Rev. Roger A. Pickering of Willow Valley Retirement Communities, former Vicar of All Souls’ Episcopal Church for the Deaf in Philadelphia, passed peacefully from this life on January 13, 2014. Reverend Pickering was a messenger of faith and grace to both the deaf community and the greater church, and he will be sorely missed. He leaves behind, in addition to a grieving family and innumerable friends, a legacy of hard work and progress that ensure he will be remembered long after those who knew him directly are gone from this world.
Prior to his moving to Pennsylvania to become Vicar of All Souls’ Church for the Deaf, he was the founding Vicar of Mission of the Holy Spirit Church in Berkeley California. He was a frequent guest preacher and pastoral counselor in numerous other churches including the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. While most people think of him exclusively as the beloved Vicar of a local church, over the course of his life he did far more, often unrecognized.
He was a former four term President of the Episcopal Conference for the Deaf, as well as serving in many other leadership positions. He was a frequent Diocesan Delegate to the Episcopal General Convention. He served as founder or board member of a large number of church related disability access groups, and several ecumenical (across many faiths) groups as well, to ensure the deaf and disabled had full and equal access in the church.
He was the first deaf President of the Board at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, serving for many years. He also served as Chairman of the Board, on the Executive Committee, School Committee, Resource Center Committee, Reorganization Committee and more.
He was the Founder, or part of the Founding Committee, of many agencies working for full access for the deaf, including many of the advocacy groups that are now fixtures of the deaf community. In addition he served on the governing or advisory boards of many local and national committees, agencies, and companies to ensure that all people had equal access and representation.
He mentored many people who continue to carry on his work of including the deaf, and all people, in full communion in both the church and civil community.
He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Sandra Pickering, who worked directly with him as a partner and an interpreter over most of his career. He is also survived by his son and daughter in law, Gordon and Maryann Pickering, as well as his daughter and son in law Kirsten and Wayne Houseknecht.
His funeral will be held at St. James Episcopal Church, 119 N. Duke St., Lancaster, PA on Saturday the 18th at 10:30 AM. The family will greet friends following the service.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Episcopal Conference of the Deaf, c/o Stephen Holst, 1802 Hollow Branch Way, The Villages, FL 32162, to the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, 100 West School House Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19144 Note: in memory of Roger Pickering or to St. James Episcopal Church, 119 N. Duke St., Lancaster, PA 17602.