The Rev. Dorsey Levell, the founder and longtime director of Council of Churches of the Ozarks, passed away Jan. 22 at the age of 86. He founded COC in 1969 and built an agency that reaches across the faith community — according to the COC, the agency works with 72 congregations from 17 religious affiliations — to provide important services to individuals and families in need. COC now encompasses nine services, including the Crosslines food pantry, the Safe to Sleep overnight women’s shelter and the One Stop early childhood education program.
In 1995, Levell was honored with the Humanitarian of the Year for his work with COC and dedication to community.
The Rev. Mark Struckhoff, who later succeeded Levell in leading the Council of Churches, is also a familiar face at the Humanitarian events to share grace before lunch. He said he felt an immediate connection with Levell when he met him in the late 1980s.
While Levell was a strong administrator, Struckhoff said, his true gift was finding interconnectedness and common ground in putting diverse backgrounds together in faith.
“He definitely was on the cutting edge of that evolution of putting an emphasis on the participation of a donor in their giving and really changing the community,” Struckhoff says. “Ozarks Food Harvest rose up out of that. Sigma House, coming out of Burrell, was reaching out to people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Safe to Sleep is something Dorsey would have seen the writing on the wall. The Council of Churches gave birth to so many things.”
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