In Memoriam: Pam Byers

The Covenant Network of Presbyterians is saddened at the death of its founding executive director, Dr. Pamela McLucas Byers. Pam was an exemplary ruling elder, a tireless evangelist, and a true friend. Her service to the PCUSA and the cause of justice for LGBTQ persons was incomparable.  She will be deeply missed.

PamPam served as a ruling elder at Old First Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, where she sang in the choir and performed countless other services. Pam began her work with the Covenant Network in September 1997, serving until her retirement in June 2011—the same month as the long-sought removal of G-6.0106b from the Book of Order, opening the door to the ordination and installation of openly lesbian or gay Presbyterians as deacons, ruling elders and teaching elders. She spoke of it as one of the highlights of her life. Earlier this year, Pam was honored as the 2014 Distinguished Alumna by San Francisco Theological Seminary.

“She embodied what came to be the ‘brand’ of the Covenant Network: she was, herself, just and generous. Pam’s gentle, yet tenacious commitment to an inclusive church made the difference. The PC(USA) was helped enormously by this elder who embraced God’s call on her life and lived it fully,” said the Rev. Tim Hart-Andersen, one of the founding board members of the Covenant Network and Pam’s pastor when the organization began. “Thanks be to God for Pam Byers’ witness to the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, the very love that now holds her forever.”

“What an immense honor it was to be Pam’s friend and co-worker,” said the Rev. Tricia Dykers Koenig, national organizer for the Covenant Network. “She brought out others’ gifts and downplayed her own when it came to recognition. But what gifts she had!  Her utter generosity in sharing those gifts blessed her family, her friends, her beloved Old First, the Presbytery of San Francisco, and the whole Presbyterian Church (USA).  She was a fierce friend. Unkindness and injustice offended her. We are a more faithful and loving church because of Pam.”

Pam is survived by her husband Jeff, daughter Katie, sister Susan McLucas, and brother John McLucas. A memorial service will be held at Old First Presbyterian Church in San Francisco at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 8. Tributes are already being posted through social media, and all are invited to offer remembrances in the comment section of this post.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that the church is very simply a different place because of the hard work and faithful persistence of Pam Byers,” said the Rev. Brian Ellison, the current executive director who succeeded her in 2012. “She took the Covenant Network from being a group of people with a good idea to being a nationwide entity that achieved real transformation. It was service done from a place of passionate faith and abounding love, and in that she was a model for me and for us all.”

Comments

  1. Lyn Juckniess says

    Pam Byers
    July 25, 1947 – October 27, 2014
    Dear Members and Friends of Old First Presbyterian Church, San Francisco

    As many of you know, our beloved member and friend Pam Byers died last night, October 27. I expect that you, like me, are in shock and are having trouble imagining life at Old First Presbyterian Church without Pam. We have been blessed to be recipients of her joy in life, her sense of welcome and hospitality, her love and passion for wholeness and justice for all of God’s people, and her appreciation of tradition and also anticipation of God’s future, God’s best time, that is yet to come.

    While I know my sense of loss is deep, I also trust the old words “whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8) and trust that Pam is now with the God she loves, near the Christ she faithfully followed all the days of her life.

    Please keep her husband Jeff and her daughter Katie in your prayers.

    A memorial service to “Witness to the Resurrection” will be held for Pam Byers on Saturday, November 8, at 10:00 am at Old First Presbyterian Church, 1751 Sacramento Street, San Francisco.

    Peace,
    Pastor Maggi Henderson

  2. Kirsten Kingdon says

    Pam was a gracious presence in my life as well as in the life of our denomination. I will miss her and will always regret not having spent more time with her.

  3. Michael Adee says

    A tribute to Pam Byers
    I join many in the Presbyterian Church (USA) who give thanks to God for the life, ministry and witness of Pam Byers. Pam lived and served so faithfully to create a more loving and just Church and world for all of God’s children.
    I had the privilege of working with Pam when she served with Covenant Network of Presbyterians and I served with More Light Presbyterians. Our shared mission brought us to ten General Assemblies, numerous national conferences, and countless meetings as we worked for the full inclusion and participation of LGBT persons in life and ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
    Pam was a passionate ally and a thoughtful colleague. She loved the Church and believed in its highest good. Her commitment to LGBT equality combined with her faithfulness, tireless work and her ability to work with others resulted in ordination policy change. I will never forget seeing Pam’s face beaming with joy and gratitude when the positive vote for ordination was declared at the General Assembly in Minneapolis in 2011.
    My heart goes out to her husband Jeff, her daughter Katie and her siblings Susan and John. My heart also goes out to her beloved home church, Old First Presbyterian Church, San Francisco; Covenant Network of Presbyterians and San Francisco Theological Seminary.
    Thanks be to God for Pam’s life and her legacy of a more loving and open Church for all.
    Michael J. Adee
    Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians from 1999 – 2012
    Santa Fe, New Mexico

  4. Jim Caraher says

    Sometime in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s I took an interest in the mission and work of the Covenant Network. Back in those days CN held its annual conference each November so I would wait a few weeks and then call CN’s office in San Francisco to order cassette tapes (only someone as old as I remembers cassette tapes) of the preaching and teaching at the plenary sessions of the conference which I would listen to with an open mind. All these years later I would not have remembered the name of the charming woman I talked to each December until reading these reports of Pamela’s passing. She was so delightful I always looked forward to our annual conversation. “Oh Mr. Caraher,” she would say, “I know why you’re calling.” After several years I said, “Pamela, I feel like we’re good friends by now please call me Jim.” But you Presbyterians are ordained by God to be polite so I don’t think I ever succeeded in getting on a first name basis. Her passing is a great loss for the cause of Christ and the mission of the Covenant Network.

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