Cover photo for Albert Mitchell Pennybacker, Jr.'s Obituary
Albert Mitchell Pennybacker, Jr. Profile Photo

Albert Mitchell Pennybacker, Jr.

November 21, 1931 — October 27, 2022

Chagrin Falls

Albert Mitchell Pennybacker, Jr.

REV. ALBERT MITCHELL PENNYBACKER, Jr. (1931-2022)

 

Pastor and ecumenical leader, the Rev. Albert Mitchell Pennybacker, Jr., 91, of Lexington Kentucky and Chagrin Falls Ohio, died on October 27th of pancreatic cancer and covid, in Chagrin Falls. Pennybacker was an associate general secretary of the National Council of Churches from 1993-99, directing its Washington office from 1996 as an ecumenical lobbyist and liaison in the halls of Congress, including in work with the U.S. Department of Defense on the ethics of sanctions. Pennybacker served as pastor of Taftville Congregational Church (Connecticut), and in three subsequent pastorates of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): Central Christian Church (Youngstown, Ohio), Heights Christian Church (Shaker Heights, Ohio), and the University Christian Church (Fort Worth, Texas), in a preaching career of thirty- five years. He served as a trustee of the Disciples Divinity House at the University of Chicago and of Texas Christian University, where he lectured at TCU and at the Brite Divinity School. He was a visiting professor at the Yale Divinity School in 1989, and taught at Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky during the1990s. He held an honorary doctorate from Bethany College, West Virginia.

 

A veteran of postwar global ecumenical efforts as much as of the US Civil Rights era, Pennybacker was a delegate to the Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC) assemblies held in Evanston (1954), New Delhi (1961), and Uppsala (1968), and worked in the United Christian Missionary Society and in the Consultation on Church Union,  in efforts involving international networks of progressive interfaith and ecumenical action on labor and human rights, anti-Apartheid, world peace, global equity, and religious persecution, notably engaging and visiting South Africa and Cuba. He was a founder of the African-American Heritage House at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State, and an Institute chaplain. His local US social justice activism included roles in the Norwich (CT) Council of Churches, the Greater Cleveland Church Council, Fair Housing Inc. of Cleveland, the Black Jail Chaplaincy Program of Tarrant County (Texas), Clergy and Laymen (and Laity) Concerned, and in the civil discourse advocacy organization, the Interfaith Alliance. In recent years, he leant his name to the key civil union rights law suit in Kentucky, where he was a familiar voice and presence in city and state social movements, and a member of Central Christian Church in Lexington.

 

Albert M. Pennybacker, Jr., was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1931, the third son of Agatha Lewis Walker and Albert Mitchell Pennybacker, Sr. He attended the McCallie School, Vanderbilt University and the Yale Divinity School, and served briefly in the US Navy. In 1951, he married Martha Hackney Pennybacker of Chattanooga, a fellow student at Vanderbilt and at Peabody College. She first assisted him in an undergraduate ministry in Roaring Springs, Kentucky. Martha H. Pennybacker died in Lexington in 2013. In 2017, Pennybacker married the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. He is survived by the Rev. Brown Campbell, and by his children from his first marriage - Susan D. Pennybacker of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Janet P. Scott of Lexington Kentucky; and, David W. Pennybacker of Rowlett, Texas (Laura Weisheimer); by grand-daughters Wynston and Spencer of Dallas, and, by his and the Rev. Brown Campbell’s extended families.

 

Gifts in memory of the Rev. Albert M. Pennybacker, Jr., in support of the University of Kentucky Opera Workshop programming, may be made to the UK School of Music Development Fund, https://uky.networkforgood.com/causes/5076-music-development-fund, and in checks payable to the University of Kentucky with Albert M. Pennybacker memorial in the memo line or accompanying note, and mailed to: UK Philanthropy, PO Box 23552, Lexington, KY 40523.

 A Funeral Service will be held Wednesday, November 9th at 11 am in Brown-Forward, 17022 Chagrin Blvd., Shaker Hts., OH 44120.  A following Funeral Service will be held in the Central Christian Church of Lexington, Kentucky, https://centralchristianlex.org  for livestreaming (1-859-233-1551), on Thursday, November 10th at 1 PM.  The Funeral Service at Brown-Forward November 9th will be live-streamed via a link to this web page that will begin approximately fifteen minutes prior to the service. 

 

Past Services

Funeral Service - Shaker Hts., OH

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

11:00am - 12:00pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service - Lexington, KY

Thursday, November 10, 2022

1:00 - 2:00pm (Eastern time)

Livestream

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