Longtime prof Wayne Ward dies

Wayne Ward, 90, retired Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, died May 23 at the Palliative Care Unit of Baptist East Hospital in Louisville, Ky.

By Bob Allen

Wayne Ward, a longtime theology professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., died May 23 after suffering a stroke earlier in the week. He was 90.

waynewardIn 1951, Ward was elected instructor in theology and biblical languages at the Southern Baptist Convention seminary in Louisville, Ky. In 1980 he became the Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Theology, a post he held until his retirement in the mid-1990s.

An adviser to the committee that drafted the Baptist Faith and Message in 1963, Ward served as interim pastor at many churches over the years, including a stint at Immanuel Baptist Church of Little Rock, where he served as adviser and minister to then-governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton.

“Wayne Ward’s zeal for Christ shone brightly through his teaching, preaching and mentoring,” said Molly Marshall, a former student and now president and professor of theology and spiritual formation at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kan.. “His rich grasp of biblical theology motivated many generations of students to excellence in ministry. I am blessed to be among them.”

Over the years Ward spoke at the funerals of many colleagues with whom he served in the decades leading up to the controversy beginning in the 1970s, commonly known as the “conservative resurgence.” One of the two main architects of that movement, Paige Patterson, is Ward’s cousin by marriage. While the two disagreed about denominational politics, Patterson has described a summer course he took under Ward while a student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary as his favorite class of all time.

In later years much of Ward’s attention turned to giving care to his wife of 64 years, Mary Ann, who slipped into years of declining health and increasing dementia until her death in 2007. For the past several years he lived at Treyton Oak Towers, a retirement community in Louisville.

Visitation is scheduled for 2-6 p.m., Friday, May 26, at the Shannon Funeral Home in Shelbyville, Ky., followed by a funeral service led by Pastor Jay Tigner of Finchville Baptist Church, where Ward was a member.

A second service is scheduled for noon on Saturday at Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, where Ward and his wife formerly attended for many years, preceded by visitation beginning at 10 a.m. and followed by burial at Cave Hill Cemetery.

The family requests that memorial gifts go to Finchville Baptist Church or the Mary Ann and Wayne Ward scholarship fund at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark.

David Wilkinson contributed to this story.