Henry H. Epp: pastor and evangelist; born 14 January 1915 on a farm near Waldheim, Saskatchewan, Canada to Heinrich M. Epp (15 February 1885, Alexanderthal, Fuerstenland, South Russia - 22 September 1942, Rosthern, Saskatchewan, Canada) and Agnetha "Agnes" (Goossen) Epp (14 January 1890, Marion, South Dakota, USA - 17 November 1964, Waldheim, Saskatchewan, Canada). He was the fifth child in a family of five sons and three daughters. His siblings included Jacob H. Epp and Margaret Epp. Henry was married on 29 September 1939 in Borden, Saskatchewan to Selma Melba Harder (26 April 1918, Borden, Saskatchewan, Canada - 16 May 2007, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), daughter of Johann A. Harder (23 December 1864, Hierschau, Molotschna, South Russia - 19 May 1935, Borden, Saskatchewan, Canada) and his third wife, Agatha (Hiebert) Harder (28 April 1886, Olgafeld, Fuerstenland, South Russia - 1 June 1968, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada). Their marriage lasted 67 years and produced four children, Sharon, Patricia, Murray, and Douglas. Henry passed away on 9 September 2009 in Abbotsford, British Columbia (BC). He was predeceased by his beloved wife, Selma (Harder) Epp on 16 May 2007. Both were buried in Abbotsford, BC.
In the spring of 1916, when he was a year old, Henry’s parents and their family left for China to become missionaries with the China Mennonite Mission Society, an interdenominational faith mission operating in the provinces of Shantung and Honan. The family returned to Canada six years later when Henry was seven, settling once again on a farm near Waldheim.
Henry had a happy childhood and helped with the farm work in his teens. In 1924 Henry accepted Jesus as his Savior during evangelistic tent meetings led by Paul Smith and Melvin Dixon. Five years later Henry was baptized in the North Saskatchewan River by his maternal grandfather, Henry Goossen, joining the Salem Krimmer Mennonite Brethren Church. From 1933-1937 Henry attended Bethany Bible Institute in Hepburn, Saskatchewan where he also took his high school classes by correspondence. There he met Selma Harder, daughter of Rev. John A. Harder and Agatha (Hiebert) Harder. They were married by Rev. H. S. Rempel in the Borden Mennonite Brethren Church, where Selma’s father was a lay minister.
After Bible school Henry was involved in short-term ministries and evangelistic services in small towns and rural Saskatchewan. In 1940 Henry received a call to pastor the Bethel Krimmer Mennonite Brethren Church in South Dakota. It was there on 4 August 1941 that Henry was ordained into the ministry by Rev. J. B. Toews. In November 1941 Henry and Selma returned to Canada. Henry was then asked to take the position of evangelist to the Northern Saskatchewan MB churches. He and Selma joined the Mennonite Brethren conference at this time. From 1944-1946 Henry taught at the Dalmeny Bible School and then in 1946 he was invited to pastor the Saskatoon Mennonite Brethren Church at the corner of Avenue C and 25th Street West.
Henry had planned to further his education at Tabor College in Kansas when he received the invitation to come to the Lodi Mennonite Brethren Church in California in 1948. After praying about it he accepted the call, sight unseen. In 1954 Henry, Selma and family moved to Birch Bay, Washington where Henry became pastor of the Whitehorn Mennonite Brethren Church as it was named then. All the baptisms there took place in the Pacific Ocean.
In 1959 the Canadian Mennonite Brethren (MB) Conference Board of Evangelism asked if Henry would be willing to become the first conference evangelist in Canada. Since he had a heart for evangelism he readily accepted, and for the next five years he traveled to almost all the Canadian MB churches and some US churches also. Many came to know the Lord through this ministry. In 1964 Henry was called to become the pastor of the newly formed Nutana (now Forest Grove) MB Church in Saskatoon where he remained for seven years. Henry also took part in the Gospel Tidings radio broadcast once a month. Throughout his ministry Henry served on various denominational committees at both at the provincial (or state) and national levels.
Henry’s next call was to the Tofield MB Church in Tofield, Alberta in 1971. In 1976 Henry’s ministry took a new turn when he became chaplain/administrator for the Menno Court Seniors Apartment in Vancouver, BC. He was responsible for one service and one Bible study each week. These were well attended by people from many denominations. During these years Henry and Selma attended the Fraserview MB Church.
Henry and Selma retired in Abbotsford in 1981 where they joined the Bakerview MB Church. Henry often spoke in local churches, and led a Bible study for 17 years at Awana Place where they lived.
Throughout his entire life, Henry H. Epp had a strong, unwavering faith that God would supply his needs and direct his path. He was a humble, meek man who consistently lived what he preached. Henry often said that whatever was accomplished by his ministry was entirely due to God’s grace.
Epp, Henry H. "We’ve Come This Far by Faith." Self-published Autobiography, 2003.
Epp, Margaret. Walk in my Woods. Chicago: Moody Press, 1967.
|Date Published||November 2009|
 Cite This Article
Hood, Sharon. "Epp, Henry H. (1915-2009)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2009. Web. 30 Jan 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Epp,_Henry_H._(1915-2009)&oldid=127458.
Hood, Sharon. (November 2009). Epp, Henry H. (1915-2009). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 30 January 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Epp,_Henry_H._(1915-2009)&oldid=127458.
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