Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A Missionary Leader Goes Home: The Rev. Walter Hannum (1925-2012)

I received the following news from Sharon Steinmiller, Director of the New Wineskins Missionary Network, regarding the death of Walter Hannum.  As I told Sharon, "I was profoundly touched by Walter and Louise's ministry.  Walter was truly a great missionary statesman and visionary leader, but so low-key that his tremendous accomplishments seldom received the recognition they deserved."  I am certain that he is, even now, hearing The Master say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"
Dear Friends of New Wineskins and of Walter and Louise Hannum,

Walter and Louise Hannum with Dr. Andrew Swamidoss - May 1998
I just got a call from Louise that Walter died yesterday.  He hadn’t been eating well for some time.  Louise told me it was a miracle that he was not in any pain—gall bladder is normally extremely painful.  Last week someone asked him how he was and he said, “I’m a happy man!” and yesterday when Louise read Morning Prayer with him he said “Amen!” in all the right places.  So there are many blessings.

Walter was my mentor and friend and I had the privilege of being his “honorary daughter.”  I cannot over­estimate the impact the Hannums have had on missions among Episcopalians/Anglicans in North America and the Anglican Communion.  They were the voice crying in the wilder­ness for missions—particularly for unreached people groups— for decades before others in our Church picked up the cry.  They gave orientation and training to over 300 missionaries, taught numerous one-week Introductory Courses on World Missions, and presented mission seminars around the USA.  They served as adjunct professors of World Mission and Evangelism at Trinity School for Ministry.

Walter and Louise founded ECMC (now New Wineskins Missionary Network) in 1974 to “enable Episcopalians to be more knowledgeable, active, and effective in fulfilling our Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations by raising mission vision in parishes and dioceses, promoting and providing training for missionaries and mission committees, equipping Episcopalians to reach unreached people groups around the world, and raising prayer support for Episcopal missionaries.”  Because of their vision, persistence, and faithfulness, that has been happening ever since!

The New Wineskins for Global Mission conferences, first held in 1994 to honor their 20 years of ministry as founders of ECMC, have continued every three or four years and have impacted generations of seminarians and countless churches and missionaries.

Walter served twenty years in Alaska as Archdeacon of Northern Alaska preparing the first ever Indians and Eskimos for priesthood. Born December 30, 1925—long before anyone ever heard of dyslexia—he graduated from the Philadelphia Divinity School of the Episcopal Church in 1953 and received a Th.M. in Missiology in 1975 from the School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA.  He had a key role in the existence of the Good News Bible, Canon 9 Ordinations, SAMS, Yavatmal College for Leadership Training in India, and the Indian Graduate School for Missiology.  He was involved in the founding of AFM, Global Teams, and the U.S. Center for World Mission.

As Walter used to say, “You can count the seeds in an apple, but no one can count the apples in a seed.”  Anglicans in missions around the world thank God for Walter Hannum, and there will be people from tribes, tongues, languages, and nations gathered around the throne who are the fruit of his life and ministry.

If you want to send a note, Louise’s address is Pilgrim Place, 627 Leyden Lane #106, Claremont, CA 91711-4235.

“Happy are those who from now on die in the service of the Lord!… They will enjoy rest from their hard work, because the results of their service go with them.” Rev. 14: 13, Good News Bible)
Sharon Steinmiller
New Wineskins Missionary Network

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