Eric C. Ward (1924-2004)

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, California.

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, California.

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 2,000.

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.