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Rev. Dr. Martin Kessler

Posted By DeBord-Snyder Funeral Home & Crematory On March 17, 2021 @ 10:30 am In Obituaries | 6 Comments

Kessler photo web

For the Rev. Dr. Martin Kessler, resident of Lancaster, PA, February 26, 2021 was his great moving day. He joyfully entered into eternal life at age 94 after a full, blessed life. Born in Beetgum, Friesland in The Netherlands on January 5, 1927, he endured the Nazi occupation during his teen years. Drafted into the Dutch Army and trained for service in Indonesia, Queen Wilhelmina miraculously granted him discharge so he could leave for America with his widowed mother and younger brother. In March 1948 they joined sponsoring relatives in Hawthorne, NJ. Already fluent in English, he adjusted rapidly in America. He was proud of his new country, embraced all its experiences and opportunities, and applied for citizenship.

In 1950 he was drafted into the U.S. Army where he served stateside as Corporal during the Korean War. He attended Providence Bible Institute (later Barrington College, now Gordon College) where he studied Bible and met his sweetheart, Joan, of Weymouth, MA. They married after graduation in 1956. He continued studies at Union Theological Seminary, New Brunswick Seminary, Brandeis University and Gettysburg Theological Seminary, ultimately earning an M.A., Ph.D. and a Th.M.

Dr. Kessler was ordained in the Dutch Reformed Church, served as Pastor in a bilingual Dutch Reformed immigrant congregation in Toronto, Canada, then in the Reformed Church in America in Schoharie, Lawyersville and Sharon, NY. Later he had the great pleasure of being Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Danville, PA for 11 years. Upon retirement, he served part-time or supply preached in various congregations, most notably Canby Lutheran Church in Bloomsburg, PA; he felt sad to leave them when he relocated to Lancaster to be closer to family.

In his academic career which he pursued alongside his pastoral calling, Dr. Kessler enjoyed teaching at Waynesburg College, Clarkson College, State University of New York at Albany, Susquehanna University, St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary and Siena College. Primarily an Old Testament scholar with special focus on Jeremiah and the Prophets, he also lectured in The Netherlands, Iceland and Sweden, and spent a month as American delegate-lecturer at the Centennial Celebration of the University of South Africa. He had many published articles and several books to his credit. He was an active member of the Catholic Biblical Association for 50 years and an honorary and perpetual member of the Societas Hebraica Amstelodamensis in Amsterdam.

He was given the Father Jankola Award for Lifetime Ecumenical Achievement from the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius, Danville, PA, and twice received the Thomas Paine Award for Citizen Journalism from the Central Susquehanna Chapter of the ACLU. In his last several decades of life, he remained active translating Dutch and German scholarly works into English. In addition to his pastoral and scholarly pursuits, Dr. Kessler enjoyed world languages, reading continually, and growing food for his family (and to share) in their family garden.

He left behind his loving wife, true partner and best friend, L. Joan (Pflaumer) Kessler. They enjoyed 64 years of marriage and were blessed to have four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He was very proud of each of them and prayed for them all daily until the time of his departure. Additional surviving family members, all deeply loved by him, are his children, Nancy McCann (Brockport, NY), John Kessler (Goldsboro, NC), Marjorie Kessler with spouse Jeffrey Steiner (Lancaster, PA), and Nadine Marx with spouse Elmer Marx (Juneau, AK), grandsons Jason McCann with spouse Rebecca McCann (Evans, GA), Andrew Ridgway, Philip Steiner and Michael Poon (Lancaster, PA), Cameron Marx and Ryan Marx (Juneau, AK), granddaughter Allyson Steiner (Bethlehem, PA) and great-grandsons Grady and Declan McCann (Evans, GA).

A future memorial service will be held at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in East Petersburg. In lieu of flowers or gifts, donations may be made to Global Health Ministries (glm.org), Zion E.L.C., or Gordon College.


Condolences for the family of “Rev. Dr. Martin Kessler”

Condolence from Dan and Karen Day on March 27th, 2021 9:12 am

We were so very sorry to hear about Pastor Kessler. He welcomed Danny and me into Trinity Lutheran Church in Danville and he married us 40 years ago this coming May 15th. Our deepest sympathies and prayers for all of his family and friends..

Condolence from Ann Carol Malcolm on March 28th, 2021 4:08 pm

Dear Joan,
It was a privilege and pleasure to know both you and Dr. Kessler while you were living in Danville. He
certainly was an amazing man! Thank you.
With sincere care and sympathy,
Ann Carol Malcolm
(dollhouse lady and Grove former choir director)

Condolence from Heidi Krause Gumbert on March 29th, 2021 11:22 am

My heart-felt sympathy to the Kessler family for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.

Condolence from Mary C Shade on March 29th, 2021 4:33 pm

Dear Joan and Family,
So very saddened to read of the passing of the Reverend. He was truly a gentleman. Thoughts and prayers to the family.
Kay Shade

Condolence from Karleen and Ted Smith on March 30th, 2021 6:44 am

Dear Joan and Family…very shocked and saddened to learn of Martin’s passing. We enjoyed very much, reading his obituary. Indeed, he did have a very ‘full and blessed’ life! I can imagine God having him lead
Bible studies in Heaven! 🙂 We certainly will keep you and your family in our prayers, as you make this transition to life without your ‘beloved.’ May God grant you peace and comfort, as you recall all your very precious memories. In Christian Friendship, Karleen and Ted PS We have fond memories of our days together at good, old Liberty-Valley! 🙂

Condolence from Daniel Long on April 2nd, 2021 10:07 am

Dear Joan and all the Kessler family. Rev. Kessler will be missed by family, church, community. I always enjoyed our conversations and his insights into theology and scripture. He led a full life with many intersting turns and significant contributions to the church, theology and interpretation of scriptures, not to mention the many people he touched with pastoral ministry. Now we pray many blesings upon you, Joan, and the family as you continue your journey as you also have many blessing to share with family, church and community. Grace and Peace to your all!!!

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