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June 22, 2005



We have received word that the memorial service for Mark Griffith will be this Saturday, June 25, at 10:00 a.m., at Derby-Woodlawn United Methodist Church in Derby, Kansas. http://www.woodlawnumc.net

The family is requesting memorial gifts for the Endowment Fund of Saint Paul School of Theology or for camping scholarships through the Kansas West Conference.

Letters of care can be sent to Mark's wife, the Reverend Linda Willey, 202 N. Maple, Peabody KS 66866.

Susan Sonnenday Vogel
Associate Dean for Spiritual and Professional Formation

Julie O’Neal
Director of Community Life

Robert Perry

Mark's death came as a shock to me, as I'm sure it did to many of you. I realized I was still in denial this morning when I said earlier today, "I understand that Mark passed away", as if someone would miraculously come forward and tell me it had just been a misunderstanding or a dream.
I've talked to a couple folks that are darn angry about the senseless death of such a kind and loving person. Therefore, I wish to say this in honor of a man that got me through so much personal turmoil this year. Whe I was mourning the end of my marriage this spring, I shared with Mark that I knew God must have had a reeason to do this. His response came back to minister me again last night as I tried to make sense of this event.
Mark had simply said, "Ya know Rob, maybe God wasn't in the event at all. Don't try to figure out what God meant by it, because maybe God didn't have anything to do with it. Instead, ask God to give you comfort and love in your time of pain. That's really where God is in times like this. God's there to comfort and support us in our grief."
I'm blessed to have known him, and more blessed that even beyond his life, Mark's presence once again reached out to minister to me.
May God bring comfort to his family, and those of us that were blessed enough to know him.

Loren Whetsell

This past year at Saint Paul, God blessed me with the presence of a new friend in Mark Griffith. We journeyed together through the struggles of seminary, we shared great times and discussions together over pizza at Minsky's, and spent many late nights together preparing for exams.
As a second year student, I shared what insights I had with Mark as he moved along some of the same roads I had tread. I looked forward to those times in Lectio when we could share together in prayer and lift each other up.
Mark, I want you to know that how ever much you think you learned from me, I learned so much more from you. You were a blessing to all who knew you. I love you and miss you. And look forward to joining with you on that day when we will be together once more worshipping at the foot of the throne of God. Blessings...

Rena Dorsey

The knowledge of knowing that my friend, my buddy, and a follow classmate passing grieves my heart, however one thing that I am sure of is that Mark is resting in arms of Jesus while looking down saying it is well. Mark had a way of bringing humor, laughter, and a smile to any dry, dull, and heavy situation. Mark believed in the power of prayer. He also believed in the transforming power of God. Mark was not afraid to admitt his flaws, nor was he afraid to declare that God is Lord of all. Mark and I met our first semester here at Saint Paul, during that semester i was experiencing some hard moments in my life. it was Mark who told me, "Rena' I am praying for, and God put you on my mind this morning, Sister it going to be Okay". Since that time we have shared many thing both near and dear to our hearts, and I saw first hand the power of transformation in the life of Mark Griffen. Mark, also illustrated what it meant to love his wife as Christ loved the church. Mark loved his wife with his whole being. To his family, I will continue to uphold you in prayer, your husband, and your father has left an awesome legacy. Mark will be miss here at Saint Paul becuase he was apart of our link. Now we are missing one link in our chain. Mark is truly miss.

Guy Rendoff

I had a chance to be a part of Mark's journey toward ordination because I was the Wichita District Committe on Ordained Ministry registrar. I found him to be a deeply committed, tolerant, faithful person of God even in the face of intolerance. I just saw him at annual conference with Linda. He smiled warmly and I'm glad I had that last exchange with him before his untimely death. The annual conference will miss his leadership greatly in the years ahead.

Donna Friesen

I was one of Mark's mentors while he was in the process off discerning his call and claiming his commitment. Each time we met, I could count on being impressed with his journey and his life story. It is still incomprehensible to me that this story, as it was lived out on this earth, is finished. Mark was an inspiration, a friend and often a lot of fun. I grieve that the United Methodist church will not be experiencing the joy and gratitude of one of God's special chosen ones.

Beth Duckworth

What a shock. I can't imagine how it will be to return to St. Paul this fall and not see Mark hanging out in the lounge.
While driving home one day this spring, it crossed my mind that perhaps the name "Big Mark" applied more to his heart and capacity to love than to his physical stature.
In addition, (and I know he would argue with me on this) I admired what a bright mind he had. Mark would not only read ALL of his assignments for Bible and Traditions, but if there was something that he wasn't too sure about, he would research that matter even further. Mark was constantly teaching himself.
I thank God for crossing my path with Mark's and will lift his family in prayer during the days to come.

Viki Walker

Mark helped me to understand that we all have more questions than answers. We have more road to travel than we have time to travel it, and that when we have a question that can't be answered today to hang on to it and keep looking for the answer.I guess I have felt this last semester like I had to answer these questions and search for the path by myself, and I gave it a good try, but Mark taught me that Jesus knew the way and still had companions on the path. So I know that Mark is now walking that path and praying we will all continue to search for the path and the answers. My prayer is that Linda knows how much Mark's life was completed by the love of a woman he admired so greatly and loved more deeply than words. He said one time that he felt like Linda had settled for him, but I know Linda saw what we saw and wish we could be like.Love and peace to you Mark ...We will miss you.

Tiffany Kirkland

When Sarah Sheridan called me Tuesday evening to tell me that Mark had passed, I was shocked. I had a really difficult time dealing with the fact that I would never again sit next to Mark at the lunch table and discuss the latest taboo subject. And that I would never again be able to complain about being cold in class because his computer fan was pointed in my direction. But I did realize that Mark will always be a part of my life. He was my liberal soul mate and will always be present when I need his guidance. In talking to fellow students and friends over the past couple of days, I have come to know how many people had the privelege of knowing Mark and experiencing all he had to offer. We will all keep that with us until we see him again. I'd like to share a quote by Kahlil Gibran "For what is it to die, but to stand in the sun and melt into the wind? And when the Earth has claimed our limbs, Then we shall truly dance."

Amy Hopmann

The news of Mark's passing came as a shock to me, much as it did everyone else who knew him. I was aware of his struggles in the hospital but somehow I couldn't accept that it was that serious. I still struggle with the truth that I will not see him this fall in class, with his personal fan plugged into the USB port of his precious Mac. (You could say anything you wanted to about Mark, but never, ever insult his Mac!) I will miss sitting behind him in the back rows of Hendrix Hall, where all the trouble-makers sit. I will miss our lunch conversations about the latest victims of his endless match-making schemes (of which I am one of two very happy 'victims'). I guess he wanted everyone to experience the kind of happiness and companionship he shared with his wife, Linda. Mark was in my AR group for Intro to Ministry last semester, and amidst all the tensions we as a group experienced and the arguments, Mark always knew what he believed. He didn't force it on anyone, but it was a strong, quiet faith that permeated every aspect of his being, everything that he said and did. When things got tense he was there to offer a word of comfort, or encouragement, or even challenge what other people said, in a way that made them think. Mark had an incredible ministry at Saint Paul School of Theology, and he will be sorely missed... he already is.

Sam Fisher

To: God@in.heaven.org
From: Sam@on.earth.net

God, I know you have lots of new folks to greet everyday, but I have a favor to ask. When you see Mark, tell him he meant a lot to us and we will miss him.


Kenneth Baker

Mark was one of the guys who shared with me one of my most memorable, but grueling experiences ever - licensing school. He, I, and a whole bunch of other people spent two straight weeks couped up in a hotel, enduring what was described as the "boot camp from hell for preachers" by the head of the school.

There, we all bonded, Mark in the middle of everything as one might predict. His humor and loving presence was one of the few great parts of the experience.

One of the things I remember from that session was the passion Mark had for mis ministry, and how much he looked forward to becoming a pastor.

Mark, literally towering over everyone else, was looked up to and beloved by the whole gang. On behalf of the entire L2P group, I say a sad farewell, and hope to see him again someday in the sweet by and by.

I also remember being overjoyed to see Mark join up with us in the SPST community where he fast became a fixture. Saint Paul will not be the same without him.

Mark's passing MUST serve as a reminder to everyone that there is never time to wait before fully embracing Jesus as our Lord and Savior. I am overjoyed that Mark, like Paul, is fully at home in the Kingdom of God, but while I am yet here, I mourn his passing and will miss him.

May God bless his family,
Kenneth Baker

Michael Dunlap

My life is better just from knowing Mark a year. I won't forget all the times Mark took out of his busy student schedule to talk with me and help me deal with some issues that were tugging at me last year. Mark, you rock! You will be missed, but your spirit will always be with us.

Michael Dunlap

Kathy Rollings

The man ALWAYS made me smile.

May the arms of grace wrap around Linda and others who loved him so.

Mark, "it's All good" now.


Gina Gile

I enjoyed getting to know Mark this year. He was a great guy with a heart of gold. He will be missed. May Mark's family feel God's loving arms wtapped around them during this very difficult time.


Sandy Gustafson

My heart is saddened and tears come to my eyes hearing of Mark's death. I am stunned by the news. I knew Mark from the Intro to Ministry class this last semester. His presence added alot to the rewards of being there. I remember the joy he brought into the room and his devotional love for the Lord. I loved to see what he would have to say the next week in class. He always had the funny comment that rang of truth and made you think. He will be greatly missed. I am glad for the opportunity to have known him. May God's peace and comfort surround his family during this difficult time.

Lisa Diehl

Mark had a way of always making me laugh when I was the most stressed-out, of making me feel like being and looking young were OK. When I gave him a roll of film, he was a child with a new toy.

When Mark couldn't get a hold of my mom, he called me to make sure everything was OK. For me, these are the things I'll remember about Mark - his caring and compassion, his enthusiasm, and his humor.

Today, he brightens heaven and I look forward to seeing him there.

Dixie Brewster

My prayers are with you Linda, and I know God will lift you up and give you strength to carry on. I enjoyed Mark's positive attitude and his fun-loving spirit. May the good memories you have of him bring you joy. I am so sorry for your loss.

Love & Prayers,
Dixie Brewster

Tim Ault-Duell


Though I didn't know Mark personally, I have come to know you well and appreciate you from our sharing together in consultation group. Because of that, I know that Mark was a very special person.

At a time like this, words fall short of the burden we need them to carry. Be assured of our love and support, as you find your strength in the everlasting care of God. We are so sorry for your loss.

Tim (and Pat) Ault-Duell

Loren Whetsell

Today at Mark's memorial service, it was affirmed to me just how special of a person he truly was. He touched the lives of all those who knew him. We will all pale in comparison as we try to carry forth the love of Christ as Mark did. I am glad to have counted Mark as a friend, colleague, and brother in Christ.

John R. Meister

I was blessed by the Divine spirit in Mark as where many at SPST.I loved his sense of humor, his gentleness, his compassion, and his sharp mind. He was deep and intricately woven by God into a fabric of humanity that provided inspiration,warmth, and confort to those around him. His discipleship and active spiritual renewal at the Late Nite with Luke Lectio and Compline prayer meetings was a joy and will be missed- an open chair for you and the Lord Mark because we know you both are with us. My prayers of comfort to your spouse Linda, to family, and friends.
You my friend will be missed...but not forgotten. Christ is Risen and so has brother Mark!
Peace and comfort to all those who were Mark's beloved.

Lee & Linda Louderback

Linda and Stacy,

Our hearts reach out to you as you live through these difficult times. We remember many laughs and great moments as we served the youth together at the Mulvane UMC. Mark was fun, a good role model for the youth and a real team player. May God grant you the strength and courage for the days ahead.

Shalom, Lee and Linda

Josh Gooding

Just over a year ago, a nervous twenty-two-year-old and his wife walked into a moving seminar in Salina. They didn't know anyone in the room, so they sat down in a couple of empty seats, next to a big guy who introduced himself as Mark and did his best to make them feel comfortable.

As that nervous twenty-two-year-old became a nervous twenty-three-year-old struggling with the balance between seminary, ministry, and family, he continued to sit next to Mark, knowing that the big guy's warmth and humor would be able to calm him down and leave him smiling.

Saint Paul, and the world in general, will be a little less comfortable without Mark's presence. He will be missed.

Laura Hilton

Mark was a wonderful spirit and a good friend. There are not words to express the great sense of loss that we all feel.
Mark knew what he believed, and he wasn't afraid to share it with others.
Mark, I will miss our conversations, I will miss your terrible driving, I will even miss seeing you order a beer with tomato juice. Most of all I will miss seeing my friend who sat behind me in Bible and Traditions, and who helped me through my first year at seminary.


You mean he was a terrible driver with other people too?!?! I always thought he just did that to keep my mind off my problems for the short drives we took to Westport and MN-101 site visits!

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