The Rev. Edwin “Ed” A. Lane died on July 19, 2017 at the age of 89.
Ed was born on June 19, 1928 to parents Lester Lane and Vera Lewis Lane, and was raised on a hog farm in Kingman, OH. He graduated from Kingman High School in 1944, in a class of eight students, following which he earned a Bachelor of Arts from Wilmington College in 1951. Though raised in the Methodist faith, Ed converted to Unitarianism while attending Drew University Divinity School, from which he received his Master of Divinity in 1954.
Rev. Lane was ordained on May 12, 1957 by Church of the Unity (now UU Church of Winchendon, MA), where he carried out his first year of ministry. He was then called to serve as the first minister of the UU Church in Cherry Hill, NJ; he ministered there from 1958 to 1967, during which he helped the small fellowship grow into a thriving church with over 400 members, 12 acres of land, and four congregational buildings. Rev. Lane then accepted a call to the Unitarian Church in Westport, CT, where he served from 1967 to 1978. In that year Ed began ministering to the First Parish in Cambridge, MA, he serving the congregation for nine years. He then carried out a year-long Interim ministry at Washington’s Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship before being called to Massachusetts’ First Parish in Waltham UU Inc. Rev. Lane served the Waltham church from 1988 until his retirement in 1996, at which time the congregation honored Ed as their Minister Emeritus. Post-retirement, Rev. Lane became an active member of First Parish in Needham, MA, where he often served as a guest preacher and congregational leader—particularly around issues of social and racial justice—and where his wildly popular homemade bread, key lime pie, and cheese pennies brought in many dollars for church fundraisers.
Rev. Lane’s service on behalf of the denomination was extensive. He chaired the editorial board of the Register Leader (now UU World) from 1957 to 1963. Ed also sat on the board of Beacon Press for ten years beginning in 1962, serving as chair from 1969 to 1971. It was under Rev. Lane’s chairpersonship that the decision was made for Beacon Press to publish the classifiedPentagon Papers in 1971, detailing how the United States became involved in the Vietnam War (during the subsequent controversy and lawsuit, taps were found on Rev. Lane’s telephone). Additionally, Rev. Lane served on the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Ministerial Fellowship Committee (1965 – 1969), as a Ministerial Consultant to the UU Service Committee (1963 – 1964), and the Massachusetts Bay Chapter of the UU Ministers’ Association.
Beyond his parish ministry and denominational activities, Rev. Lane was socially active throughout his life in a multitude of issues, from civil rights to the environment. He took part in protest movements against the Vietnam War; supported women’s rights, abortion rights, and same sex marriage; and fought for income equality and environmental issues. In March of 1965 Ed took part in the Selma to Montgomery March in support of voting rights for African Americans—one of many Unitarian Universalist ministers and congregants to march. And twice he travelled to Africa to build houses with Habitat for Humanity. In his spare time, Rev. Lane also did a bit of acting, and enjoyed woodworking, bicycling, and hiking.
Rev. Lane wrote many articles that appeared in Church Management magazine—where he served as editor from 1955 to 1957—and in UU publications. Ed also had several letters-to-the-editors published in The New York Times and The Boston Globe. And he won the Skinner Award for “Most Significant Sermon of Social Concern” in 1967 for a piece he wrote on gun control legislation.
In the family’s own obituary for Ed, they wrote of him:
He was known as a caring, intelligent, wise, kind, loving minister with a great laugh and sense of humor. His sermons were memorable and thought-provoking. He helped nurture churches in their growth and served as a cheer leader to those that needed it.
To his family he stands as a patient, loving, intelligent, kind, thoughtful, amazing and huggable husband, father, brother, uncle.
And to close with Rev. Lane’s own lovely words: “Life is a gift of grace, not something we have earned. We have a responsibility to use it with wisdom and to share it with love.”
He is survived by wife of 28 years Helen, sons Michael and John, four grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to First Parish in Needham, 23 Dedham Ave, Needham, MA 02492.
A memorial service will take place at 11am on Saturday, September 30, 2017 at First Parish Needham (address above).
Notes of condolence can be sent to HelenBLane@gmail.com and to 66 Hastings St. Apt 106, Wellesley, MA 02481.