Tribute to Dr. Kenneth B. Hoover
mechanicsburg, Pa. (December 19, 2014)—Dr. Kenneth B. Hoover, 103, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., passed away on November 3, 2014.
Kenneth Hoover grew up on a Kansas farm where his parents attended Bethel Church—the site of the General Conference at which the first $5 for foreign missions for the Brethren in Christ (BIC) Church was placed on the table. From a devout Christian home he went on to obtain training and to serve the church.
Kenneth had some seminary training, was an ordained minister in the BIC Church and served in several short-term pastorates. He taught at Jabbok Bible School in Thomas, OK. In 1942 he joined the staff of Messiah College, where he served for 35 years in many capacities, including professor, Dean of Students and head of the Science Department. He completed a doctoral program in the biological sciences.
Because of his keen interest in nature Kenneth took hundreds of students into the fields and woods to learn to identify plants and birds, and to discover the marvels of God’s creation. Recognition came to Kenneth in many ways—for example, by his being named president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Sciences.
Nature was always a part of Kenneth’s life, and he constantly pointed people to our Creator God who brought all this into being. Kenneth observed, “We are not doing God’s will if we don’t enjoy nature and praise God for his handiwork.”
Kenneth served the BIC Church in a variety of positions. For a time he was Chairman of the Commission on Home. In 1961 he was named to the Peace, Relief & Service Committee of which he served as secretary until the merger of the boards. He served on the Board for Missions—as secretary for seven years and four years as chairman. After 1966 he served as one of the two BIC representatives on the Mennonite Central Committee. He has made overseas visits on behalf of the Board for Missions and MCC, going to Asia, Africa, Central and South America.
When General Conference commissioned the Board for Missions to place a person in a ministry among the churches to promote awareness and understanding of world poverty, stewardship of possessions, the simple life and the underlying causes of unjust structures, Kenneth agreed to pick up this special ministry. He gave the equivalent of one year to this ministry and made himself available for contacts, formal and informal, in all of the regional conferences.
Kenneth and his wife Erma served the Grantham Church as a deacon couple. Then from July 1990 to June 1991, they served with BIC World Missions as hosts at Youngways Guest House in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.