Expressing gratitude for President Gerald R. Ford's "care-filled ministry over many decades," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said that she and fellow Episcopalians will uphold his family in prayer following his death on December 26 at age 93.
In a December 27 statement, Jefferts Schori said: "We are both saddened at the death of this good and faithful servant and enormously grateful for his care-filled ministry over many decades. We give thanks for his life of service in government leadership as well as in the several parishes to which he belonged. His leadership in assisting with the completion of Washington National Cathedral and supporting the work of Episcopal Relief and Development will be long remembered. His family, especially Mrs. Ford, will continue in our prayers as they grieve this loss. May he rest in peace and rise in glory."
Funeral services are pending in Episcopal parishes in Palm Desert, California, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, and at Washington National Cathedral, where arrangements for all state funerals are coordinated with the Military District of Washington.
Announcement of service dates and times will be forthcoming in the next few days, said spokespersons at each church site.
St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, Palm Desert, California, has been the Fords' parish congregation during the years they have resided in Rancho Mirage, about 130 miles east of Los Angeles. Part of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, the congregation is led by its rector, the Rev. Robert Certain, who has been a pastor to the former President and is assisting the family with funeral arrangements.
Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is meant to host a service after the casket leaves the Gerald Ford Museum. Gerald and Betty Ford were married in Grace Church in 1948. The congregation is currently served by an interim rector, the Rev. Nixon McMillan. Burial is expected to follow in Grand Rapids.
In Washington, Bishop John Bryson Chane, who shares in the oversight of Cathedral service arrangements, issued the following statement on December 27: "Early this morning I was awakened with the news that President Gerald R. Ford had died in California after several years of deteriorating health.
"The former President, a faithful Episcopalian, was a man known for his great integrity and his firm belief in God. He never sought the Presidency, yet when it was thrust upon him he led wisely, guiding our nation well during a time of high inflation, fuel shortages, and the complex foreign policy challenges presented by the Cold War. A kind man who worked hard at building bridges and shaping consensus, he will be remembered for his dignity, his humility and his devotion to healing a divided nation.
"On behalf of the Diocese of Washington, I extend our prayers to his wife, Betty, and his family during this time of sadness, and I ask God's blessing upon our former President as he enters the land of light and joy where there is no more sorrow or pain, but only life everlasting."
Chane presided at the 2004 Washington National Cathedral funeral service for President Ronald Reagan. At that time, Chane said: "it is very satisfying to be here and to be able to provide that ministry not only to a nation, but really the global community."