"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Tribute to Daniel Heath, My Friend and Kingdom Minded Servant

Daniel is my favorite book of the Old Testament. Daniel is also the name of one of my favorite worship leaders of all time. Dan Heath has been the worship pastor at Emmanuel Enid for thirty-six years. This past Sunday, October 25, 2015, Dan Heath retired from full-time vocation ministry at Emmanuel. Dan and his wife Donna came to Emmanuel in 1979 when Hayes Wicker was pastor. He served with Mack Roark during two interim pastorates, and then with Gary Smith for five years before I came to Emmanuel Enid in 1992. On a cold winter Thursday morning in January 1992, the pastor search committee brought me to Enid to visit with the staff. We met in Dan and Donna Heath's home and Dan made a very favorable impression on me and my wife. That favorable impression of Dan Heath has only grown over the years.

Dan's father was a pastor throughout northwestern Oklahoma, and Dan spent his formative years in Cherokee. He is a native northwestern Oklahoman. I've often told people that the most generous, big-hearted, kind Americans are from northwest Oklahoma. I think it may have something to do with the Land Run, and the pioneer, independent spirit of the early settlers, but I've lived in all four quadrants of Oklahoma, and the people of northwest Oklahoma stand apart. After graduating from college, Dan and his bride Donna began their kingdom ministry in music and worship in southwest Oklahoma and Texas. The people of Emmanuel Enid called Dan to be worship pastor in 1979.

Dan has a heart for people. His voice is a rich baritone that never ceases to impress and bring enjoyment. Anytime anyone would ask me what should be sung at a loved one's funeral, I would say, "Just ask Dan to sing. If you don't have a song picked out, let him sing one of his favorites. You won't be disappointed." Of course, the annual Christmas Pageant was a keynote Christmas event for many years, and there is no way the Pageant ever happened without the tireless planning, energy, and faithfulness of Dan and Donna Heath. There are people all over the United States leading in worship at various churches who were developed and encouraged through the music ministry of Dan Heath.

For the past twenty-three years it has been my privilege to not only work with Dan, but to call him friend. Dan led the efforts to bail me out of jail in Mexico (a story of its own). Dan was the pastor who would most often go with me when stalwarts of our church died. In time, Dan began working as the Financial Administrator of Emmanuel, and his frugality and tireless efforts to insure financial accountability made him a great fit for that position.

Sunday night at Dan and Donna's reception, I voiced a prayer that the decades of retirement for Dan and Donna will be "enjoyable and fruitful." I know God will answer my prayer because so many other around the state - and the nation - will be able to experience the ministry of Dan and Donna Heath, particularly since the Heath's will not be locked down on weekends as they have been for the past forty-eight years.

Thanks, Dan, for your friendship and service to the King.

Godspeed.

2 comments:

Ramesh said...

I had not wanted to be the first to comment but here I am :) This from a commenter who never attended Emmanuel physically but remotely.

I first watched Emmanuel in 2008 Aug/Sept and always enjoyed Dan Heath's singing, leading and I later found out the lady accompanying Dan on the piano as Donna. I only watched the video sessions for a few months and my last memory was of the young lady who then was attending Oberlin Conservatory singing wonderfully. Since then II have listening to Wade's messages via podcast and missed lot of the music ministry at Emmanuel.

This month I happened to watch one video on YouTube of Emmanuel worship service and I was able to see lit of familiar faces of Dan, Donna and others in the choir. I maybe could not find one or two people from my memory but there were lots of others who have remained :)

I remember Wade blogging about one sbc pastor accosting Dan Heath at the airport asking him what it was working for a pastor who advocated drinking!

Oy vey!

I also remember Wade once joking in a message when Emmanuel acquired Grace Place which formerly was a bar and they converted it to a church informal meeting place and some one wondered what happened to all the alcohol there and Wade said he gave it to Dan. A joke.

Well I will miss Dan and Donna. Thank you for your worship service.

Wade Burleson said...

Ramesh,

Thank you - and thanks for watching. When you get a chance, send me an email at wwburleson@gmail.com and give me an update of where you are and how things are going!

Thanks for the comment - you have an amazing memory.