A Gentle Giant Remains Among Us
NCBF Newsletter, Spring 2011
Tom Denton, Eastern Area Manager
Rev. Willard A. Brown, Sr. lives on the same tract of land on Bluegrass Road near Selma, NC, where he was born in 1913. He has not, however, lived in this same location for most of his 97 years. God had other plans for this servant, who is tall in stature and deep in spirit.
When God called him to preach, Willard followed the Lord's leadership to Wake Forest College (now University) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for his formal ministerial preparation. Once he finished seminary, Willard returned to Johnston County to serve his home church, the Carter's Chapel Baptist Church, where he would later be honored as Pastor Emeritus on his 80th birthday. He accepted his first fulltime pastorate in 1940, the First Baptist Church, Madison, NC and married Mary Christine Wilson. At the time of their marriage, Mary was working for the Florida Baptist WMU. The Browns had first met while he was in seminary and she was a student at the WMU Training Center in Louisville, KY. Three children were born to this union: Willard, Jr. (deceased), Sarah Janet, and John Timothy.
They moved to Florida in 1944 and served Baptist churches in Jacksonville, Bonifay, Pensacola, Callahan, and Daytona Beach. In 1967, Willard and Mary returned to North Carolina where he served the Carolina Pines Baptist Church in Raleigh for eight years and retired from Poplar Branch Baptist Church, Grandy, in 1978. Mary and Willard's partnership in ministry continued in Johnston County until her death in 2004.
Willard and Mary Brown began their association with the Baptist Foundation over twenty-five years ago when they established their first cumulative endowment, with an initial gift of $100.00, to honor his parents, Blanche Wall and William Argo Brown. As additional gifts and earnings were added to the fund over the years, eleven different Baptist charities the Browns had named as beneficiaries began receiving annual contributions from the endowment. A second endowment for missions was established in 2004 by Willard in memory of his devoted wife of 62 years.
Back home now after a busy and fulfilling life of service, Willard's pace of life has slowed significantly, but his strong witness continues through these endowments. As he approaches a century on this earth, this humble and gentle Man of God can be assured that his ministry of conviction and compassion will be shared beyond his own lengthy time on earth. His own sound, but soft, voice will continue speaking, teaching, and preaching to the "uttermost parts of the earth" for generations to come.