The Rev. Dr. Earle F. Roberts (1930-2017)

Rev. Dr. Earle F. Roberts (Class of 1955, The Presbyterian College)

Survived by his loving wife Dorothy, sons Bruce and Johnmark, daughter-in-law Heather and grandchildren Marc, Michelle, Laura and Sarah. A memorial service was held on Friday, December 15, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. Rosedale Presbyterian Church, Toronto (www.rpcc.ca). Donations to Cairn Family of Camps or Presbyterian World Service & Development in lieu of flowers.

The following Minute of Appreciation was adopted by the General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada in 1992, on the occasion of the Rev. Roberts’ retirement Clerk of the General Assembly:

Early in 1992, the Church learned that Dr. Earle F. Roberts had decided that he would no longer continue as Clerk of the General Assembly. He has served the Church in this office since 1982. Although he will continue to act in a consultative capacity during the coming year, it is appropriate for us, at this time, to express our gratitude.

Dr. Roberts was appointed Secretary of the Administrative Council in 1982 and conjointly First Deputy Clerk. In 1986, he was called to be Principal Clerk of the General Assembly.

He came into these offices at a time when the Church was facing declining membership, struggling with financial restraints and living in a social milieu that was increasingly secularized. There was a need for clear thinking, careful judgements and strong commitment to the Church. These were qualities that Dr. Roberts brought to his position and exercised throughout his tenure. It was also a time when we had become somewhat lax in our procedures. Into this situation, Dr. Roberts brought his outstanding administrative skills, putting everything into good order. He had the ability not only to devise workable systems but also to give close attention to details. As a result, he was constantly innovating, making changes that resulted in a smoother and more effective organization.

Communication was a constant concern. He did all that he could to ensure that Assembly and Council were apprised of all the data necessary to make fully-informed decisions, and that it would be in a form that was easily accessible. He chose his words carefully, both in speaking and in writing. He was concerned about precise wording in reports and recommendations in order that everything would be clear and unambiguous.

He had an appreciation of modern office technology and searched out ways to use it more effectively. A notable result is that the Assembly Office is now able to do the entire typesetting of the Acts and Proceedings of the General Assembly inhouse.

Dr. Roberts is not only an able administrator. He also has a deep pastoral concern which was shown in many ways: whether gently advising moderators on sticky procedures of debate, or helping a neophyte commissioner, or assisting colleagues who were dealing with difficult situations. He was always sympathetic to people of the Church who were facing special needs. Many hours of his time have been spent with men and women who sought his advice or brought him their problems and he dealt with each one fairly and compassionately.

His work took him into many ecumenical circles. There he participated fully, but he always maintained his loyalty to his own denomination and represented it effectively.

Dr. Roberts brought to his office many gifts. He has used those gifts in the service of the whole Church. Above all, he brought a deep commitment to the Church and to its King and Head. As he concludes this phase of his ministry, we express to him the gratitude of this General Assembly and of The Presbyterian Church in Canada.

The Moderator spoke warmly of Earle’s pastoral approach in his years as Clerk of Assembly. Dr. Roberts responded. The Court noted with thanks the support given to Earle by his wife Dorothy.