category: Faculty Emeriti - In Honor Of

Dr. Danny West

Professor Emeritus of Preaching

Dr. Danny West in 2010
Dr. Danny West, 2010

Dr. Danny West retired from Gardner-Webb University in 2022 after serving in the School of Divinity for 20 years as a professor of preaching and pastoral studies. He was also the director of the Doctor of Ministry program and Ministry Leadership Development.  In 2023, he was honored with the title of professor emeritus of preaching.

West was born in Newport News, Va., on July 13, 1956, the only child of Thomas M. and Fanny S. West. The family’s home was in Gloucester, Va., and West lived there until he went to college at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tenn.

As a junior in high school, West sensed God’s stirring in his life. “While I did not know what my call would look like, I responded to God’s call to ministry at that time,” West reflected.

His pastor, the Rev. David Anderson of Union Baptist Church in Achilles, Va., was not formally trained, but he encouraged West to pursue an education as a necessary response to his calling. West observed, “I did not know where the call and the preparation would lead, but I am grateful that the education I received paved the way for my years of service to God’s church and ultimately the School of Divinity at Gardner-Webb.”

West holds a Bachelor of Arts from Carson-Newman University and a Master of Divinity, Master of Theology, and Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. After a few decades of ministry work in Tennessee in various positions, he joined the Gardner-Webb School of Divinity staff in 2002. West taught multiple courses throughout his career, including Introduction to Theological Education for Ministry, Introduction to Preaching, Preaching Practicum, and two Doctor of Ministry seminars (Ministry of Preaching and the Ministry of Life-Long Learning).

One particular area of study that West gravitated toward involved the relationship between preaching and storytelling. Through his own experience, he realized he communicated more effectively when his message was less lecture-based and more narrative-oriented. “And truth be told, we have great precedent in the New Testament; Jesus was a storyteller,” West noted. “He rarely teaches in a traditional way. He uses parable. He uses rich images, inventive, invigorating characters, and He uses those I think to deposit a framework as to how to engage the gospel. It is less rigid. It is more organic in nature, and again, it is predicated on the power of story.”

Angie Green presents a momento to Dr. Danny West at the podium in Dover Chapel.
Angie Green, president of the School of Divinity Student Association, presented a book from the students to Dr. Danny West at his retirement in 2022.

West shared this method of preaching with his students. “I have really tried to feature (storytelling) in my own preaching, and I certainly have tried to bequeath that to my own students in teaching them preaching,” West said. “I am convinced it is the most effective way to share the gospel.”

He has written articles on preaching and story that have appeared in publications such as “From Our Christian Heritage: Hundreds of Ways to Add Christian History to Teaching, Preaching, and Writing,” “The Minister’s Manual,” “John Killinger: Celebrating 75 years,” “Next Sunday Resources,” and “Preaching Magazine.” He also regularly attended the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tenn.

In 2005, West was asked to direct the Doctor of Ministry program. In this role, he worked consistently in the process of ministerial referral while serving as an interim for multiple churches in the surrounding area. “I was deeply involved in interim ministry, helping churches in between pastors,” West noted. “I was a boots-on-the-ground kind of guy for the School of Divinity, very much a practitioner. I knew what my students were facing. I knew what my graduates were facing. I was there to learn, and to help, and to minister as I could.”

During this period, West also partnered with the Center of Healthy Churches through the School of Divinity. “The clearest strategy is honest and open communication about expectations,” West advised. “What is it that the church expects from their ministers?”

In 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic began to change the landscape of everyday life, West was in the middle of an interim pastorate at a church in neighboring Shelby, N.C. This had a unique impact on his ministry as he adapted to the quickly evolving technological landscape. “We resorted to Zoom,” West described. “It worked. It took a while for us to find our rhythm, how to do it. Every church did it differently. But I was very comfortable with how we produced it.”

Dr. Danny West at the podium in Dover Chapel
Dr. Danny West preached at the Gardner-Webb Ash Wednesday Service in 2022.

In the fall of 2020, West was named to the W. Randall Lolley Chair for Pastoral Studies at Gardner-Webb. Announcing the recognition, then Provost Dr. Ben Leslie stated, “Dr. Danny West has distinguished himself as a scholar and as a leader among the faculty within Gardner-Webb’s School of Divinity. He is also one the finest preachers in our region. We are honored to have Dr. West occupying the Lolley Chair and are excited by the prospects of supporting his work that in turn will support the preparation of so many young men and women seeking to enhance their abilities to lead Christian congregations.”

Looking back on his Gardner-Webb journey, West said, “I was incredibly honored to have served at the School of Divinity. As I noted, my calling very much changed seasons, and I very much believe in the seasons of ministry, and I’ve entered a new season in retirement. But I never really imagined that I would be blessed and honored to serve in such a capacity to influence young ministers and to hopefully have an impact on the church. I was so blessed to serve 20 years alongside my colleagues, to work with them, to work with our students.”

West shared that he enjoyed getting to know his students outside of the classroom, and treasured moments to teach and preach in their churches. He also shared that his colleagues taught him many things. “The times we spent discussing the Bible, the church, and life, changed my life for the better,” West affirmed. “While I do not miss meetings in retirement, I do miss my beloved colleagues, students, and friends. Thankfully, I still hear from many of them which is a rich blessing.”

After retirement, West and his wife, Jeanne, moved to Oak Island, N.C., where he quickly acclimated to “beach time” and spends as much time as possible in the presence of the ocean. He has preached on several occasions in the area and now serves as an interim for a local church.

West and Jeanne have three adult children and several grandchildren.


Interview and content provided by Thomas Manning, Nov. 2022

Updated by Jackie Bridges, Nov. 2023

Posted: January 2024

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