Gilbert W. Stafford
Dec. 30, 1938 – March 30, 2008
Dr. Gilbert Wayne Stafford, 69, died peacefully Sunday morning at his home in Anderson, Ind., surrounded by his family.
He was born Dec. 30, 1938, in Portageville, Mo., to D.C. and Orell Stafford.
He graduated from Mt. Carmel (Ill.) High School in 1956 and subsequently enrolled in Anderson College (now Anderson University), where he graduated in 1961. During these formative years, he felt an increasing confirmation from God to pursue vocational ministry. His desire to be adequately prepared for such a calling led him to enroll in Anderson University School of Theology in 1960. Two years later, he responded to an invitation to serve as pastor of Malden Church of God in the Greater Boston, Mass., area. While in Boston, he completed his MDiv at Andover Newton Theological School. He went on to receive his ThD from Boston University in 1973.
In 1962, he married Darlene Dawn Covert in Darlene’s hometown of Barryton, Mich. Together, they established a Christ-centered home and were richly blessed with four children: Matthew Wayne, Heather Noelle, Anne Elizabeth and Joshua Wayne Covert. Throughout his marriage, Dr. Stafford maintained the daily discipline of writing a few simple notes chronicling the events of the day in the Stafford family. This discipline reflected the profound sense of stewardship that he felt for God’s gift of each new day.
Dr. Stafford served as a pastor and educator in the Church of God for 46 years. In addition to serving the Malden Church of God (1962-1966), he served as pastor of the East Ashman Church of God in Midland, Mich. (1969-1976). While working on his doctorate at Boston University, he served as associate minister at the Hyde Park Congregational Church in Boston (1968-1969). Over the years, he preached widely in the church, led conferences, and conducted seminars.
He joined the faculty of Anderson University School of Theology in Anderson, Ind., in 1976, where he served as Professor of Christian Theology. During his tenure at the school, he also served as Associate Dean and Dean of the Chapel. He retired from full-time teaching in 2007 but continued to serve as Director of the Doctor of Ministry Studies Program.
Dr. Stafford served as Speaker-Director of CBH: Christian Broadcasting Hope (formerly, Christian Brotherhood Hour) 1986-1996. CBH is the international radio ministry of the Church of God. He was the author of books, articles and manuals. His books include “Vision for the Church of God at the Crossroads” (2002), “Church of God at the Crossroads” (2000), “Theology for Disciples” (1996), “The Life of Salvation” (1979) and “Living as Redeemed People” (1976). He was co-editor and contributor to Ancient Faith and American-Born Churches (2006) and author of “Faith Development in a Postmodern World,” a chapter in “Next Steps to Ministry” (2007).
From 1984 to 2008, Dr. Stafford represented the Church of God at the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches of Christ in North America. These conversations, that took place between different church traditions, were reflective of the deep passion that Dr. Stafford felt for Christian unity. In 2007, he served as the Chair of the Program Committee for the 50th anniversary of the Faith and Order Commission in the United States.
Preceding him in death were his parents, D.C. and Orell Stafford.
He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Darlene Covert Stafford; four children, Matthew Stafford (Christina) of Richmond, Va., Heather Lowery (Corey) of Indianapolis, Ind., Anne Stover (Paul) of Anderson and Joshua Stafford (Charity) of Anderson; twin grandsons, Miles and Dominic Lowery; two brothers, Larry Stafford and friend George Coulbourne of Silver Springs, Md., and Rodney Stafford (Donna) of Fairfax, Va.; a niece, Kora Findler (Ted) of Alexandria, Va.; a nephew, Zachary Stafford of Fairfax, Va.; a great-niece, Emma Findler; and a great-nephew, Samuel Findler.
Dr. Stafford will be remembered for many things: His deep devotion to his family, his love for Christ and the church, his passionate preaching and teaching, his commitment to equip the next generation of church leaders, his wise counsel and his encouraging words.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Park Place Church of God, 501 College Drive, Anderson, with Dr. David Markle officiating. Burial will take place at East Maplewood Cemetery, Anderson.
Visitation hours will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Rozelle-Johnson Funeral Service, 229 S. Rangeline Road, Anderson, and one hour prior to the Thursday service at the church.
Memorial gifts may be given to the Gilbert and Darlene Stafford Doctor of Ministry Scholarship Fund at Anderson University School of Theology.