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Obituary
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Rev. Dr. F. Russell Mitman
2023-01-12

            The Rev. Dr. F. Russell Mitman, 83, of Collegeville, passed away peacefully

with his beloved family by his side on January 7, 2023. He was the husband of Ruth (Heavener) Mitman. They celebrated 58 years of marriage.

            Born in Pennsburg, he was the son of the late F. Russell and Glenna I. (Imbody) Mitman.

            He graduated from Upper Perkiomen High School in 1958. He continued his education, earning an A.B. cum laude, and with honors in German Literature from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster in 1962. He then entered the Theological School of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, where he earned a B.D., magna cum laude in 1965, which was later converted to a Master of Divinity. He also earned a Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1968, and a Doctor of Ministry from Chicago Theological Seminary in 1995.

            When he graduated from Seminary he disliked being addressed by titles and his beloved wife was humorously awarded with the title "Ph.T." – "Putting Him Through." He said, "In 1962, unfortunately most Seminary graduates in the USA are men. 

            Thankfully, the situation in mainline churches has reversed." "Ruth put me through," he quipped, "and she has been with me for 58 years of ministry in the relocations and changes that somehow only God, who works in mysterious ways has had in mind. I never intended to do what I did. I was going to be a professor of theology, but God spoke to me through my mentor, the late Dr. Franz Hildebrandt, on a night of decision when he told me, "You can be both a pastor And a teacher."

            He was ordained a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the United Church of Christ in 1965 and began parish ministry as Assistant Pastor of First UCC in Easton. Upon the sudden death of the Senior Pastor who had served that congregation for 35 years, he was elected Pastor and served that church until 1972 when he was called and elected Senior Pastor of First UCC in Carlisle. After a 17-year pastorship there, he was called and elected Senior Pastor of Broadmoor Community UCC in Colorado Springs, CO. Surprisingly, he found himself called back to Pennsylvania to serve as Conference Minister and President of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ in 1993.

            He served three terms there, ending in 2010. Toward the end of his last term, he was asked by a staff member, "Are you willing to go to Parkside UCC in Phoenixville for three months to help them to decide their future?" He responded to the call and found himself staying there for almost 11 years! Although he eschewed using the word "retirement," because it isn't in the Bible, he finally stepped down from the Pastorate at Parkside in 2022 and was given the honorific title of "Pastor Emeritus." He said, "I have always believed and authored five books about worship as the key component to church renewal and revitalization.

            My experience at Parkside confirmed what I learned from my experiences and relationships with the congregation and those I served as consultant and mentor through the years." The Pennsylvania Southeast Conference awarded him with the honor of naming him "Conference Minister Emeritus" in November of 2022. During his career, one of his foci was ministry to seniors. He served as a member and President of the Board of UCC Homes in Camp Hill and he was also a member of the Board of Directors of Phoebe Ministries in Allentown.

            He was a member of the Advisory Committee of the Wyncote Church Home and was named to the Citizen's Advisory Council of the Office for the Aging in Chester County.

            Along with his beloved wife, Ruth, he is survived by his daughter, Lucy Ann Mitman, who resides in Collegeville, and a son Kurt and his wife, Mary Rhigos Mitman who reside in St. Augustine, Florida. Lucy is the mother of his two adult grandchildren: Montana Aubrey Wagner and Bo Morgan Wagner.

            A Service of Witness to the Resurrection will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, February 4, 2023, in the Good Shepherd UCC Church, 35 West Philadelphia Avenue, Boyertown, PA 19512. A time for conversation and refreshment will follow in the church social hall. He will be laid to rest in the family burial plot in St. Mark's Cemetery in Pennsburg at a later date.

            In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his memory to Parkside UCC, 505 Main Street, Phoenixville, PA 19460; or to the United Church of Christ at Valley Forge, 45 Walker Road, Wayne, PA 19087; or to the Church of the Holy Spirit, P.O. Box 575, Harleysville, PA 19438, or Penn Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ, 1441 Laura Ln., Suite 100, Pottstown, PA 19464.

            Donna and Frank Falk, Falk Funeral Homes & Crematory, in Pennsburg, have been entrusted with his arrangements.

            Visit his "Book of Memories" at falkfuneralhomes.com.


 

 

 

 

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