OBITUARY

Harvey John Kneisel Jr.

January 17, 1931April 8, 2021
Play Tribute Movie

PEARLAND, TX — Pastor, missionary, evangelist, church planter. Harvey John Kneisel, Jr., loving husband, father of four daughters, grandfather, and a friend of many went to be with his Lord, April 8, 2021, at the age of 90. He fought a courageous 25-year battle with Leukemia, and died at his home in Pearland, Texas, surrounded by family.

Born January 17, 1931, in Shawnee, Oklahoma, Harvey was the youngest of three boys born to the late Harvey Kneisel, Sr., and Dena (Smith) Kneisel. As a preteen, his family moved to Richmond, California, where his world was shaped by the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the influence of a young minister. Hard work was a normal part of the Kneisel family, and Harvey’s brother enlisted in the Navy while his parents worked in the shipyards, leaving Kneisel largely on his own. His adventurous personality plus opportunity made him an “at-risk” youth, but the course of his life would be forever changed by the influence of two young men, Rev. Ross F. Hidy and Russ Ferguson. Pastor Hidy was a neighbor who took Kneisel and other boys to church and taught Harvey to play the trumpet. Together, they played trumpet duets in church, at youth events, and for the christening of a Navy ship, beginning a lifelong love of music. Hidy helped Harvey and two friends get jobs at Yosemite National Park for three summers and drove the young men one-hundred sixty-seven miles each summer and picked them up when summer ended—all during a time of gas rationing!

Ferguson, an older teen, was Harvey’s youth minister and Boy Scout leader. He led the youth to memorize large numbers of Bible verses. Harvey came to know Jesus and to love the word of God. During the war years, the exuberance of youthful adventure intertwined with the serious realities of life and eternity. Harvey sold newspapers and was the first each morning to read about world events of the war. Harvey’s mentor and friend, Ferguson, joined the Navy in 1945. After two weeks in the war, he lost his life on the ill-fated USS Indianapolis.

As a preteen Harvey’s love for geography led to a hobby collecting stamps and coins and to a desire to see and learn about the world he was discovering. Love for God and a call to tell people about Jesus led Kneisel into full-time ministry his senior year of college. On June 10, 1951, he married the love of his life, Charlene, beginning seven decades of ministry on three continents. Harvey’s childhood experiences gave him compassion for “at-risk” teens and adults. College sports like running track and boxing would later lead to opportunities to share the gospel, and he was privileged to help numbers of people with emotional scars from war find peace with God and with their past.

Kneisel graduated from Richmond (California) High School; received a Batchelor of Arts in English from Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee (Oklahoma); and Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth (Texas).

Harvey served as a Southern Baptist pastor at Sumner and Crescent Baptist (Oklahoma); and MacArthur Boulevard, Irving (Texas), before his family moved overseas to pastor four churches in the Cayman Islands. While waiting to be appointed by the International Mission Board, SBC, Harvey pastored Sunset, Ponca City (Oklahoma), then moved overseas in 1963 to serve as a missionary in Guyana, South America. After returning to the US, he pastored Annaville Baptist, Corpus Christi (Texas); Associate Pastor/Director of Ministries at Houston’s First Baptist Church, (Texas); First Pearland (Texas); and Oak Ridge, Spring (Texas). Kneisel was interim pastor of International Baptist Church, Manila (Philippines), and Evangelism and Church Growth trainer (India) before returning to Houston’s First Baptist Church, (Texas) as Minister of Missions from 1985 to 1996. He left a legacy of missions and a love for all peoples everywhere he went. Houston’s First partnered to start or revitalize 86 churches in the Houston area during Kneisel’s tenure, starting Vietnamese, Laotian, Filipino, Eritrean, and Spanish congregations. Kneisel led churches and individuals to experience the joy of cross-cultural missions by leading mission trips all over the world. He loved people, trained pastors, and mentored young leaders wherever God led him.

Harvey and his wife, Charlene, founded Macedonian Call Foundation. For over 40 years this non-profit ministry has provided free transportation to missionaries living temporarily in the US. Kneisel, full of energy and drive, and with a love for cars, always carried a pocket full of car keys ready to provide transportation to a missionary. A passion to see declining churches return to vital ministries led Harvey to write about strategies for church growth. He co-authored Multi-housing Congregations: How to Start and Grow Christian Congregations in Multi-housing Communities; and wrote The Lazarus Effect: New Life for Declining Churches.

Along with his parents, Harvey was preceded in death by his brothers, Edgar and George (Quentin) Kneisel. He is survived by his wife and ministry partner of 70 years, Charlene Ada (Lewis) Kneisel, four daughters — Diana Clark and husband Robert; Debbie Floyd and husband Doug; Tresa Hightower and husband Greg; Denise Alcover and husband Aaris; nine grandchildren, fifteen great-grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren and numerous cousins and family.

Visitation will be Thursday, April 15, 2021, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Memorial Oaks Funeral Home, 13001 Katy Freeway, Houston, Texas at 281-497-2210. A celebration of Harvey’s life will be 11 a.m., Friday, April 16, 2021, at Houston’s First Baptist Church, 7401 Katy Freeway, Houston, Texas. Social distancing and masks are requested.

Online condolences may be expressed at dignitymemorial.com. Flowers can be sent to Memorial Oaks Funeral Home or memorial donations to Macedonian Call Foundation, 10101 Southwest Freeway, Suite 103, Houston, Texas 77074, or online at mcftx.org, or International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at imb.org/give.

Services

  • Visitation

    Thursday, April 15, 2021

  • Celebration of Life

    Friday, April 16, 2021

Memories

Harvey John Kneisel Jr.

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Beverly Britton

April 24, 2021

My first husband (Lasswell) and I joined Oak Ridge Baptist Church in late 1975 when we first moved to the Houston area. We felt so welcome on our first visit. Pastor Kneisel met us at the door of the newly opened activity center and personally got us settled. I was very impressed with the warm welcome we received. We joined soon afterward and got to know the entire Kneisel family--including the daughters who were near the ages of our two daughters. It was a blessing to know this wonderful family and to serve with them at Oak Ridge for several years. Beverly Lasswell Britton

Jill McCleary

April 16, 2021

What a gift from God Harvey was for all of us. So glad we met you all through Bro. John and Uldine. I know they are all celebrating in Heaven together. I anxiously await the day when.we can all celebrate together. Love you Charlene, thanks for sharing Harvey with the world.

Brenda Cangemi Fink

April 16, 2021

Bro. Kneisel my friend, mentor, counselor, encourager and the wisest man I ever knew.
Harvey had prayed for Diana a Christian friend her first day of her senior year at SWHS after they had moved to Houston. God sure answered both of our prayers because Diana and I became instant friends. She took me by her house to meet Bro. Harvey and her family.
I walked into the den and there Harvey was with Charlene and all his girls around him. He said Hi Brenda and the rest was history. He was laying on his black leather couch watching his Black & White cowboy movies, something we had in common.
Farewell for now my friend..
Because soon and very soon we are all going to see the King .. Praise the Lord

Hannah Kellogg (Moses)

April 15, 2021

Macedonian Call provided my family with vehicles multiple times when we were stateside for furlough. I just thought it was something that was normal for missionaries - didn't realize until I was older that we wouldn't have had vehicles if it weren't for Uncle Harvey!

When my mom was sick with cancer in Houston, Uncle Harvey and Aunt Charlene checked on her and took care of her while the rest of the family was in the Philippines. I remember staying with Mom and going over to their house for supper and hearing stories of all the amazing places God had taken them to and the wonderful people they got to meet. I am so thankful God had our paths cross. Uncle Harvey is an inspiration to so many!

Debi Love Mulkey

April 15, 2021

The Kneisels became our "adopted" family in October 1965 when we arrived in British Guiana (now Guyana) as a family of 7 to join them as FMB missionaries. Harvey picked us up at the remote airport and somehow squeezed US and ALL our luggage into a small British-made car, then drove us (on the "wrong" side of the road) to the capital city for a homemade lunch by Charlene, who later doctored my sister's (now-famous) monkey bite! We lived in close proximity and enjoyed many times of kids playing , family times, and church & ministry times.

Harvey and Charlene were we kids' new "aunt and uncle," their girls were our new "cousins," and our families grew close and stayed connected over the years. We Loves have precious & crazy memories, and will always be thankful for the Kneisels!

Harvey stands out, as his obit so well describes. His unique, FREQUENT, and infectious laughter! His humor and high energy, whether organizing us "MKs" for athletic competitions, leading spirited congregational chorus-singing in an open-air church in a community with no electricity (which required a ferry ride and long drive down often-muddy roads, where the Land Rover or van usually got stuck!); or playing trumpet for outdoor crusades in the capital city, celebrating local and American holidays with festivities, food, and games (picnics at "the base"), preaching in all kinds of circumstances...sharing Christ and reflecting His love and light always. He loved people and established lasting relationships. There's no other like Harvey Kneisel, and he leaves a huge footprint of blessings and influence.

Kneisel family, we love you, and celebrate Harvey's incredible life and legacy. We have been very blessed to have been in his circle of friendship, mentorship, and generosity. He will be sorely missed and we pray for your peace, comfort, and strength in the coming days. He loved mightily, and YOU ALL topped his list!

The Loves: Charles & Mary, Debi, Kathy, David, John, Donna

Mark Moses

April 15, 2021

I just watched the Tribute Video for Harvey. Wow, what a life! Empowered by God’s grace, He and Charlene have impacted so many lives, including mine and that of my family. I know Harvey is enjoying (present tense) the rewards of a faithful and God-glorifying life.

Greg Hightower

April 14, 2021

Brother in Christ, Friend, Mentor, Counselor, Encourager, Father-in-Law…but most importantly, Dad. Harvey means so much to me. He always cared and could balance life with a few good words. Nothing seemed impossible with his encouragement and backed by his direct quotes from the Bible. A giant in faith, a virtuous man, a leader, a man of his word, a gracious man, a tender and humble heart, a warm hug, a gentle smile with a firm handshake, a great jokester and storyteller, an adventurer, a lover of Gospel music and a joyful laugh that fills one’s entire body and soul. Harvey was a servant to all. Christ washed the feet of the Apostles and Harvey graciously polished my shoes…how humble in Christ’s image can one be? I always told him, “When I grow up, I want to be just like you!” He lived as Jesus calls us to be, Love the Lord your God and Love your Neighbor. Harvey’s every thought and action was God centered; a true servant of the Lord. He was a prayer warrior; all things were done after prayer and in trust of God’s graceful guidance. The beauty shining from the loving souls of his wife and daughters are a testament to his life’s witness of the Lord and the good fruit yielded from a faith filled husband and father. The love and care Harvey received from his wife and family up to the moment Christ took him home was truly an answer to a calling from God. The love shown Harvey was the fulfillment of God’s promise to take care of those who truly love Him. Harvey loved God with all his being. The Kneisel family is a holy family formed by God’s Grace under the Holy Spirit filled parenthood of both Harvey and Charlene. This grace was given to me and has forever changed my life and pointed me in the direction of God and the rewards of eternal life won on the Cross of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

May God’s love, grace and peace comfort the Kneisels and their families during this most difficult time.

Remember, he is forever in your heart and just a joyful thought away!

Steve Easterwood

April 14, 2021

Thank you, Harvey, for being such an inspiration to us all!

Stan Sullinger

April 14, 2021

Diana,

Little did I know when I attended Southwest Baptist University and met you that your dad would cross paths with me and so many others with his impact in the Houston/Spring area. He mentored so many that I was able to journey with in my own ministry here in The Woodlands. Beautiful in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his saints. Welcome home Harvey.

Barbara Oden

April 12, 2021

I will never forget that day in 1985 when I walked into Harvey Kneisel‘s office and began, with him as my mentor, the next 30 years of missionary experience reaching the vast number of peoples that live in apartments in our nation. He always knew exactly what to say, when to say it, and how to be of assistance and help every step of the way. I will always be more than grateful for his total love and guidance, and I look forward one day to meet him again in our forever home!

FROM THE FAMILY

1931 Harvey Kneisel at 6 months old

FROM THE FAMILY

1940 Kneisel family

FROM THE FAMILY

1943 Harvey at about age 12 with his father, Harvey Kneisel, Sr., and his grandmother

FROM THE FAMILY

1948 High school graduation

FROM THE FAMILY

1949 - A young Harvey

FROM THE FAMILY

1950 Charlene and Harvey start dating

FROM THE FAMILY

1950s Harvey always loved cars

FROM THE FAMILY

1951 Wedding Day

FROM THE FAMILY

1952 Revival with Ben Kimbrough

FROM THE FAMILY

1957 Harvey with his mom and family members