Those who knew her best remember Nancy Brown as someone who cared deeply for her church and her community.
Brown, who died of complications from cancer March 9 at age 77, served from 1984-1994 in the Kansas House of Representatives from the 27th District.
She was also one of the founding members of Church of the Resurrection, chairing the first visionary committee, early church councils and its social action committee.
“Nancy's impact on Resurrection, and around the world, was incalculable,” the Rev. Adam Hamilton, founding pastor of the church, wrote in a Facebook post.
Brown and Hamilton were together on mission trips to Russia, Honduras, South Africa and Zambia – “She was the driving force in our efforts in these places,” Hamilton wrote – as well as founding a 5K race to fund partnerships in Africa.
“Even as she battled cancer, she traveled back to Africa last year to encourage those she with whom she had been in mission,” he wrote. “To many of them she was Mama Nancy.”
Brown served as a delegate from the former Kansas East Conference to the General Conference in 2004 and 2008.
It was at the 2004 conference where she met the Rev. Dr. Mark Holland, a clergy delegate at the time.
“We just hit it off clearly, kindred spirits,” Holland recalled.
Holland said it was with Brown’s guidance that he became a commissioner in the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, and later mayor of KCK.
“She was very gracious, very generous. She connected me with a bunch of people, politically smart folks, and hosted some fundraisers for me throughout my career,” Holland said. “She’s just one of these remarkable people who knows everyone and is a connector to people. She was really in public office for the right reasons, for the greater good. That’s what I aspire to be.”
Holland said he admired Brown’s ability to be in government and be a Christian.
“She really epitomized a person of faith serving in public office, in my mind,” he said. “She talked about how important it is to navigate that and still stay active in the church. How to speak with conviction and stating what you are without alienating people.”
Those are philosophies that Holland, now executive director of Mainstream UMC, still tries to uphold.
“I find people respect those who state where they stand rather than shying away from it or having some sort of mealy-mouthed, neutral position,” he said. “It really loses respect from all sides.”
After her legislative term was complete, Brown founded the Kansas Association of Townships and Women’s Legislative Network of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In The United Methodist Church, she served as a board member of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women for the past quadrennium.
Funeral services for Nancy Brown will be Friday, April 3 at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood.
“She was a FORCE for the Kingdom and there will never be another like her,” Hamilton wrote.