Passing of Dr. Vernon Grounds
- Sep 12, 2010
Dr. Vernon Grounds, who served Denver Seminary for over 60 years as academic dean, second president, president emeritus, and chancellor, died on Sunday, September 12, 2010, at the age of 96.
Considered one of the foremost leaders and thinkers in the founding of the evangelical Christian movement, Dr. Grounds remained central in its development over the past 60 years. He was known for his lifelong commitment to social action, concern and care for the needs of the poor and under-represented, and a mentor to local, regional, national and international leaders. Dr. Grounds will be deeply missed by the seminary family and countless friends around the world who were influenced by his kind words, wise counsel, and godly leadership and example.
“We never knew anyone quite like him,” said noted Christian author and Denver Seminary alumnus, Dr. Gordon MacDonald. “He was our friend, our spiritual father, our wise elder, our leader. In his consistent manner of living and working he gave us a model of the truly Christian life.”
Denver Seminary President, Dr. Mark Young added, “No one has shaped Denver Seminary more than Dr. Grounds. His legacy permeates our school. Through a lifetime of teaching, preaching, mentoring, writing, counseling, evangelizing, and leadership, his influence spans generations and continents. We miss him deeply.”
Born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1914, Dr. Grounds’ life spanned the birth and maturing of modern evangelicalism. While a student at Rutgers University, Dr. Grounds immersed himself in the study of literature and philosophy and came to, in his words, “the great continental divide in my life.” Deeply impressed by what he thereafter called “Calvary love,” he committed the rest of his life to serving Christ through ministry to others. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers in 1937, a Bachelor of Divinity from Faith Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Drew University.
From 1945 to 1951, Dr. Grounds served as dean and professor of theology at Baptist Bible Seminary in Johnson City, New York. He joined Denver Seminary in 1951 as dean, becoming president five years later. Retiring from the presidency in 1979, Dr. Grounds was named President Emeritus and Chancellor, a position he actively retained until his death. In addition to his earned degrees, Wheaton College awarded him the D.D. and Gordon College the L.H.D. in recognition of his long service as a Christian educator and leader. He served as a contributing editor of Christianity Today, a frequent writer of Our Daily Bread devotionals, and wrote several books and hundreds of articles that appeared frequently in Christian periodicals. Always in demand as a teacher, counselor, author, and speaker, Dr. Grounds continued to devote hours of his time every day to lecturing, counseling, and encouraging pastors and friends around the world through his conversation and correspondence with them. Dr. Grounds’ biography, Transformed by Love: The Vernon Grounds Story, was authored by Bruce L. Shelley and published by Discovery House Publishers in 2002.
Vernon leaves behind his wife of 71 years, Ann Barton Grounds; their daughter Barbara Owen and her husband, Bob; a granddaughter, Emily Owen Gagnebin, her husband Michael, and their sons, Noah and Levi. The entire family now resides in Wichita, Kansas.
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