Rev. Clinton Rabb, Mission Executive Dies As Result of Earthquake Injuries
by Elliott Wright
New York, NY, Jan. 17, 2010--The Rev. Clinton Rabb, 60, a leader in The United Methodist Church's extensive mission volunteer program, died on January 17 in a Florida hospital of injuries sustained when he was trapped for 55 hours in the ruins of Hotel Montana, which was destroyed by the January 12 earthquake in Haiti.
The native of Texas was head of the office of Mission Volunteers of the General Board of Global Ministries. He is the second staff member of the agency to die from earthquake injuries. The Rev. Sam Dixon did not survive, though rescue workers tried to free him. He was the executive in charge of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
"Clint Rabb was a tough and fearless advocate for the least and most vulnerable of God's children," said Bishop Joel N. Martinez, the interim general secretary (CEO) of Global Ministries. "He traveled the world encouraging volunteer ministry in his service on behalf of Christ and the church. He gave his life for others and we celebrate his faithful witness."
Rabb and Dixon, along with a third colleague, the Rev. James Gulley, who survived the earthquake, were in Haiti for meetings and contacts aimed at improving health services in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Global Ministries has long-standing relations with the Methodist Church in Haiti and dozens of volunteer mission groups from United Methodist congregations in the United States send teams to work in the country every year.
"Our grief is overwhelming, in part because just hours ago we were grateful for his rescue," said Bishop Bruce R. Ough of West Ohio, president of the General Board of Global Ministries. He called Rabb "a tireless, dedicated advocate for volunteers in mission around the globe."
Long Career in Mission
Rabb grew up in northeast Texas, the son of Joe and Peggy Rabb. He graduated in 1967 from Wolfe City High School in Hunt County, northeast of Dallas. He had one sister, now Della Ging, and two brothers, Robert and Joel. The Rabb family has been Methodist for generations.
"We lived as a family in the shadow of the Almighty," he said in a 2001 article for New World Outlook, the mission magazine of Global Ministries. "We didn't do this in a conspicuous manner or make a big deal of it. I was taken to church on Sundays, there were prayers at meals, we tried to be good, and we were supposed to make life in our community a little better."
A member of the Southwest Texas Annual (regional) Conference of his denomination, he had served as head of the Mission Volunteers unit of Global Ministries since 2006. The staff of this area works closely with regional and jurisdictional mission volunteer networks, represented by United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM). Thousands of UMVIM teams work throughout the world, many in health services. The office Rabb led also sponsors Individual Volunteer programs and mission opportunities for retired persons.
Rabb has been with Global Ministries since 1996. Prior to serving in the Mission Volunteers unit, he was an executive for special initiatives in the Evangelization and Church Growth unit, working particularly with new mission initiatives in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. Rabb crafted the "In Mission Together Church to Church Partnership Program," which links congregations, annual conferences, volunteer efforts, and mission personnel. He has also worked in the US with ministries involving African-American, Mexican-American, and Vietnamese-American communities.
During a span of almost 20 years as a pastor and chaplain in Texas, Rabb was engaged in a range of VIM teams, both domestically and internationally. His work with new mission initiatives put him in frequent contact with the Mission Volunteers program.
His first clergy appointment was to the Goliad United Methodist Church in 1974. Over the years, he held pastoral assignments, including St. Luke's United Methodist Church in San Angelo and the Dripping Springs United Methodist Church. He was also chaplain at the Bexar County Detention Center from 1978 to 1981, and served for a year in student ministry at San Antonio College.
Rabb held a Bachelor of Arts degree from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, a Master of Divinity degree from the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and a Master of Arts in counseling from Trinity University.
His wife, the Rev. Suzanne Field-Rabb, is also a member of the Southwest Texas Conference. They have eight children, all of whom survive, Maury Rabb, Tyler Rabb, Ginny Scheuch, Travis Payne, Daniel Payne, Andrew Payne, Matthew Payne, Clare Payne, and three grandchildren, Emma Scheuch, Kate Scheuch, and Cooper Payne, the son of Daniel Payne.
A funeral service will be held at 12:00 p.m., Saturday, January 23rd at the University United Methodist Church, 2409 Guadalupe Street, Austin, TX 78705.
A joint memorial service for Rev. Rabb and Rev. Dixon will be held at The Interchurch Center in New York City at a date to be announced.
Please send any cards or messages of condolence to Suzanne Field-Rabb and family, 142 Amsterdam Avenue, Hawthorne, NY 10532.
Memorial gifts should be directed to the Individual Volunteers Program. Checks should be made to the General Board of Global Ministries, with "Advance #982465 Rabb Memorial" in the memo line.
Gifts can also be given online through givetomission.org.
Date posted: Jan 17, 2010