Presentation of Dr. Telfer Mook for Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree
Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis – 18 May 1997
Thirty years ago, Telfer Mook became a pioneer in the combined ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. This precedent ultimately led to the Common Global Ministries Board uniting all missionary work of both churches in 1996 and was part of the process leading to the declaration of full communion of these churches in 1989. Equally important, however, was the witness he made to Christian unity in the midst of partner churches around the world.
Dr. Mook was the first of a series of joint mission executives when he was appointed in 1967 for India and Nepal, later called the Department of Southern Asia, by the United Church Board for World Ministries and the United Christian Missionary Society. He continued in that service sixteen years with the successor body, the Division of Overseas Ministries, until retirement in June, 1983.
Telfer Mook was born in Metuchen, New Jersey, attended Dartmouth College, Cambridge University in England, and Yale Law School, where he received a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. He practiced law for five years in Des Moines,Iowa. He was called to the ministry, graduated from Chicago Theological Seminary in 1955 and served a congregation in Concord, New Hampshire. He and his wife Jane Day Parker became missionaries in India in 1958 and with that experience entered the position I have described.
It is important to note that during service in the U.S. Navy in World War II as an intelligence officer on the Island of Tinian in the Pacific, his Christian faith led him to organize a school for Japanese children. Many years later, those students and the Japanese who assisted in the school honored him, and a documentary film was made by Japanese television acknowledging this witness to reconciliation and good will.
Today he is Chair of the U.S. Non-governmental Organizations Forum to promote peace and justice in Sri Lanka, which has long been a concern of his through the Board of Trustees of the Jaffna College Foundation. Near his home in Michigan, he often serves interim ministries in UCC and Disciples of Christ congregations.
It is an honor to present our colleague Telfer Mook for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity.
(Remembering Alford Carleton, Virgil Sly, Mae Yoho Ward, T. J. Liggett and Robert A. Thomas)