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In Memoriam

Sally Ernst, former president of Women’s Division, Dies

By Tara Barnes

On January 4, 2011, the United Methodist Women lost sister and leader Eleanor “Sally” Ernst, former president of the Women’s Division. Ms. Ernst was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., in January 1927 and passed away in Pittsburgh, Pa., January 2011. She was 83. Ms. Ernst is survived by her husband, three sons and four grandchildren.

Ms. Ernst was a dedicated United Methodist Women member, serving the organization in various ways, beginning as president of her local unit at Christ United Methodist Church in Bethel Park, Pa., 45 years ago. She also served as president of the Western Pennsylvania Conference, Northeast Jurisdiction, and Women’s Division nationally. She served as Women’s Division president from 1988-1992. She taught at 22 schools of Christian mission, and she was instrumental in the creation of the Nyadire United Methodist Mission in Nyadire, Zimbabwe.

Those who knew Ms. Ernst knew her passion for eliminating suffering. Women’s Division remembers her advocacy for the involvement of women in society and church, making connections between economics, environment and health and recognizing these as vital concerns for women. The Women’s Division established a public policy internship in her honor for the 1993-1996 quadrennium. The intern program emphasized women’s health care, issues of economic justice and environmental advocacy. Her work for justice and peace is remembered and honored by all members of United Methodist Women.

A celebration of Ms. Enrst’s life will be held Saturday January 8 at 1 p.m. at Christ United Methodist Church in Bethel Park, Pa. Donations can be made in her name to the United Methodist Women of Christ United Methodist Church:

Christ UMC United Methodist Women
Christ United Methodist Church
44 Highland Road
Bethel Park, PA 15102

Read her complete obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Remembrances from United Methodist Women Members

We will miss this great leader. -- Charlene Black 

I loved Sally—she was an angel sent by the Lord to help us reach out to the less fortunate. Every time I met her, her face showed God’s love. -- Lucy Burciaga

So sorry to hear of the passing of Sally Ernst. Sally was such a special person and a great model. Let us remember her family in our prayers. May God bless and comfort Sally’s family. I will miss Sally and her justice seeking heart. —Judy Nutter

Sally helped me learn with the Women’s Division back in the 1980s and has given leadership all along the way. When I joined the staff in mid 2000s, I ran into her again at a Leadership Training Event where she was taking on a Committee on Nominations role, even after having served as national president. She again gave leadership at Assembly 2010, helping to lead a prayer vigil for immigrant rights. She was willing to serve at all levels, wherever needed, with great insight and skill. We will truly miss her! —Carol Barton

What a lot of memories of Sally’s life with us. She was always a breath of fresh air wherever I encountered her. Her nursing background made her keenly sensitive to the needs of women, especially in terms of many health issues. You could always count on her moral support and persuasive, authentic action. She was just a great human being. Her smile always put things in perspective. She was real. I am so glad to hear that many saw her at Assembly. —Ellen Kirby

Working with Sally as members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility was memorable, especially the day we faced Alcoa in Pittsburgh over their reckless abuse of the Amazon as they expanded their operations there. This “sweet-faced little woman” helped confront corporate leaders, leaving them speechless! —Joyce Hill

Bless you, Sally! We miss you! —Harriett Jane Olson

Last Updated: 04/17/2014

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