As part of the regular worship service on Sunday, Jan. 14, congregants and invited guests of the Second Congregational Church, UCC in Newcastle participated in a special "Service of Commissioning" for Robert Breckenridge as he embarks on his missionary work in Zambia, Africa. More than 100 well-wishers said good-bye to Robert at a reception in the church’s Fellowship Hall immediately following the service.
Born, raised, and educated in Illinois, Breckenridge has lived and worked in the Twin Villages community since 2004 and is a member of the Second Congregational Church in Newcastle.
A professional educator, he has taught all grades and ages in diverse arenas: an English instructor in Managua, Nicaragua; a bilingual Spanish elementary teacher and junior college Spanish instructor in Dallas, Texas; an elementary and middle school ESL and Spanish teacher on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; and most recently as a social studies teacher at Lincoln Academy. While living and working in Dallas, Breckenridge pursued graduate studies in religion at Southern Methodist University, taking the Ph.D. in 1993. His principal area of interest was the history of the Christian church.
Breckenridge retired from Lincoln Academy this past summer and offered himself as a volunteer educator to his church denomination, submitting his application for service to the Global Ministries (cooperative mission) office of the United Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was chosen to partner with an institution in Zambia--the United Church of Zambia University in Kitwe, Zambia--to teach church history and related subjects in their theology department. Zambia, in southern Africa, is a landlocked country of rugged terrain and diverse wildlife, with many parks and safari areas.
Breckenridge left for Zambia during the week of Jan. 20 and expects to be gone for at least one year. His wife Maria will follow in a few months after spending some time caring for her elderly father in Nicaragua. The couple has two grown sons, both of whom support them in their decision to undertake this work.