category: Faculty Emeriti - In Honor Of

Ron Williams

Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies and Philosophy

Ron Williams

Dr. Ron Williams (1950-) was born in Kentucky, where he graduated from Bremen High School in 1968 before earning a bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University in 1972. He went on to earn his Master of Divinity degree at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1977, later earning a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies in 1997.

Prior to his tenure at Gardner-Webb, Williams worked as assistant dean and professor in New Testament for the Boyce Bible School at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He spent years as minister and pastor to several churches in Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia. He was minister of youth and music at East Williamson Baptist Church in Williamson, W.Va.; minister of youth and outreach in Bowling Green, Ky.; pastor of Grace Baptist Church in East Shelbiana, Ky.; pastor of Sligo Baptist Church in Pendleton, Ky.; pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Madison, Ind.; pastor of Rich Pond Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Ky.; pastor of Lewisport Baptist Church in Lewisport, Ky.; and pastor of Harrods Creek Baptist Church in Brownsboro, Ky.

Williams joined Gardner-Webb as an assistant professor in January 1998. In his 16 years at the University, he was associate professor, professor of religious studies, coordinator of the religious studies program in the Degree Completion Program, chair of the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy, and chair of the faculty. His teaching duties have included Introduction to the New Testament, Greek, Biblical Backgrounds, the Life and Letters of Paul, and New Testament Theology.

Williams earned the Gardner-Webb Excellence in Teaching Award in 2013. “He has long been hailed among Gardner-Webb’s best,” GWU President Dr. Frank Bonner said of Williams during the award ceremony. “His colleagues have described him as an innovator, listener, and teacher, who steadies and sharpens his students.”

Regarding his proudest accomplishments at GWU, Williams said: “I am very proud to have been a part of the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy. My colleagues will be lifelong friends whom I treasure. My relationship with students has marked my life for good, and I cherish the continuing friendship with many. I am proud to have been a part of the healing process during a difficult time in the school’s history. I am thrilled to have helped create a degree in religious studies that will continue to offer opportunities for non-traditional students.”

Ron Williams and his Religious Studies class would sometimes meet at the coffee shop across the street from GWU’s Main campus.

Williams married Elaine Williams on March 14, 1971. They have three children: Ronald W. Williams Jr., Jameson Williams, and Matthew Williams.

Asked what he would like to be remembered for, Williams replied, “As a devoted colleague and friend to the faculty and staff and as a fellow learner to the students.”

“While most of my life has been spent in vocational ministry, I never felt that I left ministry to come to Gardner-Webb,” Williams said. “In fact, my ministry of teaching and mentoring has been among the most satisfying experiences of my career. I am indebted to GWU for the opportunity of 16 wonderful years. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Williams retired from GWU in 2014.

Source: Personal interview—Matt Renfer

Updated: 2022

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