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Raymond Charles Stedman (October 5, 1917 - October 7, 1992) was an evangelical Christian pastor, and author. He was a long-time pastor of Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California, and author of several books.
Ray was born in Temvik, North Dakota; where his father, Charles; worked for the railroads. Ray's mother, Mabel, was asthmatic and developed a heart condition, and after the age of six Ray lived with his aunt. His father abandoned the family, and all efforts to locate him were to no avail.
Ray planned to become a surgeon, and after high school in Montana he entered a premed course at Whitworth College; Spokane, Washington. Financial difficulties forced him to drop out. He worked in Montana which included being a Brahma bull rider in rodeos. Ray went on to work in Chicago, Illinois; and Denver. He moved to Hawaii to work for Libby Pineapple when World War II broke out. He enlisted in the Navy there in 1943.
Ray met his wife Elaine in Great Falls, Montana, and at the close of the war they were married in Honolulu on October 22, 1945. Upon their return to the mainland in 1946, Ray began attending Dallas Theological Seminary, befriending Howard Hendricks, and graduating in 1950.
In December 1949, Harry A. Ironside gave lectures on the Book of Isaiah at Dallas Theological Seminary. One of his students was Ray C. Stedman, who made wire recordings of the classroom lectures. Stedman also did a great deal of secretarial work for Dr. Ironside during his stay at the seminary. He was so efficient and helpful that Dr. Ironside asked him if he would be willing to travel with him and his wife Ann during the summer, and help with the writing of his exposition of the Book of Isaiah, which had long been delayed on account of his failing sight. Stedman joined them in June 1950, after his graduation from the seminary, and for two months served not only as chauffeur, secretary, and companion, but as a “brother beloved” was so helpful in all the varied activities of the itinerant ministry that they came to love him as a son. Without his help and cooperation the publication of Dr. Ironside’s “Isaiah” would have been impossible.
The Stedmans went on to spend one additional summer in Pasadena at Emmanuel Baptist Church. Before his call to Palo Alto, Ray worked alongside J. Vernon McGee, a preacher widely known in Evangelical circles for his radio ministry. In the fall of 1950, Ray accepted the call to serve on the staff of Peninsula Bible Fellowship in Palo Alto, California.
Peninsula Bible Fellowship had begun two years earlier as a small Bible study. By 1950 it had grown to the point of needing pastoral care. The directors of Peninsula Bible Fellowship offered the position to Ray in 1950.
Peninsula Bible Fellowship became Peninsula Bible Church, and Ray's leadership here was to last forty years, culminating in his retirement as a pastor and elder on April 30, 1990. Ray's views on leadership diverged greatly from some in the pastorate. Whereas some pastors rule with a firm and authoritative hand, Ray believed that consensus was key. Leadership at Peninsula Bible Church was and is derived by the Elders of the church. When they met to discuss the welfare of the church, decisions required unanimity for they believed "the mind of Christ was one."
Ray subjected his views to the collaborative opinion of 10-16 elders. This meant that a hairdresser who was an elder at PBC (Peninsula Bible Church) could disagree on plans Ray may have had for the church, and Pastor Stedman's opinion would be overruled. This was an occurrence which happened from time to time.
Ray was known for his humor and warmth. His gentle personality allowed all those who met him to feel instantly at ease. He once remarked "I have several daughters, a wife and mother-in-law who all live in my house. I'm glad that I at least have a mailbox outside." Pastor Stedman's generosity of spirit was demonstrated through his pastoral intern program. Here, young men and women learned the principles of ministry as derived from the Bible. Christian leaders grew in their stewardship and those who served in ministry developed their leadership skills. Among his interns were Chuck Swindoll and Luis Palau.
At the height of his career, when he was speaking internationally, Ray often would return home to Palo Alto and listen to Peninsula Bible Church interns preach from the church pulpit. Regarding Ray's impact, Chuck Swindoll said, "Ray Stedman is what I want to be when I grow up."
Some books by Stedman
- Adventuring Through the Bible: A Comprehensive Guide to the Entire Bible by Ray C. Stedman and James D. Denney (Hard cover 1997 Elaine Stedman) (Paperback - Sep 1, 2005)
- Authentic Christianity: The Classic Bestseller on Living the Life of Faith With Integrity by Ray C. Stedman (Paperback - Oct 1996)
- Spiritual Warfare: Winning the Daily Battle With Satan by Ray C. Stedman (Paperback - Jun 1999)
- Joy of Living Bible Studies on each of the following: Nehemiah, Job, Psalms of Faith, Prophecy in the Book of Daniel, Mark Part 1 & Part 2, Acts, Romans, Ephesians and Revelation commentary by Ray Stedman with study questions by Nancy J Collins and/or Kathy G Rowland (Spiral Bound - 2001 through 2012)
- Body Life: The Book That Inspired a Return to the Church's Real Meaning and Mission – August 1, 1995 by Ray C. Stedman
- The Way to Wholeness: Lessons from Leviticus by Ray C. Stedman (Paperback Jun 2005 Elaine Stedman)
- Waiting for the Second Coming by Ray C. Stedman
Honors and awards
- Graduated - Dallas Theological Seminary, 1950
- www.RayStedman.org authentic Christianity - Official Web Site of Ray Stedman Ministries (US, Worldwide)
- Daily Devotional: The Power of His Presence—Daily Devotional from Ray Stedman & Mark S. Mitchell
- Daily Devotional: Immeasurably More—Daily Devotional from Ray Stedman & Mark S. Mitchell
- Portrait of Integrity: The Life of Ray C. Stedman (Paperback) by Mark S. Mitchell (Author)
- Peninsula Bible Church website - 800 Sermons
- Joy of Living Bible Studies - Studies by Ray Stedman