C. Brownlow Hastings, minister, teacher and Biblical scholar, died peacefully in Austin, Texas on December 18. He was 90 years old.
Born March 5, 1916 to Baptist minister L.T. Hastings and his wife, Cora Brownlow Hastings, even his birth seemed auspicious - C.B. was born in Fort Worth in the room in which B.H. Carroll, the founder and first president of Southwestern Seminary, died. Though he joked that the Carroll "mantle" fell to others, his mother frequently reminded him that they had dedicated him to ministry from birth.
Growing up largely in Monroe LA, Hastings felt the call to the ministry in his teen years and after a near death experience. He began college at Mars Hill and graduated from Baylor University in 1937; the following year was spent in Tampa, Florida where he was ordained in 1938 before entering Southwestern Seminary. While there he was a student pastor, hitch-hiking 325 miles one way to a church that eventually fired him for being too pro-British in years leading up to the war.
In 1941, Hastings pastored First Baptist Church, Harrisburg IL where a pillar of the church confidently introduced the beautiful young piano player, Jeanette Allard, as "your future bride." The forecast proved true and they were married in the church on June 30, 1942. The following year, Hastings enlisted as an army chaplain and on Christmas Day was shipped out to England; after a month in Glasgow, he was assigned to an antiaircraft unit of the Rhine bridgehead near Remagen. "You are going to learn what sin really is," a congregant had warned, and that proved more than true as he walked through the concentration camp at Buchenwald shortly after liberation and saw "the horrors of war and the inhumanity of man." But there had been other war memories as well, notably in a German village church where, while he played the field organ and his assistant played violin, his soldiers and a dozen townspeople sang together, Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht (Silent Night, Holy Night) together on a war-torn afternoon in June 1944.
Hastings completed his education with a doctorate in Greek studies from Southern Seminary and became pastor of Central Baptist Church, Marshall TX in 1949. After 2 1/2 years, he took the call of Chaplain at Buckner's Children's Home and dean of Bible at Buckner Academy in Dallas TX where he ministered to 600 children. A program of adult education was devised for the 150 employees there, and the next chapter of his life in adult education courses began.
Hastings also helped establish and was the first director of the Baylor University Extension Division. During a five year period in the late 1950's, Hastings additionally was interim pastor at 7 Dallas churches. It is a wonder there was time for family, but by 1955 the last addition to the family arrived making 3 boys and 2 girls in the household.
The fruition of his adult education work was most realized from 1960-1970 where Hastings served as minister of education at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, bringing a commitment to the highest possible level of seminary extension type teaching to the laity through his program, the University of Christian Life.
The next 11 years were busy and productive ones for Hastings as he accepted the position of liaison to Catholics in the (Southern) Baptist Home Mission Board's Interfaith Witness Department. There he made lasting friendships, from Catholic bishops to the monks at the Conyers GA monastery, and helped countless others understand and appreciate the Catholic faith, even as he helped them understand Baptists, who he admitted, "are the confusion and amazement of all the Christian world."
Although he garnered a deep affection for what he learned about Catholic faith and practice, he noted that paradoxically the experience profoundly deepened his own commitment to and admiration of Baptist principles. His intimate understanding of the importance of soul competency and the priesthood of the believer was the bright light to his path of discipleship, but also a source of growing sadness in his later years as he watched Southern Baptists and convention that he loved depart from the bedrock tenets of the Baptist faith.
In retirement, Hastings directed the Northwest Center in Portland OR for Golden Gate Seminary and served as adjunct professor of Missions at Southeastern Baptist Seminary and of Greek at Memphis Seminary. His books include Introducing Southern Baptists: Their Faith and Life (Paulist Press, 1981) and Harmony Among Christians: A Model Other Than Structural Union (Glad River Pub, 1982).
An avid mountain climber, from the hills of North Carolina to the peaks of Colorado, Hastings also had a special love of nature, music, science and literature.
He is held in loving memory by his children: John Hastings of Austin; Larry Hastings of Dallas; Nancy Hastings Sehested of Asheville NC; Abigail Hastings of New York City; and Roger Hastings of Dallas. Shizue Kaneko Fukuda of Tokyo, Japan is his daughter-by-heart. Also dear to him are daughters-in-law Helen and Marilyn and son-in-law Ken. His rather adorable grandchildren are Jessica, Alayna, Trevor, Nate, Sara, Whitney, Allyson, and Julie. He has one great-grandson Jordan. He was preceded in death by his wife Jeanette Allard and by his grandson Ryan.
A memorial service will be held at Highland Park Baptist Church, 5206 Balcones Drive, Austin, Texas, on Sunday, January 7 at 2:30 p.m. The family requests donations instead of flowers or gifts. Please visit the memorial web site (www.cbhastings.com/cbh/memorial/) for more information.
Last Updated: Jan 3, 2007