Burkholder Receives Honorary Doctorate

David H. Burkholder, a 90 year old,Lancaster Mennonite Conference ordained evangelist,  from Ephrata, PA, was awarded an honorary doctorate in evangelism by a Bible College in India, PTL-Institute of Mission Studies. This Bible College is a part of Kingdom Life Network (KLN) a global fellowship of Anabaptist related networks. P.C. Alexander, director of the PTL-India network of churches awarded the degree in a KLN Leadership Retreat on August 27, 2011, at Bowmansville, PA.

Dr. Burkholder, son of the founder of a regionally well known farmers market, The Green Dragon, raised a family of five children while farming and running a successful business. At the age of 62 he responded to the call of God to go into full time ‘personal evangelism’. He had kept a list of the people he had met and done business with over the years. He then began to contact these people and present to them the gospel.  Over the next 28 years more than 300 people made decisions to follow Jesus. Many of these were baptized immediately, some just hours before they died in a hospital bed. David performed weddings, and funerals, along with the many baptisms.

Lancaster Mennonite Conference licensed and then in 1987 ordained David Burkholder as an evangelist. David was the first person ordained specifically as an evangelist by Lancaster Conference. David continues his membership in Lancaster Conference. He is also a member of LifeGate, a KLN congregation in Elizabethtown, PA.

At the service granting the honorary degree, Dr. E. Daniel Martin stated, “When persons graduate from college they have knowledge of a field of study. When they gain a masters degree hopefully they have mastered a field and when they earn a doctorate they have made a contribution to a field of human endeavor.”

Dr. Martin went on to state, “David Burkholder well deserves an honorary doctorate. This man with a seventh grade education has not only been a successful businessperson but has made a contribution to the field of evangelism. He has demonstrated that the later years of life can be the time of greatest fruitfulness. David has demonstrated that God is not limited by our lack of education, He is only limited by our lack of faith. And David had great faith in God’s ability to use ‘just a plain Pennsylvania Dutchman.’”

Dr. Burkholder was honored by a number of other faith communities where he had ministered over the years.  On October 30 in a service at Carpenter’s Community Church, near Leola, PA, where he had spent  the greater number of years in ministry, Bishop Lloyd Hoover gave David a plaque from Lancaster Mennonite Conference honoring his faithful service in personal evangelism. Ministers from Metzler’s Mennonite Church and Carpenter’s Community Church testified in this meeting to the significant impact David had on the life and ministry of these congregations.

Even now at the age of 90 David continues to share his faith with all he meets. He lives with a sense that his time here is short and he is eager to go to be with Jesus. He states that he “knows he will die before Christmas.” Then he adds with a twinkle in his eye, “I am just not sure which Christmas.”

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