From The Reverend Elder Dr Troy D. Perry - Founder of Metropolitan Community Churches
Jean White truly lived out her beliefs. She believed in servant leadership and she delivered in spades. Jean was the first face of Europe in the Metropolitan Community Churches and constantly brought to the Board of Elders her view of what it would take for us to grow outside of United States’ cultures.
She was the consummate ambassador to all of us who had the opportunity to stay with her and Mary. Phillip’s and my love goes out to her partner of many years, Mary Smail, who has been her constant caregiver since Jean was diagnosed with cancer.
She will be missed by so many of us in MCC.
Links to specific documents:
"Blessed are we who mourn" - Sermon by Reverend Elder Nancy Wilson at Jean's church, MCC South London, on the Sunday following her death.
"Nothing shall separate us" - Homily by Reverend Elder Nancy Wilson at Jean's funeral on 19th November 2010.
Text of Jean's obituary in The Times (6th December 2010, page 52).
Other personal recollections:
From Nancy Wilson
I have memories of Jean’s sense of humor. Of Jean and Jeri Ann and I debriefing after a long day of Elders meetings. Jean staying in our home year after year whenever she came to Los Angeles. So many adventures together. Lots of laughter. Going to the commons with her and her beloved dog, meeting all the people there who were her other “congregation.” People were just drawn to her. She took them in, loved them. For decades, besides her MCC church, and Mcc’s around the world to take care of, there were these elderly people she looked after. And all the strays. And the “bed and breakfast” that was her home for so many of us. I had the funniest experience with her in a Chinese restaurant outside of Washington, DC, made so much funnier by how it tickled Jean. And Mary, she adored you! We love you, and are praying with and for you.
From Elaine Ambrose
Jean has been my pastor, mentor, sister and friend for many years. I will remember her always with the deepest love and affection. Treasured memories of her include her many thought-provoking and encouraging sermons; gently and lovingly taking my father’s funeral; ceaseless encouragement for my academic studies; and the countless times she has reduced me to tears of laughter with stories of her experiences over the years. My heartfelt prayers and thoughts reach out to my friend and sister, Mary.
On many levels irreplaceable, Jean’s compassion for all, her ceaseless energy for pursuing equality and justice, her commitment to inclusivity, her commitment to a rich and steadfast partnership with Mary, and her faithfulness as a servant of Jesus Christ, are and always shall be a precious example of a Christian life where abundant living and holiness balance perfectly. I know, even in the depths of grief, a profound sense joy for trusting and believing Jean is now serving the Lord she loves face-to-face, reunited with the saints gone before and preparing for those of us who will follow when our time comes.
Bye Mamma Jean – I love you tonnes . . . see you in glory. Try not to argue with St Paul too much!
From Dean White
This sounds like a lady I would have loved to have known. Through her good works, I will probably know many who follow in her footsteps. Luck me! Lucky all of us to work towards Truth and Justice for all mankind.
From Rev David Gillentine
I recall Rev. White’s sermon at General Conference back in the 70′s. She shared her courageous story of missionary work, persecution and imprisonment in China, her survival, and then ejection from her denomination when she came out. Those tragedies sent her to MCC and God, Jean and MCC turned them into sparkling gemstones. What a jewel she was to us. We looked up to her, respected her, adored her, and yet we could talk to her like a sister. She inspired me; she blessed me, she loved me.
From Jean Gralley
Jean White has been a long-time light in this fellowship. She led an amazing life. I’m grateful for the love, energy, and dedication she poured into helping MCC grow into the international body it is today. Rest in peace, Jean.
From Rev Mick Hinson
I don’t have a specific story to share but I will always think very fondly of Rev. Elder Jean White as she was one of the first faces I came to know in MCC when I entered the denomination in 1985. She was a source of strength and courage for me as I watched and witnessed her ministry to the world. She will be missed and never forgotten.
I wouldn’t be where I am in my life today if it weren’t for Jean and MCC South London. Back in the early 1990s I’d left a fundamentalist church in order to come out, and, when I saw an MCC stall at Pride, I went over to tell them exactly why they were wrong, and you couldn’t be lesbian and Christian. Jean talked to me then, encouraged me to come to their church, and spent much time with me over the coming months answering my questions, but, more than anything else, witnessing by the light and the love and the presence of the Spirit in her life. Her own story – and the role she played in MCC’s history – only gradually trickled out as I got to know her more. She and Mary were so kind and grace-filled – and it was lovely to see them at Conference in Arizona and reconnect briefly then. I hope that the love and joy they shared, as well as our prayers, will sustain Mary through the coming weeks and months.
From Julie Two Suess
I remember Jean White as formidable, kind and determined. When I first came to MCC in the early ’80s she was head of World Church Extension, and her stories of Nigeria particularly made me understand the truly inclusive nature of MCC. All I had heard all my life was missionary and here was someone who talked and lived extension- it was a wower. I did not know her personally , but I did know that she was truly faithful. To those that did know and love her well, I send every prayer. She will be missed.
From Mark Hahn
I knew Rev Elder Jean White from the late 70′s. She was always a passionate, caring person – loving me where I was, and urging me to believe in myself and consider becoming more. When I had a 3-month assignment to London, I got to spend more time with her – and see how wonderful she is. Later, we only got to see each other at General Conferences – meeting Mary was a joy in Calgary. She was a powerful, positive influence in my life – she will be missed and I look forward to seeing her again, in Glory.
From Gerry Sabina
I remember many things about Rev Jean, but the most memorable was being able to interpret her messages for the deaf attendees at General Conference. I’ll miss being able to hear that wonderful English accent and her fabulous truth filled messages. May she rest in the hands of the Savior for whom she lived. Amen.
From Mark Martin
God Bless her. Jean was truly an inspiration to all of us. My condolences to her partner Mary, as well as to everyone in the Metropolitan Community Churches worldwide.
From Rev LisaDawn McCabe
Jean was special in so many ways, not the least of which was her joy in life. I will never forget her encouraging Kerri, my first hearing dog, to bark “Amen” at my ordination – nor will many others! My love and prayers go out to you Mary, now and always.
From Earl Waters
I first met Rev. Elder Jean at her church in South London. She helped make my first trip to the UK memorable. I was blessed to interact with her at General Conferences here and abroad. I shall always remember her candor and compassion. My prayers go out to her partner Mary in this time of loss. I know, however, that God celebrates the arrival of a new Saint in the Chorus on High.
From Rev Michael Piazza
Jean was a dear soul. We shared great times when she visited us at the Cathedral of Hope and she was a great host every time I visited her in England. She always teased me because I kept trying to get into the drivers side of her car. She was right though - I could never negotiate those roundabouts. I’m so grateful for her friendship and love. God blessed us all with Jean.
From Scottie Shelton
She will be so greatly missed. A pioneer, a founding mother, an unseen friend to so many. Thank you, Jean, for everything you gave to us. I’ll see you again inside the Eastern Wall!
From Rev Roberta Dunn
Jean touched the hearts and lives of everyone she she met. She truly brought Christ presence to the world. Thoughts and prayers to Mary and all who knew Jean. Jean, you will always be remembered! Gods Blessings, Rev. Dunn and the Metropolitan Community Church of Pittsburgh.
From Rev Ron Pannell
I remember Jean White from way back when. She was the one that truly made those of us in MCC think that we’re now an international body. Her ministry was and still is a blessing to everyone of us in the church.
From Rev Dr Leigh Neighbour
We remember Rev Elder Jean White from way back at MCC Auckland, Jean visited New Zealand and we had the honour of Jean conducting our Holy Union while she was in Auckland that was 30 years ago. Today Denny and I now live in Brisbane, and on our TV cabinet is a photo of our Holy Union with Jean, my Auntie and our ring bearer. Jean will always be in our hearts. Our love and prayers got out to Mary and all the people of MCC.
From Heather M. Janes
As a student pastor still learning and moving forward I would like to add my prayers and thanks for the life of Jean White. Each person that has gone before me makes my path easier in secular and spiritual life. Blessings upon Jean who now shares the table personally.
From Rev Susan Deitrick
Jean White, dearest friend, loving human being, caring minister and profound carrier of the Good News in so many ways to UFMCC and the world. I love Jean. She was there for me, for us, in so many ways and so many times: when I went up for ordination when she and Jane were ordained and we had our midnight baptism in the Atlantic, despite sharks swimming around to celebrate with us; standing up for me at our wedding; before that, having the honor of doing her and Mary’s Holy Union in London; times and times and times, of love and friendship and laughter. When I went through my mastectomy for breast cancer, shy as I always was, Jean was there, holding me up through what would have been the most embarrassing moments; just being there–the ultimate caregiver. Shopping through the Minneapolis mall of the world, I think it was called, when I was too nervous just to sit and worry about coming tests. General Conference with her and Mary–being crazy, audacious, loving, wonderful. Dear Jean, how I will miss you! Dear Mary, I will keep you in prayer and in our unedited conversations via email or Skype! Jean’s soul-mate and our dear friend, we love you! Jean will be hanging out joining in occasionally, I just know it!
A Poem of sorts For Rev. Jean White, Woman, Elder, Leader, Prophet, Pastor, Friend, Spouse, Incredible Gift to a Poverty-stricken World, One Who Died Too Soon, And Will Be Missed So Very Much
Woman who walked among us,
Woman who led us through difficult paths,
Woman who lived when too many lost sight,
Woman, you carried a world in your light.
How do we pick up from where you have left us?
Was it over three decades
Since you appeared and caught us by surprise?
Who ever heard of a woman named Jean White?
Mesmerized from the moment you stepped forward,
We are still held in the trance of your presence.
It only took hearing you,
To be captivated by your warmth;
Carried by your cagey, mischievous glance;
Overwhelmed by wisdom the world could not give.
Your great arms seemed to gather all to your breast.
A simple conversation
And souls were hooked like threads into the brocade.
My soul bright hues connecting with yours
That I hadn’t known could evolve from friendship.
Promethian fire found color through your touch.
Perhaps that describes you best:
Many-colored fire lighting a dark world.
Your personality opened itself,
Whatever the situation or person;
You unlocked the door and compassion walked in.
Many have been courageous,
But who could match the courage you had lived?
Humility prevented your telling
But your soul wore the scars and the victories.
Perhaps that’s why so many have followed you.
You adored your Queen, and yet,
To many you were more than a queen.
Large, strong, gentle, witty, wise, –you led us
Through fields of comfort and mediocrity
To new, universal opportunity.
It is unfathomable
That glimpsing the “promised land” just ahead
You left, leaving us to enter alone,
With only colors of your light leading us;
Your light in God’s, drawing us in the same love…
Woman who walked among us,
Woman who led us through difficult paths,
Woman who lived when too many lost sight,
Woman, you carried a world in your light.
How do we pick up from where you have left us?
From Barbara Brittain
...a sermon at a 1980′s conference, Rev White preached ” You want to play piano like Van Cliburn? You play scales every day… thousands of notes….. you want to serve God- you practise everyday…. like scales”. If only we accept our role, as Jean so eloquently stated it. She practised, she preached, and she taught many; and I am truly grateful for her lessons. Not just MCC, but, the World and all of its inhabitants shall miss this faithful leader, generous spirit, and wonderful soul. Blessed regards, Mary, may God watch over your grief, your friends watch over your needs, and your soul-mate grace your joy.
From Cynthia Marquard
My partner Darlene and I were privileged to be entertained in her home in the early 80s. Jean and Darlene shared the fact that they had both been members of the “Plymouth Brethren” denomination. We sat spell bound in her living room as she told us stories of her imprisonment in China and her punishment by the young guards. (they flicked firey towels at her legs for their amusement) She let us know right away however that after celebrating communion for the other prisoners there was no turning back when she returned to England and the elders of her denomination tried to put her back in a “women’s role”. She said that she came out and never looked back when she found MCC. GOD BLESS such a strong and devoted woman.
From Lou Kavar
It is with deep sadness that I learned of Jean’s illness followed by her passing today. I was honored to work closely with Jean for four years in the early 1990s. Her grace, depth of spirit, and good humor characterized her leadership. I will remember Jean as a formative presence in my life. As she walked closely with God throughout life, I trust that she is held with great care in the arms of the Eternal One. My sympathies to Mary and to the MCC’s in London who knew her so well.
From Gary R. Chapman
I did so enjoy the worship times I had with Rev Jean and her congregation when I was travelling between Toronto and London, and do so count it a privilege and a blessing when she invited me into her home for lunch. Jean was the woman who I wished my sister had been! And as Jean joins Jeri Ann Harvey, two very special women in the fellowship and my life, are raising a strong and loud rejoicing in heaven!.
From Ray Barreras
What I remember most about Jean was that she was such a tireless worker for spreading MCC outside the United states. I was most interested in the Dominican Republic and I got nothing but support from her for the outreach there. She will be missed by those who have a missionary spirit.
From Rev Peter Trabaris
I am remembering all of our hellos. Those magical moments when the spark of friendship was rekindled. I will always remember her smile, the unique way that only she ever pronounced my name, the hug that followed. Somehow, meeting Jean was always like coming home. I will cherish the conversations that we had. I will continue to learn from our talks about ministry and being pastors and what that meant to us. And I will remember the many times that we laughed together. And now I will do what any friend would do. I will cry a while. And after that, I will do my best to take what I have learned from her, and do what I can to keep it alive. Her life and ministry will of course never be forgotten by those of us who knew and loved her; but her life and ministry must never be forgotten. Jean was an historic figure for our Church, and for its movement. May her ministry from heaven continue to guide us.
From Chris Williams
I am so sad to hear of Jean's passing, but I was so pleased to be able to spend a few hours with Jean in August while in the U.K. to visit family and friends. I will miss her e-mails and not seeing again. But she is now free of pain and illness and resting in the arms of her saviour. My thoughts and prayers go to Mary at this difficult and very hard time. May you rest in peace Jean.
From Joan Saniuk
I am sad to hear this news and hold Mary in my prayers. There will never be anyone else like Jean White. I will remember her kindness and her courage. I also remember her ability to tell a story on Troy when the occasion called for it!. May Jean enjoy a well-deserved eternal peace. We have been blessed to have her with us.
From Elizabeth Stuart
Jean was a legend. Her courage, her humour, her passion for the Gospel, her extraordinary care for people made her a wonderful disciple of Christ. I feel privileged to have known her.
From Hong Tan
Jean was, is my pastor. She welcomed me and so many thousands into the loving embrace of God - at times when I could not love myself, she loved, cared and longed for the best in so many of us - and always with joyous courage and encouragement. She was the first to see that God calls so many of us to be true to ourselves, in faith, love, into ministry. Even in pain, she continued to support and love. She truly is God’s gift to us. My love and prayers are with Mary, her family, MCC South London as we grieve and celebrate one of our dearest saints.
From Rev Robert Clark
I spent a year with my company in London 1980/81and attended Jean’s church. She was the inspiration for me to study and accept my call to ministry. Blessings upon Mary during this trying time. May Jean Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory.
From Zoe Pool
Jean was taken from us all too too soon – her vibrant presence and energetic fierce passion for life will indeed be deeply deeply missed. Jean – Wise Woman Warrior – was – and will continue to be a giant inspiration of how to embrace life and death with all its light and darkness, welcoming joy, accepting and transcending gritty pain. I thank you Jean for YOU, and God bless you. xxx
From Paul Whiting
Jean was my first contact with MCC, in 1979. While still a pastor in the Pentecostal Assemblies she opened her heart and her home to me. In 1987, she invited me to be her assistant Pastor at MCC London, and I was honoured to work with her and share a journey at a challenging time in her life and ministry. The trust she placed in me paved the way for a career I would find in MCC in Europe and North America. She was a risk taker. She loved people and had a heart so big, it is hard to describe. She endured much that others might be blessed and loved. My love goes to Mary and the saints at MCC South London. We are all the better for knowing Jean, and the worse for losing her.
From Rev Dwayne Morgan
Jean was a pastor’s pastor. When I went through a very difficult time and had no one else to care for me, Jean did. She called me two to three times a week to check up on me and offer support. She listened, she prayed, she allowed me to voice my frustration, she never judged. I will always be indebted and grateful. I am here because Jean was there. Jean, we missed you in Manchester this past weekend. You weren’t there physically but even so you were there in such a great way. We look forward to the day we get to see you again. Jesus, be extra good to her. She was so very good to all of us.
From Tom Coddington
Even though I never meet Rev. Elder Jean White it always makes me feel sad to hear that all of our MCC all over the world have lost another shining light in this world but I also am sure her Spirit is looking down on MCC’s all over the world . I will make sure that our Eternal Joy MCC , in Dayton OHIO will be let known of this great loss. May her spirit be blessed with the hand of God and that God also bless and be with her family and friends at this time of loss. Every one is in my thoughts and Prayers, GOD BLESS EVERYONE !!
From Steve Peters
Jean was an icon of the MCC. I admired her from afar for her strength, her wisdom, and her spirit of not only surviving but thriving under sometimes harsh and painful conditions. Then I was privileged to spend time with her and Mary in their lovely home, and I saw Jean up close and personal. It not only cemented my observations from afar, but gave me a new understanding and appreciation of her generosity of spirit, and her fortitude.
I am flooded with memories of Jean, from showing me the great city of London, to kidding me for always trying to get into the drivers side of her car. But for some reason, I particularly recall one evening in her kitchen. As I poured out my heart to her, she lovingly received my sharing, while at the same time, quickly dressed and prepared a whole chicken for our dinner. The way she worked on the chicken, so efficiently and effectively, while she listened to me with such compassion, just spoke volumes about her practical, no-nonsense, straightforward yet ultimately caring approach to life and ministry.
I will cherish my memories of her, and join with the thousands who grieve her passing. My heartfelt condolences, Mary. She obviously loved you so much.
From Rev Michael Hydes
I will miss Jean’s strength. Jean’s ‘no nonsense’ approach to ministry and church was always a blessing to me. Together we taught at Samaritan College in the early 90′s. Although I was always more the ‘student’ to jean’s teaching than a teacher myself, Jean never let me feel other than equal – a skill I greatly appreciated and admired. I will miss seeing her at conference and UFMCC events. The world is diminished by the loss of the light that shone through her.
From Ana Tarver
I have read so many wonderful things of Jean White and I would have love to meet her and her partner Mary. She was a pioneer in MCC . She has made MCC a better place for all for us GLBT or Straight. I have been attending MCC since Jan 20th 2008 I was brought up southern baptist and I came out as a butch lesbian. Thanks to Rev Troy Perry for starting this ministry so we all can have a place to worship God freely and because of our family church rejected us all. I will keep MCC South London and Mary in my thoughts and prayers. I am a member Resurrection MCC in Houston Tx I am proud to be a MCC’er.
REST IN PEACE REV ELDER JEAN WHITE
From Rev Cass Weisman
It has been many years since seeing Jean but I will always remember her fondly. She blessed me in many ways. Our prayers are with you, Mary.
From the MCC group in Kiev, Ukraine
Please accept our condolences for the loss of the Reverend Elder Jean White. We did not know her personally, but we felt very sad at this news as though she had been someone close to us. In our meeting place today we lowered the rainbow flag as a sign of our sorrow of this loss. We pray for the soul of Elder and believe that she prayerfully will continue to serve us in front of God.
Boris, Ivan, Vladimir, Vladimir, Anatoly, Michael, Dennis, Vladimir, Dmitry.
From Rev Adelle L. Barr
I did know Rev. White well but I remember going to an MCC Conference in the early 80′s and meeting her. Her love, commitment and dedication to The Lord and all God’s people was truly a witness and example for all of us! She was a true servant and light to all who met her. I know when she entered Glory she heard the Savior say, “Well done My good and faithful servant!”
To her partner Mary I send my love and prayers. To her church I offer my love and prayers as well. When my Pastor, Rev. Emmet Watkins went Home, someone told me, “the greatest way to honor his memory is to never forget what he taught. Continue to live it and share it until the day you join him in Glory.” You, also, had a wonderful Pastor! Continue to live and share all that you have been taught. God Bless you!
From Rev Lee Carlton
We will so miss the compassionate love, wisdom, depth of spirituality and sacrificial commitment of this MCC Elder and sainted sister in Christ. She served her posts and charge with integrity, dignity and brought valued insight into a greater vision of the world mission of UFMCC. She held fast to her beliefs and faith in the person of Jesus Christ and in His Spirit; made room for all in her heart. She was a true evangelical Christian and an inspiration to all who encountered her love, humor and wisdom. The seeds which she planted will continue to produce an abundant harvest for years to come. Revelations 14:13
From Rev Chuck Larsen
Our fellowship was blessed by Rev.Jean White’s witness to the love and faithfulness of Jesus. Her example of serving in the Far East early in her ministry and then to her leadership in MCC, Jean responded to the call to ministry, ” HERE I AM LORD, SEND ME.” Jean’s kindness to me personally was appreciated. May she rest in peace ands may perpetual lights shine upon her.
From Allan and Clive Brooks-Beattie
The world that we live in is a much sadder place with the loss of Rev. Jean White but heaven will be made brighter by her presence. Our heartfelt condolences to Mary, Jean’s family and to all at MCC South London. We will hold you all in our thoughts and prayers. Clive and I feel very much blessed to have known such a remarkable person. Her courage, wisdom and faith are legend.
From Rev Rodolfo Albarran
La Iglesia de la Reconciliación de la Ciuedad de México se une al recuerdo de la Rev. Elder Jean White, quien visitó México y trabajó muy de cerca con el Rev. Elder Jorge Gabriel Sosa Morato. Compartieron la fe en la Iglesia inclusiva, que promueve que Dios nos ama como somos, la equidad y el desarrollo de las personas. La Rev. Elder Jean White está en la presencia de Dios desde el momento que ha cerrado los ojos para nosotros y nos alegra con sus oraciones en su plenitud con el Dios de Amor.
May she rest in Peace & become our Angel!
From Wendy Foxworth
At a challenging time as the Chair of the Elders Task Force on Systems and Structures back in the early 90′s – a barely licensed and a wet-behind-the ears minister in MCC – I will never forget Jean taking me aside, giving me a big hug, then taking me by the shoulders with her very strong arms, looking me in the eye and telling me directly, “You wouldn’t be in this position if God hadn’t called you to it. Just lead on and tell the truth – even to usn’s that think we have all the answers. You can do this! I believe in you!” Even today, the memory of that one up close and personal encounter and Jean’s words are etched on my soul and have carried me forward through many situations when I was tempted to give up. Jean’s hearty laugh and positive outlook no matter the circumstances will never be forgotten. I know Jean’s ministry of “love for all” will carry on in and through the lives of all the people she has ministered to, certainly it will through me. Mary, may God provide you with the strength and comfort during this time of loss. Peace be with you and all the members of Jean’s congregation and MCC as a whole.
I got to know Jean from the start of my own journey with MCC 12 years ago. She was an exceptional person of immense love, a brilliant preacher, and an all round administrator. She will be sorely missed and my only wish is that she is without pain in the only place which is reserved for us all - heaven. And to Mary at this sad time may God grant to you the peace you deserve here on earth, and, in the future, fond fond memories.
From Kittredge Cherry
Rev. Elder Jean White made a big impression on me when I worked at the Fellowship offices in the early 1990s. She was the first MCC elder from outside the USA and she advocated for people around the globe through MCC’s World Church Extension program. She was a role model for lesbians in ministry.
On a personal note, I’ll never forget the trip we took together to the Grand Canyon in the early 1990s. Nothing could stop Jean — on the road or in the church. She was determined to speak out God’s love for all people. Then there was the time she impersonated Petula Clark at a fun General Conference songfest. Thanks and Godspeed to you, Jean!
From Jacqui Kelly
Jean was many things to different people and her passing will leave a huge void in all of our lives. I met Jean on Tooting Bec common where she spent a couple of hours each afternoon, counting her blessings and lending an ear to anyone that needed it. It has been an honour to have her as a friend and i know that i am a better person for having known her. She was loved by everyone who knew her, young or old and my family will miss her so much. I have seen Jean frequently during her illness and she has been amazing and I felt very humble. On one day in particular we were arguing over who was going to pay for coffee and she forcefully told me not to argue with a dying woman!!!!!!! It goes without saying that she has left an enormous void in Marys life and my heart goes out to her. God give her the strength to cope at this difficult time—–somehow I think Jean will be making sure he does!!!!!
From Roy Birchard
Although I have many memories of Jean White, the one that is strongest in my memory is the day she flew from London to San Francisco to attend Michael Mank’s funeral — which for me counts as perhaps the most unpleasant funeral I ever attended in my life.
In the last couple of years of Michael’s life when he had cut off connection with MCC people, Jean and he remained close, and he flew over and stayed with her and her partner several times. Jean’s love and support for Michael and her compassionate understanding of his experiences was wonderful. I can still remember the remarkable moral power emanating from her in the car that day which was a testimony to her exemplary Christian character and her wise and true friendship to someone who really needed it.
From Holly Blonde
I had to write something here because this news though I knew it would be coming is still heartfelt. With all of you I join in prayers of comfort for Mary her partner, her family members and all those of you privileged enough to be close with her in friendship.
Elder Jean was the person that first really brought home for me in her work and wise words and sharing about what was happening all over the world, just how we were to be global and just how much of a challenge we needed to rise up to if we were to truly honor a global ministry. She inspired me greatly and was truly an amazing voice of direction for our denomination.
I was privileged to have a connection with Elder White at General Conferences. It started with my first Conference which was in Sacremento CA. I was single and went alone and was about to eat alone when a then not yet Elder.. (Bill who later was Willamena) invited me to join their table. I met all of the Australian delegation and then the woman who had moved me to tears that morning in a forum came and joined us. That was Elder Jean. She just introduced herself and I felt like I was having dinner with my home pastor, (Grant Ford at that time) and people from my church. Every Gen Conf. from then on that I attended I would meet Jean in a hall and we’d at least have coffee if not more at some point during the week, as her schedule allowed. But there was a connection made every time I saw her and with all the people she knew she remembered you, which always amazed me.
My heart goes out again to her partner, congregation and family both of origin and choice… as together we all stand in both mourning our loss and relief at her release from the pains of this life.
From Dusty Pruitt
Rev. Elder White will be truly missed. Many, many memories of charismatic conferences, General conferences, Minister’s conferences, and two visits to London and lunch with Jean and Mary. Our trust is that she is in a better place and no longer in pain. She was a great blessing to the LGBTQ community and a great inspiration to me and to many.
From Rev George McDermott
The Rev. Elder Jean White became a part of my life and ministry in 1979 in LA. As I got to know Rev. Jean, I found her compassion and concern for me and for all a message of true embodiment of all that she was and exemplified in her love of Christ. In 1983, I had a wonderful privilege of going to England and spending time with her and members of her congregation. No matter where I was or what I was doing, her compassion and love were present. As I think of the years that I have known Rev. Jean, I cannot help thinking of how God was expressed in her life as she experienced London during the blitzkrieg, her missionary journeys where she found herself physically, emotionally, abused, and beaten by the Red Guard and, at all times, her love of God experienced and shared with others in spite of her own difficulties.
Truly, she exemplified and lived her faith in Christ to the utmost. Rev. Jean will be missed by myself and others who have known her over these many years. To you, Mary, may you find peace in your life at this time with the knowledge of how much Rev. Jean loved you, her Christ, and the people she worked with year by year. God bless you and know that you, Mary, are loved by us all.
From Monte and Bryan
Our thoughts and prayers are with her church and her partner and all those who knew and loved her. May her blessed light shine on and the life she lived be an example for the world to see.
From John Philip Rogers
Not longer after joining MCC North London i went to the European Conference in Paris, I sat up late listening to Jean and others tell stories about the church in its early days in Europe and I got to like Jean. When I was part of the Board of MCC North London and a member of the Pastoral Search Committee some years later, we had a problem with the search process. Jean was marvellous in mediating, using her strength, her faith, her sense of fair play and her gentle authoritative nature to ease tensions and help solve the problem. There was no judgement, just friendship and good sound advice. From that point I knew I loved and respected her. She will be missed so much, my heart goes to Mary. With love.
From James Nevein
Jean White was an amazing woman – full of the love and compassion of Christ and a passion for justice. She will be greatly missed by many – not just in the UK but across the globe. Well done good & faithful servant.
From Rev Dr Rosario Vargas
Truly a servant of the Most High. Bless you my sister.
From Rev Lin Stoner
Elder Jean touched my heart when she remembered that my partner had a collection of spoons and Jean sent Shirley two very special spoons. My first General conference was blessed by the wisdom and love of Jean, during the inclusive language struggle. My thoughts and prayer go out to Mary in her loss. I know Jean is walking the streets of gold praising Jesus, her battle over, and she and Jeri Ann are dancing to a heavenly tune.
From Rev Delores Berry
I will not stop missing Jean! She opened her arms to the world, and she let me come in as she did all people. Jean was so strong in her faith, she lived her talk each day. I saw her wonder why the world was not open to all people. I saw her… Jesus have mercy!!!!
She was one of my most loving mentors. Jean was the person who brought Judy and I to England, 2 times! She showed MCC a bigger world. Jean put her life on hold to make a global statement, all people are loved by God!!! One of her missions was to bring hope and healing to this world.
She pushed on even when in pain. I see her dancing into her new life! I see her jumping in the Healing Waters of Heaven!!! I see her holding , hugging all the people she has missed! I see her holding our first Lay Elder Michael Mank! All the people she touched are in that Water with her!! I know more of us will join her one great day! When we will have Church on rainbows of freedom! We will not have to say goodbye anymore! We will wait our turn, knowing we have a great gathering to welcome us home too!!!
Mary hold on! If you can’t hold on God will hold on to you!!! Judy and I are praying for you. You are the love of her life! She will always walk with you!!! MCC of South London you blessed Jean so much! She always talked about you. You missioned her to her Glory! Jean will always smile on you. MCC knows you were her heart’s joy.!!!
MCC’ers and others, she is but a moment away!!! For all who love Jean, cry until you stop, that’s what we are doing.
From Rev Malcolm Johnson
Jean and I cooperated on several projects in the 1980s and 1990s when I was rector of St Botolph Aldgate then Master of the Royal Foundation of St Katharine. I treasure a photo of us both wearing rainbow stoles and laughing uproariously. I can’t remembber what the joke was. She was a godly, prayerful, brave woman and I’m glad I knew her. My sympathy and love to Mary and also to the members of MCC in south London.
From Rev Elder Gill Storey
I first encountered Jean in 1983, through her, I came into MCC. What an incredible woman. It was Jean who first introduced me to Jeri Ann Harvey, and 10 years later it was with her and Mary, in their home, that JA and I became a couple. I have loved Jean White ever since I met her. Few things have given me such joy as when, over 20 years ago, I saw her become so happy, and completed with Mary Smail. Mary, I’ve got a feeling that Jeri Ann and Jean are together right now, reliving their own friendship, and looking down at us both, with incredible everlasting love.
From Phillip de Blieck
I have so many fond memories shared with Jean, but one that stands out in my mind was back in 1992. My husband, Rev. Troy Perry, and I had taken my parents, Bill & Joye Benson, on a whirlwind tour of Europe (as only Americans can…you know, about 8 European cities in 2 weeks!). Our vacation began and ended in London, in the home of Jean & Mary. Ever the gracious hostesses, they gave up their own bedroom for my parents.
One day Jean piled us all in her car and ushered us off to Hampton Court Palace, previous home to King Henry VIII. We had a wonderful time exploring the palace, but afterwards we all decided to spend a little bit of time in the hedge maze seeing how the sun was shining and the birds were all singing. We got lost inside for what seemed like hours, and as England’s weather can often change, dark, ominous and quite forboding clouds appeared out of nowhere. What began as a soft drizzle soon became a downpour. Most of our group was frantically trying to find the way out…all except for Jean White. There she stood smiling humorously at our dilemma…and standing quite dry underneath her umbrella. She called my mother over and, in typical Jean fashion, shared her weather protecting apparatus with her. Jean knew the entire time how to get out of the maze, and like a saviour led us all back to her car.
That is the Jean White I know; So gracious, so giving, so loving, so kind…and just a tad bit cheeky, but in the best way imaginable. I love you Jean!
From Rev Colleen Darraugh
How I have been moved reading all of the tributes and memories here! May all these messages carry our love to Mary and the members of MCC South London. Know that you are held in our prayers for the days to come.
Phillip was quite right to remember Jean’s being “a tad bit cheeky” even as others have remembered her humor. I can hear her now saying “Ohhh, Colleen” with a little tease and a little chastising rolled up together.
Jean and Jeri Ann got me through a very challenging General Conference in 1983. Jean encouraged me so much in my early ministry and was always a support. How we loved to talk shop – church politics, the latest “news”, ministry ideas, cultural differences in worship styles, and her great care for people in her congregation and in our denomination. I always looked forward to seeing Jean whether at a Conference, visiting in England or when she would be staying with Brenda Hunt in Fort Worth. Sharing a meal with Jean was always fun.
In May, 2009, Shelly and I spent 12 days with Mary and Jean. We saw how Mary and Jean honored, supported, and loved each other. We shared time in the common and saw Jean’s broader ministry. We saw her love in action in her congregation. We saw her spend time on the phone encouraging other clergy and laity in her Region. We saw her mother those God drew to her pastoral heart. She served God well! I loved her, admired her, and respected her.
I also remember the shopping; the red boots given her at a South Central District Conference; seeing her warmly engage our son Micah when he was 9 and sporting a mohawk; and being regaled by the stories of the early years of MCC. How I loved to hear her tell those stories – especially the one of the ordination documents that got imprinted on a bed sheet (ask someone) and the story of the talking clock waking up Jeri Ann.
Jean you were instrumental in broadening MCC’s world view. Jean you made us laugh and think. You positively influenced so many people. Delight in God’s “Well done!”
I have great memories of Auntie Jean. One time when she picked me up from school and Lucy the dog ran into the road and went crazy and I had to chase her with Auntie Mary. We had great fun on days out, trips to the park and sleepovers. I will miss you and all the fun we had.
Love you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From Elaine German
I first met Jean at General Conference in Miami, FL. I’m not sure what year it was … probably around 1986 or so. Like so many others in MCC, I fell in love with her right off the bat. Back then we used to have an annual spiritual renewal at MCC Richmond so I began to push to have Jean come to our church. When she told her story of all she went through as a medical missionary in China, there was not a dry eye in the place.
I had the honor of serving with Jean on the Moderator’s Nominating Committee. Through the years we became close friends. I have always valued her outspokenness, her dry sense of humor and her warmth … the way she lived out the gospel by the way she loved. I will miss her so very much.
From Frank Zerilli
I remember when Jean was first elected to the Board of Elders at the Los Angeles General Conference in 1979. How excited people were to finally have an Elder from outside the U.S. And such a loving, brilliant, caring preacher of God’s word. I always looked forward to seeing her at Elder’s meetings all around the U.S. I will never forget Kansas City in 1982 when Jean watched me eat a very rare piece of prime rib. The look on her face was not to be described, but she bravely took a taste and said “it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.” That is just one of so many wonderful personal memories I have of this wonderful woman of God.
Jean, my dear friend, rest well in the arms of God. It’s a rest well-earned and well-deserved.
Hugs for the journey my friend, and much love.
From Sarah Houlihan
Aunty Jean we were so young when we left England for Australia but I remember you were always talked about. Every year you sent us a birthday card with money of how old we were and postcards of your trips around the world. We always dreamed you would come and visit us.
Im so glad we got the chance to meet you and Mary when we came for a holiday. My first impression of you was “wow you look so much younger then Mum “and I could see why - you lived a great lifestyle, happy and stress free. I remember you took us to your church and Mary sang and after we all held hands: it was beautiful. I was so proud to go back to Australia and tell my friends that my Aunty Jean is the Pastor for the MCC. I will miss not knowing you are there. Im sure you and mum are looking down on us now with a big smile.
You're at peace now. Love you, Sarah Jay Hemi Ari
From Bishop Stan Harris
Rest in Peace, Jean; you’ve really earned it after battling the “Big C”. During my MCC days I remember Jean & I would share breakfast and marvel at the cultural differences between Americans and The British & Australians. As most Aussies came from Britain, we shared similar cultural values, and found humor where Americans often missed it.
She had overcome so much horror from her days in China as a Missionary, yet she was always bright, cheerful and encouraging. She will be sadly missed, but is enjoying a wonderful homecoming in Eternal Life. Requiescat in Pace, Jean, until we are all gathered together.
From Sue Thomson
I met Jean and Mary several times in a cafe in Balham; she always seemed a loving and caring person, and devoted to Mary. She helped out a friend when she was unwell without a second thought and gave her and her young daughter the comfort they needed. I also visited MCC south London from time to time and the services taken by Jean were always warm and welcoming. Rest in peace and take heart from the knowledge that many will be looking after Mary. God Bless you as you start the new part of your life watching over us all from His side.
Rev. Jean White did a godly service for the Lord. I will miss her prayers.
From Rev David Miller
There is no greater accolade than to know you have ‘made a difference’ Jean made a difference to countless people including myself as she ministered with holy love throughout her many years of ministry. Serving with Jean as Assistant Pastor of MCC London for many years was a great joy and blessing. Jean will always be remembered with love and gratefulness by so many. Just as Jean has brought blessing to us all now our God takes her into loving arms and a higher place where pain is no more. My love and prayers to Mary and all at MCC South London.
From Doreen Shambrook
My love to you, Mary, and those in MCC S London as you grieve the loss of this woman. Called by God, the mission field and MCC, Jean was instrumental in the lives of so many, of the least perhaps my own. She it was who told me, quite bluntly as was her way, to stop messing about and get on with my God called life. And so I did. She carried on too, being pragmatic and visionary, daunted only temporarily when challenged, Amazon-like in her fortitude and one with whom I on and off had a somewhat stormy relationship. And I am better for it. Shalom, my friend.
From Rev Dr Neil G. Thomas
I met Reverend Mother, as she was so lovingly referred to by many of us in the UK, just after my 15th birthday. I had just “come out” and started attending church in Bournemouth, England. There was a gathering in London and I was given permission, by my parents, to attend. I was so excited and I remember sitting in the back row of the church in Balham, so inspired by her and it was that day that I knew that I was called to be “just like her” and to seek ordination, to become a pastor. She came up to me afterwards (I won’t say what she said!!) and from that day onward we were friends.
Of course Jean was having none of it…. She told me that I had to wait until I was at least 18 and as a 15 year old lad, that was the last thing I wanted to do – it seemed such a long ways away!! Of course, I waited, (what Jean said, Jean did) and I am forever grateful for her vision, her passion, her mentoring, her leadership, her love, her tenderness, her compassion, her wisdom, her foresight, her motherly spirit that nurtured so many us in Europe into existence. She is Reverend Mother.
I have just finished sharing with colleagues around the world as we joined a conference call to re-enact the services held in London today and listened to the Eulogy by Reverend Andy Braunston and Reverend Elder Nancy Wilson. Your words captured so much of her spirit.
Prayers and love to Mary, her family who embraced Jean so lovingly, and to our church in South London who will miss her spirit – and for all my friends in Europe who have lost more than just a pastor, but a friend, a Mother.
I love you Jean White and only wished that I could have got back to join my family in the UK for your service. However, today I once again honor the woman who had faith in me and who encouraged me on my faith journey.
You can rest knowing that you were a good and faithful one.
Jean. when my nan, a special friend of Jean's, took me to the cafe on the common to meet her– she quickly became a very special person to me. She always chatted to me and took an interest in what I was doing. She was like family to me and she treated me like family too. She would always want to buy me and my cousins ice-cream or chocolate and she never listened to nanny, when nanny said no!!!!
God bless Jean. I love and miss you LOADS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!xoxoxoxoxo
From Jackie Marshall
I met Jean almost 30 years ago and through becoming a member of MCC London as it was then took my first steps in the Christian faith helped along by Scripture in Song, Daily Bread bible readings and friendly fellowship.
Jean had the courage to walk the talk, and lived out the Summary of the Law: love God and love your neighbour as yourself. She was a brave pioneer and a mighty apostle, and her standards and example live on.
From Lucia Chappelle
If anyone ever deserved to hear the words, “Good and faithful servant, well done!” it’s Jean White! The personal stories are too many to tell, but the important thing is the giant shadow she cast across the history of MCC. She will be remembered long after most of us are gone. Mary, forget about being “strong” — have yourself a good old fashioned breakdown for a bit (I know it’s not very British, but try it!), then you can come back more energized than ever!
From Rev Jane Carl
My heart is heavy with sadness. But, like Jean, joy will come in the morning. She was/is my friend eternally.
There is one story I will share because it expresses her ecumenicity:
The Salvation Army, which is my background experience since birth, is notorious for being (allegedly) homophobic. But, that did not stop the Elder from arranging the, otherwise impossible, task of a guided tour, with The General, through one of the AIDS wards at a local London hospital, at the height of the AIDS pandemic. A tour that, I’m sure, changed the life and perspective of at least one S.A. General.
The following words are framed and hanging on Susan & my hallway wall. Today, they bring me some comfort:
Love that is will always be,
Even though there is a sea
Parting life and love and all.
For in the end the sea is small,
And all that was to be will be,
And all that was to see we’ll see.
And all the roads that we do trod
Will be the ones that lead to God. (An old Amish poem)
Mary, our love, we’re on this journey together. You’re not alone.
From Stephen Harte
On first meeting her….Jean came across as formidable…in the honourable tradition of Great British Battleaxes! I had to laugh that her funeral service took place in St George’s Chapel! However, you didn’t have to know her for very long to experience Jean as someone who lived out her values of love and compassion. If something was up, Jean would sniff it out and take you to the side to see if you were ok and if there was anything she could do.
MCC’s leadership culture can be very cold and unforgiving. There is nothing as “ex” as “ex” in MCC! But as others have commended above and was mentioned in her eulogy, Jean did everything in her power to stay in relationship with people even when they transitioned out of the MCC leadership role in hich she originally knew them. When that transition had taken place in difficult circumstances this was especially welcome. Jean wouldn’t be shy in letting you know her views but equally was clear that her love and care for you was in no way conditional on whether she agreed with you. Again as mentioned at her funeral, to Jean “love” was a verb more than a noun. She didn’t just throw words like “love” into sermons and leave it there….she lived out her commitment to love day by day……her standards are those to which I can only aspire.
I will be always grateful for the time I sat at her feet and listened to her stories. She was my “elder” in every sense of the word and the opportunity to learn from her immense wisdom and experience was a priviledge.
A great soul has walked in our midst.
Mary, remember you and Jean were both loved so widely and warmly and I hope that love manifests in sustaining ways as you mourn and readjust.
From Keith Barber
I always remember my first encounter with Jean. It was the Gay Pride service at St Botolphs Aldgate, which makes it early 1980s, a warm sunny day. Jean preached a cracking sermon, real personal on-the-ground experience. The AIDS crisis was in full swing so much of that experience was of funerals for men who’d died too young. Jean was living her Christianity every day, in the most practical way possible, that was perhaps the clearest thing that emerged (in spite of her determination that God’s word was the most important thing there that day). I spoke to her only briefly but I was touched by her warmth and gentleness, a real contrast to the strength and power I saw when she preached. Quite simply: a wonderful person.
Over the following years Jean became a background figure, a name who continued to be noticed for the work she was doing away south of the River.
It wasn’t until 2000 that I was privileged to train alongside Mary and renew my acquaintance with Jean. I count myself blessed in that. And I’m sad that she has been taken from us so soon. The heavenly realms are surely rejoicing at her joining them but we can ill-afford to lose people like Jean from this world.
Dear Mary: these are only words and words fail at times like this. You and Jean alike are in our thoughts and prayers.
I was a stranger to Jean and an agnostic too, but she touched my life selflessly and generously. I found her at a traumatic time and it is because of her counsel that I managed to find myself and move on. She and Mary opened their doors yet never asked for anything in return-I will be forever grateful for that pure selfless love.
I was also fortunate to hear Jean’s memories of the early gay movement-she was a piece of LGBT history and I regret that the younger generation will never hear those stories. A life lived to the full, and thousands of lives touched by this great lady. My thoughts for strength and courage go to Mary and others mourning her loss.
From Brenda Fluitt
Jean, you were one of the people that wrote on my heart the words of Christ. The Joy that you had and the excitement you brought in sharing the word that God loved all people changed the course of my life. The times that you spent in the South Central District will be remembered fondly and with deep love and appreciation for many years to come. Today I wonder if you ever got use to wearing those western boots that you so loved but could not walk in, I know that angels wings are surrounding you. I will miss you forever my friend. The times we shared are flooding my mind. You are an amazing person that will be missed by many. I love you.
From Rev Gale Smith
I was saddened to hear Of Jean’s passing. I remember meeting with her in the Early 80′s for a briefing before embaking on a trip to Nigeria. She was warm, confident and a very spiritual person. My prayers are with Mary at this difficult time. She will be missed by many.
From Jenny Donovan
First met Jean around 1984 at an MCC conference in a small hotel in Bournemouth where there was no more than around 25 people, if that. Jean was sitting in a chair looking an imposing figure with folk around her, certainly not someone to approach without being granted an audience. Jean did start talking with my partner and I and showed great interest straight away.
13 years after that meeting, I lost my partner Stevie to cancer. Only after Stevie had died, did Jean tell me that she had spoken almost daily to her, giving Stevie LOVE, support and reassurance. Jean also spent some time with me, helping me with my own grief.
What a woman! What an inspiration to us all in so many different ways. What respect everyone has for this person who has moral standards but is totally non-judgemental of all others.
MCC owes so much to Jean. Many is the time that she preached from the heart of global Outreach. This much respected, much loved person is sooo missed. Dear Mary, our hearts are with you, especially at this time of year, but not only now.
If most of us touch a fraction of the lives that Jean touched, we will have done well.