Pastor Venden was my pastor,friend, and mentor.He navigated through those roles during highs and lows of my life His impact on my life and ministry was significant.His example of courage and grace was meaningful to me.
In many ways, I valued his mentorship most after he was no longer my church pastor… We would lunch and just talk — conversations in deeper places without agendas. He’d share his latest adventures, his chuckling observations, his leadership nuggets. By then I was a fellow pastor grappling with the same timeless leadership issues he considered earlier. I was all ears. The lunch discussions helped me see the core of leadership through more experienced, but still unresolved, eyes. When I once told him that I considered him a great mentor, he just smiled. I’m not sure he thought of himself that way.
Rest In Peace Louis.
Special, lovely man married to someone just as inspirational. He and Ben Reaves broke ground in the Sligo pulpit by preaching a sermon together–two specialists in sermonizing–who loved what they did as well as each other. When he was considering the call to pastor the LLU church decades ago, he asked me what the transition from the classroom to the pulpit felt like, having myself recently made that change from AUC to Sligo. I told him it was as fulfilling and exciting and challenging as anything he would ever do . Next thing I knew he was in that pulpit doing what he did best. A great loss to everyone who was blessed to call him “friend” and colleague.
Read Louis Venden’s beautiful memorial tribute (mentioned above–in Spectrum Volume 33, Issue 2 ) for a friend who had committed suicide. Here are some salient excerpts:
"We wouldn’t really want him back to face the darkness and the pain that meant for him life could not go on. We’d rather have him be at rest. We need to remember that all of us are broken and our failures simply have different names and take different forms. The good news is that God in Christ has forgiven us and so we can be forgiving and accepting of one another. . . .
"There’s tragic confusion and distortion in ideas that our place with God—God’s love for us—is somehow, in some way, conditioned upon how well we do; that some habit, thought, or action on our part will alienate God. But the text says ‘nothing’ can do that. Do we believe this deep inside? . . .
"God cares and is about his work of caring in our lives and in our world—no matter what. That’s a radical, boundless love. Love to the nth degree. So we can know in whose hands Louie rests.
“The final word about Louie is not some tragic and fatal act. The final word is that he is a loved child of God. And ours is to give up judging and to trust him to the safety and security of the Everlasting Arms. The arms of the One who loves and cares for him—who has and will for all eternity. The Bible has a great word for that truth, my friends. That word is grace.”
Lou Venden certainly believed “deep inside.” He was a graceful, stalwart, intelligent, creative, inquisitive, compassionate, and humorous Adventist leader–one of our best.
May God’s peace and enduring joy enfold his family.
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