Stutzman an active mission volunteer
By Connie Faber
This article has been updated with additional biographical information.
By Connie Faber
Lowell Stutzman, USMB pastor, businessman and mission volunteer from Grants Pass, Ore., died Monday, March 21, of an apparent heart attack. Stutzman, and his wife, Patty, served for 20 years as the pastoral couple at New Hope Bible Church, the USMB congregation in Grants Pass.
A celebration of life service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 26, at River Valley Community Church, a local church with a facility large enough to accommodate the expected turnout.
Stutzman was a bi-vocational pastor, working at the family building supply business, Farmer’s Building Supply.
“(His) passion for Jesus and the church was at the core of his being,” says Gary Wall, the Pacific District Conference minister. “Lowell had a gracious and patient pastoral ministry in a complex multi-cultural congregation.”
About half of the New Hope Bible members are from Latin background. Worship services are held in Spanish and English.
Stutzman served on the MB Mission board for two terms, from 2006 to 2013, and was a very active mission volunteer. He was an active volunteer and short-term mission team leader for multiple trips on MB Mission’s SOAR, ACTION and ACTION Basketball programs. Read a MB Mission profile of Stutzman.
“Lowell lived in the power of the resurrection!” says Randy Friesen, MB Mission general director, in an email relaying news of Stutzman’s sudden death. “His love for people in his community and communities around the world has touched countless lives. He was a shepherd who loved, because the Great Shepherd was living and loving through him.
“Lowell loved basketball and he used that sport to reach and disciple many young leaders both in his community and through sports mission teams to Thailand and Peru,” says Friesen. “The Lord saw fitting to welcome Lowell home during a week where we remember the death and resurrection of our Lord (and many watch a lot of basketball). We will miss our brother Lowell, but we live with the hope of the resurrection!”
Wall also affirms Stutzman’s commitment to missions. “Lowell’s passion for mission—for ministries of compassion and proclaiming Christ to the least reached was about more than words and financial support—he spent time on multiple MB Mission teams travelling to encourage and support the mission outreaches he believed in so strongly,” says Wall.
“Lowell’s love of the game of basketball and the ministry opportunities coaching afforded will long be remembered,” says Wall. “Lowell touched hundreds of lives through his coaching ‘ministry.’”
Wall says, “I will personally remember Lowell as a tender hearted leader, a godly man who lived what he believed and a devoted husband and father. He would speak to me, often with emotion in his voice, of his intense longing that the Mennonite Brethren pursue the way of Jesus—the way of peace and reconciliation, the way of love and compassion—with greater intentionality and intensity. And he certainly showed us the way.”
Lowell Leon Stutzman was born Aug. 1, 1951, in Salem, Ore., to Leon and Luella (Sharer) Stutzman. He married Patricia Schrock Aug. 14, 1970. The couple are the parents of five children: Derek, Maria, Kyle, Monica, and Nicole. They are also proud to be “second parents” of Michele Rebozzi, Joshua Yoder, Jan Helgers, Delbert Warkentin and Katie Mount.
Stutzman attended Eastern Mennonite College in Virginia and received his bachelor of arts degree at Oregon College of Education in 1975. While finishing his studies, he worked at Western Mennonite School, Salem, as director of development, counselor, teacher and soccer and basketball coach.
Stutzman returned to Grants Pass in 1978 to work with the family business. He was currently managing Farmer’s Building Supply with his brother, Mark, and pastoring New Hope Bible Church.
“Lowell enjoyed running and working out, cycling, fishing, working in his shop and sharing the love of Jesus with everyone he met,” writes Stutzman’s family in his obituary. “But he was most alive preaching the Word at his home church and around the world. He served several terms on the MB Mission Board and made numerous mission trips to South America, Asia, Europe, Mexico and various places in the United States. He often took groups of people with him to experience sharing the Word and serving others in Third World countries. Studying the Bible, talking to his Father in heaven and serving were his passions.”
Stutzman is survived by his wife, Patty; sons, Derek and Julie (Uhl) Stutzman and Kyle and Meena (Magar) Stutzman, Grants Pass; daughters, Maria and Wendell Miles, Edmonton, Alta., Monica and Jesse Abeler, Edmond, Okla., and Nicole Murray, Grants Pass; six grandchildren, his parents, two brothers, Douglas and Mark, Grants Pass, and numerous extended family members.
Photo: Lowell Stutzman, pictured kneeling far left, used his love of basketball to minister with MB Mission in a variety of locations around the globe.