Family, friends, and former colleagues and students of Dr Desmond Ford gathered on Sabbath afternoon (March 30) to reflect on his life and the contribution he made to, and while at, Avondale College.
About 500 people attended the service in the Griffith Duncan Theatre at the University of Newcastle. Attendees came from around Australia and abroad. Many had been students of Dr Ford, or had worked alongside him, when he was an Avondale lecturer in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The service was a time for friends and family to reflect, to share anecdotes and to pay tribute to a man who, for many, had a lifelong impact. The service did not focus on the theological issues that later enveloped his career.
Dr Ford was remembered as an energetic lecturer with an outstanding memory, infectious laugh, and who treated everybody with dignity and respect. He was a prolific writer who authored more than 30 books. He was also a model for good health: he ran eight kilometres every day—often joined by some of his students—and was careful about his food choices. He enjoyed talking to people while walking—setting such a brisk pace that they almost had to run to keep up with him!
Baptised in 1946, Dr Ford graduated from the ministerial studies course at Avondale in 1950. He served as a ministerial intern in the North NSW Conference, and then returned to study at Avondale in 1958, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology. After studying at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Washington, he was appointed a lecturer in the theology department at Avondale in 1961. He later did postgraduate studies at the University of Manchester, before resuming lecturing at Avondale in 1973. He left Avondale in mid-1977 to take up a lecturing role at Pacific Union College, California. It was after this appointment that Dr Ford presented theological views on prophecy and the heavenly sanctuary that were not accepted by the Church and ultimately led to the removal of his ministerial credentials. The impact of Dr Ford’s theology was felt globally, with many church members hurt and divisions caused in the Church. Dr Ford later established an independent ministry.
Dr Ford died on March 11, aged 90. He is survived by his wife Gillian and three adult children and their families.