Foy Valentine, a pioneer in Christian ethics and civil rights and founding editor of Christian Ethics Today
, died suddenly January 7 at age 82. Valentine headed the Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1960-1987, and was described by longtime Baptist Press director W.C. Fields as "the most significant civil rights leader among Southern Baptists during the 1960s, '70s and '80s." Speaking of Valentine's deep conviction on issues of racial equality, Fields said, "During those dark days, when civil rights was such an explosive issue, Foy always was well-informed, sure of the Christian approach, and he had the courage to follow through on his convictions. His courage was amazing." Lifelong friend and colleague Jimmy Allen said, "He was legitimately a 20th century prophet. He was a pioneer in Christian ethics, civil rights and religious liberty. He dealt with the hardest kind of issues in a prophetic fashion." In 1971, Valentine was instrumental in the Southern Baptist Convention's adoption of a resolution affirming a right to abortion in some cases. Because of his progressive stance on abortion and other volatile issues, Valentine was often targeted by SBC conservatives. After Valentine's retirement from the SBC Christian Life Commission (now the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission) in 1987, he founded the Center for Christian Ethics
, now connected to Baylor University. He was founding editor of the Journal of Christian Ethics
, a trustee of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
, and involved in the leadership of other national groups. W.C. Fields remembered that Valentine "was a natural leader. He was willing to stand out there alone, to fall, to get back up and to fall again, if necessary." The memorial service for Foy Valentine was held Wednesday, January 11, at Park Cities Baptist Church
in Dallas, Texas. A private burial followed in his hometown of Edgewood, Texas.