Colleagues Reflect on Honeycutt’s Contributions

Two days ago, former Southern seminary president Roy Honeycutt died suddenly after sustaining head injuries following an accident near his home in Louisville, Kentucky. Honeycutt had served as the eighth president of the Southern Seminary from 1982 to 1993. His death stunned many colleagues who have come to respect his work and contributions the Southern Baptist Convention and the Southern Seminary. Honeycutt became a well recognized for his role in the Southern Baptist conflict of the 1980s.

Those who knew Roy Honeycutt personally remember him as a man of “gracious character…[who was] committed to students…and Southern Baptists.

The current Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. once served as an assistant to Honeycutt from 1983-89.

In a eulogy to his longtime friend and coworker, Mohler praised Honeycutt for his great leadership and statesmanship during many hard times in the seminary – including helping to smooth transitions from leadership to leadership

“Roy Honeycutt proved his character and his love for this institution during the presidential transition of 1993 and years of redirection on this campus,” Mohler said. “Clearly we disagreed on some very basic principles and led in different directions. Nevertheless, he was always gracious, kind and deeply committed to Southern Seminary. For all his years of leadership and committed service, he is rightly honored by Southern Baptists.”

Wayne Ward, former professor of Christian theology remembered Honeycutt for his leadership during his tenure as president. In a strange twist, Ward was an instructor at Southern Seminary when Honeycutt entered the school as a student. Since then both men became close friends and close colleagues.

“I would call him a courageous leader of the seminary at a most difficult time of conflict and transition,” Ward said. “He was a wonderful family man and wonderful church man. He was a pillar in our church -- Crescent Hill Baptist.... He was also a very good teacher. He loved students, prepared his lectures well, and he mentored students.”

Andy Rawlins the subsequent director of media services also remembered Honeycutt for his gift in leadership.

“He was really an extraordinary person and he guided the seminary through a very difficult and tumultuous time,” Rawls said, “Throughout his life, Honeycutt showed humility and gentleness. When I first met Dr. and Mrs. Honeycutt in 1975 they were just thoroughly human with no pretensions. He was thoroughly welcoming and approachable and genuinely friendly and interested in people.”

“Dr. Roy Honeycutt was a Christian gentleman,” Mohler said. “He gave so much of his life to the Southern Baptist Convention and to Southern Seminary in particular. He led during difficult times and was not afraid of controversy. At the personal level he was as gracious a human being as you could ever expect or hope to meet.”

In the course of eleven years, the Southern Seminary grew in student and faculty size under Honeycutt’s leadership and guidance. Always considering his students, Honeycutt was instrumental in leading the construction of a highly advance student center and athletic facility in 1990s. The student facility was named the “Roy and June Honeycutt Campus Center” in honor of the couple’s work.

Before this event, Honeycutt was born in October 30, 1926 in Grenada, Mississippi. Honeycutt received both his master of divinity (1952) and his Ph.D. (1958) from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He returned to his beloved seminary, serving as the dean of the school of theology from 1975-1980. From 1976 to 1982, he served as the provost at the Louisville, Kentucky campus. After serving more than ten years as the seminary’s president, Honeycutt stepped down in retirement only to be asked to serve as the school’s chancellor in 1994. This was the last position Honeycutt filled for the school. Three years later in 1997, Honeycutt retired indefinitely after serving the Southern Seminary for over twenty years.