Rodney Griffith Toews was born November 30, 1930, the son of Abraham Peter Toews and Anna Schierling Toews, in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada. He was born in a Mennonite community where only low German was spoken and didn’t learn English until 1937 when he entered first grade. His family lived in Steinbach until he was approximately 11 years old, then went to Winnepeg, Manitoba for a year before moving to Langham, Saskatchewan Canada. In Langham he played hockey, and taught piano to neighborhood children. In 1948 his family moved to Dallas, Oregon, where he attended Willamette University majoring in music. He interrupted his education to serve during the Korean War.
In June 1951 he married Elizabeth “Betty” Dickman, with whom he had three sons: Timothy, Douglas, and Brian. After the Korean War he resumed his education at the University of Omaha, became an American Citizen in 1954, and then obtained his Master of Divinity degree at Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul Minnesota. Later in life he was awarded an honorary Doctorate by Briercrest Seminary in Saskatchewan for his lifetime contributions to Christian Education.
His first church was Lakewood Baptist in Lakewood, California, where he was called to serve in 1958 as the Youth Minister. In June 1969 he married Dorothy Edwards, who became his partner in Christian Ministry; they were married for fifty years. He then worked for Gospel Light Publications in the Los Angeles area. In 1984 he was called to Peninsula Covenant Church in Redwood City as Christian Education Director. As such he was responsible for education from the very youngest toddler to the oldest of the old. During this time he developed a vibrant “Young Marrieds” program.
In 1988 he left PCC in Redwood City in order to work for Scripture Press in Wheaton, Illinois. When they were purchased by David C. Cook he worked for Cook in Colorado Springs, Co. But in 2000 he was again called by Peninsula Covenant Church, this time to serve in the capacity of Executive Pastor. He continued to devote his substantial energy to growing the church through his ministries. He became renowned in the national denomination for his huge success in growing a “Fifties Plus” ministry to address the needs of the 50+ demographic. For fourteen years, until they retired in 2014, Rod and Dot gave themselves wholeheartedly to Peninsula Covenant Church. In 2014, in recognition of their outstanding dedication and service, the church re-named their Fellowship Hall, the “Rodney and Dorothy Toews Fellowship Center”.
Rod and Dot also did much missionary work through the years, most notably in Malawi (Africa) as well as Honduras, India and Egypt. Rod and Dot retired in 2014 and moved to Turlock, California to a retirement home, where he pastored the Sunday morning worship time from 2017 until his death.
Rod is survived by his wife of 50 years, Dot Toews, and two of his sons, Timothy and Brian. His son Douglas died in February 2019. Rod also is survived by two stepsons, Douglas and David Edwards, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He will be interred at the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Santa Nella, California. Charitable donations in his name may be made to Covenant Village in Turlock, California.
Memorial service will be held at Covenant Village-Berg Hall on Saturday, June 22, 2019 at 3:30p.m. Please share your memories at www.AllenMortuary.com.