The Rev. Nancy J. Benson-Nicol has accepted a call to serve as Associate for Theological Education Funds Development for 2014. She begins her new work on Jan. 8.  

Benson-Nicol currently serves as associate for gender and racial justice in Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries unit of the Presbyterian Mission Agency and is a member of the Presbytery of Arkansas. She is the author of the 2012-2013 Presbyterian Women Horizons Bible study, Dispatches to God's Household: The General Epistles. She served on the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) from 1996-1999.   

A graduate of Harvard Divinity School (MDiv), Benson-Nicol served as seminarian in The Memorial Church of Harvard University under the direction  of the late Peter Gomes.  Ordained as a Lilly Resident at First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor, Mich., she went on to serve as associate pastor at First United in Fayetteville, Ark., and chaplain at the University of the Ozarks in Arkansas before moving to Louisville in early 2013. 

Nancy brings tremendous energy, enthusiasm, gravitas, insight, relational, and analytical gifts to this ministry and mission.  Nancy is highly intelligent and learns quickly; listens to others well; has proven project management, communication, and training skills; and believes theological education matters.  Cultivating generosity "comes naturally to Nancy" according to those who know her best. She makes the case for herself and theological education in this way: 

“I am thrilled, excited, and filled with gratitude as I begin my partnership in ministry with COTE in support of the Theological Education Fund,” Benson-Nicol said. “The journey of faith and discipleship, as shaped by the life of the mind, marks the unique witness of the Reformed tradition in the world that our theological institutions embrace par excellence. Theological education plays a crucial role in honoring the traditions of the Church and in nurturing leaders to be agents of transformation and hope in the promotion of God's realm.”  

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Theressa Hoover, a vanguard for women’s empowerment, racial justice and the first African American chief executive of United Methodist Women (UMW), died Dec. 21, in a nursing facility in Fayetteville, Ark. She was 88.

Hoover, a native of Fayetteville, was an outspoken advocate for women and children, and served as UMW’s leader from 1968 to 1990. These years were known for their social and political turbulence, but under the steady and optimistic leadership of  Hoover, United Methodist Women retained autonomy and grew to larger numbers.

After graduating from Philander Smith College in 1946 with a degree in business administration, Hoover began working with the Little Rock Methodist Council. Two years later, in 1948, she joined the staff of the Woman’s Division of Christian Service as a field worker, a job which took her across the denomination’s segregated Central Jurisdiction conducting leadership development and training events with district and conference groups and helping women to organize local units.

She earned a master’s degree from New York University’s Steinhardt School in 1962, and in 1968 she was elected chief executive of the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, becoming the first black woman to hold the position or any comparable level post in the denomination.

Ms. Hoover chronicled the work of United Methodist Women, its predecessors and the importance of women organizing for mission in her 1983 book With Unveiled Face. For the 22 years Ms. Hoover served as head of the division, she wrote “Responsively Yours,” a monthly column in United Methodist Women’s magazine, response. Hoover retired in 1990.