Robert Webber – His Life, Death ‘A Model for All Christians’

Post a Comment » Written on April 30th, 2007     
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HARBERT, MI (April 30, 2007) – Author, theologian and Christian worship expert Robert Webber is being remembered as “one of those amazing people who, in the face of death, kept serving the Lord in the ways he knew God had gifted him,” says Joel Kruggel, his pastor at Harbert Community Church.

Webber, 73, died Friday of pancreatic cancer.

The author of more than 40 books on worship, Webber produced (in 1994) a seven-volume worship collection that many consider the definitive work in the area of best worship practices – The Complete Library of Christian Worship. To read an interview with Webber published in 2004 in The Covenant Companion, please see “Worship: Awesome or Just Plain Awful?” To read another related article, please see “Saving the Old, Old Story.”

WebberHe was perhaps best known for promoting the use of early church practices in contemporary congregations. His Ancient-Future Worship model, initially rejected by many, has now become widely influential in evangelical churches. He spoke during the Evangelical Covenant Church pastor’s Midwinter Conference in 2004.

“Bob was one of those regular guys who did great things in the Kingdom,” Kruggel says.  “Yet, those great things never got to his head or interrupted his identity as a follower of Jesus – he knew his life depended daily on God’s goodness and grace,” Kruggel recalls.

Kruggel says the way Webber lived with illness and died is a model for all Christians. “Bob was an amazing example of one who could live in the tension between praying for healing and knowing that it may not happen,” Kruggel says. Although he says Webber prayed and lived in expectation of healing, “he also was keenly aware that God’s ways are beyond us, and totally trusted his life to God’s bigger designs.”

Doctors diagnosed Webber with pancreatic cancer last summer. “He bravely endured chemo and radiation through the fall,” Kruggel says. “At Christmas, Bob was given two weeks to live. Yet, until two weeks ago, he had the energy and focus to continue writing. When I visited with him, I could tell the writing ministry brought him great joy and purpose even as Bob knew his days were winding down.”

Webber and his wife, Joanne, joined the church in 2005, Kruggel says. They previously had attended at various times since buying a vacation home in nearby Sawyer, Michigan, in the mid-1980s.

A private memorial service will be held at the church. Another memorial service will be held June 15 at his Institute for Worship Studies in Jacksonville, Florida. Founded by Webber in 1993, the institute is the only one of its kind in the United States to focus exclusively on worship education. It offers both masters and doctoral degree programs in worship studies.

Webber was the William R. and Geraldyne B. Myers Chair of Ministry at Northern Baptist Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, having previously taught theology at Wheaton (Illinois) College for 32 years. The school plans a memorial service, but no date has been set.

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