Dr. Vernon Rosenau with the Lord

With a deep sense of sorrow mixed with hope, Baptist Mid-Missions announces that on the day we celebrated our Savior’s birth, December 25, 2020, President Emeritus Vernon Rosenau entered new life with his Savior after an extended battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife Jan, their children Julie, Sam (Landi), and Bill (Erica Kuczma), and several grandchildren.

A funeral service was held Saturday, January 2, 2021, at First Baptist Church of Elyria, Ohio. You can read the full obituary for Dr. Rosenau at https://www.hempelfuneralhome.com/obituary/Vernon-Rosenau 

In his 45-year tenure with Baptist Mid-Missions, Dr. Rosenau served as a missionary, administrator, and president (succeeding Dr. Gary Anderson and preceding Dr. Patrick Odle) before retiring on June 30, 2020. The following article honoring Dr. Rosenau’s retirement appeared in the Fall 2020 issue of Advance magazine. It serves as a fitting summary of this remarkable man’s life and legacy:

A Tribute to Dr. Vernon Rosenau

No other Baptist Mid-Missions president came to his position with more experience than Dr. Vernon Rosenau. Having grown up as a BMM MK in the Central African Republic, he and his wife, Jan, served there for 22 years. In 1999, Dr. Rosenau began a 15-year tenure as BMM’s Field Administrator for Africa and Europe, a position he held until beginning his presidency in 2016.

A deep understanding of missionary life

Dr. Rosenau’s field administration successor, Steve Gault, has said, “It has been a blessing to have a former missionary in the office of president. Being that he has lived the missionary life, he is so capable of understanding missionaries’ needs.” That understanding was woven into every decision he made. The most familiar phrase missionaries heard in his video newsletters was, “Take care of yourself.” Vernon has long understood that missionary burnout and unresolved relational problems lead to missionary attrition. As field administrator, he instituted the European Enrichment conferences (later expanded to include Africa). BMM’s European Coordinator, Ken Houghton said, “He revealed his heart and concern for missionaries when he stated the conference’s purposes as spiritual enrichment, physical renewal, and cross-pollination of ministries.” As president, Dr. Rosenau established the groundbreaking Safe Haven Department within BMM. Dr. Jeff and Sherry Newman will function as Safe Haven counselors to confidentially meet the BMM Family’s needs.

He served strategically

Prior to his presidency, Dr. Rosenau served as coordinator of BMM’s Strategic Planning Initiative. This experience gave him a big-picture perspective that served him well in his presidency. He understood the need for missionary teams to cast a greater vision for their fields and work together to do even more for the gospel. His foresight also brought necessary updates to the BMM Home Office that have given us improved internet and phone services for greater efficiency, and needed parking lot repairs and office remodeling to reflect a unified, forward-thinking direction for BMM.

His life was intertwined with BMM history

President Emeritus Gary Anderson noted that, as a third-generation BMM servant, Dr. Rosenau represents an unbroken tie to BMM’s original six missionaries. He is the president who led us to our 100th anniversary year, and no other president could represent BMM’s legacy so well. His heart was not only to rejoice over God’s past accomplishments through BMM but also to strategize and move vigorously toward future missions frontiers.

Dr. Rosenau accomplished much in his tenure. Dr. Dan Dickerson, BMM Council member and longtime friend, summed up his legacy: “His insights into people, big-picture needs, building relationships, being creative to do things in fresh and effective ways for the cause of Christ has moved the Mission forward during the years of his excellent leadership. His life is an excellent example of a man who so abides in Christ that, according to John 15, he bears much fruit that remains to the glory of God the Father!”

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