When you think of a teacher that had an impact on your life and learning, who comes to mind? For many students over the past 29 years at Saint Paul School of Theology (SPST) that teacher has been Rev. Dr. Henry “Hal” Knight III. Since 1993 Dr. Knight has taught Wesleyan studies and evangelism courses at the school. For 20 of his 29 years there, he held the role of E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism (E.S.J. Professor), a position funded by a grant from The Foundation for Evangelism.
The Foundation staff and E.S.J. Professors have been privileged to work with Dr. Knight throughout his tenure. His passion for growing the Kingdom of God through teaching love of God and neighbor and participating in God’s mission in the world has had a lasting impact!
At the celebration of Dr. Knight’s retirement from SPST on April 26, Jane Boatwright Wood, President of The Foundation for Evangelism, offered congratulations and commendations saying,
“…we recognize that Hal’s influence extends far into the Methodist world … [Hal,] we celebrate your leadership, expertise, and efforts to equip ministers who now serve around the world. You embody the heart and soul of the Foundation’s God-sized vision.”Jane Boatwright Wood, President of The Foundation for Evangelism
Former students and colleagues shared in congratulating this seasoned professor whose calming presence has a way of helping and honoring people without uttering a word. They described him as a “bridge builder,” having once brought together a cohort of diverse scholars from the Methodist, Pentecostal, and Conservative Holiness traditions. “Gracious” was the word that came to mind when students thought of him, because his response in difficult times was always prayer and compassion.
Dr. Knight’s commitment to the Wesleyan renewal of the church has inspired many students and fellow professors in their own ministries. One student shared that Dr. Knight helped her find joy in knowing and loving Jesus, igniting her passion for changing the world. He introduced her to John Wesley (having come from a Disciples of Christ tradition) and helped her form her own theological identity.
After hearing of Dr. Knight’s retirement from full-time faculty, another former student, Rev. Jeff Goetzinger (now pastoring Mitchell Chapel and Little River United Methodist Churches) shared,
“You know, going into seminary I had this notion [of evangelism] that we had to go out and recruit people as opposed to building relationships. That’s what Dr. Knight really helped me to see. He opened [my] eyes to a new understanding of evangelism.”Rev. Jeff Goetzinger, former student
Dr. Knight has written and collaborated on many books on Wesleyan evangelism that have made their way onto the syllabi of seminary and Course of Study students across the United States. One colleague noted that his writings are prolific and cited over and over again at theological conferences, in articles, and in papers. Two of those books have become recommended resource for local church evangelism in the Wesleyan community, Transforming Evangelism – The Wesleyan Way of Sharing Faith and Transforming Community – The Wesleyan Way to Missional Congregations, co-authored with fellow E.S.J. Professor Dr. F. Douglas Powe who reflected,
“I have been fortunate to co‐author two books with you that continue to be used as a Wesleyan evangelism resource in congregations. Both of those collaborations have been high points in my career. My hope is that in a small way I can pay it forward in touching the lives of others as you have touched mine.”Rev. Dr. F. Douglas Powe
Several current E.S.J. Professors credit Dr. Knight with helping them in their own formation and work in evangelism. The Foundation for Evangelism presented him with a book of tributes from fellow E. Stanley Jones Professors. Rev. Dr. Daniel Shin at Drew Theological Seminary provided this heartfelt greeting to Dr. Knight,
“I had the joy of reading your work on my own and then with my students. We have all benefitted from the outstanding scholarship, wisdom, and a deep sense of integrity you have brought to the field of evangelism and to the broader world of theological education. Through your long and distinguished career, you have impacted countless students, pastors, and people in both the U.S. and around the world, and your influence will continue to ripple across time and space.”Rev. Dr. Daniel Shin
In the months following his retirement, Dr. Knight has agreed to share select writings from his “Consider Wesley” series at Catalyst. We look forward to sharing those refreshed writings on our website.
Saint Paul School of Theology posted the full video of Dr. Knight’s retirement celebration on YouTube .