Dr. Leighton Ford, Brother-In-Law of Rev. Billy Graham, to Give Commencement Address

Commencement weekend speakers include internationally known communicator Dr. Leighton Ford and renowned archeologist and scholar Dr. SeJin Koh.

May 16, 2017

Drs. Leighton Ford and SeJin Koh

Drs. Leighton Ford and SeJin Koh

Charlotte, NC (May 15, 2017) – Dr. Leighton Ford, an author, pastor, social activist, leader and communicator, who was named by Time Magazine “among the most influential preachers of an active Gospel,” is featured speaker for the 2017 commencement exercises of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary – Charlotte. The event will take place at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 20, at Forest Hill Church, located at 7224 Park. Rd. in Charlotte.

Dr. Ford, the brother-in-law of Rev. Billy Graham, one of the founders of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, is the President of Leighton Ford Ministries and a former member of the seminary’s Board of Trustees. 

As an author, Dr. Ford has written 11 books, including the award-winning Sandy: A Heart for God (the biography of his son who died during heart surgery in 1981). His most recent book is The Attentive Life, published by InterVarsity Press.

As a social activist, Dr. Ford has been an advocate for such issues as world hunger, poverty and racism.  He received the “Two Hungers Award” in 1990, in recognition of his contributions in addressing the physical and spiritual hungers of people around the world.

As a communicator, he has spoken to millions of people in scores of countries on every continent of the world.  An ordained Presbyterian minister, he was named “Clergyman of the Year” in 1985 by Religious Heritage of America, and as “Presbyterian Preacher of the Year” by the National Presbyterian Center.  Dr. Ford was Vice-President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, where he served for 31 years.  He was also a regular alternate speaker with Billy Graham, on the Hour of Decision, one of the most popular religious broadcasts of its time.

As a leader, Dr. Ford serves as the Honorary Lifetime Chairman of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, having served from 1976 to 1992 as chairman of this international body of Christian leaders.  In fact, one could say that he has written the book on what it means to be a leader.  His book, Transforming Leadership, published by InterVarsity Press, is one of the most comprehensive books on leadership ever written.  Dr. Ford also serves on the boards of World Vision US and Duke University Cancer Center and is a Board of Advisors member of the Charlotte campus of Gordon-Conwell.

Dr. Ford is also an internationally recognized mentor.  He has spent the last several years of his life pouring himself into younger men and women through Leighton Ford Ministries.  The unique Arrow Leadership Program established under his leadership has now become a continuing international program in its own right.

Dr. Ford lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Jean.  Leighton and Jean have a married daughter, Debbie, and a married son, Kevin, who heads a consulting group in northern Virginia.

Dr. Donald M. Fairbairn, Jr., Academic Dean of the Charlotte campus remarks, “We are honored to have Dr. Leighton Ford give our Commencement address.  For decades, Dr. Ford has been a leader in the global Christian movement. His ministry has embodied Gordon-Conwell’s mission to think theologically, engage globally, and live biblically.  We are forever grateful for his role in helping establish the Charlotte campus.  He is a cherished friend of this seminary.”    

Dr. Ford is just one of the featured speakers for Commencement weekend.  Keynoting the Baccalaureate service on Friday, May 19 at 7:00 p.m. is Dr. SeJin Koh.  A renowned global scholar, archeologist, leader and pastor, he currently serves as the Associate Pastor of MyungSung Presbyterian Church, also in Seoul, President of the Korean Society of Biblical Archeology, and Director of the Israel and Jordan Biblical Study Tours.  Recently, Dr. Koh was also the President and CEO of KBS Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, South Korea. 

Dr. Koh received his MA and Ph.D. in Near Eastern Archeology from the University of Chicago.  He also holds an M.A. in Hebrew Language from the Institute of Holy Land Studies in Jerusalem, Israel, and an M.A. in Systematic Theology and a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Seoul Theological University in Korea.  Dr. Koh has held prominent academic administration positions including past work as Academic Dean and President at Jersalem University College in Jerusalem, and President of the Asia United Theological University in Seoul, Korea.  Dr. Koh also has held teaching positions in South Korea, Israel, and Ethiopia.

In addition, Dr. Koh has spent more than 20 years in Israel excavating and surveying ancient Biblical sites, including Beth Shean, Tel Rehov, Tel Yaqush, Tel Gilo, Ramat Rachel, Har Tuv, Tel Batash, Hinnom Valley, and Tel Dor.  Most recently, Dr. Koh was the Expedition Director of the Aksum-Land of Queen Sheba Archeological Project in Aksum, Ethiopia.

A resident of Seoul, South Korea and veteran of the Korean Marines, Dr. Koh has been married for 36 years to Sarah Joan Reish, a native of Indiana, and has two children.  He is the author of the book Sharing Life as well as countless journal and magazine articles.

“Dr. Koh is a gifted scholar and minister whose work and ministry have been recognized in all four corners of the globe,” says Dr. Fairbairn, “As our graduates leave seminary and embark upon ministries around the world, we can think of no individual more fitting to help commission them than Dr. SeJin Koh.”

Interviews are available upon request.   Please direct all inquiries to Deana Nail at (704) 564-8906 or

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary is a multidenominational, evangelical Protestant graduate school serving nearly 1,800 students on campuses in South Hamilton and Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; and Jacksonville, FL. Students represent more than 90 denominations and 53 foreign countries. The seminary ranks as one of the largest in size among the 251 seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. Gordon-Conwell offers many degrees at the master’s and doctoral levels and has gained an international reputation for leading faculty in the areas of biblical studies, ministry and theology. Architects of the institution included Rev. Billy Graham; Dr. Harold John Ockenga, long-time pastor of Boston’s historic Park Street Church, and philanthropist J. Howard Pew.  The Charlotte, NC, campus opened in 1992 to serve students in the Southeast and now attracts students from more than 30 states and more than a dozen foreign nations.