Ruth Cole Burcaw’s journey to become Executive Director of the Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM) in Winston-Salem may have involved both nurture and nature. Her inclination toward leadership within a Moravian context began early. She served as president of Regional Youth Council as well as both m-staff and counselor at Laurel Ridge Moravian Camp. She was also a youth leader at both Fries Memorial Moravian Church and Unity Moravian Church. She was influenced by Moravians at many different churches, including Konnoak Hills (where she was baptized), Grace, Advent, Kernersville, and College Hill. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA as well as her Master of Arts degree in Public Affairs at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has been a business owner in the Winston-Salem area and also served on many boards and committees within the Moravian Church. In 2006 she was Chair of the Children and Family Commission on the Moravian Board of Christian Education, which was the predecessor of the BCM. It is no surprise that the culmination of her professional skills and Moravian experiences led her to apply for the job of Executive Director for the BCM. She was hired in July 2012 after The Rev. Rick Sides had served as its interim leader during start-up. Ruth’s success has even been recognized outside of the Moravian denomination. In 2017, the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (Presbyterian Church USA) presented Ruth with the EMPOWER Award.
From the perspective of nature, I don’t know if there is any such thing as a Moravian Leader gene. But if there were, Ruth surely inherited it. She is the daughter of the late Rev. Hal Cole and Joy Wheland Cole. So, she grew up with strong Moravian role models. I can personally attest to this since her father was pastor at Kernersville Moravian Church and led me to become Moravian in 1982. On her mother’s side of the family, there are at least seven generations of Moravians from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Ruth’s maternal grandfather, Richard Wheland, was Sunday School Superintendent at Sharon Moravian Church in New Philadelphia, OH. Her great-uncle was The Rt. Rev. Ed Kortz, native of Nazareth, PA, and former head of the Board of World Mission and seminary professor.
Whether Ruth Cole Burcaw’s leadership savvy is the product of nurture, nature, or both, we are proud to honor this Amazing Moravian Woman.