Albert H. Epp

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Albert Epp was born Sept. 17, 1931, at Bethel Deaconess Hospital in Newton, Kan. He was the first son born to John Epp Jr. and Marie (Harder), and was the third of what would become eight siblings. It was the depression era and even though times were very tight Albert never remembered going without basic necessities.
Albert grew up on the farm by Whitewater, Kan. and his parents farmed the very land that his German speaking grandparents had purchased from the Santa Fe Railroad in 1876 when they migrated from West Prussia. During Albert’s grade school years he attended Brainerd Grade School and during the summers would attend six weeks of Vacation Bible School which consisted of half day German school and half day Bible school. Later Albert would write, “I grew up on a Kansas farm, and the farm is still in my DNA.”
Albert survived the tornado that hit their farm on June 8, 1941, which took out the barns, silo, garage, hen house, grain elevator, and machine shed. Miraculously the house still stood though the windows blew in and other damage was sustained. The tornado hit at night and Albert later wrote, “It is a miracle we were alive. Brother John Edwin and I slept in the southwest upstairs room and red boards from the cow shed were found under our bed.”
Albert’s parents valued Christian education and were one of the founding families of Berean Academy (a Christian high school) in Elbing, Kan., which started after Albert’s freshman year at Hesston Academy in Hesston, Kan. Albert was in the second graduating class of Berean Academy in 1949. After high school he attended Hesston College for one year before heading to Grace Bible Institute where he graduated with a B.A. in Bible in 1953. He then attended Wheaton College where he added a B.A. in Philosophy graduating in 1954. He headed to Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. and graduated with a M.Div. in 1957. Later he would return to Fuller Theological Seminary from 1969 to 1971 to complete his education earning his Doctorate (D. Th. P.). His doctoral thesis was titled, “The Pauline Pattern of Convert-Care”, which would greatly impact his future ministry.
While attending Grace Bible Institute, Albert met Susan Joan Walter, and they were married July 31, 1953, at Bethel Krimmer Mennonite Brethren Church in Yale, S.D. That union produced three sons, Steve born in 1957, Greg in 1960 and Nathan in 1962. Steve was born at the time Albert graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary and began his first pastorate at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Downey, Calif. He pastored Emmanuel Mennonite for 13 years before moving the family to Glendora, Calif. where he commuted to Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena to complete his doctorate.
Upon graduation in 1971, he moved the family to Newton, Kan. which was a big adjustment for his sons. He pastored 1st Mennonite Church on 1st Street in Newton from 1971 to 1980. This gave each of his sons the opportunity to attend Berean Academy in Elbing, Kan., just 13 miles east of Newton, where they graduated from Berean Academy like their father. In 1980 Albert accepted a call from Bethesda Mennonite Church in Henderson, where he would pastor for nine years and where he and Joan would live till 1996.
Albert was a very devout pastor and leader and a normal Friday saw him set side three hours to pray through the church membership. While pastoring at Bethesda Mennonite he was challenged by Joan to put into practice what he kept talking about. She said. ”Al, you keep brainstorming about discipling men by twelves, I’m getting tired of this! I’ll make breakfast for twelve men next Thursday and you’ll have twelve men here to eat it.” That began some of the most fruitful years of his ministry career. This developed into discipling 128 men at their home in the decade of the 1980s.
In 1993 Albert pulled together a wealth of knowledge and experience to write his first book, “Discipleship Therapy, Healthy Christians, Healthy Churches.” He wrote, “I urge churches to disciple their converts, rather than letting them escape out of the back door.” This ministry also culminated in the creation of Stairway Discipleship Inc. which he started in 1985 and acted as President with several disciples joining him on the Board of Directors. The Golden Stairway Discipleship course materials were produced as a result of this ministry and marketed throughout the United States and Canada.
In 1996 Albert and Joan moved to Bakersfield, Calif. where they started Choice Books of West Coast. They set up book stands in high traffic businesses and distributed Christian books and reading material. The venture turned into another very fruitful endeavor. What they began from scratch in 1997 now sells over 260,000 Christian books annually from about 450 displays throughout California.
Even in his final years, Albert wanted to be productive in ministry. He wrote, “As long as the Lord gives me strength, I want to serve Him and His church -- until that day when others need to serve me.” At the age of 79 he was called to be pastor of senior care at Laurelglen Bible Church in Bakersfield, Calif., which duties he performed into his mid-80s. Just before his 82nd birthday, he published his second book, “How to Launch Your Day”, a 365 day devotional book which he enjoyed passing out till the day he passed into eternity April 28, 2019, at the age of 87.
Albert is survived by his three sons and their wives, Steve and Kim Epp of San Jose, Calif., Greg and Caroline Epp of Giltner, Nathan and Julie Epp of Russiaville, Ind., 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, his sister Phebe Cressman, and brother Melvin (Sylvia) Epp.
 Preceding him in death are his parents, sisters Hildegard Goosen, Martha Epp, Frieda Epp, Justina Marten and brother John Epp.
A memorial service to celebrate Albert’s life and ministry is being held at Bethesda Mennonite Church in Henderson on June 29, 2019, at 11 a.m.

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