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Religious leader Kemper to retire

The Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper is retiring in June after 18 years as executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches, the largest interdenominational association in the state.

Kemper, 66, of Lexington, joined the council in 1991. She has been its chief legislative lobbyist and public voice on a variety of issues, including health care reform, gun control, church-state separation, religion in public education, the death penalty, justice for the poor and gambling expansion.

The council, which represents 3,000 congregations with nearly a million members statewide, is forming a committee to conduct a national search for Kemper's successor. The Rev. Kent Gilbert, pastor of Union Church in Berea, is chairman.

In an interview, Kemper said the council is beginning a long strategic-planning process to define "what it is called to do."

"Since I probably wouldn't be around for a long period after that (plan is developed), I think it's appropriate that it be done by someone new," she said.

"I'm not going anywhere," Kemper added. "Lexington is my hometown, and I'm still going to be here."

Kemper is a graduate of Transylvania University and Yale Divinity School. She was ordained by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and has led six congregations during 42 years of ministry.

She has been pastor of New Union Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Woodford County since 1996.

Her family includes two grown daughters and two granddaughters.