David Woeller, former general secretary, dies at 80

Published August 30, 2006

Archdeacon David John Woeller, 80, who served for six years as general secretary of General Synod, died July 12.

Mr. Woeller worked for General Synod in various capacities before accepting the church’s second-highest position of general secretary in 1987. From 1971 to 1974 he headed the Latin America area desk for the former World Mission department, and from 1965 to 1970, he was director of personnel and training for the Missionary Society for the Church of England in Canada.

As general secretary, among his notable contributions were the introduction of pay equity and sexual harassment policies and the expansion of the general secretary’s role in the ecumenical community.

“David brought deep personal concern, and a wide pastoral experience, which made of him, not a tired ecclesiastical bureaucrat, but a contemplative and seeker,” Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, director of the national church’s faith, worship and ministry department, said of her colleague in a speech when he was presented with an honorary doctor of divinity by Trinity College in 1993. Ms. Barnett-Cowan noted that while working at the Latin America desk, Mr. Woeller helped develop “the highly praised Partners in Mission consultation process, whereby each province of the Anglican communion learns to receive the gifts of others as it shapes its own directions.”

Mr. Woeller was ordained deacon and priest in 1952 and he served parishes in the dioceses of Edmonton, Toronto, Niagara and Montreal. In 1975, he joined the diocese of Huron as program officer, and later, as executive officer.

He is survived by his wife Elizabeth, four children, 11 grandchildren and one great grandchild.


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