Written by Anthony Moujaes
Family, friends and former colleagues are remembering the life of an author, educator, lay leader, and editor of one of the denomination’s former publications tailored to youth. Herman C. Ahrens, Jr. served as editor of the United Church of Christ magazine, YOUTH, for three decades after serving his country during World War II.
He died on Feb. 24, at age 91.
On the 50th Anniversary of the UCC in 2007, Ahrens was honored as one of 50 people who contributed greatly to shaping the denomination.
"Dad loved writing and speaking to teens and young adults. He is a poet, an author, a lover of Jesus," noted his son, the Rev. Tim Ahrens, pastor of First Congregational Church in Columbus, Ohio.
"I loved my father beyond words," Tim Ahrens wrote. "He was one of my heroes and my first role model in life. He modeled gentleness, kindness, faith and trustworthiness. He lived and modeled a life that loved God and neighbor. He was funny, playful, smart, engaging, a creative communicator, a wonderful writer and editor of our Christian story. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend."
Ahrens was called in 1950 to be the editor of YOUTH Magazine, a national monthly publication for teenagers. During his 31 years as editor of the ecumenical project published by the UCC, the magazine received 20 professional awards for excellence and had a circulation of more than 50,000 subscriptions in 10 Protestant denominations in the United States and Canada. Following that position, Ahrens was briefly on the staff of Christian History Magazine, then served eight years as commissioned minister of communication for the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the UCC before retiring in 1992.
Herman Ahrens was born on June 12, 1924, in Port Washington, Ohio, to the Rev. Herman C. and Ella (Fark) Ahrens. He attended Harding High School in Marion, Ohio, and earned his degree in 1949 from Heidelberg College (now Heidelberg University) in Tiffin, Ohio, and a journalism degree with honors from the University of Missouri in 1950.
During WWII, Ahrens saw action in Europe with the 84th "Railsplitters" Infantry Division, in the Siegfried Line during the Battle of the Bulge, crossing the Rhine River, across northern Germany to the Elbe River, where his unit met the Russians in peace. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his service.
Ahrens authored three books, two educational booklets and many articles about young people in other denominational publications. A member of St. John’s UCC in Lansdale, Penn., for 65 years, he was a teacher, youth group leader and active participant in in the life of his local church.
Ahrens was married to Carol Lorene (Kellermeyer) Ahrens for 65 years, who survives him. In addition, he is survived by children Deborah Kay Ahrens, of Philadelphia, Paul Conrad Ahrens and wife Anne Huntley Ahrens of Los Angeles, and the Rev. Timothy Carl Ahrens and his wife Susan Sitler of Columbus, Ohio; six grandchildren, and one great-grandson.
Memorial services for Ahrens will take place on March 12. In lieu of flowers, his family requests contributions made in Herman’s memory to St. John’s UCC Music Fund.