My Tribute to Dave Lorency

One of the hardest parts of getting older is seeing loved ones, friends and colleagues pass away.  It’s not often that I do a tribute to one of them, in part because a) my audience is very diverse, most people aren’t known to a wide range and b) if I did it I would pretty much dominate the blog.  But I’m making an exception in this case for my friend Dave Lorency, who passed away suddenly early this morning.  Dave is best known as the President of Operation Compassion, the relief organisation that has been to so many disasters, including the many tornadoes and hurricanes that have struck our country and world, and even the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia.

David Lorency
Dave Lorency. Photo courtesy of Church of God Chaplains Commission.

Most of all, though, Dave was my friend.  I’ve met many interesting people and great men and women of God in the Church of God during my two score in it, but Dave is, to use the Latin phrase, sui generis.  His ministerial career was unique, and the way he brought Operation Compassion to the forefront of Christian relief work illustrates both how he leveraged the strengths and transcended the weaknesses of the Pentecostal denomination which he served for so many years.

Dave started out in what used to be called the Tidewater area of Virginia.  His ministerial career–and don’t be silly, that’s the way many of our ministers look at it–was not out of the ordinary until he got involved in and was made Executive Director of Operation Compassion.  To make a relief organisation like OC successful requires a skill set that is different from many of our ministers, but Dave was God’s man for the hour, so to speak.

What a great loss. He was a powerful force in humanitarian work and a dear friend of mine. He will be missed more than we will ever know. He was one of Mercy Chefs earliest supporters and advocates. I will miss him terribly.  Gary LeBlanc, Mercy Chefs

oclogo-headerTo start with, he was committed to the ministry body, soul and spirit, which is important for the success of any ministry.  I have always been impressed with the energy and dedication of many of our ministers, and he was certainly exhibited both.  Beyond that, he had the organisational skills to put it together.  Operation Compassion’s mission is simple but vital: to gather food and other supplies and then to deliver them to places and organisations which in turn would distribute them to those in need.  That doesn’t sound like much of a mission, but a relief organisation that arrives empty handed won’t bring much relief.  OC helped to avoid that problem.

To do that requires not only organisational skills, it requires the supplies, either donated or bought.  For the former he had extensive relationships with corporations of all kinds who would donate their surplus to OC’s warehouses, from whence they went to the field.  Beyond that Dave was an effective fund raiser, not only in the Church of God but also outside of it.  OC started out as an integral part of the Church of God; it was “set loose” (made its own corporation and given autonomy) in 2006, when Dave was made President.  As he reminded us frequently, much of the cash income they had came from Roman Catholics, a crossover rare for an organisation with Pentecostal roots.  And he did all of this while keeping the overhead below that of many other relief agencies and ministries.

OperationCompassion.SMCH
Operation Compassion’s warehouse, with supplies ready to go to the field, 2005. Photo courtesy of the Church of God Chaplains Commission.

As for me, I first got to know Dave when I was the webmaster for the Church of God Chaplains Commission, which I was from 1998 to 2010.  Both OC and the Commission are under the umbrella of the Care Division of the Church of God, even with OC’s status as a separate corporation.  After I left the formal employment of the denomination I was appointed to the Care Board, which oversees the ministries under its umbrella, including OC.  In both of these I got to know Dave as a friend.  Unpretentious and straightforward in his opinions of people, ministries and churches, he was in many ways an atypical minister.  In his passing I am shocked and grieved.  Our General Overseer Tim Hill said that he “…has left a legacy in the Church of God that will never be duplicated,” and that’s an understatement.

My heart and condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues, his passing leaves a hole in our lives which will not be filled until we see him again on the other side.

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