Ralph Lebold (BDiv 1961), longtime director of theological education for AMBS, died Oct. 31, 2017, in Kitchener, Ontario.
We give thanks for the wise, encouraging leadership Ralph offered to many pastors in formation over many years. He served as director of theological education at AMBS from 1989 to 1997 and managed the Conference-based Theological Education Program in multiple sites in the U.S. and Canada. He was regularly on campus in Elkhart, though he was based in Ontario, where he taught classes that could be used toward a degree at AMBS. He taught Church and Ministry and was the supervisor for Congregational Supervised Pastoral Education.
Ralph helped facilitate a strong working relationship between AMBS and Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC). Persons from AMBS who remember him well made these observations:
- Ralph was a wise church leader. He was instrumental in encouraging many pastors, and especially women pastors entering ministry.
- Ralph's presence loomed large at AMBS without his being on campus all that much.
- Ralph was extremely interested in programs that could serve "out there" in the church at a variety of levels.
- What is amazing is that the cancer diagnosis he received 25 years ago was supposed to be terminal. We were so blessed to have him for these last 25 years.
Ralph was long retired when we met soon after I began as president of AMBS. I remember well his bright, warm encouragement for my leadership. May God be praised for gifting the church with a leader whose vision, love and wisdom contributed to the deep pastoral formation of so many.
—Sara Wenger Shenk, president