Remembering Frank Warden: A Life that Bore Much Fruit

By James V. Heidinger II

The Good News family lost a former member of its board of directors, the Rev. Dr. Frank Warden, who died November 14, at his home in Searcy, Arkansas, on his 80th birthday.

Frank was elected to the Good News board in 1974 but had already been involved in Good News’ ministry, helping the Rev. Mike Walker with local arrangements for the First Good News National Convocation in Dallas, Texas, the summer of 1970.

Just recently, his wife, Dorothy, shared with me that the Lord touched Frank and her deeply in a Lay Witness Mission at their church in 1968. At the time, Frank was practicing law with the prestigious Mehaffey, Smith and Williams law firm in Little Rock. He practiced with that firm from 1960 until 1969.

Soon after the Lay Witness weekend, Frank felt called into the ministry and left the law practice in 1969 to attend Perkins School of Theology in Dallas. While a student there, he was on staff at University Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. After graduating from Perkins, he joined the staff of Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, with Dr. Leighton Ferrell. He served there as Minister of Evangelism from 1973 until 1985 in what was then United Methodism’s largest church.

While at Highland Park, Frank had a great teaching ministry, out of which came Trinity Bible Studies. This was one of the first in-depth Bible study programs in the denomination and met a real need for those who had a hunger to do serious Bible study. So Frank developed the study and began to market it while at Highland Park.

During this time, the Rev. Sundo Kim (now Bishop) of the Kwang Lim Methodist Church in Seoul, Korea, visited Highland Park Church. He met Frank and that connection led to Frank’s traveling to Seoul Korea to teach Trinity Bible Studies to thousands of Korean Methodists. After Frank had made three such trips, the study materials were translated into the Korean language, helping open the Scriptures to thousands more Korean Methodists in what is now the largest Methodist Church in the world.

Frank had a dynamic ministry at Highland Park, touching the lives of both adults and students. In 1985, he and Dorothy moved from Dallas to El Paso, Arkansas, where the slower pace of serving two small churches allowed him to continue to market Trinity Bible Studies out of their home. Dorothy recalls that almost every day, UPS trucks would come to their door to pick up orders for study materials which were going all across the country.

Frank’s bishop in Arkansas at the time was Bishop Richard Wilke. Dorothy mentioned that he made a favorable reference to TBS in one of his books. She and Frank believed that the positive response to Trinity helped encourage Bishop Wilke and the UM Publishing House to develop Disciple Bible Study, which has had great acceptance and usage across the church.

My heart is filled with gratitude for Frank, whom I considered a real friend and colleague in renewal. Conversations with Frank were always an encouragement to me. He was a former prosecutor, judge advocate (in the military) and then attorney who brought strong leadership skills, biblical conviction, and unusual courage into his years of ministry. He was bold in his faith and in his desire to see the Word of God taught faithfully in the United Methodist Church.

Trinity has been translated not only into Korean, but also into Spanish, and more recently into Russian. TBS continues to be marketed today by Bristol House, Ltd. Sarah Anderson, Bristol House Chief Operating Officer, said they are re-designing TBS, and also creating video introductions for books of the Bible in both New and Old Testament Survey studies. But the same solid content remains.

The impact of Frank and Dorothy’s lives and ministry continues through TBS. I mention Dorothy intentionally, because as a loving wife, journalist, and dedicated Christian, she was very much a part of Frank’s ministry.

Frank was a real servant of Jesus Christ who ran the race, finished the course, and kept the faith. Many thousands across the United Methodist Church join us in giving thanks for his life of faithful and very fruitful service.

James V. Heidinger II is the president and publisher emeritus of Good News.