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In Memory of . . . Terry M. Burke (1953-2015)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 17, 2015 Rev. Terry Mark Burke died on August 15, 2015 at the age of 61.


Terry was born in Flint, Michigan to Jack and Virginia Burke, on November 12, 1953. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College in 1975 and a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School in 1982.


Rev. Burke was ordained by the Universalist Church of New York, NY in 1982. He was hired to serve as Extension Minister to the First Church in Jamaica Plain, Unitarian Universalist, of Jamaica Plain, MA, in 1983. Two years later, in 1985, the congregation called him as their full-time, settled minister. He held that position until his retirement in 2014; marking 31 years of service to First Church. 


Rev. Burke served on the Mass Bay District (MBD) Board from 1983 to 1985; The MBD Extension Committee from 1983 to 1986; and served as the President of the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship from 1987 to 1989. He helped organize the AIDS service of Memory and Hope at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) General Assembly in 1991; served on the Massachusetts Council of Churches Board from 1988 to 1990; as the UUA’s official observer to National Council of Churches from 1990 to 1996; and as a Ferry Beach Minister in Residence in 1990. In his later years, Terry served as head of the Boston Ministers’ Club Nominating Committee.


During his pastorate at First Church, Rev. Burke revitalized the congregation through the renovation of their building, the development of an RE program, and the planning and execution of a capital campaign for accessibility. He worked alongside his dear wife, Ellen McGuire, who was hired as the congregation’s organist and music director in 1979, and continues to serve as such today. After retirement, Terry assisted clergy at Trinity Episcopal Church in Canton, MA.


Terry was involved in a variety of Jamaica Plain community activities including the Multicultural Arts Center; Concerned Clergy of the Corridor; Council of Churches; JP Workforce; various environmental organizations; Jobs for Justice; Interfaith Worker Justice; and the Samaritans, where he served as a phone volunteer.


Terry loved to travel. He visited El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980’s; studied icons and the Orthodox Church in St. Petersburg, Istanbul, the Sinai and Venice; walked the Camino in 2012 with his daughter, Amelia; and visited Jerusalem twice to meet with religious leaders working for peace.


Terry’s friend and former roommate, acclaimed writer and former correspondent Chris Hedges, delivered a eulogy at Terry’s funeral. He spoke of Terry as a friend, father, and minister, and discussed the Burke’s service to First Church. Chris wrote:


Terry and Ellen—she played the organ and handled the music—have given 31 years of their lives to this church. They have been here on Sundays. They have presided over weddings, baptisms, funerals, church suppers, retreats, Sunday school, Christmas pageants and the blessing of the animals, including the stuffed animals. They made this church a real church, where all—trans and straight, men and women, from those who were healthy to those struggling with HIV, from black to brown to Asian to white, from the disabled to the abled, from the young to the old, the well-off to the destitute, the sober and those trying to become sober—found respect, reassurance and community. The remarkable intertwining of the lives of Ellen and Terry to create a thing of beauty, a thing we cannot see or touch but can only feel and sense, is what ministry is about. If there is a more meaningful way to spend a life I do not know it.”


Terry is survived by his wife, Ellen McGuire; brother, Tim (Cindy); three daughters, Willow (Laura Hughes), Amelia, and Lucyanna; and many close friends.


A memorial service was held on Wednesday, August 19th at First Church in Jamaica Plain, Unitarian Universalist, in Jamaica Plain, MA.


Donations in Terry's memory may be made to Samaritans (Samaritans) or to Jobs with Justice (Jobs With Justice).


Notes of condolences may be sent to Ellen McGuire, 16 Rosecliff St, Roslindale, MA 02131-3525.

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