Virgil Vogt

Virgil Vogt, 87, of Evanston, Ill., died Nov. 2, 2021, after living with Parkinson’s Disease for 14 years. He was born to Mennonite missionary parents Milton Christian Vogt and Esther Bergey Kulp in Darjeeling, India.

He was educated in India at the Mount Hermon boarding school and in the U.S. at Hesston Academy in Kansas and Hesston College, graduating in 1952. There he met Joan Miller, and they married in 1953 in Filer, Idaho. 

He finished his degree at Goshen College in Indiana in 1954, then worked at Mennonite Central Committee in alternative service in Akron, Pa. While attending revival services he felt a call to radically serve Christ, so returned to Goshen Biblical Seminary in 1956 to pursue a bachelor of divinity degree, completed in 1967. They met John and Louise Miller, which fomented ideas for living a life of radical discipleship to Jesus. The Millers moved to Evanston in 1957 to launch the intentional Christian community that became Reba Place Fellowship, and he and Joan joined them later.   

After serving a pastorate at Leo Mennonite Church in Indiana, he tried to follow his father into mission work in India. But with no visa forthcoming, he and Joan concluded God wanted them to stay at Reba Place. He rose into leadership roles and was instrumental in bringing the charismatic renewal movement to Reba Place. He became a traveling apostle, visiting Christian intentional communities in Spain, Korea, Canada and the U.S. 

In the 1960s and 1970s he lived with his family in a communal setting with a common treasury. While Reba Place eventually created a congregational option in Reba Place Church, of which he was pastor until 2002, they continued to live in the fellowship in communally-owned properties open to members and neighbors. In 1982 he wrote Treasure in Heaven to describe the Christian goal of working to give, not to accumulate for personal security and desires, and to trust God to supply all needs.

He contributed to the larger Mennonite world as managing editor of Concern: a Pamphlet Series for Questions of Christian Renewal and by serving with Illinois Mennonite Conference as moderator and as conference minister to the Chicago area Mennonite churches until 2009. Many church leaders sought him as a mentor and perceptive listener who made his conversation partners feel heard and valued.

Survivors include his wife, Joan; five children, Dave (Joan) Vogt, Beth (Eric) Nordstrom, Barb (Craig) Faris, Mary (Dan) Hanchera and Ruth (Phil) Leaman; three siblings, Laverne Nafziger, Elva Miller and Myra Danielson; 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. 

He was preceded in death by brothers Bernard and Merle. 

A celebration of his life will be held Dec. 4. Visit rebaplacechurch.org for further details.

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