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Bauman, Kenneth G. (1926-1986)
Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 1986 Dec 25 p. 1
Birth date: 1926 April 6, India
Date of Death: 1986 December 21, Indiana
text of obituary:
General Conf. President Dies Following Surgery
Was Serving as Berne Pastor
By General Conf. News Service
BERNE, IND.Kenneth G. Bauman, 60, newly elected president of the General Conference Mennonite Church, died at a Ft. Wayne, Ind., hospital Sunday, Dec. 21, of complications following surgery for cancer.
Services will take place at 10:30 a. m., Dec. 27, at the First Mennonite Church of Berne. An additional memorial service is planned at the Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton, Kan., at 5 p. m. on Dec. 29.
Diagnosis of stomach cancer in mid-December prompted the surgery, which took place on Thursday, Dec. 18. Doctors found that the disease had metastasized, necessitating a much longer surgery than was expected.
AT THE TIME of his death, Bauman was senior pastor at First Mennonite Church of Berne, with 1,135 members the largest U. S. congregation in the conference. He had held this position since 1973, during which time he also served 12 years on the General Board of the General Conference Mennonite Church. He was elected president of the conference at triennial sessions in Saskatoon, Sask., in July 1986.
Bauman's years as pastor were preceded by 18 years as a missionary in India, also for the General Conference Mennonite Church. He and his wife returned to India from June to November 1985 to teach at Union Biblical Seminary in Pune.
He was a graduate of Bluffton (Ohio) College and Mennonite Biblical Seminary.
Bauman is survived by his wife, Mary Gallagher Bauman; five children, Timothy, Ruth, David, Daniel and Stephen; his mother, Ella Garber Bauman, retired missionary to India; and his brother and sisters, Clara Stauffer, Albert, Harvella Stutzman and Elizabeth Shelly. He was preceded in death by his father, Harvey Bauman.
"KEN'S COMMITMENT to Jesus Christ," says conference general secretary Vern Preheim, "will inspire me as long as I live."
The conference's vice president, Florence Driedger, Regina, Sask., assumed the responsibilities of the president since Bauman's death.
The Mennonite obituary: 1987 Jan 27 p. 44
text of obituary:
Celebrating Kenneth G. Bauman
He was a man of prayer
Mary G. Bauman
Kenneth's death has been a shock to us as a family. We did not know how sick he was. He had no pain, only the discomfort of not being able to eat as much as he wanted. The hundreds of people at his funeral from all over the country reminded us of the many lives he had affected and his broad ministry locally and worldwide.
After much prayer and heart searching, Kenneth permitted his name to stand on the Saskatoon '86 ballot for president of the General Conference Mennonite Church because he believed his convictions and those of the larger constituency were represented in the development plan and the goals for the next three years. He was elected and wholeheartedly gave himself to the work blocked out for him.
Then suddenly on Dec. 21, 1986, those plans were changed and he stepped into the presence of his God. Across the threshold of our home have come hundreds of cards and letters of condolence. They have brought comfort to our family. Not only is our family sensing a loss, but our local church and the wider conference is admitting the sovereign ways of God with awe and wonder.
Many of us are asking why. But who has an answer? The apostle Paul explains that God shocked his disciples by permitting his Son to suffer and die. The plan God had laid before the foundation of the world was being worked out. Because of that plan we are declared righteous in God's sight and have the promised assurance of eternal life. We praise God's name for this. The early disciples in their limited human knowledge no doubt asked why, concerning their divine friend.
I do not know the answer to my husband's going home, but I reverently admit that Kenneth was a man of prayer. He consistently spent an hour or more each morning in prayer for our family, the local family of believers and the wider conference. I received a letter from a friend in New York who had heard of Kenneth's health problem. She wrote, "Our church has a daily prayer meeting, 6-7 a. m., and you will be lifted up by some beautiful prayer warriors there."
Do some of our churches have daily prayer meetings? The challenge comes to those of you who believe in the power of prayer to form prayer cells in our churches across the country, to ask God for a deep cleansing revival to our conference, to intercede for the members of the General Board and all our conference leaders, claiming the power and wisdom of God to be granted to them as they make decisions and appoint new leaders to various posts. Implied in the commitment to pray is the assurance that our prayers will make a difference, that our prayers can move and influence people and the course of events. ". . . Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground it abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:24).
Mary Bauman, former missionary to India, lives at 366 W. Van Buren, Berne, IN 46711.
A man sent from God
"Kenneth Bauman died yesterday." I did not want to believe it. It settled upon me like a heavy weight that made thinking about other matters impossible. Only one month ago I had spent three days and four nights at the Bauman home in Berne, Ind. It was the week of their church's annual mission rally, Ken had invited me to give the opening sermon.
I observed Ken in his home, his parish and in the community. His love for the church and his commitment to the pulpit ministry were obvious. What was even more obvious was his commitment to the General Conference Mennonite Church. He was concerned about the development plan. He was concerned about the spiritual life of our conference. He deeply loved his people.
Ken introduced me to various parts of the Berne community. While driving we discovered we had many things in common. We both had difficulty out-wearing suits and were reluctant to replace them. Both of us were prone to accept speaking invitations in spite of a crowded schedule. We were almost the same age. We still had our mothers. We shared our views and feelings about conference issues, about the importance of Christian ethics, about how we might stimulate greater support for conference programs. We experienced growing appreciation for one another. There was a lot of mutual respect. I had learned to love the man; he had come to live within my heart. Now he is gone and in my heart I am sad. Ken was a men sent from God.
I, with thousands of others, will miss Kenneth Bauman. We will miss the leadership we had come to expect from him and that he was prepared to give our conference as its president for the next three years. Mixed with my sadness are the pleasant memories of friendship, of time spent together, of a common faith in our Lord. Thank you, God, for sending this man we knew and will always remember.
Jake Harms is Canadian coordinator for the Commission on Overseas Mission.
Ken came to our church, First Mennonite in Berne, Ind., 13 years ago. He came, not because he sought the position, but out of obedience to what the congregation and he perceived to be the will of God. In retrospect, we believe he made the right choice.
We were a struggling congregation, described by some as "sheep without a shepherd" or "a ship without a rudder." With God's strength Ken became that shepherd and leader we desperately needed, ministering to the congregation and to many of us individually. His sermons reflected a wide range of subjects, from salvation to discipleship, from stewardship to worship, from evangelism to death and judgment.
Ken practiced what he preached. His prayer and devotional life were exemplary. He gave himself to Christian service and his heart burned with evangelistic zeal. He was a peerless preacher and gifted teacher, a tireless worker and excellent administrator. His one consuming desire was to love and to serve his Lord in faithful obedience, regardless of cost or consequence.
Two aspects of Ken's life were especially significant for me. The first was prayer, illustrated by an experience last March at Council of Commissions in Kansas. For the past year and a half, General Board members and others have been setting aside each Friday as a special time of prayer for the work of General Conference and its leaders. Ken and I roomed together in the dorm at Bethel College. At 6:00 each morning we awoke to prepare for the rigorous day ahead. On Friday I decided to get up earlier to have extra time for prayer. I got up at 5:45 and quietly walked to the bathroom, when I saw Ken wrapped in a blanket and sitting in a chair, engrossed in prayer. I found out later that he had been up since 5 a. m. Ken's spiritual power was no accident; prayer was his lifeline to God.
The second area of great influence was his love for God's Word. He had the ability to open up the Scriptures and stimulate others to recognize their importance in our lives. He taught us how to use the inductive method of Bible study, a practice I have found very helpful.
There is much to be said about Ken's ministry to our congretation. He was always well-prepared and presented God's Word with dignity and eloquence. His sermons were biblical and relevant to everyday Christian living.
Ken's days of standing behind this pulpit and delivering sermons have ended, but his ministry among us will continue to live on in our lives and the lives of our children. Thank God for his 13 years with us.
Lynn Liechty is a member of the General Board and the Commission on Home Ministries.
The commitment of a dedicated follower of Christ,
the faith and guidance of a pastor and friend,
the leadership of a churchman,
the outreach and service of a missioner
and the caring and listening of a colleague and friend
will be greatly missed.
We all mourn Ken Bauman's death.
Ken gave himself to the work of the church
to the very end.
His life is an example of challenge and encouragement
for all of us as we make our commitments in 1987
and the years to come.
As the General Conference Mennonite Church
we pray to God for the family and members of
Ken's congergations in this period of bereavement.
May God's everlasting arms be the strength and support
for all who are grieving.
Florence Driedger, Regina, vice president of our conference, now carrying the duties of president.
An acrostic psalm of thanksgiving for Kenneth
Kerygma and koinonia, both proclamation and fellowship, characterized the ministry of Kenneth G. Bauman, president of the General Conference Mennonite Church, who died unexpectedly on Dec. 21, 1986, following cancer surgery.
Extra and deep commitment to Jesus Christ was what Ken voiced upon accepting the presidency of the conference last July in Saskatoon. "We are dependent on our Christ. 'Thy kingdom come' is a reality, we need to do more . . . I'm glad you have said 'renewal' because that's where I come from."
Numerous miles were traveled in his last months on behalf of A Call to Kingdom Commitments, most recently in California. "We plan to come to you," said Ken in Saskatoon, "and communicate the work of the conferenceto evangelize, teach biblical principles, train Christian leaders and promote Christian unity." (He was looking forward to a schedule of meetings in Canadian churches. Jake Tilitzky, Abbotsford, B. C., who preceded Ken as conference president, is completing this schedule.)
No human, natural flesh," preached Ken in October 1982, "will keep us away from God. We have a tremendous message to proclaim. . . . The path of the godly leads to life, so why fear death?"
Encouraging and supporting Ken's ministry to the larger church family, First Mennonite Church of Berne, Ind. (where he was pastor since 1973), gave him freedom. As a 12-year member of the conference's governing body, the General Board, he took ownership in decisions and served on several committees, including sexuality, media, structure review and constitution. "Ken and I were often on radically different sides of an issue," says Don Steelberg, pastor from Wichita, Kan., "but we shared mutual respect for the Christian faith."
Teaching lucidly and intensely, Ken left a vivid impression on his students at Union Biblical Seminary, formerly in Yeotmal and now in Pune, India. (He was a missionary in India 1954-1973.)
Harmony sung in four parts by the four pastors at First Mennonite Church has been broken. Ken and his pastoral associates, Curt Claassen, Andy Stoner and Dennis Stutzman, had discovered that they made a good quartet.
"God, we dedicated Kenneth to you even before he was born. He is yours." Thus prayed Ken's mother, Ella G. Bauman, at an anointing service held for Ken at his request on Sunday morning Dec. 14, before he entered the hospital.
"By man came death; by man came also the resurrection from the dead." A recording of these words from Scripture and from George F. Handel's "Messiah" was played at the opening of Ken's funeral on Dec. 27.
A favorite hymn of Ken's was quoted by Gary Stenson (pastor from Washington, Ill.) at the funeral: "Jesus I am resting, resting in the joy of what thou art. . . . By Thy transforming power Thou hast made me whole." Gary, who was Ken's pastor at West Swamp Church in Pennsylvania, added, "Ken had deep concern about interpretation of the Bible, but his concerns never altered his joy."
Untimely though his death is, Ken leaves us with the peacefulness that he felt. "I have peace," he said to Mark Weidner, the evening before submitting to surgery. And to Vern Preheim, conference general secretary, he said, "Whatever happens, I am prepared for it."
Mary Bauman, Ken's wife, and colleague Lynn Liechty confirm (within these pages) that Ken was a man of prayer. Gary Stenson also said in the funeral sermon, "Prayer was his means of finding God's will."
"And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (This and the preceding verses, Philippians 4:4-7, were claimed by Ken as his "life verses.")
"Now unto God, who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen" (Jude 24, 25).
Muriel Thiessen Stackley
MLA Personal Photos Collection
Son of Harvey R. and Ella B. (Garber) Bauman
Married Mary Gallagher
Missionary, seminary teacher -- India 1954-1973
Minister -- Berne, Indiana 1973-1986
Bethel alumni note:
Individual (as G.C. YPU President) -- c. 1947-1950
Individual -- 1953 (3 photos)
Individual (at chalkboard)
With 3 siblings -- 1934
With 4 siblings -- 1935 India
With wife -- 1953
With wife and 1 child
With wife and 2 children -- 1956 India
With wife and 2 children -- 1956
With wife and 4 children -- c. 1962
With wife and 5 children -- 1968
With wife -- 1973
Individual -- at podium, The Mennonite 9/9/86, 9/9/90
Individual, 3 copies -- The Mennonite 6/10/86, 1/13/87, 6/9/87; Christian Daily Reporter 1/23/87
See Harvey R. Bauman for family photo
Find A Grave 54786744
General Conference Mennonite Church News Service archival photo file
COM photo files