dortch. Her leadership and work for the United Church of Christ through her local church, cluster, association, and conference will be long-remembered and sorely missed.

Dr. Sammie Dortch, Founder and President of the Board of Directors of Off the Pews: Faith in Action, died on Saturday, July 18, 2020. The cause of death is currently pending. Arrangements are in process and will be shared when completed.

Dr. Dortch was a retired Professor of Social Work and Department Chair at Harold Washington College. Sharing her academic, leadership, and organizational skills with the church, Sammie developed curriculum and taught workshops for CMA clergy and lay leaders. She chaired both the Illinois Conference Personnel Committee and the Local Evangelism, Envisioning, and Planting Committee (LEEAP). She had been a member of the Finance, Administration and Business (FAB) Committee and the Illinois Conference Major Gifts Initiative. Sammie was also a 2016 recipient of the Illinois Conference Chalice Award.

She believed in this quote, “To whom much is given, much is required.” To this end she gave untiringly to her community. She served and was in a leadership position on several boards, including The Community Renewal Society, South Side Community Arts Center, Chicago Hyde Park Village, and the Chicago Metropolitan Association. She was a Mentor to many youth and young adults, seasoned professionals, and retirees. Sammie was generous in the sharing of her gifts, skills, love, and life.

One of Sammie Dortch’s greatest legacies is her founding of “Off the Pews: Faith in Action” (OTP) which began as a Cluster Six ministry initiative, expanded to a Chicago Metropolitan Association ministry program, and is now a 501c3 Non-Profit. This was birthed out of a community-based call to action focused on reducing youth violence. OTP uses an intergenerational faith-based social justice model to reduce the impact of trauma resulting from systemic violence. Focusing on three “hubs”—youth, intergenerational programs, older adults—OTP pairs young people with adults to increase youth leadership development, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills using focused social justice strategies. Although Sammie would not want us to focus on her work with OTP, we know her vision and dedication were essential to OTP’s success. We, the Board of Directors for OTP, solemnly pledge to continue the work begun by Dr. Dortch as we take up her vision of reducing trauma resulting from systemic racism and violence.

We send our condolences to her family and friends. We rejoice that she is now a part of “the great cloud of witnesses” to God’s vision of love and justice. We close with the words of her Pastor, Rev Julian DeShaizer, “In Loving Memory, in Mourning, and in Gratitude. Thanks be to God for the life and legacy of Dr. Sammie Dortch!”

We invite you to join us, with your contributions, of any amount, to help sustain Off the Pews: Faith in Action’s mission. Tax deductible donations to this 501c3 corporation may be made via the donate button on OTP's Support page or by mailing a check made out to Off the Pews to our office, Off The Pews: Faith in Action, 1507 East 53rd Street, Suite 817, Chicago, IL 60615.

We pray God’s continued blessings upon you and our continued work on behalf of Dr. Dortch’s memory and vision.

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