American Baptist Churches of Ohio News from our regions around the state.

Former ABC Ohio Representative Sarah Pirtle is with the Angels

Sarah Leah Pirtle, M.D., 62, passed away on November 12, 2017, at St. Rita's Medical Center, Lima. Sarah was an ABC USA General Board Representative and an ABC OHIO board member several years ago. Her father is also a retired ABC pastor in Lima. She graduated summa cum laude from Ouachita University in Arkadelphia, AR. She earned a Master's Degree in Organic Chemistry and a Medical Degree from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in 1984. She specialized in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine for Lima Memorial Health Systems and St. Rita's Medical Center for over 20 years. She was a member of First Baptist Church and sang in the choir, served on the Daycare Board, and was a member of the Elizabeth Circle of American Baptist Women's Ministries. She served as a member of the Board of International Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA and as a board member of American Baptist Churches of Ohio. She loved her profession, music, traveling, and playing euchre. Her friends were her friends for life. They will remember her joyful spirit, her generosity, and her infectious laugh. Prayers go out to the Pirtle family in their time of grief.

Rev. Fred McKnight Passes

Rev. Frederick "Fred" McKnight formerly of Plain City passed away in his sleep on October 2, 2017. Fred served many ABC-Ohio churches during his ministry and served from 1969 thru 1979 as the resident manager of Camp Kirkwood.

Fred was born June 19, 1922 in Transfer, Pennsylvania, he is a graduate of Westminster College in Pennsylvania and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky. He was ordained to ministry at the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Louisville, KY in 1954. He served as pastor at Locust Grove Baptist Church, Salem, OH; Big Darby Baptist Church, Plain City, OH; Sugar Creek Baptist Church, Washington CH, OH; Jonah’s Run Baptist Church, Wilmington, OH; Church of the Master, Steuben, OH; and part time at Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, Willard, OH.

He also served for ten years as site manager in Camp Kirkwood, Wilmington, OH. He retired in 1997. Our prayers are with his children and family.

Rev. Robert Hughes Passes


Rev Robert D. Hughes was an amazing man who invested his love, guidance and encouragement in lots of people. He was the first Dean of the Leadership Academy. His wife Kathleen was a former region president. Please pray for Kathleen and the Hughes family as they grieve his passing.

Robert D. Hughes was born in Bucyrus, Ohio to Hugh T. and Reba (Craner) Hughes.  He graduated from Bucyrus High School in 1945, Denison University in 1950, and Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1954. He preached his first sermon at the age of 14, in his grandfather’s church.  After seminary he pastored churches in Marietta, Painesville, Loudonville, Attica, and Cuyahoga Falls.  

Read more: Rev. Robert Hughes Passes

Former ABC Ohio Staff Member Passes

Former ABC Ohio staff member Martha Sue Buckenberger passed away on March 28, 2017 at the Selma Markowitz Center, Newark, Ohio. Sue retired from ABC Ohio as an office manager.

She attended Grace Pointe Community Church. She loved spending time with her grandchildren. She also enjoyed going to Florida and gardening.  She is survived by her loving husband of 47 years, H. Mack Buckenberger; daughter and son-in-law, Missy and Joe Pfister; son and daughter-in-law, Seth and Katy Buckenberger; five grandchildren, Alli, Brock and Jarrett Pfister, A.J. and Ian Buckenberger; brother and sister-in-law, James and Patty Stephens; sisters, Norma Jean Cline and Lillie Keylor; and many nieces and nephews.

Our love and prayers go out to her family.

Longtime Baptist Pastor and Leader Passes

Rev. Dr. John H. Krier passed away on March 20, 2017. John was born October 7, 1922 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Dr. Krier graduated from Eastern Baptist College and Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Divinity in May, 1950. Rev. Krier was ordained by the Philadelphia Baptist Association in 1950. He then came to Youngstown, Ohio as the Associate Pastor of the Baptist Temple in 1950. In 1953 he became Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church on Oak Hill. Under his leadership the congregation moved to their present location on Shields Road in the spring of 1966. Rev. Krier received his Master of Theology from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in May 1960. He then received a Doctor of Divinity from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in May, 1972. In 1977 Rev. Krier became the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lima, Ohio where he served until his retirement in 1988. Since his retirement he has served 13 interims including Canfield Christian Church, Mount Olivet in North Lima, and Pleasant Grove Presbyterian in Youngstown. Rev. Krier served as President of the Ohio Baptist Convention, Chair of the World Mission Support Commission of the Ohio Baptist Convention, and Chair of the Bible and Missions Conference of the Ohio Baptist Convention.