An Ecumenical Voice Resigns from Council

By Bob Reeves
Lincoln Journal Star [Lincoln NE]
Downloaded March 14, 2004

The Rev. Norman Leach resigned Tuesday as executive director of the Lincoln Interfaith Council.

Leach had not been in his office for several days, and as of Tuesday was a patient at BryanLGH Medical Center West. There was no report on his medical condition, and Leach could not be reached to comment.

The Rev. Jay Vetter, president of the Interfaith Council, said Leach's resignation had not been "formalized" by the council's 29-member board.

"We really aren't in a position to make any comments at this time," he said.

He would not say whether the resignation was voluntary or at the board's request. "It's safe to say he's not functioning as executive director now," Vetter said.

Leach came to Lincoln in 1989 to head the Interfaith Council, which had been broadened from the former Lincoln Fellowship of Churches to include non-Christian religions.

Before coming to Lincoln, Leach was executive director of the San Francisco Council of Churches.

Over his years in Lincoln, Leach has been a voice for interfaith cooperation and multiculturalism. Under his leadership, the Interfaith Council helped establish the Asian Community and Cultural Center, Faces of the Middle East, the African Multicultural Community Center and a migrant education program. He also helped start and has been a leader in Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination.

Leach was born on Long Island, but grew up in Berkeley, Mo. He first came to Nebraska in 1963 as district executive of the Cornhusker Council of the Boy Scouts. He received master's and doctorate from San Francisco Theological Seminary.

In 1977 Leach wrote a document titled "That All May Enter," a policy on openness to people with disabilities, which was adopted by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and other denominations as well. As a result, he received the National Council of Churches' Most Significant Achievement in Ecumenism award.

In 1991 Leach adopted a 19-year old Amerasian refugee from Cambodia. Leach later organized Boy Scout Troop 911, made up of youngsters of many ethnic backgrounds, which was featured in last October's issue of Scouting Magazine as "a little United Nations."


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