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The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "The ABCs of C Street," Aug. 29, 2009

Man knows not his time

W. Jack Williamson, attorney, churchman, and long-time chairman of the board of the company that publishes WORLD magazine, died Aug. 8 in Greenville, Ala., at the age of 90. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Alabama and of the law school there, Williamson established a small-town law practice with an international reach. A military pilot in World War II, he was shot down over Austria and was held by Russians for six months as a prisoner of war. As an elder in his local church, he became a leader in the movement in the 1960s and '70s to leave the mainline Presbyterian denomination in the South and to form the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). He was the moderator of the PCA's first General Assembly; as chairman of the PCA's foreign missions committee, he regularly visited the Far East and other fields.

Williamson was a leader on the board of the Presbyterian Journal, an independent magazine founded in 1942 by L. Nelson Bell. Publication of that magazine gave way in 1986-7 to the launch of WORLD magazine, whose board he chaired for most of the next decade. An enthusiastic backer of Christian worldview thinking, he told the story of sitting in late 1973 in the front seat of his car with Francis Schaeffer, discussing the crisis in the church and the devolving state of American culture. "Why did you let this happen?" Schaeffer asked Williamson. "What do you mean, why did we let it happen?" Williamson asked. "You're a lawyer, aren't you?" Schaeffer replied pointedly. "Why did your profession let things get away so badly?"

"He wasn't just blaming the legal profession," Williamson stressed. "He was saying that each of us Christians has a responsibility, not just in our church relationships, but in the specific context of our various vocations, to define issues in a God-centered manner. I was never the same after hearing him say that."

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