History and Memorial to Wayne Steinert and David Blackburn
August 19, 2004
We have gathered as a family in Christ to dedicate this conference room in honor of Wayne Steinert and David Blackburn. Two missionaries, called out by God to witness to his love in El Salvador, Swaziland and Brazil. It was during Wayne’s Steinert service that he was killed in South Africa by Jerzy Ras, a member of the Commandos (a citizen militia group in apartheid South Africa) on March 2, 1988. Ras claimed that Wayne insulted the South African government by stating the South African Forces were oppressing Blacks. Wayne is remembered even today in El Salvador because he and his wife Terri provided a ministry of presence for Bishop Medardo Gomez of the Lutheran Church, because he lived in constant threat of being kipnapped for a second time by members of the “death squad) as a result of his church’s ministry to the poor and marginalized. David Blackburn died in the slums of Racifi, Brazil in which he lived, worked and pastored. David died August 27, 1992 as a result of the poverty and misery that those who live in the slums are subject to everyday. David saved the lives of two women by removing electrical wiring that had fallen on their car, however, he was not so careful in removing the wire which had fallen on his car. As he started his car, he was electrocuted. We need to remember David because his life was one of sacrificial giving. He refused to take his full missionary salary, although he had a wife and four children to support. They lived on the same salary as all of the other pastors in the Methodist Church, about $300 a month and gave the rest to the church in Brazil. David and his wife chose not to accumulate wealth and to apply all of God’s material gifts to them for the building of the Kingdom of God.
So we dedicate the Steinert/Blackburn Conference room in honor of these two men of faith.
It is in this space that candidates are interviewed for missionary service!
It is in this space that missionaries return to share stories of their ministries and their walk with the partner!
It is in this space that staff gather to pray and reflect on God’s mission in the world and how we are called to participate in God’s mission!
We have the faces of those who are currently serving as missionaries on behalf of the
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, and as we look at these faces, let us not forget those who have gone before these, those who risk dangers of travel, climate and disease but stood fast in their call to witness to God’s love for of creation.
I think Wayne and David would be somewhat embarrassed by the idea of having a conference room named in their honor. They would probably be upset that we would invest funds to decorate this room, but for us it is a way or remembering and offering thanks for their ministry, however, they would probably challenge us with the words of Micah: “God has shown you what is good, and that is to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God” . It we do this, we truly honor the witness of Wayne Steinert and David Blackburn.
Julia Brown Karimu
Dedication of the Steinert/Blackburn Room