Vernon Grounds served Denver Seminary, an NAE member institution, for 60 years as academic dean, second president, president emeritus and chancellor. He died on September 12, 2010, at age 96.
Considered one of the foremost leaders and thinkers in the founding of the evangelical Christian movement, Grounds remained central in its development over the past 60 years. He was known for his commitment to social action, concern and care for the needs of the poor and under-represented, and a mentor to local, regional, national and international leaders.
“Vernon Gounds was one of my mentors,” NAE President Leith Anderson said. “My mother-in-law went from kindergarten through 12th grade with him — we go way back! His influence for good was deep and wide.”
Denver Seminary President Mark Young said, “No one has shaped Denver Seminary more than Dr. Grounds. His legacy permeates our school. Through a lifetime of teaching, preaching, mentoring, writing, counseling, evangelizing and leadership, his influence spans generations and continents. We miss him deeply.”
Vernon Grounds was born in Jersey City, N.J., in 1914. While a student at Rutgers University, Grounds studied literature and philosophy and came to, in his words, “the great continental divide in my life.” Deeply impressed by what he called “Calvary love,” he committed the rest of his life to serving Christ through ministry to others. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers in 1937, a Bachelor of Divinity from Faith Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Drew University.
From 1945 to 1951, Grounds served as dean and professor of theology at Baptist Bible Seminary in Johnson City, N.Y. He joined Denver Seminary in 1951 as dean and became president five years later. After retiring from the presidency in 1979, Grounds was named President Emeritus and Chancellor, a position he actively retained until his death.
Grounds served as a contributing editor of Christianity Today and a frequent writer of Our Daily Bread devotionals. He wrote several books and hundreds of articles that appeared frequently in Christian periodicals. Grounds’ biography, “Transformed by Love: The Vernon Grounds Story,” was authored by Bruce L. Shelley and published by Discovery House Publishers in 2002.
Vernon Grounds leaves behind his wife of 71 years, Ann; his son-in-law and daughter, Bob and Barbara Owen; grandson-in-law and granddaughter, Michael and Emily Gagnebin; and two great-grandsons, Noah and Levi.
An open casket viewing will be held at Denver Seminary in the Simpson Chapel on Thursday, September 16, 2010, from 3-7 p.m. A memorial service honoring the life of Grounds will be held on October 9, 2010 at 10 a.m. at Cherry Hills Community Church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Denver Seminary to the Vernon C. Grounds Memorial Fund.