Remembering Co-Founder Jim Mulligan

March 2019
Earth Ministry

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Earth Ministry co-founder Rev. Jim Mulligan. Jim was a wise and loving person who brought his commitment, experience, and energy to Earth Ministry.  His care for God’s creation and the human and natural communities of our common home set the standard for our mission and programs. 

Jim and his wife Ruth have long been the heart of Earth Ministry and we will miss Jim greatly. We invite all of you to join the Earth Ministry community for a celebration of Jim’s life at 1pm on Saturday, March 9 at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle. Contributions in his honor can be made to Earth Ministry’s Jim Mulligan Memorial Fund.


The Reverend James Mulligan, 76, passed away quickly and peacefully early Thursday morning, February 14, following eight years living with Alzheimer’s. He was a gentle man, with a loving, helping heart, and a willingness to take unassuming leadership roles when and where needed, often behind the scene, and always with a great sense of humor.

Jim and his twin brother, Timothy, were born November 17, 1942, to Frank and Marjorie Mulligan, in Los Angeles, California. His family moved to Marietta, Georgia, where he graduated from Marietta High School, and Hampden-Sydney College, Virginia. He earned his MDiv to become a Presbyterian minister from Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey, in 1968. With acceptance by Seattle Presbytery, Jim moved to Seattle in 1971 to become Pastoral Counselor at Presbyterian Counseling Service, (now Samaritan Center). He became an Approved Supervisor in the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists in 1979. Jim was recognized as an exceptional Family Therapist and Supervisor, serving for twenty-five years.

In June 1981, Jim married his loving wife of 38 years, Ruth Voskuyl Ferguson, and stepped into the role of engaged stepfather to Leslie, 14, and Karrie, 13.

Following a wilderness river canoe trip in northern British Columbia, Jim and Ruth were inspired to embark in a new direction. In 1992 they co-founded Earth Ministry, an ecumenical religious environmental non-profit, with Carla Berkedal Pryne, Episcopal priest. By 1996, Jim had moved to full-time involvement, becoming Executive Director. Jim served as a visionary leader for seven years, followed by eight years as devoted editor of the mini-journal, “Earth Letter”.

Jim relished his time spent in nature at their beloved cabin on Harstine Island. He was an avid photographer of nature (especially birds) and family activities. The last six years of his life, he enjoyed participating actively in the dementia-friendly activities of the “Momentia” community ( Jim was appreciated for his warm smile, big hugs, great sense of humor, and beautiful singing voice.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth; brother, Tim (Kyle); stepdaughters Leslie David (Chris), and Karrie Sutkus (Don); and grandchildren Justin, Kaitlyn, Heather, and Erika.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Jim’s honor can be made to Earth Ministry’s Jim Mulligan Memorial Fund. A memorial service and reception will be held on Saturday, March 9, Saint Mark’s Cathedral, 1:00pm. Jim’s online Guestbook is at