Remembering H. Lamar Gibble

H. Lamar Gibble, 91, a former longterm staff member of the Church of the Brethren noted for his ecumenical work as Peace and International Affairs Consultant/Europe and Asia Representative, died on Oct. 29 in Elgin, Ill.

Born on Feb. 25, 1931, in Manheim Township, Pa., to Martha (Balmer) and John S. Gibble, he grew up on the family farm and attended White Oak Church of the Brethren.

He met his wife, Nancy (Heatwole) Gibble, at Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. They celebrated their 70th anniversary on Aug. 17.

An ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, he held a bachelor’s degree from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College (which awarded him with an honorary doctorate in 1988), a B.D. degree from Bethany Theological Seminary, and a master’s in international affairs from American University in Washington, D.C. After seminary, he was a pastor for 15 years serving churches in West Virginia, Illinois, and Maryland.

He joined the denominational staff in Sept. 1969 as Peace and International Affairs Consultant/Europe and Asia Representative, a position he held for nearly three decades until his retirement in March 1997. In that role, he traveled to nearly 40 countries, worked with 32 different ecumenical organizations including the National Council of Churches of Christ in the US (NCC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC), and was a driving force in Church of the Brethren agricultural exchanges with Poland and China, and a similar NCC program with the former USSR. In 1989, he carried a half-time role as executive secretary of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, based in New York City, while continuing his denominational responsibilities on a half time basis. His accomplishments include helping to place and support Brethren Volunteer Service workers in European conflict zones.

Highlights from his decades of service to the church include attendance at various assemblies and conferences of the WCC, being a delegate to the First National Inter-Religious Conference on Peace, speaking on an interfaith panel discussing religious life in the US under the State Department’s “Program for International Visitors,” a visit to Vietnam in 1977 as part of a delegation from the Christian Peace Conference to discuss the role of religion in the “new Vietnam” where Gibble was the only American in the group, in 1978 chairing the International Affairs Committee of the NCC, in 1987 taking part in a delegation of church leaders who met with President Jimmy Carter, preaching before 2,000 Baptists in the former Soviet Union, and speaking on behalf of the WCC at the United Nations Third Special Session on Disarmament.

In 1987, for his work on the Polish agriculture exchange during the year the program celebrated 30 years, Gibble was awarded the Gold Medal of the Order of Merit, Poland’s highest honor for noncitizens. In 1994, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture awarded him the Gold Medal Prize for International Cooperation. Within the Church of the Brethren, he was recipient of the Ecumenical Award in 1981 and the M.R. Zigler Peacemaking Award in 1996.

H. Lamar Gibble (at right) with a Church of the Brethren group at a Disarmament March in New York in May 1978. (Messenger magazine file photo)
H. Lamar Gibble testifying on behalf of the World Council of Churches at the United Nations Third Special Session on Disarmament in 1988. (Messenger magazine file photo)

Please pray… For his family, friends, former colleagues, and all who are grieving the loss of H. Lamar Gibble.

His retirement citation said, in part: “Lamar Gibble is a remarkable man…. One might say he has functioned as a Church of the Brethren secretary of state.” The citation quoted an NCC staff member who said “she could think of no peace church representative who had more effectively helped the ecumenical movement develop a peace witness.”

His contributions to moving forward the peace witness on the ecumenical level included leadership of the Historic Peace Churches and Fellowship of Reconciliation Consultation Committee, as well as service on the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. A series of WCC conferences in which he was engaged led to his chairing a WCC consultation on the Program to Overcome Violence in 1995. He was lauded for “his quiet, but dogged efforts since the early 1970s to bring such a program to life within the World Council of Churches.” He held a key role in the WCC developing watershed statements on militarism and disarmament.

His obituary notes that during his tenure with the denomination, he worked diplomatically to bring justice and peace to people of all faiths, quietly building bridges with groups and organizations from diverse backgrounds, believing that different faiths, beliefs, and cultures are gifts to treasure and share. “He believed we all have much in common, and strive for the same things: food, health, safety, and justice, for ourselves and our loved ones.”

He is survived by his wife, Nancy; sons David L. (Donna) Gibble and Daniel C. (Terri) Gibble; and grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned for Nov. 26 at 10 a.m. (central time) at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., where he and his family have been members. The service will be livestreamed on the church’s YouTube channel at

The family gratefully declines flowers, but prayers, condolences, and memories are gladly accepted and will be shared with the family. Send those by email to

Find an online obituary at and a WCC remembrance at


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