A Tribute to BMH Board Chair Todd Scoles
By Terry White, publisher and former executive director, Brethren Missionary Herald Co.
Todd was young enough to be my son, and wise enough to be my father.
We first connected in 2002, when I came back into contact with the Brethren Missionary Herald Company, on whose board he was serving. We journeyed together through the rebirth of the company, many visioning-for-the-future sessions, and the last several years when, as board chair, he skillfully and competently led us through a number of major issues and leadership changes.
But Todd was much, much more than a board chairman. He was also a dear friend and my roommate on the 2008 Brethren Heritage Tour to Schwarzenau, Germany. There were three Grace Brethren pastors who were part of that group–Ray Feather, David Plaster, and Todd Scoles–now all three with the Jesus whom they loved.
He was, after the death of David Plaster, our premier Grace Brethren historian. I was privileged, along with Jim Custer and David Plaster, to be part of Todd’s dissertation defense for his doctorate at Ashland Seminary. That dissertation, later revised and published by BMH Books, has become the standout history of the Grace Brethren movement from its founding in 1708 until the present day. (Restoring the Household: The Quest of the Grace Brethren Church is available here at bmhbooks.com.)
Todd was wonderful to work with as a board chair. He was not flamboyant nor impulsive, and his careful, measured style of leadership always restrained him from responding quickly to a question or an e-mail. He needed time to think, reflect, and pray before responding–and the answer always came back with wisdom.
If Todd had a “dark side,” I never saw it. He was uniformly gentle, courteous, warm, friendly, supportive, and cooperative. I never saw in him a temper or heard him use any sharp words. But he had courage. The Thursday and Friday before his death he led the BMH board in making some pretty courageous budget and leadership decisions that will significantly affect the future of the company. Todd was the classic example of the “velvet brick” in leadership style.
This is a time when our heads must rule our emotions. The worldwide Grace Brethren fellowships in one year have lost three of their most outstanding, most promising tall-timber leadership. First it was David Plaster in March. Then it was Dadje Samuel in April. And now it is Todd Scoles in October. From our human perspective it seems unfair that we have lost these promising leaders way too soon. Too much unfulfilled potential.
Yet our head and heart knowledge of scripture tells us God makes no mistakes, and He is sovereign. Our responsibility is to accept and adapt, not to rebel.
These days I think a lot about the words of the wise philosopher Dr. Seuss, who counseled, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
Our hearts are heavy as we contemplate life without Todd Scoles being part of it. But our smiles are wide because God gave him to us for those productive, fruitful, and memorable 48 years.
We love you, Todd, and we’re glad you’re with the Savior. Thank you for the indelible mark you have made on us, on the Brethren Missionary Herald Company, and on the worldwide work of the church of Jesus Christ.
Now you are living the historian’s dream–to speak face-to-face with The Original Source.