With great sadness we share the news that Dr. V. Bailey Gillespie, 75, passed to his rest on Monday, May 7, at 12:47 a.m. at City of Hope medical center in Duarte, California. He had been battling liver cancer since early 2017. He is survived by his wife of nearly 54 years, Judy Walcker Gillespie; son Tim and daughter-in-law Sara; daughter Shannon Quishenberry and son-in-law Kenneth Sievers; and five grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on May 19 at 4 p.m. in the La Sierra University Church.
Bailey’s career in Adventist education and ministry began shortly after he received his master of divinity degree from Andrews University in 1966. He served as a church pastor, as an academy religion and music teacher, and as assistant dean for admissions and student affairs in the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry before moving to higher education in Loma Linda’s Division of Religion in 1976. He earned his PhD in Christian Personality and Faith Development from Claremont Graduate University in 1973.
In 1981, Bailey returned to his undergraduate alma mater, La Sierra University (then known as the La Sierra Campus of Loma Linda University), as professor of theology and Christian personality and chair of the church and ministry department. He remained a vital part of La Sierra’s religion faculty until his retirement in June 2017. He served as associate dean of La Sierra’s HMS Richards Divinity School from 2015-2017 and as acting dean from 2014-2015.
Bailey was tireless in his efforts to help the Seventh-day Adventist Church reach young people for Christ and support their faith development. He spearheaded the Valuegenesis research project, a landmark longitudinal study of students in grades 6-12 enrolled in Adventist schools. Its goal was to discover what makes Adventist young people accept or reject the faith of their parents and what the Church can do about it. Begun in North America in 1990, Valuegenesis inspired spin-offs in Mexico, South America, Europe, and Australia.
Shortly after the release of the first Valuegenesis research findings, Bailey founded the John Hancock Center for Youth and Family Ministry at La Sierra University. Its mission, in part, was to create resources for churches and schools so that they could turn research findings into practical applications. The Adventist Church contracted with the Hancock Center to create a curriculum to be used by children’s Sabbath School classes worldwide. Called the “Gracelink Curriculum,” it presented “the four aspects of a growing Christian experience—grace, worship, community, and service.”
Bailey wrote or edited more than 30 books and hundreds of articles. In addition to teaching, research, and writing, he also led archaeological expeditions to Caesarea Maritima in Israel from 1976-1982. From 1983 through 2015, he directed and led the Middle East Study Tour, helping hundreds of people experience the lands of the Bible.
In June 2016, a cohort of 25 pastors, Bible teachers, and chaplains began working toward their master of theological studies degree from La Sierra University, with classes held in the Central California Conference office. Bailey was delighted to be instrumental in setting up this program, which brought a La Sierra education to church employees in their local conference.
“Our hearts are heavy, and we grieve with the Gillespie family at this time,” says Randal Wisbey, president of La Sierra University, who notes that Bailey developed a process for spiritual masterplanning on Adventist campuses, including La Sierra. “We thank God for the ways in which Dr. Gillespie blessed so many lives. His strong personal faith and commitment to grace-filled ministry leave a lasting legacy to La Sierra and the Church.”
This press release and photo were provided by La Sierra University.
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