The Association of Grace Brethren Ministers, meeting during Celebrate06 national conference in Indian Wells, California, honored three of its members. Lester Kennedy was selected for the “Lifetime Achievement Award,” Glen Shirk was named “Pastor of the Year,” and Jesse Deloe was given the “Excellence in Ministry Award.”
Kennedy, who was born July 4, 1926, in Bassai, Central African Republic, came to the U.S. at age three. Attending school at Bob Jones University, Taylor University, and Grace Theological Seminary, he married Lois Hall in 1950 and was ordained to the ministry in 1951.
The Kennedys left for language study in France in August of 1952, and in 1953 went to the Central African Republic where they served as missionaries for six years. Three of their five children were born there.
Returning to the U.S., they pastored in Limestone, Tennessee, for four years, and returned to Africa for an additional four-year ministry. Then Kennedy became pastor of the Grace Brethren Church of Buena Vista, Virginia, where he served for 17 years.
In 1985 the Kennedys began the work which is now the Fairlawn church in Radford, Virginia, and he continues there today. Kennedy’s wife, Lois, was present for the presentation, as were several pastors he has mentored, including Whitey Willard, Dan White, Chaplain Jack Galle, Ron Smals, and Steve Shipley.
Glenn Shirk, who just completed 25 years as pastor of the Grace Brethren Church of Ripon, California, was born in Modesto, married Lois Miller in 1966, and the Shirks have five children.
Trained as a physician, Dr. Shirk was in private practice in pediatrics in Modesto when, after eight years as a physician, he felt called into the ministry. At age 35 with a wife and five children, Shirk entered Talbot Seminary and earned an M.Div. degree.
Called back to Ripon to pastor, he has served there 25 years. Under his leadership the Ripon church has sent out nine teams on overseas projects. Their annual golf tournament to raise funds for the projects netted $50,000 this past year.
Dr. Shirk still practices one morning each week in a local pediatrics office. The church also has a children’s center which enrolls about 80 pre-schoolers. One of the Shirks’ sons, John, is a Grace Brethren North American Missions missionary to urban Chicago.
Jesse Deloe, who was awarded the 2006 “Excellence in Ministry Award,” has been Director of Operations and Senior Editor at Brethren Missionary Herald Company since 2003. His lifetime of service to the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches has touched nearly every church and organization in the Fellowship.
Deloe has been pastor or interim pastor of Grace Brethren churches in Iowa, Ohio, California, and Maryland. From 1975 to 1982 he was Director of Church Relations with the foreign missionary society of the Grace Brethren church. Then he became assistant to the president (Dr. Homer Kent, Jr.) of Grace College and Seminary for four years, and later served as a field representative for Grace College and Seminary while living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
From 1988 until 1997 Deloe was Director of Administration for the Grace Brethren Home Missions Council (now GBNAM). He has also served as a church consultant, and has been active in his local church, the Winona Lake (IN) Grace Brethren Church in many roles.
Deloe was moderator of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches in 1979-1980. He and his wife, Gladys, have been married 50 years and they have two sons, Christopher and Jonathan, and three grandchildren.