Charles Frederick Hahn, 89, of Bloomington, Indiana, completed his journey on earth on Friday, March 27, 2020, at Richland Bean-Blossom Healthcare Center. He was born on September 9, 1930, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the son of Nell (King) Hahn and Fred W. Hahn.
From his earliest days as president of his Oklahoma City District Methodist Youth Fellowship, Charles’s life was defined by his calling as a pastor. Charles received his undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University and his Master of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology at SMU, and was ordained in 1956. While at Perkins, Charles met Doris Schulze, also a graduate student there. They married in 1955.
After serving as pastor for several churches in the United Methodist Church Southwest Texas Conference, Charles requested a special assignment to work with the Ecumenical Institute and then the Institute of Cultural Affairs, initially teaching courses in religious and cultural studies and later doing community development work around the world. During their work with these organizations, Charles and Doris lived in: Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; London and Yorkshire, England; Brussels, Belgium; Mumbai, India; and Houston, TX. While Charles was always proud to be an “Okie,” he enjoyed making every place he lived his home.
After twenty-two years working with the EI and ICA, Charles returned to local church ministry in Texas. Charles loved all aspects of pastoring, but especially ministering to those most in pain, in need, and in despair. He was at his best making hospital visits, performing funerals, and advocating for society’s most vulnerable and marginalized. He was committed to social justice and was not afraid to speak out. After retiring from the ministry, Charles volunteered with the Indigent Healthcare Program in Bastrop, Texas, where he eventually became director before retiring a second time in 2001.
Charles and Doris embraced Bloomington as their home after moving here in 2004 to be closer to their daughters. Charles enjoyed volunteering for the First United Methodist Church Wednesday Pantry, which led to his connection to Hoosier Hills Food Bank. He was also devoted to Hoosiers for a Common Sense Health Plan, believing that good healthcare should be a right for all.
Charles was a gracious man who loved humanity, family, community, the United Methodist Church, the planet, music of all kinds, all creatures (especially dogs), and pancakes.
Charles is survived by his wife, Doris, daughters Marsha Hahn (Pat Moriarty) of Everett, WA, and Shelley Hahn (Greg Simon) of Bloomington, IN, grandson Erin Stansbury (Kelly Woznicki) and great grandchildren Sam, Margo and Annalee Stansbury of Seattle, WA.
ON ASSIGNMENT AT THE ECUMENICAL INSTITUTE/ INSTITUTE OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS: 1964-1986
Charles and Doris Hahn, along with their daughters, Marsha and Shelley moved to Fifth City in Chicago, August 1964. The first year in Chicago, Charles spent much of his E.I. life working on pedagogy. He was routinely assigned to RS-I and PLC teams both in Chicago and across the U.S. Then, at the end of the summer of 1965, Charles and Doris along with Joe and Carol Pierce, were assigned to a three-month research trip across the Arab world. This was the last of a series of such trips undertaken to study the depths of life in continents around the world.
In September of 1968 the Institute set out to expand its work through establishing Religious Houses rather than working solely in and through Chicago. The Hahn family along with two other families from our Chicago base moved to Los Angeles, CA to join four other families who wanted to be a part of our life and work. After searching for suitable property, we chose to establish the Los Angeles House in Santa Monica where Charles served as Prior until the following summer.
In June, the Hahn’s moved back to Chicago to participate in the Summer 69 Academy. The following Spring (1970) Charles travelled to the U.K. where he and Doris visited families from across England who had attended Religious Studies I courses held during the earlier part of the year. E.I. courses followed, along with an invitation from the local Church of England Vicor to establish a Religious House in Thornaby-on-Tees where Charles became House Prior. He continued to visit clergy around the U.K. and to set up courses. In the Summer of 1972, the Thornaby House sponsored “Summer 72” with participants from across the U.K. In the Fall of 1972 Charles returned to Chicago where he become Prior of Development Centrum.
In the summer of 1974, the Institute established several coordinating centers or Nexus around the world in order to spread the work done in Chicago. Charles was assigned as Prior of the Brussels Nexus, which coordinated Institute work in Europe and Africa. Charles also served as Prior of Development Centrum for Africa as well as Europe. He set up appointments across Europe, especially with Roman Catholic Orders in Rome, where occasionally an Institute presenter was asked to tell our story at a national meeting of a Catholic Order. In 1975 Charles went to the opening of the Kawangware Human Development Project in Nairobi, and often he hosted members from Africa Houses who came to Europe on Development trips.
In 1976-77 Charles was assigned to Chicago but spent most of his time back in Europe working in Development. In 1977 Charles was reassigned to Brussels where he stayed one more year.
In 1978–82 Charles was Prior of Management Centrum at the Chicago Nexus. And in 82-84 he went to the Bombay Nexus as prior of Research Centrum. That team did the local planning and set-up for the IERD (International Exposition of Rural Development) in 1984. The Research team split their time between planning the event to be held in Delhi and visiting established rural development projects sponsored by many different groups. Research Centum evaluated these projects in order to set up visitation plans for those who came from around the world to Delhi for the actual meeting in 1982.
In 1982 Charles was again assigned as Prior of Management Centrum at the Chicago Nexus. And 1984-86 he was assigned to the Houston House, where he worked in Research. The life and work
of the Institute(s) and the Order: Ecumenical were dear to Charles, not only until 1986, but for the rest of his life.
In the face of great loss, no words convey the sadness we feel for those who loved Charles Hahn. Yet we dare to say Death is neither a curse nor a blessing, an end or a beginning, but only that it is a wondrous, frightening and redemptive reality. It is a step into the Unknown Unknown. It is sacred, and it is good.
Even though Death is universal, it is also unique—because every life is unrepeatable. It arrives in its own time and is always shocking, even when it is anticipated. It can be painful or peaceful, timely or not, tragic or strangely welcome, or all of the above at once. We don’t choose the manner or the moment and can only respond by acknowledging its finality and trusting what was, is and will be. We go on.
Whether you celebrate death as a Home Going or as a finality that prevents you from being with your loved one physically, acknowledging death is important. We accompany you in your grief. We pray for you in your journey. We hope for your experience of being accompanied by the Divine Spirit. May it sustain you in your sorrow. Our hearts are with you.
We are grateful for what we learned and how our lives were enriched because of the unique life of Charles Hahn. We offer here our appreciation for the contributions he made to the life and work of the Ecumenical Institute/ICA.
We were incredibly honored to have so many friends and colleagues from all over the world celebrating with us yesterday. What a gift; what a beautiful tribute to Dad.
I feel filled full this morning. Of course, there is still grief and will be for some time, I’m sure. But most of all I feel deep gratitude and joy for having been able to celebrate Dad’s life in such a meaningful way with so many people who were part of his life.
We were so grateful for Wayne’s guidance and direction in figuring out how to make it all work. I was in awe of his ability to bring the whole thing off without a single hiccup! There were issues to consider with regard to how many people could join as “panelists” (with speaking “privileges”) at one time, and of course concerns about managing potential issues with muting and unmuting, background noise, etc. etc. Perhaps whoever pursues the next virtual event will find a way to take it to the next level. Our hope is to at least be able to send to everyone a list of all the participants. It’s not the same as seeing faces, but hopefully it will help us all feel one level deeper connection.
Without a doubt we were beyond grateful for the amazing community that joined us to celebrate Dad’s life. I think I can speak for my whole family in saying that we were filled full beyond anything we’d imagined. And oh, how honored Dad must have felt–out there in whatever shape his soul has taken. 🙂 In deep gratitude,
~~ Shelley Hahn
What a powerful memorial to Charles Hahn today online! It really lifted up his whole life, his gifts, his passions, his great contribution to the Spirit Movement. It was a good model to follow I think for those who pass during this pandemic and social distancing complete with “reception” following the service. Thanks so much to the Hahn Family, especially to Patrick Moriarty’s reflections, to Paul and Wayne and Eilene for hosting, technological orchestration, and leading us in the singing. And of course, all those who offered stories about Charles. We never worked directly with Charles but felt like we knew him. Thank you Doris for your teaching my PLC in October of 1969 in New York City and visiting me at the Dewey Avenue Presbyterian Church a few months afterward! So many of us have been enriched by knowing and working with the Hahn Family over the years!