The Reverend Kenneth T. Michnay
+ 1941—2020 +
It is with a heavy heart that our Slovak Zion Synod announces the death of the Rev. Kenneth Thomas Michnay who departed this life in the Church-Militant and returned to the Lord, joining all the faithful departed in the Church-Triumphant. Pastor Michnay passed away peacefully at 5:00 p.m. on December 4th, 2020, due to complications from COVID-19.
Kenneth Michnay was born March 1, 1941 in Cleveland, Ohio and was a son of our Brooklyn (a suburb of Cleveland), Ohio congregation, Dr. Martin Luther Evangelical Lutheran Church. He was a graduate of Wittenberg University, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1963 with an interdepartmental major in English, History, and Religion. He graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in 1966 with the degree of Master of Divinity. He was one of four siblings, predeceased by his elder brother Glenn, and was the middle sibling between two sisters, Alice and Carolyn, who are still active members of Dr. Martin Luther Lutheran Church in Brooklyn.
Pastor Michnay was ordained by the Slovak Zion Synod on June 1, 1966 and accepted his first Call to be Pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Stafford Springs, CT, where he served nearly ten years. His second Call was to Dr. Martin Luther Evangelical Lutheran Church in Muskegon, MI, where he served for twenty-five years from March 1976 to August 2001. He accepted a Call in 2001 from the ELCA’s Division for Global Mission to serve as a missionary teaching English at the Evanjelicka Bohoslovecka Fakulta – Univerzita Komenskeho (Evangelical Lutheran Seminary, Comenius University) in Bratislava, Slovakia, where he also served as an ecumenical liaison in the Foreign Relations Department within the office of the General Bishop of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia. He returned to the United States in 2005, retiring at the end of that year.
Following his retirement, Pastor Michnay remained a member of Dr. Martin Luther Lutheran Church in Muskegon and maintained life-long friendships among many in the Muskegon area and beyond, both in this country and in Central Europe, who now deeply mourn his loss. He also served in a variety of capacities, including as an interim pastor and supply pastor for various Lutheran and Episcopal congregations over the years, especially, most recently, at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, MI where he was fondly regarded and from where he will also be sincerely missed.
Pastor Michnay frequently traveled back to Bratislava to revisit the seminary and the Slovak and Serbian countrysides to spend time with many of his former pupils, with whom he lovingly kept in contact for the remainder of his life. Many of these students grew up, graduated, and became pastors of their own flocks, and fondly consider him to be one of their godfathers in faith and ministry, due to his friendship, mentorship, and care for them.
Among his many distinctions in the Slovak Zion Synod, he served on various boards and committees, most notably serving on Synod Council, as Chairperson of the Synod’s Worship & Music Committee where he was affectionately known as the “liturgical czar,” as well as serving as a mentor, colleague, and wise elder to others in the Synod. His love for Christ’s church will be measured by his avid involvement, prayerful support, and commitment to the gospel. Across the membership of our Synod, he will be remembered as an exemplar of Christian stewardship and pride in the mission and ministries of our Synod, having generously given of himself, his time, his possessions, and his heart to its ministries and service in Christ’s church and the world.
One of Pastor Michnay’s most treasured pastimes was music, singing in many choirs throughout the years. His sonorous baritone voice is one that is easily remembered by all who heard him sing in university and seminary choirs, as well as in the Camerata Singers, the Bratislava City Choir, and the Muskegon Chamber Choir. He was also an accomplished church organist, having served as the Dean of the Muskegon-Lakeshore Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
In June of 2016, Dr. Martin Luther Lutheran Church in Muskegon celebrated with Pastor Michnay his 50th Anniversary of Ordination, a milestone which was also recognized by the Slovak Zion Synod in September 2016 at the Synod Assembly.
Funeral arrangements will be finalized at a future date in consideration of the constraints imposed by Covid-19; they will be held at Dr. Martin Luther Evangelical Lutheran Church in Muskegon and St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven in whose columbarium Pastor Michnay’s remains will be interred.
The Slovak Zion Synod gives thanks for Kenneth, a faithful child of God and witness to the love of Christ these past 79 years of his life on earth; and we are grateful that, as an ordained pastor for 54 years, Pastor Kenneth has faithfully labored among us in the Lord’s Vineyard.
May our Lord comfort the Michnay family, Kenneth’s countless friends and students who had become as extended family to him, and all who mourn his loss, with the resurrection promise which comes from Jesus Christ, the One who has destroyed death itself.
“The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God. And no torment will ever touch them. . . and they are at peace. . . . And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Wisdom of Solomon 3:1; Revelation 21:4).