Minister, educator, and author Neil Wiseman passed away 16 March at the age of 86.
Wiseman was born in Detroit, Michigan, but moved to Bourbonnais, Illinois, to earn his Bachelor of Theology from Olivet Nazarene University in 1955. He married his wife, Bonnie, in 1957 before going on to receive his Master of Divinity from Nazarene Theological Seminary in 1960. Nearly 15 years later, he received his Doctor of Ministry from Vanderbilt University.
He served for many years in pastoral ministry and pastoral development. In 1957, he accepted his first pastoral position in Kansas City before moving on to pastor churches across California, Washington, Colorado, Tennessee, and Florida.
“Neil was my in-law’s pastor at [Pompano Beach Church of the Nazarene in Florida] during a time when my father-in-law had some serious health issues,” said David Wilson, retired general secretary. “His ministry to the family during that time was remarkable. He touched scores, perhaps hundreds of people in that church and community, and he is still remembered with great appreciation.”
Wiseman’s work in pastoral development also impacted many people over the years. He taught for 15 years at Nazarene Bible College, served at the Nazarene Headquarters (now Global Ministry Center) in program development for Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries International and the International Board of Education, and taught and served as college chaplain at Trevecca Nazarene University.
“You can add my name to the long list of women and men mentored by Neil,” said Frank Moore, general editor for the Church of the Nazarene. “He did more than anyone will ever know to develop me as a university professor and writer. He encouraged me as a young pastor to further my graduate studies. He offered me opportunities to speak and write. He coached me with incredible patience until I reached my potential. Only eternity will reveal the great host of souls brought into the Kingdom through the ministries of those fortunate enough to learn from this special saint of God.”
Wiseman also served as founding editor of GROW magazine — a Nazarene publication that covered topics pertaining to multicultural ministry and church growth. He also served as editor for Preacher’s Magazine from 1978 to 1980 and again from 1999 to 2000.
He was the founder and director of the first Pastor's Leadership Conferences (now PALCON), which the Church of the Nazarene still holds today. His development of ministers in the classroom includes courses in preaching, spiritual formation, life and work of the minister, and leadership.
He also started a monthly audio sermon resource for pastors called Preaching Today, and he produced two audio clubs called the Layman's Tape Club and the Minister's Tape Club.
After retiring, Wiseman gave his full attention to writing and speaking at pastors' retreats, laypersons' retreat, and continuing education events for ministers until he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a few years before his passing. Two of Wiseman’s literary works can be found on The Foundry Publishing — The Pastor's Guide to Effective Ministry and Architects of the Enduring Set.
“For many years, I have considered Neil to be a great gift to the denomination’s ministers, forward in his thinking, and at times undervalued for his tremendous contributions,” Wilson said. “To the end of his life he was always thinking and posing questions that challenged the status quo. I loved him and will miss him.”
Neil was a member of College Church of the Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas, and he is survived by his wife, Bonnie, and their two sons, Scott and Todd.
Prayer is requested for the Wiseman family.