Church members mourn passing of Episcopalian priest who served 21 years at St. Margaret’s in Belfast

Posted May 16, 2012, at 9:37 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — A longtime Belfast Episcopalian priest who died Monday was remembered by his parishioners with sadness and stories about his kindness, his eloquent sermons and his efforts on behalf of social justice.

The Rev. Truman Fudge, 78, served as rector of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church from 1974 until his retirement in 1995. He died May 14 at Waldo County General Hospital of pancreatic cancer.

Fudge’s tenure at the Belfast church was unusually lengthy, according to Heidi Shott, the spokesperson for the Episcopal Diocese of Maine.

“I know he was beloved there,” she said Wednesday.

The Rev. Martha Kirkpatrick, current rector of the church, wrote that Fudge touched many lives in deep and profound ways during his years in Belfast.

“Truman has been a loving and buoyant presence in this community since he came to St. Margaret’s in 1974,” she said in an email sent to church members. “One parishioner described him as ‘such a dear man, trusted friend, gifted preacher, fierce fighter against injustice.’ His loss is deeply felt by all who knew him.”

One of those affected is Betty Becker-Theye, who said Wednesday that she was very saddened about her friend and former rector’s passing. She and her husband, Larry Theye, were looking into moving to Belfast and had an appointment to check out a house at 9 a.m. one Sunday morning. At 8 a.m., the couple went to St. Margaret’s for church and heard Fudge speak.

“His sermon was so moving, that became one of the factors of us moving to Belfast,” she said. “He was just a really profound person, and also fun and loving.”

She said that he was a progressive person who had a very open attitude about other races and religions. He also supported women entering the church’s priesthood.

Sue Murphy, a woman he taught in the early 1990s in a class for new church members, eventually became a priest. She and Kirkpatrick both will officiate at a service for Truman, held at St. Margaret’s at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 2.

Fudge was survived by his wife, Suzanne, two daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“He will be really missed,” Becker-Theye said. “We will really miss his presence and his friendship.”

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