In the combined related fields of church renewal, congregational evangelism, faith development, and personal and corporate stewardship Richard Stoll Armstrong has few peers.
For the past five decades Armstrong's energetic ministry has brought him into contact with denominations, churches, pastors, church members, students, and faculties throughout North America and abroad. He has preached, lectured, spoken at conferences, held seminars, led workshops and retreats, conducted training programs, and sparked new life in countless congregations and interchurch groups.
Dr. Armstrong joined the faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary after a distinguished pastorate at the Second Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis. As the first occupant of an endowed chair of evangelism in any Presbyterian (USA) seminary, he brought to his teaching ministry at Princeton a remarkably varied background of experience as a Navy Supply Officer in World War II, a minor league baseball player and front office executive, a major league public relations director, copy and plans director of an advertising agency, sports commentator and producer and director of radio and television sports programs, development officer, fund raiser, seminary administrator, and pastor. He has received several awards for his accomplishments in sports and is a member of two athletic Halls of Fame. He is also a composer (two of his songs are in Princeton University=s Carmina Princetonia) and a poet, whose poems have appeared in countless church bulletins.
After what he calls a "Damascus road" experience, which pointed him in a completely new direction, Armstrong resigned from his glamorous position as Public Relations Director of the Baltimore Orioles in order to enter Princeton Seminary. Upon graduation three years later he was ordained by the Philadelphia Presbytery and served for ten years as pastor of the Oak Lane Presbyterian Church, an urban congregation whose dramatic renewal has been described in a widely-circulated book, THE OAK LANE STORY. The film version of the story was shown in churches across the country. His approach to congregational evangelism and church renewal was later set forth in his book, SERVICE EVANGELISM, with which term his name is now internationally associated.
Dr. Armstrong's research and writing in the area of pastoral evangelism has earned him recognition as one of the world's leading authorities on the pastor's personal evangelism. His book, THE PASTOR AS EVANGELIST published in 1984, was listed on the Best Seller List of Westminster Press and was a featured selection of the Minster's Personal Library Series, as was its sequel, THE PASTOR-EVANGELIST IN WORSHIP. His third book in the pastor-evangelist series was published in 1990 under the title THE PASTOR-EVANGELIST IN THE PARISH.
Armstrong has written the curriculum materials for a 16-week evangelism training course which is being used in churches throughout North America and abroad. Published under the title, FAITHFUL WITNESSES, the materials, consisting of a Leader's Guide and a Participant's Workbook, are designed to help lay people fulfill the Apostle Paul's charge to "do the work of an evangelist." He subsequently completed the FAITHFUL WITNESSES MINI-COURSE, a twelve-hour version of the longer course, produced and published by the National Ministries Division of the PC(USA).
Now the Ashenfelter Professor Emeritus of Ministry and Evangelism at Princeton Seminary, Armstrong is a past President of the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education and served for six years as Editor of the AETE=s scholarly Journal. He was recognized by his professional colleagues by being named the first recipient of the Academy=s prestigious Charles Grandison Finney Award Afor intellectual leadership in Christian evangelism.@ He has served on the boards of a variety of organiztions and institutions, such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the American Boychoir School, the National Council of Presbyterian Men, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Princeton Theological Seminary, the Indiana Commission on Human Services, the Division for Contextual Ministry of Vista University in South Africa, among many others.
Armstrong has published three volumes of poetry. The first book, ENOUGH, ALREADY! (Fairway Press, 1993), was an illustrated collection of poems (mostly humorous) commenting on life in the local church. His second and third volumes, NOW, THAT’S A MIRACLE! and IF I DO SAY SO MYSELF, containing his poetic reflections on faith and life, were released by CSS Publishing Co. in 1996 and 1997, respectively. His book, Are You Really Free? (CSS/Fairway, 2002), examines the nature of Christian freedom and what it means to be Christ=s disciple in today=s world. His latest book, Help! I’m a Pastor, A Guide to Parish Ministry
(Westminster/John Knox Press, 2005) was written in collaboration with his former student and teaching assistant, The Rev. Dr. Kirk Walker Morledge.
Dick, as he is known to his friends, and his wife Margie, the former Margaret Childs of Princeton, continue to reside just outside of Princeton. They have four living children and seven grandchildren. Their oldest son died of leukemia at the age of five and a half.
Richard Stoll Armstrong