The Reverend Dr. J. Robert Sandman, former missionary to Turkey

The Reverend Dr. J. Robert Sandman, former missionary to Turkey

Global Ministries was saddened to learn about the death of The Reverend Dr. J. Robert Sandman, former missionary to Turkey.

J. Robert Sandman, 84, who was a retired United Church of Christ minister and former Global Ministries volunteer in Turkey, died of a heart attack on Monday, January 16.

The Reverend Dr. Sandman grew up in Newport, Kentucky, and was a son of St. John’s Congregational Christian Church (now UCC).  After graduation from Oberlin College and Union Theological Seminary, Bob served as a Migrant Ministry state director (1952-1957) and pastor of North Congregational UCC in Columbus, Ohio (1957-1962).  He then served as the founding Associate Association Minister of the Southwest Ohio Northern Kentucky Association (1962-1974) and Association Minister of the Central Illinois Association (1974-1980). Bob then served for 12 years as Associate Conference Minister in the Illinois Conference, retiring in 1992.  His D. Min. was from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

After retirement, Bob and his wife, Olgha, served for one year as volunteer missionaries, helping in the establishment of the Istanbul, Turkey, Interparish Migrants Project.  Later in retirement, he was Interim Conference Minister in South Dakota, Acting Conference Minister in Illinois, Interim Association Minister in the Fox Valley Association, one of the Illinois Conference’s teachers of UCC History and Polity, and an Annuitant Visitor for the Pension Boards.  In addition, he was for 31 years an active member of First Congregational UCC in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Bob dedicated his life to service and justice ministries such as civil rights, anti-Vietnam War marches, new church ministries for immigrant minority communities, and farmworker labor rights.  As a student at Oberlin in 1948, he was present when the General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches approved the Basis of Union with Interpretations.  Bob went with other clergy into inner city Dayton, Ohio, during the riots of 1968.  In 1973, he was one of the 95 who went from the General Synod to stand in solidarity with farmworkers in Coachella, California.  Bob co-chaired the committee that oversaw the 2003 visit of The Amistad to Chicago.  In recent years, he regularly joined prayer vigils to protest deportations outside the Chicago field office for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Removal Operations.

Reverend Dr. J. Robert Sandman was a denominational leader who knew how to bring peace and understanding to individual pastors and members, local congregations, judicatories, General Synod delegations, local communities, and state governments.  In 60 years of ordained ministry, he steadfastly lived out his concern for the poor and marginalized.

A memorial service will be held at 3:00 p.m., Central Time, Saturday, February 25, at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Downers Grove, Illinois.  In lieu of flowers, undesignated contributions can be made to the United Church of Christ, the denomination that Bob loved and served.

Condolences may be sent to Olgha Sierra Sandman, c/o First Congregational UCC, 1047 Curtiss Street, Downers Grove, IL  60515.