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Interview with Karl G. Dortzbach - Collection 401


[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent. Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. ]

Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Karl G. Dortzbach

An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)


Brief Description.

Two oral history interviews, in which Dortzbach describes his childhood and youth, influence of his family, education at Wheaton College and Westminster Theological Seminary, and missionary experience in Ethiopia (short term with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) and in Kenya. Subjects covered include missiology, conversion, raising children on the mission field, marital relationships on the mission field, church life in a Nairobi congregation, proliferation of parachurch groups and need for church planting women's role in missions his wife's kidnapping in Ethiopia, furloughs, language in missionary work training Kenyan church leaders, intercultural communication, conflict among missionaries on the mission field, personal spiritual development, experience of an integrated congregation during his youth, his wife Debbie, evaluation of short term missions, theological educa- tion, call to ministry, church planting in Chicago and Nairobi, congregation in Nairobi among Kikuyu, contextualization, comparison of African and American churches, and the impact of Urbana '70.


Collection 401 [June 1, 2000]
Dortzbach, Karl G.; 1949-
Interview; 1988-1989

7 Reels of Audio Tape

Restrictions

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Biography

Full name: Karl Gray Dortzbach
Birth date: September 12, 1949, in Bellefontaine, Ohio
Family:
Parents: Elmer M. Dortzbach, Orthodox Presbyterian minister (Wheaton '46)
Marjorie Norton Dortzbach (at Wheaton one year)
Siblings: Two sisters (one older, one younger) Marital Status: Married to Deborah Mull on August 27, 1971
Children: Joshua (1974), Hannah (1976), Jesse (1980)
Conversion: Public profession of faith at age twelve
Called to ministry: During senior year of high school
Education:
1967-1969 Wheaton College
1969-1971 Georgia State University
1971-1973 Westminster Theological Seminary
(intervening short-term mission internship in Ethiopia)
1974-1975 Westminster Theological Seminary, DMin
Career:
1973-1974 Internship as short-term missionary teacher in Ghinda, Ethiopia, with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC)
1974-1976 Speaking about kidnaping experience
1976-1979 Organizing pastor of Hope OPC in Mundelein, Illinois
1977 Ordained as an evangelist by the OPC
1980- Joined World Presbyterian Mission, mission arm of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (RPC was later merged into Presbyterian Church in America or PCA, whose mission arm was called Mission to the World)
1981-1982 Church planting assignment in Nairobi
1982-1983 Assigned to establish Bible school in rural area in Kenya
1983-1984 Furlough
1984-1988 Planting indigenous congregation (African Evangelical Presbyterian Church) in Nairobi
Other significant information:
Wife kidnaped and held twenty-six days by Eritrean Liberation Front in Ethiopia in 1974
Co-authored with wife Debbie Kidnapped


Scope and Content

Karl Dortzbach was interviewed by Paul A. Ericksen on September 27, 1988, at Dortzbach's residence in Decatur, Georgia, and on April 21, 1989, and at the Archives office in Wheaton, Illinois. The events described in the interview cover the time period from 1949 to 1988.

T1 (43 minutes). Early life and spiritual development; experience as a pastor's kid; family religious practices; family background and missions experience; father's Denver pastorate and impact of racially integrated congregation on Karl; father's character and influence; personal and siblings' development and adolescent rebellion; spiritual journey (early faith and responsibilities, public declaration of his call to ministry, evaluation of presbytery's care of him, profession of faith); education and development at Wheaton College (lack of involvement in local churches, Sunday school program with the Baptistas, dissatisfaction, redirected interest in education as a result of ministry experience); transfer to Georgia State and church planting with parents; growing relationship with Debbie at Wheaton and from long distance (1970 Christmas vacation together at Urbana missions conference, his search for a godly woman, planning for the future).

T2 (45 minutes). Seeing and addressing personal weaknesses at Westminster; role in Ethiopia; affirmation of cross-cultural ability and philosophy of partnership; Debbie's kidnaping (his role in negotiations, positive aspects, formation of perspective); benefits of short-term missions (identifying call, weeding out casual interest); importance of recognizing the urgency of the moment vs. assuming indefinite opportunity; experience at Wheaton College (reasons for attending, first impressions, rebellion and varied Christian expression, influence of Baptista family and supervising janitor, administration's wise and human response to turbulence of the 1960s, instance of violence, faddishness and minimal impact of war resistance and civil right's involvement, types of '60s activism, opportunities for ministry), activism at Georgia State, regret at lack of personal activism, questions asked of seminaries and attraction to Westminster

T3 (45 minutes). Westminster (integrated education, influential faculty); ministry aspirations; Ethiopian experience yielded interest in missions; objections to missionary service (poor with languages, giving up enjoyments); future planning and goals; church planting in Chicago; missionary work in Kenya (deputation, initial activity in rural area, turnover from retiring missionaries, initial church planting work in Nairobi and then establishing Bible school in rural area, return to church planting in Nairobi); planting Kikuyu congregation (pastoral team with seminarian, working relationship, social composition of poor congregation, various languages in worship, music and movement in worship, self-supporting, worship duration); weaknesses and strengths in co-pastorate scheme, language complications

T4 (45 minutes). Continuation on co-pastorate; benefits of multinational teams; impact of congregation's age spread on finances, worship; how a death helped the congregation grow (funeral practices, evangelistic opportunity, Kikuyu expressions of grief); obstacles to Kikuyu coming to faith in Christ (familiarity, confusion about spiritual power and charismatic manifestations); new ways for Africans to express their faith; contextualizing biblical idea of covenant; limited impact of tribal customs in urban area; legalism and charismatic influences among Christians in Nairobi; cooperation among agencies and denominations in Nairobi; comparing Evangelical churches in the U.S. and Kenya (tithing, Sabbath customs, legalism); lessons an American congregation can learn from their Kenyan church (willingness to bend on secondary issues, expecting God to work); missionary children (education, sacrifice)

T5 (42 minutes). Raising children in Kenya (more time, ministry together), preparing children to return to the U.S., finding or not withholding difficult experiences to stimulate growth (placing children in Kenyan public school, U.S. public school, mountain climbing); marriage on the mission field (companionship, time commitment, spiritual nurture, fewer distractions and temptations, pressures); missionaries in Nairobi (monopolizing staff and funds at expense of local churches, specialization of tasks tends to compartmentalize missions and diminishes personal ministry, missionaries segregate themselves); conflict among missionaries; preponderance of missionaries in Nairobi; changes in missions (more trained nationals, increased Muslim and urban ministries, shift in dealing with missionary kids, role of women); perspective on Debbie's kidnaping (resolving feelings, public aspect, perception of ministry options)

T6 (10 minutes). Seeing Haile Selassi (at an Eastern Orthodox rebaptism ceremony); what he enjoys most about missionary work (allows creativity, working with people, fulfilling); what he finds most frustrating (limitations on creativity, being diverted from main task); evaluation of furloughs, attitudes of American churches; distribution of supporting churches

T7 (60 minutes). Short-term mission work in Ethiopia: result of Urbana '70, joining OPC in Ethiopia, value of short-term programs, division of station's work and their responsibilities, overseeing work among elders in local church, discovering the history of the mission which produced predominance of medical work over evangelism, using Bible school model to equip elders, using vacuum in devotions to practice preaching, lack of OPC's formal orientation or services, his reasons to avoid missionary service and God's words to Moses heard as a rebuke, recognizing missionaries were normal people and need for continuous personal growth, political instability (little awareness before kidnaping, regularity of incidents and peoples' adjustment to it), benefits of experience, impact of serving as relief worker during 1974 famine, unpleasant confrontation with OPC over how the mission recognized the call of missionaries, how experience helped set priorities and make studies practical back at seminary, short-term programs (changes since, using to pre-select long-term workers, attitudes toward short-term by career workers)

Provenance

The materials in this collection were given to the Archives of the Billy Graham Center by Dortzbach in September 1988 and April 1989.

Accession: 88-111, 89-40
March 10, 1997
Paul A. Ericksen
S. Henning


LOCATION RECORD
Accession: 88-111, 89-40
Type of Material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips speed, approximately 43 minutes. One side. Interview with Karl Dortzbach by Paul Ericksen on September 27, 1988. Original interview was recorded on cassette tape and later transferred by the Archives staff to a reel-to-reel master tape for preservation.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips speed, approximately 45 minutes. One side. Interview with Karl Dortzbach by Paul Ericksen on September 27, 1988. Original interview was recorded on cassette tape and later transferred by the Archives staff to a reel-to-reel master tape for preservation.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips speed, approximately 45 minutes. One side. Interview with Karl Dortzbach by Paul Ericksen on September 27, 1988. Original interview was recorded on cassette tape and later transferred by the Archives staff to a reel-to-reel master tape for preservation.

T4 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips speed, approximately 45 minutes. One side. Interview with Karl Dortzbach by Paul Ericksen on September 27, 1988. Original interview was recorded on cassette tape and later transferred by the Archives staff to a reel-to-reel master tape for preservation.

T5 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips speed, approximately 42 minutes. One side. Interview with Karl Dortzbach by Paul Ericksen on September 27, 1988. Original interview was recorded on cassette tape and later transferred by the Archives staff to a reel-to-reel master tape for preservation.

T6 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips speed, approximately 10 minutes. One side. Interview with Karl Dortzbach by Paul Ericksen on September 27, 1988. Original interview was recorded on cassette tape and later transferred by the Archives staff to a reel-to-reel master tape for preservation.

T7 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips speed, approximately 60 minutes. One side. Interview with Karl Dortzbach by Paul Ericksen on April 21, 1989.



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Last Revised: 9/10/02
Expiration: indefinite