Cross-Cultural, Urban, Reformed, Ecumenical

2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient: Rev. Dr. Wayne G. Boulton (M. Div. ’67)

06-25-2013 by

V. Johnson

He is a loyal friend and wise counselor.  He knows when to speak and when to keep silent; when to act and when to step back to ask the larger critical questions; when to support and when to offer criticism.  But he is always gentle, compassionate, steady, loyal and wise.  He is that rare combination of erudition, passion for social justice and peace, gentleness and boldness… No one is more deserving of this award. Wayne Boulton represents the very best of McCormick.

These are the words of alumnus Gordon C. Stewart (M. Div. ’67), describing his friend and our Distinguished Alumnus, The Rev. Dr. Wayne G. Boulton (M. Div., ’67). One glance at his resume’ and all will know that Dr. Boulton is a missionary, a teacher and a pastor. From the moment he left McCormick Theological Seminary, Dr. Boulton has been combining  these aspects of his calling into a rich life in ministry, beginning with experimental mission work, accompanied by his wife Vicky, with the Church of Christ in Thailand, and as an Ethics instructor at Thailand Theological Seminary. 

Following his missionary work in Thailand, Dr. Boulton earned a Th. M. in Theological Ethics and a Ph. D. in Religious Studies from Duke University. He ultimately went on to become a Professor and Department Chair of the Religion Department at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and the President of the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia.

From 1998 to 2007, Dr. Boulton served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Annapolis, Maryland (600 members), Roland Park Presbyterian Church of Baltimore, Maryland (300 members) and First Presbyterian Church of New Vernon, New Jersey (450 members). He combined service as pastor with service as an educator, teaching at the Reformed Institute of Greater Washington. 

Dr. Boulton’s illustrious career includes his service “outside the bounds” as interim pastor and head of staff at four churches of the United Church of Christ, service on the Board of Advisors at the Interfaith Center of John Hopkins University, author and editor of numerous publications, and various other educational and leadership roles in the Presbyterian church and beyond.

Perhaps the greatest testament of Dr. Boulton’s ministry as teacher and pastor is membership in and leadership of “The Chicago Seven.”  His friend Gordon Stewart notes:

“The Chicago Seven” - the seven McCormick alums who have gathered annually for 12 years for theological reflection and friendship - call Wayne “The Dean” because, like a good Dean, he invited us to come back together and is the wise owl who can step back to survey the wider landscape of theology and faith. Wayne is a “best friend” to each of the six of us whose easy demeanor puts best friends and strangers alike at ease, yet we also feel, at the same time, as though we are in the presence of Yoda.

Reflecting on his vocational journey, Dr. Boulton feels great gratitude for McCormick and says, “It taught me that educational ministry is ministry without walls and gave me courage to try new things. I thank God for that.”