In Memoriam: Dr. Albert W. Wardin Jr.

January 10, 2023 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Obituaries in Nashville, TN | The TennesseanAlbert W. Wardin, Jr., prominent Baptist historian, died on November 14, 2022, at the age of 94, in Nashville, Tennessee. Albert was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 38 years, Lucile Peak Wardin, for whom he was a devoted, compassionate caregiver for the last 8 years of her life. Albert was also preceded in death by his parents, Albert W. Wardin, Sr., and Anna Klemm Wardin, his brothers Ferdinand and John, his sister Ardis, and his nephew Brad. He is survived by his sister, Doris Wardin Lemley, and nieces and nephews, David, Stephen, Margaret, Debbie, John, Karen, Daniel, Chris, Matthew and Julie. Born in Portland, Oregon, on March 11, 1928, Albert made his first public appearance as a bare-bottomed infant on the promotional calendar of the Fulton Park Dairy, the family business. Albert graduated from Lincoln High School in Portland, then received his B.A. degree from Willamette University, his Master’s degree from Stanford University, and Bachelor of Divinity degree from Western Baptist Seminary. He began his lifelong career in religious education at Western Baptist Seminary in Portland, teaching church history, and taught Baptist History at Judson Baptist College, where he served as Head of Library. Albert came to Nashville in 1967, joining the faculty of Belmont College. Early in his tenure at Belmont, he served a vital role in the restoration of Belmont mansion. Albert was the first President of the Belmont Mansion Historical Society and its foundation, authoring a history of the mansion. Albert taught, wrote and ministered at Belmont until his retirement. Albert met Lucile at Belmont. While leading a bible study group for male students, Albert contacted female faculty to lead a similar group for coeds. The search led Albert to Belmont’s new Dean of Women, Lucile Peak, who said “yes” to Albert’s request for help with the bible study group and, more importantly, said “yes” again to Albert’s marriage proposal a year later. Albert and Lucile shared a heart for world missions and international students. Albert and his mother personally smuggled Bibles into Russia and Romania on travels abroad. They befriended students on their travels, forming lifetime bonds. A sabbatical year in Kenya led them to Harrison Waithaka, who they sponsored to attend Belmont. Baptist missions in Shanghai China led them to a lifelong relationship with their “son” Qin Bin Lin. A prolific author, Albert wrote 12 books and numerous articles centering on Baptist history, with a specialization in the Protestant church in Russia. He amassed an extensive collection of Baptist materials, especially on Russian Baptists. His most important works were Tennessee Baptists: A Comprehensive History and On the Edge: Baptists and Other Free Church Evangelicals in Tsarist Russia. The reference room of the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives is named in his honor. Albert supported missions and Baptist education and heritage locally, particularly the library of the American Baptist College, the Tennessee Baptist Historical Society and the Mill Creek Baptist Church graveyard, and globally as well. Albert made significant contributions to and was instrumental in the establishment of the Cambodia Baptist Union and Baptist Center in Bulgaria. A member of First Baptist Church-Nashville since 1967, Albert served as a Deacon, on the Missions Committee, and taught Sunday School and Training Union. He traveled each Sunday for years to teach Sunday School to inner-city youth at Carroll Street Chapel, now the Church of the Messiah. A child of God, a friend and citizen of the world, steward, preserver and chronicler of Baptist history and heritage, Albert leaves a lasting legacy. Visitation will be held Tuesday November 22 from 12 noon to 1 p.m., at First Baptist Church, Seventh and Broadway, Nashville, followed by a Celebration of Life worship service at the church beginning at 1 p.m., led by Tony Rankin. Entombment will follow at 2 p.m., at the mausoleum of Woodlawn-Roesch-Patton Funeral Home, 660 Thompson Lane, Nashville, led by Frank Lewis. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Albert and Lucile Wardin Endowment Fund at Belmont University.

New Research Trip to Nashville and Urbana

June 20, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Research

We were able to travel to two locations to obtain valuable materials concerning the Bulgarian Protestant history. The first location was the Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives in Nashville, TN where a good number of Bulgarian Baptist periodical publications from the past 20 years are being preserved. Along with them, we were able to obtain several publications of the Ukrainian Baptist minister Ivan Ephraimovich Voronaeff (Voronaev), who after immigrating to the United States pastored a Baptist congregation in New York until receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit. After his Pentecostal experience, Voronaeff founded a Russian Assembly in New York which he later left to travel to Turkey, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Russia to establish Pentecostal churches as an Assemblies of God missionary. Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives in Nashville has preserved a number of issues from the Pentecostal publication “Evangelist,” which Voronaeff began publishing in the Ukraine in the late 1920s.

Also in Nashville, we were privileged to meet with Dr. Albert Wardin, a renowned Baptist historian who has written several pieces on Bulgarian Baptists after his first visit to Communist Bulgaria in the 1960s. We are expecting Dr. Wardin to visit us again in Bulgaria very soon in attempt to begin a round table discussion dealing with the history of Baptist presence and missionary endeavors on the Balkan Peninsula.

We departed from Nashville on our way to Urbana, IL to obtain a long-awaited copy of the Albert H. Lybyer Papers. Dr. Lybyer taught at Robert’s College in Constantinople in the beginning of the 20th century before serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the American College in Simeonovo (a suburb of the capital Sofia). His personal papers at archives of the University of Illinois in Urbana have preserved his correspondence with board members, college officials and representatives of the American Board, which are an invaluable reference to Bulgarian Protestant history. His correspondence as a board member contains unprecedented information of the history of the American College in Simeonovo, and more specifically its merge with the Samokov Missionary School. Dr. Lybyer’s papers contain his personal journals recorded during his early trips across the Balkan Peninsula, which presents the missionary context in early 20th century Bulgaria.

The Albert H. Lybyer Papers

April 1, 2008 by  
Filed under News

As we have reported through the years, a good number of our research publications on Bulgarian Protestant history come from the great treasure of knowledge stored at the library center of the University of Illinois in Urbana. Through this research, our teams have been able to discover documents, books and personal archives related directly to the early period of Protestant presence on the Balkans.

Our last trip to Urbana revealed the personal papers of Albert H. Lybyer who taught at Robert’s College in Istanbul as well as the Missionary School in Samokov. The University of Illinois Archives hold several boxes containing his personal papers among which we were able to identify his diary with records of his arrival on the Balkans, trips taken through Bulgaria, Serbia and Turkey from the early 1940s, his grade book and a number of authentic official documents related to the school’s educational program, social activities and financial status. We are in the process of reproducing these papers in a digital format in order to make them available to the Bulgarian researches in the field, as part of our ministry’s endeavor to tell the story of Bulgarian Protestantism.