New seminary scholarship encourages pastors to be shepherds

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Scholarship honors Roland and Lois Reimer’s 44 years of ministry

Fresno Pacific University press release

The Dr. Roland and Lois Reimer Endowed Scholarship, created in 2013 by the couple’s children, aims to honor the couple and to encourage servant leadership.

“It’s a way not only to honor my parents but to acknowledge something that’s very important to them: that we provide good servant-leaders to all the flocks in the Southern District,” says David Reimer, who established the scholarship with his sister, Karen (Reimer) Fleming.

Reimer pastored congregations in Kansas and Colorado and served as the Southern District Conference minister for 13 years. Roland and Lois retired—mostly—in 2004 after 44 years of ministry and currently live in Wichita, Kan.

MB Foundation will manage the endowment funds. The Fresno Pacific University Student Financial Services Office, in coordination with the seminary dean and faculty, will select the recipients. Preference will be given to students:

  • with a history and/or a future in the Southern District Conference
  • from an Mennonite Brethren or other evangelical/Anabaptist background
  • in their final year of studies
  • with successful ministry experience

Roland and Lois were both born on farms in 1933—Roland in southern Nebraska and Lois in North Dakota. The couple met at Tabor College, where they married after two years of study. Roland then did his alternative military service and a short stint in agricultural work before being called to ministry. Babies in tow, he and Lois returned to Tabor College and then headed west to MB Biblical Seminary (now Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary), graduating in 1964.

With Lois an integral part of his work, Roland pastored churches in Topeka, Kan., and Denver, Colo., returning to California to earn his D. Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary. After his graduation, the couple went back to Kansas and Roland taught at Friends University, Wichita, before assuming the pulpit of First MB Church in Wichita.

Deeply involved in the larger church throughout his career, Reimer served as Southern District minister from 1990 through 2003, in numerous national conference positions and was a frequent member of district and joint U.S. and Canadian boards of faith and life. Reimer also served on the boards of Mennonite Health Services, Prairie View mental health facility and Tabor College.

Most of Reimer’s church assignments involved heavy preaching responsibilities. “Two sermons a Sunday—he somehow managed to get it all done,” David says.

Much of that success was due to Lois. Karen adds: “(Mom) was involved with his ministry all the way through. She was an encourager for Dad; she would make a lot of pastoral visits along with Dad and welcomed many people into our home.”

Congregations grew under Roland’s care, thanks in large part to his strengths of empathy and listening. “Even in tough situations there was a warmth,” says David. “You had the feeling he really liked you.”

Marriages were also healed through his parents’ work with the Recovery of Hope counseling program.

In addition, pastors were nurtured. “Roland was very attentive to pastors under his care. Not a quarter would go by that you didn’t hear from him,” says Mark Isaac, executive director for university advancement at Fresno Pacific University who pastored churches in Tulsa, Okla., and Newton, Kan., when Reimer was district minister. “He was a real shepherd.”

Karen says her parents are committed, consistent and unflappable. “Their sense of call permeated every ounce of energy,” she says. “Most significantly, the lifestyle of ministry is who they are—which shows in what they accomplished.”

Converting his natural talents into abilities that helped couples, congregations and the kingdom of God were skills Roland learned at the seminary.

“Our dad speaks very warmly of those days and the great friends he had,” says David. “He has a deep and abiding respect for professors D. Edmund Hiebert, Waldo Hiebert and J.B. Toews.”

Roland Reimer shepherded others as he was shepherded. With this scholarship, Reimer’s family anticipates that future pastors will enjoy the same benefit.

David, a 1995 graduate of the seminary, and his wife, Sandy, live in Reedley, Calif., where David is president and CEO of Palm Village Retirement Community. Karen lives in Wichita, with her husband, Jim. Roland and Lois have five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. One grandson, David Jr. (D.J.), is a student at Fresno Pacific University.

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