A Celebration of a Life Well-Lived, Dr. Lester S. Clemens
The BTS community both celebrates and mourns the passing of one of its former board members, Dr. Lester S. Clemens (November 6, 1921 – March 13, 2017). Les was a board member from 1984 until 2006. He demonstrated his commitment and love for the ministry of Biblical in countless ways. In recognition of his exceptional service to BTS, his love for Christ, and his determination to share the love of Jesus with others with love and humility, the BTS Board of Trustees conferred on Les the degree Doctor of Divinity honoris causa in June 2012.
A defining Scripture in Lester’s life was Micah 6:8, “… And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (NIV). While many aspire to live by those oft-quoted words, Lester demonstrated his commitment to live that way daily. President-Emeritus Dr. David Dunbar noted, “Lester Clemens was one of the most grace-filled Christians I have ever been around. His life was fragrant with the character of Jesus. I never came away from my time with Lester discouraged or weighed down. He knew how to ‘rejoice in the hope of the glory of God,’ and his joy was infectious.”
In the words of Dr. J. Robert Vannoy, a member of our founding faculty, “Les was an amazing person who made a practice of sharing the gospel, and he became a great friend of Biblical. There is so much to celebrate in his life.”
Fellow board member Rich McDaniel described Les as “the E.F. Hutton of the board… He listened well, did not speak often, but when he did, you ‘could hear a pin drop.’ His advice was always sage, and when he left the room, he took with him a personal list of things to do or sponsor. His service went beyond advice and counsel. He was insightful and compassionate, strong and engaged, a servant-leader and a steward.”
In 2007, the Board of BTS established the Lester and Kay Clemens Professor of Missional Theology, a position held today by Dr. R. Todd Mangum, our academic dean. This post was previously held by Dr. Manny Ortiz, who died on February 8, 2017, just five weeks prior to Lester’s passing.
Lester and his wife Katherine (“Kay”) Clemens were married for 70 years. Kay lives at Rockhill Mennonite Community in Sellersville, PA. He is also survived by his three sons, Gerry, Phil, and Steve, and their families. President Frank James, after learning of Lester’s passing, remarked, “I’m often asked to describe the missional focus and commitment of BTS. After getting to know Les Clemens, I can honestly say, ‘Look at his life. He demonstrated what it means to follow Jesus into the world.’ I’m deeply grateful for his life, influence, and commitment to BTS.”