Greg Varney, longtime pastor of Topeka’s Light of the World, remembered at service Wednesday

Varney, 61, died on Monday

Facebook/Light of the World Pastor of Light of the World Christian Center Greg Varney, pictured with his wife, Debbie, has died.

About 200 people gathered Wednesday evening during a regularly scheduled service and remembered Greg Varney, 61, pastor of Topeka’s Light of the World Christian Center, who died on Monday.


Pastor Scott Webb spoke about Varney’s unwavering commitment to his family, church community and God.

Varney, and his wife, Debbie, founded Light of the World Christian Center in 1985.

During the past year or so, Varney had bravely faced kidney failure, Webb said, adding that the condition can cause psychiatric side effects including behavioral changes and depression.

Webb said that Varney had ended his own life, but that he left behind a legacy of faith.

Danny Belisle said he remembers Varney as a “very good person” who was “full of smiles.”

“He was happy go lucky,” he said. “Once you know Greg, you never forget him.”

Belisle said he remembers Varney’s “love and compassion for people” and his “powerful ministry.”

“He never wavered from the word,” he said.

Belisle said he had heard the pastor had attended a worship service at Light of the World on Sunday.

Attempts to reach church representatives at 3301 S.W. Gage Blvd. on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

A woman walking into the church on Wednesday afternoon declined to comment and said the church would provide a statement when it was ready.

This past fall, Varney was arrested by Topeka police following an incident at a central Topeka eatery.

On the Light of the World’s Facebook page in October, the church asked for prayers for Varney, as family members said he had been displaying erratic behavior following a series of health problems that resulted in kidney failure, for which he was undergoing dialysis.

Varney had been helping with communion and other tasks while Debbie Varney lead the worship services for the past several months, according to Jeff Taylor, who said he’s been a member of the church for the past 25 years. He said it appeared as though Varney’s health had been improving and that he might be able to resume leading the services.

Taylor said the person who had been portrayed in the media at the time of his arrests wasn’t the same person he knew.

“That was completely 180 degrees out of his character,” Taylor said. “It wasn’t the Pastor Greg I knew.”

Taylor said he received an email that Debbie Varney sent to a core group of Light of the World congregation members on Tuesday regarding her husband’s death.

Like Belisle, Taylor said he remembers Varney as always smiling and approachable.

“He just really had a heart for people,” he said. “He was very strong and always faithful. He was just a good person.”

Ashlee Coffman said she grew up in the church and has known Varney her whole life.

Witnessing Varney at church, in youth group activities and mission trips was inspiring, Coffman said, adding that it was formative to who she is today.

“He was an amazing pastor,” she said. “He’s going to be missed.”

A service for Varney will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday at Light of the World Christian Center.