Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Kenneys Move to Martinsburg by Mark Everson

by Mark Everson

NOTE-Remarks read at the funeral of Warren F. Kenney on January 12, 2015.  I am thankful to Mark and Kim Everson for their love of our family, and to Mark for allowing me to share these comments with others.  These were read by another dear family friend, Danny Bowers.  Mark was unable to be in attendance.  Kim told me that he agonized about having to miss.  We love the Everson family!  David R. Kenney

In the early part of 1989 Brother David Powell communicated to the men of the congregation that he and his family were going to move to North Carolina to work with the church. As we prepared to begin the search for another minster for the congregation David suggested that we not go thru the “preacher try-out process” of bringing several men to present lessons and go thru an interview process. Instead he suggested that we request resumes from the men that would be interested in the work here in Martinsburg, review those resumes and contact the references that are supplied and work with one man a time. We did just exactly that and after a review of several resumes the decision was made that Warren F Kenney would be our first contact. A call was made to Warren and a time was scheduled for him to come to Martinsburg and meet the congregation. The arrangements were made and I met Warren, Kay and Sherry at the local McDonalds parking lot to spend the weekend with Kim and I and Joshua (who was two years old at the time). I can’t remember too much about the weekend (too many years ago) but I do remember that Kim got a new toaster out of their visit since our toaster caught on fire the Monday morning as Warren and Kay prepared to go back to Illinois. Warren spoke that day and he met with some of the men in the afternoon for a couple of hours. While I don’t remember much about that meeting other than the fact that we had a rather long list of questions concerning the church, the teaching of the scriptures, etc. which he patiently and quite capably answered that afternoon. He later expressed that no other congregation had taken the time to ask those very important questions and the impression that it had upon him. The men of the congregation met a couple weeks later and made the decision to invite the Kenney’s to come to Martinsburg. I remember trying to track Warren down to offer him the work here at Central. He had just tried out at the congregation in Valparaiso, IN and we were calling him to take the work with the congregation in Martinsburg, WV which he accepted.  The Kenney’s came to Martinsburg and that first Sunday in 1989 he asked the congregation to not replace the love in our hearts for the Powells who had just moved from Martinsburg but to make a place in our hearts for him, Kay and Sherry but especially for Kay-which we quickly did. We had told Warren that we were not going to go thru the trying out of several men but we would make a decision based upon one man at a time-he expressed later that taking that approach help influence him to accept the work.
There are so many things that come to mind as a result of the Kenney’s moving to Martinsburg but allow me to mention a few that come to mind:
  •  We have had sound faithful preaching from this pulpit for past 26 years. Only the Lord knows the influence and impact that Warren has had on members of this congregation and the people of this community.
  • Warren scheduled sound gospel preachers to come to Martinsburg to hold gospel meetings, weekend seminars and lectureships. Warren suggested and implemented the day classes during the week of gospel meeting which allowed for additional teaching. He loved men who dedicated their lives to preaching and teaching of the gospel and understood the value of gospel meetings for the church.
  • He presented lessons on the eldership and worked with us thru the process to install men to shepherd the congregation and to be scripturally organized here in Martinsburg. He was great encourager to us as elders and worked with us to feed the flock and provided  valuable input about the work. There were very few meetings that he had with us that he did not leave without first telling us a joke or witty story….many times he left us as he departed from the meeting with smiles on our faces. You all know that Warren had a strange sense of humor to say the least.
  • He encouraged the support of mission works both here in the states and abroad . When Warren moved to Martinsburg the congregation was not involved with many mission works but the number has grown over the years and our yearly budget commitment now reflects the results of that encouragement. When a congregation is challenged with good sound mission works it results in increased giving for that work and a desire take on addition works.
  • Warren loved buying books and thru the years we allotted a certain amount to use to purchase books while at the Freed Hardeman University lectures that have been placed in the church library. After being with us for several years and his books out grew the office space an additional office was built. He never complained about having to move those books to the new office.
  • He did not shrink back from the difficult teaching of the scriptures and the applications to our lives. He wanted to make sure that the congregation heard lessons from this pulpit on God’s plan for the home, the importance of baptism, the music of the church, how to have peace and unity in the church, the role of women and so many other timely subjects that he handled so skillfully thru the years. He made a statement to the congregation the Sunday following his brain cancer surgery that he had over the years strived to tell us how to live the Christian life and invited us to now walk with him and the family in the journey that was before them.
  • Warren helped us prepare for the time when he could no longer do that which he loved so much. He encouraged us several years ago to consider bringing in another man to work with the congregation. We did not go about the process by announcing to the brotherhood that the congregation was seeking another man to work here at Central. Instead we met and considered some names of men that would be an asset to the congregation and Ed Floyd’s name was mentioned. Warren was so excited (as well as the rest of the brethren) when Ed and LaNelle made their decision to move to Martinsburg. With that foresight of planning along with the addition of Bob has allowed the congregation to prepare for this very sad day.
  • There are some many more thoughts that flood my memory but time does not permit everything to be mentioned. I have counted it a great privilege to work with Warren closely over the years when the congregation did not have elders and then serving as an elder. We have shared some very sad and difficult days together and yet there have been times of great success and excitement with the work here at Central. We have seen firsthand how a preacher and a congregation can have a long working relationship and I am thrilled to have been part of that relationship. We covet your prayers as the congregation moves forward in the days and years ahead.
These next comments are directed to Kay…thank you for sharing Warren with the congregation here at Central and the sacrifices that you have made as a preacher’s wife. You have been a wonderful helpmeet to Warren and a vital part of his influence with those in the church and those outside the body of Christ. We love you and pray for your comfort and strength in the coming days.
Since these remarks are being read to you I travel today with a heavy heart knowing that Warren is no longer with us and that I cannot be with you today on this occasion but rejoice in anticipation of a great reunion. What a wonderful day it was when the Kenney’s came to Martinsburg.

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