The Southeast Conference remembers Dick Sales

The Southeast Conference remembers Dick Sales

We have shared with you the news of the death of Richard W. (Dick) Sales on August 30th.

We have shared with you the news of the death of Richard W. (Dick) Sales on August 30th.   Dick died following a fall that resulted in severe injury to his brain. The Southeast Conference UCC both mourns Dick’s death, and celebrates with gratitude his life and ministry.  We remember him as our first associate conference minister for theological education.  Dick is the founder and “father” of TAP (Theological Among the People).  His gifts and genius as an educator brought us a system of theological education which made excellent theological education available not only to the pews, but to the ministers who did not have easy access to traditional theological training in preparation for ministry.

Born on September 16, 1931in Syracuse NY, Dick was the son of Mark Bishop Sales, Sr. and Evelyn Lillian Reichert, Dick is survived by his wife Nancy, brother Mark, and children, Mark, Anne and James.  He was the grandfather of three. 

He graduated from Oberlin College in 1953, received a M.Div. from Chicago Theological Seminary in 1956, and in 1973 a Th.D. also from Chicago Theological Seminary.  Dick and his first wife Jane Magorian were appointed by the United Church Board of World Ministries to serve in South Africa in 1957, where they worked until 1971. Their visas to return to South Africa were denied, and they returned instead to the Republic of Botswana in 1974, where Jane died that year.  Dick married Nancy Magorian in 1975 and they worked with the UCBWM in Botswana and Zambia where Dick developed a program;  Theological Education by Extension. TEE has educated an estimated 15,000 church leaders in these nations over the course of two generations.

In 1986 Dick and Nancy returned to the United States and he served with the Christian Council of Metropolitan Atlanta, then as an interim minister at Pilgrim Congregational UCC, Birmingham, and as interim at Pilgrim Congregational UCC, Chattanooga. In 1988 he accepted a call as pastor of Pilgrim Congregational UCC, Birmingham, where he served until 1997. In 1997 he accepted a call to serve as the Associate Conference Minister for Theological Education of the Southeast Conference.  In that position Dick developed the TAP program extending it to every church on the Conference which could gather five people for a three year course of study.  It was under his guidance that Kathy Clark began to work with TAP, and ultimately succeeded Dick as its director.

The United Church of Christ and our partner denominations in Southern Africa owe Dick and Nancy a deep debt of thanks for their vision and teachings which have transformed the church of Jesus Christ. We are diminished by Dick’s death, but have all been immeasurably enriched by his gifts and his love for the United Church of Christ. Dick and Nancy were able to be with us on August 25th for a celebration of the thirteen year ministry of Kathy Clark with the Southeast Conference. Kathy prepares to move to her new position in the national setting of the UCC.  At that reception Dick Sales was recognized as a pioneer in the field of theological education by extension, and as the founder of TAP, a program which has now evolved into the PATHWAYS program.

The memorial service for Dick will take place on Sunday September 23rd, at the First Congregational UCC (1024 Center Street, North, Birmingham, AL 35204-3245).  In lieu of flowers gifts may be made to:

            Greater Birmingham Ministries (

            Magic City Harvest (

            Global Ministries (