Charles P. Blakney
March, 1928 - December 18, 2018
Reverend Charles P. Blakney, age 90, passed away in hospice at his South Hadley, Massachusetts home on December 18, 2018. Charles was born in March 1928 in Sanford, Maine to Raymond and Laura Blakney.
Blakney was an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ who served both internationally and in the United States. He graduated in three years from Williams College in 1948, where he majored in art and music and distinguished himself in wrestling. He received his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Andover-Newton Theological Seminary in 1953, now part of Yale University Divinity School, continuing his studies at Boston University and the Hartford Theological Seminary, from which he earned a Master's degree in Arts, specializing in African languages, in 1963. After ordination in the Congregational in Worcester, Massachusetts Blakney served in Saxtons River, VT.
Charles Blakney then followed in the footsteps of a long mission tradition from his home congregation of Williamstown Congregational Church. His father and mother had been the 91st and 92nd missionaries from the Williamstown congregation and Charles Blakney became number 93. He served, together with his wife Lorrayne, from 1955 to 1967 with the United Church of Christ of Zimbabwe (UCCZ), first in Chikore and then in Harare. Blakney served as a minister, church superintendent and university lecturer in the Bible and in African religions. His responsibilities included supervising 50 UCCZ schools with 11,000 students, and preaching in several languages.
Because of the conflictive situation in Zimbabwe in 1967, Charles Blakney and his family were pressured to leave Zimbabwe, as Charles represented a prophetic voice for justice. The family moved to New York, NY and Charles Blakney served with the United Church Board for World Ministries, a predecessor mission body of Global Ministries, as Regional Secretary for Europe until 1970.
Following his service with the UCBWM, Charles Blakney served First Congregational Church of South Hadley Massachusetts until he retired in 1993. Retiring with him at that time, were his two sidekicks, Phineas T. Loser and Dragon, the two hand-puppets that resided in a hatbox which made its appearance every Sunday with Blakney at the pulpit. They were fashioned by his late, first wife, Lorrayne.
Following the onset of retirement, Blakney assumed abbreviated pastoral appointments in Orange, Shelburne, and Wyben, Massachusetts, as well as a semester in Hefei, China, where he and his wife Dorrie taught English at the Anhui Seminary.
Charles Blakney served as President of the Holyoke Rotary Club and received its distinguished Paul Harris Fellow award. He loved birds, led bird walks, and illustrated brochures, newsletters, and a poster for Northeast Utilities. His sermons were reduced to the essence in a poem in iambic pentameter, printed in the morning program. No matter how mundane the topic, he expressed himself with an elegant turn of phrase and good humor. He considered himself an “authority” on cowboys. Before a stroke in 2005, which impaired his hearing, he played the piano every day, as well as several other instruments.
Blakney was proceeded in death by his parents, Raymond and Laura Blakney, and his first wife Lorrayne Blackney. He leaves his wife, Dorrie, and stepson Jonathan Blakney and four children: Robert Blakney, Richard Blakney, Catherine Ann Kavassalis, and Carol Blakney; four grandchildren; a great-grandchild; and several nieces and nephews.
The memorial service for Charles Blackney was held Saturday, January 26, 2019 at the First Congregational Church in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Memorial gifts may be made to the mission fund at First Congregational Church in South Hadley, designated for Zimbabwe.
Condolences to the family may be sent to Richard Blackney at 24 Birchbrow Ave. North Weymouth, Massachusetts 02191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.