Whitehead, Rhea, 1936-2011

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Whitehead, Rhea, 1936-2011

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1936-2011

History

Rhea Hildegarde Menzel Whitehead (1936-2011) was a missionary in Asia, theological educator and General Secretary of the Division of World Outreach. She was born on January 22, 1936 in St. Louis, Missouri. She received her B.A. from Elmhurst College Illinois summa cum laude in 1956 and M.A. in Adult Education from the University of Toronto. In 1961, after undertaking full-time studies of the Cantonese language, she and her husband Raymond Whitehead moved to Hong Kong where she worked in various capacities with the Church of Christ in China and the National Council of Churches/USA. In 1975 they moved to Toronto where Rhea served as Coordinator of the Education Liaison Programme of the University of Toronto/York University Joint Centre on Modern East Asia for the next two years. She subsequently worked with the Anglican Church of Canada as Regional Mission Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific from 1979-1984 and thereafter, served The United Church of Canada until her retirement in 2005. She was Area Secretary for Asia, 1984-1992; General Secretary of the Division of World Outreach, 1992-1999 and overseas personnel 1999-2005, teaching at Siliman University in the Philippines and Nanjing Theological Seminary in China. Rhea was widely respected and recognized for her exceptional work in international justice and peace. Along with her solidarity and support work in the struggle against the dictatorships in South Korea and the Philippines, overseas partners point to Rhea's pioneering work in opening up the commitment to gender justice in the context of mission partnerships. Rhea and her husband Ray played critical roles in the ecumenical churches’ ongoing relationship with the people and churches of China. Rhea meticulously took down notes of her travels and observations, at workshops and worship which documents form a large part of her records. In 2010, Rhea and Ray were awarded the Katharine Hockin Award for Global Mission and Ministry by the Canadian Churches' Forum for Global Ministries.

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ON00340

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