- BA, Trevecca Nazarene University
- MDiv, Nazarene Theological Seminary
- DMin, McCormick Theological Seminary
As a child, we sang a song titled “Deep and Wide.” My life has been graced in both directions—roots that go deep into God, grace that expands widely to others. I was reared in a home that gave me an appreciation for God’s expansive grace. My mother was on the lost side of the equation. She grew up in Nashville in a poor, unchurched, and broken family. The people of God found her and changed the trajectory of her life. They were wide.
My father was on the deep side of the equation. He grew up in a Methodist family that eventually became Nazarene. This family embraced the belief that humans could be made saintly, Christ-like. My parents mentored me in a depth of Christian character with a calling to serve humankind widely.
God found me as a boy in McComb, Miss. At age 12, I was called to preach with a certainty that I have never questioned. One year later, I began preaching. During my junior and senior years of high school, I pastored the New Salem Church of the Nazarene. This dying church was close to being closed, but a gracious leader allowed me to 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 Nazarene University before me, and I was proud to follow in their footsteps. The Trevecca experience changed my life. I was shaped by a rigorous education, chapel services, great mentors, student government leadership, and the beginning of lifelong friendships. During my sophomore year, I heard E. Stanley Jones describe a life completely surrendered to God. Following chapel that day, I knelt beside the metal frame bed in my dorm room and experienced what he had described. 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 years. I met my wife, Denise, at Trevecca, and we established friendships that are the core of our relational wealth today.
Following our years at Trevecca, I attended Nazarene Theological Seminary and completed a Master of Divinity degree. We moved to Raleigh, N.C., to serve the people of North Raleigh Church of the Nazarene. 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 calling. After eight years in Raleigh, I was invited to consider the pastorate of the College Hill Church of the Nazarene on Trevecca’s campus (now Trevecca Community Church). I came to understand that my calling was to work with college students.
It was my joy, for 20 years, to be a pastor to college administrators, faculty, and students. Our children grew up on Christian college campuses. For the past nine years, I have been privileged to serve as President of Trevecca Nazarene University. The passion of my heart is to think clearly and to live vibrantly the kind of life that empowers future generations to champion Christ-likeness as a way of life.
All three of our daughters have graduated from Christian universities. Our oldest daughter, Amy, lives near Nashville with her two girls. She is an author and university professor and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in communication from Clemson. Ashley is married to Erik Gernand. They jointly serve as chaplain/worship pastor of the Trevecca campus community. My youngest daughter, Abby, graduated from Trevecca and is married to Aaron Crum. They reside in Franklin, Tenn., where Abby is a hair stylist and Aaron is vice president of finance at 5by5: A Change Agency, a leading marketing firm. Our grandchildren, Eleanor, Anna, Clara, Grey, Boone, Rowan, and Scout bring great joy to this grandfather’s heart.
One of God’s greatest gifts is 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 can be credited 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 university students.
Now in my sixties, I find myself reflecting on the intersection of Christian faith and the world we live in. 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.