Leading Free Methodist elder, author and seminary professor Donald E. Demaray died Oct. 31 at age 88 after being diagnosed Sept. 10 with a recurrence of pancreatic cancer. A funeral service was held Nov. 6 at the Wilmore (Kentucky) Free Methodist Church.
“Dr. Donald Demaray was a giant among God’s servants. He was a preacher, teacher, pastor, writer, mentor and friend of tens of thousands and probably more,” said Bishop David Kendall, one of Demaray’s former students at Asbury Theological Seminary where Demaray served as a professor for 34 years and as emeritus professor for 14 years. “Generations of seminary students learned how to preach from him; several different denominations benefited regularly through his preaching and teaching; and the larger world received inspiration, instruction and encouragement through his writings.”
Demaray wrote or edited more than 30 books, which earned him a devoted audience of fellow Free Methodists and many other Christians such as former U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield and U.S. Senate Chaplain Lloyd Ogilvie.
“Dr. Don, as many called him out of respect and affection, stressed such varied topics as laughter and healing, basic doctrine and ministry, and practical holiness,” Kendall said. “He regularly blessed the church by making historical, theological and doctrinal works accessible for the person on the street or in the pew. His winning smile, endearing laugh and convincing manner will continue to shape the leadership of the church for many years to come.”
Demaray was born Dec. 6, 1926. He earned his Ph.D. at Edinburgh University and was awarded a Lit.D. at Los Angeles Pacific College (now Azusa Pacific University). After completing his doctoral work in Edinburgh, Scotland, he began full-time ministry in Seattle. He served first as a youth pastor and then as a professor at Seattle Pacific College (now University). After 14 years, he and his late wife, Kathleen, along with their children, Cherith, Elyse and James, moved to Wilmore, Kentucky.
“In the late ’60s, Dr. Demaray assumed the position of professor of preaching at Asbury Theological Seminary. It was then that I first gained a deep appreciation of his knowledge of the word and how to translate that into the language of preaching,” said John Van Valin, a Free Methodist pastor and former Light & Life Communications publisher. “Combining great homiletical and writing skills, Dr. Don endeared himself to countless students and readers.”
Van Valin and Demaray connected again when Light & Life published some of his books.
“While serving as denominational publisher, it was a distinct privilege to work with this stalwart man of God in publishing several of his dozens of volumes. His life epitomized the title of one of his famous books: ‘Laughter, Joy and Healing.’ His friends can still hear his infectious laughter and be blessed by the memory of his contagious joy,” Van Valin said.
“Furthermore, only heaven will reveal the extent of his healing ministry around the world, bringing countless people to the Great Physician through faith and prayer. To know Don was to enjoy his friendship, nurtured by his ministry and to be encouraged by his life of indestructible faith in Christ. I’m forever grateful that, especially during my formative years of ministry, I had Don as a prof and friend.”
Even in retirement, Demaray continued to teach, speak, write and help seminarians on their spiritual journeys.
For memorial contributions, go to fmchr.ch/atsgive and direct any contributions to Seedbed, the publication arm of Asbury Theological Seminary.2