President | Trevecca Nazarene University
 Nashville, TN

Nazarenes are called to evangelism and holiness. I was reared in a home that straddled this fence. My mother was on the lost side of the equation. She grew up in Nashville in a poor, unchurched, and broken family. Uncle Buddy Sullivan and the Nazarenes at Nashville First and Bethel Church found her family and led them to Christ. My father was on the historic holiness side of the equation. He grew up in a Methodist family that eventually became Nazarene to embrace the doctrine of entire sanctification as a second work of grace. His family started the Church of the Nazarene in Sartinville, MS. My parents have given me a heart for the lost and a heart for the historic traditions of the Nazarene church.

In the process of making hundreds of childhood trips to the altar in McComb, MS., I was saved. At age 12, I was called to preach by a voice so clear that I have never questioned my service to the church. One year later I began preaching. During my junior and senior years of high school, I pastored New Salem Church of the Nazarene. This dying church was close to being closed, but the Mississippi district superintendent let me test my call. For two years, I drove 30 miles each weekend, held Friday night youth programs, visited people on Saturday, and preached on Sunday. The congregation grew from 3 to 50.

The choice of college was never a question for me. A generation of Boones had attended Trevecca before me, and I was proud to follow in their footsteps. The Trevecca experience changed my life. I was shaped by prison ministry, weekend revivals, dorm prayer, campus revivals, church staff opportunities, student government leadership, and chapel services. During my sophomore year at Trevecca, I was sanctified while kneeling beside the metal frame bed in my dorm room, which sat where Jernigan Center sits today. I am indebted to Mildred Wynkoop and Ray Dunning as the primary theological mentors of my faith. I served as Dr. Wynkoop’s student assistant during my junior and senior year. I met my wife, Denise, at Trevecca, and we established life-long friendships there that are the core of our relational wealth today.

Following our years at Trevecca, I attended Nazarene Theological Seminary after which we moved to Raleigh, NC.  Dr. William Greathouse ordained me on Sept. 1, 1978. We relished raising our two daughters, Amy and Ashley, in Raleigh and would have gladly spent our entire life there if God had not further defined my call. After eight years in Raleigh, Talmadge Johnson invited me to consider the pastorate of College Hill Church of the Nazarene (now Trevecca Community). In wrestling with this invitation, God specified my calling to work with Nazarene college students. The passion of my heart since that day is to think clearly and to live vibrantly the kind of life that empowers future generations to champion relevant holiness as a way of life. It has been my joy for the past 20 years to serve Nazarene college administrators, faculty, and students. My children have grown up on Nazarene college campuses.  All three of my daughters and their husbands have graduated from a Nazarene university.  My oldest daughter, Amy, and her family recently moved to Nashville.  Her husband, Brent, is the Director of Spiritual Life at Trevecca Nazarene University. Ashley is married to Erik Gernand who serves as pastor of RealLife Community Church of the Nazarene in Murfreesboro, TN. My youngest daughter, Abby, recently graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University, and is married to Aaron Crum. They reside in Nashville where Abby is a hair stylist and Aaron is an accountant. My six grandchildren, Eleanor Grace, Anna Ryan, Clara Joy, Grey William, Boone Maddox, and Rowan Loralai, bring great joy to this grandfather’s heart.

One of the greatest gifts of God has been my wife Denise. She is an unapologetic extrovert with a relational capacity that dwarfs most small villages. As a stay-at-home mom, she invested her life in our three daughters. Their maturity, poise, faith, and beauty is a credit to her choice to make family a top priority. She has made our house a home for 17 students who have lived with us during their college years. Her vibrant faith, humor, and spunk have made her a mentor and friend of many university students.

At age 60, I find myself deepening in the practices of spiritual formation that have shaped the saints of the ages—Lectio Divinia, fasting, Sabbath observance, care for the poor, journaling, and contemplative prayer. At midlife, I have a deep peace about the person God has called me to be and about the work God has given me to do. My deepest desire at this stage of life is to give enduring gifts to the next generation through acts of leadership, devotion, vision, and compassion.

Return to Main Preaching Holiness Conference Page