Dale Aukerman, 69, church pastor, international social activist and author

September 11, 1999|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

The Rev. Dale H. Aukerman, a former pastor of several Church of the Brethren congregations and internationally known social activist and author, died in his sleep Sept. 4 at his home in Linwood, Carroll County. He was 69.

As a pastor of Brethren churches, the Rev. Aukerman worked in Christian leadership and service roles in Maryland, Michigan, Indiana and in Europe for nearly 50 years. A plain-spoken man, he demonstrated against the war in Vietnam, the Afghan War, apartheid, the death penalty and nuclear arms.

"He had a lifelong interest in peace. His driving force was his Christian faith which came from the New Testament and he took it all very seriously," said Wilbur T. Wright, a longtime friend who works for the Inter-American Foundation, an international funding organization based in Arlington, Va.

Mr. Wright said his friend's labors for peace began in childhood. "It was a faith commitment," he said. "And he devoted his life to it."

A prolific author, the Rev. Aukerman wrote "Darkening Valley: A Biblical Perspective on Nuclear War," which had been "compared to the work of such modern Christian thinkers as Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer," according to a 1989 Evening Sun article. His most recent book was "Reckoning with Apocalypse: Terminal Politics and Christian Hope."

He also found peace and tranquility on the Carroll County farm he shared with his wife of 34 years, the former Ruth Seebass, who shared his interest in social causes.

On the farm, the couple restored the log house they lived in and for years operated a pick-your-own organic strawberry patch.

The reverend had continued planting trees on his land.

Born and reared in Lanier Township, Ohio, where he graduated from high school, the Rev. Aukerman earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and later did graduate work in theology.

During the Korean War, he performed alternative service helping to resettle World War II refugees and displaced persons.

A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. tomorrow at the Westminster Church of the Brethren, Bond Street and Park Place.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Daniel Aukerman of Lancaster, Pa.; two daughters, Miriam Aukerman of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Maren Aukerman of Oakland, Calif.; a sister, Ann Moore of Evergreen, Colo.; and a foster brother, Ray Childs of Archbold, Ohio.

Memorial donations may be made to Christian Peacemaker Teams, P.O. Box 6508, Chicago 60680.

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