|Mission agency’s Clinton Rabb dies of earthquake-related
By Linda Bloom*
UPDATED 3:21PM EST, Jan. 17, 2010 | NEW YORK (UMNS)
The Rev. Clinton Rabb
The Rev. Clinton Rabb knew how to connect volunteers with people and
places in need.
His effectiveness as a mover of mission was being remembered Jan. 17,
after the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries announced his
death from injuries sustained during the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti.
The news came a day after the mission agency had confirmed the
earthquake-related death of another employee, the Rev. Sam Dixon, top
executive of the United
Methodist Committee on Relief.
The men had been trapped together in the debris of the Hotel Montana
in Port-au-Prince. The MSNBC television network had shown a brief video
clip of French rescue workers attempting to free Rabb, who had been
trapped under a concrete slab for some 55 hours.
“Our grief is overwhelming, in part because just hours ago we were
grateful for his rescue,” said West Ohio Bishop Bruce Ough, president of
the Board of Global
Rabb, 60, had been airlifted to Florida with unspecified injuries.
His wife, the Rev. Suzanne Field Rabb, and other family members were
able to join him at a hospital there before he died, said Jennifer
Payne, Rabb’s daughter-in-law. The Rabbs have eight children and three
“We’re all deeply saddened to lose Clint,” Payne said. “We all love
him dearly and admire everything he’s done in life. Please continue to
pray, as he was doing, for everyone who was in Haiti.”
Rabb, a clergy member of the Southwest Texas Conference, spent nearly
20 years as a pastor and chaplain in Texas before joining the Board of
Global Ministries in 1996. He focused on special initiatives in the
evangelization and church growth unit before moving to Mission
Volunteers in July 2006.
He had been scheduled to receive an award for distinguished service
to the church in early February from Austin Presbyterian Theological
Seminary, of which he was a graduate.
“Clint Rabb was a tough and fearless advocate for the least and most
vulnerable of God’s children,” said Bishop Joel Martínez, the board’s
interim leader. “He traveled the world encouraging volunteer ministry in
his service on behalf of Christ and the church. He gave his life for
others, and we celebrate his faithful witness.”
Together, Rabb and Dixon had helped expand the denomination’s mission
work to new countries, says the Rev. John Nuessle, a board executive.
“Clint and Sam both saw the big picture, and they were good at getting
the job done,” he added.
Finding support for mission
Nuessle also credited Rabb with formalizing the concept of
congregation-to-congregation support, known as the “In Mission Together”
program, as a way of nurturing United Methodism in other countries.
Although the idea of such congregational support started in Russia, he
said, “it was Clint who took that and made it a reality in every part of
He had a passionate understanding of the denomination’s mission work,
according to Lorna Jost, who coordinates mission volunteers for the
denomination’s North Central Jurisdiction. “It seemed every time we
would get together, he would talk about our special niche as United
Methodists and how we work with people, not for them,” she said.
Rabb approached such projects on a holistic level, explained Gregory
Forrester, mission volunteer coordinator for the Northeastern
Jurisdiction. “He said, ‘Let’s look at this from a full-on approach.
Let’s build the school, build the teaching project, build teacher
support, build in a way to get the kids something to eat, too.’”
For his friends and co-workers, “he was just a nice guy to be
around,” said Nuessle.
Michael DeBorja worked closely with Rabb in Mission Volunteers until
retiring in December.
“I had not wanted a retirement party, but Clint insisted on it, and
he and his wife, Suzanne, also wrote me two of the nicest farewell notes
in the memory book,” he said.
Rabb, Dixon, and a third colleague – the Rev. James Gulley, who
survived the earthquake – had traveled to Haiti for meetings and
contacts aimed at improving health services in what is the poorest
nation in the Western Hemisphere.
“He and Sam were two sides of the triangle for mission,” said Debbie
Vest, coordinator of United Methodist Volunteers in Mission for the
South Central Jurisdiction. “We have lost two outstanding individuals. I
can readily understand the grief of the Haitians and the sadness of the
people you see on the street because those are our faces as well.”
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New
York. Kathy Noble, Interpreter magazine editor, contributed to this
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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