On Dec. 14, 2017, suddenly but peacefully at home, John Stoesz left to take possession of the home prepared for him in glory.
John was born on the farm, northeast of Niverville, Man., to Mary (Mika Schroeder) and David Stoesz on March 5, 1928. His parents predeceased him, as did his brother David Stoesz, his sister Anne and husband Peter Neufeld, his sister Katherine and husband Wally Pauls, and brother-in-law Neil Fast. He was also predeceased by his dear son Fred and a great-grandson Spencer.
John is survived by his beloved wife Ellen (Dueck) of 66 years, Fred’s wife Jolene (Klassen), daughter Marg and husband Kevin Wiebe, son Gerald and wife Kim (Bartel), daughter Linda and husband Mike Enns, and daughter Pat and husband Eric Boorman; 14 grandchildren and their spouses/partners; 13 great-grandchildren; sister Betty Fast, sister-in-law Mary Stoesz, Ellen’s family, and many friends.
He accepted the Lord on June 16, 1946, at age 18, and was baptized that same year and received into the fellowship of the Niverville MB Church. After finishing high school at MBCI in Winnipeg, he enrolled in Teachers College in Tuxedo. He taught elementary school for 13 years. The church very early gave him the opportunity to serve in the choir as well as in youth ministry and preaching.
In his heart he always hoped to spend some time in biblical studies. He believed, and often taught, that being a follower of Jesus meant a “lifetime of service.” After teaching at three schools (Linden, Arran, and Niverville), he left teaching and studied at MBBC and graduated with a theology degree in 1966. He was ordained into the pastoral ministry the same year and served the Kelowna MB Church for seven years, the Winkler MB Church for nine years, and then eleven years with the Braeside EMC in Winnipeg.
These were not easy years for the family as it meant several major moves, but Ellen and the children were always supportive and made the challenge much more pleasant. When he reached the age of 65 he retired because it said in the EMC Minister’s Manual that “Pastors should normally retire at age 65.” He retired because, as he put it, “I want to be normal!”
So what did he do in retirement? For 13 years he helped with a new church plant in Ste. Adolphe, doing much of the preaching and teaching along with a major renovation project. Also he followed his secondary inclination and took on the seniors’ ministry at Braeside, which soon developed into a choir that he named the “Keenagers” which he enjoyed immensely for a long time.
In 2011, already struggling with mobility issues, he was diagnosed with the beginning of Parkinson’s Disease. This “forced” him into retirement—at age 84. He had two guiding Bible verses that he lived by. As for the domestic things of life, he leaned on Matt. 6:33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be yours as well.”
As for his ministry, he held to Rev. 2:10: “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” He had a special prayer: “No greater joy can I have than this, than to hear that my children follow the truth” (3 John 4).
John’s funeral was held on Dec. 19, 2017, at Braeside EMC with Pastor Kim Stoesz, his daughter-in-law, officiating.
– His Family