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Leroy Garrett

Author, publisher, scholar Leroy Garrett dies at 96

Leroy Garrett, publisher, lecturer and author among Churches of Christ, died Sept. 29. He was 96.

A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 3 at the Singing Oaks Church of Christ in Denton, Texas.

Garrett was the author of books including “The Stone-Campbell Movement: The Story of the American Restoration Movement” and “What Must the Churches of Christ do to be Saved?” 

Wayne Newland reviewed Garrett’s autobiography, “A Lover’s Quarrel: My Pilgrimage of Freedom in Churches of Christ,” for The Christian Chronicle in 2004.

Following is an excerpt from that review:

Garrett, an influential and controversial figure among Churches of Christ and the other Restoration streams for more than half a century, has been considered a heretic by many and a defector by some. He is unique, though, in also being a respected authority on the movement.

In his autobiography, written during his 84th year, he tells of being a preacher, debater, teacher, professor, lecturer, traveler, editor and writer, husband and father (and, briefly, a restaurateur and a school bus driver). He was educated at Freed-Hardeman, Abilene Christian, Southern Methodist, Concordia Seminary, Princeton Seminary, and holds a Harvard Ph.D. — without completing high school. 

We learn of Garrett’s 1918 birth into the family’s hardscrabble existence in Mineral Wells, Texas, of his initial desire to preach, of finding his beloved Ouida. His eventual career as a philosophy professor at a number of public and private colleges included schools affiliated with each of the three Stone-Campbell branches. He describes making his living as a professor so he could write and publish monthly journals at his own expense (Bible Talk 1952-58, Restoration Review 1959-92). Preaching and lecturing wherever invited, he passed the income along to his publications. Counting frequent newsletters issued since 1992, he has been an editor for more than 50 years — a record among us.

Garrett’s early reputation among Churches of Christ was as a strident opponent of “professionalism” and “institutionalism.” He denounced the system of located preachers and para-church organizations — colleges in particular — doing the work of the church. But he puzzled many when he joined with Carl Ketcherside (1908-1989) in making what seemed to be a pendulum swing from the ultra-conservative to greater openness and acceptance among the movement’s three major branches — Churches of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ. The two men sought to reach across the divisions and subdivisions that have evolved since the efforts by Stone and the Campbells to unify Christianity by restoring the New Testament church.

Of this change, he writes “I still hold the views I did then, albeit more moderately. Or to put it another way, I have shifted my priorities, deeming other issues more important.”

Read the complete review.

Here are additional details from Garrett’s obituary:

He was a resident of Denton for 53 years. He was born in Mineral Wells, Texas to B.J. and Annie Garrett. He was preceded in death by his wife Ouida, his parents, five brothers, one sister, a son Philip, a daughter Phoebe. He is survived by a son, David Garrett of Chillicothe, Mo., one grandson, two great grandsons and a brother, William J. Garrett of Dallas. 

He was a professor of philosophy at MacMurray College in Illinois, Bethany College in West Virginia, Texas Woman’s University, and Bishop College in Dallas. In retirement he was an adjunct professor at Richland College in Dallas, Dallas Christian College, and University of Dallas. 

He was a lecturer, editor, and author among Churches of Christ and Christian Churches for more than 70 years. His body was donated to UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. 

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