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Tony Dungy headlines event honoring Dr. Charles Ware

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For several years Dr. A. Charles Ware has been one of the best known and most respected religious leaders in Indianapolis and beyond. He is best known as the former president of Crossroads Bible College, which he led for more than a quarter century. Dr. Ware is lauded for his unfailingly calm (yet resolute) demeanor, his sage counsel and his integrity. He is a man who does not need to shout to be heard, does not need to brandish his accolades to be respected and does not need to name-drop to be impressive. Ware generally speaks softly, unless he’s in “preacher” mode, because he understands that what one represents stands on its own — if it is compelling. 

In recognition of his decades of faithful service to humanity, Ware will be honored on the evening of Feb. 27 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy will headline the event, which is titled “Imagine Indianapolis.” Dr. Ware will be celebrated along with his wife of 47 years, Sharon. The Wares have six children, four daughters-in-law, one son-in-law and three grandchildren. 

Dr. Ware’s journey has had many twists and turns, including the fact that he initially did not consider a career in academia. Rather, he was focused on his faith. Shortly after becoming a Christian in 1968, he enrolled in Bible college. Ware explained what ensued: 

“I sensed a God-given passion to share the gospel with all people groups. An evangelist told me that I was an evangelist and would never go into academics. … In 1990, while serving Bethel Bible Church and Christian School, I was contacted by Baptist Bible College — which became Crossroads Bible College — about my interest in becoming a candidate for the president’s position. After much prayer and consultation with friends and mentors, I applied for the position. The board voted unanimously to call me. I accepted the call and began as president in 1991.”  

Ware has been a mentor to hundreds of students, educators and aspiring leaders in this city and well beyond. He decided to resign the presidency of Crossroads in 2017 to focus on what he refers to as “grace relations.” (More on that later.) Shortly thereafter, Crossroads merged with the College of Biblical Studies (CBS). The change may have taken some people by surprise, but it was anything but sudden. Dr. Ware shared that several leaders of color who presided over Bible colleges met roughly eight years ago to discuss ways in which they could work collaboratively to strengthen their institutions. 

Several months after having submitted his resignation from Crossroads to the school’s board, Ware met with his friend, Dr. Bill Blocker, of CBS. Dr. Blocker wanted to discuss his vision for an initiative called “The Urban Bible Colleges Collaboration.” Ware and Blocker decided that a merger between their respective institutions might be mutually beneficial given the similarities between their schools’ missions, vision, student body and values. The boards of the respective institutions agreed.

Dr. Ware, who has assumed the role of executive director of Grace Relations and special assistant to the president at CBS, has passionately preached the importance of humanity recognizing the reality that there is only one race — the human one. He works tirelessly to improve “grace relations.” His vision is as follows: “Christians living in loving relationships that demonstrate to a watching world that we are Christ’s disciples. I am passionate to see believers grow in their love for God and their neighbors. My passion for humanity is that as many as possible would be saved by God’s grace and live an abundant life with Christ on earth and an eternity in heaven.”

A prolific speaker and writer, Dr. Ware has authored, co-authored, contributed to and edited several books. Among these is “One Race One Blood,” which he co-authored with Answers in Genesis founder and CEO Ken Ham. Yet, with characteristic humility, Dr. Ware revealed his greatest accomplishment. “Alumni bring me the greatest joy. My claim to fame are the students we train.” 

As I have written in this space on a prior occasion, I have known Dr. Ware for several years. I have found him to be unfailingly kind and patient. He has always been gracious in conversing with me, even when I have been certain that he has disagreed with my views. He has been an inspiration to me due in large measure to his faithfulness to God, even when he has faced significant challenges. The newest honor that is being bestowed on him is as unsought as it is deserved. I am hopeful that the world will heed his message and follow his example. 

Larry Smith is a community leader. Contact him at larry@leaf-llc.com.

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