Note: The following text and photo was forwarded to us by Ms. Carmencita Karagdag, Coordinator of Peace for Life a global faith-based movement resisting militarized globalization and creating life-enhancing alternatives.
Peace for Life joins the United Church of Canada and the larger ecumenical community in deeply mourning the demise on June 14, 2011 of an exceptional church and ecumenical leader, Rhea Whitehead. During her
lifetime and committed mission partnership with Asia spanning four decades, Rhea devoted her talent, energies and passion to the Christian ministry of liberating the oppressed, championing the weak, and empowering the defenseless.
During her tenure as UCC's Asia Secretary and earlier as Regional Mission Coordinator for Asia-Pacific of the Anglican Church of Canada, Rhea did pioneering work and made exemplary contributions to the cause
of human rights during the critical decades of the seventies and eighties when Asia, specially the Philippines and South Korea, was reeling under repressive regimes and brutal military dictatorships. The Philippine solidarity movement is specially indebted to Rhea for her major role in helping convene a high-profile ecumenical conference in the US in 1983 to consolidate international support for the Philippine human-rights movement and mobilize opposition to unabashed US support for the murderous Marcos dictatorship.
Rhea is also remembered for introducing ground-breaking initiatives in mission work on women's rights and empowerment. She continued her peerless engagement in international solidarity and ecumenical partnership well into the 1990s when she served as General Secretary of UCC's General Division of World Outreach.
Rhea was among the more than 130 international delegates who gathered in Manila in September 2002 for the historic International Ecumenical Conference on Terrorism in a Globalized World during which the need for a new faith-based movement resisting state terrorism and militarized globalization, Peace for Life, was first articulated. Even after retirement she continued her active involvement in PfL, representing the UCC in the first of a series of planning meetings for the "World without Empire" conference held last year in New York.
We in Peace for Life salute Rhea, our beloved internationalist, ecumenist, activist and feminist.
In these times of sorrow and grave loss, we specially remember in our prayers her life partner and comrade Ray, her children, grandchildren and other loved ones.
On behalf of Peace for Life
21 June 2011
Coordinator, Peace for Life
Bishop La Verne Mercado Ecumenical Center
NCCP Compound, 879 EDSA
West Triangle, Quezon City
Telefax: +63 2 927 8043