Remembering the Legacy of Our Friend and Mentor, Dr. Haddon W. Robinson
Dennis Hollinger, Ph.D.President & Coleman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics
Haddon Robinson was not just a great preacher and professor of Preaching. He was also a mentor to many, including myself. When I arrived at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary as President in the summer of 2008, Haddon was completing a one-year interim presidency. He met with me bi-weekly throughout my first year as I transitioned into the role. I continue to thank God for his mentoring.
In those meetings with Haddon, he listened, asked thought-provoking questions and offered wise counsel and insights. His knowledge of the challenges, and his wisdom for making decisions facing the seminary were invaluable to me as I inherited the mantle of leadership from him. Haddon frequently reminded me that he and his wife, Bonnie, were regularly praying for me.
Through those mentoring sessions it occurred to me that what Haddon was imparting was precisely what we needed to be doing as a seminary in the formation of pastors, missionaries, teachers, counselors and para-church workers. Yes, Haddon was a great preacher and we want to continue that rich legacy in our graduates. But he also knew that all forms of ministry call for wise leadership, high moral character and a deep walk with the Triune God.
Most people will remember Haddon for his clear sermons and his teaching that built precision, clear exegesis, and relevant application into our own preaching. But I will also remember him as a mentor who encouraged me, sustained me and enabled me to avoid some grievous leadership pitfalls. I desire the same for all of our students at Gordon-Conwell.
David A. Currie, Ph.D.
Dean of the Doctor of Ministry Program & the Ockenga Institute, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology
Working with his colleague, Alice Mathews, Haddon reconfigured the program from being course-based with a student taking various courses with various professors —what I call “masters on steroids”— to cohort-based with specialized tracks. This approach creates a mentored learning community, focusing on a shared passion for a particular area of ministry among the same group of students and faculty over the course of three years. Students learn with and from one another, sharing life as well as learning.
As hundreds of Haddon’s D.Min. students would attest, the result has lit fires in the spirit of learners ever since, fulfilling his own definition: “Education isn’t filling a pail with information; it’s lighting a fire in the spirit of a learner.” D.Min. programs around the world increasingly have adopted this cohort model that Haddon helped to pioneer, often consulting with Gordon-Conwell in the process.
Haddon served as Senior Director of the D.Min. Program when I became Director, and continued teaching and mentoring until his retirement. I was a little apprehensive about working with a “big name,” but I quickly discovered that his heart was far bigger than his name. He never told me what to do, but he was always available for me to talk and pray through decisions, saving me from many missteps. I’m reminded of his legacy each day as I sit at what was his desk in what was his office, knowing that I can never fill his shoes, but hoping that I can continue to guide the program on the path that he laid out.
While Haddon Robinson will be missed by me and many others as a communicator, author, educator, and mentor, he will not be forgotten. His death is a great loss, but his hope in Christ is even greater, as he is now experiencing even more fully. We celebrate his life as we seek to serve Christ as he did, by faithfully preaching, teaching, and living out the Word of God.
Scott M. Gibson, D.Phil.Haddon W. Robinson Professor of Preaching and Ministry
- Hear from and about him through a bundle of resources available through the Gordon-Conwell Online Store.
- The Gordon-Conwell Haddon W. Robinson Center for Preaching that bears his name.
- His writings specially-featured through the Haddon W. Robinson GCTS/CBD Bookstore
- Unpack Haddon’s homiletical contributions by pre-ordering a book due out in April: The Worlds of the Preacher: Navigating Biblical, Cultural, and Personal Contexts
- In Memoriam: Haddon Robinson