There's a new lead tenor in Heaven.
"To go home on Easter, that's pretty special," said one of Mike Wiebe's close friends, expressing a sentiment felt by his family and fellow church members.
The longtime worship pastor - who had been at Nampa First Church of the Nazarene since 1990 - died at his home Sunday morning, surrounded by family. He was 62.
Wiebe, a Nebraska native, will be remembered for many things, including a gorgeous singing voice and the music that he wrote and arranged.
"He lived and breathed music," said his wife, Julie. They married in 1971 when they were both students at Northwest Nazarene University.
"His senior year of college, he felt a call to full-time ministry," Julie Wiebe said.
Their 42nd anniversary was March 20. He was very ill, but made sure his two grown daughters - Paula Wiebe of Bakersfield, Calif., and Trisha Lanham of Ketchikan, Alaska - got his wife 42 red roses to mark the occasion.
"He loved giving me roses. He told them to make sure they were vibrant red," Julie Wiebe said.
Close friend Boyd Hoops said what made Wiebe special was his love and concern for others.
"He directed the choir, and he had a huge passion for that and those people," said Hoops, noting that Wiebe was enthusiastic yearround, not just at Easter.
"He was one of these people who was like a magnet, people just wanted to be around him," Hoops said.
Wiebe was a lifelong learner of music and ministry, finding time to earn music degrees from Pacific Lutheran University (bachelor's) and Boise State University (master's), and a doctorate in worship studies through the Robert Webber Institute in Worship Studies.
He worked at churches in Vancouver, Wa., Beaverton, Ore., and his hometown of Puyallup, Wa., before coming to Nampa.
He took over the music direction - choir and orchestra - for the annual "No Greater Love" Easter pageant. Bette Dale Moore, who wrote the musical drama, said she created a singing part for Wiebe in the "resurrection medley."
"A voice like that comes along once in a million," she said. "What a waste not to use this voice."
Wiebe sang in a trio called Testament along with Hoops, a bass baritone, and tenor Carey Cook. The group raised $4,000 at a fundraising concert in late January.
Despite his failing health, Wiebe wanted to do the concert to raise money for a former church member, Angie Ketchum, who is battling breast cancer. Ketchum and her husband, Ryan, are missionaries in Cambodia now.
In the afternoon after that Jan. 27 concert, Wiebe went into the hospital. He had been diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma about a year earlier. He went through kidney surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
"One thing he said from the beginning was 'Every day is a gift from God,' " Julie Wiebe said.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413