The Rev. Dr. Kenneth Charles Senft died on Sept. 21, 2019, under Homeland Hospice Care at Manor Care in Camp Hill. Kenneth was born on Aug. 20, 1925 to Harry and Effie Senft. He was proud of his family roots on a hilly York County farm and his faith roots in his family church, St. Jacob’s Lutheran Church, “Stone Church,” established by Henry Melchior Muhlenberg in 1756.
Kenneth received a Bachelor of Arts from Gettysburg College in 1946, during which time he was also Chairperson of the United Student Christian Council, a member of the World Christian Youth Conference, and a student delegate to the opening of the Lutheran World Federation in Helsinki. He received a Bachelor of Divinity from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg in 1952, and a Doctor of Divinity from Gettysburg College in 1973. In middle of his seminary studies, immediately following World War II, he took a leave to serve as the director of resettlement of displaced persons, under the Lutheran World Federation, Service to Refugees. This became a lifetime commitment to furthering the care of, and service to, refugees and immigration from all parts of the world.
When Kenneth returned to Gettysburg to complete his studies, he also served as Pastor of Keller Memorial Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C. His first call was a Mission Developer, and then Pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Redwood City, California, from 1952-1963. From 1963-1964, he served as Secretary of Church Vocations, Board of College Education and Church Vocations for the Lutheran Church in America. Kenneth returned to Berkeley, California, serving Lutheran Church of the Cross from 1964-1967. He then served Trinity Lutheran Church in Pasadena from 1967-1970. He served as Assistant Executive Secretary for the Board of American Missions in Chicago from 1970-1972. In 1972, The Lutheran Church in America reorganized, and Kenneth became the Executive Director of the Division for Mission in North America, based in Manhattan until the formation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1988. Post retirement, Kenneth was President of the Mission Resource Institute. Kenneth also served on the Board of the Council of Churches of California, the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches, as well as numerous other boards, and was an active participant in ecumenical dialogues.
In 1949, Kenneth married Josephine Haugen in Berchtesgaden, Germany. She had come to Germany from St. Olaf College, to teach English in German Schools, through LWF, then serving in their Services to Refugees Program. Kenneth was predeceased by Josephine, as well as his seven sisters and one brother. He is survived by daughters Elizabeth C. Senft, Catharine Senft Geib (Richard), five grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.
Kenneth was a member of Tree of Life Lutheran Church, 1492 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg. His memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., at Tree of Life Lutheran Church, on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, with Pastors Richard Geib and Stephen Herr officiating. Visitation will begin at 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. A luncheon will follow the service. Burial at St. Jacob’s, Stone Church, will be private.
Arrangements are under the care of the Jesse H. Geigle Funeral Home, 2100 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg, PA 17110.
To send condolences or to share memories with the family please go to BitnerCares.com.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, 700 Light Street, Baltimore, MD, 21230, or lirs.org.