In Memoriam: David E. Haney (October 2019)
by Ross Graham, Stated Clerk of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church
From the October 2019 edition of New Horizons
David E. Haney was just twenty-six years old when, in 1989, he began employment with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as the controller for the fledgling Committee on Coordination that had been created just five years before. A graduate of the University of the Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, he had been rising through the ranks in the Prudential Insurance Company, which seemed to point him toward a career as an executive in the insurance industry. But when the opportunity came to work for his church in his field of finance, he applied for the position. His pastor-father, the Reverend George E. Haney, who served at the time as general secretary for the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension, beamed with pride, but recused himself from voting on the matter.
Once on the job, David introduced a computer accounting system, restructuring and reorganizing how accounts were handled, and presented to the Committee on Coordination a clear picture of the finances of the church.
In the early 1990s, it was the Church Extension Fund that occupied much of Haney’s time and energy. Organized in the late 1950s, the fund, a savings-and-loan of sorts to help churches build new buildings, needed an overhaul in order to comply with new investment regulations. By 1994, Haney took on the additional role of manager for the new OPC Loan Fund, established by the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension. Haney began to learn about construction design and practices, driving around in his pickup truck to promote the Loan Fund and meet with building committees.
By 1996, with the OPC growing, new financial opportunities presenting themselves, and the confidence of the whole church in Haney’s financial abilities and ministry, the Committee on Coordination expanded his work by changing his title to director of Finance and Planned Giving, the position that he held from then until his death.
It was his careful analysis of the balance sheets and the budget comparisons, and his ability to always comprehend the big picture of the OPC’s finances, that gave the church confidence that the giving of God’s people was being well managed, God was meeting our needs, and we could move forward in faith to do more than we had done in the past.
But that is not the whole story of the ministry of David Haney as a servant of Christ.
In 1994 the congregation of Gwynedd Valley OPC, in Ambler, Pennsylvania, elected David Haney as a ruling elder. For the next twenty-five years, serving on the session of Gwynedd Valley, then moving to New Jersey and serving on the sessions of Faith OPC in Elmer, and New Hope Presbyterian in Bridgeton, Haney threw himself with abandon into the work of caring for the spiritual needs of the church’s people, and spending long hours visiting them and loving them. Stories of his warmth and tenderness of care for people abound, and throughout the church and far beyond just the three congregations he served, many cherish the love that he showed.
And just this past June, the EightySixth (2019) General Assembly elected David E. Haney as their moderator, an honor that had also been bestowed on his father in 1979, forty years before.
But there was yet one more providential turn that David Haney would experience when Hurricane Katrina roared through the Gulf Coast in 2005 and devastated a huge swath of Louisiana and Alabama. Newly elected to the Committee on Diaconal Ministries, primarily for his financial skills, he found that many of his Dutch-connected friends in the upperMidwest were desperately trying to find ways to relieve suffering and lend a helping hand to people in the South whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed by the storm. So he took it upon himself to lay plans, organize teams, purchase equipment, find needy areas, and go with them to help. In so doing he discovered in himself another aspect of being a servant of Christ.
Through that one event, the Committee on Diaconal Ministries (CDM) was repurposed, and a great movement of young men serving as deacons were raised up to go and show Christ’s love in times of need. Elected first as treasurer and then several years later as president of the CDM, he showed the church both leadership and a passion for us to be involved in works of compassion. Then, he stepped away from the committee to let others learn and lead and serve.
Compassion and service to those in need so gripped him, however, that he began to pursue advanced studies on the subject. He enrolled at the University of Maryland and, working nights and weekends, received a master’s degree in aging services in 2011. When the Eighty-First General Assembly (2014) established a Committee to Study the Care for Ministers of the Church, they named David Haney as convener. Three years later, a new Standing Committee on Ministerial Care was established, and, in their first report to the General Assembly in 2018, they announced their intention to employ David Haney as Director of Ministerial Care.
Until the moment he went home to be with his Lord, David Haney wore all of these titles and did all of these things simultaneously, contributing so much to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
It was during a trip on behalf of the OPC Loan Fund to discuss a building opportunity with Covenant OPC in the Milwaukee suburb of New Berlin, Wisconsin, that David Haney suffered a massive heart attack. His family came to his side: his wife of thirty-six years, Becky, his daughters Lauren and Shelley and their husbands, and his son, Scott. David and Becky’s fourth grandchild, Garrett David Westra, was welcomed into the world a week early as the family waited together at the hospital. David Haney passed away early Friday morning, August 16, at the age of fifty-six.
He never hesitated to share his love, his skills, and his wisdom, with the wider kingdom of God as well. At the time of his death he was also the treasurer of Keys Evangelistic Ministries in Key West, Florida, and the chairman of the Board of Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa.
Upon learning of his death, the Board of Dordt University summed up for all who knew him his kingdom contribution: “In an environment full of leaders, David was, by universal acclamation, our chair. That was not because he took up the mantle of leadership, but because he led in the manner of Christ—as a servant.”