Dr. Frances Elise Voruz Burnford was born in Newburg Oregon, on April 20, 1928. She was the twelfth child born to Elodie and Lloyd Northrup. Her mother Elodie died shortly after Fran's birth, and Fran grew up with foster parents Herbert and Della Voruz and her foster brother, Herbert Voruz, Jr.
Throughout her life, Fran considered the Church to be a primary source of
strength, guidance, nurturing, instruction, love, and empowerment. She believed that her baptism called her to a ministry of education, and it was in this field that she received a B.A. in 1949 (as well as a B.A. in Music). She completed her M.A. in Educational Psychology at CSU, Northridge in 1966, and her Ph.D in Education with an emphasis in Adult Education in 1976 at California Coast University in Santa Ana. She conducted postdoctoral studies in Human Services Administration at UCLA and USC, and became an Associate in Ministry in 1989.
In November 1988 Fran became a member of the Immaculate Heart Community, a Christian lay community of women and men committed to furthering God's mission of peace and justice. In 2008, she was elected as Co-Director that organization, and served in this role over six years. A dedicated ecumenist, Fran was active in Lutheran/Roman Catholic dialogues, developing many of the materials used in the ecumenical process in Los Angeles. She served for several years on the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches in Christ.
Fran taught in public schools in Oregon and California, and was a Demonstration Teacher at UCLA's Experimental Laboratory School. She was a Human Services Consultant to the US Secretary of Defense, as well as Director of the Human Services Center at USC. Earlier in her professional life, Fran served as Director for the Institute of Changing Ministry at USC, and prior to that National Substance Abuse Training and Treatment Center at UCLA. She was the recipient of numerous awards, included the California Hospital Association's Public Service Award in the Field of Drug Prevention, the Rush Gold Medal Award from the American Psychiatric Association, and an honorary Doctorate of Theology from California Lutheran University.
Fran served as Assistant to the Bishop of the former South Pacific District of the American Lutheran Church, and on the ALC's National Council studying the possibility of ordaining women. She served the ELCA Churchwide body as Associate Executive Director of the Church in Society. She was the Director of Congregational Ministries for the Southwest California Synod and, following her retirement, served in volunteer assignments both at the synod and in her congregation. She was active in Stephens Ministry, and planning and developing ELM ministries (Equipping Leaders for Mission). She was active at synod assemblies, and at the synod mid-week Eucharist service, preparing for communion and worship and playing the piano.
A favorite Bible Verse of Fran's was Romans 8:37-39 - "I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor heights, nor death nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." She passed into glory on July 25 at Sherman Oaks Hospital, with her family in visitation and, with her daughter Terry, reading Psalm 23.
Of all her blessings from a gracious and loving God, Fran considered the greatest to be her children, grandchildren and great grandson. They filled her life with joy, love and grace.