The Rev. Dr. Donald J. Duford has accepted the spiritual leadership of the Northern Miami Valley Episcopal Cluster (NMVEC). He began his tenure as part-time rector July 10 with services in Cluster parishes, the Church of Our Saviour in Mechanicsburg and the Church of the Epiphany in Urbana.
He and his wife, Kay, were officially welcomed at a joint service and luncheon at Our Saviour July 31.
Rev. Duford comes to NMVEC from the Diocese of Michigan, having retired from a life-long career in the Episcopal ministry there. He has served churches in various locations as rector, associate rector, co-rector of a three-parish Cluster and, most recently, as priest-in-charge of the Church of the Redeemer, Southfield, Michigan.
His schedule here will include weekly Eucharist and worship services at Our Saviour and Epiphany, office hours at each church, attendance at Vestry and Cluster Council meetings and pastoral care.
Rev. Duford is clear about his new assignment. The first words of his initial worship service were, “I’m Father Don and I’ve come to serve you.” He said that his work here would be shaped by the Cluster mission and the congregants’ knowledge of parish needs and personal priorities.
“These are your churches. I want to learn how you do things and to continue your traditions. I want to know each of you and your special interests and concerns.”
He says he has found the cluster format a strong model for the present and future church. He termed the work of NMVEC during the past two transition years an impressive example of effective lay ministry.
He praised the free monthly meals held at each church and the opportunities that a shared dinner table provides to broaden and deepen understanding and compassion
Rev. Duford is experienced in corporate worship, pastoral care and counseling, administration and education with substantial work in mental health and substance abuse.
In addition to his parish ministries, he has been administrator of church staff and finances for St. Cyprian Church and School in Riverview, Michigan, and has managed personnel, budget and the physical plant for St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center in Detroit.
He has directed retreats in counseling and spiritual direction in five states.
Rev. Duford was Staff Chaplain for Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn, assigned to the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Unit. He also did inpatient counseling and provided spiritual and pastoral care as Clinical Chaplain for the Psychiatry Service of the Veterans Administration in Allen Park and Detroit.
He followed that as Manager of Pastoral Care for Riverside Hospital in Trenton, Michigan. This involved training volunteers, caring for mental health patients, designing workshops for employees and patients and presiding at worship services.
Riverside Hospital scored the highest ratings in Michigan’s Henry Ford Behavioral Health System’s evaluation and Rev. Duford became a member of the Ethics Committee. The Henry Ford System provides statewide psychiatric and psychological treatment for adults and children.
Rev. Duford’s resume also includes part-time and volunteer activities: Adjunct Faculty of the Sociology Department of Madonna Franciscan University; Instructor in Pastoral Care for Whitaker School of Theology; Behavioral Consultant and Guidance Counselor for the Garden City District’s Alternative High School and Chaplain for the Allen Park Police Department and Police Chaplain for the State of Michigan.
Rev. Duford is also one half of a committed Christian partnership. His wife, Kay, has 29 years of experience in leadership positions in the Roman Catholic Church. She has served as a director of religious education, worship director, head of campus ministry for a church-related college and as a pastoral associate. She was a master catechist for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
The two have also worked together as coordinators of AA and Al-Anon retreats in several states.
The Duford’s have three adult children and six grandsons. Two of the families live in Ohio, one as close as Mechanicsburg, and the other in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The Duford’s confide that the move was not only attractive as an opportunity to serve the two historic Episcopal churches here, but it closed the geographical gap between the generations, a bonus for the whole family.
The Duford’s will live in Marysville where they have purchased a home that meets their needs for personal and office space and visits from extended family.
The trek to Ohio is their seventh relocation and, they hope, their final move. Cluster congregants have assured the family that they have saved the best for last.
Submitted by Sally Johnson on behalf of the Northern Miami Valley Episcopal Cluster.