By Mark A. Taylor
Edwin Hayden died the way he lived quietly, and without fanfare. But the impact of this former CHRISTIAN STANDARD editor on scores of individual Christians and their congregations will continue for generations. All who knew him bear witness to his strong faith in God, steady commitment to God’s Word, and careful precision as a communicator. He leaves behind students and readers as well as coworkers and friends and family members who have been pointed to Christ by his teaching, his preaching, his writing, and his personal example of integrity and humility.
At the funeral, Don Stowell, minister of Cincinnati’s Lockland Christian Church where Mr. Hayden served as an elder for 40 years, spoke of his encouragement and wry humor. Sam Stone, who followed Mr. Hayden as editor, chronicled a lifetime of his influence. He reminisced about Mr. Hayden as his college professor and landlord, a caring husband, an international church leader, and a gracious supporter when Sam became editor after Mr. Hayden’s 20 years of service here. His words offer a well rounded testimony to the impact of “a soft spoken gentleman” who demonstrated unyielding strength in “Christian faith and biblical convictions.” Even a few quotes from his funeral message offer illuminating insight:
One thing that always impressed me about brother Hayden was the respect he would show those who disagreed with him whether in the classroom, the magazine, or in a public forum. You always knew where he stood but he could separate the issue from the person he was discussing it with.
When his wife Hester had Parkinson’s, he was a model of caring for her. . . . My wife said once, “Even though we learned a lot from him in the classroom, I think he taught us even more by how he took care of her.”
From the time I was approached to be his successor until I retired 25 years later, he was my number one counselor and encourager. He was always in my corner, never critical, never complaining. Even though I know he would not have done everything the way I did, he always supported me. And whenever I would ask, he gave generously of his time and advice.
Another of his former students at Ozark Christian College, Willard Black, now a teacher and missionary in California, wrote: “He was one of the greatest influences in my life he gave me a desire for excellence, and for being a gentleman in all circumstances.”
I must confess I have felt as if brother Hayden were looking over my shoulder as I prepared this message. I know he would be uncomfortable about my speaking so much about him. He would remind me (in a kind way, of course!) that it is Christ on whom we should focus. He is our Lord. He is our life. He is our hope. And, of course, brother Hayden would be right.