J. Will Ormond, Pastor and Teacher, Dies at Age 85
J. Will Ormond, pastor and teacher, dies at age 85 By J. Phillips Noble Decatur, GA.— John William Ormond died Monday, June 28, 2004 at Lenbrook Square Retirement Community, where he had lived for the last eight years. He was born April 22, 1919 in Beaumont, TX, but grew up in Sumter County, AL. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Alabama, he earned the Bachelor of Divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary, in Decatur, GA, in 1943, then attended Princeton Theological Seminary, where he received the Master of Theology degree in 1948. Ormond served as pastor of Marion Presbyterian Church, in Marion, AL, and was the organizing minister of Covenant Presbyterian Church, in Tuscaloosa, AL. In 1964 he was called by Columbia Theological Seminary as professor of New Testament, and in preparation for the teaching position, studied under the famous Dr. William Barclay at the University of Glasgow, in Glasgow, Scotland, earning his Ph.D. degree in 1973. Scotland became endeared to Ormond during his years of study; he developed many lasting friendships there, as he did wherever he went, and returned to Scotland many times throughout his life. In 1966 he became the J. McDowell Richards professor of Biblical Exposition at Columbia Theological Seminary, teaching there until he retired in 1987. Ormond was an effective pulpiteer, and moved his listeners with his keen Biblical insight and wonderful gift of humor. Hearing of his death, one former students wrote, “I remember every sermon Dr. Ormond preached in chapel (I am sorry to say I’ve forgotten most of the others) because he parsed the text with a surgeon’s precision and spoke the gospel with a self-effacing humility that only focused even more attention on the Christ he proclaimed.” Ormond was a mentor to a host of students, both men and women, and his great capacity for friendship affected the lives of many students preparing for ministry. In retirement at Lenbrook Square, Ormond became the popular, unofficial “pastor” for his fellow residents, arranging a weekly Vespers service, where ministers from many denominations were invited to speak. He also wrote two books during his retirement: Good News among the Rubble and Preaching Eyes for Listening Ears. Ormond’s life was marked by a deep devotion to his mother, his father having died when Will was a young child. The memorial service for Dr. Ormond will be held at North Avenue Presbyterian Church, in Atlanta, on Sunday, July 4, at 2:00 p.m. At Dr. Ormond’s request, his body has been donated to Emory University’s medical school. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Mary B. Ormond Memorial Fund, established by Dr. Ormond in memory of his mother, in care of Columbia Theological Seminary, Gift Box 325, P.O. Box 520, Decatur, GA 30031.
Director of Communications