Rev. Dorsey W. M. McConnell
Pilgrim Africa Board Chair
Bishop of Pittsburgh
I have been ordained for twenty-four years, and all I really know is that I cannot live without Christ, that I depend on him completely, that all my joy resides in his determination to make my life his own. My moods are various, my powers of concentration poor, my courage weak, my hope thin, and my faith scarcely worth talking about. But he is the Lion-Heart who will not let any servant in his house lie down in such poverty: so he wakes me up, and washes me, clothes me, feeds me, and comforts me, exhorts me, trains me in his joy, and sends me on his own mission. Some days he must do this again and again before I begin to admit that my life has been changed forever.
Every Sunday I try to preach the sufficiency of Jesus Christ, the necessity of his grace, the reality of his love, the urgency of the personal choice to belong to him and him alone. This I hope I teach and pray and counsel the rest of the week.
Before I was old enough to read I had memorized the Venite from hearing my mother sing it in my ear as I stood in the pew next to her in church: let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation, for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth. My father, a general, was often gone, but I always lived in the aura of his power. When God claimed me as his own, in my baptism at age six, in an Episcopal church on a stormy Louisiana night, I was swept through by an even mightier power; I wept out of love and out of sheer relief that the waters had touched my head and I was still alive.
Sin being as banal as it is deadly, I wandered in all the usual ways. By the age of seventeen I was a confirmed agnostic, keeping the possibility of God in the wings, but not close enough to interfere with my pleasures. I was mainly interested in myself. I left Yale in 1975 with a B.A. in English, went to Paris on a Fulbright, and the following year embarked on a series of six-month careers as a groom at the Santa Barbara Polo Club, a ranch-hand and barfly in Argentina, an actor in a dinner theatre on California's Central Coast in the course of which the hand of God inconveniently pursued me, his voice asking me, in all but words, who are you, what are you doing, why are you here? In 1978, miraculously, I chose to move to New York to be with a woman named Betsy whom I had met on a ship the year before. It was the first time in memory I had done anything for anyone exclusively beside myself. As I tried to love, I found out how bad I was at it, how much I wanted to blame anyone besides myself for any failings that beset me. In the midst of that struggle, through her love for me, Christ showed himself, and threw me a lifeline. I took it and have been holding on ever since. Betsy and I married in 1980, and have one son, Evan, who is eighteen.
I was ordained in 1983, and successively Curate at Saint Thomas Church, New York City, Chaplain for the Episcopal Church at Yale, rector of the Church of the Epiphany in New York, Rector of Saint Alban's Church in Edmonds, Washington, and now Rector of the Redeemer. I helped create, and served on the leadership team for, the New Commandment Task Force. I have been a deputy and an alternate to General Convention.
My work with Anglicanism
I expect that we are beginning to experience a new era in Anglicanism. I believe God is breaking open the visible Church to reveal the Church that has been unseen. This is more than a matter of disputes over jurisdiction and real estate, more even than a struggle over doctrine. It is a matter of re-imagining the form of the Church and its structures, even as we strive to remain in communion. I am interested in helping create a network of clergy and lay leaders committed to an evangelical Gospel to broker ideas and resources for congregationally-based mission both within and across our own denominational boundaries, and to share the riches and ethos of Anglicanism with other churches who are daughters of the Reformation.
Pilgrim Africa Board Vice-Chair & Founding Member
Pilgrim Africa Board Secretary
Eric Koons is an inventor and musician who makes his living as a custom woodworker on San Juan Island, in Washington State. Eric made his way to Alaska as a young man, first working as a fisherman and shipwright's apprentice. He eventually managed the woodshop for Diamond E Cannery before operating his own business, Greatland Oceanic, a full service shipwrighting facility that serviced the fleet of Bristol Bay.
While living in Alaska, Eric and his partner Tom Carter built a small medical clinic to serve the native Aleut population. They improved the basic infrastructure in the village by extending the airstrip, putting in a new road system and moving the dump out of this rural community.
Eric settled on San Juan Island in 1986, managing False Bay Farm, a sport horse breeding facility with his wife, Weyshawn. They raised their family on the island and is blessed to see his granddaughter grow up on the island as well. He returned to his woodworking career and soon became a volunteer EMT, serving with San Juan Island EMS. He was able to pass some of this knowledge on to the staff and students in the Soroti school.
Eric first travelled to Uganda in 2006 and was impressed by the loving, generous spirit found in the people who were living in the midst of such devastating trauma. Inspired by the hope held in the children attending Beacon of Hope Secondary School, he was moved to partner with Pilgrim and increased his involvement with the organization. Eric feels humbled and privileged to be serving God with such a dedicated and gifted group of fellow believers.
Pilgrim Africa CEO & Founding Member
Calvin Echodu was raised and presently resides in Uganda. Mr. Echodu is the Founder and Executive Director of Pilgrim Uganda, a multi-faceted not-for profit serving the people most vulnerable in Uganda.
He is a visionary, charismatic, social entrepreneur, and has led Pilgrim into areas such as the relief, trauma counseling, and resettlement assistance of internally displaced Ugandans; extensive work in the area of community health and malaria eradication; and basic community development such as schools and education. In addition to the previous efforts, Pilgrim operates with a view towards the future of Uganda, and has conducted significant research and development of biodiesel and other sustainable rural technologies.
Katy Hurd, MD
Pilgrim Africa Board Director
Pastor Wilson Opio
Pilgrim Africa Board Director & Founding Member
Pilgrim Africa Board Director
Ms. Sclater currently serves as International Chair of Rotarian Malaria Partners (RMP) -- a collaboration of organizations including Rotary Clubs internationally, global non-profits and African governments focused on the universal eradication of malaria. Ms. Sclater served as the Centennial President of the Rotary Club of Seattle - the fourth oldest and largest Rotary Club in the world.
Ms. Sclater is Chair of the Puget Sound Blood Center: one of only four blood centers in the U.S. undertaking comprehensive, multi-disciplinary blood research.
Since 1996 Ms. Sclater has served as a Principal of Pinkerton Brown - a full service consulting firm that counsels leading institutions on strategic execution, governance, compliance, capital development and fundraising.
Robert T. Smith
Pilgrim Africa Board Director
Robert (Rob) T. Smith was born and raised in Southern Africa. He has a strong background in accounting, manufacturing and contracting both in the US and in South Africa. He has extensive experience in building and manufacturing and has a tenacious ability to accomplish daunting projects.
Mr. Smith relocated to Seattle in 1999 and in 2002 founded Agathos Foundation International - a Seattle-based multi-national NGO caring for widows and orphans in Africa. Presently, Mr. Smith continues his work with Agathos, and is also the founder and president of Thain Boatworks, Inc., a boat building company focusing on wooden pleasure craft and commercial vessels and is the founding chairman of EarthWise Ventures, a company dedicated to investment in Southern Africa. Rob has been married to his wife Merle for 30 years. They have a son, three daughters and two grandchildren.