Henry H. Dick, Mennonite Brethren seminary president, district minister, college administrator and pastor, died Feb. 5, 2018, at the age of 95. He was born June 1, 1922, in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, to Henry and Marie (Unger) Dick, migrating with them to Canada in 1924.
Dick committed himself to a lifetime of ministry spanning 62 years.
“Henry was a legendary spiritual leader among us, possessing ministry gifts and a pastoral presence that blessed thousands,” says Pacific District Conference district minister Gary Wall. “Henry had what today we call ‘gravitas.’ He had a powerful presence, not intimidating or threatening, but it was clear that Henry was confident in his leadership and it was obvious that he walked closely with Jesus.
“My first conversations with H.H. were when I was at my lowest as a young pastor who felt like a miserable failure,” says Wall. “Henry would have none of it. He believed in God’s ability to redeem and renew. When the Lord did exactly that, Henry invited me to serve as a leader alongside him, collaborating respectfully even though he was 40 years my senior.
“Henry literally passed the district minister baton to me, a symbolic gesture I will never forget. At the Reedley MB hosted service celebrating his 13 years of service as district minister, the choir sang, ‘He’s never failed me yet.’ That’s how Henry lived his life—trusting and serving the Lord who never fails us.”
USMB national director Don Morris also affirms Dick’s ministry.
“I got to know Henry late in his ministry, yet found him to be full of energy and passion for the mission of Jesus,” Morris says. “It was always so obvious that he loved the church and loved pastors and ministry leaders. He leaves a wonderful and full legacy of service to the King.”
Over the course of his ministry, Dick held a number of denominational administrative positions. He was president of MB Biblical Seminary (MBBS), now Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, from 1972 to 1976, prior to which he served as U.S. Conference general secretary. He worked in constituent relations for MBBS for 18 months. In 1989, he was called to be the Pacific District Conference district minister. He retired from that role in 2003.
Dick also served a number of conference ministries, including chairing the General Conference for two terms, serving as binational conference secretary for two terms and serving as board chair of MBMS International, now MB Mission, for eight years. He chaired the U.S. Conference Board of Education, which gave oversight to Tabor College, Fresno Pacific University and MBBS. He also served on a variety of PDC boards. He was the Tabor College public relations director for one year in 1954.
Dick considered himself a pastor first. Following his conversion, which took place during a four-year stint with the Royal Canadian Air Force, he began a career in church work. He graduated with a bachelor’s of theology from MB Bible College in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and was a pioneer church planter in Ontario, Canada. He pastored in Lodi, Calif., from 1955 to 1958, then pastored at Shafter (Calif.) MB Church from 1958 to 1969. He was pastor at Reedley (Calif.) MB Church from 1975 to 1988, and he served as minister of pastoral care at Dinuba MB Church from 2003 to 2012.
Dick was also active in the broader Mennonite and evangelical communities, serving for 10 years on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals and 10 years on the Mennonite Central Committee Executive Board. He was a civilian chaplain with MCC for three weeks during the Vietnam War.
Dick and his wife, Erica, were honored at the November 2001 PDC convention for their work as district minister couple. During his time as district minister, Dick saw the PDC grow from 77 congregations and 7,377 members in 1989 to 101 churches and 16,326 members in 2001.
Dick is survived by his wife, Erica; three children, Janet and Art Enns, Judy and Ron Brown and Jim and Benti Dueck; six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
The visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, at Dopkins Funeral Chapel, 189 South J St., Dinuba, Calif. The memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, at Dinuba MB Church, 110 Nichols Ave., with a meal to follow. Burial will be in Reedley Cemetery.
Janae Rempel is the Christian Leader associate editor. She joined the CL staff in September 2017 with six years of experience as a professional journalist. Rempel is an award-winning writer, having received three 2016 Kansas Press Association Awards of Excellence and an Evangelical Press Association Higher Goals award in 2022. Rempel graduated from Tabor College in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in Communications/Journalism and Biblical/Religious Studies. She attends Hillsboro MB Church.
I remember Henry Dick when he was President at the MB Seminary in Fresno, Calif. I attended Fresno Pacific 1970-75 majoring in English Lit. and Biblical Studies. I took a few courses with Dr. D. Edmund Hiebert at the Seminary. Those men (Henry Dick and the other Profs) lived what they taught! That has stuck with me my whole life. I am now 66 yrs old. I will always have fond memories of men like Henry Dick.