John H. Ogwyn
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
June 15, 2005
To All the Saints
In the Churches of God
Re: The Passing of John Ogwyn
On Tuesday morning June 14th the Living Church of God announced the tragic passing of Mr. John Ogwyn, a dedicated servant to God’s people his entire adult life. Mr. Ogwyn’s influence was truly remarkable and could be felt in every corner of the globe. If one thinks about it, few ministers in this era of the New Testament Church have had a greater impact on God’s people and His work.
John Ogwyn was a splendid writer and his words brought life to the great truths revealed in the scriptures. His grasp of church history was, and is legendary among God’s people today. He wrote powerfully about the journey of God’s True Church down through the ages, and his magnificent storytelling connected believers in this generation to those in generations past, whose faith carried them across continents. Today Mr. Ogwyn’s work remains a source of inspiration to thousands who honor and cherish their wonderful calling.
When John Ogwyn spoke, his messages were packed not only with great force but also great tenderness. His style was generally formal but you always got the impression a close friend was sharing with you some of life’s greatest secrets—and how those secrets exploded when he pounded home a point. His talent as a preacher during the past several years became so obvious that Dr. Roderick C. Meredith enlisted his services as a presenter on Tomorrow’s World, one of the premier television broadcasts produced by God’s Church. Additionally, Mr. Ogwyn served on LCG’s council of elders and was a regional pastor for the Church.
I first met John in August 1967. We were both freshmen at Ambassador College and lived in the same dormitory (Manor Del Mar). I believe it was the evening before classes started and John was walking down a hall on the dorm’s second floor. When he saw me he asked my name after which he extended his hand and introduced himself. “I’m John Ogwyn, that’s O-G-W-Y-N.” He held the “Y” for what seemed like several seconds or perhaps that’s just how I want to remember it. At any rate his accent was so pronounced it could have filled up all of Dixie. When he finished introducing himself I asked, “You wouldn’t by chance be from the south, would you?” At that moment we both busted out laughing.
John was very studious in college while I was more interested in sports and social activities. I believe he saw AC as an important investment—one to be honored with his best effort. It is clear that his understanding here reflected maturity well beyond his years.
Although he was not much of a “jock” John did like basketball—soon I would find out why. A few weeks into the semester I happened to walk by his study area and noticed a picture of a young kid wearing a basketball uniform. When I asked about it John began describing the “hoop” prowess of his little brother David. He spoke with great pride about his b-ball “phenom” sibling and I got the impression that John’s words were his way of bringing his kid brother a little closer to Pasadena. A few years later I would meet this kid on the basketball court and John was right, David could “hoop.” He was also a very decent young man. I guess it just runs in the family.
I only saw John once after our college days, although I had heard many of his messages as well as read numerous articles he had written. That visit took place during the Feast of Tabernacles in Ventura, California nearly ten years ago. John was a guest speaker that year. One afternoon after services we went out to lunch and spent hours sharing stories about our lives and solving all the problems in the church. What a great time that was.
Today, as so many of God’s people still reel from the effects of the disintegration of the WWCG, something unique stands out in this extraordinary man. Although he was fascinated with history, I always got the impression that John was far more interested in where God’s Church was going than from where it had come. Perhaps that is why he generally stayed away from so much of the wrangling that seems to consume the Church today. Then again perhaps it was something different. Perhaps John Ogwyn was made of something that couldn’t accept discord. Simply put he was a gentleman—one not given to insults or vulgarity.
Much more could be said about this true and faithful servant and I am certain that words of appreciation (even from the most unlikely of places) will be expressed during the coming days—and well they should. To me John Ogwyn was a consummate professional. He brought dignity to his calling and distinction to his service. He possessed a great strength of spirit and I never saw a moment when his conviction wavered. But the thing I admired most in him was that he could be entreated. You could argue a point with him and not be made to feel like you were committing sacrilege. That is a rare quality indeed.
In closing, John Ogwyn was many things in this life. He was a husband, a father, a brother, a teacher, a writer, a pastor and a friend. He was my friend. And he was a friend to so many. The world was a better place because of him and it is now a poorer one without him. And the same can be said about God’s church. Men such as John Ogwyn just seem like a perfect fit for those called according to God’s purpose. Sadly, their passing is always too early.
Down through the years I have been asked many times my opinion of various COG ministers and I must admit that in some cases there just doesn’t seem to be much to say. But when asked about the passing of John Ogwyn a few words seem appropriate and I can think of no greater tribute.
His was a life well spent
Blow the Trumpet
PS A note to John Ogwyn’s brother David
Earlier this year I had to bury my older brother. During the last days of his life he slipped into a coma and I couldn’t stop crying. God bless you.
To the Church