Goshen College Professor Emeritus of Bible Stanley C. Shenk passed away on Thursday, Sept. 2 at the Greencroft Healthcare Center in Goshen. Shenk, 91, taught Bible at the college from 1965 to 1985.
As a teacher, Shenk was known for his love of inductive Bible study, and he taught many students to use that method to unlock the Scriptures for themselves. Through his numerous trips to the Middle East, he developed a keen interest in the contemporary political, social and economic conditions of the region. He led about a dozen tours to the Holy Land, including several Goshen College Middle East Bible Seminars.
Shenk was born to Coffman and Icie Pearl Shenk on March 30, 1919, in Denbigh, Va. He grew up in Washington, D.C.; Versailles, Mo.; and Biglerville, Pa. He married Doris Sell on June 20, 1942 at Souderton (Pa.) Mennonite Church. Doris was the administrative assistant to the academic dean at Goshen College from 1965 to 1975 and graduated from the college in 1986. They were married for 62 years before she died on Oct. 13, 2004.
Shenk received a bachelor of theology degree from Eastern Mennonite University in 1943; a bachelor's degree in English and a bachelor of theology degree from Goshen College in 1944; and a doctorate from New York University in 1971. He also attended Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary and he graduated from Biblical Seminary in New York in 1959.
He taught at Eastern Mennonite College, now University (1945-1948), at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School (1958-60), at Upper Moreland High School (1961-63), at Union Biblical Seminary in Yavatmal, India (1975-76) and Pune, India (1986), in Japan (1985) and in Singapore (1986).
Shenk also served as a pastor at South Union Mennonite Church (West Liberty, Ohio) from 1949 to 1957 and Bristol (Pa.) Mennonite Church from 1963 to 1965. Shenk was a member of Clinton Frame Mennonite Church, Goshen, where he served as assistant pastor from 1965 to 1973. In his retirement he also had a preaching ministry with a number of Mennonite churches in the Midwest. He lived at Greencroft since 2002.
Shenk authored hundreds of articles, poems and book reviews and about 700 youth Sunday school lessons for Herald Press (1950-63). He also authored four books: Youth and Nonresistance (1953), Mission in Asia (1988), The Book of Hezekiah (publication pending) and Common Sense on the Second Coming (unpublished).
"We have lost a great servant of the church and Goshen College," said Goshen College President James E. Brenneman. "Generations of students, church members, and others who have studied in the classroom or traveled with Stanley on one of his Middle East learning tours, as I had the privilege to do, remember him as one of the most engaging teachers of Scripture they ever had. For me, his class on the Book of Jeremiah was revolutionary, literally changing the entire trajectory of my life. The words of the prophet Jeremiah best summarizes not only God's affection of Stanley, but that of those who knew him: '[We] have loved you with an everlasting love.'" (Jer. 31:3).
At the time of his retirement from Goshen College, Shenk said, "I'll miss the thrill of sharing special Bible passages with students in my survey course, and interpreting the splendor of God working through history. I'll especially cherish the opportunities I had to encourage students who were considering the ministry."
He added, "Practically, a church-related liberal arts college, a college that takes its stance on divine revelation, must give priority to teaching the truth. Yet, at the same time, it must grapple with the tough questions students will meet later on."
In addition to his wife, Shenk was preceded in death by his mother in 1922, his father in 1987, and his stepmother, Retta Boyer Shenk, in 1999.
Shenk is survived by his four children, all Goshen College graduates: Dave (Shirley) Shenk of Elkhart, Dan (Vera) Shenk of Goshen, Rhoda (Bob) Keener, of Shippensburg, Pa., and Phil (Alice) Shenk of Goshen; 13 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.
Memorial gifts can be made to Goshen College, Greencroft Foundation or Mennonite Women USA.