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Dr. W. A. Criswell

W. A. Criswell was born December 19, 1909 in Eldorado, Oklahoma. He received his B.A. from Baylor University, and his Th.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He served as pastor of First Baptist Church Chickasha, Oklahoma and First Baptist Church Muskogee, Oklahoma prior to being called as pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas in October of 1944. He served for fifty years as senior pastor of First Baptist Church, for many years the largest church in the Southern Baptist Convention, preaching more than five thousand sermons from its pulpit. He became the historic church’s first Pastor Emeritus in 1995.

Dr. Criswell published fifty-four books and was awarded eight honorary doctorates. The Criswell College, First Baptist Academy, and KCBI Radio were started under his leadership. He served on the board of trustees of Baylor University, Baylor Health Care System, Dallas Baptist University, and The Baptist Standard. He also served as a member of the Annuity Board and as Chairman of the Trustees of the Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources). The Baptist Banner characterized his contribution to the Southern Baptist Convention as:

He is known as the patriarch of the “conservative resurgence,” returning the SBC to its Bible-believing roots. Twice elected president of the SBC, in 1968 and 1969, during the 20 years that followed he was perhaps the most popular preacher at evangelism and pastors’ conferences in America, while also preaching extensively to mission fields worldwide.

As founder and chancellor of the Criswell College, Dr. Criswell gave his later years to preparing young preachers to preach the Word of God. He emphasized that a sermon should take God’s truth and “make it flame, make it live!” “The word we preach from our pulpits,” he declared, “ought to be like the Word of God itself–like a fire and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces (Jer 23:29).”

W. A. Criswell went to be with the Lord January 10, 2002. His ministry continues through the messages he preached and the lives he touched during his seventy-five years of pastoral service. For more information about Dr. Criswell’s life and ministry see our W. A. Criswell Wikipedia article.

See Also

The Southern Baptist Convention website also features Tributes to Dr. Criswell.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is The W. A. Criswell Foundation?

A Texas, non-profit charitable corporation established in 1973 and named in honor of Dr. W. A. Criswell who was pastor of The First Baptist Church of Dallas and founder of The Criswell College.

What is the purpose of The Criswell Foundation?

The main objective of the Foundation is to provide for the long-term financial needs of Criswell College. The Criswell College exists to provide biblical, theological, professional and applied education on both the undergraduate and graduate levels, based on an institutional commitment to biblical inerrancy, in order to prepare men and women to serve in Christian ministries as pastors, counselors, missionaries and church staff members. Along with contributing to the College’s financial needs, the W. A. Criswell Sermon Library preserves and promotes its spiritual heritage through the preaching ministry of Dr. Criswell.

How does The Criswell Foundation operate?

The Criswell Foundation is a 509A-support foundation. Seventy percent of earnings go to The Criswell College, twenty percent to the W. A. Criswell Sermon Library, and ten per cent to First Baptist Academy. The board of directors governs all Foundation activities.

Has The Criswell Foundation been successful?

From an initial gift of $15,000 the Foundation has grown to over $25 million in net worth. Sixty-two individuals have established trusts and endowments through The Criswell Foundation. The income from these endowments will provide biblical higher education for preachers, missionaries, counselors and other church staff members until Jesus comes again!

What types of gifts can be made?
  • Cash
  • A living trust
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Life insurance policies
  • A bequest in your will
  • Real estate or other properties
  • Oil and mineral rights
  • A gift or bequest of your home or business
Are small contributions welcome?

Yes, the Foundation could not succeed if it were dependent on only a limited number of generous benefactors. No gift to the Foundation is too small, each gift is needed! Each gift will be blessed of God and used in the work of our Lord. Endowments are generally established with a minimum of $5,000. Less than $5,000 can be given to the Causes for Christ Endowment which benefits The Criswell College.

Can additional amounts be added to an endowment?

Yes, at any time The Criswell Foundation will accept additional funds for an existing endowment.

Are there ways to lessen taxes and maximize contributions to a charitable foundation such as The Criswell Foundation?

Yes