AUSTIN, Texas (BP)–Texas Gov. Rick Perry was one of several political leaders who expressed their sorrow at the death of W.A. Criswell, the longtime pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas.
“Throughout his lifetime, Dr. Criswell touched the lives of many — not only in Texas, not only Baptists, but millions around the world. He will be sincerely missed,” Perry said in a statement released by his office.
U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, a Southern Baptist, said Criswell was a personal friend who loved God.
“I hope everyone in America will take a moment to note the loss of a man who had great impact on our country,” Gramm told Baptist Press. “For generations of Texans, he was the moral and ethical gauge by which the people measured their leaders and themselves.”
Gramm said Criswell loved God, the people of Dallas and America.
“He was a man of powerful conviction and dogged determination to do good, who made a mark on Texas history and instilled an indelible memory in every person he ever met,” Gramm noted. “He befriended me, and I will never forget him.
“Dr. Criswell was a humble man of firm beliefs, and he believed that America would do well to foster a revitalization of the values that were the hallmark of our Founding Fathers,” Gramm said. “The freedom to worship God, each in our own way, is fundamental among the liberties that constitute our legacy from them and Dr. Criswell knew it.”