Release Date: 10/23/2012
The honorably retired Rev. Darwin D. Wolfe of Bentonville, Ark., will serve as the visiting pastor at University of the Ozarks on the week of Oct. 29-Nov. 2 as part of the university's Pastoral Study Leave Program.
Wolfe, who retired in 2008, is a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and remains active in the Arkansas Presbytery and in Presbyterian Churches in Northwest Arkansas. He has served on the Committee for Preparation for Ministry, was a liaison to a Candidate for the Ministry and Inquirer to the Ministry, was the moderator of the Vaughn Presbyterian Church, and served as moderator of First Presbyterian Church in Bentonville. He currently does pulpit supply and is working to assist the interim minister at First Presbyterian in Bentonville.
Wolfe is a graduate of Louisiana State University as well as the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where he enjoyed systematic theology, ethics, and pastoral care. He and two classmates proposed an independent study, which the faculty approved. They identified 18 major theological issues of the Christian faith, assigned six issues to each participant to research and presented a paper for discussion among the three participants. The major emphasis was tracing the development of major Christian doctrines from the first century to the present time.
Two years ago Wolfe and his wife, Ila, attended the wedding of a person who had been in their youth group at FPC in Bentonville. On the way back from the wedding in Texas, they stopped and visited with three friends who are ministers, but not in contact with each other. Separately, each of the minister friends told Wolfe: "Darwin, the Spirit is at work in the Church and reforming it. I don't know what it will be like, but in 2025 it will be different from anything we have seen before." This is now Wolfe's major area of interest: "Where is the Spirit taking the Church, and what will it look like?"
"It is my hope that exchanges I have with people at University of the Ozarks may shed some light on what the Spirit is doing in their lives and in the life of the Church," he said. "Where are we going? What will we be doing?"
On Dec. 29, Wolfe and his wife, Ila, will celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary. They met at a psychology workshop for people starting over, led by a Dallas psychiatrist and the Rev. Joseph Whitner (PCUSA)—one of the founders of the Presbyterian Counseling Center in Dallas. Both Wolfe and Ila were recovering from the trauma of divorce. A week after the workshop they had their first date: they went out to eat, then to the movie "Starting Over," starring Burt Reynolds, and on the way back to Ila's house they stopped for a cup of tea at Denny's. Two weeks and two days later Wolfe asked Ila to marry him. Two months later they were married. Between them, they have three adult children: a son in Dallas, Texas; a son in Bentonville, Ark.; and, a daughter in Venice, Fla.
The Pastoral Study Leave Program was established in 2005 by the late Rev. Dr. James R. Struthers of Stillwater, Okla., a long-time member of the university's Board of Trustees. Struthers established the program to bring Presbyterian pastors to the U of O campus for personal and professional development. Wolfe is the 14th visiting pastor to take part in the program.