Dr. Joseph C. Aldrich, Multnomah's third president, passed
away on the morning of Thursday, February 12 after a 15-year battle with Parkinson's
disease. The 68-year-old Aldrich was a national leader among evangelicals,
founder of several ministries, author, and passionate follower of Jesus Christ.
In his passing, he was surrounded by his wife, Ruthe, his
two children, Kristen and Stephen, and other members of his family.
Dr. Joe's Multnomah
Dr. Aldrich, or "Dr. Joe" as he was simply known by students
and colleagues, served as Multnomah's president from 1978 until 1997 when he retired
due to health concerns. He was remembered for his leadership through an important
period of transition while maintaining a commitment to biblical education as
evidenced in the school's slogan, "If it's Bible you want, then you want
Dr. Joe brought about significant progress for Multnomah
during his 19 years as president. Highlights include:
of the John and Mary Mitchell Library in 1980.
of Multnomah Graduate School of Ministry in 1987, renamed Multnomah Biblical
Seminary in 1993.
membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA)
of the Bible to Multnomah
and Seminary in 1993.
of the Scruggs Married Student Apartments in 1995.
of Multnomah Biblical Seminary through the Association of Theological
Schools (ATS) in 1996.
Dr. Joe's examples of leadership set the standard for
innovation in Bible education at Multnomah. His efforts to develop and solidify
the institution set the stage for Multnomah's present status as a regionally
More Than a College President
While Dr. Joe's leadership is a significant
chapter in Multnomah's history, he also played a part in the formation of many
other ministry endeavors. Multnomah Press grew into a prominent Christian
publisher during his tenure and has since become Waterbrook Multnomah
Publishing Group, a division of Random House Publishing.
The author of many works, his book Lifestyle
Evangelism, though controversial when first
published, became a classic. Through the book,
Dr. Joe was able to have a lasting impact on the students who read it for his
classes and thousands of others around the nation who began to think about
evangelism as something they could do with joy.
Dr. Joe was a pioneer in the prayer-summit movement,
shepherding pastors into what is known today as International Renewal Ministries (IRM).
Since the first Prayer Summit twenty years ago, there have been about 2000 summits in 40 states and 30 other nations.
Dr. Joe made great efforts to
help pastors succeed in their ministries. He organized the first Pastor's
Enrichment Congress, which Multnomah sponsored in the early eighties. From
that, he launched the Elder-Deacon Seminars, the Women in Ministry Conferences,
and inaugurated a Church Secretary's Seminar. All of these were tools to
support the local church.
Bringing pastors and leaders
together from all over the world was never more evident than his significant
role in bringing Billy Graham to Portland in 1992, Graham's final Crusade in
the Pacific Northwest. Not satisfied to simply partner with Graham
administratively, he canceled classes during the crusade days so that all
students, faculty, and staff could assist in person.
His love for students and his lasting imprint on Multnomah
and the lives of countless others is memorialized in the naming of the Joseph
C. Aldrich Student Center (JCA) dedicated in 2007.
"Dr. Joe Aldrich was a man of
passionate leadership expressed in unpredictable ways," Dr. Daniel Lockwood, current
president of Multnomah said. "He exuded a loving desire for God. You would
catch it in his prayers, glimpse it in the way he related to students, and see
it in his demeanor."
"Dr. Joe was passionate about
prayer," Dr. Lockwood said. "Prayer was a central spiritual discipline in his
own life and marked everything he did."
"Dr. Joe brought about the birth
of the prayer summit," current IRM Executive Director Dennis Fuqua said. "He
had this 'crazy' idea to get as many pastors as possible into an unscripted
prayer setting. There was no agenda, no telling God what He should do. I can
see him weeping as he prayed, 'We're not worthy.'"
"Dr. Joe was able to relate to
the rich and the poor in spirit alike. He loved people where he found them,"
said Dr. Garry Friesen, professor of Bible at Multnomah and former academic
dean during Dr. Joe's presidency. "His family chapel was the high point of the
week because of his wonderful teaching and speaking ability. He was in demand
across the country as a speaker, and had a blend of greatness and humility
rarely seen in leaders."
The Wisdom of Dr. Joe
Like Dr. Willard Aldrich's "If it's Bible you want, then you
want Multnomah!" and Multnomah founder Dr. John Mitchell's "Don't you folks
ever read your Bibles?" Dr. Joe had some of his own well-known pearls of
wisdom. Usually very witty, his self-described "pithy grabbers" are often
repeated by former colleagues and students alike. Some of these include:
God can draw a straight line with a crooked
The main thing is to always keep the main thing
the main thing.
The trouble with the living sacrifice is it
keeps crawling off the altar.
Agree to agree on the essentials; agree to
disagree on the nonessentials.
A Memorial Service
for Dr. Joe
Lake Oswego, Oregon
Friday, February 20, 2009
What You Can Do
Dr. Joe's legacy was far-reaching. Those who wish to share
their memories of Dr. Joe or extend condolences to the Aldrich family can do so
in three ways:
All condolences will be gathered, printed, and sent to the
Aldrich family. Memories submitted to the MU Blog will remain available for the
public to read.