WJI Buzz - Williamson

Aug 27, 2009

Warren Jackson “Jack” Williamson (WJI board member) died August 8, at the age of 90. He was an Alabama attorney, World War II veteran, and a churchman. In 1957, he joined the board of directors of the corporation which owns the World Journalism Institute, making him the longest serving member of the board of directors.

As an elder in his local church, he became a leader in the movement in the 1960s and ‘70s to leave the mainline Presbyterian denomination in the South and to form the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). He was the moderator of the PCA’s first General Assembly; as chairman of the PCA’s foreign missions committee, he regularly visited the Far East and other fields.

Williamson flew combat missions in World War II out of England and Italy. In March 1945, he was shot down over Hungary where he was captured by Russian troops. He was kept under house arrest in Odessa, Russia, for two months before being released to the British in May 1945. His wife was notified that he was missing in action and the correction was not made until June. For his heroics, Jack was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters and several other combat medals.

Williamson was a member of the board of directors of Reformed Theological Seminary. He earned his B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa) and his J.D. from the University of Alabama. He established his own law practice in Alabama, where both his sons and a daughter-in-law practiced with him. He won five cases before the United States Supreme Court.

Williamson was a leader on the board of the Presbyterian Journal, an independent magazine founded in 1942 by L. Nelson Bell. Publication of that magazine gave way in 1986-7 to the launch of World magazine, and he chaired the board for most of the next decade. An enthusiastic backer of Christian worldview thinking, he told the story of sitting in late 1973 in the front seat of his car with Francis Schaeffer, discussing the crisis in the church and the devolving state of American culture. “Why did you let this happen?” Schaeffer asked Williamson. “What do you mean, why did we let it happen?” Williamson asked. “You’re a lawyer, aren’t you?” Schaeffer replied pointedly. “Why did your profession let things get away so badly?”

“He wasn’t just blaming the legal profession,” Williamson stressed. “He was saying that each of us Christians has a responsibility, not just in our church relationships, but in the specific context of our various vocations, to define issues in a God-centered manner. I was never the same after hearing him say that.”

Williamson is survived by his wife Tere, two sons, a daughter, and several grandchildren.

-- Compiled from WJI Times Observer (Spring 2005) and World magazine (8/29/09).

For more information:

World Journalism Institute