From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
MBM receives largest gift ever
14 Feb 2001 13:11:13
February 14, 2001
Mennonite Board of Missions
February 14, 2001
With $1 million estate, MBM receives largest gift ever
ELKHART, Ind. (MBM) – A gift of more than $1 million to Mennonite
Board of Missions is a strong affirmation of MBM’s vision for
mission in the new century, according to MBM President Stanley W.
Green. The gift from the estate of Oregon businessman Ivan
Kropf, who died in 1999, is the largest MBM has ever received in
its 119-year history. The largest previous gift to MBM was a
$700,000 bequest in 1981.
“There were shouts of joy and even dancing in the hallways when
we received the news of this gift,” Green said, describing the
atmosphere among staff when the check unexpectedly arrived Feb.
7. “Over the past 100 years, Mennonite families and
congregations gave faithfully and generously to share God’s
healing and hope around the world. As we approached the 21st
century, there were questions about whether we Mennonites would
sustain our commitment to sharing God’s blessings beyond
“This gift arrived as a strong reassurance that among Mennonites
there is still alive a vision for what God might do in fresh ways
through us in a new century of mission,” Green said. “I pray
that it will serve as a powerful stimulus to inspire and
encourage others about how God may continue to use this people so
that, in the words of God to Abraham, ‘all the nations of the
earth [shall] gain blessing for themselves.’”
Undesignated estate gifts are placed in a fund from which MBM
takes a percentage for the operating fund each year, according to
Cal King, development manager. “Obviously, such gifts are a
tremendous help for the operating budget,” King said.
Ivan Kropf, who lived all his life in Oregon, was a successful
businessman and farmer. According to his daughter, Claudia Lapp,
he believed that “if God blessed him, he should give back
generously to the work of the kingdom.”
He supported missions because he was interested in spreading
God’s word and helping people. “He trusted the Mennonite Board of
Missions and believed they would do a good job with his estate
funds,” she said.
The oldest of six children, Ivan was born and raised on a farm
near Hubbard, Ore. Because he was needed on the farm and high
school was too far away, he only attended school through the
He started in the lumber business in the 1930s near Molalla. At
first, he worked for his uncle, but soon he bought 40 acres of
his own and built a little sawmill. From that humble beginning
grew a successful wholesale and retail lumber business. He built
a larger sawmill in 1941 and for a time had a second sawmill and
lumberyard in Oakridge, Ore., southeast of Eugene. He also
purchased a lumber business in Hesston, Kan., in the late 1940s
and farmed as well.
Ivan learned most of what he knew about business from hands-on
experience and reading. “If he didn’t know how to do something,
he found out about it through books,” Lapp said. He died Dec.
15, 1999, shortly before his 93rd birthday.
Ivan married Pearl Headings in 1928. They were the parents of
five children: Dale, Bonnie Burck, Claudia Lapp, Judy Hall and
The Kropfs were active members of Zion Mennonite Church in
Hubbard, Ore., where Ivan served on the board of trustees and
taught Sunday school. He used his building skills to help build
the Zion church in the 1950s, serving as general contractor.
Ivan also had a vision for improving his home community. He
helped found and support HOPE Village, a retirement center in
Ivan also was a strong supporter of Mennonite education,
contributing significantly to Western Mennonite School at Salem
and Hesston College, where the Kropf Center is named in his
* * *
John D. Yoder PHOTO AVAILABLE
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