LOUISVILLE, Ky. (ABP) — Former Southern Baptist Convention president Wayne Dehoney, longtime pastor of Walnut Street Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., died Nov. 15. He was 89.
Dehoney, who served at Walnut Street from 1967 to 1985, was SBC president in 1964-66. He served on the Kentucky Baptist Convention and Tennessee Baptist Convention executive boards as well as on the Baptist World Alliance executive committee and as chairman of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's board of trustees.
Delivering his 1965 SBC presidential address in Dallas, Dehoney told messengers, “The single overriding life-or-death issue now facing our convention is: Are Southern Baptists going to get to the main task, the main business, of reaching people for Jesus Christ?”
In a message still current more than 40 years later, Dehoney lamented that “Southern Baptists are less effective today in winning people to Jesus Christ than any of our less-privileged forefathers.
“Shall we spend our energies maintaining institutions or penetrating the world with the gospel of Christ?” he asked. “Shall we measure our success by the statistics of church membership or by the unsaved multitudes yet to be reached?”
In addition to serving as pastor of Walnut Street Baptist Church, Dehoney was pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky., and First Baptist Church of Pineville, Ky., as well as churches in Alabama and Tennessee.
Dehoney graduated from Vanderbilt University and Southern Seminary and held honorary degrees from Campbellsville University, Union University and Atlanta Law School. He was a chaplain for the University of Louisville football team.
Dehoney's wife of 63 years, Lealice, preceded him in death Oct. 23 at the age of 82.
“I think that's why he passed 23 days later. It was just too hard without her,” their daughter, Kathy Evitts, told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “They were so interconnected. It was a true partnership in ministry.”