Christian journalism pioneer, Bob Walker, 95, dies
Robert A. Walker, a legendary figure among Christians in journalism, died on Saturday, March 1 in Carol Stream, Illinois. His staggering list of professional achievements easily places him among the giants of his generation in Christian media.
UPDATE: According to the current schedule, there will be a memorial service for Bob Walker, Friday, March 14, 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM, to be held at Wheaton Bible Church
Assist News Service notes:
Robert Alander Walker, who received the first prestigious Magazine Publishers Award from the Evangelical Christian Publisher Association in 1994, is considered by many to be the pioneer of Christian Journalism.
"That's because he has been involved with so much over so many years," says Mark Sweeny, President of ECPA.
Those "involvements" include the founding/editing of His magazine for students on secular college campuses, and of Sunday magazine (precursor of Christian Life) - the first pocket-size Christian publication. Time and Newsweek took note by featuring the event.
Walker also established the Christian Writers' institute, a correspondence school which has graduated upwards of 25,000 students, and Creation House, a book publishing entity with such titles as A New Song, by Pat Boone, and Finger Lickin' Good, by Colonel Sanders.
Christian Bookseller magazine (later to become Christian Retailing) also was a brainchild of Walker, along with Christian Life Missions, a world-wide outreach.
News of his passing is working its way out into the greater religious community. Walker served on the board of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. The IFCJ released a statement, saying:
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), its staff and supporters mourn the passing of a true friend - Robert A. Walker - on Saturday, March 1, 2008. An active part of The Fellowship since its inception in 1983, Mr. Walker, 95, was a founding member of the organization's board of directors and was dedicated to the cause of building bridges of understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews. "Bob was a man of deep Christian belief whose faith spilled over into all aspects of life. His commitment to his faith was absolute and, yet, he was warm and tolerant toward those who did not necessarily share his views," said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, IFCJ President. "His devotion and guidance played a major role in our organization's development over the years. Israel and the Jewish people - and I, on a deep and personal level - have lost a dear friend."
There is a Pat Boone connection ("A New Song"), as well as a Pat Robertson/CBN connection.
According to IFCJ:
"Bob Walker was one of the five founding board members of CBN and has been a close friend for almost 50 years. As publisher of Christian Life magazine, Bob was a very influential leader of evangelical Christianity and a highly-regarded member of our community. He lived a strong and full life, and we will sorely miss him," added Dr. Pat Robertson, Founder & Chairman of CBN.
On Pat Roberston's website, there is a fascinating account of Pat's first encounter with Bob Walker and Pat's introduction to being "baptized in the Holy Spirit."
Pat writes that during the late 1950s:
I was invited to the Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., to speak to the Senate prayer group of which my father was a member. At the end of a meeting, Bob Walker, the ruggedly handsome editor of Christian Life, came over to me, chatted a bit, and then asked, "Have you ever heard of the baptism in the Holy Spirit?"
"That's the experience I have been searching for," I replied, but before I could finish my sentence, we were interrupted, leaving me wondering why he would ask me such a question.
I returned to New York, and arriving at Penn Station went directly to the annual banquet of Christian Soldiers, Inc., on whose board I was a member. Seated at the head table with me was an ebullient young minister, Harald Bredesen, who, it turned out, was public-relations director for the Gospel Association for the Blind. I was drawn to him by his warmth of spirit and was delighted when we discovered at the conclusion of the banquet that we were taking the same subway home. We were no sooner seated than with an engaging smile he asked, "Do you know anything about the baptism in the Holy Spirit?"
"Funny you should ask," I replied. "Just today in Washington I met a fellow named Bob Walker, and he asked me the same question."
"Bob Walker!" he exclaimed. "He's one of my best friends. He's just received the baptism. That's why he wanted to share it with you." Harald was exuberant-I was awed by the providence of God.