Rev. Vernon Stoop Jr., 92, of Bechtelsville, entered eternal life on April 10, 2020. He was the husband of the late Grace (Bowman) Stoop. They were married for 48 years before her passing on March 4, 2002. Born in Leesport, he was a son of the late John Vernon Stoop, and the late Mabel (Dunkelberger) Stoop. Surviving are his two children: Valerie Stoop, of Bechtelsville; and Bradley Stoop and his wife Brandy, of Frisco, TX; two grandsons, Nicholas Stoop and Julian Matlack; and a sister: JoAnn Carter, of Leesport.
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Pastor Stoop served his country honorable, first in the Merchant Marines, and later in the Army during the Korean War. He later attended Albright College and Lancaster Seminary and was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Christ. He was a student minister at Sassaman’s Evangelical and Reformed church in Sassamansville part time and moved into full time ministry after his ordination at his home church, Trinity Evangelical and Reformed Church in Leesport, PA. He also served the Niantic Sassamansville Evangelical Reformed church until 1960 when they divided. The Sassaman’s Congregation relocated on Hoffmansville Road in 1962 and the congregation was renamed to Shepherd of the Hills.
He served as the pastor of Shepherd of the Hills Church, in Bechtelsville for 48 years.
Vernon Stoop was very active in his community as well as his church work and sought to unite others under the common Lordship of Christ and His calling. He assisted in founding the Boyertown Area Ministerial Association. He also was once the president of the Boyertown Area YMCA. He assisted others in helping to found the Boyertown Area Multi-Service organization. He helped to create the inter-denominational Montco-Berks Golden Age Club. Rev Stoop served as chairman for the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference Stewardship committee and headed a fund raising program to build the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference Building of the United Church of Christ.
Being very active in assisting others in spiritual growth -- he counseled, taught, preached, visited the sick and elderly, spear-headed support groups, and enabled some of the first area contemporary worship ecumenical praise services, Life in the Spirit Seminars, and Alpha Outreach ministries. He attempted to help others live Spirit-led lives. He led efforts to fund two children’s orphanages – one in the Philippines and one in Acapulco Mexico. He traveled to visit both of them. He led the church into supporting missionaries around the world.
He was the first in the area to hold healing services and was a teaching leader in assisting Anne White’s Ministry across the nation of Prayer Counseling. He served as the Executive Director of Focus Renewal Ministries within the United Church of Christ. He also served on the Board of the North American Renewal Services which held conferences for over 40 denominations across the country – mobilizing others to preach the Gospel all over the world through evangelism and missions. He ministered as the secretary/treasurer on the Charismatic Concerns Committee. He later became a member at Zion’s Church in Hamburg where he served as a volunteer part time minister serving in a variety of capacities as needed.
His efforts and accomplishments are many, and quite notable, but most who read this won’t remember even half of the list of his vast resume. If you talk to most people who knew him, they would have a different list of what he really accomplished. He would never take the credit for it, but to say he was only the messenger: A messenger of the Lord.
He pointed people to Jesus. He pulled people from pits. He gave hope to those in despair. He counseled with wisdom the confused and the misguided. He lifted people from sorrow to joy. He loved and forgave sinners. He put the light of God’s word into darkened corners of people’s minds. He went to the farthest corners to minister to the poor, the orphaned, the single parents, the depressed, the grieving, the lost. He housed and mentored drug addicts, ex-cons, and alcoholics and the mentally ill and won the victory of their hearts to follow Christ. He inspired with his words. He hatched, matched, and dispatched many into Godly eternal covenants. (Baptisms, weddings, and funerals). He took his family all over the world to see others who were not like us and went into everyday homes of people in Mexico, India, and the Philippines to minister God’s love. He showed many their spiritual gifts and empowered them to minister in those gifts. He left vacations early to serve a parishioner in a crisis. He stayed up late to counsel a troubled soul. He got out of bed and got dressed to stop domestic fights and impending suicide threats. He confronted the addicted and offered a hand up to a better life. He survived three church splits with grace. He gave private communions to the housebound. He laid hands on the sick. He walked through his wife’s cancer and his own with faith, praise and strength. He prayed daily, though nearly blind. He could hardly hear, but he requested the words to familiar songs as he read them with faith. He ministered to the one before him as if they were the most important soul in the world. He saw through people to see the God sized hole in their heart and he filled it with something of the fruit of the Spirit.
Basically, if you knew him, you would say he did the greatest two commandments that Jesus highlighted: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He loved God and others well. And people from all over loved him.
If you think of Pastor Stoop, you think of the Father. He was a good father. Some people even called him their father. He loved and gave to many. If you consider his life, you admire his humility and his constant pointing to Christ as the one to be worshiped. If you have been touched by his ministry, you know you have been changed by the power of the Living Lord that works in him. If he has come and helped you from a fall, a grief, an illness, then you have met one who carries Christ to you. He might be credited with “saving your life,” “saving your marriage” or Saving you from a wrong turn”, but he would have told you, it isn’t himself, but the One Savior of us all.
If you have heard him speak, you have received wisdom from his faithful walk and experience with God. If you have been lifted and inspired by his life, you have also been challenged to lift others and love well. If you have been helped in any way by his servant ministry, then you have experienced sacrificial, comforting, unexpected, undeserved, surprisingly miraculous interventions the One he carries – the Holy Spirit.
He would not have been able to recall all that he had done in his life. He rarely talked about his great contributions of his past. He was always looking to give God another day to serve him in some new way. Near the end of his life, he would often say a prayer behind closed doors. “Why am I still here, Lord?” In his frail, weakened condition, unable to go anywhere anymore, the Lord would whisper to him: “I have you here because I still have more for you to do.”
And it went on for a long time. Every care-giver, friend, former parishioner, visitor, doctor, nurse, and whoever came across his path in his latter days, he still gave a bit of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to in word, in love, and in his caring, kind, gentle simple wisdom.
The last day he was home before the hospital stay, he was heard to say another prayer before he left by ambulance. “Lord, I’m so tired. I’m tired, Lord. I’m so tired. I want to come home. I ask that you take me home.”
Six days later, on Good Friday, he passed peacefully into his eternal home.
The long painful sacrificial life was over. The resurrected life of joy began. He is forever home. Forever in Love.
He will be laid to rest privately beside his wife in the graveyard of Shepherd of the Hills Church in Bechtelsville. A public Celebration of His Life will be announced at a later date when health constraints have been lifted.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Zion’s Church, 770 Zion’s Church Road, Hamburg, PA 19526. The Falk Funeral Home in Pennsburg is honored to assist his family with his arrangements. Please visit his “Book of Memories” at falkfuneralhomes.com.