International Ministries

Obituary for Retired Missionary to Japan, Robert E. Fulop

January 20, 2012 News
Robert Ernest Fulop former American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) missionary who served in Japan for 15 years, passed away in Florida June 15, 2011 at the age of 84.

Bob was born on October 21, 1926, in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up in a Christian home where his parents set an example of dedication to the Lord and service for him.  His parents had been converted in a church begun by the American Baptist Home Mission Society. Following high school Bob joined the Navy and served for two years. There he made a definite decision to go into full-time Christian work.  While studying at Northwestern University Bob met a young student nurse, Vernette Carlson, who shared his call to serve on the mission field.  They were married June 17, 1950.  Bob went on to study at Northern Baptist Seminary and then earned his doctorate at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. As he studied in college, seminary, and graduate school, his missionary interest and purpose intensified. While serving as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Appleton, Wisconsin, he pursued vigorously a program of evangelism and Christian growth.  One of his desires in facing foreign opportunities was to witness for Christ through the medium of teaching, preaching and personal counseling.  

Bob and Vernette were appointed as missionaries to Burma in 1956 by the American Baptist Foreign Mission society.  While waiting for a visa to enter Burma, Bob continued his service in the ministry in the U.S. and had an opportunity to take courses in Buddhism and History of Religions at the University of Chicago. When the visa for Burma did not come Bob and Vernette were assigned as evangelistic missionaries in the Tokyo-Yokohama area of Japan.  In early 1958 they sailed for Japan, along with their two young children, Judy and James.  Bob served on the faculty of the College of Theology of Kanto Gakuin University in Yokohama where he was professor of Church History.  The University is affiliated with the Japan Baptist Union and ABFMS.  In addition to his teaching responsibilities in the College of Theology, Bob taught courses in Christianity to students in other departments of the University.  He also conducted smaller evening Bible classes in their home and helped with several local churches. He helped establish two new churches in Yokohama.  Bob also served as a member of the executive board of the Japan Baptist Union and was appointed to the Board of Trustees at Kanto Gakuin University.  While in Japan, the Fulop family grew with the birth of a son, Timothy.

In 1973 the Fulop family returned to the U.S.  The family moved to Kansas where they were Missionaries-in-Residence and Bob was Visiting Instructor in Missions at Central Baptist Theological Seminary from 1973-74. In 1974 Bob was elected to become Associate Professor of Church History and Missions.  Dr. Paul Losh said in making the announcement of the appointment: “With the appointment of Dr. Fulop, Central Baptist Theological Seminary possesses a person with fresh views of mission theology and strategy coupled with an enthusiasm to channel the interest of students into the work of Christ throughout the world.” Bob and Vernette felt that the life and work at Central Seminary was a continuation of their missionary call.

In 1999 Bob retired from Central Baptist Seminary. In 2001 he and Vernette moved to the Penney Retirement Community in Florida.  Bob and Vernette have been involved at the Penney Memorial Church where he has been preaching and has been the moderator.

Bob was predeceased by son, James. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Vernette; children Judy Fulop and Timothy (Jacklyn) Fulop and grandchildren, Evan, Grace, Emma and Lily.  

A Memorial Service will be held at the Penney Farms Memorial Church.  Memorial gifts may be sent to American Baptist International Ministries.