Wheaton College

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It has been my experience that there are just a few men who, when spoken of, are remembered with the utmost respect and veneration. Dr. Harold Samuel Laird was one such man. In 1987, Dr. Paul R. Gilchrist, who was at that time serving as the Stated Clerk of the PCA, wrote the following memorial upon the death of the Dr. Laird. Dr. Gilchrist’s final summary comments are particularly in keeping with every estimation that I have heard of Harold Samuel Laird over the years. 

In Memoriam: Harold Samuel Laird

lairdhsby Paul R. Gilchrist.

Dr. Harold S. Laird quietly went home to be with the Lord on August 25 at Quarryville Presbyterian Home, PA, at the age of 96. He was one of those valiant Presbyterians who stood for “the faith once delivered to the saints.” With J. Gresham Machen and others, he was tried by his presbytery in the liberal UPUSA (Northern Presbyterians) for dis­obeying the General Assembly mandate to disband the Independent Board for Pres­byterian Foreign Missions which they had established in 1934 for the proclamation of the Gospel. Dr. Laird also had been a founder of Westminster Theological Seminary in 1929. When the General Assembly of 1936 upheld the convictions of Machen, Laird, and five others, they banded together and formed the Presbyterian Church of America (later renamed the Orthodox Presbyterian Church).

Harold S. Laird was born on August 8, 1891, in New Castle, PA. He studied under the giants of the faith at Princeton Theological Seminary: Robert Dick Wilson, B. B. Warfield, C. W. Hodge, and J. G. Machen. He received the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Wheaton College in 1938. In 1965 he was elected moderator of the 142nd Genera! Synod of the Reformed Pres­byterian Church in North America, General Synod which merged with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church that year to form the RPC,ES (which joined the PCA in 1982).

Harold Samuel LairdDr. Laird was best known as an outstanding preacher of the Gospel, a loving and tender pastor, and a contender for the faith. He was always vitally interested in world missions and the theological education of pastors and missionaries. He served seven churches in the Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia area for 40 years.

It can truly be said of him that he walked with God. All who heard him pray came into the presence of God. His life verse — “Seek first the kingdom of God and His right­eousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33) — was evident through his godly spirit. Through all his tri­als, he ever remained content in the provi­dence of God. To the very end, his cheerful countenance was a blessing and inspiration to all.

We salute this valiant servant for the faith — as he moves from the church militant to the blessedness of the church victorious.

Life Chronology:
8 August 1891 – Birth
1914 – Graduation from Lafayette College, with the B.A. degree
1917 – Graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary
1917-1919 – Pastor of the Arlington Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, Maryland
1919-1924 – Pastor, Henry Memorial Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA
1924-1927 – Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Lewiston, PA
1927-1933 – Pastor, Presbyterian Church of Collingswood, NJ
1933-1936 – Pastor, First & Central Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DE
1936-1957 – Pastor, Faith Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DE
Honorably retired
1982 – Ministerial credentials transferred into the PCA
25 August 1987 – deceased. Dr. Laird was a member of the Susquehanna Valley Presbytery (PCA) at the time of his death.
Honors awarded Dr. Laird during his lifetime included:
1938 – Doctor of Divinity degree awarded by Wheaton College
1965 – Moderator of the 142nd General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America

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clowneyEPEdmund Prosper Clowney met his Lord face to face on Sunday, March 20, 2005, having passed into glory at the age of 87. He was survived by his wife of 63 years, Jean Wright Clowney; by his five children: David Clowney, Deborah Weininger, Paul Clowney, Rebecca Jones, and Anne Foreman; by twenty‑one grandchildren; and by eleven great grandchildren.

Born in Philadelphia, on July 30, 1917, Ed received his B.A. from Wheaton College in 1939, a Th. B. from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1942, a S.T.M from Yale University Divinity School in 1944, and a D.D. from Wheaton College in 1966. Ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, he served as pastor of several churches from 1942 to 1946 and was then invited to become assistant professor of practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in 1952. He became that institution’s first president in 1966, and remained there until 1984, when he took a post as theologian‑in‑residence at Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In 1990 Ed and Jean moved to Escondido, California, where Ed was adjunct professor at Westminster Seminary California. In 2000, he took a full‑time position as associate pastor at Christ the King Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Houston, Texas. After two years, he moved back to Charlottesville, where he once again became part‑time theologian‑in‑residence at Trinity Presbyterian Church. He remained in this role until his death.

Ed was a compassionate counselor; a devoted servant of Jesus Christ, his Word, and his church; a peacemaker; and a true visionary. He dreamed for Christ’s kingdom and was instrumental in the birth or furtherance of such ministries as the Reformed Theological Seminary in Aix‑en‑Provence, France; Westminster Seminary California; Trinity Church, Charlottesville; the Lausanne Conference; InterVarsity ministries, both in the United States and in England; and “The Westminster Ministerial Institute,” an inner‑city training program for pastors in Philadelphia, out of which the Lord developed the Center for Urban Theological Studies. He also had a life‑long interest in children’s Christian education materials.

In material written in 2002 for the publisher of one of his books, Ed revealed his creativity and educator’s heart: “The biggest job of my life was the production of the Vacation Bible School materials for [the original] Great Commission Publications [in the 1950s]…I had valuable assistance [from a number of people]…I wrote and illustrated the workbooks for children and the manuals for the teachers for the grades up to junior high….To strengthen my figure drawing, I [had] attended Saturday classes in the Chicago Museum school of art for two semesters.”

clowneyEP_03Ed will be supremely remembered by many as a preacher, perhaps the most gifted proponent and practitioner of redemptive‑historical preaching of this generation. He was unique in his ability to pick up the threads of redemptive history and to weave a rich expositional tapestry that brought Christ in all his perfections and glory before God’s people so that they were drawn to love and worship the Redeemer.

He was also a faithful churchman, serving first in the courts and many committees of the OPC and then in the courts and several committees of the PCA. He was a tireless proponent of improvement in the inter-church relations among the conservative Presbyterian denominations in this country. He had a significant role in the genesis of the “Joining and Receiving” process whereby the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod joined the PCA in 1982.

His writing displays the great theme of his life, namely Christ’s presence in the whole of Scripture and his present work in the church. His books include Preaching and Biblical Theology, Called to the Ministry, Christian Meditation, Doctrine of the Church, The Message of I Peter, The Unfolding Mystery, and Preaching Christ in all of Scripture. Some of these titles have been translated for the benefit of the worldwide church. His last book, How Christ Transforms the Ten Commandments, was accepted by his publisher only days before his death.

EutychusEd left behind a legacy not only of written books and articles, but a great number of sermons and lectures, as well as magazine columns such as the humor column “Eutychus and His Pin” for Christianity Today and Bible studies for Tabletalk. His sense of humor and his love for people left a mark wherever he went. In the last week of his life, one attending nurse, laughing as she left his room, exclaimed, “What a sweet man!” Those who knew and loved him would agree. His tender‑hearted encouragement and wisdom will be greatly missed, but his work will be established by his Master who has now welcomed him with those reassuring words: “Well‑done, good and faithful servant, enter now into the joy of your Lord!”

[The above tribute was compiled at the time of Dr. Clowney’s death by Ms. Mindy Withrow, Associate Director for Communications of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA, with additional material from Rev. Bill Johnson. Used by permission.]

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Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr.

buswellarmyJames Oliver Buswell, Jr. was born January 16, 1895, in Burlington Wisconsin. When he was four years old he moved with his family to Mellon, Wisconsin. Reflecting upon the example of his father, particularly as displayed during those years following 1899 in the home missions work in the north woods of Wisconsin, Dr. Buswell wrote in 1926: “I thank God for a father who was a perfectly fearless preacher of righteousness, a wonderfully persuasive preacher of grace, and above all, a clear-sighted and patient guide in all his sons’ perplexities.” (Bulletin of Wheaton College, III (May 1926), 2)

In the summer of 1919 just after returning from France Dr. Buswell wrote the following: “Just before the Meuse-Argonne offensive, we were billeted in Camp Marquette for about five days. Everyone knew that we were going into a drive; the spirit of soberness was in the air. We had a revival there…. About thirty-five presented themselves for baptism, and in two days about a hundred and fifty men came to one or the other of us, the two regimental chaplains, stating that they wanted to be known as Christian men. Some of these were already devout Christian characters, and others had just then found Christ as their Saviour…. They were men who had come to Christ as a result of the simple preaching of the old Gospel.” (Bibliotheca Sacra, LXXXII (October 1925), 405)

On the morning of September 26, 1918, the Battle of the Meuse-Argonne began. Dr. Buswell, armed with a 45 caliber automatic pistol and extra ammunition for the troops, went over Vouquois Hill that morning and into the bloody offensive. In the five days that followed nearly two-thirds of the regiment was either killed or wounded. Ninety percent of the men who had identified themselves as believers or who had just become Christians were either killed or wounded. Dr. Buswell ministered to the dead and dying with Bible and bandages. Bullets struck his canteen at his side and pierced his chest gas mask. For bravery and devotion to duty under heavy fire Dr. Buswell was cited in General Orders and eventually received the Purple Heart and the Silver Star, awarded years later in a special program in the Wheaton College chapel on March 17, 1934. Finally, Dr. Buswell himself was wounded in the leg by shrapnel about noon, on Sunday, September 29, 1918. Dr. Buswell spent about three months in a hospital. He returned to his regiment by Christmas, 1918,which was by then in northern France. The Armistice ending the War had been signed November 11, 1918, in Compiegne Forest.

buswellpresOn June 17, 1919, Dr. Buswell debarked in the United States and was discharged from the Army. While overseas, Buswell had developed the outline for his first published work, Problems in the Prayer Life, which was later published in 1927

Words to Live By: Suffering comes in many forms. There is the suffering that we bring upon ourselves and there is also the suffering caused by others. All of us live in relation to the rest of the world and we are increasingly affected by events far removed from our own immediate circumstances. War is one of the most horrific events which can engulf any people, yet every Christian can have the resolute assurance that God is sovereign over all of human history, that whatever may happen, the Christian rests securely in the Father’s hands. (Isaiah 45; Romans 8).

“Not only in our prayer life, but our whole status of being in grace, is dependent upon Christ. We were “far off,” but now we are “made nigh in the blood of Christ.” [Ephesians 2:13] He is the “great high priest,” “touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” It is wholly due to Him that we have received the invitation to “draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need.” [Hebrews 4:14-16] The statement of the lost and hopeless condition of men without Christ is not popular in our day. Nevertheless, there is no access to God, hence no prayer, without Christ, “for there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all…” [I Timothy 2:56]
[Buswell, Problems in the Prayer Life, pp. 13-14.]

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Saving the Best to the Last

armerdingThis writer was simply transferring his ordination from the Ascension Presbytery, having been called to a congregation within the bounds of Susquehanna Valley Presbytery in 1990.  Being examined on the basic distinctives of the Reformed Faith was expected and welcomed. What was not expected, especially in the field of theology, was being examined by Dr. Hudson T. Armerding, the former president of Wheaton College. Just a year before on November 18, 1989, he had been ordained by this Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America.  And while it is not usual for a person to be ordained one year, and then placed on the committee of examinations the following year, this was an exception because of the spiritual gifts and special ministries of this godly man already in the kingdom of God.

Since this writer’s father was graduated from Wheaton College in the mid twenties of last century, I  made a special point to have several conversations with this man of God. He told me that when he was the president of Wheaton College, there was a rule instituted by him that every new faculty member had to read the Systematic Theology of Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, a former Wheaton College president himself. This Reformed treatment of theology by this Presbyterian author was that important to the future teachers of the College in the mind of Dr. Armerding.

As a resident of the Quarryville Retirement Home, and later officer of that institution, Dr. Armerding was faithful to attend many quarterly meetings of the central Pennsylvania Presbytery, though as a retired minister, he wasn’t required to attend.  From this author’s standpoint, it was a joy to know him and talk about the work of the Lord.  He is now a member of the heavenly general assembly, having passed into glory on December 1, 2009.

Words to live by:  The heart of godly leadership was the theme of at least two of his books which Dr. Armerding wrote for the watching world. As a former Navy officer and college president, he observed the importance of that type of leadership in both the nation and the church. Wherever God has placed you, especially if you have oversight over the hearts and minds of others, study the traits of godly leadership. Those who are under such godly leadership, especially in our local churches, pray and obey  in the Lord such leadership, for one day they will have to give an account to the Lord God about your soul. They desire to do this with joy, and not with grief, for that will be unprofitable for you.

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He Was OP, RP, EP and RPCES

grayRichardWThat tag line will bring back for some of our readers the famous Dameron and Jones song. Others, not so blessed, will draw a blank. The Rev. Richard W. Gray was the living expression of that song:  “We’ve been OP, BP, and RPCES. What we’ll be next is anybody’s guess.”

Richard Willer Gray was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 6, 1911. After the age of 12 he lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, until moving to attend Wheaton College, from 1930-1934. Following graduation from Wheaton, he received the M.Div. at Westminster Theological Seminary, in 1937. In 1936, a year before graduation from Westminster, he married Emily MacDonald. To this marriage, three children were born. Their son Richard is himself a PCA pastor, serving in Florida.

Rev. Gray was ordained by the Presbytery of New Jersey on May 18, 1937 and installed as pastor of the Covenant OPC church of East Orange, New Jersey. He served this church from 1937 until 1945. Resigning that post, he then answered a call to serve Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church, in Bridgeton, New Jersey [now New Hope OPC], serving there from 1946-1949. His third pastorate was with the Calvary Presbyterian Church of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, which at that time was an independent church. Rev. Gray served this church from 1949 to 1958, and during these same years he was also the editor of a magazine, The Witness, a publication widely utilized by OPC, BPC and Reformed Presbyterian congregations. In April of 1958, Dr. Gray transferred his credentials to the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod, leading his independent congregation into this denomination. By way of two later denominational mergers, the Willow Grove congregation is today a part of the PCA.

Pictured below, the building occupied by the Calvary OPC church of Bridgeton, New Jersey, where Rev. Gray served from 1946-1949.

grayRW_CalvaryOPCAs editor of The Witness, Rev. Gray had a pulpit which effectively reached a number of Presbyterian denominations, and the magazine in turn allowed Dr. Gray to eventually become the leading voice in the eventual merger of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod [1833-1965] and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church [1961-1965]. The denomination resulting from that merger, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod [1965-1982], eventually was received into the Presbyterian Church in America, in 1982.

[This coming Sunday, June 16, we will feature Dr. Gray’s sermon delivered before the Synod on the occasion of the RP/EP merger in 1965. His sermon was titled, “Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?”]

Rev. Gray never saw the merger of the RPCES with the PCA. Following the merger of the RPC,GS and the EPC, he had continued as pastor of the Calvary Presbyterian Church of Willow Grove until 1975. At that time he answered a call to serve as the founding pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Coventry, Connecticut. It was while serving as pastor of this church that the Lord called him to his final reward. He died on February 28, 1979.

Apart from his pastoral duties at the above four churches, Dr. Gray participated in a wide variety of denominational and intellectual activities. At various times he:

Edited a Christian magazine (The Witness)
Taught courses at a seminary
Was active in the establishment of four branch churches
Started the Christian Counseling Center of Willow Grove
Was active in the establishment of Christian schools
Wheaton College awarded him the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1959
Served on the Board of Directors of National Presbyterian Missions; Quarryville Home; and Covenant College
Served as a chief architect of the union of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church
Moderator of the 148th Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (1970)
Frequent moderator of denominational committees, regional presbyteries, and synodical reports
Founded the Christian Counseling Service in Coventry, Connecticut
Presided over the Evangelical Ministerial Association of greater Hartford

The people who fell under Dick Gray’s ministry were as diverse and varied as his multi-faceted personality, yet all found common ground in his infectious enthusiasm for the Kingdom of God.

From a young counselee: “I thank God for the vast help that Dr. Gray has been in my life. I came to him in desperate anxiety. He allowed me to expose all that was ugly and frightful. He was both utterly trustworthy and wisely insightful. God used him to lead me into the health and maturity and objectivity about myself which now is a part of my abundant and joy-filled life.”

From a ministerial colleague: “Although in God’s providence Dick and I were working on the most recent church problem from different sides of it, I want you to know that that in no way diminished my admiration and esteem for him as one of the God-given leaders to the RP Church. I  particularly appreciated his openness to new ideas and his willingness to encourage the young ministers. At the same time, no one could question his concern for the welfare of the churches and his tireless energy on their behalf.”

From a former elder and long-term friend: “[Dick] had a capacity for concentration and single-mindedness that was maddening, and a capacity for empathy that was healing. He could have written books of great significance, if he had the patience. He was one of only several individuals it was my privilege to know who had the mind of an intellectual explorer, a discoverer of principles, relationships between what are too often labeled ‘spiritual’ and ‘intellectual.’ He thought and wanted others to think, and this caused him undeserved difficulties because thinking is painful. He shunned superficial statements that would have won him acceptance among those believers who limit orthodoxy to set phrases. He bore the risk of being considered not Biblical enough, in order to be truly Biblical.”

Words to Live By:
“Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him, for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work; this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.” (Eccl. 5:18-20)

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A Faithful Pastor, Serving the Lord in all humility.

Just ten years ago now, the Rev. Lawrence R. Eyres entered his eternal rest on this day, January 23, 2003, at the age of 91. Lawrence was born on an Iowa farm on November 14, 1911, raised by godly parents during the Depression, was educated at Wheaton College (1934) and prepared for the ministry at Westminster Theological Seminary (1937).

In 1936 he had become one of the founding members of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and following his graduation from Westminster, was ordained in 1938 and installed as pastor the OPC church in Deerfield, New Hampshire. Moving to the other side of the nation, his next pastorate was in Portland, Oregon, and then in 1958 Rev. Eyres became the pastor of what is now Faith Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Long Beach, California, a church founded in April of 1941. The Rev. Lawrence Eyres was the third pastor of this congregation, and the church grew greatly, numbering some 500 members growing in grace under his ministry. In 1970, Rev. Eyres left Faith OPC and worked to plant churches in Ohio, South Dakota, Alaska and Wisconsin before retiring in 1993.

Among the honors accorded Rev. Eyres during his long ministry, he served as Moderator of the OPC General Assembly in 1950, and he is perhaps most remembered for The Elders of the Church, a work which has proven to be of great use. To read a review of this book, click here.

Of Rev. Eyres, one obituary noted that “Lawrence was a gentle, gracious man, who loved His Lord and loved people, whose life’s work is summed-up by the word “pastor” – stalwart for the truth of the Bible as God’s Word, vigorous in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, committed to the truths of the Reformed faith, and sacrificial in giving his life to Christ’s Church.

Words to Live By: Alongside humility, love and a heart for the truth of God’s Word, self-sacrifice is a quality essential in the life of anyone who would seek to live out their Christian life in way that would matter. Give me a pastor who will expend himself on behalf of his flock. Give me Christians who will live sacrificially, giving freely of themselves to others, not holding back when they see a need that must be filled.

For Further Study:
Click here to read an article by Rev. Eyres, “Live in the Fear of God.”

Sources:
http://eyres.home.texas.net/bios/scrapbook/LawrenceREyres.htm
http://eyres.home.texas.net/bios/LawrenceEyres.htm
http://www.faithopc.org/our-history/

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