You may have known both of them, or you may not have known either one. But two men who passed away in 2017 shaped Central Christian College of the Bible in ways that continue to this day. They both challenged the students and staff who studied under and worked alongside of them to know God’s Word and serve His kingdom. As you read this letter, I hope you will learn more about their influence. I also ask you to consider honoring their memory with a special gift that helps us continue their legacy.
Walter “Jack” Spratt served as Central’s third president from 1966-1972. He went to be with the Lord February 27, 2017, at the age of 94. He led the College’s relocation to forty acres on Urbandale Drive. Several buildings were constructed during his time, including a Cafetorium (a combined cafeteria, library, and assembly area) and two dormitories. Mr. Spratt’s presidency was characterized by excitement for the growth of the College. Several quotes from his autobiography describe his decision to take the position and his heart for Central Christian College of the Bible.
“After much prayer — & tears, I might add – we accepted the responsibility of the presidency of the College & moved to Moberly. Looking back, I am so glad we did – for my sake, yes, but especially for the girls & the family as a whole. The environment of the Bible College was for the better for our spiritual development.”
“There were hard times & major decisions that had to be made, but we earnestly sought God’s wisdom and He freely and abundantly provided. “I think the 6 years we were with Central were probably the most fulfilling years of ministry for me. My work with the College was thrilling & I loved every minute of it!”
In March 2016, when Mr. Spratt was living at the Missouri Veterans’ Home in Mt. Vernon, we discussed his presidency. Before our visit ended, Mr. Spratt told me that Mr. Pelfrey would be preaching his funeral, and the sermon was to be about the resurrection.
When the time came for the ceremony, Mr. Pelfrey quoted Jack’s own words from emails in earlier years,
“Family means a lot to me but, otherwise, this world holds no allure for me . . . I am really looking forward to spending eternity with my gracious and loving Heavenly father, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the splendor of a new heaven and new earth with precious loved one[s] already up there. When this life here on earth is completed, I have the hope of an indescribable life in the presence of my God in His heaven for eternity. I am ready for that when my Heavenly Father decides to have me come home!”
Jack Spratt was a man of great commitment and joy. Most of all, he was a man who lived with hope in the Lord who called him and the resurrection life that Jesus promises to His followers. He was a long-time financial supporter of CCCB as well.
At his death, a portion of his estate established the Walter “Jack” Spratt Scholarship for Preaching. ItwillhelpmenpreachingataChristianchurchwhohavenotearnedatheological degree begin their education at Central. The scholarship will match the amount paid by the church towards the student’s bill. It can be used for either online or onsite instruction. We currently have received almost $24,000 in gifts towards this scholarship, with an endowment goal of $50,000.
In Spring 1969, during Jack Spratt’s presidency, Gary Bailey enrolled as a student. The buildings and campus Mr. Spratt envisioned became Gary’s new home. His education included studying under Mr. Spratt in courses like “Christian Evidences,” “New Testament Survey,” and “Hebrews.” Gary married Judy in 1970 and graduated in 1973. He would later return to Central and serve as a Professor in three decades: the 1970s, 1980s, and 2010s.
Here is what Gary wrote about some of his influential
teachers at Central:
“Gareth Reese taught me to be thorough and
complete and to love the word; Edsel Dale taught me the importance of principles and to be practical; Lynn Gardner taught me scholarship.”
In late 2013, he sent me this message, which showed the importance of Central to him:
“It is important that Central remain open and be viable for the Kingdom. It is one of the few and true Bible colleges left. Perhaps you will consider becoming the next CEO of Central. I know that you have her best interests and service to the Kingdom at heart. I will gladly help anyway that I can. Thank you for your confidence in me and for your kind words. GB.”
Gary returned to the classroom in Fall 2014 and continued to teach Greek courses for us. He went to be with the Lord on November 26, 2017, at the age of 67. Many of Dr. Bailey’s students, fellow employees, and friends gathered on December 1 to celebrate his life.
Dr. A. Wayne Lowen was the Academic Dean from 1977-1987. He hired and taught with Gary Bailey at CCCB. Dr. Eric Stevens was one of Gary’s students and his Academic Dean the second time he taught for us. Together, they have written the following letter. (Dr. Lowen’s sections are in bold. Dr. Stevens’ sections are in italics.)
I am greatly saddened by the death of my former CCCB colleague, Dr. Gary Bailey, but thrilled to hear that Central has established the Dr. Gary D. Bailey Excellence in Biblical Languages Scholarship. Gary and I taught together, but were also best friends, despite my being his “boss” as the Academic Dean.
Gary Bailey’s approach to teaching was unique, just as he was unique. You never really knew what would be on his mind from moment-to-moment or what question you would ask that would send him down a road of reflection and introspection that would make that day in class better than any sermon or class you had ever been in.
Along the way, his approach was to give you the tools necessary to discover the truths of Scripture on your own. And he would model the process for you, quoting from this grammar or that church father or some Greek playwright as he untied interpretive knots your chubby little exegetical fingers couldn’t quite get ahold of.
Gary was a brilliant scholar, especially astute with the Greek language and Biblical theology. But beyond his strong teaching was the fact that he absolutely loved and cared about his students, which explains his great popularity with the students from the 1970s and 1980s.
At Central Christian College in the early 1980s, all of the professors were in agreement with the Restoration Movement slogans, like “The New Testament is our rule of faith and practice” or “In Faith Unity, in opinions liberty, in all things love.” But the professors had different ways of expressing it. One professor would give the historical process by which the Restoration Movement arrived at those slogans. Another professor would tell the biblical basis (chapter and verse) for those slogans. Another professor would describe (from many years of experience) how local congregations either succeeded or failed to live out those slogans. And all of those approaches were helpful.
However, one approach captured my mind and then my heart: cracking open the New Testament in the original language and letting it speak to me. Gary Bailey drilled the process into me semester-by-semester in learning the grammar, vocabulary, and syntax of the Koine Greek language in which the New Testament was written. Slowly but surely, I learned how to read chunks of Scripture in context. Word meanings were explored and wrestled with and then held gently–waiting for the next piece of the puzzle to fall into place. Verb tenses and noun cases were looked at from every angle to discover why the inspired author chose specific forms and placed them just so. As the process was followed, it produced a result that spoke God’s Word freshly and powerfully into my life.
Gary traveled with me on many of the CCCB “Mountaintop Experience” backpack trips to Colorado. He was the devotional leader in the great rugged Rockies. Many students came to Central after the inspiration of those backpacking trips.
What I appreciate about Gary’s ministry to me was how he took up his Greek New Testament and word- by-word and verse-by-verse he followed the path laid out by inspired apostles and prophets. He arrived at living conclusions: how to put into practice the unity of faith, how to have liberty in opinions, and how love must govern all things.
Above all other professors, Gary Bailey inspired me to a life of devotion to the Lord, a life of devotion to God’s Word, and a life of devotion to Christ’s church. I am honored to contribute to a scholarship fund that will carry on his legacy by promoting the careful study of God’s Word in the original languages.
It is my fervent hope that Gary’s contributions to CCCB and his heritage of faith can be permanently remembered with this endowed scholarship. To that end, I hope to encourage all CCCB alumni and friends to join me in honoring Gary’s memory with a gift to this scholarship endowed in his honor.
We have already received over $12,000 in gifts and intentions to the Bailey scholarship. We hope to reach our goal of $50,000 in gifts and commitments by the end of June. This will allow us to give $2,000 per year in scholarships to students who excel in the study of biblical languages.
Jack Spratt and Gary Bailey were not the only friends of Central who recently passed away. Other former board members, employees, and students included:
Stephanie (Savage) Sumption, Mary Kay Miller Kropf, Barbara (Gladwill) Wilken, Sherman Bruce McClintock, DeWayne Davis, Kenneth Mantle, William “Bill” Varner, Eugene “Gene” Popham, Raymond Gipson, Charles Crocker, Dennis Glasgow, and Jack Richardson.
Each of these men and women also changed Central in their own unique ways. Whether as a leader, a teacher, or a learner, they were all servant-leaders for the church. Just as Mr. Spratt and Dr. Bailey followed the Lord to the end, each of these friends who have gone before showed us what it means to be faithful until death. Many of them also supported the College financially, reminding us of the value it had brought to their own lives.
As you support the work of Central Christian College of the Bible, your gifts help workers and students come together to develop servant-leaders for the church. Because of the importance of this work and these people, we hope you will consider making a special memorial gift this month. Gifts received by April 15 will be included in our Memorial Gifts brochure distributed in May 2018.