The Rev. Ron Quay, executive director of Churches United of the Quad-Cities Area, has retired after 10 years because of health reasons.

Until a permanent replacement is found, the organization will be led by Ann Wachal, associate director and program manager. “We want people to know the staff is still moving along and going forward,” Wachal said Thursday.

Churches United is a Christian ecumenical organization of 136 member churches in Iowa and Illinois that operates 24 food pantries and three hot meal sites and sponsors the annual CROP Hunger Walk.

One of Quay’s major accomplishments was the 2006 opening of Winnie’s Place, a shelter for single women with or without children who are homeless or domestically abused. The organization also opened Winnie’s Wishes, a resale store that raises money for the shelter.

A radio program called “Faith Talks,” airing for six years on the St. Ambrose University radio station, was another major initiative in which he and Wachal interviewed people locally, nationally — even internationally. “We interviewed a professor in Syria right in the middle of bombs being dropped around him,” Wachal said.

Quay’s commitment to social justice and inter-faith understanding is evident in a review of Quad-City Times news stories. He walked for peace after Quad-City shootings, attended the dedication of a mosque and spoke for immigration reform, same-sex marriage rights and help for the homeless and hungry.

After tragedies such as the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings and the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, he helped lead healing services.

“Our role is a transforming mission, a transforming force,” he said in an interview shortly after he was hired in the Quad-Cities, replacing the Rev. Chuck Landon. “Even in the earliest times, the primitive church became the point of support for the community …”

Quay had planned to retire in 2013, but his health moved up his decision, Wachal said.

Although the board has not met, Wachal said that if she had to guess, filling the position could take a year to 18 months.

Churches United is completing its 51st year and in that time, has had but four directors, she said.

“Churches United ministries will remain intact as we continue to meet the needs of the community, but you may see a few changes taking place as we journey through this transition period together,” according to a news release from the organization.

Quay was born in Ohio and graduated from Judson College in Elgin, Ill. He previously had been a pastor in New Jersey.