Tribute: Ernest L. Moore

Written by his Children

“He Began to Be About 30 Years of Age …”

This verse concerning the Lord Jesus is perhaps not a typical one through which the Lord speaks, but then again, the life of our father, Ernest Lee Moore, was anything but typical. The Lord used these words in Luke 3:23 to spur Dad into action regarding his call to full-time missionary service. From a very young age, Dad had the desire to be a missionary, but after hearing the definite call, and approaching the age of 30, he felt the urgency of responding to that call.

Born in McKeesport, PA, on January 1, 1936, Dad was the third son of William and Mary Moore. He grew up in a Christian home, regularly hearing the gospel, and on one snowy night in January 1946, at age 10, he understood through Isaiah 53:5 that Jesus Christ died for his sins, trusting Him as Lord and Savior. Shortly thereafter, he was baptized and received into fellowship at McKeesport Gospel Hall, where he regularly took part in the assembly. It has been said that early on he got up to give his testimony and could hardly be seen over the top of the pulpit!

After graduating as an aeronautical engineer from Carnegie Institute of Technology, Dad took a job with Bell aircraft in Niagara Falls, NY, where he met Katherine Pinches. They were married in 1962, and together were active in their local assembly of Niagara Falls, Ontario. In 1963, a new position with Pratt & Whitney moved them to Manchester, CT, where they also were active in the local assembly. Two children, Virginia and Philip, were born in CT.

With his love for souls and interest in missionary work, Dad was eager to be involved in gospel work wherever he lived. This included teaching a Sunday school class, open-air preaching, and a gospel effort in tobacco camps where workers from Jamaica and Puerto Rico were housed. A couple of these men professed salvation, and during this work Dad began to learn Spanish. He was also invited by men, like Walter Gustafson and Fred Holder, to share in gospel efforts.

Through William McBride Sr., an elder in the local assembly whose son was serving in Chile, Dad’s interest in that country was stirred. Before he was married, he had taken the opportunity to travel to New Zealand, Australia, parts of Asia, the Middle East and Europe, and one of his desires was to consider where he might serve the Lord. Surprisingly, he did not visit South America at that time.

In 1966, Dad and Mom and their two small children sailed to Chile, leaving behind family, career, financial security, and the comforts of home. For several years they worked alongside other missionaries in Talca and Curicó, where two more daughters, Deborah and Rebecca, were born. Dad had a burden to spread the gospel to new areas, and several years later, the family moved to Osorno, in the south of Chile. This area is part of the Lake Region of Chile and Dad enjoyed taking the family on excursions to experience the natural beauty of the many lakes and volcanoes, the nearby Andes Mountains and the Pacific coastline. Wherever he went, Dad never missed an opportunity to preach the gospel and give out tracts. We remember our van breaking down while on an excursion, and as we waited for the repair, he asked the shop owner to gather his family and neighbors, and we had a gospel meeting! A Chilean brother recalls taking a bus trip with Dad, who, after obtaining permission from the driver, boldly proceeded to preach the gospel to the tourists on board, as they listened respectfully.

Dad’s love for the Word of God began when he was young, and during his college years he determined to spend one hour daily studying the Bible before beginning his school work. This discipline paid great spiritual dividends, as evidenced in his vast knowledge of Scripture, in his ministry of the Word (he was known for his charts, whiteboard illustrations, outlines, etc.), and in the dozen or so Scripture teaching books he authored, both in Spanish and English.

Through his years of service, Dad had many opportunities to preach the gospel and teach the Word of God throughout Chile. Mom accompanied him on most of these trips, and her friendly demeanor encouraged so many. Dad also traveled extensively in Argentina, Venezuela and Bolivia, preaching the Word and encouraging local churches. He was fond of quoting Acts 1:8, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me … unto the uttermost part of the earth,” and pointing out that Tierra del Fuego, an area he frequented in southern Argentina, can be considered the “ends of the earth.”

During the 1980s, Dad and Mom made Statesville, NC, their home base for several years while the children completed their education. They fellowshipped in Hickory, NC. During those years Dad traveled throughout the USA and Canada, ministering the Word, and added frequent visits back to Chile. Once the nest was empty, Dad and Mom returned to Osorno, Chile, to continue their work.

Missionary life, though rewarding, was not without its heartaches, yet there were many joys in seeing souls saved, assemblies established and believers built up. One of his greatest joys was to see his four children saved and continuing active in their local assemblies.

In 2014 Dad was diagnosed with PSP (progressive supranuclear palsy). In 2017, as his disease progressed, it became necessary to leave Chile and relocate to Hickory, NC, where he and Mom became a part of the local fellowship. Even as Dad’s ability to speak declined, he would still rise up with a few words in prayer at the midweek meeting, until eventually, he became unable to speak. He was content in their home in Hickory, where Mom lovingly and faithfully cared for him until the Lord called him home to heaven on November 18, 2020.

He leaves behind his wife of 58 years, Kay; four children: Ginny (David) Turnbull, Philip (Beni), Debbie (Tom) Turnbull, and Becky (Bob) MacLeod; 13 grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter. After a private family viewing, a graveside service was held on November 20, 2020, in Hickory, NC, with Philip Moore officiating and Bob MacLeod preaching the gospel. About 45 people gathered for the graveside service, with a great many watching the live stream from at least a dozen countries, a testament to his spiritual influence, especially throughout South America.