Dr. Howard Peterson Giddens
Dr. Howard Peterson Giddens, who as a beloved pastor and professor enriched the lives of untold numbers of people, died on Monday, June 16, 2008, at Peake Health Center in Macon. He was 97.
Dr. Giddens is survived by his wife, Gladys Holder Giddens; they would have been married 68 years on June 19. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews, a multitude of friends, and a host of former parishioners and students.
He was born November 28, 1910 in Nashville, Georgia to Rev. and Mrs. A. H. Giddens. He was a graduate of Nashville High School (1927). After attending Norman Junior College, he graduated from Mercer University where he earned both the B.A. (1934) and M.A. (1935) degrees. While at Mercer he was a part of many student organizations, including Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and the Baptist Student Union.
Dr. Giddens earned the Master of Theology (1938) and Doctor of Theology (1946) degrees at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Mercer University awarded him a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1955.
A beloved pastor for decades, he served as pastor of New Castle (KY) Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of West Point, First Baptist Church of Bainbridge, and First Baptist Church of Athens. He also served many churches as Interim Pastor and Bible Study Teacher.
During his years as a pastor he was very involved in Georgia Baptist life. Dr. Giddens was President of the Georgia Baptist Convention (1958-1960). He served Georgia Baptists as a member and chairman of the Executive Committee, as a trustee of Mercer University, Norman College, Truett-McConnell College, and Baptist Village, and on many other committees and boards. He also served Southern Baptists faithfully and effectively. He was a member of the Foreign Mission Board and the Executive Committee, which he served as Secretary, as well as several other committees and boards.
Dr. Giddens served on the Board of Directors of the Boy Scouts of America in both West Point and Athens. In Athens he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Community Chest and the Red Cross and was also involved in various other community affairs.
In 1967 Dr. Giddens returned to his alma mater to serve as Curry Professor of Christianity, a position that he held until 1984. He also served as Assistant to the President for Denominational Relations from 1982 until his retirement in 1984. In retirement he served Mercer as a consultant for Denominational Relations.
At Mercer Dr. Giddens was known as “the Professor with the open door.” Students knew he cared about them and that they were always welcome to visit him in his office. He served as faculty advisor to the Baptist Student Union and the Mercer Ministerial Association. He was a member of several Mercer faculty committees including service as Chair of the Committee on Tenure. He was named Outstanding Faculty Member in 1977, 1979, and 1981. In 1975 he was named the first recipient of Zeta Omega Zeta Chapter, Lambda Chi Alpha Outstanding Faculty Member award, which they named “the Howard P. Giddens Award.” He was listed in the Baptist Program as one of the outstanding dedicated teachers in Baptist colleges in the Southern Baptist Convention in 1977. He served on the Board of Directors of Mercer University Press from 1981 until his death.
Dr. Giddens was an avid sports fan. From 1949 until 2006, he missed five home football games of his beloved Georgia Bulldogs and one Georgia-Florida game. A great baseball fan, he made an annual pilgrimage to Florida for Spring Training for almost sixty years.
Dr. Giddens was a member and deacon of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, a member of the Macon Rotary Club and of the Mercer Orange Coat Club.
A memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church on Friday, June 20 at 2:00 p.m. with Dr. Michael L. Ruffin, Dr. James C. Elder, Rev. Howard E. Germany and Dr. Robert Setzer officiating. The family will receive visitors at the funeral home from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 19. Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Mercer University for the Howard P. Giddens Chair of Old Testament.