Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith …

Hebrews 12:1

In 2016, we said goodbye to some extraordinary members of the Renovaré family and the larger faith community. We mourn — deeply — but we do not mourn as those who have no hope. The integrity and love that pervaded the lives of these particular people was and is a great source of hope — hope that we human beings really can be progressively transformed into Christlikeness, and hope that one we day we really will be face to face (like these dear ones are now) with our Savior. 

Still, here — between the now and the not-yet — we miss them so. 

Thomas C. Oden

October 21, 1931 – December 82016 

Tom Oden was a theologian and author who, by reminding us that the Holy Spirit has a history,” opened up for us a way of seeing God’s work throughout the centuries that moves us beyond our modern myopia. Tom was one of the general editors of the Renovaré Life with God Bible, and a thirty-year friend to Renovaré’s current president, Chris Hall. (Chris and Tom worked on many projects together, including the 29-volume Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture.)

Tom’s own mind, heart and soul expanded like a balloon, the more he learned about the Holy Spirit’s work in human history — particularly in the early centuries of the Church,” Chris notes. He was a friend and a mentor, and his willingness to always ask, How are you doing?—and really mean it — made him in many ways like a dad me.” 

You can learn more about Tom at Christianity Today, or read his full obituary in The Oklahoman.

Jerry (Jerome) Lewis

August 12, 1927 – November 272016 

Jerry was influential in countless ministries and charities, including Young Life, The Denver Leadership Foundation, and The Downing Street Foundation. He was also a great friend to Renovaré, and particularly instrumental in moving the Renovaré headquarters from Wichita to Denver. 

Jerry’s obituary describes a beloved husband, father, grandfather, employer, friend, and disciple of Jesus Christ. 

Roger L. Fredrikson

November 27, 1920 – June 162016 

When beloved Lutheran minister (and long-time Renovaré ministry team member) crossed over to glory earlier this year, there was an immediate outpouring of grief and love in our community. We invite you to revisit those reflections, and to listen to a sweet conversation Roger had with Nathan Foster not long before his death.

Margaret B. Guenther

January 4, 1929 – December 112016 

The Rev. Dr. Margaret B. Guenther was a gift to the spiritual formation community in many ways, not least through remarkable books like Holy Listening and The Practice of Prayer. Earlier this year we took the Renovaré Book Club through Holy Listening (a classic on spiritual formation), and Margaret graced us with her keen wit and deep wisdom in a lively Book Club podcast interview. 

You can read Margaret’s obituary on the website of St. Colomba Episcopal, where she served as an associate rector until her death. 

Elesa Bentsen

September 21, 1953 – July 12016 

Elesa Bentsen was a lifelong learner and disciple who brought much to the Renovaré Institute in her time with us as a student. As one of her fellow students expressed, She was a very special person in our cohort. I personally have never known a lovelier lady and am very grieved by her leaving this earth so soon. She was a huge encouragement to me on more than one occasion.” 

You can listen to some of Elesa’s reflections in our short Renovaré Institute video, and learn more about her rich life by reading her obituary.

Rob Des Cotes

March 2, 1954 – April 62016 

A spiritual director, author, pastor, and musician, Rob was the founder of the Vancouver, Canada-based Imago Dei Christian Community and a gift to the larger spiritual community as well. You can learn more about Rob by visiting the Imago Dei website.

One month before Rob lost his battle with cancer, he recorded an interview about spiritual direction for the Renovaré Book Club. There is a phenomenon that the person who’s onto something, the person who is seeking God, automatically has an effect on those around him, to excite in them their heart for God,” Rob told us in our conversation. 

Tom Oden, Jerry Lewis, Roger Fredrikson, Margaret Guenther, Elesa Bentsen, and Rob Des Cotes were indeed people whose hunger for God excited a holy longing in others. The invitation stands for us to live that way, too.