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Bernie Schnippert

BernieBernie Schnippert, who recently retired as GCI’s General Counsel, grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where, at age 11, he began attending WCG church services with his parents, Bernard and Irene Schnippert, and his sister, Karen. After high school, Bernie entered Ambassador College in Pasadena, California. He graduated in 1971.

A tall man at 6 feet, 9 inches, Bernie says his life has been greatly affected by his height. “I always feel conspicuous when I walk into a room because people tend to stare at me because of my height, and someone is always bound to approach me and ask how tall I am and whether I play basketball. If I hadn’t been in the church, I probably would have pursued basketball more wholeheartedly. I couldn’t do that, of course, because of the church’s former teaching about strict Sabbath observance.”

Bernie and Arlene2
Bernie and Arlene

Bernie met Arlene Pratt of McMinnville, Oregon, at Ambassador College. They married shortly after graduating. “Arlene has been my partner and soul mate through this entire journey over the past 43 years,” Bernie says. “The joys, the highs, the sorrows, the lows. We have experienced it all together, and I could not imagine life without her. We have three daughters, Crystal, Amber and Coral. Our lovely daughter Amber died a year ago from breast cancer. We also have four wonderful grandchildren. Crystal’s children, Clint and Heather, are 17, and Julia is 13. Amber’s daughter, Megan Patrick, is seven.”

Bernie and his three daughters
Bernie with his three daughters

Regarding his service in the church, Bernie says, “I have had absolutely awesome opportunities afforded me over the years. I entered the Canadian pastoral ministry about a year after graduation from college. I pastored in Calgary, Alberta; Edmonton, Alberta; and then in Las Vegas, Nevada, before being transferred to Pasadena in 1987.”

At church headquarters in Pasadena, Bernie served as Director of Media Operations before being appointed in 1995 as Treasurer and finally as General Counsel in 2005. “Bernie was a talented and creative church pastor serving our Las Vegas congregation when we asked him to come to HQ to combine all the church’s editorial, publishing and broadcasting functions into one coordinated media operation,” recalls GCI President, Joseph Tkach.

With a tenacious love for learning, Bernie holds both a Juris Doctor degree and a Ph.D. in Management and Administration. Dr. Schnippert has also been an active member of the California State Bar since 1992. “Bernie is one of the most devoted, trustworthy and hardest working people I have ever known,” said retired GCI vice president Mike Feazell. “We met during my sophomore year of college when we lived in the same dorm, and I was immediately impressed with his honesty, his positive outlook on life and his ‘let’s find a way’ approach to challenging projects. People used to call us ‘Mutt and Jeff’ because of our difference in height. Bernie has never ceased to be a faithful and dependable friend.”

Looking back over his career in the church, Bernie said, “The most important contributions that I feel I have made to the church are the successful sales of the Big Sandy and Pasadena campuses during a critical period in the church’s spiritual journey and establishing a sound employee retirement plan.” GCI Treasurer Mat Morgan said, “Working at first for Dr. Schnippert, and then alongside him, during those challenging years afforded me a depth of rich experience that helped prepare me for the work I’m doing now. I count it a blessing to have worked so closely with such a dynamic personality.”

Dr. Russell Duke, President of Grace Communion Seminary, said, “We herald Dr. Schnippert’s decades of service in helping the church and its educational institutions work through challenging transitions, including his assistance in preparing our seminary to meet the legal standards of accreditation. Thank you, Bernie!”

Bernie fishingBernie isn’t all work. “Until I got sick,” he explains, “my passion was fishing and camping. But now that I am mostly confined to my home, I’m back into ham radio, which has been a hobby of mine since I was 12 years old.”

Bernie has been battling a slow-moving carcinoid cancer, a major factor in his decision to retire.

“I want to thank all the people over the years who put their trust in me and afforded me opportunities to serve in so many different capacities,” Dr. Schnippert said. “It has been an exciting, sometimes even wild ride, and it has been my hope and prayer that my contribution to the Church has been a positive one.”

9 thoughts on “Bernie Schnippert”

  1. Not only do I remember the night we were ordained together at the big tent–or under the big tent in 1973–but I distinctly remember you bringing baby Crystal (I believe)–into the dining room and you being able to hold her in the palm of your big hand. Some things stand out. I always thought it was a milestone for WCG/GCI when a “church kid” was put in charge of the finances. That’s completing the cycle in a very major way. Rest assured our thoughts and prayers are with you every step of the way. It’s probably about time someone made you an honorary Canadian–eh?

  2. As a very long standing member of WWCG myself, your name and works have been a forever reminder of the type of many dedicated and faithful leaders our church membership has had the pleasure of supporting. Wishing you the best in your retirement and prayers in your ongoing battle against carcinoid cancer. Christ assures us victory in all challenges we face, as He fights the battles for us. May He grant you and your family great peace and strength as you go through all that you face together with Him.

  3. Thanks Bernie for so much fruit you’ve borne for our church and the cause of Christ, over decades filled with obstacles and challenges we can never fully appreciate.

    You remind me of that t-shirt that says “never give up” with the stork swallowing the frog and the frog with his hands around the stork’s neck.

    Jesus must have had you in mind when he spoke about the profitable servant– Your life of service is amazing, and to the glory of God working in you!

  4. Bernie,
    You have been a loyal warrior for the Denomination and needy local churches like ours. Your advice and guidance has helped steer Shepherd’s Community Church along the path avoiding potholes and harmful detours. Your advice was golden. What is most amazing is not that you have all this talent, for God gives these things, we work hard to refine them, and you deserve credit for hard work and dedication; but that you did much of this through sickness. That is why I call you a warrior. Oh, the church facility you helped us buy is turning out great! I will send you some pictures.

    Thank you brother for all you have allowed God to do through you.
    Your friend,

  5. Dear Bernie, and family,
    Thank you so very much for responding to God in such a life giving way for all to see. Reading this brings thoughts of the Apostle Paul in many ways. Our hope is for Jesus to continue washing your feet as you minister to your wonderful family in your retirement. God Bless you Bernie, our prayers are with you!
    David, Linda, and churches.

  6. Hello dear Bernie,
    You are a man we remember by name every day as we battle in prayer for you and the family.
    You added so much good stuff to the church over the years your help to the many is not be forgotten, and your sense of humor even during the some of those very diificult meetings of times past was much appreciated.
    May our loving father give comfort and joy in the days ahead. Your English Mate, Roger

  7. Hi Bernie,

    First made your acquaintance on Sabbatical in 1976. Just wanted say thanks for all your years of dedicated service and hope you really enjoy a long and profitable retirement. Our prayers are with you and Arlene daily. Roy & Sheila

  8. Thank you so much for your faithful service to Jesus and to us. You have been a large influence in our lives throughout the years through your writings, your speaking at the refreshers, your example, etc…

    Richest blessings in your retirement. We pray for you quite often.

    Eric and Edna

  9. My dear Mr. Schnippert, (and I mean “dear” in the depths of my heart)

    I realize you have done incredible things for the work of God, but I am not talking about your Church position — plenty of others have mentioned that. You may not even remember me because I was one of MANY college students that were touched by your wisdom and your heart.

    You used to teach a business class to help improve ladies’ leadership skills. While teaching us skills in negotiation, you helped me see a flaw in my character that needed to be changed. I don’t think you even realized that God had used you to make a positive change in my life. You were always open to helping anyone, so I believe God inspired you to say something that made a difference in my life.

    Thank you for ALL you have done for so many over the years. Even for the things that you didn’t even realize you did. 🙂

    I truly thank God for you and pray that the Spirit will supply you with what YOU need now.

    With deepest love,
    Susie Ehlen

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