Retired WFU chaplain Ed Christman receives Divinity School service award

By Jacob McConnico

March 22, 2005

The Rev. Ed Christman (right), former University Chaplain, receives the Divinity School's Distinguished Service Award from Dean Bill Leonard.

The Rev. Ed Christman (right), former University Chaplain, receives the Divinity School’s Distinguished Service Award from Dean Bill Leonard.

Edgar D. “Ed” Christman, who retired as Wake Forest University’s chaplain in 2003 after serving in that role since 1969, was presented the first Wake Forest Divinity School Distinguished Service Award during the university’s weekly worship service in Wait Chapel March 22.

Christman, who has had a strong affiliation with the university for more than 50 years, was chosen as the first recipient of the award by the faculty of the Divinity School. The award is intended to recognize individuals who have offered “distinguished service” to the university, the church and the world.

Bill Leonard, dean of the Wake Forest Divinity School, presented the award to Christman during the 11 a.m. worship service. He said the school’s faculty selected the former chaplain because of his many contributions to the work of the gospel.

“During his years of service to Wake Forest University, Ed Christman established a reputation as a preacher, administrator, counselor, university representative and prophetic voice on the campus and in the larger community,” Leonard said. “As an active member of the Wake Forest Baptist Church and the Baptist Peace Fellowship, he has addressed issues of war and peace, justice and civil rights, servanthood and the care of souls in the church and in the world.”

A student at the university’s original campus in Wake Forest, N.C., Christman earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the university in 1950 and a law degree in 1953. A “clear call to ministry” during his last months in law school led him to his long career at Wake Forest.

He entered Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1954, and four months later he started working part-time as director of the Wake Forest Baptist Student Union and assistant to Chaplain J. Glenn Blackburn. In 1955, Christman was ordained a Baptist minister at Wake Forest Baptist Church. The following year, he made the move with the university to Winston-Salem and assumed a full-time position as assistant chaplain.

In addition to his Wake Forest degrees, Christman holds the Bachelor of Divinity degree from Southeastern and the Master of Sacred Theology degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York.

During his more than 30 years as chaplain at Wake Forest, Christman counseled students, faculty and staff from a variety of backgrounds. He was one of the most visible members of the university community for more than five decades. He is still a visible part of the university community and teaches Sunday school at Wake Forest Baptist Church.