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Pathfinder Pioneer Rests in Jesus


July 15, 2011 marked the end of the beginnings of Pathfindering. On that day, Elder Henry Bergh, the last of our founding pioneers, rested from his labors. He was best known for his God-given gift of composing music, most especially the Pathfinder Song, which begins, “Oh we are the Pathfinders Strong, the servants of God are we…” 
Upon hearing of Elder Bergh’s final resting, Dr. Muganda, former World Youth Leader, summed up his appreciation of the man by those very words. Elder Bergh’s own life exemplified the words that followed “…faithful as we march along, in Kindness, Truth, and Purity.”
I had the privilege of knowing nearly all of our pioneers from my earlier Pathfindering years: Lawrence Skinner, John Hancock, Don Palmer, Clark Smith, Harry Garlick, and Lawrence Paulson. Then, while in the offices of the General Conference Youth Ministries department, I met Henry Bergh.  All of them (and the few I missed knowing) were very unusual leaders called of God to a very unique task in a very special ministry, but I will admit that Henry was special among the special. I first met him in Puerto Rico at the Second Inter-American Division Pathfinder Camporee (1998).  He did indeed, as The Pathfinder Story describes him, “prefer to keep a low profile.”
In 1948, while serving as the youth director or the Central California Conference, he began Pathfinder programs, and within a short time twenty-three clubs were up and running in his conference. That same year he started the Pathfinder Area Coordinator program. In 1949 he wrote “The Pathfinder Song,” which he always stated was given to him, words and music, by the Lord.  During that year he also wrote a paper that became a booklet, titled How To Start A Pathfinder Club, and held the first Leadership Training Camp that summer.
Henry Bergh designed the first Pathfinder flag, which Helen Hobbs sewed into reality. It was later adopted by the General Conference for worldwide use. In 1950 he started Evangelist Meetings with young people as speakers, using sermons prepared by H. M. S. Richards, Sr., a real Voice of Youth effort. In 1951 Elder Bergh held the first Pathfinder fair in Dinuba, California.
In addition to the Pathfinder Song, he wrote a devotional book for juniors, Upward Trails, and the first Pathfinder Staff Manual, a manual for use in his Central California Conference, which became the model for the manual later written for the world field.
He was a soft-spoken, kind, patient man who never gave himself credit for the tasks God assigned him. Many of his achievements in youth work would not be known if in later years his grandchildren had not asked their “Grandpa” to write for them his life story. This dear, dedicated, Christian man was never known to “blow his own horn.” His story tells how he and his dear Miriam worked tirelessly for God.
Gilbert Cangy, World Youth Director, reflected,  “Elder Bergh has gone to his rest, but his legacy will live on for posterity. He deserves to be known by every Pathfinder who has ever sung and will ever sing his signature tune. He was a quiet man who kept a low profile, but the Lord took his work to every corner of the world. Such is the measure of true Christian greatness.”
His daughter Karen wrote the following:
“How much all your prayers and love have supported us during the past four weeks.  I ask for your continued prayers, especially for Mama.  She has loved Daddy for 83 years!  He went to sleep in Jesus this afternoon about 2:30…  He had a chance to say good-bye to all his daughters [4] and his only nephew who flew down last weekend to be with us.  He had special time with his grandkids who are here also. I believe he realized he had done all he could for Mama, and was just tired… There will be a gathering when we sprinkle his ashes in Big Creek behind their Fish Camp home . . . [the name of the village near Yosemite National Park, California where they have lived].
   “We are so blessed to know how much you have loved our Daddy during his life time.  I know he is looking forward to meeting you all in Heaven one day.  We have talked of that frequently in the past few weeks.”
 –Robert Holbrook,
Retired General Conference Pathfinder Director, 1997-2005
Posted in: Pathfinders

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