It is with great sadness that the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc., (SDPC) must share with its network that the Rev. Robina Winbush, director of ecumenical relations for the Presbyterian Church (USA) has died.
Rev. Winbush collapsed Tuesday, March 12, 2019, as she deplaned in New York, returning from a 10-day trip to the Middle East.
“Rev. Winbush has ‘walked with me from the beginning’ of the founding of the SDPC,” said General Secretary Rev. Dr. Iva Carruthers, “I will forever cherish time Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon, she and I shared in Trinidad.”
Dr. Carruthers’ relationship with Rev. Winbush began before the birth of the SDPC, as Rev. Winbush, the late Rev. Dr. Lillian Anthony and she forged a deep friendship. Dr. Anthony was also a member of the Presbyterian church. She was the first African American woman to complete her education at a Presbyterian seminary. After graduation, the PCUSA would not ordain her but sent her to be a missionary in Egypt. Dr. Anthony went on to make her mark, not only in the PCUSA, but also in the world. Rev. Winbush was mentored by her.
Rev. Winbush, a strong advocate for justice, was a natural “fit” for the work of the SDPC. Friends and colleagues describe her as “uncompromising in her articulation and relentless in her pursuit of what she believed was right and just.” She was a passionate, prophetic and fiery preacher, who had the unique gift of making the scriptures make sense and be a beacon for those fighting for social justice.
Rev. Winbush was a native of Columbus, Ohio and a graduate of Kent State University, Harvard University, and Union Theological Seminary in New York. She moved to Louisville, Kentucky, to serve in an ecumenical role in global missions when the PCUSA opened its offices there. She then moved to New York and served pastorates there through 2000. In 2001, Rev. Winbush moved back to Louisville, Kentucky to serve as the director of ecumenical relations and an associated stated clerk for the PCUSA. She faithfully served in these positions until her death. It was in Louisville that she and Dr. Anthony connected and remained friends until Dr. Anthony’s passing in 2014.
“We treasure all of our supporters,” said Dr. Carruthers, “but I am especially indebted to those, like Robina, who were with us from the very beginning when nobody really knew what Proctor would be. Not only was she there with me from the beginning; she never left us. She is a dear, dear friend and I will miss her sorely.”
Arrangements for Rev. Winbush are pending and will be announced when they are final.