Union front: UAW chaplain remembers leader who forged path in early years

Michael Collingsworth, first chairperson of the International UAW Chaplaincy, age 65, died April 13, 2016.

A member of UAW Local 1219, he worked at Ford Motor Co. in Lima, Ohio, from 1968 to 2004 and served his local as its chaplain. He was instrumental in the development of today’s UAW chaplaincy program.

It began in 1987 when Collingsworth attended a UAW conference in California, where he met with UAW leaders and others who talked about the possibility of such a program. Over the years more meetings and fellowships followed, each time leading to more interest in a UAW chaplaincy program.

In 1990, Collingsworth was appointed the first International chairperson of the UAW Chaplaincy Program. From 1990 to 1997, he was instrumental in setting up annual chaplaincy conferences in Dearborn, Michigan, and he also worked to help set up the chaplaincy bylaws to be in compliance with the International UAW.

The International UAW Chaplaincy Committee was established in 1997 and he served as the International chairperson until 2004 when he retired from Ford.

The UAW Chaplaincy Program would not have succeeded without Mike Collingsworth spearheading it throughout its formative years. He was the catalyst who pursued, instructed and led the chaplaincy initiative we enjoy today.

It was my supreme pleasure to have known Mike Collingsworth and to have served alongside him.

Submitted by UAW Chaplain Paul Nichols, Local 1895