The Rev. Dr. John R. Deckenback (MDiv ’72, DMin ’91) was the spiritual leader and chief executive of the Central Atlantic Conference, United Church of Christ with responsibilities similar to those of a bishop in other denominations. The Conference is made up of 180 churches located in portions of New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Washington, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington D.C.
The Central Atlantic Conference was created as a result of the 1957 merger of the Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical and Reformed Church.
Dr. Deckenback was a native of Cresskill, NJ., where his grandfather was pastor of his childhood church. When John was a teenager, his family moved to Santa Barbara, California. John graduated from Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington, and earned Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. John was married to the Rev. Carolyn L. Roberts, pastor emerita of the United Church of Christ of Seneca Valley in Germantown, Maryland. They had two married sons, Jeffry (Emily) and Aaron (Kate), three grandsons, and a granddaughter.
Prior to serving Central Atlantic Conference, Dr. Deckenback was on the staff of the United Church of Christ’s Northern California Nevada Conference for 20 years. Shortly after graduating from seminary, he also served as an Associate Minister of the Orinda Community United Church of Christ in California.
In the 1980’s John was one of the co-founders of the Conferences of the United Church of Christ Insurance Board which provides property and liability insurance to UCC and Christian Church (Disciples) congregations. Twice in the 1990’s, he served as the Insurance Board’s Acting Executive Director during transitional periods. He was chair of the Board at the time of his death.
He also served on the Board of Directors of International Relief and Development (IRD), a non-profit international relief/development agency. He traveled globally and extensively on behalf of the church and IRD—particularly to conflicted areas sheltering substantial numbers of refugees.
John was a Trustee Emeritus of Lancaster Theological Seminary.
John’s hobbies included gardening, woodworking, jogging, restoring an old house, studying railroad history and incarceration practices, as well as African American, Native American, Latin American and Asian American histories. A long-term research project focused on early Christian missionary activity in the inland Pacific Northwest and its impact on indigenous people in the early 19th century.
Honor our Distinguished Alumni/ae at the Alumni/ae Banquet on Saturday, March 18th, 2017 as part of our Earl and Boswell Lectures