Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the passing of Rev. Dr. William (Bill) Nottingham

Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the passing of Rev. Dr. William (Bill) Nottingham

Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the passing of the Rev.  Dr. William (Bill) J. Nottingham on June 3, 2022. 

Bill holds a special place in the hearts of Global Ministries family , and he will be remembered for his faithful leadership, his love for the church, and his passion for human rights across the globe. During his tenure at Global Ministries, Bill served as Executive Secretary for the Latin American and Caribbean Office (1968-1976); Executive Secretary for the East Asia and Pacific Office (1976-1983);  President, Division of Overseas Ministries (1984-1994); and he was named as President Emeritus of the Division of Overseas Ministries after his retirement. 

Bill’s celebration of life will be on July 20, 2022 at 2 PM at the A&E Center in the Wind Crest Senior Living Center in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

William J. Nottingham was born November 22, 1927, in Sharon, Pennsylvania, the only child of Jess and Alice Nottingham. He attended Bethany College in West Virginia as a pre-ministerial student, graduating in 1949, where he met one Patricia Anne Clutts who hailed from New Jersey. They were married on February 1st, 1949.

He pastored Canoe Camp and Covington, Pennsylvania churches before attending Union Theological Seminary in New York 1951-1953, studying with some of the most important theologians and philosophers of the era like Richard Niebhur and Paul Tillich. During that time, he also did the class work at Columbia University for his PhD in Christian Ethics. In 1954, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Strasbourg, France where he began his research on the Reformer, Martin Bucer.

Upon returning to the States, he was hired as Associate Minister in National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C. 

In 1958, the young family left Washington to work as Fraternal Workers with a French Protestant service organization, CIMADE.  Among other interesting episodes during that time, CIMADE was asked to help free African graduate students living under dictatorship in Portugal. Bill led a handful of pastors and Seminary students to aid in the secret escape of 60 young people. These refugees became doctors, lawyers, ambassadors, and presidents of three African countries! 

In 1962, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) then loaned Bill to the French Lutheran Church as pastor and coordinator of a lay training center in the Montbeliard area of eastern France. In 1965, Bill was invited to work in the Youth Department of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland. During that period, he hosted Martin Luther King on a visit to the World Council of Churches.

In 1968 the family returned to the U.S. to work at the headquarters of the Disciples Church in Indianapolis.  At that time, he was appointed to serve as Executive Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean.  During those years of dictatorships in many countries there, he worked on human rights issues, traveling frequently.  He brought out word from Brazil of the tortures there, of imprisoned missionaries in Paraguay, of the stolen babies from imprisoned women in Argentina, and the oppression of the Chilean people.  Then, in 1976, he became Executive Secretary for East Asia and the Pacific. There were similar stories of attending court trials of Seminary students and pastors in South Korea; of the first Church connections with China and connecting with Island peoples as well.

Then in 1984, Bill became President of the Division of the Overseas Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  He led the church in discussion and decision regarding relationships in North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, China, the former Soviet Union, and South Africa.  He was instrumental in establishing a Long-Range Planning Process, which culminated, after his tenure, in the formal establishment of the Common Global Ministries Board between the Disciples and United Church of Christ. Always an ecumenist, interested and open to the various branches of Christianity, including the Catholic and Orthodox churches, he was a living example of the prayer of Jesus: “May they all be One.”

Bill retired January 1, 1994, and taught as adjunct professor at Christian Theological Seminary for several years.  He enjoyed interpreting from French, Spanish or English for international church conferences with organizations like the World Council of Churches, the French Protestant Churches, and the National Council of Churches, going once again to far off places like Fiji, Indonesia, and Harare, among others. He traveled to Peru on six occasions, to bring care, consolation, and assistance to political prisoners, in particular American journalist Lori Berenson. For Bill Nottingham, retirement simply did not equate with slowing down. In fact, in this time he taught courses in Church History in the Congo and in Nicaragua.

Minister, Co-Executive of Global Ministries, writer, linguist, musician, poet, activist, historian, husband, father of four, grandfather of eight, and great-grandfather, Dr. William J. Nottingham has led a rare life of world travel, of culture and intensive participation in the period of human history in which he lived, giving of himself with energy and enthusiasm to all who knew him and to the cause of peace and justice in our world.

Bill is survived by his wife, Pat, four children, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Windcrest Resident Care Fund, 3235 Mill Vista Road, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129 or Global Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. P.O. Box 1986, Indianapolis 46206-1986.