Reverend Woodrow Barnes, a member of the Westminster community and beloved teacher since 1977 (39 years) is finishing his last year at Westminster.
“It’s time to retire, I’m 71 years of age,” Barnes said. “I look forward to retirement. I’ll miss Westminster, but yes it’s time.”
Barnes has been teaching Bible classes to Westminster students since he first arrived, and was the director of summer school classes for 20 years.
“The retreats and fellowships are probably my most memorable experience,” said Barnes. “To think about it, it’s just inspiring to see and to hear what the students can do as far as music and teaching and worship: the opportunity to interact with them and keep up with the student alumni throughout the years.”
Barnes was born in Oklahoma in 1945, and was an only adopted child. Barnes moved to Alabama, grew up there, and went to Auburn University and the University of Alabama to study law before moving to Atlanta in 1974 to attend theology school at Emory.
“My legacy at Westminster… I guess I go back to the purpose of Westminster: to honor Jesus Christ,” said Barnes. “I’ve tried to honor Christ and be a follower. If anything I’ve encouraged others, students and adults alike, to examine and grow in their Christian faith, and for other students to grow in spiritual matters if they’re not Christians.”
It is evident that faith is and has been a significant part of Barnes’s success and legacy at Westminster.
“My life has been such a step of faith, anytime you make a religious commitment, particularly a Christian commitment for me, it’s a step of faith,” said Barnes. “It was a step of faith for me to leave the law practice in Alabama to go to theology school, it was a step of faith to come to Westminster, and now it’s a step of faith to retire. I don’t have any big plans or little plans; I’ll just do as the Lord leads me to at this point.”
Reverend Ricardo Bailey has been a friend of Barnes for five years, admiring him for his generosity and service to the community of Westminster and beyond.
“I will remember Reverend Barnes as a ‘minister’s minister,’” said Bailey. “I hope that Westminster will remember him as a true servant-leader. To our modern and accomplished world that choice of words implies weakness and says that one is ‘milguetoast.’ For us Christians, the role of being a servant-leader is the job description of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus calls us to do exactly the same thing and Reverend Barnes has made that example be the identity of his life, his work, and his ministry. One does not simply meet men in the ministry like Reverend Barnes every day. He is truly an inspiration and I pray that his powerful legacy of humility will define the blueprint for whoever else is chosen to fill his role.”
Barnes has often been in charge of the organization of Westminster’s famous Christian Emphasis Week, a week of prayer and celebration beloved by many students.
“Christian Emphasis Week was here before I got here,” said Barnes. “I would say it originated close to the founding of the school. That’s one of the reasons we have it close to our heritage. It changes through the years; for instance we used to have one speaker for several days, now we generally have one speaker on each day of Christian Emphasis Week.”
Christian Emphasis Week is the opportunity for dialogue and interaction for students with a speaker that can generally encourage and challenge them in many ways.
“Westminster is a tremendous place, with the academic opportunities and challenges,” said Barnes. “Westminster has always attracted some of the brightest if not the brightest students in the area.”
Many students have looked up to Reverend Barnes, due to his generosity, his strength of faith, and his wisdom.
“Reverend Woodrow Barnes is an incredibly kind human soul who is always trying to better the community,” said freshman Neel Tummala. “I feel as though the community will miss him dearly.”
Barnes has always loved Westminster and valued the superb education it offers.
“With the gifted students and talented faculty members of Westminster you put that together and you get a sense of academic excellence and achievement, as well as a great sense of leadership,” said Barnes. “Part of that is the challenge that Westminster is able to give to many of the students and faculty members to continue to excel and keep going on. Hopefully students are learning how to use the knowledge they have gained wisely.”
Westminster has had the privilege and honor of 39 years with Reverend Woodrow Barnes. He has left a legacy that will be remembered and carried on by all whom he touched, taught, and mentored.