"One would need access to the incredibly comprehensive vocabularies of the writer, the scholar, and the leader to adequately describe the life and service of Dr. William Greathouse."
Heavenly Father calls William M. Greathouse home
Monday, March 28, 2011
Nashville, Tennessee
By NCN News Staff
On Thursday evening, March 24, William M. Greathouse, general superintendent emeritus in the Church of the Nazarene, went to be with the Lord he served for so many years. He was 91.

Greathouse's progressive heart failure had advanced, recently requiring hospice care.

He was a friend to all and made all persons sense their importance to him as individuals. He loved life, his family, and God.

Greathouse served as general superintendent from 1976 to 1989. He was a pastor in the Church of the Nazarene in Tennessee from 1938 until 1963 when he was elected president of what is now Trevecca Nazarene University.

"In a moment in time when Trevecca was a fragile institution seeking accreditation and financial footing, a giant of a man stood among us and would not let Trevecca fail," said Dan Boone, current TNU president. "His passion for Christian education and his love for the church sustained Trevecca. He reminded us that we stand in the stream of great holiness thought and life, centuries old and theologically deep. His mark on Trevecca will never be forgotten. He made us want to be better people." 

In 1968 Greathouse was elected president of Nazarene Theological Seminary, where he served until his election as general superintendent in 1976.

A respected theologian and prolific author, Greathouse's biography, Crucified with Christ, was released in 2010.

"The contribution of Dr. William Greathouse to Wesleyan-Holiness theological literature can not be overstated," said Bonnie Perry, director of Beacon Hill Press. "He reshaped the theological conversation of the church."

J. K. Warrick, chair of the Board of General Superintendents, shared the following:

One would need access to the incredibly comprehensive vocabularies of the writer, the scholar, and the leader to adequately describe the life and service of Dr. William Greathouse. He was a classic Southern gentleman, steeped in the chivalry, kindness, and gentility of a bygone era. Everyone who knew him witnessed a degree of politeness and decorum too often missing in today's sometimes abrasive and polarizing exchanges that masquerade as conversations.

From his youth in his beloved home state of Tennessee, Dr. Greathouse pursued the fellowship of God through the Lordship of Jesus Christ, God's Son. He studied well, developing a mind and keen intellect that would not only serve his ministry and scholarship but would also provide fertile ground upon which to build inclusive relationships around the central themes of grace and peace.

An astute thinker, Dr. Greathouse explored the themes of grace, holiness, and sanctification with expert precision and anchored his preaching to those unshakeable foundations. Everyone who knew him, heard him preach, or listened to his lectures in the classroom would sooner or later realize that Dr. Greathouse's spiritual address was located in Romans.

As a leader he will be remembered for a visionary and conciliatory style that endeared him to students, pastors, laypersons, and others with whom he served as a colleague in ministry. His students left his classroom with his influence, perspective, and insights deeply imprinted upon both mind and heart. Ever eager to incorporate the Wesleyan message of perfect love, Dr. Greathouse seasoned his judicatory leadership with the theme of the optimism of grace. His tenure as a pastor, college president, seminary president, and general superintendent was marked by the perfect blend of loving wisdom, courageous action, and insightful scholarship.

Dr. Greathouse was a family man who surrounded himself with those dearest to him, immersed himself in their interests, and responded to their needs. His beloved attention also included his grandchildren, in-laws, and great-grandchildren as the objects of his doting affection. When possible, he surrounded himself with his family members, giving them tender love while receiving their strength and support in return.

A long life can be an example of either generative activity or deceleration into inactivity. In his advanced years, Dr. Greathouse was always a contributor. His writings and engaging dialogues with scholars and students alike revealed the keen intellect of one who explored life with a sense of wonder and gratitude. Not content to rest on the observations and conclusions of yesterday, he revealed an ever continuing pursuit of academic thoroughness in his work. While an individual's spiritual communion is intensely personal, all who knew Dr. Greathouse acknowledged that his persona portrayed a vital piety in which God's presence through His grace was a constant reality.

The Church triumphant has gained a saint who no longer sees through a glass darkly but is experiencing full revelation and wonder. The Church on earth has lost a stalwart member from the ranks of leadership and the laboratory of learning.

The Board of General Superintendents join me in expressing our condolences to the Greathouse family, his global host of friends and associates, and those who knew him only through the warmth of his writings. May the grace and sustaining peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Greathouse was preceded in death by his first wife, Ruth. He is survived by children, Becky (Ted) Martin, Mark (Jan) Greathouse, Beth (Michael) Sykes; 7 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; his wife, Judy, and her children; brother, Charles Greathouse; and sister, Mary Cathryn Richerson.

Visitation will be at Nashville First Church of the Nazarene, 510 Woodland St. in the Woodland St. Foyer on Wednesday, March 30, 2-4 and 5-8 p.m., and on Thursday, 11-12:30, with the funeral service at 1 p.m. on Thursday. General Superintendent Jesse C. Middendorf will officiate. Entombment will follow at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to Trevecca University or Nazarene Theological Seminary. Online tributes can be left at madisonfuneralhome.net.
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  • Dr. and Mrs. Greathouse were our professors at the Nazarene Bible College. Their lifestyles emul... JOHNNANCYLEAF on 03/29/11
  • John and I had Dr. & Mrs. Greathouse as teachers at the Nazarene Bible College. They were and al... JOHNNANCYLEAF on 03/29/11
  • I dearly remember Rev. Greathouse in one of the assemblies in Puerto Rico. He made us laugh when ... HILDAMARTINEZ on 03/27/11