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IRD Grieves the Loss of Keith Roderick, Defender of the Persecuted Church

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, jwalton@TheIRD.org

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Institute on Religion and Democracy is mourning the death of long-time friend and defender of persecuted Christians, the Very Reverend Keith Roderick.

Father Keith, as he was known to thousands of the oppressed across the globe -- from believers in the Soviet Union, to Copts, to redeemed slaves and persecuted Christians from Sudan and South Sudan -- passed away during the night of Monday, March 10 at his home in Springfield, Illinois.

Serving the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield as Provost of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Roderick had previously served under the Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman in the Diocese of Quincy as the Episcopal Church's only Canon for Persecuted Christians.

IRD Religious Liberty Director Faith McDonnell worked with Roderick in his roles as Christian Solidarity International's Washington, D.C. representative and co-director of the Sudan Campaign, and leader of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), for which he had been Secretary General since 1992. But she first heard of him through his advocacy for persecuted Soviet Christians and Jews. In 1982 Roderick founded the Society of St. Stephen for religious prisoners of conscience and their families. He was also Co-Director of the International Task Force on Soviet Jewry.

Together with author and Co-Secretary General of the Transatlantic Legislative Group on Counter Terrorism, Dr. Walid Phares, McDonnell will organize a Washington, D.C. memorial service and celebration of the life of Roderick later in the spring.

IRD Religious Liberty Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:

    "Father Keith was more than a fellow advocate; he was a dear friend and brother in Christ. We will pray for Mary Beth, and their children, Seth, Micah, Noah, Sarah, Joseph, and Susannah.

    "We mourn our loss of this great defender of the oppressed, but rejoice because we know this is also a Homecoming, at which Keith will hear 'Well done, good and faithful servant,' from his Lord.

    "When I read about Keith and the Society of St. Stephen, I never dreamed someday I would march in front of the Sudan Embassy with him.

    "I can picture Keith, with his beloved Mary Beth at his side, demonstrating with Iraqi Christians outside the White House, or on the Sudan Embassy sidewalk, pushing tiny Susannah in a stroller with one hand, and holding a 'Stop Genocide in Sudan,' with the other."