We Had to Ask: Kenneth Haney
This interview was first published on June 18, 2009. It is republished here in memory of a beloved and godly leader, Rev. Kenneth Haney.
IO: What was your first sermon title?
KH: Well that’s been fifty-three years ago, and it’s very difficult to remember.
IO: Well, do you remember one of your first sermons?
KH: I remember one of my first messages was four statements: “Life is Short. Death is Sure. Sin is the Curse. Christ is the Cure.” I probably preached that about fifty-three years ago. That was probably one of my first.
IO: If you could have one super-hero power, what would it be and why?
KH: To see into the future. There are so many things that we would do different if we could see the future, but we have hind sight and not foresight. Many times, when I’ve been in a deep concentration or prayer over a decision, I would say, “If I only could see into the future where this decision is going to lead me.”
IO: What was your first car?
KH: ’41 Studebaker.
IO: How old were you when you got that?
KH: I think I was about sixteen. Of course, you could be licensed to drive when you were sixteen, and I was anxiously awaiting that moment. My closest friend had a brand new ’55 Belair Chevrolet. It was a beauty. I always wanted one, but never had one. I got my start with a ’41 Studebaker.
IO: If you could have lunch with one person living or deceased, who would it be?
KH: Well, if I could have lunch with one person that was deceased, it would be my father. He was my mentor.
IO: How old were you when you felt the call to preach?
KH: I was twelve years old. My father was preaching the Oregon Camp meeting. Brother and Sister Chambers were there. Sister Ruby Keyes would take all the young people down to the river, which was at the camp, and they would have a fireside service. It was in that meeting and under her influence that I really felt my call to the ministry.
IO: How old were you when you actually started to preach?
KH: I probably preached my first sermon when I was sixteen. I met the board and was licensed at seventeen-that was in 1954.
IO: Has there ever been a time that you felt isolated from God?
KH: Yes, and I suppose most people feel that in their ministry or in their spiritual walk with God. Young people sometimes don’t feel that flow or real touch of God. You wonder especially when you’re younger, “Have I alienated myself from God?” I remember when I was twenty-one years of age I went through a period of sickness. I felt like it was very difficult to reach and to touch God. I didn’t feel the assurance, the answer, or the confidence. I was wrestling with my faith, but I just held on to God. It was definitely a walk by faith, and the Lord came through. I felt the flood of His presence after some time of feeling a little bit void of His presence.
IO: And becoming general superintendent was probably the furthest thing from your mind, wasn’t it?
KH: Absolutely. I believe all of the challenges that I faced in my life as a child, before I entered the ministry, to the ministry, through college, through my early days as an assistant pastor, to district youth president, to international youth president, to pastor, to assistant general superintendent, and to general superintendent was preparing me for this day.
IO: If you had one thing to say to the youth of this generation, what would it be?
KH: I would appeal to every young man and young woman to totally surrender their lives to Jesus. He has a plan for their lives, and they must think and be Kingdom minded. He has a call for them. Not all of the calls of God are preaching behind a pulpit, but He will call, use, and choose them. When it’s all said and done, and we come to the end of life’s journey, the things that we have really done for Jesus Christ and the kingdom is what is going to be more meaningful to us than any other thing.