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Remembering William A. Loveless

William A. Loveless, born January 17, 1928, died today, September 15, 2014. 

“Success is never final, failure is rarely fatal, and courage is always necessary.” Those are three lessons that I learned from a William Loveless’ sermon that he preached  at the Loma Linda University Church in the 1980s.  Twenty years before that, he was preaching memorable sermons at Sligo SDA Church, my home church as a teenager. I still remember his series there on the Biblical character David. He had a compelling way of combining Biblical truth with contemporary life.

So compelling was his preaching that while he was pastor of the Sligo Church, the local ABC television station asked him and his friend Winton Beaven to do a weekly television show. Their conversations on “Concept” seemed casual but were always enlightening and had “production values.”  Members of the Takoma Academy Chorale remember going to the television studio to perform for the Christmas shows.

In recent years, it has been my delight to serve with Loveless on the Charles E. Weniger Society Executive Committee, because there I was able to learn the origin of those production values.  At the SDA Theological Seminary Dr. Weniger taught homiletics and inspired his students in unusual ways,  encouraging them to attend concerts and theatrical productions, for instance.  So Loveless and his wife decided to go to see a Shakespeare play in Washington, D.C. Watching the actors deliver the soliloquys of the master playwright changed Loveless’ concepts of preaching. He never again used a pulpit to present a sermon. 

In addition to his years as the pastor of two of the largest congregations in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, Loveless’ career also included time as the president of Columbia Union College (now Washington Adventist University) and president of the Pennsylvania Conference. 

In 2004, his alma mater Walla Walla University chose him as an honored alum who embodied service and scholarship. The Charles E. Weniger Society honored him in the year 2000.

To my peers at Takoma Academy there will always be a special place in our hearts for William Loveless, because he had a place in his heart for us. He included us in the planning of activities of Sligo. With his blessing, we held Friday evening “Saint Sessions” in the basement of the church. He created the student missionary program that is now part of every Adventist college curriculum. 

Another thing that endeared him to us as teenagers was his love of music, and his hot saxophone solos that could melt into jazz or classical music, depending on the time and place.

An era has past, a friend wrote to me upon learning of his death. Yes, it has, but we all have wonderful memories of a man who helped to shape us and our church family in creative, positive ways. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

Bonnie Dwyer is the editor of Spectrum.

A memorial service will be held at the Loma Linda University Church on Sunday, September 28, at 2 pm.

The family has requested no flowers, please, but if anyone would like to make a contribution to honor William Loveless’ memory, please consider giving to the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, Calexico Mission School, or Loma Linda Broadcasting Network.

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