My Friend Bud – Part 6


Bud and I had grown together over the years. I knew how he thought, and what he expected. His pastoral leadership style, and then his AACS leadership role, were definitely different than his college administrative style and responsibilities. Especially different was relating to the large staff of the college that was divided into many departments. His expectations for student workers and hourly staff workers caused frustration many times to him. I tried at times to get ahead of problems, but that didn’t always work when immature students and inexperienced workers fell short of his expectations.

I knew that Doc Weniger lived by his daily “to do” task list. The night before he would write out his tasks for the following day on a yellow legal pad, and he would pursue those tasks with a singular focus. It was not a good sign when he went out of his office, armed with his yellow pad, looking for a staff person. In time I made him aware of how people were sometimes intimidated and overwhelmed by his forceful personality and stern direction. Sometimes his forceful intervention and correction was warranted, and other times it was not – but the average staff worker just didn’t know how to respond.

After I called attention to him about this problem, to his credit, he called a meeting of all the staff and acknowledged that frustration and anger arose at times in his response to staff. I believe there was improvement after that, but it was a reality of his powerful ways. Many leaders do not realize how forceful they are in personality. Bud had grown into this persona over many years of carrying the load of leadership. He carried some heavy burdens that contributed, in my opinion, to the building of stress in his life. For years I considered him as the person most capable to handle stress. I’ve come to the opinion that maybe I was wrong about that all along. He was a gifted leader; but he was human, and he was susceptible to stress.

The pressures of caring for Marilyn for many years, plus the burdens of leading the institution – especially not being able to please all the constituencies – and the weight of budgets and financial realities took its toll on him. In his later life circumstances and decisions brought him heartache and disappointments. He ultimately slipped into dementia and my last contacts with him were phone calls where he was upbeat, but struggled to remember things and seemed to focus on some simple pleasures of life.

I prefer to remember him as the animated cheerleader at MBBC athletic events; and his engaging interaction with students, children, church members, college patrons and friends, and a host of God’s servants from across the country who knew him for his leadership contributions.

  • He was a man of native intelligence. Smart and well trained, in addition to being capable of interacting with educational and political leaders, as well as construction workers and church members.
  • He was a man who was consistently responsible. He was absolutely committed to his calling, family, job, ministry, and the tasks of the day.
  • He was a man of incredible stamina. When we traveled together, and after we came home from a trip, I could not ever attain his energy and stamina. That used to bother me. Now, I realize it was his gift.
  • He was a man of unfailing determination. His dedication to planning was legendary, and a dogged determination to complete the project or task marked his life.

Later in life I was influenced by my dear friend and colleague Frank Hamrick. Frank taught me to see the Scriptures through a God focused perspective. He emphasized that the Bible does not present to us great men, but a great God – albeit a God who gifts, empowers, and uses men to accomplish His work. My friend Bud was greatly used by a great God. For this we can be grateful.

My Friend Bud – Part 5


In the fall of 1982 Bud and friend Ken Thelen dropped off their sons, Tim and Todd, at Maranatha to begin their college careers. Later Bud told me that he was concerned about lack of attractiveness around the campus and that prompted him to talk to Dr. Cedarholm. He said something like, “Cedar are you ready to retire, and do you still want me to come to lead Maranatha in the future?” Cedar’s response was something like, “Whew, I was afraid you didn’t want to come and so I was afraid to ask.” That conversation set things in motion for Bud to begin to give transitional leadership to MBBC in the spring semester, and was inaugurated as president to begin the 1983-84 school year.

When I arrived five years later at MBBC in 1988, I learned more of the story of the challenges facing Maranatha in 1982-83 when Bud began to take over the helm. Cedar was worn out at age 68, and the college was faced with several difficult issues. The institution was in a budget crunch, over staffed, and was endeavoring to face the fallout of previous financial decisions that needed to be addressed. Some of the issues included: The college had cosigned at local banks for student loans that were not being paid. Gifts for replacing the large windows in Old Main had been used for current obligations and the drafty windows were causing increased energy costs.

Bud tackled these issues with his characteristic focus and energy. In those early days of his presidency, he ruffled feathers, but in retrospect it initiated what some have called “the Second Maranatha Miracle.” The original miracle centered around the procurement of the property, buildings, furnishings and equipment. The miracle of the second fifteen years of the institution encompassed stabilizing the financial and administrative functions of the college, the expansion of the campus, strengthening academic programs, and the growth of the student body.

The current Maranatha website records that “no fewer than 39 building and remodeling projects were completed” during this era. This was where Bud was the most effective. He not only gave the vision for the projects, but he created the construction know how to make it happen. Because of experience he gained back in the days at Normal he learned how to be a general contractor, or work with contractors in an effective way.

He also brought financial credibility to the institution. Before he launched the Student Center fund raising project, Bud saw to it that state-of-the-art windows were installed in Old Main, and paid for out of general operating expenses. Once, that project was completed he embarked on the $450,000 Student Center project, which was the brilliant repurposing of a small gym and storage area into a beautiful two-level facility. Later, the building of the Fitness Center Gym and the Cedarholm Library were added to benefit the campus through his determined expertise.

In 1988 I went to join him at MBBC as Vice President for Administrative Affairs. Even though I have never had an accounting class in my life, I wound up as the Chief Financial Officer. I often said that I knew my main qualification for that aspect of my job was that he knew I was as tight as he was in financial matters. By the time I arrived the budget process and financial accountability were clearly established. For three years I supervised the financial office and was the person responsible to manage all the staff. One of my main responsibilities was to tell department leaders that if they spent all of their budget in the fall, there would be no more funding in the spring.

But it was in the supervision of the staff I met my greatest challenge in working for, and with, my friend, Bud. During all twenty years that I worked under him we had very few conflicts. Others at Maranatha had more difficulty than I did with his direct and powerful leadership style. Actually, I had few conflicts with him in this area – it was the task of being the go-between, and advisor to department leaders where I faced my greatest challenge.  

My Friend Bud – Part 4


Bud also led in the administrative work of organizing and leading the AACS Washington Conferences that were held in D.C. each year. Even though AACS president Dr. Al Janney presided at these events, it was Bud, and our staff from Normal, and later from the Fairfax office, that provided the planning and administrative structure for all the AACS programs. I oversaw the day-to-day operation, but it was Bud who was the leader. We worked very well together. I understood his high standards for everything from appearance, attention to detail, and striving for excellence.

During that time, he also initiated the AACS Student Competition that began at Tennessee Temple in April of 1979, but then moved to Bob Jones the next year to accommodate the crowd of contestants. This competition in Bible, Academics & Arts was the fruit of several dozen state associational competitions from the affiliated state chapters that made up AACS. There were many, many more high school, junior high, and elementary school students across the country participating in local and state competitions.  

In addition, he had the vision to work with other leaders in AACS to bring about Athletic Competitions, a Christian Honor Society, and other activities that helped to serve Christian schools nationwide. And he did all of this while still pastoring a thriving and growing church.

It was the intersection between the demands of moving AACS ahead, and the church program where I had the greatest challenge. Often, we would both fly out on Wednesday for a conference that was held on Thursday and Friday, and then fly back to Bloomington-Normal on Friday evening. I would be exhausted – and Bud seemed to be energized for the weekend of church ministry.

He had established a very effective Saturday morning men’s prayer breakfast that became a key discipleship factor in the church. I, along all the other pastoral staff members, were expected to be there. But the other guys hadn’t been flying back the night before to Chicago O’Hare and then commuting down to our community on a connecting flight. I loved the Saturday morning ministry, but it was difficult for me to keep up. Not for Bud.

He also gave very effective leadership in organizing the male leadership of the church into a large and active Deacon Board. By the early 1980s there were 27 deacons – and all were involved and contributing. He had years before reorganized an old separate board system of seven deacons and seven trustees into one group. As the church grew, he wisely expanded the deacons to include more and more talented and dedicated men.

He treated these men as equals and communicated extensively and clearly his ideas, vision, and goals. The deacons made decisions based on open discussion, and he listened – sometimes pausing for further study and discussion. He never ran ahead of the men. The board was organized into various action committees that oversaw and reported to the full board. We always had several biblically qualified “Elders” on the board. I served alongside my dear friend Evangelist Paul Levin for several years.

Deacon meetings were always spiritual highpoints and they were events that we looked forward to each month.

My Friend Bud – Part 3


In November of 1970, I became pastor at Faith Baptist in St. Paul, Minnesota. In January of 1971 Bud came to preach at my installation service, and our friendship strengthened over the next eight years. In 1975 he and I worked together to host the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship annual meeting at Faith. The year before that he engineered my election to the FBF board, and I still serve as an emeritus board member of FBFI today.

It was during my time in St. Paul that Bud became a strong and well-known leader. He started a Christian school and then became the leader in a new state Christian school organization. He became recognized as a substantive preacher and was invited to preach in many churches, schools and conferences.

Calvary experienced explosive growth during the 1970s, rising to over 1,000 in regular attendance. From 1970-1978 Bud led the church in five building programs that culminated in the 1,000+ seat auditorium that was completed in 1977 in time to host the FBF Conference. It was during this time that he was invited to join the board and executive committee of the American Association of Christian Schools. The AACS was still in a developmental state and in the summer of 1977 Dr. Al Janney, AACS President, asked Bud to consider taking over the administrative leadership of that growing, but struggling, organization.

It was in the early fall of 1977 Bud called me and asked if I would consider coming back to Normal to work with him in running this new venture? He said, “I don’t think there is any money, and I’m not sure what the number of schools are…but, would you pray about it?” I didn’t hear anything more until January when Bud called and asked me to fly to Illinois and then drive with him to Indianapolis to meet Al Janney. Dr. Janney did not know me at all – but, he trusted Bud and agreed to extend me an invitation to join the AACS staff as Field Director.

During our time ministering in Minnesota, Bud’s wife Marilyn was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and life began to change for the whole Weniger family. Connie and Marilyn had become close friends during our youth pastorate days, and so it was with mutual fondness that Connie and Marilyn anticipated renewing their relationship. Even though Marilyn’s condition progressed she maintained an indomitable spirit and continued to be a shining testimony of dependence on God’s strength.  

We moved back to Normal by the end of June in 1978 and a new relationship between Bud and me was started. Bud was full time pastor of the growing Calvary Baptist Church, but he was also Executive Vice President of the AACS, and I was to do the work of the association. The AACS offices were located in the church and shared much of the church office staff and equipment. My duties required much travel, although Bud also traveled to many Christian school meetings and conferences.

The church program and activities continued at a fast pace, but now both of us were heavily involved in travel all over the country. Bud had already launched the large AACS Midwest Conference that became an annual affair in October. It was held at the flagship Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago and drew over 2,000 attendees. He brought in nationally known speakers like former California Superintendent of Education Max Rafferty, Eagle Forum Founder Phyllis Schlafly, and North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms. One year, Illinois Senator Chuck Percy asked to address the convention attendees so that he could assure them of his support.

Bud had grown to be an impressive personality with a strong platform persona and insightful organizational instincts that translated into the ability to bring growth and development. In the fall of 1981, he was even invited to appear on the nationally syndicated Phil Donahue TV show that emanated from WGN-TV in Chicago. I accompanied him on that trip and we rode to the studio in a chauffeured limo from the Hyatt Regency where we were put up for the night. Those were the days that the national media was just discovering the booming Christian school movement. AACS grew from about 600 member schools to 1,600 during the ten years I served under Bud’s leadership.

My Friend Bud – Part 2


Bud became well known as a tireless worker. His preaching was substantive and required diligent time in study. As his son Greg recently reminded me – he loved alliteration. But he always made sure his main points supported the exposition of the passage.

His personal evangelistic efforts were also constant and conspicuous because it became evident that he was leading the way in going to people’s homes and leading them to trust Christ. But as the church grew, he began to lead in building programs that focused on many hours of volunteer labor. It was often that two nights a week were designated as work nights. Many of the new members were motivated to come out to work – because they saw their pastor leading the way.

He also used a monthly church newsletter to promote and communicate the vision and plans that he was giving for building the church body and properties. In addition, he launched a radio broadcast that became well known in the community. He also wrote articles for the local newspaper and was constantly projecting a positive message for righteous living in the social life of the community. He was regarded as a strong voice for conservative and biblical principles and became widely respected in Central Illinois.

I thrived in that environment. As the youth pastor I inherited a small youth group because about ten leading high school graduates had just gone off to college. During the next four years a number of teenagers trusted Christ in the youth ministry. Because the church was attracting so many new families, I was able to bring their teens into a dynamic and growing youth ministry.

My first summer at Calvary I initiated an annual Western Camping trip that grew from 27 in 1967, to over 60 by my last summer in 1970.

I remember before leaving on that first trip Bud said to me, “What will you do if that bus breaks down?” I hadn’t thought of that yet, but said, “Be quiet. I don’t want to think about anything like that.” But the old 48 passenger International Harvester bus made it all the way to Denver and back.

We had regular youth activities that ultimately reached 75-100 teenagers most every weekend. Our campus ministry to Illinois State University grew to over 40 students attending each Sunday for a class that I taught, and to hear Pastor Weniger preach. College students were saved and discipled during those years, and the church welcomed them with open arms. Pastor Weniger was the heart and soul of all of that activity and outreach.

In the spring of 1970 Dr. Cedarholm invited Bud to give the baccalaureate address at Maranatha Baptist Bible College. I knew what this meant – the bestowal of an honorary degree – but I knew that the people of the church were clueless about such things. I called Doc Cedarholm and asked, “Are you giving Bud an honorary degree?” Cedar demurred and did not want to answer directly. I said, “Doc, the people at the church have no idea about these matters. It will be embarrassing for Bud to return and say to the church, ‘by the way over the weekend…’” Cedar cleared his throat and replied, “Well, you can tell the men at Calvary that their pastor will be honored in a significant way.”

I informed the Deacon Chairman and he made plans to make the trip to Watertown for the event. Bob Green, deacon chair, then gave a helpful announcement on Sunday morning that Pastor Weniger was now Dr. Weniger. But to the Calvary people he was always Pastor Weniger.

My Friend Bud – Part 1


I met Bud Weniger for the first time in August of 1957. He and his new bride Marilyn were honeymooning at the Turner cabin – right next door to our family cabin in northern Wisconsin. I remember that he was a cool guy and we water-skied together some. I was just a scrawny kid, not quite 16, who lived for water-skiing in the summer. I knew he was from the famed Weniger family, because his dad and three uncles were all preacher friends of my dad.

Little did I know at the time that within two months my dad would be taken to heaven in a plane crash. That tragic human event became a big part of my growing up and would result in giving me many mentors.  My dad’s reputation, and the respect that was given to him, introduced me to many men in the ministry. The first names of the senior “Weniger boys” – Arno, Archer, Ortiz, and Max – were often spoken in my home. Later several of Bud’s cousins were classmates of mine at Pillsbury College.

Drs. Ortiz, Bud, Arno Sr., Archer, & Max Weniger

When I was a college student, several years later, I would meet Bud again. He became pastor of First Baptist in International Falls, Minnesota, and was visiting our campus in Owatonna, Minnesota, for meetings and to see students from his church. I remember reconnecting with him briefly in the parking lot. I was impressed by his demeanor and the fact that he was a sharp dresser. He had adapted to the northern Minnesota environment and looked the part of an impressive Northwoods man.

About five years later I received a letter from him during my third year in seminary and it caused great excitement and interest. A year before Bud had taken the pastorate of Calvary Baptist in Normal, Illinois, and the growing ministry had prompted him to seek an assistant pastor. He wondered if I would be interested? I was very interested in joining him and the Lord worked it out so that we moved to Normal in the early fall of 1966. (This full story is told in my blog post at The Road to Normal.)

Those were four dynamic and impactful years in my life and ministry. Calvary was an established church congregation that lost its building and had to reorganize as an independent church just four years before Pastor Weniger arrived in late 1964. (A short account of that history is included at A Tale of Two Churches.) The remainder of the 1960s was a phenomenal growth time for that body of believers. Many people came to Christ during our 50 months as an assistant under Bud. In addition, the church was attracting numbers of wonderful Christians who were leaving mainline denominational churches in the area due to a drift toward liberal theology.

When we arrived, the average attendance was about 200. When we left in November of 1970 to take a pastorate, the attendance had mushroomed to regularly over 600. Pastor Weniger led in that growth with hard work, wisdom, and well-rounded communication skills. I learned much from him. When he arrived, there was a division in the church and he carefully pastored both factions and brought them together as the years increased. It didn’t hurt that new people were constantly coming in to take important leadership roles, still he did not lose people and he gave even-handed leadership to heal the wounds of the past.

He was also wise for his relative youth. I remember soon after I came that one day he said, “Come with me,” and we jumped in his car to visit a new couple in the church. His purpose was to apologize to them for repeating something that he had heard, that he learned was not true. He told this couple “I was wrong, will you forgive me?” I never forgot that experience. Not many people knew about it, but it was the right thing to do. That couple became valuable workers and assets in the church for years to come.

Next week: Part 2 – Dynamic Growth

We’re finally emerging from the Covid Fog

Covid hit the country and our little personal universe in March, 2020. On Saturday, March 7, of that year, we were with our son and his family at Sea World for a fabulous day. This photo marks my memory of that magical experience.

I remember seeing hand sanitizers on the counter of a food stand at Sea World on that day, and thinking, “that is a novel idea…” Little did we realize what was coming. That next week the long fog of Covid began to descend across the USA, and around the globe.

In early December of 2020 Covid hit our small retirement village with a vengeance with over 125 cases recorded before it subsided. We lost three residents to heaven at that time, and three other men came down with very serious cases that required many days of hospitalization.

Back in early July of this year Connie began to suspect that she might have contracted Covid — again. This was da ja vu, right? We borrowed a home test kit from a friend and botched it. So, what do we do now on a late Saturday afternoon? We decided to head for CVS because they bailed out Connie with a medical need right after Hurricane Irma visited our area in 2017. You go back to a trusted place, right?

In a few minutes we went out the door with a large plastic bag containing 16 free test kits courtesy of the United States government. At home we botched the first test attempt, but then — we strike it rich and successfully test. Connie has Covid; I don’t. Not yet. Now what do we do?

We vowed to call the emergency phone number of our trusted Maxwell Medical Group in the morning. The weekend medical emergency person did a marvelous job getting through to Dr. Maxwell and called us back very soon. By 10:00 A.M., on Sunday morning, I was at our Walmart pharmacy when they opened. But they were out of Paxlovid already, and the pharmacist told me he already checked with their sister store 10 miles north. I said what about CVS? He called the man who had given us 16 test kits the night before. When I walked into CVS, that same pharmacist spied me and called out, “I’m filling your order right now.” That is God’s grace in action!

Since then and before, there have been several twists and turns, but through it all our Lord has been faithful. Plus, a number of medical personnel have come alongside to help us navigate the pathway. These experiences have caused me to reflect on the five wonderful doctors God has given me in my life — and four of them Connie and I have shared. Let me introduce you to them. God’s grace has been evident all along our journey.

Dr. Titus Johnson – delivered me at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago in 1941. About five years later he took my tonsils out in the same hospital. What I’ve learned since is that this family friend spent his entire medical career shuttling back and forth between Swedish Covenant and the Congo. Dr. Johnson is a legend in missionary medicine and a book tells his story.

Dr. Harold McGinnes – was a fine surgeon when I served in Normal, Illinois, as a youth pastor and later with AACS. He called me at a hotel one night while I was on a ministry trip in Mississippi to tell me he performed emergency surgery on Connie and removed a very diseased appendix. What a blessing this godly physician was to our little family. He would say, “All healing is divine. God just gave me the privilege to participate in the process. I cut out the offending part, and God heals the body.” I still have this well-worn book in my library from him.

Dr. Omer Tveten – became our family doctor in St. Paul, Minnesota when I assumed the pastorate in 1970. His practice was in a simple building on Payne Ave, but he was beloved by the community. This dedicated bachelor physician served our family for over 30 years until my mother moved to Idaho prior to her homegoing.

Dr. Ron Hughes – became our wonderful doctor and good personal friend during our 18 years in Rocky Mount, NC. Ron was a fellow deacon when he advised me to have a Stress Test in 2003 that led to my life-saving quintuple by-pass heart surgery. Ron and his wife Toni are dear friends.  

Dr. Marvin Maxwell – then coming to Florida, the Lord led us to our beloved family doctor, Dr. Maxwell, and his whole staff at Maxwell Medical Clinic. This is the faithful doctor who has shepherded us through many medical challenges since moving to Maranatha Village – including two bouts with Covid.

Our Lord has given us many other fine medical professionals over the years, and especially in these “retirement” years in Florida. We listen to their direction and trust God for His guidance and protection. That is a safe place to be. In the grasp of His grace.

Dr. Dick – Part 3

This final installment (perhaps just for now) remembering the principled stalwart Baptist Historian Dr. Richard Weeks actually harks back to his early days – student days. I find this booklet entitled “The Life Story of Humility” to be fascinating, and so obviously reflective of the character and devotion of a man who most folks only knew as their teacher, professor, and friend.

Please let us know if you enjoy this look into how the grace of God shaped him for years of fruitful service.

Dr. Dick and Uncle Elmer with “Humility”

I have been able to learn from his daughter that there are important facts and information about his pre-seminary days that may be of interest to those who loved Dr. Dick. Stay tuned.

The Life Story of “Humility”

Dr. Dick – Part 2

Much later in my ministry I had the privilege of following Dr. Weeks as the teacher of the Baptist Heritage course at Maranatha Baptist Bible College in 1988. In the spring semester of that year Dr. Weeks suffered a stroke that led to his retirement. I came to MBBC as VP of Administration to replace my good friend Jim Munro and was also given the assignment of replacing Dr. Weeks in the curriculum. He had taught Baptist History and Baptist Polity since the founding of the college, but in the fall of 1988 those courses were combined to a single course entitled Baptist Heritage.

I inherited Dr. Weeks’ class notes and benefited greatly from them as I fashioned the combined course. From his class notes I learned of the clear distinction that he drew between the teaching of Baptist successionism, which he rejected, to his view that he called Spiritual Kinship. He believed, from his lifelong study of the historical record, that there were Baptistic like churches down through the ages since the 1st Century churches

Unique to Dr. Weeks’ teaching was that he developed the acrostic BRAPSIS to enumerate the Baptist distinctives. While many teachers have used the word BAPTIST or BAPTISTS to teach the distinctives, Dr. Weeks felt those acrostics did not reflect the logical flow of one distinctive into another.

In 2013 the Maranatha Advantage publication honored and noted Dr. Weeks’ singular contribution to the distinctive Baptistic emphasis of the college: 

“He created a list of what he thought the key Baptist distinctives were, without trying to force them into the acrostic grid,” Dr. Saxon commented. “He also established an order to these distinctives, considering not so much that some distinctives are more important than others, but rather that some distinctives tend to flow out of other distinctives.” “From the foundational beliefs—the Bible as the sole authority of faith and practice, and a regenerated and immersed church membership—flow the autonomy of the local church, the priesthood of the believer, and soul liberty,” Dr. Saxon explained. “In essence, these become the pillars for the two ordinances and finally, the two separations (separation of church and state and separation ethically and ecclesiastically).”

Dr. Weeks was quoted as saying, “Yes, true Baptists are different! We are different because of certain important beliefs and certain important doctrinal emphases.”

I remember that in the early 1980s, on one of my visits to Maranatha, I went to Dr. Weeks’ office to ask him a question. Upon entering his office, I quickly realized it was partially a bookstore devoted to selling used books inexpressively to students. Dick Weeks was a certified bibliophile, and he had created a pipeline for British booksellers of theological books to supply Maranatha students at very reasonable prices.

I wanted to ask him a question about a large volume that I had purchased for a few dollars at a used bookstore. I queried, “Dr. Weeks, have you heard of book entitled, A treatise upon Baptist Church jurisprudence, by Marshall?” He immediately shot back, “Does it have an embossed insignia that looks like a star on the cover?” I replied, “It does!” With a twinkle in his eye, he told me that I had made a very valuable purchase. When I retired in 2014 I gave that book to a colleague who is a historian and someone I knew would value the treasure.

Another aspect of Dick Weeks’ personality and contribution was his love for athletics. He was well known for his enthusiastic support for the Maranatha sports teams. In recognition of his steadfast loyalty the Maranatha Athletic Department Hall of Fame posthumously inducted him in 2004. The college publication at that time gave this explanation:

“Though short in height he was large in stature as the legendary cheer person at Maranatha athletic events. No one else could whip up the crowd like Dr. Weeks when he would charge around the gym wielding his “Spirit Sword” bringing the students to their feet. For this trait he was ushered into the Maranatha Athletic Department Hall of Fame in 2004. The citation for his induction includes these words, “Dr. Weeks’ spirit and enthusiasm for Maranatha Crusader sports were contagious. Whether in Chapel, pep rallies, on the field or on the court, Dr. Weeks would cheer faithfully and fervently for the Crusaders. From his stocking cap and letter jacket to his ‘Spirit Sword’, Dr. Weeks exemplified the true meaning and spirit of Maranatha Baptist Bible College Athletics.”

Dedication of MBBC Football Field in 1978

In 1993, in the months before Dr. Weeks died, I went to see him at the nursing care facility in Freeport, Illinois, where he was residing. For almost two years I was part of a four-man team that served as rotating interim pastors at a church a few miles north of Freeport. I visited him on two occasions that I remember. The first time he was rather bright and sunny and we enjoyed some good fellowship remembering earlier days. The second time I visited he was in a definite declining physical state.

I remember going back to Watertown and telling Dr. Weniger, President at Maranatha and long-time my boss. “Bud, if you want to see Dr. Weeks you better go soon. I don’t think it will be long before he goes to heaven.” As I remember, Dr. Weniger did take the time to make that trip.

Dr. Weeks’ memorial service was held at Calvary Baptist Church in Watertown, Wisconsin where he had worshipped and served. My recollection was that it was a blessed service of remembrance and rejoicing. Dr. David Cummins, a kindred spirit and lover of Baptist history, was one of the speakers. He told some warm stories about Dr. Dick that brought laughter and fond memories to the gathered friends, colleagues, and former students. It was one of those joyous memorial services I lovingly remember.

Dr. Weeks was a rare blend of genuine scholarship and spiritual mentoring. He was a choice servant of God who was short in stature, but who demonstrated a fidelity and devotion to a big God.  He loved His Lord; he was devoted to his wife who was the consummate helpmeet, and to his daughter who has endeavored to faithfully carry on his legacy. But finally, all can say, he poured his life into the students.  All of them.

I consider it distinct honor that he was my friend. Ps. 71:18

Dr. Dick – Part 1

On Tuesday, Oct. 8, 1957, my sixteen-year-old life was permanently altered. On that afternoon I returned home from school to find our living room filled with friends of my dad. They gracefully informed me that my dad was taken to heaven the day before in an airplane crash in Northern Ontario.

Included in that group were Myron and Thelma Cedarholm, Pastor Vernon Lyons and his assistant John Musser, and Pastor Richard Weeks.  Dick Weeks had been a close friend of my father since enrolling as a student at Northern Baptist Seminary in 1941. That was the year of my birth, and the year my father became Senior Pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Church at the age of twenty-nine. This was the seminary church, and where many of the faculty and administration were members and leaders.

Dick Weeks, six years younger than my dad, began to develop a friendship with my father during that time. Fifteen years later that relationship grew when they both served as pastors on the south side of Chicago. My dad was at Marquette Manor Baptist Church, and Dick was at Donald Smith Memorial Baptist Church of Oak Lawn. It was natural for me to see these close friends rally to our home on that traumatic day. I don’t remember too much about that afternoon, but as I reflect over the years, I realize how blessed our family was to have faithful pastoral friends come to our side during our time of need.

(To the right the parsonage at 3411 W. 71st, Place, Chicago, IL.)

After graduating from Northern, Dick Weeks went on to earn a master’s degree in history at the prestigious University of Chicago. He also completed all the residency requirements at Northern for the Th.D. degree. My father had earned that degree in 1943, but by the late 1940s the seminary had fully embraced denominational loyalty. Because Dick Weeks did not remain loyal to the Convention, he was deprived of receiving his degree, although he had fulfilled all the requirements except for the completion of his dissertation.

Recently Dr. Weeks’ daughter, Ruth, wrote these words of explanation to me:

“He had finished all his ThD residence work…and was working on his thesis while pastoring the church plant in suburban Oak Lawn, which he helped start. He was almost done with the thesis, but not quite…….so he applied for an extension, as did others in his cohort. Extensions were granted to the other applicants, but not to him.

“He felt it was because he had left the ABC (Convention), and helped start the CBA of A. There was no way for him to start over – he thought God’s call to be a seminary professor was forever lost to him. It was a tough time. Sometime in the early 60s, Central Seminary published his thesis in a little booklet, entitled “The Keys to the Kingdom.” Around that same time, Pillsbury gave him the D.D. I’ve always looked at that conferral as the righting of a wrong, rather than an “honorary” degree. I think many of those in the CBA felt the same.”

Many years later I became aware of a little booklet that supplied invaluable insight into the formative ministry years of Dr. Weeks’ life. That publication, entitled The Story of Humility, came into my possession and it tells the account of his summer ministry exploits while a seminary student. The story told by classmate Elmer Strauss begins with this introduction, “It was a cold January evening in 1944 when Dick knocked on my dormitory door. He came in, ‘plunked’ down on the bed, and said, “Elmer, do you have any plans for the summer?”

The booklet then unfolds the adventurous tales of summer ministries by a team of Northern students, led by Dick and Elmer. For several summers they tramped all over the sparsely populated western Dakota regions as a gospel team. Especially intriguing is the account of how they acquired a 1931 Model A Ford automobile they named Humility as their transportation to traverse the rough dirt roads of the still wild Dakota west of the WWII years.

It is hard to believe that on U.S. Highway 18 the pavement abruptly came to an end and became a single lane of mud ruts. They recount this incident, “Two cars on the edge of the pavement had stopped and their drivers were putting ‘ice chains’ (better known as mud chains in the Dakotas) on their rear tires.” They go on to say, “Actually we didn’t have to steer the car because the ruts were so deep, we couldn’t get out of them.” As they journeyed westward, they would often need to get out and literally push the car forward in excessively muddy spots.

Their ministry escapades are worth reading. (Dr. Dick – Part 3 will be a link to “The Story of Humility.”) Their summer ministry of several years grew into a Bible teaching and memorization organization for children called The Challenger Club that lasted for many years. It was conducted by several members of the ministry team via old fashioned snail mail correspondence.

Youth at Donald Smith Memorial Baptist Church, Oak Lawn, IL

Years later I became involved in a noteworthy experience with Dr. Weeks during the week when Dr. Cedarholm resigned from the presidency of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College in April of 1968. On Thursday afternoon of that fateful week, Fred Moritz and I were going about the campus listening to the many people milling about asking questions and discussing the events of the week. Fred and I had been dorm mates in college and were reconnecting after being in the ministry for several years. Fred said to me, “Let’s go see what Dr. Weeks has to say.” I thought that was a great idea and so we headed across the campus to the little gym where Dr. Weeks had been assigned his office. We were familiar with that building because part of one semester it was our temporary dormitory while Clearwaters Hall was being built. 

We entered the small hallway and knocked on the door of the only office in that building. We heard a “come in” and opened the door to find Dr. Weeks behind his desk, and Dr. Peter Mustric sitting in a chair in front of the desk. We said something like, “Oh, excuse us, we did not know you were busy,” but Dr. Mustric said, “No, come in boys. We are about to call Dr. Clearwaters, and we’d like to have some witnesses.” Or something to that effect. 

I knew Dr. Mustric well. In fact, my pastor, Bud Weniger, and I were house guests at that time with him at Cedarholm’s presidential residence on campus. Dr. Mustric was an interesting individual. He was an optometrist, hence a Doctor of Optometry, who then went into the ministry. In addition, he was a bachelor, and pastor at the First Baptist Church of Rockford, Illinois, which was an influential church at that time.

First Baptist Church, Rockford, Illinois

He was tall, dignified, and professional, but always friendly and gregarious. He proceeded to place a call to Dr. Clearwaters while Fred and I sat in on one side of the phone conversation. All I remember was that Dr. Weeks kept writing out questions for Peter to ask the good doctor on the other end of the line. After a while Doc Clearwaters evidently got rather animated and raised his voice so that Peter pulled the phone from his ear, and pleaded with Doc to calm down. He explained that he was only asking questions to gain an understanding of the disagreement.

It was a surreal experience for two young guys in the ministry. Fred was pastor in Oregon, Illinois, and I was an assistant pastor in Normal. Illinois. We never forgot that encounter. As weeks and months played out Dr. Mustric and Dr. Weeks wound up on different sides of the issue that brought Maranatha Baptist Bible College into existence. I know that on that day they were just two friends trying to find common ground for service in the Lord’s work.

Dr. Dick washing the dishes!