E. Lebron Fairbanks: Sketches
E. LeBron Fairbanks has made a significant impact on education in the Church of the Nazarene, having served as professor, administrator, and college president for institutions in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. He has been married to Anne for 45 years and they have one son, Stephen. Fairbanks retired in 2007 after 18 years as president of Mount Vernon Nazarene University (MVNU) in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and then became commissioner of education for the denomination.

Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and moved to Hialeah, Florida (northwest Miami), as a teenager.

Favorite childhood memory?

Giving a yellow canary to my sister for Christmas. I was so happy. She was not!

Did you have an "aha" moment in your youth that expanded your interest in the broader world?

I remember distinctly Fidel Castro's overthrow in the late 1950's of Batista's regime in Cuba.

List three career highlights.
1. Former students of mine at European Nazarene College and Asia Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary (APNTS) are now educational and district leaders in Europe and Asia.

2. Working four years to secure for APNTS the Philippine government "recognition" (accreditation). The seminary was the first graduate level theological institution not associated with a university in the country to receive this government status.

3. Negotiating the purchase of 126 strategically important acres contiguous to the beautiful Mount Vernon Nazarene University campus.

What life lessons did you learn in the Philippines?
Be grateful for each day. Poverty is a state of mind. Sacrifice whatever it takes for your family.

Best part about being a university president?
Students! Students! Students!

What makes you laugh?
When telling jokes, I laugh before the "punch lines." My son tells me I'm not good at telling jokes.

What has gotten you through the low times of life?
Tenacity and a core conviction that if God led me to an assignment I could not move until God released me from that assignment.

What would readers be surprised to learn about you?

My theological mentor and "hero" is my college (TNC) and seminary (NTS) president, William G. Greathouse. And, I'm a NASCAR fan.

Favorite author?

Dutch pastoral theologian Henri J. M. Nouwen

Greatest fear?

Inconsistency. I desire passionately that my holiness testimony be translated and reflected daily in the way I live and lead.

Why are some individuals closed to outside people, ideas, and realities?
Fear of the unknown.

Retirement-era goal?

To pass on to a new generation of Christian leaders, through writing, teaching, and mentoring, what has been passed to me.

If you could have pursued a different career path, what might that have been?
I believe I would have pursued a career in some aspect of aviation.

If you could ask God one question, what would it be?

Why do good and godly people suffer?

Define "holiness."
Holiness is the grace of God working in our lives by the Spirit of God to increasingly transform us into the image and likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Holiness is not something we do or don't do. Rather it is who we are and are becoming through God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Holiness Today,
November/December 2007
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