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Urban missions leader Francis DuBose dies

SAN FRANCISCO (BP)–Francis M. DuBose, retired professor of missions and former director of urban church studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, died at his home in San Francisco of age-related causes on June 20.

DuBose played a crucial role in helping Southern Baptists embrace urban missions, DuBose’s colleagues at Golden Gate said.

“Dr. DuBose changed the way Golden Gate viewed its mission as an urban seminary and was a pioneer in leading Southern Baptists to embrace ministry in the city,” said Golden Gate’s president, Jeff Iorg. “We thank God for his legacy.”

“Francis DuBose put Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary on the map as far as global and urban missions were concerned,” said Rick Durst, director of the seminary’s eCampus initiative. “Dr. DuBose has left us a legacy in his published works, ‘How Churches Grow in an Urban World,’ ‘The God Who Sends’ and ‘Classics of Christian Mission.'”

Durst described how DuBose initiated an annual Urban Training Event, where pastors, directors of missions and students assembled under his mentorship for four days to use San Francisco and Oakland as a laboratory for learning how to effectively take the Gospel into cities, with all their complexities of ethnic diversity, economic stress and moral challenges. The event, which began in 1974 and was held annually for more than 25 years, was so effective that several Baptist associations continually sent teams from their cities to learn and participate. “Dr. DuBose changed the urban paradigm among many Baptist leaders from ‘flight or fight’ into one of ‘engage and evangelize’ holistically,” Durst noted.

“Golden Gate Seminary has been known as a distinctively ‘missions’ seminary,” said Dwight Honeycutt, retired professor of church history at Golden Gate. “That is a large part of Francis DuBose’s legacy. Within the collegiality of faculty circles, Francis kept the missionary vision before us. Not one to simply theorize about missions, his whole life was engaged with people who needed the kind of witness that Francis was always ready to provide. Deeply sensitive, he was an excellent poet, and some of my fondest memories of him are hearing him read publicly many of his poems within the seminary community. His was an amazingly wonderful, inspiring and productive life.”

DuBose joined Golden Gate’s faculty in 1966. In 1971 he became professor of missions and director of urban church studies. In 1979 he was appointed director of the World Mission Center (now the David and Faith Kim School of Global Missions). He was elected senior professor of missions in 1992 in honor of his official retirement and continued to teach into the early 1990s.

Linda Bergquist, church planting missionary with the California Southern Baptist Convention and North American Mission Board, as well as an adjunct professor at Golden Gate Seminary, recalled that DuBose and his wife Dorothy volunteered for almost 40 years at the Page Street Baptist Center in San Francisco.

“Francis and Dorothy DuBose chose the city. They made it their home and they gave it their lives,” Bergquist said. “They were fully engaged, activistic San Franciscans who, even in retirement, chose to live near the ministry center they loved and ministered with for 40 years. Francis DuBose’s passion, humility, wisdom and kindness toward all things urban inspired me to be a better San Franciscan and a better missionary to the city.”

DuBose was born in Elba, Ala., on Feb. 27, 1922. He was a graduate of Baylor University, the University of Oklahoma, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the University of Houston. He did additional post-doctoral study at Oxford University in England and was a visiting research fellow at Princeton Theological Seminary. Before coming to Golden Gate Seminary in 1966, DuBose served as pastor in Texas from 1939-61, as a director of missions in Detroit, Mich., from 1966-70 and a teaching fellow in missions at Southwestern Seminary from 1960-61.

He is survived by his wife, four children, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held June 27 in San Francisco.
Phyllis Evans is director of communications at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.

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