Pastor Dan White of the York, Pennsylvania, Grace Brethren Church, who is also the northeast regional representative for the Association of Grace Brethren Ministers, has written the following:
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15)
Pastor Leslie Dee Nutter, age 71 years, went into the presence of His Lord late Tuesday night, November 20, 2012, in York, PA. He was born in White Sulphur Springs, WV, on January 14, 1941.
“Les”, as most of us knew him, is survived by Frances, his wife of forty-six and one-half years. They were blessed with two children, Lynette and Scott; their spouses (Gary and Jennifer); and four grandchildren (Hanna and Madelyn Hoover and Jeremy and Emily Nutter).
Les’ father was a pastor. But, he did not choose pastoral ministry; instead opting to attend West Virginia University to train for a career as a public accountant. He worked in the private sector for several years; then, worked for three years at the Income Tax Division for the State of West Virginia.
During those years of employment in the private and governmental sector, the Lord impressed on him a call to pastoral ministry. He and Frances moved their family of four to Winona Lake, IN, to attend Grace Theological Seminary, ultimately earning a M. Div. degree–no small feat while he worked full-time as the comptroller of Grace Schools.
As a student who also was supporting myself full-time through my eight years of work at Grace College and Seminary, I did not look forward to meeting “Mr. Nutter” in his office. But, as I would later on look back, he encouraged me to keep up with my bill while I juggled the challenges of study and work. He knew full well what I was going through; though his added priority was to love his wife and raise his children at the same time.
When Les graduated, he and his family moved to south central PA to pastor the young Susquehanna Grace Brethren Church. The body of believers there would eventually put down roots on the west side of the river in Wrightsville, PA. Les would serve that church as pastor for twenty-four years.
During those twenty-four years, Les was known as a committed member of the FGBC and a solid servant in the Northern Atlantic Fellowship of GBC.
Within the FGBC, Les served on the board of Grace Schools for nine years. He was greatly interested in the schools that had so impacted his life and ministry, as well as the lives of his children, who also attended Grace College and met their spouses while students there.
On a district level, he was faithful in his ministry with the camp, church-planting, youth ministries, and a term as conference moderator in 1993-1994. Les’ heart for the FGBC and NAF can be best expressed in the motto for his year of leadership: “Putting Fellowship Back Into the NAF.”
You could count on Les being there–unless “providentially hindered”. We enjoyed many miles of travel to Ministerium meetings over the years.
Some of his local (York County area) ministry involvements were as a teacher and administrator of the York Bible Training Institute for several years, and as a member of the York Evangelical Ministers’ Fellowship. It was just two weeks or so into our ministry at York GBC that Les showed up at my office door and invited me to attend this local Ministerium of men of God in our area. This simple gesture, that might have gone unnoticed, has revolutionized my life and ministry. He introduced me to many great people in our area. He enjoyed an excellent reputation among the larger evangelical community of York County, PA.
As alluded to earlier, “providential hindrances” for Les could easily be read: a variety of health issues that were his thorn in the flesh. Suffice it to say, those hindrances did not keep him from getting back at his work and ministry, following recuperation.
In early 2000, Les and Frances became a part of our church. And, a vital part, to say the least. During his time with us until the last few years when health issues prohibited his active ministry involvement, he was a Bible teacher, pulpiteer, small group leader, Boys’ Club worker, Official Board member, and Elder-Study Committee participant.
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)
In contrast to the horror stories of retired/former pastors ending up in another congregation, causing persistent tension; such was not the case with Les Nutter. This man of integrity was only an encourager and counselor to this writer (that struggling student upon whom he had such compassion) who was now his pastor. He made a promise to me in 2001 to take over for a recently-deceased retired pastor in our congregation. That promise was to be a daily prayer warrior for the pastor and his family. This was of inestimable encouragement. His model is one of a man who truly realized that he was the servant of THE Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ.
“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25)
As a teenager, Les had placed his faith in Jesus Christ as His Savior. He then followed His Lord on a journey unique to him and his family. With confidence, we know that that journey reached its destination late Tuesday night–in the presence of that Lord he had served all his life.
“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” (Exodus 15:13)
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
After nearly seventy-two years of life on this terrestrial ball, Les Nutter went on to experience the “gain” of which Paul spoke. He has entered the joy of His Lord.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
We will miss you, brother. You have charted a faithful path for us to follow. We shall see you in His time.
A memorial service will be held at the York Grace Brethren Church on Saturday, December 1, 2012. From 9:30 am to 11, there will be a time of visitation at the church. At 11 am, a time of celebration of the life of Leslie Dee Nutter will be led by Pastors Kenn Cosgrove and Dan White.
Interment will be at Susquehanna Memorial Gardens, Dallastown, PA. Heffner Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Any memorial contributions may be made to the York Grace Brethren Church, 661 N Newberry St., York, PA, 17404.