Rev. Steven Case, Beloved American Baptist Pastor and Leader, Passes Away



A lifelong American Baptist fully engaged in the life of American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA), the Rev. Steven Case, retired pastor of First Baptist Church, Mansfield, Pa., died on October 8 in Washington, D.C. from complications related to injuries resulting from a fall suffered as he left his hotel for a board meeting of the Baptist Joint Committee (BJC).

During the previous day’s meeting, he was recognized for meritorious contributions to BJC through his induction into the James Dunn Legacy Circle and beamed with pride as the Rev. Brent Walker, Esq., BJC executive director, helped him tie the legacy’s signature bowtie. At a celebratory dinner that evening in one of his favorite D.C. restaurants, the Rev. Case shared his happiness at seeing American Baptists coalescing around issues of religious liberty and the separation of church and state.

Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins III, American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) executive director and a participant in the BJC meetings, recalls the man with whom he had shared the previous day: “Steve Case was a champion for religious liberty. He was incredibly enthusiastic about the work of the Baptist Joint Committee. He has been a delegate to the committee on behalf of ABHMS and ABCUSA for many years. As we broke bread together the evening before his passing, he shared deeply about his passion for the work and his gratitude that ABHMS had commissioned him to it.”

A member of the ABCUSA delegation to the BJC Board of Directors, Case served as its chair from 2007 through 2009. In other denominational service, he was president of American Baptist Churches of New Jersey (ABCNJ) and the Board of Trustees of the Baptist Home of South Jersey. He was former chair of the Committee on Public Mission for ABCNJ, and he chaired the Public Policy Working Group for the New Jersey Council of Churches for eight years, serving on its executive committee. Also, Case served as a board member of American Baptist Home Mission Societies, the General Board of ABCUSA and the Board of General Ministries of ABCUSA where he chaired the Standing Rules Committee.

Prior to his Pennsylvania pastorate, Case served as pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Westmont, N.J., for 25 years. He was ordained in 1978 following graduation from the Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pa. Remembering Case’s contributions to the New Jersey region, the Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer, ABCNJ executive minister and senior regional pastor, says, “The ABCNJ family is very saddened to learn that Rev. Steve Case has passed away, and wishes to express condolences to his family. Rev. Case served as a pastor in our region and as region president, and he also was a strong voice for justice as a member of our Public Mission Committee. Even after leaving our region, he was a member of our Facebook community and regularly expressed support for Camp Lebanon and other ministries we have. We will surely miss him.”

Those who were part of the ABHMS delegation at the BJC meeting and spent the last hours of his life with the Rev. Case were especially touched by his stature: “Steve had a heart for people and a heart for justice. He understood that separating church and state didn’t mean separating faith and politics. He was a tireless advocate for the common good,” remembers Curtis Ramsey-Lucas, ABHMS managing director, resource development, and immediate past chair of the BJC board.

Valoria Cheek, Esq., ABHMS house counsel and president, American Baptist Extension Corporation, recalls, “Rev. Steve Case was a man whose beliefs and actions lined up—whether it was supporting American Baptist ministries at the regional or national level, serving as a champion for justice and religious liberty, pastoring, or being a caring colleague and friend. I am still stunned by this loss. I am thankful for the time spent over the years, especially during this recent trip, sharing and serving with him.”

“On the eve of Steve Case’s accident,” says Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, ABHMS executive director-elect, “I had the most delightful time listening to him share stories about his early days as a pastor in New Jersey. Steve was so committed to serving his American Baptist family, and was a proud past chair of the Baptist Joint Committee. I was moved by Steve’s profound sense of justice, truth, and by his loving personality. It is surreal to me that Steve has left us.”

ABCUSA General Secretary the Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley remembers the denominational leader this way: “It has been my joy to have known Steve since early in our ministries in New Jersey. There was a joy in Steve that filled all he did. His commitment to Christ’s gospel led him to be a strong public voice for justice. In his own community, Steve was a constant presence in service to the rights of the poor. At the national level, Steve was a constant reminder to those in power of their responsibility to the marginalized. Our prayers go out for Diane and Steve’s family. Our hearts break with theirs even as we turn our eyes to the face of Jesus who is our comfort and our hope.”

The Rev. Steven Case is survived by his wife, Diane. Please keep the family in your prayers.

Details about a memorial service in November will be announced when available.

Rev. James R. Berger passed away Sunday, March 17, 2013


The Rev. James R. Berger, has been an active American Baptist pastor here in ABCNJ and several other Regions within the denomination. We were saddened to receive the news of his sudden passing on Sunday and express our deepest sympathy to the family, members of Cape Island Baptist Church and the many friends. Just this passed Wednesday, Pastor Berger attended the WNJBA Pastor's Luncheon and shared his excitement about the coming Holy Week and Easter Services. His attendance demonstrated what his life professed--the Gospel of Jesus Christ including the assurance of resurrection.

Obituary for Pastor Jim Berger

BERGER, Pastor James R. – 52 of Cape May passed away suddenly and peacefully at his home on Sunday morning, March 17, 2013. Pastor Berger had been a resident of Cape May since 2003 when he became pastor of Cape Island Baptist Church. He has served as a pastor since 1992 after receiving his Masters of Divinity from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was raised in Hughesville, PA where he met his wife, Sarah.

Pastor Berger will be forever remembered for his passion in serving God and His community. He was an avid book lover and a great friend to many.

He is predeceased by his mother, Eileen Mae (nee Berger).

Pastor Jim will be dearly missed by his loving family which includes his wife of 26 years, Sarah; two daughters, Katherine Berger and Dorothy Berger; father, Robert E. Berger; sister, Victoria (and Conrad) Mailleue; brother, William (and Leslie) Berger; also his nieces and nephews.

The memorial service and celebration of the resurrection of Pastor Berger will be held on Saturday (March 30th) at 11AM in Cape Island Baptist Church, 115 Gurney St., Cape May where friends will be received from 9:30AM until 10:50AM. Interment will be private and at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested and checks payable to: Berger Children’s Fund (for the education of his daughters), c/o Sturdy Savings Bank, PO Box 2355, Cape May, NJ 08204-2355.

There is additional information found on the funeral home's website.