HARRISONBURG — A well-known author, teacher and pastor of the Mennonite faith has died, leaving a remarkable impact on the Anabaptist community.
John M. Drescher, 85, died July 10 at his home in Quakertown, Pa., according to his obituary.
Drescher had lived intermittently in the Harrisonburg area for the past several decades.
According to a release from MennoMedia, a communications agency with Mennonite Church USA, he was editor of Gospel Herald — now called The Mennonite — the church’s official magazine, from 1962 to 1973.
From 1989 until 1992, Drescher served as the pastor of Zion Mennonite Church, just south of Broadway.
Paul Leaman, a parishioner at Zion Mennonite, remembered Drescher as a “gracious leader,” and for his advice to married couples. He was “a wonderful and wise counselor,” Leaman said in an email. Drescher advised couples to pray together, and said that he had been blessed with “eyes that aged with his wife,” according to Leaman.
In addition to Zion Mennonite, he also served as pastor of Crown Hill Mennonite Church in Rittman, Ohio and Scottsdale Mennonite Church in Scottsdale, Pa.
He also frequently offered his services as an interim pastor and teacher for churches in Franconia, Pa., and Quakertown, Pa. Additionally, he served as bishop-overseer in the Ohio, Allegheny and Virginia Mennonite conferences, and as campus pastor at Quakertown Christian School.
Harvey Yoder, a local Mennonite pastor and blogger, spoke fondly of Drescher, who had been a parishioner when Yoder served as pastor of Zion Mennonite. “He was such a supportive, good person … and a mentor to me,” he said.
Yoder also believes Drescher to be one of “the most prolific and widely read Mennonite author[s] ever.”
Drescher was the author of hundreds of magazine articles and 37 books, many focusing on marriage and family life. One of these, “Seven Things Children Need,” sold nearly 130,000 copies and has been translated into more than 20 languages since being first published in 1976.
His “Meditations for the Newly Married,” published in 1969, has over 100,000 copies in print, and is to be republished by Herald Press in spring 2015.
His articles have been printed in Christianity Today, Reader’s Digest and Catholic Digest.
Drescher graduated from Eastern Mennonite College in 1951, and received his bachelor’s of theology degree from Eastern Mennonite Seminary two years later.
From 1979 until 1983, he served as churchman-in-residence at the seminary, where he taught classes on “Spiritual Disciplines” — later called “Formation of Personhood” — and preaching.
In 2005, the seminary honored Drescher with a plaque and letter of commendation recognizing his 50 years of ministry.
At the time of his death, he was a member of Finland Mennonite Church in Pennsburg, Pa.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years Betty and five children.
A memorial service is to be held 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Franconia Mennonite Church, 613 Harlesyville Pike, Telford, Pa.
Contact Bryan Gilkerson at 574-6267 or firstname.lastname@example.org