Local Obits

Obituary of Merold Brainard Stern


Rev. Merold B. Stern passed peacefully into the presence of Jesus, Friday, March 22, 2024. He was surrounded by Margaret, his wife of 67 years, and his family whom he loved fiercely. He is survived by his children: Lorna Stern and husband Robert Laniak, Geoff and Kelly Stern, six grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren, a brother Chester and sister Grace. He is predeceased by his son Ross, daughter-in-law Jan, and his brother Kingsley.


Merold was born in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1930. He attended Wheaton Academy and then Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL and graduated in 1951 with a degree in journalism and english. Returning to South Africa, Merold joined the reporting staff of the Cape Times before studying for the ministry at the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa in Johannesburg.

Merold married Margaret Semark in 1955 and began his ministry vocation at Durban North Baptist Church, Durban, South Africa. In 1960 he became the European Director of Gospel Recordings based in London, England. He also taught English and art in the British prep school system for several years in London and Hoylake, England. In 1967 he accepted a call to be pastor at Bethel Grove Bible Church in Ithaca, NY, and Chaplain for the National Association of Evangelicals with Cornell United Religious Work at Cornell University. In 1984 Merold became the founding pastor at Christ Chapel in Ithaca. He retired in 2000 as Pastor Emeritus.

Merold loved his God, family, and friends with devotion and service. He was an ardent lover of beauty, the created world, the spoken word, great books, his wife’s cooking, and choral music of all kinds. Merold loved painting water-colors, whimsical craftwork and bird-watching. His Christmas letters were legendary for their stylish design and poetic writing. He prayed regularly and fervently for all whom he loved. A believer in the transformative forgiveness and grace to be found in the person of Jesus, he was a wise, compassionate and faith-filled man. His rich life of the mind and heart will be dearly missed.

A service of thanksgiving for his life will be held at Christ Chapel on May 4, 2024, at 2:00 pm. Burial will be private. The family is being served by Perkins Funeral Home in Dryden, NY. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to: Christ Chapel General Fund, Hospicare of Ithaca, NY, or World Vision, USA.

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