Longtime state Sunday School leader, Robert Stewart, dies
    January 31 2014 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

    Robert Curran Stewart, 77, known for being a gifted educator throughout North Carolina, died Jan. 20 after a battle with cancer. 
    “He was a visionary leader,” said Johnny Ross, a former worker with Stewart at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC). Ross called Stewart a “dear friend” and “master teacher.”
    “He’s the most gifted Christian educator I’ve experienced in my lifetime,” said Ross, who retired from the convention in December. He had worked with Stewart in the late 1970s, ’80s and ’90s in the Sunday School area before moving to represent GuideStone Financial Services. “God gifted him with the ability to develop personal relationships.”

    Robert Stewart

    Ross said Stewart could take a “terrible teaching setting” and turn it into “an invitation to learn.” He’s thankful he was allowed to witness Stewart “practice his art.” 
    Born in Walhalla, S.C., Stewart was raised in Greenville, S.C., where he attended high school and Furman University. He married Jo Ellen Bradley in 1958 and moved to Texas where he received a master’s degree in religious education from Southwestern Seminary. Stewart was in the U.S. Army for two years. He was a 1st Lieutenant as a moral and welfare officer for the post and received a meritorious service award. Also during his military service, he was minister of education at Central Baptist Church, Lawton, Okla. He was minister of education at Central Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C., (1962-1964) and minister of education and administration at Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C. (1964-1978).
    In 1978, he became the state Sunday School director at the BSC. Later he was named church programs director and senior consultant for the convention until he retired in 2003.
    Throughout his time at the convention Ross stressed that Stewart practiced what he preached. He was involved at his local church – Woodhaven Baptist Church in Apex – while he was teaching others about education. Not only was he Sunday School director, but Stewart found time to be a deacon and teach classes at church as well. He was also involved in the music ministry.
    “He cared about people,” Ross said. “He cared about me.”
    Stewart encouraged people to “think outside the box to reach people,” Ross said, “but not lose touch with the churches.”
    Ross said Stewart was a “devoted friend,” who, even in his final weeks continued to deflect attention away from himself to ask “How are you doing?”
    “You never were around him where he didn’t make you feel better,” Ross said.
    Missions was also a passion of Stewart. He traveled to Brazil, Belize and Alaska and served on a regular basis at the Wilmington Street Homeless Shelter.

    He is survived by his wife, Jo Ellen Stewart; daughter, Kerri Hurley and husband, Brad, of Fayetteville; son, Steven Stewart and wife, Peggy, of Cheraw, S.C.; and granddaughters, Amanda and Meredith Hurley, and grandson, Gray Hurley, all of Fayetteville. He is also survived by brothers, Dr. James L. Stewart Jr. (Mary Ann) of Columbus, N.C., and Woody Stewart (Reen) of Simpsonville, S.C.
    Memorials may be made to the Robert and Jo Ellen Stewart Scholarship Endowment for Christian Education students at Campbell Divinity School through the North Carolina Baptist Foundation, 201 Convention Drive, Cary, NC 27511.
    1/31/2014 11:03:19 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 0 comments
    Filed under: BSC, obituary, Robert Stewart

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