Baylor Establishes Ron V. Durham Award for Distinguished Ministry

June 10, 2005

Baylor University has announced the establishment of the Ron V. Durham Award for Distinguished Ministry to Baylor University. The inaugural award, established in honor of Rev. Durham's distinguished ministry, servant leadership and enduring commitment to Baylor, was presented to Durham during his retirement celebration April 17, at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church.

Durham's leadership has inspired a community of believers committed to Christian higher education, said Baylor Chancellor Robert B. Sloan Jr.

"We are pleased to recognize Rev. Ron Durham with this inaugural award and to establish in his name a way to recognize all those who follow in his path," Sloan said. "Rev. Durham has not only enriched the spiritual life and character of Central Texas, but the people and mission of Baylor University as well. Throughout his time at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, he has faithfully preached the Scriptures and also provided personal counseling and performed hundreds of ceremonies for Baylor students, faculty and staff."

Durham met his wife, Vera Elizabeth (V. Beth) Parks, as a Baylor student. They were married in 1964 and two years later, he received his undergraduate degree. After graduating, he studied at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, receiving his master of divinity degree in 1969. Throughout this time, Durham served as pastor of several churches including Willow Grove Baptist Church near Moody, First Baptist Church, Eddy, and Taylor's Valley Baptist Church of Temple. In 1970, he became director of the Baptist Student Union at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi.

The Durhams returned to Central Texas when Durham became associate pastor and minister to college students in 1973 at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church. Seven years later, he began a pastorate at CABC that would influence the lives of Central Texans for 25 years.

During his time as pastor, two mission congregations, Amistad, a primarily Hispanic congregation, and Living Witness Missionary Baptist Church, an African American congregation, as well as the International Sunday School and Bible study program, have grown tremendously through Durham's commitment and support. His leadership also has contributed to significant growth in church facilities, including construction of the Children's Building in 1984 and the Fellowship Hall/Kitchen and additional educational space for college students in 1993. In 1998, the church's sanctuary underwent major renovations. In 2000, the Center, formerly the YMCA at 12th Street and Columbus Avenue, was purchased and renovated.

Durham also has devoted himself to Baylor, serving on the Baylor Board of Trustees (1981-1990) and the George W. Truett Theological Seminary Advisory Board (2001-2006). He and his wife have contributed to Baylor financially as well, supporting Baylor's Center for Ministry Effectiveness, the McLane Student Life Center, the Class of 1964 and 1966 funds, the Sesquicentennial Walkway, the Parents League Endowed Scholarship Fund, the John Edwards Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund and the Ron and V. Beth Durham/Columbus Avenue Baptist Church/George W. Truett Theological Seminary Scholarship Fund. They are members of Baylor/Waco Foundation and Baylor Bear Foundation as well as lifetime members of the Alumni Association. They have two children, John and Rhonda.

The Ron V. Durham Award for Distinguished Ministry to Baylor University recognizes a pastor or other church staff members for sustained, significant contributions to Baylor and its students, faculty, staff, programs and mission. Awarded as justified, but no more than annually, the award honors individuals who by their ministry and influence have directly supported and/or encouraged their church's support of the University and its people.

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