The Pennsylvania Council of Churches (PCC) has elected the Rev. Larry D. Pickens of Allentown, a longtime UM leader in ecumenical ministry and relations, as its new executive director beginning in January 2021.
Dr. Pickens, who for years led the UMC’s former General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns (GCCUIC), has been ecumenical director of the Lehigh Conference of Churches for six years. He has also served as a pastor in the Eastern PA Conference. As GCCUIC general secretary, he was also a leader on the World Council of Churches the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.
Pickens, 62, will succeed the Rev. Dai Morgan, a PCC board member and its acting-executive director since June. Morgan is the Coordinator of United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania, serving as the legislative advocate for all three UM conferences in the state.
“We are blessed to bring Larry Pickens on board to guide the PA Council of Churches in this challenging time of our history,” said the Rev. Liz Bidgood Enders, president of the PCC Board of Directors. “Larry is committed to the ecumenical movement, from leading on the denominational level to working on the street with congregations of all shape and sizes in a variety of settings. One of the first things we noticed about him was his passion towards seeking justice on behalf of the poor and the marginalized. That’s the essence of how we are to share Christ’s love.”
Established in 1911 and based in Harrisburg, the PA Council of Churches is an association of 13 autonomous Christian denominations in Pennsylvania, including the UMC, and also the ecumenical Church Women United. Together they “engage in ministries of service and witness, and work towards the goal of being unified in love and service to Christ Jesus.”
A native of Chicago, Dr. Pickens earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from North Park University, a Master of Theological Studies and a Master of Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a Doctor of Ministry from Chicago Theological Seminary, a Juris Doctorate from DePaul University College of Law and a Certificate of Ecumenism from Bossey-The World Council of Churches.