Author, Peace activist Jim Forest dies at 80

Orthodox author and peace activist Jim Forest died January 13 at the age of 80.

Forest, who was born to unchurched communist parents, converted to Catholicism in 1960. The following year, he joined the Catholic Worker movement, serving as managing editor of its eponymous magazine.

But it was not until eight years later that Forest would become a public figure.

UMC's first Asian American bishop, Wilbur Choy, dies at 103

Wilbur Wong Yan Choy, the first Asian American to be elected as a United Methodist bishop in the United States, died December 28, 2021. He was 103.

Choy, who was born in Stockton, California, was ordained in 1946. In 1954, he was appointed to his first pastorate at St. Mark’s Methodist Church in Stockton. In 1967, Choy served as the chaplain to the California Senate.

Hyacinth Stevens to lead MCC East Coast

Hyacinth Stevens has been named the executive director of Mennonite Cen­tral Committee’s East Coast office. Stevens will replace Bruce Campbell-Janz, who is stepping down after ten years in the role.

For the past seven years, Stevens has worked as MCC’s New York City program coordinator, where she helped the New York Mennonite Immigration Program achieve nonprofit status and Board of Immigration Appeals accreditation.

Candice Marie Benbow hired by TheGrio

Theologian and essayist Candice Marie Benbow has been hired as the daily lifestyle, education, and health writer at TheGrio, MSNBC’s website for Black news and entertainment.

Benbow is perhaps best known for creating #LemonadeSyllabus in 2016 following the release of Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade. What began as a hashtag and social media campaign eventually became a free, downloadable resource with more than 250 works by over 70 contributors.

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Desmond Tutu dies at 90

Desmond Tutu, South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize–winning icon, an uncompromising foe of apartheid, and a modern-day activist for racial justice and LGBTQ rights, died December 26, 2021, at 90 (see remembrance, p. 10).

Tutu died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Center in Cape Town, according to his trust. He had been hospitalized several times since 2015 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997.

Rashad Hussain confirmed as first Muslim US religious freedom ambassador

Rashad Hussain has been confirmed as the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, making him the first Muslim American in the role.

Hussain was confirmed by the US Senate by an 85–5 vote.

Hussain, 42, previously served as White House counsel during the Obama administration, as special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and as US special envoy for the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications.

Fiji church leader dies after brief illness

Iliesa Naivalu, general secretary of the Methodist Church of Fiji, died on Decem­ber 17, 2021, at the Colonial War Memo­ri­al Hospital in Suva following a brief period of illness.

Naivalu was known for his work in promoting Chris­tian unity in Fiji.

“His service de­m­onstrated his en­during faith in the Almighty God, his love and dedication to his church, and his victory that sought Eternal life,” wrote Mele’ana Puloka, the World Council of Churches’ Pacific president, in a condolence letter to Naivalu’s family.

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