Dr. Edward A. Westcott Jr., former executive director of the Synod’s Board for Mission Services, died Sept. 12 in a Phoenix-area hospital after suffering a series of heart attacks. Westcott, 83, had entered the hospital in late August after a fall, and was receiving care for a broken back when he had the heart attacks.
A funeral service was held Sept. 16 at Crown of Life Lutheran Church in Sun City West, Ariz.
Westcott retired to Sun City in 1989 after serving 11 years as executive director of the Synod’s mission division. During that time the Synod started mission work in 34 “people groups,” and Westcott’s position took him to at least 37 countries to visit missionaries and meet with partner-church leaders.
“I’ve always been a man who’s in love with getting the Word out,” Westcott said during an interview in 1989. “And to be in a position to lead this church body in its most important and primary mission is really exciting.”
Directing the Synod’s mission efforts gave him a new understanding of the world and God’s plan for it, Westcott said, and he tried to pass that knowledge on to others over the years: “Either the Lord brings the people to the Word or He tells you to take the Word to them — everything in the world revolves around those two strategies,” he said.
In an e-mail to missionaries informing them of Westcott’s death, Dr. Daniel Mattson said, “At a critical time in the history of LCMS World Mission, Ed charted a clear course for the mission work of the LCMS. We thank God for his life and work, and praise Him for His goodness and mercy in calling Ed home.” Mattson is associate executive director, Planning and Administration Team, with LCMS World Mission.
Westcott and his wife, Sylvia, served six years (1948-54) as missionaries in Nigeria, West Africa, and it was there that Westcott says his faith “came alive” for the first time in his life. He established and served more than 20 congregations in Nigeria, and later served as general manager of the Nigerian Lutheran school system with some 14,000 students.
He also served as pastor of congregations in Detroit and Milan, Mich., and Scottsdale, Ariz.
Among the honors Westcott received during his ministry were the Servus Ecclesiae Christi Award (1971, from Concordia Theological Seminary, then in Springfield, Ill.); the Doctor of Divinity degree (1974, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis); and the St. Martin of Tours Bronze Medal (1989, LCMS Standing Committee for Ministry to the Armed Forces).
Survivors include his wife, Sylvia, five children, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandson.
Memorials may be made to Lutheran Blind Mission (7550 Watson Road, St. Louis, MO 63119-4409) or to Lutheran Church of Nigeria Seminary Student Scholarships (make checks payable to “LCMS World Mission,” mark the memo line “Westcott Memorial-60500,” and mail to LCMS World Mission, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295).
Posted Sept. 15, 2006