Loren B. Mead
Loren B. Mead, founder of the Alban Institute, died at home in Alexandria, Virginia on May 5, 2018. We are grateful for Loren’s wisdom and persistent energy. He invented many new ways to help congregations by consulting with them, learning about them, and sharing insights and ideas generated in the process. From 1974 till his retirement in 1994, he kept Alban afloat through hard work, sacrifice, and an insistent focus on the benefits a healthy, well-led congregation can give its members, neighbors, and community.
A full obituary can be found here. Remembrances from Congregational Consultants are collected below.
When I was in seminary in the early 1970s, the Episcopal Church had just published the findings of Loren Mead’s “Project Test Pattern” research project. He was traveling around the country encouraging dioceses like mine to train and deploy networks of parish consultants who would be equipped to assist congregations grappling with a wide range of challenges. Through a regional training network called MATC, I was one of the first six leaders from the Diocese of Pennsylvania to complete a six-week consultant training program and serve as a member of the new Diocesan Consultant Network. From that first connection onward, the names Loren Mead and the Alban Institute remained foundational to the field of congregational development and to my own vocational life as a pastor and consultant. I stepped most directly into Loren’s legacy in 1995, when I joined the staff of the Alban Institute shortly after his retirement as president. Wherever I went for work in North America or around the world, I was always preceded by the reputation Loren had built for clear thinking, disciplined exploration of tough practical issues, and undying passion for the health and effectiveness of congregations. For these personal blessings and on behalf of all the places I have served, I say: “Thank you, Loren.”
Alban Institute author and Senior Consultant 1995–2014
As the era of rapid church growth wound down at the end of the 1960s, Loren Mead was one of the first to see that the church was losing not just numbers but a privileged position in the culture. In response, he was determined to use human and organizational sciences to help leaders understand the church as an organization and to become more effective. In the process, Mead built the Alban Institute — an interfaith community of clergy, lay leaders, consultants, researchers and writers — who saw that many of the challenges for congregations crossed lines of theology and polity, and so did many of the most helpful solutions.
Alban Institute author and Senior Consultant 2002–2014
I never had the privilege of working with Loren, however his impact on my ministry was huge. I voraciously read everything he wrote because I found it pointedly relevant to my work as a parish pastor. A few years ago, I asked the Presbyterian Outlook if I could write a review of The Once and Future Church on the 25th anniversary of its publication, because it is as relevant today as it was the day it was printed. How many authors can say that? Amazing. Thanks be to God for the life of this amazing person and servant.
Alban Institute author and Field Consultant 2013–2014