Philip Wannenmacher With Christ

Fri, 14 May 2010 - 10:02 AM CST

The words that drove the Rev. Philip Wannenmacher throughout his life until his passing in March of 1998 were words spoken by his father, Joseph P. Wannenmacher: "Do right...and fear nothing." This commitment to do right led him to pursue a lifetime of consistent Christian living and ministry to others.

As a 16-year-old boy in Milwaukee, Wisc., Wannenmacher had felt the call of God to be a pastor. After an evening service, he went home and played on his trombone the song "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go." His life would never be the same. "I knew from the first that I was called to the pastorate," he often said.

Wannenmacher was ordained by the Wisconsin/Northern Michigan District in 1949. Among his many ministries--including pastorates in Michigan, New York and Ohio--he had a long history with Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Mo. As a student at Central Bible Institute from 1942 through 1945, he attended the church. Several years after graduation, he returned there as associate pastor, then attended again while working as a field representative in the national Sunday School Department from 1954 to 1955. He returned to Central Assembly in 1970 and served as senior pastor there until 1995. He directed a large church expansion in 1991.

Pastor Wannenmacher was a man of many talents. He often played his trombone at church and would occasionally sing duets with his wife, Betty. During his time as a CBI student, he played trombone with the Springfield Symphony. While pastoring Central Assembly, many people recognized him from his TV program, "It's a Great Life!" aired during the "Today" show. His desire for the program was to "promote nothing except the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Wannenmacher was a witness both inside the church and out. He played handball several times a week at the downtown Family Y. Though his handball-playing friends generally refrained from using profanity in his presence, one day a man apparently had a hard time abiding by this unspoken rule. "Sir," Wannenmacher said to him, "God is not making you miss those shots."

In 1989, Wannenmacher was elected to serve on the Executive Presbytery. He was still serving in this capacity at the time of his death. He was also on the boards of directors of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Division of Home Missions, and national Teen Challenge when he passed away.

In 1993, Pastor Wannenmacher was named Central Bible College's Alumnus of the Year. In 1996, Central Assembly conferred on him the title of Pastor Emeritus. He was selected for membership in the Universal Who's Who Publication of Business Executives.

Wannenmacher's funeral on March 20, 1998, drew 2,400 people who celebrated his lifelong commitment to Christ.

General Superintendent Thomas Trask said of Wannenmacher, "He cared for his flock with a tenderness that was appreciated and loved by all. He made a lasting contribution to this church and will long be remembered as a great Christian statesman. He lived ready to live, ready to die."

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