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Jack Stanton dies at 82; known as ‘Mr. Evangelism’

BOLIVAR, Mo. (BP)–Jack Stanton, known as “Mr. Evangelism” to many Southern Baptists, died July 14 in Citizens Memorial Healthcare Facility, Bolivar, Mo., after a long-term illness. He was 82.

Stanton served 15 years as associate director of evangelism at the former Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) before his 22-year tenure at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar as associate professor of evangelism and director of the International Institute of Evangelism and the Jim Mellers Evangelism and Conference Center. After his 1997 retirement, the university named the evangelism center in his honor and created the Jack Stanton Chair of Evangelism. He had also taught evangelism at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City.

Stanton was preceded in death by his wife, Mary, and is survived by their two daughters Mary Lee and Melody.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. July 17 at First Baptist Church of Bolivar. Visitation will be at the church one hour before the funeral. Burial will be in Greenwood Cemetery.

Stanton was the author of the widely used “How to Have a Full and Meaningful Life” evangelistic booklet and numerous articles for Southern Baptist magazines, curriculum materials and state papers. He was coauthor of the book, “Handbook of Evangelism.” A number of his sermons also were included in book compilations. In 1993 “Evangelism Today & Tomorrow” was published honoring Stanton’s commitment to evangelism.

“The tragic spiritual condition of the lost multitudes calls us to witness,” Stanton wrote in the 1968 HMB booklet, “We Are Witnesses.”

“Men are lost without Christ. They may be attractive, educated, and cultured, but without Christ they are lost. Lost in time and in eternity. That son or daughter, that husband or wife, that mother or dad without Christ, is lost. … Remember, every person you meet will live as long as God lives in heaven or in hell,” Stanton wrote.

Soul-winning, he noted, “is vital to the developing of a growing, victorious Christian life. Personal witnessing is the most effective exercise a Christian can experience. It will cause him to study his Bible, stay close to God through prayer, and rely greatly upon the guidance and power of the Holy Sprit. Soul-winning will bring joy, cultivate Christian growth, inspire consecrated living, and prepare Christians for active, spiritual leadership. It provides not only one of life’s great thrills, but adds meaning and depth to every other experience in the Christian life.”

Former HMB President Larry Lewis, now living in San Diego, told Baptist Press, “Probably there was no one more highly respected in Southern Baptist life as a proponent of personal evangelism and mass evangelism. He was in constant demand as a speaker at state evangelism conferences, associational evangelism rallies and area and church crusades. He served the Home Mission Board wonderfully.”

The Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists honored Stanton for Outstanding Achievement in Evangelism during the 1996 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.

He was elected director of lay evangelism for the Baptist World Alliance men’s department for two five-year terms, 1990-1995 and 1995-2000.

Stanton was elected first vice president of the SBC in June 1986 and again in June 1987. C.B. Hogue, then-executive director of the California Southern Baptist Convention, in his ’86 nomination speech described Stanton as “a worthy leader … of unquestioned character.”

He made an evangelistic trip around the world and has been in all 50 states and 80 countries for evangelistic outreach.

A native of East St. Louis, Ill., Stanton earned a doctor of theology at Luther Rice Seminary in 1974 in Atlanta, which honored him in 1995 as alumni of the year. He received a bachelor of divinity degree in 1955 from Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City and, earlier, a bachelor of arts from Shurtleff Baptist College in Alton, Ill.

Stanton held memberships in the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education, Baptist Teachers of Religion, Southern Baptist Vocational Evangelists, Missouri Baptist Evangelists and Washington Roundtable on Evangelism.

Other special honors received by Stanton included being listed in the third edition of “Who’s Who in Religion,” 1985; Kentucky Colonel on June 23, 1966; adopted by the Baptist Cherokee Indians of Oklahoma, made chief and given the name “Chief of Many Battles”; and commissioned admiral of the Texas Navy on June 7, 1985.

Pat Taylor, president of Southwest Baptist University, said Stanton “has had a tremendous impact on Southwest Baptist University. Many of our alumni and current students are Christians because of Dr. Stanton’s ministry of evangelism. Today there are numerous pastors and evangelists who have been taught and influenced by Dr. Stanton. He was a great teacher and a great evangelist, and he always promoted the kingdom’s agenda.

The university’s Jack Stanton Center of Evangelism “will continue to have a positive influence on countless young evangelists and ministers,” Taylor said. “Southwest Baptist University is a better evangelical Christian university because God led Dr. Stanton to minister here among our students and faculty.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: JACK STANTON.

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