Dr. Dennis F. Kinlaw, beloved senior statesman of OMS as longtime trustee and Board chair, passed away on the morning of April 10, 2017, at the age of 94. Dr. Kinlaw was one of the longest serving chairmen of the international OMS Board of Trustees in the mission's history. He also served as the former Francis Asbury Society founder and president, Asbury University president, and Asbury Theological Seminary OT professor.
Dr. Kinlaw was the most warm hearted, intellectually sharp, and passionate follower of Christ whom we ever had the privilege of knowing. The number of people that he influenced for Christ around the world would be unfathomable. He was a Christian educator, insightful philosopher, published author, popular retreat and conference speaker, camp meeting evangelist, Bible teacher, academic scholar, institutional administrator, missionary statesman, reliable friend, faithful father, and devoted husband.
Personally, Dr. Kinlaw was instrumental in counseling Celia and me during our time of discerning God's call on our lives, and then paving the way that we would be accepted on probation at Asbury College. During those college years, he and Mrs. Kinlaw demonstrated lavish love toward us to such a degree that our duplex neighbors thought we were somebody when in actuality we were nobody. And lastly, Dr. Kinlaw helped me while serving as an executive officer in administration at OMS, to understand that when dealing with disciplinary matters, non-compliance with doctrinal distinctives, was tantamount to breaking covenant with OMS as a religious order. All in all, Dr. Kinlaw was one of the most influential leaders in our Christian life, helping to inform our spiritual faith, frame our ministerial competency, and foster Christ-like leadership in every aspect of our cross-cultural careers. And what he did for us can be multiplied over and over in the lives of so many other OMS missionaries and Christian leaders around the world.
Case in point, years ago, when former Seoul Theological University President, Dr. John Chongnahm Cho, was studying in Wilmore, he became acquainted with Dr. Kinlaw. After returning to Korea, then OMS missionary, Mr. Richard Capin, noted that a significant monthly contribution was included in the regular wire transfers earmarked for the then Rev. Cho, Chongnahm. With this financial assistance, Rev. Cho was able to continue his educational preparation, eventually earning his doctorate and becoming the foremost Wesleyan scholar in Korea and throughout Asia, serving as one of the longest tenured presidents, and leading Seoul Theological University to becoming one of the premier theological educational training centers in Korea and the entire Far East.
With much honor and great thankfulness to God, organizationally, we celebrate the life of Dr. Kinlaw and the many ways he served God through OMS.
- He began his relationship with OMS at Asbury in the '40s when he sat in chapel alongside the founding Kilbourne’s grandsons, Edward, Erny and Elmer.
- He served with 5 out of the 10 presidents of OMS, including Eugene Erny, Wesley Duewel, Everett Hunt, Ed Erny, and J. B. Crouse.
- He served on the Board 35 years, 30 years as chairman.
- He has been a pillar of strength.
- He has helped keep OMS true to its Wesleyan heritage.
- He has helped steer the mission through troubled waters.
- He has given of his love, prayers, finances, time, children, and grandchildren.
- His counsel, vision, and passion for reaching the world have had a great impact on making OMS what it is today.
- His preaching, teaching, and writing on holiness were the extension of his sanctified life.
- He exemplified the essence of a holy life over the years not only through his administration and leadership, but also through the spiritual messages he has etched on the OMS family and constituency.
The OMS leadership team and our worldwide missionary family as well as our international brothers and sisters in Christ are grateful that Dr. Kinlaw was a part of OMS and that his life has been woven into its very core. Our deepest appreciation, gratitude, and respect is due this man who influenced OMS missionaries and international coworkers around the world for decades.
Excerpts from OMS President Bob Fetherlin tribute, synthesized by David E. Dick, VP at Large