Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Model Pastor

While at camp meeting recently, I spoke with Andy Hannich and Kurt Pudel. Kurt is a young German, raised at St. Joseph MI. He is a successful business man, devoted layman and part-time publisher in Alberta. Andy is a native German who emigrated here a few years ago to pastor the Washington Avenue Church of God in St. Joseph.

I talked with these men, both much younger than I, about the strong German influence in the Church of God Movement. A person not often thought of that way is Dr. Albert Kempin, the man under whom I sat during my first year of Bible College in Portland, OR. 1948. Fellow student Bill Neece calls him a good role model for young preachers-to-be.

A. J. Kempin pastored among many of our early generations.
He wrote widely--five books, numerous tracts, and free lancing resources. He served as an editorial contributor to Gospel Trumpet Company for four decades--1920s-l960s. He remained popular and in-demand doctrinal writer, as well as frequent contributor to our curricular resources.

Dr. Kempin pioneered in educational studies.
Otto F. Linn was our first Ph.D. in Biblical Studies, but Kempin joined Aubrey Forrest and other young Movement leaders in forging ahead educationally. He overcame his early educational shortfall, worked his way through a Bachelor’s Degree (Temple and Taylor Universities), a USC Master‘s degree, and a doctorate from East Los Angeles Bible Seminary, where he taught for two years

Later, he taught part time at Pacific Bible College in Portland, and served on the committee that established Arlington College, CA, (now Azusa Pacific University),. He was the founding Dean at the Arlington school.

Albert Kempin devoted his best years to pastoral ministry
Albert became a premier pastor in some of our earliest urban churches, areas we frequently failed to reach adequately. He became a pastoral leader in the classical meaning of the word “pastor.“ He possessed a sterling character, he earned a quality education; and he remained a cultured gentleman, always comfortable with urban life.

Although urbane and at home among scholars, parishioners found Albert comfortable, gentle, authentic, genuinely gregarious and real. People of all ages loved Albert, yet he left a large legacy as a “friend of youth.”

Pastor Kempin modeled good pastoral relations
His personal papers reveal correspondence with an elderly couple writing their former pastor and confessing their obstinate hostility toward him during his years with them. In spite of the difficulty of those years, and the shattered pastoral dreams resulting from the unwarranted opposition, the true shepherd’s heart graciously accepted their confession and gently led the process through true Biblical reconciliation for all concerned, including the congregation.

Although I had been in that congregation, and had an acquaintance with that couple, I never knew of the distant relationship until I read the letters--a true pastor with a pastor’s heart. He truly loved people.

A.J. Kempin exemplified the best in Church Ministry while mentoring others.
Albert Kempin modeled ministry for others. He mentored leaders like Harold Phillips and William C. Neece. Going to San Diego First in 1931, he found a young Sunday School Superintendent that helped him triple that Sunday School. That young man later relocated to Anderson, IN. and became Editor in Chief at Gospel Trumpet Co., Dr. Harold Phillips.

Pastor-Evangelist, Wm. C. Neece, knew of Dr. Kempin as a teen and met him in Portland. Dr. Kempin invited Neece to Portland to study at Pacific Bible College, and helped him line up a West Coast evangelistic schedule. Today, the elderly evangelist reveres Kempin “as one of the most outstanding, and scholarly preachers, I have ever known. His sermons were rich and deep--packed with helpful information.”

Throughout the life of Albert Kempin, he remained a person “called to preach!”--passionately and purposefully. His sermons and writings were primarily doctrinal in nature: filled with hope, anchored in Scripture, and applicable to life. Deeply in love with the Church of God, Kempin nonetheless modeled a highly visible ecumenical ministry--purposefully practicing what this Movement long proclaimed only verbally.

Young Albert became one of five living children born to Albert and Johanna Kempin. This German-Lutheran couple emigrated to Philadelphia from Villainous, Lithuania when Albert was a small boy. One day, his mother walked past a church building. She heard lovely music and walked inside. From then on, their lives centered in the High Street Church of God (German). At eleven Albert heard his call to preach. Two experiences later enabled him in following that call: his confirmation at 14 and his conversion at 18.

He began pasturing at Camden, N. J. at 24. He met Mary Schiele at Boyertown Camp Meeting and they began a lengthy correspondence. On June 14, 1927, Albert and Naomi married and moved to Williamsburg (NYC). They later spent 4 years in Lansdale, PA. Their “move West” in 1931 led to their lifetime of Church of God ministry up and down the West Coast, and to the Church of God.

Referring to young Daniel in one of his books, this statement captures the passion with which Albert and Naomi Kempin ministered to-and-through the Church of God reformation movement: “If a person has grown mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and in experience, he can keep his feet on the ground while he towers above his fellows in service” (Daniel for Today/47/bold added).

Daughter Naomi resides in Portland with her retired husband. They worship and work with Ray Cotton at Portland’s Hope Community Church; Naomi will read these lines with a great pride (she cared for her father during his final invalid years and knows the church loved her parents).

From Warner’s World, we are

No comments: