Eastern Mennonite Seminary remembers with thanks to God for the life of The Rev. Dr. Anil Solanki, a longtime professor of language, who died at home on Sept. 29, 2021, in Harrisonburg.
His initial career was as a civil engineer in Gujarat, India. During that time, he experienced God’s call to ministry and enrolled in the Bachelor of Divinity program at Union Biblical Seminary (UBS) in 1966. He also completed a Master of Theology degree and then joined UBS as professor and dean. In 1976, he was ordained a minister by the Methodist Church. His post-graduate studies were completed at Ohio State University from 1978-1982 where he earned a Doctorate in Administration of Higher Education.
Solanki first came to the seminary as a visiting professor in 1988, and became part-time faculty in 1996. He taught biblical Hebrew courses at the seminary.
In 1969, the Bible Society of India commissioned Solanki to begin work on a new translation of the Bible into his native language, Gujarati. Working with his wife, Shaila, he completed the 35-year project in 2004. Solanki, the leading Hebrew Bible scholar among Gujarati speakers, worked together with three colleagues representing several denominations in India.
Upon publication of the new Gujarati Bible in 2004, Solanki was given special “honorary retiree” status at EMS. He continued to teach at EMS and EMU through 2014. He was well known among undergraduate students for his class on the Hebrew prophets and his emphasis on the biblical theme of justice. He also taught in the Adult Degree Completion Program.
He pastored at Valley Central UCC and St. Luke’s County Line UCC, and more recently attended Ridgeway Mennonite Church.
Nancy Heisey, professor of Biblical studies, commented, “Anil wrote me a strong reference when I was applying to graduate school. As his student, I was so grateful for the solid grounding I received in Hebrew.”
“Anil was a man of profound and winsome faith,” wrote George R. Brunk III, emeritus professor. “I remember his chapel sermons as a spiritual as well as intellectual feast and challenge.”
In addition to his wife, Shaila Solanki, he is survived by his children, Elizabeth Solanki, Susmita Solanki, both of Harrisonburg, Madhur Solanki and wife, Maryam Solanki of Berryville, Va; siblings, Abhay Solanki, Ajay Solanki; and grandchildren, Rohan Solanki and Arman Solanki.
Online condolences to be shared with the Solanki family may be made below in the comment box or by visiting McMullen Funeral Home’s webpage.