One of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (MBTS) original faculty members and longtime administrator, John C. Howell, died Sept. 6 at age 92 after a short illness.
Howell served at Midwestern from 1960-1999 in various roles, including professor of Christian ethics, dean of the faculty and vice president of academic affairs at the Kansas City, Mo., campus.
“The entire Midwestern Seminary community is saddened to hear of Dr. John Howell’s passing,” President Jason Allen said. “Dr. Howell was a dear friend to me and many others around this campus.
“As one of our institution’s original faculty members, Dr. Howell experienced the various workings of our Lord in the seminary’s life for more than five decades,” Allen said. “He was a valuable source of institutional knowledge and, in a number of conversations, I was grateful to obtain a great deal of insight from him about much of Midwestern Seminary’s history.”
Raised in Miami, Fla., Howell enjoyed studying journalism in high school and worked in the restaurant operated by his parents, Heman and Laura. According to a 1993 faculty feature in the MBTS campus publication The Spire, Howell made a profession of faith in Christ during a youth revival when he was 15 and began to sense God’s call to ministry at age 17.
Shortly thereafter, he was drafted and served a three-year term as a cook in the U.S. Army during World War II, stationed in England, Germany and the Pacific Theater. Upon returning to Miami, he met and subsequently married his wife of 66 years, Doris. Together, they raised two sons, Michael and Mark.
Mark Howell said his father “was a loving and supportive father and grandfather and dedicated husband. He was a man of rare calm, consistency and honor through challenging times. We will miss him so, but know that he is again with his cherished companion and in the place he had always believed in, the loving arms of God.”
In academic pursuits, Howell received an undergraduate degree from Stetson University in Deland, Fla., in 1949 and a doctorate in theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1960. During those years, he pastored churches in Crowley, Texas, and Bradenton, Fla. He later earned a master of arts degree in social psychology from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and a Ph.D. from SWBTS in 1975.
In 1960, Howell left his pastorate at West Bradenton Baptist Church to join the faculty at the newly-formed Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he spent 39 years on the faculty. In addition to his teaching and administrative work, he served as a part-time counselor at Midwest Christian Counseling Center for 11 years and then in private practice from 1982 forward.
During his career, Howell earned recognition as an “Outstanding Educator of America” and received the “Excellence in Family Ministry” award from the Baptist Sunday School Board. He authored nine books on the topic of marriage and family life and contributed to many others.
Other than time with his family, one of Howell’s most passionate hobbies began in 1969 when he started growing English roses. He developed an interest in the subject during a 1967-68 sabbatical to London. Each spring upon their blooming, Howell would adorn offices across campus with the flowers.
In a 1978 faculty feature in The Spire, it was said of Howell, "The thrill of his life at the seminary has always been the contact with students, helping them to prepare for their ministries, while ministering with his own teaching and counseling talents…. One need only to look to the roses he so freely shares to know John Howell. He gives them his time, works with them until they are on their own, then takes pleasure in watching them grow and unfold.”
Allen said the seminary community is “truly grateful for Dr. Howell’s dedicated service to the Lord, as well as his support and love for Midwestern Seminary,” Allen said. “Additionally, we will be praying for the Lord to provide comfort and peace to Dr. Howell’s family during this difficult season.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – T. Patrick Hudson is executive assistant to the president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.)