Richard (Dick) Burdon, United Methodist pastor and LGBTQ advocate, was born to Mabel and Gayle Burdon on February 18, 1931 somewhere in the Terwilliger curves on the way to the hospital. Richard grew up on the family dairy farm outside of Willamina, Oregon where his grandparents settled in the 1800’s. As a young man, Richard studied agriculture at Oregon State University and traveled to Brazil as part of a Methodist mission to teach farming techniques in the rural State of Espirito Santo. In Brazil, Richard met Isabel who was also teaching in the same rural community. Richard and Isabel married and returned to the United States where Richard attended Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
Richard was ordained a clergy in The Methodist Church and spent several years serving congregations on the U.S. East Coast, in Africa and back home in Oregon. He came to the realization that he was gay in the early 1980s, ended his marriage and took leave from pastoring. Thereafter, he worked for the United States Postal Service and, with his family, operated a small blueberry farm in Wilsonville and Tualatin, Oregon.
Throughout his life, Dick was a strong advocate and activist for human rights, social justice, and the LGBTQ rights movement nationally and locally. He was active in the Methodist Federation for Social Action and Reconciling Ministries groups in the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. He was a faithful member of University Park UMC, a Reconciling Congregation, in Portland, and a strong supporter of Shalom Ministries.
Richard had a low-key persona but loved meeting people and enjoyed staying active with many groups, activities, and faith communities. Richard maintained his love for gardening and propagating native and exotic plants. His great passion was square dancing. He joined the Rosetown Ramblers, a gay square dancing group in Portland, in June, 1983. He danced with the group every year on the bed of a truck in the Pride Parade and traveled with the group to dancing events around the region and country. He wrote this early history of the group for the Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest: https://www.glapn.org/6023SquareDance.html
Dick died at his home on January 19, 2018. His memorial service was held at the Metropolitan Community Church of Portland.
(This biographical statement written by Mark Bowman and Deborah Maria from his funeral obituary and recollections of clergy friends.)
Biography Date: June 2022
Memorial service bulletin for Richard Burdon, February 18, 2018.
Clergy Activist | Methodist (UMC, United Methodist Church) | Reconciling Ministries Network (formerly Reconciling Congregation Program) | Portland | Oregon
“Richard Burdon | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed March 20, 2023, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/richard-burdon.