The Rev. Dr. Ronald C Christiansen completed his earthly life on Saturday, March 25, 2023 at the age of 88. An ordained United Church of Christ minister, he and his wife Darlene were residents since February 2002 of the Manor North campus of the Willow Valley Retirement Community in Lancaster, PA.
Born March 5, 1935 in Great Bend, KS, he is survived by his widow, Darlene Iona (nee) Wegener, his wife of 69 years; three sons – Rev. Dr. Keith “Joshua” (Marcia Kistler) of New Ipswich, NH; Kendall (Carol Shuchman) of Brooklyn NY; and Kyle (Sandra Magos) of Frederick, MD; and a daughter Karla (Greg Jones) of New Castle, IN; and by fifteen grandchildren: Jeni, Jil, Jesi, Jed, Jake, Job and Jacy; Ben, Rachel and Noah Christiensen; and Annaleza and Ryan Jones – and nine great grandchildren.
He is also survived by two brothers – Stanley, of Hudson, KS and Don, of Gradbury, TX, and by two nephews and two nieces – and a sister- in-law, Colleen Hafner of St. Petersburg, FL. He is preceded in death by his parents, Leonard Earl and Almeda Mae Beuttel Christiansen, and by a Brother Keith Lyle.
Born and reared on what became a 1,400-acre grain and cattle farm near Hudson, KS, with proceeds from the sale of his cows he attended Elmhurst College (IL) – where he met Darlene – and was a graduate of Kansas State College (1957, Cum Laude, history, and Eden Theological Seminary; 1960- history, 1970-Masters, 1985-Doctorate, Pastoral Care) in St. Louis, MO. He trained to be an agricultural missionary, but with major ear surgeries during college days, he switched to history and secondary education.
In Seminary he served as Student Intern in Webster Grove, Creve Couer, Baldwin City (KS) and St. Louis. Ordained in 1960, he served UCC churches in Arnold, MO (organized) Topeka, KS (dissolved), Midway/Moro, Danville (merged two), and Morton, IL, Romeo, MI, and Sidney & Hudson, OH. Much of his ministry guided congregations through difficult or transitional times.
Special highlights were the sponsoring of a Vietnamese family of 21 in 1975; being a Stephen Ministry organizer and leader; and mission work in Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala.
He helped coach his sons’ Little League teams in Danville, IL, and a women’s slow pitch softball team in Romeo, MI and enjoyed playing tennis. He was active in choral singing groups, Kiwanis and Rotary Service Clubs and various church ministries and boards. He served on governing boards of two nursing homes (IL & MI, led the organizing of a Meal on Wheels/We Care program (IL) was active in leading church and youth/adult work camps in KS, IL, MS, MI & OH; and since retirement in 1999 was a volunteer for the SERRV (third world marketing) program of the Church of the Brethren in New Windsor, MD and since 1999 was an Annuitant Visitor for the UCC’s Pension Board, and since 2004 was a volunteer for Hospice and Community Services.
Most recently he and Darlene were members of First Reformed UCC in Lancaster, PA, where he served as a member of its Long Range Planning, Outreach and Name Tag Committees, assisted in their homeless meals and other assorted program opportunities and was an Adult Class discussion leader.
Interment will be in the Memorial Garden at First Reformed.
A memorial service for the family will be held at a date to be determined.
In his memory, contributions can be directed as follows:
To The Rev. Dr. Ronald C Christiansen Scholarship Fund at Eden Theological Seminary. Via mailed check to Eden Theological Seminary, Attn: Advancement Office, 475 E Lockwood Ave., St. Louis, MO 63119.
Online at https://www.eden.edu/donation-form/. Please specify the Christiansen Scholarship Fund in the “describe other designation” field. Paypal: @edenseminary or call (314) 918-2691 to contribute by phone.
(The family will be notified of memorial gifts.)
Contributions also maybe directed (by check) to the Organ Restoration Fund at First Reformed United Church of Christ, 40 East Orange Street, Lancaster, PA 17602