FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Helping seminarians find churches in which to minister and helping young couples in their marriages are among the ways Lawrence Klempnauer will be appreciated for his service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Klempnauer, vice president for student services since 1980, retired at the end of 2000, not to rest on his laurels or to rest at all but to begin working as executive director of the Baptist Association of Christian Educators.
“I’ll be doing some administration work for them. The operation is headquartered in my front bedroom right now,” said Klempnauer said. The association meets annually and puts out a bimonthly journal.
A Kansas City, Kan., native, the 67-year-old Klempnauer earned a bachelor of arts in political science at the University of Kansas in 1955. He spent two years in the U.S. Army before moving to Midland, Texas, where he owned and operated a motel.
In 1961, as a new student at Southwestern, he became minister of education at nearly Sagamore Hill Baptist Church in east Fort Worth. From there, he served as minister of education and administration at Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta from 1970-77 and as minister of education and administration at Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth from 1977-80. In 1980, God’s call brought Klempnauer back to Southwestern’s Fort Worth campus.
“My first assignment was to form a placement office but not call it a placement office,” Klempnauer recounted. The office is called church-minister relations, now headed by Kent Sanders, who has been in the position for 12 years. The office serves as a central point of contact for Southern Baptist churches interested in employing Southwestern graduates and students.
“We work with current students, graduating students,” Sanders said. “It brings order out of chaos. We are working with an increasing number of alumni.”
In addition to beginning the church-minister relations office, Klempnauer oversaw admissions and contact with prospective students, international student services, the Recreation Aerobics Center, student counseling and testing, student financial aid and the registrar’s office.
“When we came, no one was responsible for international students. Originally, I put a secretary over that, and it has grown considerably,” Klempnauer said. In recent years, the seminary has had record numbers of international students, enrolling more than 200 each semester.
“I’ve seen us provide more services for students, and I appreciate growing the services for students,” he added.
While still on staff at Travis Avenue, Klempnauer began working at Southwestern as an adjunct instructor in the school of religious education. He said he enjoyed teaching and keeping his hands in educational ministries over the years, having served as interim minister of education at Tate Springs Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, University Baptist Church in Fort Worth and most recently Ash Creek Baptist in Azle, Texas.
Klempnauer earned his master of religious education degree at Southwestern in 1964 and received an honorary doctor of letters from Dallas Baptist University in 1982.
Sanders said that Klempnauer has been a “wonderful mentor, encourager and friend.”
“He has given the directors full freedom to take responsibility for our area,” Sanders said. “He’s always there to support and provide a godly example. He’s one of a kind in the most positive sense. We will miss him very much.”
Sanders said the spirit with which Klempnauer conducts his life has made a lasting impression.
“He is a peacemaker; he is the eternal optimist,” Sanders said. “He puts into practice on a daily basis his Christian faith. That gives the people he leads a desire to follow.”
In addition to serving churches and the seminary, Klempnauer has remained busy writing. His articles have appeared in periodicals including Adult Leadership, Church Training and Outreach. He authored a chapter in “The Minister of Education as a Growth Agent,” a book published in 1978.
Since 1995, Klempnauer has served on the board of directors of the Better Business Bureau of Fort Worth, serving as chairman from 1998-2000.
“That’s been a lot of fun to get out in a different world and meet with business people,” he said. “It’s been a good experience to see what’s going on in the world.”
Retirement does not mean a time to stand still, Klempnauer said. He will continue as Sunday school director with Tarrant Baptist Association, and he said his wife has a whole list of “honey, dos” he is looking forward to doing.
“I feel very good, as I’m leaving, about what we’re doing here at the seminary,” he said. “I trust all will continue to go well here. The Lord has blessed this institution in the past and he will continue.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: DR. AND MRS. KLEMPNAUER.