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News from the Hill June 10, 2008 | back to index

Spirit of the Hill Award 2008: The Ministry of Alan and Sally McCain

Alan McCain and Sally Bliss met as students at Andover Newton in 1964 and after graduation went to Tarsus American College in Tarsus, Turkey, as missionaries of the United Church Board for World Ministries.

Returning in 1974, Mick served as Pastor of the UCC churches in Wells River, VT and Bath, NH. Sally was active in UCC National Women’s Events and Conference activities. Five years later they accepted calls to the UCC church in Rochester, MN; Sally as Minister of Christian Education and Mick as Senior Pastor.

In 1988 they returned to Turkey where Mick became the Mission Secretary. Ecumenical endeavors included the Board of the Near East School of Theology, the Middle East Council of Churches, the Jinishian Memorial Fund and the Armenian Evangelical Union, the Istanbul Interparish Migrant Program and activities involving Eastern, Armenian, and Syrian Orthodox and Roman Catholic clergy and lay persons. They also ran a hospitality facility called “The Upper Room” which attracted many to the shores of the Bosphorus.

Women in Turkish VillageWhen a devastating earthquake hit North West Turkey in 1999 Mick was named administrative coordinator of the relief effort through T.A.C.T. (Turkish Action of Churches Together) with contributions from World Council of Churches and Church World Service. Tents, bedding, stoves, hygiene kits and layettes were distributed.
With a small grant from Global Ministries, Sally helped local women organize a cooperative to decorate colorful scarves trimmed with distinctive edging called “oya.” The Turkish Scarf Project provided income for the crafters and education courses. They built a women’s center with a library, classroom, kitchen, and playroom.

Sally brought hundreds of Turkish scarves to the 23rd General Synod in 2001 which were quickly adopted. She looked forward to returning to Kaynasli. Unfortunately Sally died unexpectedly of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Back in Turkey, Mick was coordinator of an ecumenical service of remembrance after the attacks of September 11, 2001. He wrote in his newsletter: “The church was full. For the first time in Istanbul, Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergymen prayed together, took comfort from the holy writings, and gave support to those bereaved by the terrorist attacks. …many tongues in that place affirmed the presence of the transcendent God.” 

Women in Turkish VillageMick retired as Mission Secretary at the end of 2002.  Evin Egeli and Mick McCain were married in 2004 and make their home in Urla, near Izmir, Turkey. Sally and Mick are parents of two children: Elizabeth Schroeder and Andrew McCain, and three grandchildren, all of whom live in Rochester, MN.

We give thanks to God for the faithful ministry of these two servants of Jesus Christ