Arthur W. Anderson

1920 — 2013

by Phil Johnson

Rev. Arthur W. Anderson died at the John Knox Care Village in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, where he had resided for the past three months. Art’s is a very ecumenical spirit so it was okay that he was living in a Presbyterian residence when he died.

Arthur Anderson was beloved. Few people could listen the way Art could listen. His watchword was “Openness.” Believe me, he was open. He loved to wrestle with doubts and concerns. His theological quest never ended nor did it flag along the way.

His columns in Pietisten were nuggets of reflection on everyday events. His book on prayer, Wild Beasts and Angels, was rooted in the pilgrimage of his everyday life and in the pilgrimages of those he loved and served. People knew they were safe with Art. Twenty-five of Art’s Pietisten columns are online at Pietisten.org — every one a treat.

In 1950, Art became the fourth president of Minnehaha Academy. He began his presidency as a very eligible bachelor but Bernice Anderson of Duluth soon ended his eligibility for good — take good in all its applicable meanings.

In the fall of 1959, after a decade of distinguished leadership of Minnehaha Academy, Rev. Anderson became chaplain at North Park College in Chicago. In 1964, he responded to the pastoral call from Bethlehem Covenant Church in Minneapolis.

Art chose to be a parish pastor the remainder of his career. That was his calling. Exclusiveness was anathema to him. He sought a church for sinners only. He loved to tell of the church in Ohio he had attended one Sunday evening. When it came time for the offering, the pastor said, as the plate was passed, “Those of you who are able to give, give, and those who need, take.” “I like that,” said Art.

In 1969, Art and Bernice, with Sonja, Kirk, and baby Ingrid, loaded their car and set out for New York City, where Art took up his call to pastor Bethesda Covenant Church. The congregation worshipped in the United Nations Chapel. Pastor Anderson relished contacts with persons from around the world that his presence at the UN made possible.

Next came the call to First Covenant Church in Youngstown, Ohio. Art preached and pastored in Youngstown until he retired in 1988. After retirement, Art and Bernice engaged in delightful interim pastorates.

While at Bethlehem Covenant in Minneapolis, Art engaged in theological studies at the University of Chicago. He loved to read and study, he loved conversations with professors, students, colleagues, and friends. It is true to say that he loved conversations with everybody.

I’ve always thought it remarkable that from a family in which the father had nothing to do with church or religion, three children became pastors: Art, and his brothers, Gilbert and Bert.

Blessings to Bernice and to Sonja, Kirk, Ingrid, and their families and to all who loved Art.

Art died peacefully. Perhaps somewhere in his mind during his closing minutes was the memory of catching the winning touchdown pass the night the “Bombers” of Barnum High near Duluth won the league championship.

Arthur W. Anderson, thank you for the gift of yourself to Pietisten. May you rest in peace. You will continue to be beloved.

[Memorials may be directed to North Park Theological Seminary]