Rev. Paul Rutgers

Rev. Paul H. Rutgers

Monday, December 29th, 1930 - Friday, June 7th, 2019
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Rev. Paul H Rutgers passed away on June 7, 2019 in Chicago. He was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1930 to Henry and Jeannette Rutgers. He spent most of his teenage years in California, moving back to Michigan to attend Eastern Michigan University. Post-graduation, he attended Princeton Theological Seminary, where he received a Divinity Degree, and embarked on a remarkable career in ministry with the Presbyterian Church, USA.

His first congregation was a small church in Columbus, NJ, followed by 10 years with the First Presbyterian Church in Pitman, NJ. These 10 years were highlighted by his election as the youngest Moderator of the United Presbyterian Synod of New Jersey. In 1967, he became the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Poughkeepsie, NY, where he remained for the next 20 years. In 1986 he moved to Chicago to become the Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Chicago, a position he held until 1998.

He has been active in community, civic and interfaith affairs throughout his ministry. His involvement with the Chicago interfaith community led him to become the Executive Director of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, where he worked tirelessly to bring communities and people of all faiths together. During this time, he played a leading role in organizing the faith community's disaster and crisis response programs and directed the spiritual care response efforts following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In May 2004, he presented a paper at the Turkish Journalists and Writers Association's International Symposium: "Religion and Peace: In Light of Forefather Abraham." In 2008 he joined with Rev. Stanley Davis to serve as Co-Directors of the Council, retiring in 2017. He was honored as a recipient of the City of Chicago's Distinguished Interfaith Cooperation Award and in 2018 he received the Council's Interreligious Leadership Award given to an individual who embodies the ideals and values which underwrite the mission of the Council.

Paul was a dedicated activist and advocate for justice, civil rights, and peace who believed that faith is made real through actions, from the neighborhood to the world. His ministry took him to Korea during the Korean War, Communist East Germany in the late 60's, Chiapas Mexico during the 90's, and across the Middle East multiple times.

He was an outdoors man, enjoying camping, hiking, and canoeing throughout the northeast. In Chicago, he became an avid Lake Michigan sailor. His boats, the "Catriona" and "Wind and Spirit", brought him and his crew many hours of enjoyment.

He was a caring and compassionate pastor and counselor, an eloquent speaker, and an outstanding negotiator and leader.

Paul is survived by his wife of 29 years, Susan Peverly, his former wife Gloria Rutgers and their three children: Catherine Rutgers (partner Tom Burnett), Carolyn Rutgers Clark (husband Jeffrey), and Timothy Rutgers (wife Paula Hewett); his grandchildren Megan and Matthew Clark, Winston Kelsey, and Laura June Amram; his niece and nephews Jeannette Cogsdill, Clark Cogsdill and Walter Darbyshire. We shall all miss his presence in our lives.

A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, June 29, 2019, 11 a.m., at FOURTH PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, Michigan Avenue at Delaware Place, Chicago.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Paul’s name to: The Admiral at the Lake, Employee Scholarship Fund, 929 W. Foster Ave., Chicago IL 60640; Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, 5401 S. Cornell Ave., Suite 223, Chicago IL 60615; or Fourth Presbyterian Church, Mission & Outreach, 126 E Chestnut St, Chicago IL 60611.

Please visit REV. PAUL H RUTGERS BOOK OF MEMORIES. To express your thoughts or memories in the online guest book, visit or Arrangements by CENTRAL CHAPEL-Chicago, Robert J. Moynihan & Co., 773-581-9000 or 312-944-6060.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Saturday, June 29th, 2019 | 11:00am
    Saturday, June 29th, 2019 11:00am
    Fourth Presbyterian Church
    Michigan Avenue at Delaware Place
    CHICAGO, IL 60611
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Cindy Karis

Posted at 05:00pm
I always appreciated Paul's wisdom and humor. He welcomed me into the Presbytery of Chicago when I came in 1998.
His faithful service lives on in the lives of the many lives he touched through his service!
Yes, may his memory be eternal!

Grayson Van Camp

Posted at 05:12pm
I join with all those who celebrate the life and ministry of Paul Rutgers. As our Orthodox friends say: May his memory be eternal! Paul was a supportive mentor to me as I sought advice about whether to pursue ordination. His remained a voice I could always trust. I’m attaching a photo of Paul speaking at my ordination in 1993. His advice gave me the courage to accept the call to Hanmee Presbyterian Church for which I shall be eternally grateful. I deeply respected his faithfulness to all things ecumenical and inter religious. Therefore, in his honor, I won’t be in attendance on June 29th — instead I’ll represent the Presbytery at the ordination of an Armenian Orthodox priest, a member of Ecumenism Metro Chicago. I think Paul would approve. ❤️

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