Henry Schmidt, together with his wife Elvera, was recognized by the U.S. conference leadership board for his many contributions to the Mennonite Brethren spanning more than four decades. Schmidt, of Fresno, Cal., was presented with a gift, and U.S. conference moderator Joe Johns offered a prayer of blessing for the couple’s service at the national convention, July 26–27, 2008.
Most recently, Schmidt served a term on the first U.S. conference leadership board and then as a mentor and coach to MB pastors under the umbrella of the U.S. conference.
A Canadian by birth, Schmidt was appointed as the sixth president of MB Biblical Seminary (MBBS) in 1993, a position he held for 10 years. During that time he is credited with recruiting and developing an effective board of directors, attracting younger faculty while retaining veteran faculty members, creating a comprehensive donor development plan, securing a $1.6 million grant from the Lily Foundation, and re-engineering the MBBS education delivery system from that of a single campus in Fresno to multiple campuses in Fresno, Langley, B.C., and Winnipeg, Man.
Prior to his appointment as president, Schmidt served on the seminary faculty for 34 years, teaching in the field of world mission. In 1985, he was appointed director of the Center for Training in Mission/Evangelism, and until 1992 he convened a variety of consultations related to the global mission of the church. He became the first professor of the J.B. Toews’ Chair of Evangelism/Mission at MBBS in 1998. Schmidt practiced the principles of evangelism and church planting between 1982 and 1985 when he served as part of a church planting team for Fig Garden Bible Church in Fresno, Cal.
Following his graduation from MB Bible College in Winnipeg, Man., Schmidt served as an MB pastor in South Dakota and California. After graduating from MBBS in 1972, Schmidt was asked to become the executive director of evangelism for the U.S. conference. He served in this capacity and as conference evangelist between 1972 and 1977, travelling widely throughout North America and beyond.
Whether as a professor, preacher, or fundraiser, Schmidt’s travel schedule and heart for people has resulted in friendships forged far and wide – from North America to Europe, Indonesia, South America, Mexico, and Africa.
Schmidt attended the 2008 Pastors’ Conference and National Convention, and as usual his 6’3” frame, angular gait, and trademark wavy white hair made him easy to spot in the crowd. It was clearly evident that Schmidt’s heart for people – especially pastors – has solidified countless friendships.
Henry is not only a great seminary and church leader. To me, he is first and foremost a friend. He is both a man of vision and uncommon integrity, who deeply cares for those around him. I have greatly valued his desire to always give his best, but also to solicit and expect the best from those who work with him. Henry is a great man of God.
—Pierre Gilbert, associate professor of Bible and theology, MB Biblical Seminary, Winnipeg
Henry has such an infectious personality and passion for mission that it rubbed off on me deeply. Of all the things I heard from him, the message that we live in a mission context in North America has stuck with me the most, and influences my vision for the Canadian MB conference today.
—David Wiebe, executive director, Canadian Conference of MB Churches
My teaching colleague for decades, an evangelist, and seminary president with a tenure longer than any other, Henry Schmidt is deeply spiritual and passionate for the advance of God’s kingdom. As in hockey or volleyball, so also in kingdom ministry, he is aggressive, and tenacious. Yet, he is most sensitive to the needs of others, selfless, very caring, and forever reaching out.
—Elmer A. Martens, professor emeritus of Old Testament, MB Biblical Seminary
Henry Schmidt doesn’t just talk about servant leadership, he lives it. Exemplary is his genuine love for people, his willingness to invest his energy and time in kingdom ministry, and his infectious and sometimes mischievous sense of humour.
—Bruce Guenther, associate dean (Langley) and associate professor of church history and Mennonite studies, MB Biblical Seminary, ACTS
I found Henry’s passion for people, God’s mission, and the church to be contagious; it was hard not to share in his deep love for what God was doing in the world through the church. When he was president of the seminary, he invited me to join the faculty; he made space for me and was always quick to offer an encouraging word for the work I was doing.
—Jon Isaak, associate professor of New Testament, MB Biblical Seminary, Fresno
Henry is able to combine confrontation and encouragement better than anyone I’ve ever met. He is able to do this because he is authentic, honest about his own weakness, very relational, and completely committed to helping others grow and develop.
—Tim Geddert, professor of New Testament, MB Biblical Seminary , Fresno
Henry Schmidt has been a giant among the MB – a model of evangelism, leadership, friendship, commitment, vision, courage, and hope. We are truly standing on the shoulders of one who could see further than most leaders. I am deeply grateful for his investment in me – something which continues to this day.
—Lynn Jost, acting president and associate professor of Old Testament, MB Biblical Seminary
Henry Schmidt has a large capacity to care for people as well as discern their giftedness. He has come alongside many, including me. Thanks, Henry, for your encouragement through the years.
—Doug Berg, associate professor of leadership studies, MB Biblical Seminary, ACTS