Pastors' Memoirs

Herbert Paul Hoffman, 1928 – 2008

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2008 Memoirs

 Mere words cannot do justice to this gentle giant of a man! Herbert Paul Hoffman, the first of three children, was born in Youngstown, Ohio, to Lucille and Paul Hoffman. Herb was educated at Youngstown University, Westminster Choir College, and Wayne State University’s Institute of Music, graduating with a diploma in conducting and voice. His entire life was devoted to the church.
 For the first 32 years of his career he served across this country as Minister of Music in Methodist churches from 800 to 4,000 members. He served United Methodist churches in Pontiac and Ferndale, Mich.; Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; Phoenix, Ariz.; Athens, Ga.; Johnson City, Tenn.; and Abilene, Texas; For the last 20 years of his career he served as Director of Programs, Administration, Evangelism, and Lay Ministries in Albuquerque, N.M.; and Centreville, Va. He was consecrated as a diaconal minister in 1977, retired in 1999, and continued to work for two more years after that.
  Here are excerpts from letters to Herb by three senior ministers with whom he had worked upon the anniversary of his 50 years of professional service:
“Dear Herb… I was blessed by your friendship, love, compassion, patience, faithfulness, dedication, and skills. I cherish those years together. You taught me so much. I will be forever in your debt.” Signed: Edwin Chappell
“Herb, you are the one single colleague in ministry who has had the greatest impact on my life. Your constant encouragement helped me, and everyone around you, to dream great things and attempt great things for the glory of God. . . You have surely been a blessing to many more than you will ever know!” Signed: David Jones
“Dear Herb…In my travels across the years and across the planet, I have had the privilege of coming to know many outstanding Christian leaders. You are among the finest leaders in the Christian movement.” Signed: Ken Callahan
 Poet Mary Oliver penned these words: “To live in this world you must be able to do three things: 1.) To love what is mortal; 2.) To hold it against your bones, knowing your life depends upon it; 3) and when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”
 Herb Hoffman and Doris Burley were married on Oct. 14, 1967. (“To love what is mortal.”) And though they both had children by previous marriages (Doris had two daughters and Herb had two sons), Herb loved the girls as his own, and Doris loved the boys the same way. Herb and Doris rejoiced in each other and their four children and seven grandchildren — “kissing the joy as it flies” — through 40 years. (“To hold it against your bones, knowing your life depends upon it.”)
 (“And when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”) We can let go of our friend, Herb Hoffman, in the faith that either he will (or already has) heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. . .enter into the joy of your Master.”
 But we will never let go of our memories of Herb. We will live by our memories of him. We will live by our memory that Herb was in Christ… and that Christ himself was in Herb Hoffman! “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”
— The Rev. Dr. Bert Sikkelee


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