Rev. Dr. Hugh Fleece Halverstadt, 81, one of theological education’s foremost experts on managing church conflict, died on April 14, 2020 in Davidson, North Carolina, where he had moved in March from his home in Oak Park.
Described by his former colleagues at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago as good-humored, wise, supportive and always authentic, he taught in the seminary’s DMin program from 1982 until his retirement in 2001.
Prior to that, he was pastor at Presbyterian churches in Tuscaloosa and Union Springs, Alabama, and interim pastor of Second Presbyterian Church, Nashville, Tennessee — pastoral stints that provided material for his classic book, Managing Church Conflict, which advocates an ethical process of conflict management calling for respectfulness, assertiveness, accountability and a focus on the larger common good.
He was a retired minister of the Chicago Presbytery and a regular worshiper at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, where he counseled the personnel committee and guided its Lilly Pastor Residency. He served the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) extensively as trainer, presenter, consultant and faculty member from 1988 through his retirement at McCormick in 2002. He also served on the ethics committee of the Chicago Transit Authority.
He completed a PhD in Religion in 1973 from Northwestern University, after obtaining an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary in Tennessee and a BA from King College (now King University) in Bristol, Tennessee.
Born in 1939 in Atlanta, Georgia, to James Andrews Halverstadt and Charline Fox (Fleece) Halverstadt, he was raised in the Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) by his missionary parents who served the American Presbyterian Congo Mission from 1946 to 1966. He was active in Chicago’s refugee resettlement programs at Heartland Alliance and RefugeeOne, a reflection of his love and knowledge of central Africa.
In 1965 he married Barbara Ann Hornby, which ended in divorce. Their two sons, Peter Breen Halverstadt and David Andrews Halverstadt, predeceased him. In 2002, he married R. Craig Endicott in a same-sex union in Oak Park. Their union culminated in marriage in 2014 when the state legislature approved same-sex marriage. The couple were longtime residents of Oak Park and “snowbirds” on St. Simons Island, Georgia.
Extended survivors include Endicott and his two stepsons, Seth James Killian and Peter Arthur Killian; Barbara Doak Halverstadt, widow of Hugh’s son, Peter; the mother of Craig’s stepsons, Mary Jane (Killian) Endicott; and the mother of Hugh’s sons, Barbara (Hornby) Halverstadt.
Services will be held later this year at Fourth Presbyterian Church.
Hugh Halverstadt can be honored with gifts to RefugeeOne (donor link at refugeeone.org); Fourth Presbyterian Church at 126 E. Chestnut, Chicago 60611, and McCormick Seminary, 5460 S. University Ave., Chicago 60615.