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Baptist Peace Fellowship Director Resigns

Gary Percesepe is leaving after two years as coordinating director of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America to become dean of the McMaster School for Advancing Humanity at Defiance College.

BPFNA President Leslie Withers announced Percesepe’s resignation, effective Aug. 1, in a letter to members of the organization dated June 30. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
The <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />DefianceCollegeWeb site says Percesepe was to assume responsibilities June 1. Established in 2002 with a $6 million gift from two alumni, the McMasterSchool for Advancing Humanity is a model program for study of global issues and how they affect the human condition and encouraging students to pursue careers that will ultimately reduce human suffering.
 
“Scholarship, teaching, fundraising as well as community action are evident in Gary’s many accomplishments, which suits him well for the McMaster dean position,” said Gerald Wood, president of DefianceCollege. A small-town liberal arts college with about 1,000 students, located in northwest Ohio, Defiance is affiliated with the United Church of Christ.
 
Percesepe was attending a weeklong Baptist Peace Fellowship peace camp in Atlanta and did not respond to a Tuesday e-mail in time for his comment to appear in this story.
 
Percesepe, an ordained American Baptist minister originally from New York with a Ph.D. degree from St. LouisUniversity, was founding director of the university honors program at Cedarville University, a Baptist-affiliated Christian school in Cedarville, Ohio. He was forced to leave after editing a book on ethics that included selections from feminist, gay and lesbian writers.
 
A longtime peace activist, he has founded and directed several non-profit organizations dedicated to poverty, justice and peace issues. Before taking over as coordinating director at the Baptist Peace Fellowship summer camp in 2004, Percesepe was associate pastor at FirstBaptistChurch in Springfield, Ohio.
 
He and his wife, Suzanne, remained in Ohio after he joined the BPFNA staff, as part of an effort by the organization to decentralize the staff and leadership of the organization after the founding executive director, Ken Sehested, resigned in 2003.
 
The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America was founded in 1984 by members of the American Baptist Peace Fellowship and staff and readers of the Baptist Peacemaker, a magazine published by Southern Baptists in Louisville, Ky., between 1980 and 1990.
 
In addition to continuing to publish Baptist Peacemaker and sponsoring its annual summer peace camp, the BPFNA produces materials on a variety of peacemaking topics, sponsors friendship and solidarity journeys to acquaint people with issues of various regions, like Israel/Palestine, and holds conferences, including a Baptist Peace Institute to assist clergy and laity in local peacemaking efforts.
 
Withers said Evelyn Hanneman, operations director at Charlotte, N.C.,-based BPFNA, has been named interim coordinating director. “We wish Gary the best in his new position,” Withers wrote.
 
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.