Eric Calvin Ward was born November 11, 1924, in Los Angeles, California. He was the second of two sons born to
Golbourne Albert and Wilhelmina Estelle Ward.
The ministry of Elder P. G. Rodgers
inspired young Eric to become an evangelist. He and Gwendolyn Burton were among
the first students of Los Angeles Academy when it opened in 1936 and they
completed their high school requirements at Lynwood Academy, in Lynwood,
In 1942 Ward entered Pacific Union
College in Angwin, California. During his first year he had to return home to
bury his mother, a faithful deaconess in the church. While attending PUC, Ward
was known as the college barber to the students and faculty, often having long
lines of customers waiting for their turn. In 1946, he received a Bachelor of
Arts in Theology, graduating second in his class of nearly 2,000. He was called
to pastor the Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church in Los Angeles. In later
years Ward completed a Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Ministry from Andrews
University in Berrien Springs, Michigan.
After pastoring for a few months at
his new church, Ward received a call in 1946 to join the newly organized South
Atlantic Conference, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. It was shortly before
this that Gwen left Los Angeles to become editorial secretary for Message
Magazine. Ward and his classmate from PUC, Warren Banfield, went to North
Carolina to intern under Evangelist E. E. Cleveland. During the next year Eric
made a trip to Nashville, Tennessee, to see Gwen. Their friendship was
rekindled, and less than three years after their reunion they both headed to
their home state of California, where they were married on June 6, 1948. The Wards had seven children.
Ward's early ministerial travels as
Southern Union evangelist and pastor took the young family to the North
Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, and then back to Southern
California, in 1962. His passion for souls led him to write a series of 21
Bible lessons, entitled the Go Tell series, of which more than a million
sets have been distributed worldwide. Through this medium an untold number of
individuals have been led to the knowledge of the Third Angel's Message. E. C.
Ward pastored in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas for 2 years and served as
secretary in the Southern California Conference, headquartered in Glendale,
In 1973, South Central Conference
president Charles E. Dudley extended an invitation to Pastor Ward to serve as
pastor of the Oakwood College Church. This call included the building of the
first sanctuary since the school's inception in 1896 which at its completion
became the largest black Adventist church in the United States at that time.
This magnificent edifice depicts in its design unique stained glass windows
portraying the Creation story through the second coming of Christ. During his
21 year pastorate, the church membership increased from 348 members to over
While pastoring the Oakwood College
Church, Pastor Ward built the Mt. Calvary SDA Church in Huntsville and
simultaneously shepherded both congregations. Pastor Ward's tenure also
included the establishment of many satellite churches within the dark counties
of Northern Alabama. Under his leadership, phase one of the Oakwood Adventist
Academy Elementary facility was completed in 1993; OAA currently serves over
175 students. His great desire to prepare young people for heaven led him to
initiate and conduct a weekly baptismal class, a ministry he treasured. Pastor
Ward also spread the gospel through radio evangelism and weekly newspaper
columns. During his lifetime Pastor Ward baptized more than 5,000 precious
souls into the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
In October 2002, Pastor Ward suffered
a massive stroke, which left him partially paralyzed, wheelchair bound, and in
need of 24-hour care. Despite his challenging medical condition, he never
complained and was always grateful for what others did for him. At home, with
his loving wife of 56 years still by his side, he went to sleep peacefully in
the Lord in the early hours of Thursday morning, April 29, 2004.