Nazarene minister, educator, and beloved leader Arnold Gordon Wetmore passed away June 9. He was 82.
Wetmore was born on June 24, 1931, in New Brunswick, Canada. He received his undergraduate education at Eastern Nazarene College and earned the B.D. from Nazarene Theological Seminary in 1959. He also earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary and completed further graduate study in a number of universities and divinity schools. He also received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from ENC.
Wetmore served as a pastor in Wisconsin (Monroe), Massachusetts (Quincy Wollaston), Ohio (Columbus First), and Missouri (Kansas City First). He served as dean of students at ENC, and in 1983 was elected president of the Northwest Nazarene College (now University), serving there until 1992 when he was elected as the seventh president of the NTS. He served on the General Board of the Church of the Nazarene from 1970 to 1983 and was president of that board from 1979 to 1983. He also held many other board and council positions.
“[Dr. Wetmore] was the epitome of a Christian gentleman — a man who loved God and who loved all those with whom he came in contact," said Joel Persall, NNU president. "He was the same person whether he was in his leadership position, at home, interacting informally with people, or in the pulpit. Northwest Nazarene University is forever better as a result of the nine years Dr. Wetmore served as university president.”
Wetmore retired in 2000 and lived with his beloved wife, A. J., in Olathe, Kansas.
David Busic, chair of the Board of General Superintendents and former president of NTS, described Wetmore as “theologically faithful” and a “servant leader, calming presence, gentle spirit, and Christlike disciple.”
NTS extended its deepest condolences to Wetmore’s family, friends, and colleagues.
“Dr. Wetmore will be dearly missed,” said Carla Sunberg, NTS president. “His influence reached far and wide in many capacities. As pastor during my teenage years he carved an indelible impression on me, presenting an outstanding model of pastoral care and the holy life. I am humbled to follow in his footsteps at NTS where daily his imprint is seen and felt on the institution. His legacy will live on through his family and those whom he helped to shape and form in the image of God. “
In the face of rising tuition costs, Wetmore saw a great need to assist students to be able to afford to begin or to continue attending NTS. One of the focuses of his NTS presidency was the establishment of several fully funded scholarship funds (“Scholarships of Distinction”).
He encouraged many to begin scholarships, and in 1994 he began a scholarship fund in his and A. J.’s name. He faithfully gave as often and as long as he could, as he believed deeply in graduate theological education. Because of his foundational work in this area, today NTS offers more than 100 fully endowed scholarship funds to assist students with educational costs.
Even after his retirement, Wetmore continued to serve NTS for several years as he mentored the then new NTS president, Ron Benefiel, and as he continued to raise funds for NTS.
Roger Hahn, dean of faculty at NTS, recalled Wetmore’s impact on NTS and his personal ministry.
“The life and ministry of Dr. Gordon Wetmore was profoundly interwoven with the life of Nazarene Theological Seminary as a student, as Heinmiller Lecturer on the Devotional Life, as pastor of Kansas City First Church when it met in the Seminary chapel, and as seventh President,” Hahn said. “Dr. Wetmore was the president who took the risk of offering me a position on the faculty of NTS. He was both pastoral in his care for everyone he met and visionary in preparing the seminary for the 21st century. He made me a better person and I will always be grateful to for the model of leadership I experienced from him.”
In the last few years, Wetmore was proud that one of his grandsons, A. Gordon Wetmore III, planned to attend, and is now a current NTS student.
Funeral services for A. Gordon Wetmore are as follows:
Visitation – Saturday, June 18, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., College Church of the Nazarene (Uphaus), Olathe, Kansas.
Service – Sunday, June 19at 4 p.m., College Church of the Nazarene, (main sanctuary), Olathe, Kansas.
Donations may be made to Dr. Gordon and A. J. Wetmore’s scholarship by going online at nts.edu by clicking “donate now.” Checks may be made out to Nazarene Theological Seminary and sent to 1700 E. Meyer Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64131. Earmark the check “Wetmore.”