Monday, June 05, 2006

The Reverend Warren C. Kuhfahl
1922-2006

"Bruce, I know people call me Goofey Koofey."

That was almost the very first thing he said to me when I met him in his office at Edgeboro Moravian Church, Fall 1973. I was in my second year at Seminary and he was just one year into his ministry at Edgeboro. I had more questions after my first year of seminary than I had going in. Warren helped me focus. I don't think he did it consciously, he did it by example.

I met him, because I was applying to be the student intern, associate, pastor, youth leader at Edgeboro. Edgeboro had a reputation of being divided and chewing up ministers. Churches can be like that; they are, after all, just collections of humans.

My previous internship had been in a church in Reading, that thought that they were High Church, formal, and strict. They were just rich and intolerant. The pastor was high church, organized, and very much the Herr Pastor. I loved the kids and the youth group work, and those parents that got involved. But church as a career seemed very remote.

Warren did not change my feelings about church as a career. After a year with Warren, I realized, deep inside, that I could not be a pastor such as he. Too much to measure up to. I did not have the compassion and love for his parishioners that he showed. I hung on for one more disastrous term and gave it up. I should have listened to my heart, as Warren always did.

"Bruce, I know that people call me Goofey Koofey," he said that day. I had heard the stories. I had laughed at him, too.

"I know what they say about this congregation, and yes, I have done some things to get people to get into church that might sound crazy. But I got their interest. I know what they need," he said in all confidence. "They need a lot of love, and that, I can give to them." And that he did, for fifteen years, his longest service of his career; at that divided and contentious church.

I can still see his large round face, friendly, loving, understanding. He knew his capabilities, and his position as Christ's messenger. He was not a great intellect, but I learned more about pastoral care from him than I had in years of church-going and seminary.

His obit. in The Moravian, house publication of his denomination, seemed rather spare. I needed to add to his memory, both for his legacy and my memory. I have shed tears over this essay. For his family's, and churches' loss, or for my memories of him and what he meant to me, I don't know. I do know that tears from me for any reason are rare. And rarer still is my admitting to those tears.

One more thing. The obit. mentioned his family. I had quite forgotten that all of his children's names started with a W. How could this be? I thought Warren was one of the few I had met who had no ego. Mrs CPB reminded me that it was probably Dorothy's doing. Yes it was, had to be. With ten grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, Warren's message of God's love and man's love was received, at least, by his family.

Thank you Warren.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am one of Warren's granddaughters and was searching him on Google when I found this. I was born in 1991 and therefore most of my memories of my grandfather are after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I hear stories similar to what I read here and I feel like a missed getting to know an absolutely incredible man. I just wanted to let you know what a blessing this was to me, even years after his passing. He will always be loved and missed.

5:52:00 PM  
Blogger brbiswrite said...

Dear "one of Warren's granddaughters,"

Thank you for your kind comment.

I was greatly surprised to see this comment this morning; call it coincidence, but my wife and I were driving, last night, with my in-laws, about the time you made your comment. My Father-in-law was a Moravian minister for many years and knew Warren as a colleague.

We were discussing difficult congregations, and I mentioned my internship with Warren. It was about 5:45pm.

I don't have much to add about your grandfather. It is gratifying to hear from you that you have heard stories similar to mine. In 1973, the stories were along the lines of Goofy Kufy stories, I'm sorry to say. We were such intellectual snobs.

If we had had more seminary professors that had the faith of your grandfather, we would have been much better off; and so would have been the Moravian Church.

Bruce

If you would like to correspond my e-mail is bbarrett@triad.rr.com
My brothers-in-law also knew him. I'll ask them if they have anything to add.

Bruce

11:48:00 AM  

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