After spending several months fighting cancer, Rev. Patrick Rogers, the longtime pastor at United Church of Christ Fort Lauderdale (UCC), has passed away after a short but intense fight with cancer.
The church announced it on social media, saying, “[On July 26] at 11:51 p.m. our beloved pastor, the Reverend Patrick Rogers, went home to God. Pray for our church as we face changes in the future.”
Earlier in the day they said he had entered hospice care.
For several weeks, Rogers had been traveling back and forth to Houston for special medical treatments, and recently said he was hopeful doctors in South Florida would be able to begin administering the medicine here.
He led UCC for seven years and worked tirelessly until the end to make our community, and the world, a better place. Even as Rogers began the final weeks of his life, he worked to save the lives of others. A month before he died, he organized Gun Safety Sunday, giving out free gunlocks to any gun owner (or friend of a gun owner) who wanted to make their home safer. The UCC Fellowship heard of the program, and is working to bring the event to all their churches in North America.
Rogers invited me to cover the event for SFGN. He was working with volunteers, putting together gun safety packets, each with a gunlock.
“It was speaking to me. It was speaking to the church to do something,” he said that day. “It definitely was God’s vision, put into me, to do something.”
His enthusiasm was as high as ever, and in between telling me why the event was important, he made jokes and even threw a little shade my way.
Gay, Proud, & Christian
When he came to UCC in 2015, he made a direct plea for the LGBT community to rediscover God and church.
“I understand how you feel, because I have lived it too,” he told SFGN at the time. “This church is a safe place to be who you are. We are watching people come into their own here and it is great to see.”
Originally from Tennessee, he became a pastor later in life in a time when religion was used as a bludgeon against LGBT people. He never let that deter his faith in God or humanity. It didn’t matter if you were a church member or even religious. He led by example and a smile.
Besides being a spiritual touchstone for many in South Florida, he was a gregarious friend to even more, often both at the same time. He was the spiritual leader of the philanthropic group Imperial Sun Court of All Florida, and in January he received the Founders Award for his community service.
Founders, czarina/czar 1, Queen mother, King father Barbie LaChoy and Marc Viens told SFGN, “Reverend Patrick is a rare kind of person who exemplifies all that is and could be in this world. The love and support UCC has shown the Imperial Court of Florida is a reflection of Patrick’s passion for love, respect and kindness.”
Funeral arrangements are still being worked out and will be announced on the church’s social media.