David Wray will retire from his post in the College of Biblical Studies after 21 years on staff at ACU.
“I’m at retirement age – I turn 66 in May – so I’ve decided to make the transition,” Wray said.
Wray served for five years as associate dean of spiritual life and co-curriculum in the College of Biblical studies. He now will devote the majority of his time to a nonprofit, faith-based ministry in Abilene, called Faithworks, where he serves as a chair.
Faithworks is a 13-week program that helps unemployed people gain necessary skills in order to provide livelihood for themselves and their families.
“It’s a remarkable program,” Wray said. “The ministry’s really taken off and done well.”
Wray said one reason for his decision to retire at this time is so opportunities for others to come in behind him, who have finished their programs, will be made available.
“I’ve never felt better about ACU and about the College of Biblical Studies,” Wray said. “We’ve got great, very young scholars.”
Mike Cope, adjunct professor in the College of Biblical Studies, said he respects Wray’s decision to devote more time to Faithworks.
“David is maybe the most influential spiritual leader I’ve ever had in my life,” Cope said. “As an elder at the Highland church, as a friend, as a guide, as an associate dean in the college where I teach – in every different place – he’s just been a source of great encouragement and direction for me.”
Cope began working as a preacher at the Highland Church of Christ in 1991, about the same time Wray began working full time at ACU, Cope said. Wray has been an elder at Highland for 25 years.
“There’d be no real way to replace David Wray,” Cope said. “He’s an irreplaceable kind of individual.”
Rosten Callarman, third-year master of divinity student in the Graduate School of Theology, would agree with Cope.
“He’s a mentor to all,” Callarman said. “He’s kind of like a cross between a grandfather and a friend, in a lot of ways.”
Callarman said it will take time, but eventually people will not view the next associate dean as “David Wray’s Replacement.”
“It’s not that he necessarily has big shoes to fill, it’s just the impact he’s had on so many students’ lives is huge,” Callarman said.
Callarman lives in a community with many other Graduate School of Theology students, which he describes as a “local, intentional, new monastic” community. Callarman said Wray likely will play a bigger part in their community and others similar.
“My little community has talked with him a lot,” Callarman said. “I’ve spent a lot of time with him. Any time I have a problem or need wisdom, I’ll go try to knock on his office and say, ‘Hey David, help me.’ He’s kind of one of those guys that it’s easy to talk to him for a while.”
Wray is not worried at all about leaving the university, but excited about his “encore career” with Faithworks.
“I’ve never felt better about where we are as a university, particularly as a college,” Wray said. “It’s in great hands. It’s been terrific years at ACU.”