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In Memory . . . James C. Brewer (1926-2009)

Posted By Jessica Cambio, Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Reverend James C. Brewer died on April 28, 2009 at the age of 82. Rev. Brewer was born on November 6, 1926 in Morgan County, Illinois to James Harrison and Edna C. Brewer.  After service in the US Navy Air Corp, he graduated from the University of Toledo in 1948 with a BA in History.  In 1951, he graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was ordained by the Melrose Unitarian Universalist Church in Melrose, Massachusetts. 

His professional life consisted of both parish ministry and public service.  In 1951, he served as intern minister with Dr. Howard Thurman at the Church of the Fellowship of All People.  The Church was founded in 1944 by Dr. Thurman and Dr. Alfred Fisk as the nation's first interracial interfaith congregation.  From 1952 to 1956, Rev. Brewer served the Unitarian Church in Natick, Massachusetts.  While serving in Natick, he initiated the first Fair Housing group in Massachusetts.  From 1956 to 1961, he served the Unitarian Church in Norfolk, Virginia.  In Norfolk, Rev. Brewer helped found the Norfolk Committee for Public Schools to reopen the schools after Governor J. Lindsay Almond, Jr. ordered them closed rather than desegregate.  Rev. Brewer served as president of the group and with members of his congregation worked for integration in the public schools.  In 1959, Rev. Brewer received the Holmes-Weatherly Award at that year’s General Assembly for his social justice work in Norfolk.

As a Fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs from 1961 to 1965, Rev. Brewer studied and reported on inter-cultural relations in southern and central Africa and Brazil, traveling extensively in those regions.  During that time, he represented the Unitarian Service Committee in the development of a program at Phoenix Settlement, Gandhi’s home in South Africa and served as Interim Minister to the Unitarian Church in Cape Town, South Africa.  In 1966, he became the Executive Director of the Foundation for Voluntary Service in New York, focusing on racial, poverty, and urban problems in the United States.  From 1969 to 1979, he served as General Secretary and Treasurer of the U.S. – South Africa Leader Exchange Program, an organization concerned with justice, equality, and leadership development.

Rev. Brewer returned to parish ministry in 1979, serving as Interim minister to First Unitarian Church, Chicago, Illinois; First Unitarian Congregation, Toronto, Canada; Unitarian Universalist Church, Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and Unitarian Church in Westport, Connecticut.  He was called in 1983 to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville, North Carolina and served there until his retirement in 1990 when he was named their Minister Emeritus.

Rev. Brewer leaves his wife, Betty Brewer, of Tucson, Arizona; his son, Montie Brewer, Montie’s wife, Jamie Brewer, and their children Jimmy and Abby Brewer of Hudson, Canada; and his daughter, Amy Brewer and husband, David Sacco, of Wallingford, Connecticut.  He was preceded in death by his first wife, Barbara; his son, Jimmy; and his daughter, Betsy.

A private service was held in June.  Please send messages of condolence by email to Betty Brewer at 4524 N Trocha Alegre, Tucson, AZ 85750-6368 and to Amy Brewer at 255 S. Whittlesey Ave, Wallingford, CT 06492.

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