August 29, 1924 – April 16, 2019
If you knew John Stoner, you might be under he impression that he was always part of Lehigh Presbytery. And for good reason! He was a member of our Presbytery for over 60 years! He joined Lehigh Presbytery in 1958 when he was called to serves the First Presbyterian Church of Allentown as Associate Pastor. John arrived just a few months before that congregation moved from its downtown campus to way out in “the country” at Tilghman and Cedar Crest Blvd. His pastorate at First Presbyterian Church of Allentown lasted for the next 30 years — the longest pastorate, by far, of any pastor in that church’s 187 year history. A beloved pastor of the Allentown congregation, he was granted the status of Pastor Emeritus in retirement.
John was a native of Pottsville, PA, one of three children. He attended Penn State and graduated from Bob Jones University and Princeton Theological Seminary. While at Bob Jones, he met his wife, Mary Hassenzahl. John enlisted in the United Stated Army in 1942. During World War II, while serving with the 288th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, he was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge, awarded the Purple Heart medal, and honorably discharged in 1946. After the war, John was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1952 and served the Stella Presbyterian Church in Forty-Fort, PA for six years prior to being called to the First Presbyterian Church of Allentown.
John was very active in church work throughout the Lehigh Valley and beyond, serving as moderator of Lehigh Presbytery, President of the Board of Trustees of the Presbytery, Chairman of the Ministerial Relations Committee, Commissioner to General Assemblies of the National Church, and serving on the Synod the Trinity and its general Council. He fulfilled interim ministries at churches in Easton; Whakatane and Edgecumbe, New Zealand; and Lake Chapala, Mexico. John also served the area as chairman of various organizations, including the Clergy Division of the United Fund o the Lehigh Valley, the Community School of Religion, Council of Trustees at Kutztown University, and Pastoral Care Committee of Allentown-Sacred Heart Hospital Center. He was the director of the Lehigh Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Lehigh County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board, ARC of Lehigh and Northampton Counties, and the Hispanic American Organization. John was one of a group of ministers who, in 1978, helped establish the Allentown Area Food Bank.
John is survived by Mary, his wife of 69 years; his daughters, Gayle Stoner and Beverly wife of Jim Baldinger; his son John husband of Kathy Stoner; 7 grandchildren; 10 great grandchildren; and his sister, Jane Andrews.
John had an insatiable sweet tooth, a love for bridge, golf and travel, and a quick wit. You knew when John was in the room and you would be drawn to him.
We offer thanks to God for the witness of John K. Stoner, for his love and passion, his mentorship and example that have revealed a glimpse of God’s Kingdom here on Earth to so many.