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Leukemia claims Kenneth Chafin, former seminary prof & pastor

HOUSTON (BP)–Kenneth Chafin, former pastor and Southern Baptist Convention leader, died Jan. 3 of leukemia at Houston’s St. Luke’s Hospital. He was 74.

Chafin was director of evangelism for the SBC’s former Home Mission Board from 1969-72; a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., 1965-69 when he held the Billy Graham chair of evangelism, and returning there as a preaching professor from 1984-87; and as a professor of evangelism and preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, from 1957-65.

He was pastor of South Main Baptist Church, Houston, from 1972-84 and Walnut Street Baptist Church, Louisville, from 1988-92.

His other involvements included service as a Southwestern Seminary trustee and chairman and a dean of the Billy Graham Schools of Evangelism connected with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He authored six books.

He earned his divinity degrees from Southwestern, including a doctor of theology, and was a graduate of the University of New Mexico. He was born on Nov. 18, 1926, in Cherokee County, Okla.

The Louisville-Courier Journal quoted retired Southern Seminary President Roy Honeycutt as praising Chafin for his “unswerving commitment to Jesus Christ and his church” and to the “calling of believers to be on mission with God in his world.”

The paper quoted R. Albert Mohler Jr., the seminary’s current president, as praising the “power and intensity” of Chafin’s preaching.

“I regret that in later years our differences over theological and denominational issues became insurmountable,” Mohler was quoted as saying. “I admired Dr. Chafin’s honesty, even when the result was honest disagreement.” Chafin was among the founders of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a Baptist organization opposed to the SBC leadership elected by the convention since 1979.

Chafin is survived by his wife of 46 years, Barbara; two daughters, Nancy Chafin of Boulder, Colo., and Ellen Wavro of Houston; a son, Troy Chafin of Austin; his mother, Ella Mae Worthman; and a grandson.

A memorial service is scheduled at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7, at South Main Baptist Church in Houston. Burial will be in a cemetery near Brenham, Texas.

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