HONORING DENTON: A Life Well Lived 

Share Your Tribute to BWA General Secretary Emeritus Denton Lotz

Scroll down to see a brief synopsis of his life and legacy and make plans to join us Thursday, May 30, at 1 pm for a live stream of Rev. Lotz's tribute service at Columbia Baptist Church.

(1939-2019)

THE EARLY YEARS

Born in 1939 in Flushing, New York, USA, Lotz was the youngest of four sons raised by Rev. and Mrs. John Lotz. He often credited his heritage for influencing his ministry, stating that he inherited “a German brain from his father and an Italian heart from his mother.” 

Lotz (second from left) with his parents and three brothers

A MAN OF HONOR

After graduating from Northpoint High School in 1956, Lotz attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts. 

He then enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving from 1961-1963. During a portion of his service, he was stationed internationally in Okinawa, Japan, ultimately achieving the rank of second lieutenant. 

ACADEMIC PURSUITS

After completing his military service, he attended Harvard Divinity School where he served as President of the Student Government from 1965-1966. He earned his sacred theology degree in 1966 as well as being ordained that same year at Binkley Memorial Baptist Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. After completing his studies at Harvard, Lotz began his doctoral studies at the University of Hamburg in Germany, earning a Doctor of Theology in 1970. 

Pictured with his mother and brother, Sam, at his graduation from Harvard Divinity School. 

HIS PARTNER IN LIFE & MINISTRY

1970 proved to be a wonderful year as it was also the year he married the love of his life – Janice Robinson from Ellisville, Mississippi. For the next ten years, they would serve as missionaries with the International Ministries Division of American Baptist Churches. 

During their missionary tenure, Lotz traveled extensively – often to countries under communist control – with a focus on lecturing, preaching, and serving as a diplomatic representative to government officials on questions of religious freedom and Baptist life.

THE PROFESSOR

During this time, Lotz also served as a professor of missions and homiletics at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Rüschlikon, Switzerland, where he founded the Summer Institute of Theological Education (SITE) – a short-term, intensive theological program for Eastern European pastors and leaders.

At home in Rüschlikon, Switzerland, with the faculty of Baptist Theological Seminary

The Lotz Family 

Preaching in Bucharest, Romania

JOINING THE BWA TEAM

While ministering in Europe, he often traveled alongside Gerhard Claas, who was serving at the time as General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation. When Claas was selected to be the next BWA General Secretary, he invited Lotz to be his deputy. Lotz joined the BWA staff in 1980 in the role of associate secretary, with responsibilities including oversight of the Division of Evangelism and Education as well as Relief and Development. He would later be appointed as Director of the BWA Youth Department as well.  

After Claas suddenly passed away in a tragic automobile accident in 1988, Lotz was designated as Interim General Secretary. Shortly thereafter, the BWA Executive Committee voted to permanently appoint him, which was affirmed by the BWA General Council later that year.  

GLOBAL IMPACT

During nearly two decades of service as General Secretary, Rev. Lotz served alongside five BWA presidents and 71 Vice Presidents as well as numerous commission chairs and staff members. He led preparations for four Baptist World Congresses with a cumulative attendance of 42,000 people from more than 100 countries. He oversaw 20 General Council meetings as well as 16 Annual Gatherings. 

“He leaves a massive footprint in the history of the BWA,” says Rev. Dr. David Coffey, former Baptist World Alliance President (2005-2010). “He was a missionary theologian, an inspiring preacher and evangelist, a champion for religious liberty, a Baptist ambassador, a Christian statesman, and a brother unrivaled in his prodigious remembering of the names of hundreds of people and places.” 

Preaching at the Brazil Baptist Convention in January 2006

Former BWA President David Coffey honors Lotz at his retirement banquet

With former BWA President Billy Kim at the Centennial Congress in Birmingham, England

LEADERSHIP LEGACY

Among his many contributions to the BWA, Lotz helped launch the Baptist International Conference on Theological Education (BICTE) in 1991, which was attended by Baptist educators from 52 countries. He was also instrumental in relocating the Baptist World Alliance office to its current facility in Falls Church, Virginia, USA, in 2001. 

In July 2005 at the BWA Centennial Congress in Birmingham, England, Lotz unveiled the Living Water initiative, a strategic plan designed to enlist and equip local Baptists for evangelism and servant leadership. Since its inception, Living Water events have taken place around the world from Cuba to Bangladesh with more than 4,500 registered delegates in attendance who have engaged in prayer, focused Bible study, evangelism, and leadership training.

With Rev. Billy Graham

With Rev. Franklin Graham, former United States President George Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush, and former United States President Jimmy Carter

A MAN OF INFLUENCE 

His ministry took him around the world from African villages to the Oval Office. His friendships included globally-recognized faith leaders like Rev. Billy Graham as well as leaders of state such as former United States President Jimmy Carter. Upon his retirement from the BWA in 2007, Graham wrote, “Your strong leadership and personal faith has been an inspiration and blessing to me.” 

Carter shared the following, “As I think of all the BWA has accomplished for Baptists around the world in the past twenty years, I know that your gifted leadership has helped to make it all possible. You have served a great organization with conviction and honor.” 

Rev. Lotz is survived by his loving wife, Janice, their three children, and many grandchildren. A memorial service has been scheduled for Friday, April 26, at 12 p.m. at Tremont Temple Baptist Church in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, with a reception following. A live-streamed memorial service celebrating his life and legacy will also be hosted by the Baptist World Alliance at Columbia Baptist Church in Falls Church, Virginia, USA. Details will be forthcoming. 

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