Bill Tolar, December 29, 2018 (late year death not reported until early 2019). Longtime SWBTS professor.
Rick Stanley, January 7. Step-brother to Elvis and evangelist.
Jimmy Allen, January 9. Last of the moderate SBC presidents, 1977-1978. His successor was Adrian Rogers. The changeover was permanent. One of the most energetic and capable SBC presidents. A family member of mine did some financial services for him. When Dr. Allen was told “Oh, my brother is a Southern Baptist preacher”, he insisted on sending greetings.
Bailey Smith, January 14. He followed Adrian Rogers as president, second in the long line of conservative presidents, 1980-1982). Sometimes what you say will make your obituary. When Smith announced during his presidental tenure that, “God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew” somehow one knew that this would not be forgotten. He later was highly successful as an evangelist.
Jack U. Harwell, January 18. Editor of Georgia’s state Baptist paper, The Christian Index, for 21 years. His successor was Albert Mohler in that position. The Index was my state paper and my view was that Harwell did a lot to advance the CR by his use of the paper for the moderate candidates and causes.
B.Gray Allison, February 12. Gray Allison started a seminary, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, from nothing. Until the Conservative Resurgence redirected the six SBC seminaries, MABTS was the choice for thousands of students who wanted a conservative Southern Baptist seminary. Dr. Allison didn’t have a steady revenue stream of tens of millions each year from the Cooperative Program (MABTS would have a CP Day and take up an offering), nor a solid megachurch base for finances and support, although Bellevue and MABTS had a symbiotic relationship over the years. One small matter that I heard Dr. Gray say (I’m an alumnus) was that trustees paid their own travel expenses to attend meetings. Ask any SBC entity what they budget for trustee support and expenses. I thought Dr. Gray was a great man and thank God for him.
Paul Simmons, March 17. Dr. Simmons, longtime Southern Seminary ethics professor, was labeled “outspoken” in death notices. He approved of Roe v. Wade, thus providing impetus for the Conservative Resurgence and an example of the type of Convention employee that conservative Southern Baptists did not wish to pay for with Cooperative Program dollars.
Emmanuel McCall, April 19. Early African-American Southern Baptist leader. He was the featured preacher one week when I was at Ridgecrest, very good preacher.
LifeWay’s 170 brick-and-mortar stores, 2019. So long old friend. I’ll never relate to LifeWay the way I did when I could go to a retail store and browse shelves, hold books…but then, my day is past.
Walker Knight, December 1. Longtime Southern Baptist journalist.
Not Southern Baptists but notable:
Warren Weirsbe, May 2. One of my favorites. He wrote this little book, In Praise of Plodders.
Rachel Held Evans, May 4. Various outlets described her as “voice of the wandering evangelical,” supporter of “radically inclusive Christianity,” “joyful troublemaker,” “public theologian,” and other things. She was enjoyable to read even if one disagreed with her.
Norman Geisler, July 1. Widely read apologist, author.
Jarrid Wilson, September 9. Noted author and pastor who dealt with depression, his own and in others. He sadly died by suicide.
I may have missed some. Feel free to add as you wish.