Read letters from Bill Yoder
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Rev. Bill Yoder
William ended mission service with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 2012.
About Bill Yoder's ministry
After 42 years of service as a mission co-worker in Thailand, Bill Yoder retired in December 2007, but he has no plans to stop work. Upon retirement, he immediately signed up as a long-term volunteer and also served as regional liaison for Thailand and parts of Southeast Asia.
Bill was the dean of the McGilvary Faculty of Theology, part of Payap University, a position he held from 1986 to 1992 and from 1996 to 2007. McGilvary Faculty of Theology has more than a century’s tradition of preparing ministers for Thailand’s churches. The only seminary of the General Assembly of the Church of Christ in Thailand, it is successor to the Thailand Theological Seminary, which was granted permission, jointly with the McCormick School of Nursing, to open in 1974 the first private university in Thailand. The result was Payap University.
Payap University now contains eight faculties, or schools, and has grown from a 1974 enrollment of 200 to more than 9,000 students. Bill taught theology in the university for seven years before becoming dean.
Christians are a small minority in Thailand, only 2 percent, but they persist in their faith in a country about the size of Texas, where 92 percent of the population is Buddhist. Chiang Mai, the center of Protestant Christianity in Thailand, is located in the northern hills, near the Burmese border. It is a major cultural and educational center.
"Most Thai churches are without pastors," writes Bill, "and I find myself spending a great deal of time working very closely with students, although my job description is one of educational administration. I have to be very much involved in the local churches as well. That affords me opportunity to supervise seminary students who generally work in these rural and pastorless churches. Indeed, this is one of the dramatic differences that one finds in comparison with American seminaries. Here we do not have students working with pastors much. This is a drawback to good ministerial formation and one that needs to be corrected."
About Bill Yoder
Before assignment to the university and its seminary, Bill served as chaplain and chairperson of the English department of Prince Royal’s College, also in Chiang Mai. He taught there for two years (1963 to 1965) as a special-term missionary immediately after his graduation from the College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio. Then he returned to the United States and entered Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Connecticut. He received his master of divinity degree in 1968 and returned to Thailand as an ordained minister and fraternal worker with the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. He later did graduate work in educational administration at the University of Akron, Ohio. Bill is a member of Muskingum Valley Presbytery and a native of Canton, Ohio.
Unmarried, over his years in Thailand, Bill has raised some 24 underprivileged young people, seeing to their educational, spiritual, and physical needs until they are able to live a meaningful and productive life in society.
Birthday: May 2