Former pastor of All Souls, seminary trustee dies at 79

Posted May 11, 2012, at 3:37 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The Rev. Richard E. Ryder Jr., a former pastor of All Souls Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, died Wednesday of cancer at his home at Piper Shores in Scarborough at the age of 79.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 9, at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, 33 South High St. in Bridgton.

Ryder served at All Souls, located on the corner of Broadway and State Street in Bangor, from 1965 to 1977. He served on the board of trustees of the Bangor Theological Seminary from 1993 to 2002.

“During Dick’s ministry at All Souls, the Second Hour programs were begun,” the Rev. James Haddix, the current minister at All Souls, said Thursday in an email. “These were after-church meetings that addressed contemporary issues, missions of the church, Bible studies and so forth. During the Lenten seasons of his ministry there were cottage meetings held throughout the parish for small group discussions on the mission of the church in the community.”

Ryder also was involved in the establishment of what became the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter and the Shaw House, a homeless shelter for teens, according to Haddix. The Head Start program was first brought to All Souls during his pastorate.

Under Ryder’s leadership, the church instituted a “Mobile Ministry” in which volunteers drove people to the grocer, medical and dental appointments, and hospital visits, Haddix said.

After leaving All Souls, Ryder became pastor of the First Congregational Church, UCC, in Chappaqua, N.Y., and served there 10 years. His last full-time pastorate was at Seabreeze United Church in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Ryder later served as an interim minister at the First Congregational Church, UCC, in Camden and the First Congregational Church, UCC, in Springfield, Vt..

“He was a gentle and faithful man,” Robert Sherman, the Richard P. Buck Professor of Christian Theology at Bangor Theological Seminary, said Friday. “In hiring Bill Imes, he brought great leadership to the seminary.”

Ryder was president of the board of trustees when the Rev. William Imes was hired to replace the Rev. Ansley Throckmorton as Bangor Theological Seminary’s president after she retired. Imes oversaw the seminary’s move in 2006 from its historic campus on Union Street in Bangor to Husson University, its current location in Bangor.

Imes retired in June 2008 and moved out of state. Efforts to reach him Thursday were unsuccessful.

Haddix said Wednesday that he had hoped Ryder’s health would allow him to attend All Souls centennial celebration this fall.

“He was able to send me a very brief history of his years here,” Haddix said. “At the end of his note, he included a prayer for the future of All Souls.

“He prayed for us thus: ‘Seeking the way of faithfulness, may the pastors and members of All Souls Church continue to be led by the Holy Spirit and thereby go on into the future from strength to strength in all that really matters through the power of the Risen Christ who dwells among them.’”

Ryder was born on April 25, 1933, the son of Richard E. Ryder and Lois Fralic Ryder in Hartford, Conn., and was raised in West Hartford, Conn. He graduated from Hall High School in 1951, from Amherst College in 1955 and Harvard Divinity School in 1959.

Before coming to Bangor, he had pastorates in Newton, Conn., and Presque Isle. He was president of the Maine Conference of the United Church of Christ, moderator of the Penobscot Piscataquis Association of the Maine UCC Conference, and a corporator of both the United Church Boards of Homeland and World Ministries.

He is survived by his wife, Susan Goff Ryder; four daughters, Carole Ryder of Cumberland; Lois Ryder Judge and her husband Hugh Judge of Cumberland Foreside; Beth Ryder and her husband Michael Tierney of Greenwich, Conn.; and Laura Ryder and her husband Peter Weis of San Francisco, and 11 grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister Lois Reed and her husband Donald of Southwick, Mass.

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